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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: Rick Gualtieri on April 28, 2017, 02:13:08 PM

Title: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 28, 2017, 02:13:08 PM
Nothing we haven't really discussed here, but I didn't see anyone share the link. Apologies if it has been. The originating site has a ton more stuff on it, although I have no idea on the veracity of it all.

Even so, I think it serves as a good reminder that we're all business owners and as such need to be mindful of protecting that business.  Things like: being careful who we do business with, always being mindful of TOS, and never putting our businesses in a position where we can't get a refund for a service.

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/04/the-bestseller-list-box-set-gig/
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 28, 2017, 02:20:14 PM
Oh, my, and I know exactly who the article is talking about. :( A whole bunch of Kboarders have had books in these sets.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Lydniz on April 28, 2017, 02:20:36 PM
There's some scary stuff going on these days.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jena H on April 28, 2017, 02:31:46 PM
Okay, dumb question time:  what does "getting the letters" mean?  Does that have something to do with NYT list or USAToday list?  (See?  Those are letters.   :P )
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 02:34:53 PM
I know who they are talking about and there's alot of back and forth going on between certain author groups. This article only list one side and there is a lot of misinformation and biases going on. The organizer is doing nothing wrong and I stand by them. There's is a lot of facebook drama, misinformation, and jealousy going on here and in the article the article links to.
Don't trust a random blog that has the amount of angst in the last two paragraphs as that one did.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 28, 2017, 02:36:24 PM
Okay, dumb question time:  what does "getting the letters" mean?  Does that have something to do with NYT list or USAToday list?  (See?  Those are letters.   :P )
Those are the letters.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 28, 2017, 02:38:48 PM
What's crazy is a friend of mine had Amazon threaten to close her account for gifting one book to a friend who, unrequested, then left a review.  The email from Amazon warned her they "don't tolerate authors trying to manipulate ranks."

With a single gifted copy.

And yet a promo organizer buys a spot on the lists with thousands of gifted copies and claims to get a special call from an Amazon executives on Sunday telling her how much they love her and would never think of doing anything to hurt her?

It makes not one bit of sense.  Not even a little.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 02:44:01 PM
What's crazy is a friend of mine had Amazon threaten to close her account for gifting one book to a friend who, unrequested, then left a review.  The email from Amazon warned her they "don't tolerate authors trying to manipulate ranks."

With a single gifted copy.

And yet a promo organizer buys a spot on the lists with thousands of gifted copies and claims to get a special call from an Amazon executives on Sunday telling her how much they love her and would never think of doing anything to hurt her?

It makes not one bit of sense.  Not even a little.
That's because she doesn't gift "thousands" like the article says.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 28, 2017, 02:47:54 PM
That's because she doesn't gift "thousands" like the article says.

Oh, sorry.  Are you in this compliation?   I heard it was around 1500 but I don't have access to the actual numbers.  How many was it?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jena H on April 28, 2017, 02:51:02 PM
Those are the letters.

Thanks.  Talking about "the letters" sounds like a grandiose way to refer to it.  Why not just say "on the list"?  And one of the comments in that article mentioned putting "the letters" on "my CV."   :o    ::)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 28, 2017, 02:53:44 PM
Thanks.  Talking about "the letters" sounds like a grandiose way to refer to it.  Why not just say "on the list"?  And one of the comments in that article mentioned putting "the letters" on "my CV."   :o    ::)
You know, NYT, PhD, QED... It all sounds impressive. ::)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 02:54:51 PM
Oh, sorry.  Are you in this compliation?   I heard it was around 1500 but I don't have access to the actual numbers.  How many was it?
No, not this one.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 28, 2017, 03:02:51 PM
I have heard from people on both sides who I consider reputable. Some say it didn't happpen for the set they were in. Others say the opposite, that there is indeed gifting.  My guess is the truth is somewhere in between. Perhaps it doesn't happen for every box set, but in others who knows? Maybe preorders aren't what's hoped for, etc etc. But I have heard enough to make me think it is wise to spend my business dollars elsewhere.

As for the jealousy argument. I call bs. There's tons of successful indies and marketers on these boards you barely hear a peep about with regards to anything negative. If someone is courting so much controversy, again it tells me perhaps my marketing dollars are best spent elsewhere.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 03:08:29 PM
I have heard from people on both sides who I consider reputable. Some say it didn't happpen for the set they were in. Others say the opposite, that there is indeed gifting.  My guess is the truth is somewhere in between. Perhaps it doesn't happen for every box set, but in others who knows? Maybe preorders aren't what's hoped for, etc etc. But I have heard enough to make me think it is wise to spend my business dollars elsewhere.

As for the jealousy argument. I call bs. There's tons of successful indies and marketers on these boards you barely hear a peep about with regards to anything negative. If someone is courting so much controversy, again it tells me perhaps my marketing dollars are best spent elsewhere.
I've seen both sides and I can tell you that there is for a fact some jealously and malice involved. Not for everyone, but some based on their actions i saw before and after they began to have a problem with the organizer.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Lydniz on April 28, 2017, 03:11:27 PM
As for the jealousy argument. I call bs. There's tons of successful indies and marketers on these boards you barely hear a peep about with regards to anything negative.

This is true. There are many successful authors who post on here KBoards, and I never hear anyone say a bad thing about them. In fact, I've noticed that most people (on KB at least) really appreciate what the successful authors have to contribute, and find them nothing but inspirational. If you ask me, most people have more sense or are too busy writing to waste time on jealousy.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Patty Jansen on April 28, 2017, 03:11:50 PM
I have heard from people on both sides who I consider reputable. Some say it didn't happpen for the set they were in. Others say the opposite, that there is indeed gifting.  My guess is the truth is somewhere in between. Perhaps it doesn't happen for every box set, but in others who knows? Maybe preorders aren't what's hoped for, etc etc. But I have heard enough to make me think it is wise to spend my business dollars elsewhere.

As for the jealousy argument. I call bs. There's tons of successful indies and marketers on these boards you barely hear a peep about with regards to anything negative. If someone is courting so much controversy, again it tells me perhaps my marketing dollars are best spent elsewhere.

Pretty much this.

But there is enough info out there for people to make up their own minds if they think the risk is worth it. Worth what? I look at these USA Today Bestseller! people and their own books sell diddly squat, so, yanno... But hey, if that makes them happy. And they think it's worth the risk...

But what I cannot stand is the blackballing and bullying for no good reason at all.

I admit. I was stupid enough to sign up for one of these, because, Hey! Readers!

I asked one question "I have a clash of dates, can I possibly send to my list after the weekend?" for which I was banned, unfriended, and booted from the set.

I was lucky. I got my money back. I know some people who did not get featured and did not get their money back for doing things as simple as asking about aspects of the contract.

The product is to make lists. OK. The methods may or may not be questionable. That's up to you. Making a list gets you readers. It's an OK goal to shoot for. People do this with their own sets + Bookbub.

It's the lousy customer experience that gets me.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on April 28, 2017, 03:13:25 PM
Oh, sorry.  Are you in this compliation?   I heard it was around 1500 but I don't have access to the actual numbers.  How many was it?

I've heard from a couple of people in different sets that the amount of copies gifted varies from 500 to 2,000 (depending on set obviously). It certainly does happen in huge numbers, there are loads of screen shots where she has stated that the 500, 1,000 or 2,000 goal of gifted copies has been reached. More disturbing is the math that doesn't add up. 2k buy in for 20 authors equals $40,000. Even if the organiser gifted 5,000 copies (which would be sufficient to hit the lists on low weeks) that still leaves $35,000...

With regard to gifting - Amazon doesn't care about it. Think of it from their point of view, you still have to buy a copy to gift it. There is talk that strictly speaking it is against TOS as "rank manipulation" but to counter that, Amazon even have a pop list now that shows the "top gifted" ebooks. So the more you gift, the better apparently  ::)

Quit apart from that issue, it's the bullying that's hard to stomach. You have to question why a promoter needs to use fear and intimidation tactics to shut anyone down if they dare ask basic questions. Customers problems, complaints, issues and refunds are simply a part of doing business. It's very telling how a business deals with day to day issues. If a customer asks a questions or requires a refund and the business owner immediately throws up a smoke screen, screams victimisation, threatens lawyers and sends their followers to harass the customers, it really makes me wonder what are they hiding?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 28, 2017, 03:18:07 PM
My point is that my friend gifted a SINGLE COPY and got a warning notice from Amazon that they don't tolerate rank manipulation.

ONE COPY.

It makes no sense.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: lilywhite on April 28, 2017, 03:19:17 PM
Don't trust a random blog that has the amount of angst in the last two paragraphs as that one did.

Conversely, don't trust someone that has drama and angst with at least one new person every few days.

You say potato, I say ... well. I don't want to get moderated, so.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Robyn Wideman on April 28, 2017, 03:20:56 PM
I usually avoid these topics as they tend to annoy me, but since I was in one of the boxed sets that this person runs I have first hand insight.


First off, that article is, as mentioned earlier, very one sided. I've also seen several facebook posts of similar comments, suggesting that they are a scam and she is ripping the authors off. And that simply isn't the case.

I was part of the Dark Humanity boxed set. I had a buy in of $500. I also added more in later. We had a very large and aggressive ad campaign. At it was very effective. We sold a [crap] tonne of books during the pre order period. Aside from the money spent on advertising, we also had our mailing lists at our disposal, which if I had to hazard a guess, combined for at least 200,000 readers.

A lot of time and energy went into making that boxed set a success, we had a group of determined writers and maximized our efforts. We ended up reaching the top 10 (7 if I recall correctly) in all of the amazon store, and made both the USA today and New York Times lists. And that is an accomplishment I am proud of.

I've already made my investment back, and have one of my books in the hands of 30k+ new readers. I consider the entire venture a complete success.

I've also heard comments about gifting and 'cheating'.  We were in contact with Amazon often during the process of releasing this book and gifting was never an issue. They were concerned about authors trying to double dip by having books in set that were already in KU. Which we dealt with.

I know there have been boxed set scams where authors have lost money by unscrupulous promoters. That is an unfortunate thing, and I feel bad for the authors who get ripped off. But I can say without doubt, not all boxed sets are scams, and the promoter that that article is alluding to is not out to rip anyone off.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Patty Jansen on April 28, 2017, 03:21:05 PM
My point is that my friend gifted a SINGLE COPY and got a warning notice from Amazon that they don't tolerate rank manipulation.

ONE COPY.

It makes no sense.

Amazon is not known for making sense. Clearly, there are substantial risks involved in what they determine may or may not be "rank manipulation" or "review manipulation". They wield the hammer unevenly and suddenly.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Crystal_ on April 28, 2017, 03:29:35 PM
I have heard from people on both sides who I consider reputable. Some say it didn't happpen for the set they were in. Others say the opposite, that there is indeed gifting.  My guess is the truth is somewhere in between. Perhaps it doesn't happen for every box set, but in others who knows? Maybe preorders aren't what's hoped for, etc etc. But I have heard enough to make me think it is wise to spend my business dollars elsewhere.

As for the jealousy argument. I call bs. There's tons of successful indies and marketers on these boards you barely hear a peep about with regards to anything negative. If someone is courting so much controversy, again it tells me perhaps my marketing dollars are best spent elsewhere.

I think most of us know the organizer the blog post is referring to. I don't have any experience with her personally, but having just been in a multi-author box set organized rather rag-tagly with one of the authors taking charge, I have to say that $500-2000 dollars is a perfectly reasonable buy in cost given how much most of these sets spend on advertising. It takes a lot of money to keep a preorder ranking for eight weeks.

As to gifting, I'm not a fan, but the people organizing my box set did decide to gift copies during launch week. A lot of copies. It's not the choice I would have made if it was up to me, but it's a very common practice.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: DexyDoo on April 28, 2017, 03:46:19 PM
I would sincerely like to understand why people are calling these sets a "scam". What's the scam?

The buy-in might sound high, but it all goes to marketing the set. The coordinator does NOT pocket the money. It pays for the cover, formatting, Bookbub ads, AMS ads, FB ads, Bargain Booksy, ENT, ILVN (and TONS of other newsletter ads - I can attest to that personally because I booked at least half of them for the set, and I was paid back from the marketing money within an hour or two each time).

All the authors in the set work their asses off by volunteering for FB parties, creating tons of promotional images, doing newsletter swaps, FB group posting, HeadTalkers, Thunderclaps, Wattpad, Reddit, creating html blog posts, blogging, tweeting, setting up features with iBooks, Nook, Kobo, etc.

I was in a set that made USA Today last week. Guess what? Even though the set was marketed as a "list-aiming set" I was more interested in the experience, the exposure, the networking, and the possible profit. Everyone's motive is different, but that was mine.

It's a lot of work, but it's fun. It's a learning experience. It's exposure. I simply can not see where the "scam" part of it comes in. (At least, not in the set I was in. I know there are people out there who prey on others, but not this organizer, not this set.)

Oh, and as to the gifted copies. Yep, it happened in the set I was in. BUT NOT THOUSANDS! We were doing great with the preorder numbers, but were a little shy of the minimum to hit the list, so we gifted some iTunes copies, and hosted some Amazon giveaways. Amazon, iTunes, B&N all make that feature available to users, so I'm thinking that's not going against their terms.

Anyway, I usually stay out of this sort of thing, but I simply don't understand why people are calling it a scam. :(

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on April 28, 2017, 03:59:58 PM
Pretty sure gifting is against TOS and I'd sure be mad if anybody with whom I was in a boxed set was doing it. Sketchy as heck and risking your KDP account as i understand it. Everybody can do what they want, though, and everybody has their own moral scale and risk tolerance level. Personally, stuff like this is why I don't cross-promo. And yeah, I'm aware that some publishers also do shady stuff.

I also know a number of authors who've been targeted as described in this article. I've found that lots of smoke over a long time generally means fire. Before I spent my money, I'd google any organizer or service provider, and I'd avoid if I found significant evidence of feuding and drama. There are bad actors in any industry. Buyer beware.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 04:03:38 PM
Pretty sure gifting is against TOS
It isn't though, only in terms of manipulating rank.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on April 28, 2017, 04:05:21 PM
Anyway, I usually stay out of this sort of thing, but I simply don't understand why people are calling it a scam. :(

Don't feel that way. It's good that you folks tell your side of the story. You have every right to defend yourselves and stick up for your integrity and reputation, and that of those who you feel have been painted unjustly.

Unless we've seen firsthand the actual dialogs taken place between the parties involved, we're only listening to hearsay.

It's never good when only one side of the story is being told. When both sides have their say, those of us on the sidelines can make a clearer assessment of who's making the better argument.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on April 28, 2017, 04:05:55 PM
It isn't though, only in terms of manipulating rank.
Huh? Isn't that the point?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Cheryl Douglas on April 28, 2017, 04:06:37 PM
I'm just trying to figure out where all that 'buy-in' money goes. No way are they spending that much on advertising. I'm not even sure it's possible to spend that much. There are only so many places to advertise. Gifting a couple thousand copies, at a cost of a couple thousand dollars? Okay, add that to a $2k ad spend and it still doesn't add up. I made the USA list with my own box set and it cost me less than $2k to get to #90, so I don't get it. Granted, I didn't 'gift' any copies, but still, those are some seriously skewed numbers. Especially if you're talking about huge box sets with 20 authors!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 04:07:56 PM
Huh? Isn't that the point?
Not in the sets, when gifting happens, the sets are already high ranking, so gifting would have a minimum impact compared to if your book was in the five digits.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 04:10:02 PM
I'm just trying to figure out where all that 'buy-in' money goes. No way are they spending that much on advertising. I'm not even sure it's possible to spend that much. There are only so many places to advertise. Gifting a couple thousand copies, at a cost of a couple thousand dollars? Okay, add that to a $2k ad spend and it still doesn't add up. I made the USA list with my own box set and it cost me less than $2k to get to #90, so I don't get it. Granted, I didn't 'gift' any copies, but still, those are some seriously skewed numbers. Especially if you're talking about huge box sets with 20 authors!
It's not for one week.
The sets are on pre-order for three weeks. So, it's marketing over a large span of time. If you've ran a facebook ad over three months, the cost ad. Also as the ads go on, they become less effective, so I wouldn't be surprised if they put in more in the last month.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Robyn Wideman on April 28, 2017, 04:11:01 PM
I'm just trying to figure out where all that 'buy-in' money goes. No way are they spending that much on advertising. I'm not even sure it's possible to spend that much. There are only so many places to advertise. Gifting a couple thousand copies, at a cost of a couple thousand dollars? Okay, add that to a $2k ad spend and it still doesn't add up. I made the USA list with my own box set and it cost me less than $2k to get to #90, so I don't get it. Granted, I didn't 'gift' any copies, but still, those are some seriously skewed numbers. Especially if you're talking about huge box sets with 20 authors!

Spending enough to make USA today spending enough to make New York Times are two different beasts
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 04:12:36 PM
No need to block out my name. This post is about me. I'm not afraid to say so because I have already proven through countless screenshots where the money goes and the results it gets before gifting. Sometimes I do encourage gifting when short on a platform to garner more attention there. I never break TOS and the venders know my authors sometimes gift. Sometimes not. I don't control how much they gift. It's their set. The buy in doesn't go to gifting so that is their call. The buy in goes to ads, which again, I have proven that not only does the money go there, but I often spend money out of my own pocket to advertise MORE because I am doing this to give back the author community (because they don't all seem to want to cause me stress). But I digress. Anyone be who wants to see screenshot evidence of the TRUTH can join the genrecrave marketing opportunities group on Facebook. They can call amazon and talk to amazon themselves. Make decisions for themselves without hearing from just one side (mine or anyone else's). As for me? I'm done. My daughter had surgery today and all I am getting every few minutes is "they're at it again" PMs to tell me about this. So to those well meaning individuals, thank you, but this is not a priority to me today and won't be any other day in the future. I won't keep re-posting the same screenshots that show the truth while the same people continue to omit those things from their "warning" posts. I welcome anyone to actually Join my group and decide for themselves based on screenshot evidence. And if it's not for them? I respect that, and we can go our separate ways.

 I intentionally made it known my daughter had surgery today just to see if this would be the day my haters decided to strike again - and because they did (because they chose THIS day - and will surely say they didn't know despite proving how agreesively they stalk everything I say) I now know that no amount of truth will change anything with them, and intents are malicious. So I'm done postin evidence of their lies and will allow those capable of independent thought to join my group, snoop for themselves, and get ALL the facts. Anyone who wants to buy into the propaganda may do so, as that is not the kind of person I wish to have a working relationship with anyway. I wish all authors the best, and will continue to lift other authors up who wish for me to do so. ✌🏻

Now excuse me, for I need to focus on my daughters surgery recovery and on not developing stress-induced preeclampsia during another pregnancy that could threaten the life of my unborn child. I realize those who don't know me have no reason to care how these lies and manipulative posts may affect children that have nothing to do with the situation, so I'm gonna be the adult here and say:

I'm done. Have at it. Say what you like. And those who want the truth can join the group mentioned earlier to see the hundreds of screenshots that SHOW exactly where buy in goes, see that some of my sets are free to get into and run out of my pocket, VERY FEW have the higher buy in, etc etc etc. Truth is there for those who want it. The rest can believe what they want. But I'm done repeating myself and reposting the same screenshots that conveniently get left out of these posts.

PS: Yes, in the 250,000 industry connections I have made, I have upset a few people. In the instances where I was wrong, I apologized and made things right. That's all I can do. But I won't be upset that the minority of that 250,000 are on some kind is destruction mission. When I step back and look at the biggest epicure, it's easy to see what's going on here. And seeing that, it's way to see it's a waste of my time to post screenshots to people who will ignore them. If they wanted to know where the money went, they would join the group where Bose screenshots, and many other containing indisputable facts, are posted.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: DexyDoo on April 28, 2017, 04:22:04 PM
I'm just trying to figure out where all that 'buy-in' money goes. No way are they spending that much on advertising. I'm not even sure it's possible to spend that much. There are only so many places to advertise. Gifting a couple thousand copies, at a cost of a couple thousand dollars? Okay, add that to a $2k ad spend and it still doesn't add up. I made the USA list with my own box set and it cost me less than $2k to get to #90, so I don't get it. Granted, I didn't 'gift' any copies, but still, those are some seriously skewed numbers. Especially if you're talking about huge box sets with 20 authors!

I covered that in my post... The buy-in might sound high, but it all goes to marketing the set. The coordinator does NOT pocket the money. It pays for the cover, formatting, Bookbub ads, AMS ads, FB ads, Bargain Booksy, ENT, ILVN (and TONS of other newsletter ads - I can attest to that personally because I booked at least half of them for the set, and I was paid back from the marketing money within an hour or two each time).
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Cheryl Douglas on April 28, 2017, 04:30:07 PM
I covered that in my post... The buy-in might sound high, but it all goes to marketing the set. The coordinator does NOT pocket the money. It pays for the cover, formatting, Bookbub ads, AMS ads, FB ads, Bargain Booksy, ENT, ILVN (and TONS of other newsletter ads - I can attest to that personally because I booked at least half of them for the set, and I was paid back from the marketing money within an hour or two each time).

I believe you. I just had no idea it cost that much to get on the NYT list. Definitely won't be putting that on my bucket list. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Robyn Wideman on April 28, 2017, 04:35:29 PM
I believe you. I just had no idea it cost that much to get on the NYT list. Definitely won't be putting that on my bucket list.

New York is hard. You have to get really high up to even be considered.

My set made list, and I am going to see a profit. So the upfront cost isn't that bad.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Cheryl Douglas on April 28, 2017, 04:37:26 PM
New York is hard. You have to get really high up to even be considered.

My set made list, and I am going to see a profit. So the upfront cost isn't that bad.



I'd heard NYT changed the rules this year. So it is still possible for indies to make the list with ebooks?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ShayneRutherford on April 28, 2017, 04:38:03 PM
Not in the sets, when gifting happens, the sets are already high ranking, so gifting would have a minimum impact compared to if your book was in the five digits.

Rank manipulation is rank manipulation, regardless of how high a rank you may have to start with.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 04:40:52 PM
I'd heard NYT changed the rules this year. So it is still possible for indies to make the list with ebooks?

Dark Humanity made it AFTER the rule changes. The Facebook group has screenshots showing how many preorders they had. You can't gift a preorder. Honestly this whole thing is so ridiculous anymore since screenshots have been up for months and the people saying these brings have seen them and are knowingly not including them.

Feel free to contact Amazon directly and ask them if I manipulate ranks. They can see what I do I've already spoken to them, and they have already told me I'm not abusing the gifting feature. I can't control what everyone else does, but 1) gifting copies is explained directly in their TOS and 2) running blog tours where readers can win books, giving free copies for review or joining a mailing list, gifting copies to loyal readers,  and running giveaways to increase exposure and create excitement for readers are all like thugs trad publishers have done for as long as I've been on the scene.

If unsure about anything, try the following:
- speak to a lawyer - not just people who play one on the internet or say their lawyer said something, but speak to your OWN lawyer YOURSELF
- talk to amazon YOURSELF
- look for YOURSELF and SEE what actually happens, all the details, not taken out of contest and given a spin

I really don't understand why anyone would want to take anyone's word for anything - be it my word or the word of my haters - when they can simply just go look for themselves and make their own decision about things. And then they can run around saying they agree with this person or that person, by should still encourage others to also look for themselves.

What I don't understand is why anyone is telling others NOT to look for themselves and trying to control what they see and only allowing them to see certain things. Why are they not sharing screenshots of we're the money went? Why are they not sharing screenshots that show the actual terms of service about gifting? Why when this information is shared, do they delete it from their platform? Why are they against me telling people to talk to the own lawyers about things? Don't they want people to see for themselves where that money went? Don't they want people to talk to their own lawyers? Speak to amazon for themselves? Read amazons TOS? Why are these things being hidden?

Want to post a vague post about looking about for yourself as an author? How about advising authors to do this, instead of advising them to read half a story, leaving out some MAJOR facts, and hiding things like screenshots of Amazon TOS that have been shared?

I'm waiting for the day someone posts EVERYTHING. But that's not gonna happen because it doesn't fit their agenda. So be it. But hating people is not how I connect with there personally, so I can't continue to be sucked into this. Again, if anyone wants the screenshots, I they aren't hard to find. The person who posted this surely has them. Maybe he wants to share them too? Maybe he wants to share the screenshots that show exactly where the money goes? Or the screenshots of authors who have logged into my bookbub account and saw those adds being spent WHILE they were being spent? Maybe? Maybe? No? Why not?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 04:41:28 PM
I'd heard NYT changed the rules this year. So it is still possible for indies to make the list with ebooks?
They made the list after the change.
It's not a realistic goal anymore though, selling 20k + is hard even with thousands of dollars in marketing.
Rank manipulation is rank manipulation, regardless of how high a rank you may have to start with.
Obviously, Amazon thinks differently.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 28, 2017, 04:46:46 PM
But what I cannot stand is the blackballing and bullying for no good reason at all.

Simply google STGRB and follow the links. SOP.

What blows me away are the people who think this is all being run with no profit. How naive can you be?

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: DexyDoo on April 28, 2017, 04:50:51 PM
Simply google STGRB and follow the links. SOP.

What blows me away are the people who think this is all being run with no profit. How naive can you be?

It's not (except for maybe affiliate link income), but who cares anyway? The amount of work the set coordinator does deserves to be paid for. I mean, do you work for free? I damn sure don't.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on April 28, 2017, 04:53:18 PM
If they wanted to know where the money went, they would join the group where Bose screenshots, and many other containing indisputable facts, are posted.

Unfortunately I can't join Facebook groups :D, but I don't need to because I believe you and those who have posted in your defense. I've read enough of your posts in the past to get a feel of you and I don't get a sense that you're out to hurt or scam people. I've always seen your posts as just defending yourself from accusations and you do it honorably (without needing to put people down) in my eyes.

I do sense you are wanting to help people after gaining success yourself. That comes through clear for me from reading you.

I'm sure there are others who feel the same.

It's very hard to please everyone. And with most things, there are two sides to the story.

I always listen to my own mind and heart. Facts, proof, and the 'whole' story (not just one side of it) is what I base my opinions on.

I pray your daughter recovers well. And for your unborn child too. Take care, Rebecca.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 04:56:13 PM
Unfortunately I can't join Facebook groups :D, but I don't need to because I believe you and those who have posted in your defense. I've read enough of your posts in the past to get a feel of you and I don't get a sense that you're out to hurt or scam people. I've always seen your posts as just defending yourself from accusations and you do it honorably (without needing to put people down) in my eyes.

I do sense you are wanting to help people after gaining success yourself. That comes through clear for me from reading you.

I'm sure there are others who feel the same.

It's very hard to please everyone. And with most things, there are two sides to the story.

I always listen to my own mind and heart. Facts, proof, and the 'whole' story (not just one side of it) is what I base my opinions on.

I pray your daughter recovers well. And for your unborn child too. Take care, Rebecca.

Thank you 💗💗💗 I wish the best for everyone truly. Daughter is recovering well by the way. A little out of it from anesthesia, but she did really well :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 05:01:34 PM
It's not (except for maybe affiliate link income), but who cares anyway? The amount of work the set coordinator does deserves to be paid for. I mean, do you work for free? I damn sure don't.

Thanks :) genrecrave does well with the actual services we offer. Boxed sets are not offered as a service.. This is my way of paying it forward. While some may cause me stress, lots of people have supported my efforts over the years, and I wouldn't be where I am without their support. Even when I was extremely depressed and on the verge of homeless, they stuck by me AND helped me do a complete 180. That's why I give. There is one girl who ever did my sets but supported me during that time, and I donated $1000 to her husbands cancer recovery. Those who are paying attention know it's not unlike me to GIVE to others. Boxed sets is only one way I do that. There's one collection coming up soon that had no buy in, a SN I am covering all expenses out of pocket. I recently helped 3 authors with new releases - I bought them each $1500 worth of advertising. I have other authors yet who I mentor for free. Yes most boxed sets have buy in because I can't afford that much money every month to pay for ads out of pocket. But I have already shown where that money goes. Yes it sucks when people try to turn something good into something evil, but as I've said, we won't convince those people. They KNOW what they are doing. They KNOW they intentionally left out the screenshots that SHOW exactly where the money went. They KNOW people have logged into my accounts and seen what's going on in there first hand. Still they say the things they say. So it's not a matter of them knowing. Anyone who DOES want to know can easily see for themselves. It's that simple.

I've gotten it all since this started. Including death threats, which were reported to the police but which, TBH, in not too worried about. But once things get to the point that people feel safe joking about helpin to hide my body, my perspective on intentions changes quite a bit. And I'm not going to stop helping others because that is how I pay it forward. Yes, I've come close. I've more than once almost said I'm not doing this anymore. Because it SUCKS taking time and money from my life to help people and getting treated this way in response. It doesn't matter what they say they think - it doesn't change reality. And reality is im getting targeted while trying to help people, and all I get out of it is the satisfaction of helping others.

So why haven't I given up? Because every time I start to type that "I'm done offering boxed set pairs" I feel EXTREMELY selfish. I am doing this to help others, so if I quit because I'm "not getting anything out it" (except for grief) then that just feel wrong to me. It's as if I would be saying "well I don't benefit from this so screw your goals" and I just have not been able to bring myself to justifying that.

I don't plan to offer boxed sets forever. I never did. But I don't want to stop for selfish reasons. I don't want to say screw you to other authors just because a different set of authors is intentionally misleading the public. So this is where I am. In reality, I probably would have stopped by now otherwise. But with how things are, I can't justify it. Every time I try, I sound like I only care about myself and how the bullying affects me instead of also caring about paying it forward. And I don't like the part of me that thinks that way. giving up on paying it forward  because I want people to leave me alone is not the answer - it's just a selfish excuse. So I persevere. I promised I would pay it forward - and I never said "unless I get bullied for doing so" - and I keep my promises. So I'm going to continue to pay it forward until *I* feel I have adequately shown appreciation to the peers who approach me with kindness, respect, and honesty.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 05:15:14 PM
The author of the post has deleted the post. I get a 404 message when I click the link.

Rebecca, I have never used your services, but when PayPal and Amazon tell you you are working within their TOS, that is what is important. Writers can say what they think the TOS means, but in the end it's PayPal and Amazon who decide.

I also question the whole gifting is considered against Amazon TOS. On my book page on Amazon I have a nice little widget that says this: Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. If Amazon put it there and tells me to give away books, what are we talking about?

As far as I'm concerned Rebecca you have valuable information to share and I hope you will come here often. You have friends.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: cherita on April 28, 2017, 05:15:34 PM
So, the original article has been deleted and in fact the entire website is gone? Nor could I find a single cached page or image of this site, except for its mention on The Passive Voice. That doesn't necessarily mean anything, but... I do find it odd.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 05:29:44 PM
The person who wrote it is a KBoarder and also a service provider. When you write something like that message and the overwhelming reaction from writers is "What are you doing?" there is only one thing to do and that is delete the post, bury it and hope your credibility is not gone. It was a strange post though and most writers here know who wrote it. But that is here nor there. I'm happy it was deleted and now we can all have a nice weekend. And let's have a heart and say the writer did not know about Rebecca's daughter being ill and when she read that she decided to delete the post. That way we are all good people and no one wins and no one loses and we can all be happy.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 28, 2017, 05:30:29 PM
So, the original article has been deleted and in fact the entire website is gone? Nor could I find a single cached page or image of this site, except for its mention on The Passive Voice. That doesn't necessarily mean anything, but... I do find it odd.

Hmm. There's lots of reasons a website can go down, but who knows?  Speculation, obviously is just that.  I mostly found it interesting that PV picked up in it.

Regardless, though I won't pretend to agree with the methods of everyone on this post, I will agree on one point: people should make up their own minds.

Do your research, talk to people, and - and this is what I will always caution no matter what you do - be careful with any new venture especially the moment money exchanges hands. Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, etc they all have protections in place. Know those protections and your rights. Outside of that, good luck in your writing venture.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 05:32:50 PM
I expect the passive voice blog will stay up. Maybe th  author of that site would like access to my group to get the screenshots the source they quoted is missing. As a long term follower of the passive voice, honestly, I was surprised by the lack of investigation put into the post (that is still up) and would have expected the author of that site to look into the plethora of screenshots available that show where the money goes. That is informstion suthors deserve to have, which is why I have always been transparent about that and have those screenshots posted showing how the money is spent, as well as people who have logged into my accounts and see first hand to verify on my behalf. Which is well above and beyond anything any one else has ever had to do to prove themselves. Just saying. I have gone above and beyond - and it's up to authors to do their due diligence and look at the facts if they truly want the truth. Anything else is spreading rumors, and there's not often a healthy or kind reason to perpetuate a rumor. Some who are perpetuating these rumors, knowing they are rumors, concern me, but instead of me spreading rumors about them, I figure in time their actions will speak more than my words ever could.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Abalone on April 28, 2017, 05:35:49 PM
Pretty much this.

But there is enough info out there for people to make up their own minds if they think the risk is worth it. Worth what? I look at these USA Today Bestseller! people and their own books sell diddly squat, so, yanno... But hey, if that makes them happy. And they think it's worth the risk...

But what I cannot stand is the blackballing and bullying for no good reason at all.

I admit. I was stupid enough to sign up for one of these, because, Hey! Readers!

I asked one question "I have a clash of dates, can I possibly send to my list after the weekend?" for which I was banned, unfriended, and booted from the set.

I was lucky. I got my money back. I know some people who did not get featured and did not get their money back for doing things as simple as asking about aspects of the contract.

The product is to make lists. OK. The methods may or may not be questionable. That's up to you. Making a list gets you readers. It's an OK goal to shoot for. People do this with their own sets + Bookbub.

It's the lousy customer experience that gets me.

What the heck? What do they have against date farming? o.O
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 28, 2017, 05:40:02 PM
What the heck? What do they have against date farming? o.O
Some people prefer figs. No accounting for tastes.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 05:42:13 PM
For those interested, there are also authors in the genrecrave marketing group that have posted their before boxed set solo title sales data and their after boxed set solo title sales data. Again, screenshots, instead of empty words. I think the truth speaks for itself - once someone takes the time to look at it. Then they should ask themselves: "Why did those who have this same information try to hide it from me?" Because I think that's the biggest question of all.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 05:42:37 PM
My only comment is this:

If a traditional publisher buys 20,000 copies of a book and those books sit in a warehouse somewhere unread or in a dumpster behind the printers and the book hits the NYTs because of those bulk purchases, that is illegitimate, even if the NYTs allows it or looks the other way. It makes the accomplishment meaningless. It only means that the author or publisher had enough money to buy the letters. That says nothing about a book's desirability or quality or value. Just about the author's or publisher's willingness to buy something that should be awarded based on merit or actual sales.

A bestseller should be a best seller because it actually sells the best -- to actual readers who want to purchase it. Not via manipulation by people paid to purchase books or by bulk buying.

Think of it -- it's just not ethical. It makes the designation of "bestseller" meaningless because the designation is based on a lie. In fact, it is worse because there may be true bestsellers that don't hit the list because they weren't able to out-compete the manipulated bestsellers who got there through bulk purchases. It makes the designation meaningless and unfair. It cheapens the whole business.

If an indie buys in bulk, it's the same thing. It's unethical and makes the whole business meaningless and unfair.

It's not enough in terms of ethics or morality to say that everybody does it and so it's okay. That doesn't cut it when it comes to ethics. Nor does it make it ethical or moral to say that it's only business and the businesses involved don't penalize those who do it so it's okay. That means that an unethical act has been sanctioned. That's very sad.

People have to live with themselves and be okay with the ethics of their actions. If they think it's fine to buy in bulk in order to hit a list and get a designation of bestseller, then they have to live with themselves.

Where is John Locke today?

Every indie author should be thinking about how to improve their business and their craft. That means learning, learning, learning, practicing, practicing, and more practicing. There are no short cuts. There is only lots of work to improve and move to the next level.

There's nothing wrong with box sets, or collaborations, or buying promotions that get your book in front of new readers who then choose to buy your book via their own free will. There's nothing wrong with wanting to hit a list, and have your book seen by lots of new readers. That should be your goal,

But if you have to buy your own books in bulk in order to hit some number and get letters after your name, I question if that number and those letters are legitimate.



Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 05:49:14 PM
The reactions I see from writers on Facebook tell me Rebecca should be very happy with the Passive Voice article and the blog post. I knew about Rebecca and Genre Cave, but I had no idea what they were doing there. It was always hush hush. The blog post explains how she is creating USA Today and NYT bestsellers. I think she can expect a whole bunch of writers to join her FB groups and boxed sets. You can't buy this kind of internet buzz.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 28, 2017, 06:02:21 PM
The reactions I see from writers on Facebook tell me Rebecca should be very happy with the Passive Voice article and the blog post. I knew about Rebecca and Genre Cave, but I had no idea what they were doing there. It was always hush hush. The blog post explains how she is creating USA Today and NYT bestsellers. I think she can expect a whole bunch of writers to join her FB groups and boxed sets. You can't buy this kind of internet buzz.

I don't know about that, and I've never had any business dealings with her, and neither do I write in that category, but I hear people talk about her all the time as someone who is ethically challenged, at best. The more ethical the writer, the more likely they are to say negative things about her tactics. I recommend staying away if ethics are at all important to you.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 06:03:11 PM
Isn't marketing always manipulating sales? If I don't have money for BookBub I won't sell as many books as someone who does have money for BookBub. So using money to get sales is always part of marketing. No, the buzz on Twitter and Facebook is that joining Rebecca's boxed sets is the new bees knees for indies. This blog post is a huge triumph for Rebecca. I think where she was a marginalized book marketer only yesterday, she's now being celebrated as a hero.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Abalone on April 28, 2017, 06:06:19 PM
Some people prefer figs. No accounting for tastes.

Shameful. They're good, too, but dates are as old as figs if not older.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 06:06:46 PM
To me it sounds like a lot of you don't realize how much it costs to make a list in marketing.

When the big indies are pushing to make JUST the USA today, they've spent tens of thousands in a -week-.

Meredith Wild spent 6-figures (yes, over 100,000) when she pushed her Hacker series.

A friend of mine put together a box set (Not Rebecca). Her budget that she spent: 30,000 (and she didn't make NYT). All out of her pocket because she didn't do a buy in.

I don't have 30,000 to spend on marketing. I don't even have 5,000 to spend. What I do have is $500, and being that I want the letters, I'm A-okay with doing it in a boxset.

Really, really research things before you begin questioning about "Why it costs so much" or "Where does the money go". Because honestly, it costs a ton.


Edited to remove profanity. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 06:08:32 PM
I don't know about that, and I've never had any business dealings with her, and neither do I write in that category, but I hear people talk about her all the time as someone who is ethically challenged, at best. The more ethical the writer, the more likely they are to say negative things about her tactics. I recommend staying away if ethics are at all important to you.
Weird, cause all the authors I personally know say the opposite.
I guess I'm unethical according to you, and so are all the other authors who sing her praise.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 28, 2017, 06:08:38 PM
Isn't marketing always manipulating sales? If I don't have money for BookBub I won't sell as many books as someone who does have money for BookBub. So using money to get sales is always part of marketing. No, the buzz on Twitter and Facebook is that joining Rebecca's boxed sets is the new bees knees for indies. This blog post is a huge triumph for Rebecca. I think where she was a marginalized book marketer only yesterday, she's now being celebrated as a hero.

So you're saying that violating the terms of KU by shuffling books in and out of box sets, buying thousands of books to manipulate the ranks, and attacking anyone who disagrees with your tactics is all good because it's just "marketing."

Also, the accounts (and screenshots) of her attacking people who gave her bad reviews or wanted out because of shady behavior are legion. She doesn't like to be called out. So no, I don't think she likes it.


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 06:08:50 PM
Isn't marketing always manipulating sales? If I don't have money for BookBub I won't sell as many books as someone who does have money for BookBub. So using money to get sales is always part of marketing. No, the buzz on Twitter and Facebook is that joining Rebecca's boxed sets is the new bees knees for indies. This blog post is a huge triumph for Rebecca. I think where she was a marginalized book marketer only yesterday, she's now being celebrated as a hero.

Marketing is influencing sales, not manipulating them. That's why there are laws around advertising.

There's a difference between paying to put your book in front of 50,000 potential customers and having them decide to buy your book and the sales leading to a NYTs bestseller designation and buying 50,000 copies of a book yourself (or as a publisher) to get the NYTs bestseller designation.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on April 28, 2017, 06:09:06 PM
I recommend staying away if ethics are at all important to you.

Exactly. Everybody does business in a way that is consistent with their personal morals and beliefs. If you believe in being ethical, complying with retailer TOS, and you would rather have genuine readers than a short term artificial rank manipulation, stay away.

If you believe if its good enough for big publishers then indies can do it too and if there was anything dodgy then Amazon would have shut it down, you're not going to see a problem. I imagine there will be a long line of authors wanting to sign up to become the next USAT/NYT bestseller.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 28, 2017, 06:10:06 PM
Weird, cause all the authors I personally know say the opposite.

We apparently walk in different (ethical) circles.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 06:11:23 PM
So you're saying that violating the terms of KU by shuffling books in and out of box sets, buying thousands of books to manipulate the ranks, and attacking anyone who disagrees with your tactics is all good because it's just "marketing."

Also, the accounts (and screenshots) of her attacking people who gave her bad reviews or wanted out because of shady behavior are legion. She doesn't like to be called out. So no, I don't think she likes it.


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
She doesn't buy thousands of books to manipulate ranks. She doesn't voilate the terms of KU shuffling books in and out of book sets. You're spreading a lot of hearsay and yet you said never worked with her.
Nothing she does is unethical. Some of the author's who speak ill of her are the farthest from ethical. Others just get caught up in the lies.
There are a lot people claiming she violates this and that and never post enough proof to back it up.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 28, 2017, 06:13:02 PM
Isn't marketing always manipulating sales? If I don't have money for BookBub I won't sell as many books as someone who does have money for BookBub. So using money to get sales is always part of marketing.

That's a very naive way of thinking. There have always been white hat tactics and black hat tactics.  Just because you can spend money to do something does not make it right. Otherwise, the many KU pirates that amazon smacked down months back would have technically been in the right. There is a vast difference between, for example, creating an AMS ad and going into a group and offering to pay people to buy your book.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 28, 2017, 06:16:49 PM
She doesn't buy thousands of books to manipulate ranks. She doesn't voilate the terms of KU shuffling books in and out of book sets. You're spreading a lot of hearsay and yet you said never worked with her.
Nothing she does is unethical. Some of the author's who speak ill of her are the farthest from ethical. Others just get caught up in the lies.
There are a lot people claiming she violates this and that and never post enough proof to back it up.

I have seen screen shots of people who talk about having a certain number of copies they're required to gift before they are allowed into the set. And she absolutely does shuffle books in and out of sets. They go up sometimes claiming to sell KU books, and then shuffle out at the last minute so that what is shipped is something else so that she can be on different retailers. There have also been links inside to download books from third-party sites instead of having the books in the sets, even though they're listen on the cover. All of this is well documented.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Cheryl Douglas on April 28, 2017, 06:17:56 PM
To me it sounds like a lot of you don't realize how much it costs to make a list in marketing.

When the big indies are pushing to make JUST the USA today, they've spent tens of thousands in a -week-.

Meredith Wild spent 6-figures (yes, over 100,000) when she pushed her Hacker series.

A friend of mine put together a box set (Not Rebecca). Her budget that she spent: 30,000 (and she didn't make NYT). All out of her pocket because she didn't do a buy in.

I don't have 30,000 to spend on marketing. I don't even have 5,000 to spend. What I do have is $500, and being that I want the letters, I'm A-okay with doing it in a boxset.

Really, really research things before you begin questioning about "Why it costs so much" or "Where does the money go". Because honestly, it costs a f*ckton.


I respect that everyone has the right to make their own business decisions. And for those have made the lists, kudos. I personally, was only speaking to my own experience with the USA list. I understand it costs a lot more than that to make the NYT times list, but I don't think it's accurate to say that it takes tens of thousands for a one week ad spend to make the USA list. It took me less than $2k to make the list on my own. Again, just my experience. I'm not calling anyone's ethics into question. I've never had personal experience with these box sets or any of the organizers. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on April 28, 2017, 06:18:29 PM
To me it sounds like a lot of you don't realize how much it costs to make a list in marketing.

When the big indies are pushing to make JUST the USA today, they've spent tens of thousands in a -week-.

Meredith Wild spent 6-figures (yes, over 100,000) when she pushed her Hacker series.

A friend of mine put together a box set (Not Rebecca). Her budget that she spent: 30,000 (and she didn't make NYT). All out of her pocket because she didn't do a buy in.

I don't have 30,000 to spend on marketing. I don't even have 5,000 to spend. What I do have is $500, and being that I want the letters, I'm A-okay with doing it in a boxset.

Really, really research things before you begin questioning about "Why it costs so much" or "Where does the money go". Because honestly, it costs a f*ckton.




I've almost always been in Select so I have no "letters" (just money), but I've had around 7.5k sales (not borrows) in a week a few times at a cost of $0-$400. And I'm not a "big indie." I don't think big indies spend tens of thousands or even thousands to hit lists.

Advertising is one thing. Buying your own book is another, and that's what gifting is. If you can't see the difference, then I guess you're all good here. If you're waffling, you may want to read Sela's post above. She pretty much nails it.

It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Or the ban hammer falls. :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 06:18:43 PM
I have seen screen shots of people who talk about having a certain number of copies they're required to gift before they are allowed into the set. And she absolutely does shuffle books in and out of sets. They go up sometimes claiming to sell KU books, and then shuffle out at the last minute so that what is shipped is something else so that she can be on different retailers. There have also been links inside to download books from third-party sites instead of having the books in the sets, even though they're listen on the cover. All of this is well documented.

You say they are well documented but where are they?
Also strange is the web page with these claims are down now.
Why would that happen?  ::)


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 06:21:20 PM
I imagine there will be a long line of authors wanting to sign up to become the next USAT/NYT bestseller.
Exactly! And only for 500 dollars. BookBub? I now laugh at BookBub! And I would not have known that Rebecca was this successful had this blog post not been written. All in all this day was a triumph for Rebecca and every writer is talking about her.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 06:22:02 PM
I respect that everyone has the right to make their own business decisions. And for those have made the lists, kudos. I personally, was only speaking to my own experience with the USA list. I understand it costs a lot more than that to make the NYT times list, but I don't think it's accurate to say that it takes tens of thousands for a one week ad spend to make the USA list. It took me less than $2k to make the list on my own. Again, just my experience. I'm not calling anyone's ethics into question. I've never had personal experience with these box sets or any of the organizers.

I think there is a lot of timing around making the USA. It might be easier (cheaper) to do it during a certain month, maybe a certain sub-genre, and as a solo author box set. A lot of those who do push that sort of money also want to make the NYT, so that's why there is the higher spend. To try and do it and hope NYT doesn't vet the set out. You were very lucky to make it on $2k, and I would love to do that myself. But based on my own numbers, and my own marketing spend, it's never going to happen for me at that price point.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 28, 2017, 06:22:43 PM
Exactly! And only for 500 dollars. BookBub? I now laugh at BookBub! And I would not have known that Rebecca was this successful had this blog post not been written. All in all this day was a triumph for Rebecca and every writer is talking about her.

It's all fun and games until Amazon decides to finally crack down on the ToS violations and shuts down your KDP account in a mass purge of people associated with bad actors.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 06:24:14 PM
It's all fun and games until Amazon decides to finally crack down on the ToS violations and shuts down your KDP account in a mass purge of people associated with bad actors.
Strange that didn't happen to her. It's like she's not violating anything like some are saying.
I think people need to read up on the TOS again.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 06:24:47 PM
I've almost always been in Select so I have no "letters" (just money), but I've had around 7.5k sales (not borrows) in a week a few times at a cost of $0-$400. And I'm not a "big indie." I don't think big indies spend tens of thousands or even thousands to hit lists.

Advertising is one thing. Buying your own book is another, and that's what gifting is. If you can't see the difference, then I guess you're all good here. If you're waffling, you may want to read Sela's post above. She pretty much nails it.

It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye. Or the ban hammer falls. :)

You also have a huge following. For those who are going the boxset route, they might not. I was watching JA Huss' videos (I love her). And she even said when she goes to make a list, she spends tens of thousands in a week when she's pushing to make a list. And there's also no gurantee that 7.5k will make the USA today. That's also just Amazon. Trying to tempt Nook and Itunes is a different animal all together, and you need them to make the list.

I'm not touching the "buying the own books" or gifting issue. That's a different animal. I honestly didn't realize (based on trial and error a friend did during a release) that gifting altered the rank. He said it didn't, so I don't have a horse in that race. If someone wants to gift, that's on them.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 06:26:36 PM
We don'tt buy our way into lists. I agree that's unethical. I understand some people are just repeating what they have heard. That's why I welcome people to join genrecrave marketing services and see the screenshots for themselves.

I mean which is it? Am I pocketing the buy in? Or using it spend 500 hours a day to gift 20,000 copies? (That sounds expensive... makes you wonder how I have money to pay a cover designer, Formatter, and get the books listed on ad sites, huh?) I know it seems like I might be able to fit 500 hours of work into a day, but I've not yet been able to pull that off. There's a reason the rumors don't add up. And a reason that the screenshots that show my spending do 😜

But hey! You know what's super cool? Instead of rumors, people can actually join the FB group and see screenshots of advertising receipts, testimonies from people who have logged into my accounts an seen the ad spend first hand, and screenshots of preorder numbers (you can't gift a preorder).

I get that people want to tear me down, but maybe pick something that doesn't hurt other authors in the process. I mean - at least go after a leg of my business that I actually profit on 😜
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 06:27:10 PM
It took me less than $2k to make the list on my own.
But how many sales does it take to get on the list?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on April 28, 2017, 06:28:59 PM
But how many sales does it take to get on the list?

It depends on the time of year. For USA Today it could be anywhere from 5,000 to 12,000 sold in a week (including at least 500 from a non-Amazon retailer).
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 06:29:45 PM
But how many sales does it take to get on the list?

It depends on the month/week. When pushing for it the aim is: 500 nook, 500 apple, 7k+ Amazon. That may get you, may not. To make NYT, 20,000+, and they've vetted off people who've sold 21k.

I am doing a wide run later on this year so I've been really researching everything on how to make a list.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 06:35:56 PM
Thank you Alice and Holly for the numbers.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Cheryl Douglas on April 28, 2017, 06:39:59 PM
But how many sales does it take to get on the list?

It took me 8k, but that was in August.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on April 28, 2017, 06:42:41 PM
You also have a huge following. For those who are going the boxset route, they might not. I was watching JA Huss' videos (I love her). And she even said when she goes to make a list, she spends tens of thousands in a week when she's pushing to make a list. And there's also no gurantee that 7.5k will make the USA today. That's also just Amazon. Trying to tempt Nook and Itunes is a different animal all together, and you need them to make the list.

I'm not touching the "buying the own books" or gifting issue. That's a different animal. I honestly didn't realize (based on trial and error a friend did during a release) that gifting altered the rank. He said it didn't, so I don't have a horse in that race. If someone wants to gift, that's on them.
I realize my non-boosted numbers might not be enough to make a list. My point was that I'm not a big indie, and I can get those numbers. Big indies do much better.

My question is: in all seriousness, what good are these "letters" earned with thousands of dollars? Do they actually make anybody more money? In other words, does the fact of having this credential make you sell better afterwards, as opposed to somebody who got the letters because 10k people actually bought her (just her) book? It would seem to me that the letters would be more a consequence of popularity than a cause of it. I seem to see romance authors all the time with these letters, but they're not actually making much money. Which makes me wonder what the point is, if the exercise doesn't result in thousands of follow-up sales. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 28, 2017, 06:45:01 PM
But hey! You know what's super cool? Instead of rumors, people can actually join the FB group and see screenshots of advertising receipts, testimonies from people who have logged into my accounts an seen the ad spend first hand, and screenshots of preorder numbers (you can't gift a preorder).

So your launch strategy doesn't including the gifting of some specified number of copies? Are you declaring that all those people who said it does are wrong, or are you trying to split hairs between you buying gift copies and you requiring other people to gift them on behalf of the box set?

And why, if you're always on the up and up, are there just so many people who seem to have decided that you're operating in unethical space, to the point where you've had multiple public fights on Facebook, as well as blog posts, etc., all seeming to focus on your behavior. Are you telling me there are just that many jealous authors out there?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 06:45:46 PM
I realize my non-boosted numbers might not be enough to make a list. My point was that I'm not a big indie, and I can get those numbers. Big indies do much better.

My question is: in all seriousness, what good are these "letters" earned with thousands of dollars? Do they actually make anybody more money? In other words, does the fact of having this credential make you sell better afterwards, as opposed to somebody who got the letters because 10k people actually bought her (just her) book? It would seem to me that the letters would be more a consequence of popularity than a cause of it. I seem to see romance authors all the time with these letters, but they're not actually making much money. Which makes me wonder what the point is, if the exercise doesn't result in thousands of follow-up sales.
It's all on how you use them. If you sit on your butt and do nothing, then it's useless. But if you build a marketing campaign around it, write a good enough book to keep the people who buy it, it can help boost your career. Of course, it isn't the instant fixer, but marketing wise, it is a very good thing to have.
Plus, with the thousands of sales, you should get some follow through if you wrote a good enough book.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on April 28, 2017, 06:46:18 PM
United Airlines dragged one person off the plane. Just one. And everyone agreed the company was in the wrong.

I think businesses should have refund policies in place and conduct their business professionally. And I won't do business with any company where owner throws temper tantrums publicly. Because if she can post bogus emails she called the sheriff on this person, or actually with me she ordered everyone who was our shared friends on Facebook to pick a side, which was pretty comical, as I have never and will never do business with her companies, anyway, what she does to others online and public she can do to any one of you in bed with her. And the saddest part of all is none of you can leave. Literally the best advice I could give to people worried they were tangled up already and would get bad reviews on their books and publicly shamed, I told them to just flake out. Just say you're sick, don't deliver, be a pity case. It's the safest way to get out. That's the reality many of us veterans of Kboards have had to deal with.

The scariest part of all, despite her followers constantly saying this is libel or defamation is that the organizer isn't even real. She's a real person, but the name she does business as isn't real. So even if anything ever comes of any of this, nothing will stop her from opening up shop the next day as Mary Sue.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 06:48:10 PM
So your launch strategy doesn't including the gifting of some specified number of copies? Are you declaring that all those people who said it does are wrong, or are you trying to split hairs between you buying gift copies and you requiring other people to gift them on behalf of the box set?

And why, if you're always on the up and up, are there just so many people who seem to have decided that you're operating in unethical space, to the point where you've had multiple public fights on Facebook, as well as blog posts, etc., all seeming to focus on your behavior. Are you telling me there are just that many jealous authors out there?
She said she's dealing with a sick child. Do you mind attacking her on some other day. That would be mighty ethical of you. Thank you.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 06:49:06 PM
I realize my non-boosted numbers might not be enough to make a list. My point was that I'm not a big indie, and I can get those numbers. Big indies do much better.

My question is: in all seriousness, what good are these "letters" earned with thousands of dollars? Do they actually make anybody more money? In other words, does the fact of having this credential make you sell better afterwards, as opposed to somebody who got the letters because 10k people actually bought her (just her) book? It would seem to me that the letters would be more a consequence of popularity than a cause of it. I seem to see romance authors all the time with these letters, but they're not actually making much money. Which makes me wonder what the point is, if the exercise doesn't result in thousands of follow-up sales.

I think it's all about dreams and goals. It's kind of like why people still chase the trade publish dream. To them, that is their goal, being part of one of the Big Five would make them feel as if they've made it. Even if it might not make financial sense to me.

I sell okay. Better than I even suspected, and I'm on my way to a six-figure year. But, I'm in KU, and I don't want to put my solo books out wide. Not yet at least, and maybe not ever. So, why not aim for one of my goals (letters) without sacrificing my income?

Do I expect to sell better? No, I'd love to, but that's not why I would do a letter-making boxset. It's just to satisfy a dream, and then move on and being like "Cool, i did that, I have letters." Even if nothing more happens because of it, it would make me happy.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 06:50:38 PM
So your launch strategy doesn't including the gifting of some specified number of copies? Are you declaring that all those people who said it does are wrong, or are you trying to split hairs between you buying gift copies and you requiring other people to gift them on behalf of the box set?

And why, if you're always on the up and up, are there just so many people who seem to have decided that you're operating in unethical space, to the point where you've had multiple public fights on Facebook, as well as blog posts, etc., all seeming to focus on your behavior. Are you telling me there are just that many jealous authors out there?
Once again, those are all wrong.
I would implore you to show prove that they are, or everything you're saying is hearsay.
I would know, since I was in a recent box set of hers and we were required to do nothing of the sort. I have the numbers we've sold, we know where the money has gone, but you know, let's just listen to baseless accusations.
Or just keep ignoring my post.
United Airlines dragged one person off the plane. Just one. And everyone agreed the company was in the wrong.

I think businesses should have refund policies in place and conduct their business professionally. And I won't do business with any company where owner throws temper tantrums publicly. Because if she can post bogus emails she called the sheriff on this person, or actually with me she ordered everyone who was our shared friends on Facebook to pick a side, which was pretty comical, as I have never and will never do business with her companies, anyway, what she does to others online and public she can do to any one of you in bed with her. And the saddest part of all is none of you can leave. Literally the best advice I could give to people worried they were tangled up already and would get bad reviews on their books and publicly shamed, I told them to just flake out. Just say you're sick, don't deliver, be a pity case. It's the safest way to get out. That's the reality many of us veterans of Kboards have had to deal with.

The scariest part of all, despite her followers constantly saying this is libel or defamation is that the organizer isn't even real. She's a real person, but the name she does business as isn't real. So even if anything ever comes of any of this, nothing will stop her from opening up shop the next day as Mary Sue.
Strangely enough, you can easily find her real name, her husbands name, her kids name, all on facebook, under the name she uses to run her company. But according to you, she's some random Mary Sue.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 28, 2017, 06:51:21 PM
My question is: in all seriousness, what good are these "letters" earned with thousands of dollars? Do they actually make anybody more money? In other words, does the fact of having this credential make you sell better afterwards, as opposed to somebody who got the letters because 10k people actually bought her (just her) book? It would seem to me that the letters would be more a consequence of popularity than a cause of it. I seem to see romance authors all the time with these letters, but they're not actually making much money. Which makes me wonder what the point is, if the exercise doesn't result in thousands of follow-up sales. 
I've always thought it was funny to see an author tout themselves as a "best selling author" and then see their books' ranks in the sale-a-week range. It's ephemeral.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 28, 2017, 06:52:48 PM
She said she's dealing with a sick child. Do you mind attacking her on some other day. That would be mighty ethical of you. Thank you.

Which has nothing to do with this conversation. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 28, 2017, 06:52:54 PM
She said she's dealing with a sick child. Do you mind attacking her on some other day. That would be mighty ethical of you. Thank you.

I'm not sure what that has to do with anything. Anyway, I'm typing this with my paws.

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/f8/Internet_dog.jpg)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on April 28, 2017, 06:55:00 PM
I didn't say that, I said who she does business AS. Yes, many people have her real name.

Anyway, I said what I said because that was all I decided I could do to help. I've never worked with her, never will, I was harmed by own "organizer" type person early in my career. We "veterans" literally message each other "get out the popcorn..." when this stuff flares up about every other week.... I speak out on what I see, just the PUBLIC posts are enough to make any savvy person go "Wait, what?" And I speak out because unlike others, she can't claim I'm just a hater who didn't get a good promotion from her. Nope. It's just a spade being called a spade.

Now you will have to excuse me, I'm going to go make me a bowl. :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 06:56:45 PM
With all due respect, I don't know you, but I do know people who say they were required to gift a certain number of copies. Maybe you didn't have to do that, or I suppose the people who said that might have been lying, but that seems unlikely to me.
Anything is certain on the internet.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 06:58:11 PM
With all due respect, I don't know you, but I do know people who say they were required to gift a certain number of copies. Maybe you didn't have to do that, or I suppose the people who said that might have been lying, but that seems unlikely to me.

You're stuck on this gifting thing. Do you realize the numbers don't add up? It takes over 8,000 books to make a list. What the hell are 100 copies or 500 copies going to really do if they don't have thousands of pre-orders/sales already?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 07:00:21 PM
You're stuck on this gifting thing. Do you realize the numbers don't add up? It takes over 8,000 books to make a list. What the hell are 100 copies or 500 copies going to really do if they don't have thousands of pre-orders/sales already?
And you can't gift preorders and you can only gift one at a time.
It would take a very long time to gift enough books to make any kind of list in release week.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on April 28, 2017, 07:01:33 PM
It takes over 8,000 books to make a list. What the hell are 100 copies or 500 copies going to really do if they don't have thousands of pre-orders/sales already?

Firstly it depends on the week, some people have hit the lists with a scant 5k in sales. Secondly we're talking gifting *thousands* of copies, not a couple of hundred. If you gift over 2,000 copies of a boxed set, that gets you nearly half way toward the 5k to hit a list in a quiet week.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 07:02:04 PM
And you can't gift preorders and you can only gift one at a time.
It would take a very long time to gift enough books to make any kind of list.

Exactly! And you have to calculate the margin of people who might not accept the gift. The time cost is just staggering to me. Couple that with how many boxsets she runs, and it's not logical at all to me. You would need an army.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: BlouBryant on April 28, 2017, 07:03:19 PM
Where is John Locke today?

I think Hobbes is winning this one.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 07:05:24 PM
Firstly it depends on the week, some people have hit the lists with a scant 5k in sales. Secondly we're talking gifting *thousands* of copies, not a couple of hundred. If you gift over 2,000 copies of a boxed set, that gets you nearly half way toward the 5k to hit a list in a quiet week.

I can't wrap my head around someone gifting -thousands- of copies in five days (maybe a week if they are really up on the deadline). Remember you can't gift pre-orders and it has to be one at a time. So 2,000 copies in 5 days. I just can not logically see that happening.

I really think the numbers you heard are an exaggeration if not an outright lie. That is me just looking in as an outsider and simple logic/math.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 28, 2017, 07:05:48 PM
You're stuck on this gifting thing. Do you realize the numbers don't add up? It takes over 8,000 books to make a list. What the hell are 100 copies or 500 copies going to really do if they don't have thousands of pre-orders/sales already?
At $0.99 per book, $40,000 buys a lot of books. And yes, the amount I was asked for to buy into a boxed set was $2,000. I never could get a good answer as to how the money was going to be spent -- "advertising and promotion" -- and I bowed out.

And I'm getting really tired of people throwing the word "liar" around. I suggest you look up the words "defamation" and "libel" before using such words.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 07:09:28 PM
At $0.99 per book, $40,000 buys a lot of books. And yes, the amount I was asked for to buy into a boxed set was $2,000. I never could get a good answer as to how the money was going to be spent -- "advertising and promotion" -- and I bowed out.

And I'm getting really tired of people throwing the word "liar" around. I suggest you look up the words "defamation" and "libel" before using such words.

Where did I call anyone a liar? Have you ever run FB ads, bookbub ads, and AMS ads? Let alone booking promotions like I love vampires or Bargain Booksy? I have. $40,000 to make the NYT wouldn't even make me bat an eyelash.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 07:10:43 PM
Which has nothing to do with this conversation.
I was talking to Monk, who was saying that people using her services were morally bankrupt (My words) and now he is attacking some woman somewhere whose child had surgery today and who is pregnant. This might sound strange to some here that are so heavily invested in this, but   writers on Twitter and Facebook like her and me personally after reading the blog post I will be joining her Facebook group. She's a bit of a drill sergeant it seems, but she gets things done. Some are treating her like she is murdering people to get on the NYT bestsellers list. We should all just get over it. It's not that important, really. And some of the opinions spoken here are actually not God's truth, really. Let's all get over ourselves. It's not that important, really!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 07:11:13 PM
You're stuck on this gifting thing. Do you realize the numbers don't add up? It takes over 8,000 books to make a list. What the hell are 100 copies or 500 copies going to really do if they don't have thousands of pre-orders/sales already?


I sold 8,300+ books one week when I had a Bookbub without any promotion. None. Just the Bookbub 99c promotion of a single book. I missed the USAT by a couple hundred sales. Believe me, that couple hundred meant a lot.

Say someone else only sold 7,900 books that week but bought / gifted 500 copies to get to 8,400 copies and got on the USAT... Which of the two of us do you think deserved to be there?

It's unethical to buy/gift your own books to hit a list because those sales are not legitimate and shouldn't count. Just like it's unethical to pay click farms to bot-borrow books so you can hit the top 100 and/or get illegitimate page reads.

This should be a pretty easy ethical question to answer. That it isn't speaks to me of desperation and a desire for success -- or the appearance of success -- such that people are willing and able to close their eyes and plug their ears to unethical behaviour.

Bottom line: if a publisher gifts / buys several hundred or several thousand books in order to hit a list, they are not behaving ethically.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 07:11:27 PM
At $0.99 per book, $40,000 buys a lot of books. And yes, the amount I was asked for to buy into a boxed set was $2,000. I never could get a good answer as to how the money was going to be spent -- "advertising and promotion" -- and I bowed out.

And I'm getting really tired of people throwing the word "liar" around. I suggest you look up the words "defamation" and "libel" before using such words.
The amount is off. Her sets are never more than 20 books. How are you getting 40000 dollars from 2 grand buy in? Out of all her sets, only one or two had that buy in amount, out of all the others, the buy in was 500 and less.
The 20k one was for a NYT run, unless I missed her posting one.
I can also show you where she spends the money if need be.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: NeedWant on April 28, 2017, 07:15:56 PM
I sold 8,300+ books one week when I had a Bookbub without any promotion. None. Just the Bookbub 99c promotion of a single book. I missed the USAT by a couple hundred sales. Believe me, that couple hundred meant a lot.

I've recently seen an author spamming a writer's Facebook group asking people to download their book on Apple, Kobo, etc. so they could make the USAT list. These are the kinds of people we're dealing with here. And I don't think that's ethical on any level, but that's just me.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 28, 2017, 07:16:40 PM
The amount is off. Her sets are never more than 20 books. How are you getting 40000 dollars from 2 grand buy in? Out of all her sets, only one or two had that buy in amount, out of all the others, the buy in was 500 and less.
The 20k one was for a NYT run, unless I missed her posting one.
I can also show you where she spends the money if need be.
Pull out your calculator and multiply 2,000 times 20. It's not that hard. I've watched you call everyone on this board a liar. Don't go there. I don't know what your stake is. Don't tell me what I know as a part of that FB group.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Boyd on April 28, 2017, 07:20:00 PM
The amount is off. Her sets are never more than 20 books. How are you getting 40000 dollars from 2 grand buy in? Out of all her sets, only one or two had that buy in amount, out of all the others, the buy in was 500 and less.
The 20k one was for a NYT run, unless I missed her posting one.
I can also show you where she spends the money if need be.



20x2000=40000
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 07:20:11 PM

I sold 8,300+ books one week when I had a Bookbub without any promotion. None. Just the Bookbub 99c promotion of a single book. I missed the USAT by a couple hundred sales. Believe me, that couple hundred meant a lot.

Say someone else only sold 7,900 books that week but bought / gifted 500 copies to get to 8,400 copies and got on the USAT... Which of the two of us do you think deserved to be there?

It's unethical to buy/gift your own books to hit a list because those sales are not legitimate. Just like it's unethical to pay click farms to bot-borrow books so you can hit the top 100 and/or get illegitimate page reads.

Bookbub is the holy grail of marketing, so I can definitely see that happening. They take so few people, so congratulations for getting them to say yes  and almost making it!

However, I'm not going to get into an ethics conversation or 'deserving' conversation. My stance: As long as it's not against TOS, people will do what they want. If Amazon didn't want people gifting, they wouldn't make it an option. Amazon is very much "act first, ask questions later". I believe if someone was abusing their TOS, they would be banned and would have been banned long ago, especially with how many people report her for supposed violations.

I can appreciate your stance, and I definitely see your point of view. However, I'm not going to demonize someone for using all the -legal- marketing tools at their disposal.

And I think that's what this points down to: ethics vs legal. Now I'm sounding like a lawyer.

 We all make choices of how we want to do things and what we want to be known for.  You don't do it. Someone else might.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 07:23:29 PM
Bottom line: if a publisher gifts / buys several hundred or several thousand books in order to hit a list, they are not behaving ethically.
A bestseller list is a marketing gimmick. Oscars are marketing gimmicks. That has nothing to do with ethics. All of us need to get over ourselves.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 28, 2017, 07:25:27 PM
I was talking to Monk, who was saying that people using her services were morally bankrupt (My words) and now he is attacking some woman somewhere whose child had surgery today and who is pregnant. This might sound strange to some here that are so heavily invested in this, but   writers on Twitter and Facebook like her and me personally after reading the blog post I will be joining her Facebook group. She's a bit of a drill sergeant it seems, but she gets things done. Some are treating her like she is murdering people to get on the NYT bestsellers list. We should all just get over it. It's not that important, really. And some of the opinions spoken here are actually not God's truth, really. Let's all get over ourselves. It's not that important, really!

Some interesting use of words there.  I don't see anyone else equating this to talking about murder.  One would think you're trying to paint her as a martyr.

And again, I say that has nothing to do with the conversation.  We're talking ethics and business practices.  Try to keep the histrionics out of it.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 07:25:44 PM
That NYT buy in is $40,000. Again, a friend who had a $30,000 solo budget (in no way, shape, or form affiliated with Rebecca and Genrecrave), had hired people who run ads for a living to guide her, had loads of giveaways, everything you could think of, and didn't make it.

So, that price isn't unusual to me. Mileage varies based on so many different things. Yes, people can make it with less. But, if I was personally pushing for the NYT, I'd have probably more than that as my budget because I personally did the research, and talked to people who have done it, and attempted to it.

I err on the side of caution. I would rather listen to the average ($30K plus) then the outlier (I did it with $2k).
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 07:25:51 PM
Pull out your calculator and multiply 2,000 times 20. It's not that hard. I've watched you call everyone on this board a liar. Don't go there. I don't know what your stake is. Don't tell me what I know as a part of that FB group.
My mistake on the amount part.
There's a lot of armchair lawyers and people think they know certain rules, when they in fact don't.
I wouldn't even had replied to you if I didn't mess up the math in my head, since you were speaking from your own experience and not what you heard from other authors.


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 07:26:52 PM
A bestseller list is a marketing gimmick. Oscars are marketing gimmicks. That has nothing to do with ethics. All of us need to get over ourselves.

I agree. Hell, the NYT isn't even ABOUT best-selling anything. It's vetted. If you sell a lot you might impress them enough to get on the list, but there's no guarantee.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 07:27:34 PM
20x2000=40000
I've been staring at a program called blender for too long. Never try to rig and do math at the same time.
My stock trading buddies would be disappointed in me.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 07:28:04 PM
Jalex, to be fair, some of my sets do end up with more than 20 authors in it. It's not intentional, as I prefer a 20 person limit. But it happens, and I want to make sure everything here is presented factually.

To those defending me, you are wasting your breath. Those who are saying untrue things know what they are saying is not true. Those who don't know can simply join my group, see the screen shots, and see if it lines up what these people are claiming or not. Then they can go to Amazon reps, Amazon TOS pages, their lawyers, and whoever else they want to ask questions. But those people who are innocently getting dragged into this either need to...

1) Choose to see the information that's intentionally being withheld from them by some of the posters here.
or
2) Choose to just go along with it, because it somehow the logic holes add up in their head and they don't care to see anything that might disprove what they want to believe.

EITHER IS FINE WITH ME. Why? Because I have no desire to a) help people who don't want me help or b) to work with anyone who mindlessly follows things when they COULD have all the facts IF they wanted them.  That is a choice for the individual to make.

I've told them where to go if they want to see how the money is spent. That's up to them.

I've already said  - and this can ALSO be confirmed by joining the genrecrave marketing group - that not all of my sets have buy in. MOST are $500. Only twice did I do a higher buy in. Do I say where the money goes? I not only say it, I SHOW IT. there are screenshots in the group that have been up since January that literally show receipt for receipt where that money went. As well as people who LOGGED INTO MY ACCOUNT AND CONFIRMED THE ACCURACY OF IT ALL.

So if someone wants to say I "don't say where the money goes" - they can say that.
If someone wants to see if that claim is true, or if that person is knowingly or accidentally misleading them, then they can join genrecrave marketing group and SEE for THEMSELVES the SCREENSHOTS that show every penny spent AND talk to the people who LOGGED INTO MY ACCOUNT and confirmed. (PS: Those screenshots also show that I provided that login before all this even started. I said "I want a witness that this money is being spent right" - so that part wasn't something I did after the fact, just to be clear.)

But again, it's all a moot point. I could dismantle everything said here, piece by piece by piece with screenshot evidence and irrefutable facts. But you know what? I've done that a DOZEN times now. And every time, they hide those parts of the conversation, or go away for a while and then come back and say the same things, pretending they didn't already see all the proof that shows they are lying. So why keep dismantling it over and over again? When people can just join the group and see for themselves? Instead of me posting the same things over and over again, if they REALLY want to know, they can go there and see it where I've already posted it.

Everything else is rumors on their part and a waste of time on mine. (Yes, even making this post is a waste of time). but you know what has slowly but surely been happening? People ARE going to that group. And they ARE finding out the truth. And they ARE realizing that these people who claim to have "morals" apparently KNOWINGLY withholding information from them because it doesn't fit their narrative. And they they see that, there's one thing they all want to know:

Which moral is it again that condones knowingly misleading people? I can't think of any, personally. The truth speaks for itself to anyone who is willing to see it. And to anyone who doesn't want the truth, well, what's the point in showing it to them?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 07:29:51 PM
I agree. Hell, the NYT isn't even ABOUT best-selling anything. It's vetted. If you sell a lot you might impress them enough to get on the list, but there's no guarantee.

Correct. I've had sets that had NYT numbers (and didn't gift a single copy to create buzz!) and didn't make the list. And I've had sets that did make the list with about the same numbers. One set actually made it HIGHER with LESS numbers than another set that made a list. NYT is known to curate. If they don't think your writing is good enough to be there, they simply knock you off the list.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 07:31:36 PM
Bookbub is the holy grail of marketing, so I can definitely see that happening. They take so few people, so congratulations for getting them to say yes  and almost making it!

However, I'm not going to get into an ethics conversation or 'deserving' conversation. My stance: As long as it's not against TOS, people will do what they want. If Amazon didn't want people gifting, they wouldn't make it an option. Amazon is very much "act first, ask questions later". I believe if someone was abusing their TOS, they would be banned and would have been banned long ago, especially with how many people report her for supposed violations.

I can appreciate your stance, and I definitely see your point of view. However, I'm not going to demonize someone for using all the -legal- marketing tools at their disposal.

And I think that's what this points down to: ethics vs legal. Now I'm sounding like a lawyer.

 We all make choices of how we want to do things and what we want to be known for.  You don't do it. Someone else might.

But you see, you are already getting in an ethical conversation when you say that "as long as its not against TOS..." As we have seen in the past, the TOS can be inadequate and people are always trying to find loopholes and quick fixes that push the boundaries of ethics in order to get ahead. It may be seen as okay, but we know it really isn't. What if I decided to buy 20,000 copies of my 99c book?  Should my book beat out someone else whose book actually sold 20,000 copies to actual readers?

We can't avoid ethical questions in life. Every action has ethical implications. Every decision in which we have to choose to follow or bend or break rules is an ethical decision.

Someone wrote that the law is no substitute for morality and that right and wrong is a very different standard than legal and illegal. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 07:33:47 PM
Just going to throw it out there, that's it kind of hard for ANY of us to speak about the NYT aiming list. I've only run sign ups for one, and that one didn't run yet. And I had interest in a second, but haven't collected money or moved forward with it yet. Still considering who's interested in that. So harping on THAT set up, that NO ONE has seen in action yet, is a waste of time. It's literally 1 set out of dozens with that sign up...that hasn't run yet...so I just don't get it. It's like harping one thing proved to be malicious so the goal posts got moved to be about the NYT sets instead, to see if that will work better at swaying people to join the hate fest.

If we want to talk to the $500 buy in sets I've already run, as I've said, there's screenshots that show how that money is spent. Anyone who wants to see it is welcome to join the group and see it for themselves. Many who are starting these rumors have already seen it and are aware, and there's a reason they didn't share those screenshots when trying to paint this misaligned, misleading, and purposefully deceitful picture.

The screenshots disprove their narrative. Join the group and see for yourself. And then you can decide who isn't being ethical here.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 07:36:02 PM
Some interesting use of words there.  I don't see anyone else equating this to talking about murder.  One would think you're trying to paint her as a martyr.

And again, I say that has nothing to do with the conversation.  We're talking ethics and business practices.  Try to keep the histrionics out of it.
You're talking about ethics? Look how you're talking to a woman whose daughter had surgery today and who is pregnant and who is a real living human being and you equate that with a fake, pro wresting belt marketing gimmick like a best seller list? Are we all out of our minds?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 07:37:31 PM
A bestseller list is a marketing gimmick. Oscars are marketing gimmicks. That has nothing to do with ethics. All of us need to get over ourselves.

I really can't believe this statement.

You're saying that it's all BS so if people cheat, it's of no consequence and shouldn't matter.

This is cynicism at its apex. It's nihilism. That's scary.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 07:39:14 PM
You're talking about ethics? Look how you're talking to a woman whose daughter had surgery today and who is pregnant and who is a real living human being and you equate that with a fake, pro wresting belt marketing gimmick like a best seller list? Are we all out of our minds?

This was never really about ethics. That's just another word that can be used to persuade people to take their side instead of encouraging them to look at the facts and decide for themselves. "We're going to imply that if you don't agree with us, then you're unethical too." It's a bully tactic. Some people fall for it, some people see right through it. Others join the genrecrave marketing group and look at the screenshots so they can decide for themselves  :P
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 07:39:26 PM
But you see, you are already getting in an ethical conversation when you say that "as long as its not against TOS..." As we have seen in the past, the TOS can be inadequate and people are always trying to find loopholes and quick fixes that push the boundaries of ethics in order to get ahead. It may be seen as okay, but we know it really isn't. What if I decided to buy 20,000 copies of my 99c book?  Should my book beat out someone else whose book actually sold 20,000 copies to actual readers?

We can't avoid ethical questions in life. Every action has ethical implications. Every decision in which we have to choose to follow or bend or break rules is an ethical decision.

Someone wrote that the law is no substitute for morality and that right and wrong is a very different standard than legal and illegal.

I am trying not to get into the ethical conversation. Because there are loopholes. Nothing is perfect. People will find a way to accomplish what they want and toe the line. Work smarter not harder, etc. That's just human nature.

Who am I to judge them, though? I try not to judge people, or what they do. Which is why I prefaced it the way I did. Ethics to me are very personal, where legal is black and white. So, I lean on the legal side because it should be cut and dry. Amazon is the final -legal- say in the gifting quandary. Not you. Not me. Just them. What we have are personal opinions.

I don't want to throw my personal beliefs at people, especially in a public way. That is just my personal preference.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: crow.bar.beer on April 28, 2017, 07:40:33 PM
The blog post explains how she is creating USA Today and NYT bestsellers.

If we stop and be truly honest with ourselves, we all know we're not talking about the participating authors being USA Today and NYT bestsellers, just the box-sets. No one gathers a team of twenty runners, does the Boston Marathon as a relay race where the baton gets passed along between them at each 1/20th segment, and then says I completed the Boston Marathon!" :D

Yet I see those authors proclaim that all the time on their covers.  ::)

And I don't understand it, because it's not true. I'd like to see someone have the cojones to put on their cover "1/20th of a USA Today Bestselling Author".

I think that kind of honesty would be nice...
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 07:40:40 PM
You're talking about ethics? Look how you're talking to a woman whose daughter had surgery today and who is pregnant and who is a real living human being and you equate that with a fake, pro wresting belt marketing gimmick like a best seller list? Are we all out of our minds?

The woman with the daughter in surgery who is pregnant is on Writer's Cafe defending her business practices.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 28, 2017, 07:41:15 PM
You're talking about ethics? Look how you're talking to a woman whose daughter had surgery today and who is pregnant and who is a real living human being and you equate that with a fake, pro wresting belt marketing gimmick like a best seller list? Are we all out of our minds?

And again. You're like a broken record.  I don't wish anyone's children ill or them for that matter. I have kids of my own.  But I'm not bringing them into this conversation because they have nothing to do with gifting books, making letters, box sets etc. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 07:44:19 PM
I am trying not to get into the ethical conversation. Because there are loopholes. Nothing is perfect. People will find a way to accomplish what they want and toe the line. Work smarter not harder, etc. That's just human nature.

Who am I to judge them, though? I try not to judge people, or what they do. Which is why I prefaced it the way I did. Ethics to me are very personal, where legal is black and white. So, I lean on the legal side because it should be cut and dry. Amazon is the final -legal- say in the gifting quandary. Not you. Not me. Just them. What we have are personal opinions.

I don't want to throw my personal beliefs at people, especially in a public way. That is just my personal preference.

I'm saying that you may try to avoid getting into an ethical conversation, but you do so by default by accepting or ignoring unethical behaviour.

*shrug*

Turning a blind eye is what allows a lot of bad behaviour continue to exist.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 07:45:33 PM
I really can't believe this statement.

You're saying that it's all BS so if people cheat, it's of no consequence and shouldn't matter.

This is cynicism at its apex. It's nihilism. That's scary.

I actually have a conversation about "cheating" a lot with a friend of mine. I personally -hate- those "publishers" who have a cadre of ghostwriters, and make thousands, tens of thousand, dollars a month churning out re-packaged ghostwritten novels. I hate it so much. But, is that cheating, or is that using a system/market that is offered to them?

This is the same thing: You think gifting is cheating. I 100% respect that. But, is it just using the system/marketing that is offered to them?

We have differences in opinions. No one is forcing -you- to do that. Stand your high ground. But, you can't force someone to do the same. That's where the line is here for me. People trying to force others to adhere to their definition of morality. Have a civilized discussion about ethics and morality, but try not to force it on someone else.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 07:48:21 PM
If we stop and be truly honest with ourselves, we all know we're not talking about the participating authors being USA Today and NYT bestsellers, just the box-sets. No one gathers a team of twenty runners, does the Boston Marathon as a relay race where the baton gets passed along between them at each 1/20th segment, and then says I completed the Boston Marathon!" :D

Yet I see those authors proclaim that all the time on their covers.  ::)

And I don't understand it, because it's not true. I'd like to see someone have the cojones to put on their cover "1/20th of a USA Today Bestselling Author".

I think that kind of honesty would be nice...


I view it like an Olympic team or a sports team. Like Hockey. Every Hockey player gets a ring, gets to say they are Stanely Cup champions EVEN if they never played a second during the post season.  Those 20 people helped each other to get there. Just like that team got them to the playoffs. Everyone deserves the accolades.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 07:49:04 PM
I actually have a conversation about "cheating" a lot with a friend of mine. I personally -hate- those "publishers" who have a cadre of ghostwriters, and make thousands, tens of thousand, dollars a month churning out re-packaged ghostwritten novels. I hate it so much. But, is that cheating, or is that using a system/market that is offered to them?

This is the same thing: You think gifting is cheating. I 100% respect that. But, is it just using the system/marketing that is offered to them?

We have differences in opinions. No one is forcing -you- to do that. Stand your high ground. But, you can't force someone to do the same. That's where the line is here for me. People trying to force others to adhere to their definition of morality. Have a civilized discussion about ethics and morality, but try not to force it on someone else.

People are merely voicing their opinions about a particular business practice which some see as being unethical and others see as BAU. No one is forcing anything on anyone. It may hurt to have one's behaviour labeled as unethical, but that's the risk we all run when we make ethical choices. :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 07:50:05 PM
I'm saying that you may try to avoid getting into an ethical conversation, but you do so by default by accepting or ignoring unethical behaviour.

*shrug*

Turning a blind eye is what allows a lot of bad behaviour continue to exist.

You are trying to force your definition of ethics on other people. I don't agree with that. Regardless of my own personal beliefs.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Boyd on April 28, 2017, 07:50:46 PM
Turning a blind eye is what allows a lot of bad behaviour continue to exist.
That reminds me of my favorite Edmund Burke quote.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 07:51:16 PM
You are trying to force your definition of ethics on other people. I don't agree with that. Regardless of my own personal beliefs.

Merely stating an opinion is not forcing anything. You have chosen to disagree with me. That means you have a choice and have not been forced to do anything. :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 07:51:24 PM
To make things even easier, if you do join the marketing group and are having a hard time finding the posts, here's some quick reference links that might help.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/permalink/1322972544443465/ < If you haven't seen nearly 300 screenshots showing receipts from how I spend buy in...then someone isn't showing you everything!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/permalink/1465963406811044/?match=Ym94ZWQgc2V0cyxib3hlZCBzZXQsYm94IHNldCxib3hlZCxzZXRzLGJveCxzZXQ%3D

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/permalink/1461579860582732/?match=Ym94ZWQgc2V0cyxib3hlZCBzZXQsYm94ZWQsc2V0cyxzZXQ%3D

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/permalink/1450050785068973/?match=Ym94ZWQgc2V0LGJveCBzZXQsYm94ZWQsYm94LHNldA%3D%3D

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/permalink/1424205744320144/?match=Ym94ZWQgc2V0cyxib3hlZCBzZXQsYm94IHNldCxib3hlZCxzZXRzLGJveCxzZXQ%3D

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/permalink/1387829321291120/?match=Ym94ZWQgc2V0LGJveGVkLHNldA%3D%3D < Relevant to someone here who said something about her experience

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/permalink/1473736586033726/?match=Ym94ZWQgc2V0LGJveGVkLHNldA%3D%3D

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/permalink/1465831436824241/?match=Ym94ZWQgc2V0LGJveCBzZXQsYm94ZWQsYm94LHNldA%3D%3D

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/permalink/1390533131020739/?match=Ym94ZWQgc2V0cyxib3hlZCxzZXRz

Those are just a few, but it's a start. Feel free to join and dig deep :) Some of the stuff you've seen online has been taken from there, so once you join for yourself, you'll get to see where they got the content, that they were aware about the stuff they didn't share with you, and then you can ask yourself why they didn't SHARE those vital pieces of information and evidence with you.

Join Group Here:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/

Otherwise, I respect your choice to just go along with whatever :) this is just for those who are curious and really want to know the truth. I'm sure some people will say "They looked and there's nothing there" so be ready to hear that. Then go and see for yourself.  And after you do that - speak to Amazon for yourself. Speak to a lawyer for yourself. Heck, speak to the minister at your church if you want to, and have a conversation with them about ethics. This is your career, your life, your decision. You deserve to see for yourself, if for no other reason than to become aware if there is anyone who might be knowingly misleading you.

Those who aren't hiding anything from you should have nothing to worry about if you dive in and see for yourself, so I'm sure they will agree you should join and see the screenshots for yourself. Or they will try to tell you not to look at the screenshots...which in itself would be very telling.

I look forward to meeting more of you. there's been a lot of new faces today, so kudos to those taking knowledge into their own hands!

 Take care :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 07:51:43 PM
People are merely voicing their opinions about a particular business practice which some see as being unethical and others see as BAU. No one is forcing anything on anyone. It may hurt to have one's behaviour labeled as unethical, but that's the risk we all run when we make ethical choices. :)

I have no horse in this race. I just call it like I see it, and try to inject logic when things seem illogical to me. I was curious about this thread when it popped up, saw some very strong untruths, and sought to educate.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 07:52:24 PM
That reminds me of my favorite Edmund Burke quote.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Boyd on April 28, 2017, 07:55:55 PM
You are trying to force your definition of ethics on other people. I don't agree with that. Regardless of my own personal beliefs.

Ethics are something I wish were set in stone so everyone was on the same page.  It isn't, and it isn't helpful that TOS differs from retailer to retailer. 

In general:
I have no horse in the race, but I am watching the debate, learning a bit on each side as things are discussed.  Civil discussion and debate is an art form that seems to have been lost in the last twenty years or so, imo. 

ETA: I multi quoted somehow.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MaryMcDonald on April 28, 2017, 07:56:38 PM
No comment on the ethics of what is going on as that has been covered. My thought is, what is the point of making lists if you know that real readers didn't go out and buy the book? Where is the fun in that? When I sell a book or get a new reader who contacts me, well, that's a great feeling and I wouldn't want to taint that.  ::) Sure, I guess it can help market future books, but if everyone does it, pretty soon having NYT Bestseller won't have any meaning anymore. I will probably never make a list, but I have been in the top 20 on Amazon before. It was amazing. Maybe someday it'll happen again, and if it does, I want it to be through normal advertising methods. (well, tbh, it would be even better if I didn't have to advertise at all!   ;D  )
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 07:58:23 PM
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

Which is exactly why people are here, letting others know "hey, there's people here who aren't giving you all the facts." The saw evil, came here, and are doing something because they are good people who want other good people to SEE THE TRUTH FOR THEMSELVES.

Knowingly misleading people is, IMO, a lie. And that is what is happening in a thread where so much is intentionally being left out because it will disprove the lies being told here. What will happen, and as been happening, is people see the evidence that people here are lying, and those people then look quite hypocritical to be talking about ethics.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/

PS: We have almost 5300 in the group who have access to these screenshots. Feel free to join us :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 08:02:09 PM
Someone who wishes to remain anonymous asked me to post this on their behalf. I am only the conduit. I trust this person's opinion due to past performance on Boards and know that many of the rest of you would as well if you knew their identity. That said, I can't verify their claims. I leave that up to the reader. They want to post this info but don't want to risk the potential 1-star attacks and blackballing that has happened to others who have spoken out loud about issues raised in this thread.

Quote
I've watched this organizer's boxes for more than a year now. I've seen the rules being skirted and outright broken.

1) Books in the sets in KU during the time the sets were on pre-order. Boxes releasing wide with 4-6 books still in KU. Not theoretical. Screenshots don't lie. When caught by Amazon (with some outside help), she began not listing the actual names of the books in the boxes on Amazon to make it harder (but far from impossible) for anyone to report them.

2) Forced price-matching by putting the sets on other sites for 99¢ knowing the sets would be oversized when released.

3) When caught on the price-matching scheme, halving the box sets and putting 11 or 12 of the advertised 22 books on instafreebie with a link for readers to have to go to instafreebie to sideload the balance of the books.

4) Currently, keeping the original box with 22 novels up on Amazon only for release week, then allowing authors to swap out full-length novels for novellas and short stories and calling that a 2nd Edition, even though it bears little to no resemblance to the box that was released and what hit the lists.

Let's think further about some of these:

1) KU double-dipping -- ever wonder WHY Amazon started enforcing its rules for books to not only be exclusive to Amazon but to the publisher and re-emphasized exclusive meant for the preorder period too?

2) Amazon has pulled down some of this organizer's boxes as well as others for this practice. What she and the others gamble on is that Amazon won't catch them within the first week of release. All they want to do is skate through Saturday for NYT listing or Sunday for USA Today. And if they can gift enough boxes and get enough presales during the preorder period to hit the lists with just a few days' sales added on, then if the boxes are taken down late in the week, the boxes can still make the list and they can republish at $2.99.

If Amazon catches the price-matching during the preorder lockdown period or early in the week and if there aren't enough preorders to guarantee a list, then they move to #3.

3) Think about it. The box sets don't even have to physically have all the books in it. Half the authors making a list sometimes aren't even in the box set files being sold to the customer. Read that again. And again.

Now, I happened to be chatting with the person who runs the USA Today bestseller list program, and we spoke about this. She told me during the target week that all versions of a title are considered in the total sales figures, which might include hardback, paperback, ebook, screenplay versions, and so forth. If it has the same title, it gets included. And their contracts with the various vendors means USA Today counts exactly what their told to count, they don't make judgements. So she threw the burden back on Amazon for what they call/don't call an eligible version.

Other organizers who've attempted the instafreebie roll have had their books removed without recourse for republishing.

And while the box set on preorder will have the 22-book 3D box set visual without reference to the book titles the box contains, that cover will get swapped out with a generic 2D cover that lists neither titles nor authors, and often not even number of books to ensure customers can't complain no matter what winds up in the box set file they receive.

4) In an attempt to circumvent the KU exclusivity and to yet continue to capitalize on the USA Today status and keep reviews and still be able to put the box sets into KU one week after release, the organizer now employs the book swap method.

While the organizer and all who take part in her sets, as well as the others coming up behind her, should be ashamed of their blatant attempts to circumvent the Amazon TOS and to manipulate rank and sales, Amazon also shares a good deal of that blame for allowing it to happen.

Lastly, here's what I propose. Since Amazon has seen fit to allow half of several 22-book box sets to be delivered via instafreebie and still allow them to list with USA Today, then let's see how many we can get away with! What about a 50-book box set?

Better yet, let's all publish a box set that has just ONE actual book file in it (our own book, of course), and then add the links to 99 other books that are all permafree. Since we're not actually publishing those 99 books, surely we don't need the rights to them. And if we don't mention the titles on the cover or the authors, we can simply tout the sets as the ultimate 100-book megaboxes for 99 cents. How many do you think we can pop up on the USA Today list? And how many will need to list before Amazon does something about it?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: crow.bar.beer on April 28, 2017, 08:02:22 PM
I view it like an Olympic team or a sports team. Like Hockey. Every Hockey player gets a ring, gets to say they are Stanely Cup champions EVEN if they never played a second during the post season.  Those 20 people helped each other to get there. Just like that team got them to the playoffs. Everyone deserves the accolades.

What you say would be true if the individual author wasn't referring to themselves as a bestselling author in the singular. That's the self-deception evident in this.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 08:05:37 PM
Another anonymous author. Shocking.  8)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 08:10:28 PM
Motivationally speaking:

I have screenshots that show I don't profit on helping others make a bestseller list. Even if you believe that I must be gifting all of these copies, then that means for NO PROFIT I am spending how many hours gifting books? But then when you see the screen shots, you see I can't possibly be gifting thousands of copies, because I've already spent ALL the money on advertising. No matter how you look at it, according to the naysayers here, I'm either spending my time or my money (in reality it's both), to help other authors make a list...to what end? What is my motivation here? What's the punch line to this scam? According to those here, I'm an immoral scammer who helps other people make bestseller lists using methods that cost me time and money...but like...why? Why, supposedly, am I doing this?

It's SO circular. Because when I ask that, it's because "I make a lot of money pocketing the buy in of the sets" - except then it's "she only makes lists because she spends hours upon hours gifting copies that cost money" - So how can I be pocketing the money AND spending it gifting copies? AND paying for a cover designer, formatter, advertisements - and all those things people know exist even without looking at the screenshots in my group that show where the money is going. There is no end to this conversation because by time we get here, it's back to it being unethical, which just leads back to: then what is my motivation here, if I have nothing to gain? Which then goes back to I DO have something to gain. Which then goes back to apparently whatever I gain I am spending on gifting copies. It's like the song that never ends, and it doesn't add up.

AND THEN:

On the other hand, in the same group that most of these screenshots are being shared from, there's literally nearly 300 screenshots that show how money is spent that are NOT being shared on this post. It's not circular. It's linear. Money is paid. Money goes to this. X results result. My motivation to anyone in that group is CLEAR. The evidence speaks for itself. Again, there's a reason some people here don't want you to see ALL The screenshots. There's a reason they didn't show you the nearly 300 screenshots of how that money is spent. There's reason they didn't have a problem with ANY of these things until my sets REGULARLY started hitting lists.

What do I have to gain by doing the sets vs. What do they have to gain by trying to stop you from trusting someone who is helping other authors surpass them? So then, once we hit this point, it goes back to "ethics" again (more circular discussion) - but ethics coming from the fingertips of people who are knowingly withholding information from other authors and trying to dissuade them from looking at Amazon tOS for themselves, talking a lawyer for themselves, talking to Amazon for themselves, and seeing what goes on inside those groups for themselves.

In the end, there's only ONE way to know the truth. It's just up to people whether they want to know it.

See everything they screenshotted here PLUS all the things they didn't when you join genreCrAVE marketing group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/

Then decide for yourself. :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 08:11:06 PM
What you say would be true if the individual author wasn't referring to themselves as a bestselling author in the singular. That's the self-deception evident in this.

Athletes still claim to be Olympic gold medalists even if it wasn't a solo effort. Honestly, it's all semantics. I don't mind boxset authors claiming the title they helped earn. Others do. That's your own preference. It doesn't harm me in any way if they want to run with the title they earned in the set. I don't even feel it dilutes the list, either. Yes, there are fricken dozens of USA/NYT authors I've never even heard of, and probably won't ever hear of again. But, they wanted it, they achieved their goals, so yay for them.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 28, 2017, 08:12:21 PM
Another anonymous author. Shocking.  8)

Come on, it's not anonymous. I think some of us know who that post is from. Or maybe I've hung around kboards and other writer forums too long. :D

This is such a laughable hit piece, OP. You did the same on Facebook recently. It's great to get writers more informed, and I'm thrilled to see Rebecca here in this thread defending herself. I don't think I know another indie that's had as much [crap] thrown at her and it just slides right off.

I'd encourage any writer to read this thread carefully and if you have any questions, join the genreCrave groups on FB and get the answers for yourself and then leave the group if you don't like what you see. Don't rely on secondhand information thrown around by anonymous posters. Knowledge is power and you have the means to find it.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: crow.bar.beer on April 28, 2017, 08:16:49 PM
Athletes still claim to be Olympic gold medalists even if it wasn't a solo effort. Honestly, it's all semantics. I don't mind boxset authors claiming the title they helped earn. Others do. That's your own preference. It doesn't harm me in any way if they want to run with the title they earned in the set. I don't even feel it dilutes the list, either. Yes, there are fricken dozens of USA/NYT authors I've never even heard of, and probably won't ever hear of again. But, they wanted it, they achieved their goals, so yay for them.

USA Today Bestselling Coauthor has an honest ring to it. So does Olympic gold comedalist, now that you mention it. ;)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 28, 2017, 08:18:01 PM
yes, there are fricken dozens of USA/NYT authors I've never even heard of, and probably won't ever hear of again.

Shoot, this was true when I worked at Waldenbooks in the early 90s. Tradpub's churn created tons of pop-up bestsellers you've never heard from again. Doesn't make it right, but it did show me even back then that the bestseller lists were gamed.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on April 28, 2017, 08:18:41 PM
You're talking about ethics? Look how you're talking to a woman whose daughter had surgery today and who is pregnant and who is a real living human being and you equate that with a fake, pro wresting belt marketing gimmick like a best seller list?

I've not seen her give any consideration to the real life circumstances of the people she has sent her followers to bully and harass. It didn't matter if people have lost loved ones, were suffering depression, or received devastating health news. If the author dared complain, ask questions, or seek a refund they were named and shamed and her followers mobilised to hound, harass and 1-star their books. I've seen authors delete their Facebook accounts and give up because of the bullying. But sure, we'll make special consideration about real life circumstances for the instigator.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 08:20:36 PM
USA Today Bestselling Coauthor has an honest ring to it. So does Olympic gold comedalist, now that you mention it. ;)

ROFL. Yes, that has a great honest ring to it. But it looks ugly as hell!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 28, 2017, 08:21:14 PM
It isn't though, only in terms of manipulating rank.

This is a response I've heard before. What is the point of the gifting then? To get enough sales to get on a BS list? Um, it's not sales that get a book on the list, but a top 100 rank. Gifting hundreds of copies, to achieve the rank needed to get on a BS list, IS rank manipulation, pure and simple. Doing it to get on a list doesn't make it okay.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 08:23:01 PM
Come on, it's not anonymous. I think some of us know who that post is from. Or maybe I've hung around kboards and other writer forums too long. :D
;)
It's almost a straight copy and paste.
USA Today Bestselling Coauthor has an honest ring to it. So does Olympic gold comedalist, now that you mention it. ;)
I won't lie, I like the ring of that.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 28, 2017, 08:23:08 PM
USA Today Bestselling Coauthor has an honest ring to it. So does Olympic gold comedalist, now that you mention it. ;)

Emmy Awards for Best Ensembles is nice too. ;)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 08:23:21 PM
Shoot, this was true when I worked at Waldenbooks in the early 90s. Tradpub's churn created tons of pop-up bestsellers you've never heard from again. Doesn't make it right, but it did show me even back then that the bestseller lists were gamed.

Yes. Everyone has their own dreams, I'm not going to judge someone for achieving them in the way they can. Like I said earlier, I am not going to sacrifice my income just for a title that can be hacked/gamed. A lot of the authors in the box sets are exclusive to KU, and they might think the same thing. It's a lot of money to push out and maybe not get back. So, splitting that cost makes fiscal sense to me.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 08:26:13 PM
This is a response I've heard before. What is the point of the gifting then? To get enough sales to get on a BS list? Um, it's not sales that get a book on the list, but a top 100 rank. Gifting hundreds of copies, to achieve the rank needed to get on a BS list, IS rank manipulation, pure and simple. Doing it to get on a list doesn't make it okay.

This confuses me. Rank means nothing. It is the sales that get the book on a list. Sometimes they go hand-in-hand, sure. But not all the time if they've had a ton of pre-orders. They can be sitting at like 1k Rank and still make the list because they have the pure sale numbers.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 08:26:20 PM
Actually, I always consider the people going after me, even when they go after me. Will I prove their lie is a lie? YES. But I ALWAYS ALWAYS AWLAYS will tell people NOT to go after them. I've even recommended books by people who were harassing me. Readers, on their own accord after seeing the way those people treated me, has said "I'm not reading their books anymore" and I've told them NOT to do that. I've told them those authors are talented and that maybe they are going through something and to not deprive themselves of great books. I share the truth NOT to hurt others but to protect my family, those who work with me, and myself. And anyone who has followed this from the beginning knows I have been consistent about that from day one.

No matter HOW badly I am treated, no matter HOW many death threats I receive, no matter HOW many times I defend lies with truth, I ALWAYS want the best for others - even those hurting me - and I'm always willing to forgive and I always encourage my followers to be kind. And when I get carried away, as humans often do, I apologize. Because I know I'm not perfect. But I also know I want to help others, even those who hurt me. If anyone is ever suffering and thinks I can help, I don't care what they have done to me in the past, I will do anything I am ABLE to do to help them. And anyone who has followed me knows this is true.

Yes, even you, Sela. Even RIGHT NOW. If you messaged me in private and said "I hate your guts still but I really need help and you're the only one who can help me" - and it was something I COULD help with - I would help you in a heartbeat. I mean, I can guess you probably wouldn't WANT my help, but my willingness to give it to you will always be there.

You can say anything you want in the meantime, but if that day ever comes, it will still be true. I may not like how you treat me, but I value your life as a human being and want the best for you.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: raminar_dixon on April 28, 2017, 08:28:06 PM
I don't really think gifting sales should be counting towards ranking or any lists.

But, like, that's just my opinion, man.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 08:29:48 PM
I don't really think gifting sales should be counting towards ranking or any lists.

But, like, that's just my opinion, man.

I don't think they count towards rank, actually. I'm not 100% sure, but I swear someone I knew tried it out and their rank didn't change at all.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 28, 2017, 08:30:09 PM
Yes. Everyone has their own dreams, I'm not going to judge someone for achieving them in the way they can. Like I said earlier, I am not going to sacrifice my income just for a title that can be hacked/gamed. A lot of the authors in the box sets are exclusive to KU, and they might think the same thing. It's a lot of money to push out and maybe not get back. So, splitting that cost makes fiscal sense to me.

Agreed 100%. I don't care about hitting the lists but I joined one of the genreCrave box sets to learn all I could about marketing at a level beyond where I was at the time. The buy in wasn't much more than other master classes and workshops I've taken, and so far, it's been money well spent. And based on the pre-order numbers I've seen, we might make all our money back, which is win-win for me since I got my education and win-win for any of my fellow box-mates that wanted to check the box of their dreams.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Denise Grover Swank on April 28, 2017, 08:31:12 PM
To me it sounds like a lot of you don't realize how much it costs to make a list in marketing.

When the big indies are pushing to make JUST the USA today, they've spent tens of thousands in a -week-.

Meredith Wild spent 6-figures (yes, over 100,000) when she pushed her Hacker series.

A friend of mine put together a box set (Not Rebecca). Her budget that she spent: 30,000 (and she didn't make NYT). All out of her pocket because she didn't do a buy in.

I don't have 30,000 to spend on marketing. I don't even have 5,000 to spend. What I do have is $500, and being that I want the letters, I'm A-okay with doing it in a boxset.

Really, really research things before you begin questioning about "Why it costs so much" or "Where does the money go". Because honestly, it costs a f*ckton.

My book TRAILER TRASH hit #38 on the USA Today list for it's debut last week. Guess how much money I spent on marketing?

$250 in Facebook post boosts
Approximately $100 in giveaways (Including priority mail shipping)

That's it. Unless you count the $250 I spend each month to maintain my newsletter subscriber list. 

You know what I do? I write the best damn book I can so my readers want to read the next one. I engage with my readers on Facebook and I set up preorders as soon as I can.

I realize it's harder for new authors to find readers, but I have yet to get a substantial number of new readers from a multi author box set. They were way more work than they were worth.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: crow.bar.beer on April 28, 2017, 08:34:26 PM
ROFL. Yes, that has a great honest ring to it. But it looks ugly as hell!

Yeah, that extra syllable really adds a few stink lines.  :P
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 28, 2017, 08:35:51 PM
This confuses me. Rank means nothing. It is the sales that get the book on a list. Sometimes they go hand-in-hand, sure. But not all the time if they've had a ton of pre-orders. They can be sitting at like 1k Rank and still make the list because they have the pure sale numbers.

Then you miss the point of what a BEST seller is. Or have been misled.

It's the top 100 selling books nothing more. You can't "be sitting at like 1K Rank" and be in the top 100. If there was a finite number required, let's say it's 1000 sales (or 10,000, doesn't matter), and 250 different individual books sell 1000 copies (or whatever) are all 250 books in the Top 100 Best Sellers?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 08:38:43 PM
My book TRAILER TRASH hit #38 on the USA Today list for it's debut last week. Guess how much money I spent on marketing?

$250 in Facebook post boosts
Approximately $100 in giveaways (Including priority mail shipping)

That's it. Unless you count the $250 I spend each month to maintain my newsletter subscriber list. 

You know what I do? I write the best damn book I can so my readers want to read the next one. I engage with my readers on Facebook and I set up preorders as soon as I can.

I realize it's harder for new authors to find readers, but I have yet to get a substantial number of new readers from a multi author box set. They were way more work than they were worth.

You're a bit of a unicorn. You have a huge backlist and based on your monthly Nl spend a huge newsletter, and you're wide. While I'm surprised you were able to do it with such a small marketing spend, I can see how you did it too. Those numbers aren't for you! But for people like me who don't have a wide following.

Congratulations on making the list!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Becca Mills on April 28, 2017, 08:39:08 PM
Just starting to catch up with this thread, but have already heavily edited a couple recent posts for personal attacks and deleted some egging-on of such. No more of that, please.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 08:40:38 PM
I was talking to Monk, who was saying that people using her services were morally bankrupt (My words) and now he is attacking some woman somewhere whose child had surgery today and who is pregnant.

I'm sorry, but what does this have to do with anything?

First off, I wasn't aware there was an international broadcast every time a person has a sick child or is pregnant. It's not our job to know that information nor is it in any way relevant to this discussion.

Second, regardless of what condition you're in, unethical business practices are still unethical. Being pregnant and having a sick child doesn't suddenly shield you from criticism of unethical business practices. If the United [expletive deleted]s who beat that guy to a pulp said, "you have to understand, my child was sick at the time," how many people would have said, "oh, well that changes everything"?

Quote
Let's all get over ourselves. It's not that important, really!

Actually yeah, it is important. Not only does it make those "NYT/USAT best-selling author" titles completely meaningless, but it also reflects poorly on all indies as a result. Every time an indie behaves unethically, it reflects poorly on all of us. Doubly so when other indies rush to justify that unethical behavior.

Call me crazy, but I'd rather earn those letters than buy them.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 08:41:56 PM
Agreed 100%. I don't care about hitting the lists but I joined one of the genreCrave box sets to learn all I could about marketing at a level beyond where I was at the time. The buy in wasn't much more than other master classes and workshops I've taken, and so far, it's been money well spent. And based on the pre-order numbers I've seen, we might make all our money back, which is win-win for me since I got my education and win-win for any of my fellow box-mates that wanted to check the box of their dreams.

I am all about the money. So, I don't care about the titles either perse, but I do want the letters and I don't want to spend a ton to do it. So will I be in a boxset at some point? You bet your ass!

Also, learning how people market wide would be so damn beneficial if I ever decide to slip out of KU and go wide. (I keep bouncing back and forth about it. I write to the KU market).

I look forward to seeing your shiny new letters!


Edited for profanity. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 08:43:38 PM
My book TRAILER TRASH hit #38 on the USA Today list for it's debut last week. Guess how much money I spent on marketing?

$250 in Facebook post boosts
Approximately $100 in giveaways (Including priority mail shipping)

That's it. Unless you count the $250 I spend each month to maintain my newsletter subscriber list. 

You know what I do? I write the best damn book I can so my readers want to read the next one. I engage with my readers on Facebook and I set up preorders as soon as I can.

I realize it's harder for new authors to find readers, but I have yet to get a substantial number of new readers from a multi author box set. They were way more work than they were worth.

This -- so much this.

I may be unpopular for saying this but here it is:

Getting USAT or NYTs after your name will not, in itself, make you a success. It may help you get a promotion. It may encourage a reader to click on your book's preview when they see the letters on the cover. Even Bookbub acknowledges that having those letters improves your chances of your book being purchased or downloaded. So by all means, go for a list in a boxed set. It can be useful for marketing. It looks nice on your cover and in your blurb.

But the bottom line is this: if your book's premise (as stated in the blurb) doesn't hook the reader, they won't buy despite the letters. If they buy and it doesn't satisfy, they will not buy more and may leave a negative review.

There is no trick. There is no cheat. There is no scam. Not one that will work in the long term. The only thing that works in the long term is writing books that satisfy big hungry markets or writing many books in lower selling markets and doing it consistently. It's not easy to sell books despite how easy it is to publish them. Publishing books is the easy part. Not everyone can do it. In fact, very few authors can. Vanishingly few. Look at the Author Earnings report. There are very few authors making a living selling books. Fewer still make six figures. A minuscule number make seven and eight.

There are 4.7M ebooks on Amazon. How do you get to the top 100 or 1000 even? How do you  get a book to stick and stay high in the ranks and keeps selling?

You can't cheat your way there. You may be able to get your book high in the ranks for a brief moment by buying legitimate promotions, but if your book doesn't satisfy a big audience of readers enough for them to talk about your book to their friends or post about it on Facebook or on Goodreads, your book will sink back into the ranks and lose visibility fast.

Getting that NYTs or USAT designation alone won't change your life but if you have a good solid commercially appealing product, it can help you get more visible.

BUT: the goal of getting the designation and getting more visibility is sales and brand awareness. If actual people aren't actually reading your book, because they didn't actually choose to buy it, but were paid to, and they don't actually read it? That's wasted effort.

You want real people who are looking for a book like yours to find and read your book.

I'm speaking from experience here. I have a USAT that I got via a boxed set promotion back in 2014. We spent $200. Maybe if we spent more, we might have hit the NYTs also. Did it make the difference in my career as an author? Nope. By then, I was already making six figures. My books had already hit the top 100 in the Kindle store and top 20 in my categories. The designation looks nice, but it came AFTER I already had six-figure success.

In fact, you don't need to be in the top 100 or even top 1000 or have a USAT or NYTs designation to have a great career as an indie, if you write books that sell consistently and you keep doing that, keep getting your books in front of new readers, you can make a living -- even a great living. The USAT or NYTs designation on the cover can't make a book a success. If that were the case, all my books would be bestsellers in stead of only 3. The other 10 sell well but not as well as those three because letters alone will not make any given book or author a success.

In the end, the purpose of being in a boxed set and hitting a list is to get your book out in front of a wider audience of hungry readers who will go on to buy your other books or upcoming books. If that isn't the result, the letters will mean little to nothing.

Focus on the books. Focus on the writing and understanding your readers.

DON'T sacrifice your ethics and reputation by doing unethical things to get rank or sales or page reads or hit lists. It may feel like it's necessary to compromise your ethics and skirt TOS or look for loopholes or use black hat techniques, but it isn't. Both in terms of possibly losing your author account if Amazon brings the hammer down or because all that work and money may not result in any improvements in your position and you've done shady things.


Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 08:45:39 PM
Then you miss the point of what a BEST seller is. Or have been misled.

It's the top 100 selling books nothing more. You can't "be sitting at like 1K Rank" and be in the top 100. If there was a finite number required, let's say it's 1000 sales (or 10,000, doesn't matter), and 250 different individual books sell 1000 copies (or whatever) are all 250 books in the Top 100 Best Sellers?

You are missing what we are talking about. The USA today bestselling list requires 6-7k books sold. You can get those in pre-order. On Amazon, Pre-orders do not effect rank on release day. So yeah, if they have had a 3 month pre-order, and spread those 6k books out, they won't be in the top 100 on Amazon. More like top 300-500. (At this point I am not talking about Nook or Apple because I don't know how their lists/ranking works)

NYT isn't even a best selling list. It's curated. So, what are you talking about?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 08:47:39 PM
For those interested, this is what Amazon says about gifting:

Gifting for Kindle

"Customers can gift all titles available through KDP on Amazon.com, through wish lists or book detail pages. The only current exception is for titles that are not available in the country where the customer lives.

"Your royalties will be based on the price and royalty option selected at the time the Kindle gift was purchased. After the gift recipient downloads your title, your royalties will accrue, and the sale will show on your reports. A gift sale counts toward a sales rank only if it is redeemed within 24 hours by the recipient.

"You are welcome to gift your book to as many people as you like to help promote it. Be aware that gift recipients have the option of choosing a gift certificate instead. Also, as with all Kindle sales, gift recipients have the option to return the gift within 7 days of downloading. Learn more on the Amazon Help page, Give and Receive Kindle Devices and Books."

https://kdp.amazon.com/help/topic/A2SPN65RHEW2G

If a reader doesn't actually want your book, they can get a gift card instead. If they claim a gift card, it doesn't count toward your rank OR book sales. So if you don't have a book readers want, I don't care WHAT you do, you're not gonna move enough copies. IF you have a book readers do want, there's nothing wrong with giving away free copies.

Most of the readers who get free copies from me have told me they are disabled and living on a fixed income and that the books I give them are the only joy they have. If that means I'm unethical, tell that to those readers, not to me. Because I don't feel bad about it. You literally CAN'T game the system with a book readers don't want, and that's fact - because you will NOT get credit toward sales or rank no matter how many copies you gift if the reader doesn't want it. And saying that only readers who can afford books deserve their sale to contribute toward USAT/NYT is classist IMO and not cool. But, you have the right to feel differently.

Most people against gifting don't know the actually terms of service (last time we tried to share with someone on FB, she delivered the TOS and link to the TOS about it...not sure why she wanted to hide the TOS from her followers, but hey, it's her timeline!) But the facts remain fact. It's not even just about TOS about this point, anyway. There's an ethics issue when people try to hide TOS from others, there's an ethics issue when someone says that readers on a fixed income who can't afford books shouldn't be given free books or that their "purchase" shouldn't count (because they COULD trade that in for the money if they didn't want the book). There's just so much information being completely ignored, and it's sad, because I know it's an effort to have a go at ME specifically, but it's hurting a LOT of people in the process - including readers.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 08:52:30 PM
I honestly cannot believe this thread. Whatever happened to writing a great book, telling a great story and being organically rewarded for that by way of healthy sales and friendly word of mouth? All of these manipulation games and 'you need to spend x to hit this list', it's quite upsetting to be frank.

Here I am working hard to write the best stories I can, that I feel passionate about, and want to share and hopefully succeed with and instead of a marketplace full of ethical authors all trying to do the same I'm finding out that I'm forced to compete with gamers.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but man, it's a kick in the teeth to see what some people are saying in this thread and the contortions they're putting themselves through to excuse away their unethical behavior...all in the name of accomplishing something that they're not honestly earning.  :'(
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 08:56:10 PM
If I bought 50,000 copies of my books and gave them to people living on Skid Row, or orphans living in refugee camps and got the NYTs designation that way, it wouldn't make any difference. I would still have bought my way onto the NYTs bestsellers list.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 08:57:23 PM
I honestly cannot believe this thread. Whatever happened to writing a great book, telling a great story and being organically rewarded for that by way of healthy sales and friendly word of mouth? All of these manipulation games and 'you need to spend x to hit this list', it's quite upsetting to be frank.

Here I am working hard to write the best stories I can, that I feel passionate about, and want to share and hopefully succeed with and instead of a marketplace full of ethical authors all trying to do the same I'm finding out that I'm forced to compete with gamers.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but man, it's a kick in the teeth to see what some people are saying in this thread and the contortions they're putting themselves through to excuse away their unethical behavior...all in the name of accomplishing something that they're not honestly earning.  :'(

How is spending money on marketing unethical?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on April 28, 2017, 08:58:15 PM
Once again, Sela nails it. I still don't "get" how achieving letters could possibly be personally meaningful unless you actually had x number of people buy YOUR book, but OK. In terms of success--any ad, any promo, any boxed set can at most get some eyes on your book. After that, it's on the book.

And if some of the people who "bought" the book did so with gift cards or gift copies and never read your book--you haven't even got that shot. They aren't even reading your book. What use is that? Hundreds or thousands of dollars' worth? Does that work? I doubt it.

I have my doubts in any case about how many readers actually get to your story if you're #9 or #14 or #19 out of 20 authors. I know cross-promo, like increasing your mailing list numbers by any means, is all the rage, but . . . I wonder. If you're awesome, maybe. But then, if you're awesome, something is probably going to work anyway.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 08:58:53 PM
If I bought 50,000 copies of my books and gave them to people living on Skid Row, or orphans living in refugee camps and got the NYTs designation that way, it wouldn't make any difference. I would still have bought my way onto the NYTs bestsellers list.

Exactly. If this was really about altruistically giving disabled people on fixed income some joy, you wouldn't be gifting them (which provides benefit to you)--you'd be giving them the books outright.

How is spending money on marketing unethical?

Spending money on marketing isn't unethical. Spending money to artificially inflate sales rank is. This ain't rocket science.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 08:59:01 PM
Things Trad Publisher do or have done with "Household Name Authors" - including JK Rowling, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, you name it.

- Spend tens of thousands of dollars marketing their new releases
- Giveaway Advanced Reader Copies
- Cross promote with other authors
- Some big name authors are even part of anthologies with other big name authors

I guess those authors don't deserve their letters either? I mean, I'M not saying that. Personally I think someone deserves what they earn. The authors in the sets aren't writing garbage, and I feel for them that anyone would insinuate that. I think maybe, just maybe, it's possible some have gotten swept up in the drama and have lost sight of all the people they are hurting in an effort to get to one person.

Several authors in my sets have been approached by big name agencies. I don't think they are garbage writers. I think they wanted to reach a lot of readers, invested in doing so, and did.

And def contracts to those who have made a list with little marketing budget. That rocks, and they totally deserve every success. I hope it continues for them <3
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 09:00:40 PM
Once again, Sela nails it. I still don't "get" how achieving letters could possibly be personally meaningful unless you actually had x number of people buy YOUR book, but OK. In terms of success--any ad, any promo, any boxed set can at most get some eyes on your book. After that, it's on the book.

And if some of the people who "bought" the book did so with gift cards or gift copies and never read your book--you haven't even got that shot. They aren't even reading your book. What use is that? Hundreds or thousands of dollars' worth? Does that work? I doubt it.

I have my doubts in any case about how many readers actually get to your story if you're #9 or #14 or #19 out of 20 authors. I know cross-promo, like increasing your mailing list numbers by any means, is all the rage, but . . . I wonder. If you're awesome, maybe. But then, if you're awesome, something is probably going to work anyway.

All of this is assuming that is what is going on/happening. All we have are unverified rumors that people gifted enough copies to make a list. There's a lot of assumptions in this thread, unfortunately.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 09:01:53 PM
Exactly. If this was really about altruistically giving disabled people on fixed income some joy, you wouldn't be gifting them (which provides benefit to you)--you'd be giving them the books outright.

Spending money on marketing isn't unethical. Spending money to artificially inflate sales rank is. This ain't rocket science.

I'm aware of that. However, he was grouping -all- marketing into the unethical category. I'm staying out of the gifting/unethical debate and wanted clarification.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:04:43 PM
If I bought 50,000 copies of my books and gave them to people living on Skid Row, or orphans living in refugee camps and got the NYTs designation that way, it wouldn't make any difference. I would still have bought my way onto the NYTs bestsellers list.

No one is gifting 50,000 copies. No one is gifting enough copies to affect rank. And I'd love to know how you will gift these books to those people, but if you can do it, you should. That would be awesome for those people to get books to read on... I guess we're gifting kindles to go with it? I'd love to help get books to people living in those situations, if that's possible. No list making necessary - just because everyone deserves books if they want them.

That said, if you are talking about gifting books to make a list, good luck with that. I don't see how that would even be possible. When I gift for purposes of drumming up excitement, it has very little impact on rank and doesn't do much to cut into the numbers needed for a bestseller list. And with NYT, they curate anyway - so even if somehow I cloned myself 5000 times to be able to give anyway 50,000 copies in such a short amount of time, they would just curate me off the list anyway.

There seems to be a lot of facts being ignored here, but hey, I guess I have my reasons for wanting authors to succeed, and other people have their reasons for ignoring reality. To each their own. Have an awesome night :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 28, 2017, 09:06:07 PM
Spending money on marketing isn't unethical. Spending money to artificially inflate sales rank is. This ain't rocket science.

Spending money on advertising creates sales, and sales change ranking. I'm missing how that's artificial.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 09:08:10 PM
I'm aware of that. However, he was grouping -all- marketing into the unethical category. I'm staying out of the gifting/unethical debate and wanted clarification.

Then ask for clarification instead of saying I am grouping "all" marketing into the unethical category. Not my stance. Marketing is necessary, manipulation is not.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 09:10:37 PM
Spending money on advertising creates sales, and sales change ranking. I'm missing how that's artificial.

When you buy advertising, you aren't guaranteed sales. What you're guaranteed is eyes on your books. You could spend $10K on advertising and still get zero sales. When you buy your own books in bulk to influence rank, that's artificial manipulation.


Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 09:11:47 PM
There seems to be a lot of facts being ignored here, but hey, I guess I have my reasons for wanting authors to succeed, and other people have their reasons for ignoring reality. To each their own. Have an awesome night :)

If you want authors to succeed then encourage them to learn craft, write a great story and earn their success honestly.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 09:12:47 PM
There is so much hair-splitting going on this thread.

If a publisher has to buy or gift copies of a book to hit a list, whether it's 50,000 or 5,000 or 500 copies, it's still buying books to hit a list. It's still defeating the purpose of a bestsellers list.

That would be called a bestbuyers list.

Or biggestpockets list.

To have meaning, a bestseller list should be premised on being the best selling books in that time period. As in selling to actual readers. Who choose to buy that book because it is appealing to them.

Not because they are paid to buy it. Or because they are gifted it.

We all know what it's supposed to mean. We know that when the publisher buys those 50,000 copies or 500 copies and it is that which allows them to hit a list, that designation is illegitimate.

It really doesn't matter if the NYTs curates its list. That doesn't justify unethical behaviour.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:13:42 PM
Spending money on advertising creates sales, and sales change ranking. I'm missing how that's artificial.
they will just keep moving the goal posts.

First it's that I pocket all the money, ignoring screenshots that show how the money is actually spent.

Then it's that I spend all the money gifting copies, ignoring how long that would take and that gifts only count as sales if that's how reader want to use the gift - not if they exchange for a gift card - and the fact that, considering that there are screenshots on how the money is spent, where is this money coming from to gift thousands of copies, that is somehow happening ALL the time, has been reported to Amazon, and Amazon isn't seeing it on their end.

Then, when that fails, it's that "It shouldn't take that much money and if you're good enough you will list without any marketing at all"

Then it's "It doesn't count if you did it with the help of other authors being in a set with you."

Then it's, "Well, anyone who doesn't agree with me is unethical, and I'm going to quote quotes about ethics while at the same time trying to hide facts from the people I'm intentionally misleading"

And then it just goes back to one of the previous points again.

(PS: Take a look at how the genrecrave marketing group numbers are growing. Despite the vocal few, the majority clearly want to learn the truth for themselves. And don't worry about me. I'm getting more support than I'm getting people buying into this or perpetuating things they know aren't true, and I won't be dissuaded from lifting others up. And think of it this way: if they are busy with me, that's some other author out there who they don't have the time to tear down. I'm taking one for the team and trusting those who don't have malicious intent will look in the group and see the screenshots of the truth. Those are the people I want to be connected with anyway!)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:15:43 PM
There is so much hair-splitting going on this thread.

If a publisher has to buy or gift copies of a book to hit a list, whether it's 50,000 or 5,000 or 500 copies, it's still buying books to hit a list. It's still defeating the purpose of a bestsellers list.

That would be called a bestbuyers list.

Or biggestpockets list.

To have meaning, a bestseller list should be premised on being the best selling books in that time period. As in selling to actual readers. Who choose to buy that book because it is appealing to them.

Not because they are paid to buy it. Or because they are gifted it.

We all know what it's supposed to mean. We know that when the publisher buys those 50,000 copies or 500 copies and it is that which allows them to hit a list, that designation is illegitimate.

It really doesn't matter if the NYTs curates its list. That doesn't justify unethical behaviour.

NOTHING justifies unethical behavior. There's a different between creating buzz using free books (same way even trad pubs do) and gifting your way onto a list (which NO ONE has said is ethical.) What's NOT ethical is saying someone who does the former is doing the latter when there's irrefutable evidence that that is not true. But hey, they can take your word for it, take my word for it, or:

1) Call Amazon
2) See screenshots of how those sales are gained for themselves: https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:19:46 PM
If you want authors to succeed then encourage them to learn craft, write a great story and earn their success honestly.

PLEASE join my group and see how much I do this. People literally beg me to "just teach me marketing" and time and time again (to their annoyance) I keep saying "No, you need to learn CRAFT *with* that marketing, and I won't teach them just the marketing. I tried recently to start a course like that and was only able to let in about 2-3 people. Take a look around and see for yourself. It actually p*ssed people off that I do this, but I'm super picky about authors learning craft and literally won't take their money if they don't agree to do so. It's ALL OVER THE PLACE in the marketing group.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/

See for yourself :) Or... don't. Your call. But you and I are SO on the same page about the importance of craft!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on April 28, 2017, 09:20:30 PM
All of this is assuming that is what is going on/happening. All we have are unverified rumors that people gifted enough copies to make a list. There's a lot of assumptions in this thread, unfortunately.
Nope. All of that was general musing about how much it helps Author X to be in a giant boxed set.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 09:20:50 PM
Then ask for clarification instead of saying I am grouping "all" marketing into the unethical category. Not my stance. Marketing is necessary, manipulation is not.

I did. Your words implied that anyone who doesn't make it big by word of mouth alone was unethical.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:21:51 PM
When you buy advertising, you aren't guaranteed sales. What you're guaranteed is eyes on your books. You could spend $10K on advertising and still get zero sales. When you buy your own books in bulk to influence rank, that's artificial manipulation. You're too smart to play dumb like this, Jim.

First, the money is spent on advertising. Proof is in this group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/

Second, gifting copies doesn't guarantee sales. Amazon's own website tells you as much. The reader doesn't have to claim the book. They can get a gift card instead. It doesn't count as a book sale or  toward a bestseller list.

Third, the small number of copies that are SOMETIMES gifted - and not just by sets I run - are not enough to influence rank or sales even if readers DID claim and keep every copy.

Finally, see the first point again. Money is spent on advertising. Proof is in this group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 28, 2017, 09:23:09 PM
When you buy advertising, you aren't guaranteed sales. What you're guaranteed is eyes on your books. When you buy your own books in bulk to influence rank, that's artificial manipulation.


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

But authors buying their own books isn't happening here.

Honestly, I can only speak to the box set I'm in. I haven't seen any of the authors state that they've bought their own book once, much less in bulk. I may have well missed any recent posts, though. I've been writing my ass off lately in between toddler care and day job.

What i have seen are a bunch of passionate writers busting their collective ass promoting the set. They're teaching me a hell of a lot about marketing to the extent that I feel guilty for riding their coattails with my piddly mailing list. I hope I can pay forward what I've learned someday.


Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 09:24:03 PM
But authors buying their own books isn't happening here.

Honestly, I can only speak to the box set I'm in. I haven't seen any of the authors state that they've bought their own book once, much less in bulk. I may have well missed any recent posts, though. I've been writing my ass off lately in between toddler care and day job.

What i have seen are a bunch of passionate writers busting their collective ass promoting the set. They're teaching me a hell of a lot about marketing to the extent that I feel guilty for riding their coattails with my piddly mailing list. I hope I can pay forward what I've learned someday.


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

I'm not selectively ignoring, I'm considering the source of those comments. I know a lot of ethical authors and I'll take their word over others whose reputations are...let's say less than stellar.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 09:25:11 PM
Nope. All of that was general musing about how much it helps Author X to be in a giant boxed set.

I think it's personal. I agree that everyone wants to make the list by themselves without spending a lot of money. However, that requires having a pretty big wide audience. I am exclusively in KU. Right now, being in a boxset would help me achieve a goal. I don't have a problem being in the top 200. All of my books cracked the mid-3 figure ranks and that was at full price. My first book only just now fell out of the top 1,000 after 100 days. I'm on track for my first 6-figure year. By monetary guideposts, and rank, I'm a success.

Should I be penalized and denied my dream because I am strictly KU and don't want to go wide? That is my stance and perspective of the whole thing.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 28, 2017, 09:25:48 PM
Giving away free books is fine and dandy. I do it every day because I have permafree books. I've given away several hundred thousand books, in fact, since I started in 2012.

I've gifted books to people as well, now and then. I offer ARCs.

It's one thing to use free books as loss leaders for a series, or purchase a free Bookbub, or give them away for mailing list signups. It's another to use gift copies to count towards sales in a qualifying week so a book or boxed set can hit the NYTs.

I am fine with running a giveaway and gifting copies during a promotion of a new release or sale but if the intent of the gifting is to make the right number on a particular retailer or make the right overall number, that's unethical.

If someone does, it's unethical, whether it's buying 50,000 copies of a print book or gifting 500 copies of an eBook.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on April 28, 2017, 09:26:15 PM
Did this literally just turn into one big advertisement for potential clients to join her Facebook group?

Brava.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:27:21 PM
Then ask for clarification instead of saying I am grouping "all" marketing into the unethical category. Not my stance. Marketing is necessary, manipulation is not.

Agreed. It sounds like we ALL agree that:

Marketing is good.
Gaming the system is bad.

Where we disagree:

Some of us think facts and truth are good, and spreading rumors is bad.
Some people think that's fine. Or at least, that's how it seems.

Now, as for whether or not gaming is actually going on, easy enough to find out when you join the group and see for yourself, instead of basing opinion on speculation and rumors.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/

If you want to see facts and decide for yourself, you go here > https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/

If you want to make opinions based on rumors that don't even attempt to hide their effort to mislead and hurt others, then don't go there, because you can't unsee the facts. And once you see them, you either have to choose to accept the truth, or you have to choose to be one of the people who pretends you didn't see it, while misleading others.

For those who care about ethics, I can't understand CHOOSING to mislead others. But I know my transparency can make people uncomfortable sometimes, so I get it if you don't want to see what's ACTUALLY going on for yourself.


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 09:27:46 PM
Did this literally just turn into one big advertisement for potential clients to join her Facebook group?

Brava.

I noticed that the proof is in the FB group, which you have to join to see. And she also bragged about how the membership numbers have been going up.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 09:28:34 PM
NOTHING justifies unethical behavior. And there's a lot of that going on from you, too, so maybe put the stones down. There's a different between creating buzz using free books (same way even trad pubs do) and gifting your way onto a list (which NO ONE has said is ethical.) What's NOT ethical is saying someone who does the former is doing the latter when there's irrefutable evidence that that is not true. But hey, they can take your word for it, take my word for it, or:

1) Call Amazon
2) See screenshots of how those sales are gained for themselves: https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/

In the meantime, knowingly misleading people in the way you are is not cool. But it's not hurting anything, so if you need to do that with your life, go for it. Maybe you need that for reasons I don't understand.

Ethical is an individual author "creating buzz" for themselves with a great book that people choose to buy of their own volition.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 28, 2017, 09:28:48 PM
If you want authors to succeed then encourage them to learn craft, write a great story and earn their success honestly.

I'm guessing you didn't know she teaches a comprehensive master class on writing and marketing with more focus on craft than I've seen in a lot of other classes and workshops.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:30:14 PM
I'm not selectively ignoring, I'm considering the source of those comments. I know a lot of ethical authors and I'll take their word over others whose reputations are...let's say less than stellar.

Then definitely DON'T join this group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/

If you want to take someone's word over seeing something for yourself and thinking for yourself, that is your right.


Edited. Please, no more accusations of lying, Rebecca. Our forum decorum does not permit this. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: fallswriter on April 28, 2017, 09:30:22 PM
Did this literally just turn into one big advertisement for potential clients to join her Facebook group?

Brava.
(https://media.giphy.com/media/26xBJE5bLVQu9H0oU/giphy.gif)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 28, 2017, 09:31:42 PM
In reading many of these posts, it's apparent many don't understand what the word ethics even means. Assume that gifting 1000 copies is in fact allowable under the TOS. It's spelled out in black and white, "You may gift 1000 copies of your book." Doing so isn't unethical. Unethical behavior is intentionally breaking a rule, be that sexual harassment in the workplace, or fart jokes at church. If there's a rule against it and you knowingly ignore the rule, you are unethical. An ethical person knows it isn't right to make an off-color remark to a female coworker about the tightness of her jeans. A moral person wouldn't.

The question then becomes, is buying your way onto one of the BS lists morally acceptable.

My last release, in a new and smaller series debuted at #118 on Amazon. The one before that, in a longer, more popular series, debuted at #96. Before that #183, then the 300s, and 700s, and so on. An email to my subscribers and a Facebook post, plus the new release email from BookBub and Amazon are the only things I use in all my launches. No paid advertising. Only those people who want to pay me for my work get to see it. Period. One day, I will be a New York Times Best Seller. Because people will buy and read my books. Am I jealous of those who took a short-cut? KindleSpy me and find your answer.

In any endeavor there are shortcuts. I once worked in construction and saw first-hand how shortcuts don't work. A ten story condo I was working in pancaked, killing five men and a sixth lost a leg, not diving through a doorway fast enough. There is a right and wrong way to do anything. The right way, and by that, I mean what will give a person like me the most personal satisfaction, the most pride in accomplishment, is to put their shoulder against the wheel and push with everything they have. Even if you come up short, you can hold your head high and say, "I did the best I could."

It is possible to become a top selling author and be an indie. A lot have done so and continue to do so. Starting a marathon, and jumping on the back of the camera motorcycle until it gets a hundred yards from the finish line, then jumping off and running across to garner your accolades can't feel very good. But, that's just the opinion of one man with a very narrow moral compass.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:32:06 PM
Ethical is an individual author "creating buzz" for themselves with a great book that people choose to buy of their own volition.

Got it. You think cross promotion is unethical, but that doesn't apply to say Book Bub promoting your work for you, only if other authors promote work with you. Correct me if I understood that wrong. No one is getting books outside of their own volition, but if your concern is that it's not ethical to cross-promote or collaborate with other authors, then yeah, we're not going to see eye to eye on that, and I'll agree to disagree with you on that one.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 09:32:24 PM
Then definitely DON'T join this group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/

If you want to take someone's word over seeing something for yourself and thinking for yourself, that is your right.

Anyone who wants to think for themselves, though, can totally go to that link and SEE the facts. But that may be hard for those who are being misled by authors who they think are ethical, but who are knowingly withholding information from them. I'd feel pretty gutted if I trusted someone like that and then joined a group and saw evidence that those people knew they were lying to me. Some may want to protect themselves from experiencing that feeling. As is their right and completely understandable.

To see that evidence I have to join the group. And you've already used the group's size to justify your actions. So I'd rather not contribute to that. You post that information on a website that can be accessed without joining, I'll gladly view it.

Until then, I'll pass.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on April 28, 2017, 09:32:35 PM
I noticed that the proof is in the FB group, which you have to join to see. And she also bragged about how the membership numbers have been going up.

Yeah her edited post with all of the links threw out 5300 and it has since been edited (I remember the number because my stupid memory is photographic, or eidetic). It's now 5265.

When she demanded everyone unfriend me or her a few months ago, I actually gained friends... ::shrug::

At this point I think enough has been put out there that people should make their own decisions. The risk is theirs to take or not. But no one can say now they did so out of ignorance of what was really hapepning behind the scenes whether you agree or don't agree, which wasn't the case just a year ago.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 09:32:55 PM
I'm not selectively ignoring, I'm considering the source of those comments. I know a lot of ethical authors and I'll take their word over others whose reputations are...let's say less than stellar.

Rumors don't make things true, however. All it takes is one person with a vendetta to ruin someone's reputation, and people jumping on that bandwagon based on what they've heard. I believe what I see with my own two eyes. Everything else, even from my close personal friends, I take with a grain of salt.

It's kind of freeing to form my own opinion.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:34:07 PM
The question then becomes, is buying your way onto one of the BS lists morally acceptable.



It's not morally acceptable. but it's also not happening just because people say it is, so maybe one day we can discuss what actually is happening. :)

In case anyone missed it, you can see for yourself what's actually happening here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 09:34:53 PM
Rumors don't make things true, however. All it takes is one person with a vendetta to ruin someone's reputation, and people jumping on that bandwagon based on what they've heard. I believe what I see with my own two eyes. Everything else, even from my close personal friends, I take with a grain of salt.

It's kind of freeing to form my own opinion.

I am forming my opinion. I'm judging people on the actions they've done and the way they've treated others. The authors I'm trusting have done far more for me than even my own family. So I find it hard to believe that they'd be doing this out of some petty vendetta, especially when many of them are even more successful.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 09:35:30 PM
To see that evidence I have to join the group. And you've already used the group's size to justify your actions. So I'd rather not contribute to that. You post that information on a website that can be accessed without joining, I'll gladly view it.

Until then, I'll pass.
It strange, when someone says here's proof in an easily accessible area, you decide to ignore it.
It's best to act on your own to learn things and not to lean on others.
Then, maybe you'll learn that the people you once looked up to aren't worth following.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 09:36:58 PM
Should I be penalized and denied my dream because I am strictly KU and don't want to go wide? That is my stance and perspective of the whole thing.

No one is guaranteed success, and until very lately I'd believed the cream were rising to the top, or at least that's how it should be. You're not penalized anything when you write a book, advertise it and hope it catches on with people. It's not a penalty if you don't succeed, it just means you have to evaluate your skill set and improve. Most of us dream of being a bestseller, but that dream doesn't give us license to engage in unethical practices as way of trying to force the dream to come true.

A wide readership is earned. Earning it means achieving it honestly, organically, ethically. Buying the dream is not the same thing as earning it.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 09:37:30 PM
It strange, when someone says here's proof in an easily accessible area, you decide to ignore it.
It's best to act on your own to learn things and not to lean on others.

I just explained why. She's using the membership numbers as proof of support for her actions. By joining that group, I'd be contributing to that.

This is one of those ethics things. If she's so desperate to get this info out, it should be freely available on a website, not behind a membership link.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:37:50 PM
It said almost 5300, and it just tipped. anyone IN the group can see it's 5300 even now. (Yes, this thread DID turn into a huge advertisement for my group - apparently a lot of people want the facts - who knew?) I got a LOT of new joins today from people who want the truth. REPOSTING nearly 300 screenshots takes too much time, and I don't feel obligated to do that for people who are willfully ignoring the truth :)

And yes, when I received DEATH THREATS a few months ago, I was advised to unfriend anyone who was friends with the person inciting the death threats. I did explain the reason for unfriending those people, that it wasn't personal, and that I would still be available to them if they needed anything - but for the safety of my family, the change needed to be made.

Some were p*ssed at me. Others understood. However anyone reacted, I don't hold it against them. But I did what I needed to do for my family.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 09:39:00 PM
I just explained why. She's using the membership numbers as proof of support for her actions. By joining that group, I'd be contributing to that.

This is one of those ethics things. If she's so desperate to get this info out, it should be freely available on a website, not being a membership link.
There are literally photos of how she spends the funds on her sets on the page. 297 photos in fact, all in one post for someone to click through.
You're using the number of the facebook page as a detractor.
Also with authors who have been in her sets, including one you claim to respect, who have backed them up.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 28, 2017, 09:40:18 PM
Did this literally just turn into one big advertisement for potential clients to join her Facebook group?

Brava.

Yeah, thank Rick for that. :D Had he left this on his Facebook page, it probably wouldn't have blown up quite so much. Unintended consequences and all that.   At least writers have more information to consider now, which is always a good thing.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:40:28 PM
I just explained why. She's using the membership numbers as proof of support for her actions. By joining that group, I'd be contributing to that.

This is one of those ethics things. If she's so desperate to get this info out, it should be freely available on a website, not being a membership link.

Oh NO, you TOTALLY misunderstand. Some people in that group are just there to selectively screenshot things, not to support me. The group numbers isn't meant to say "here's proof of my support" - It's meant to say "A LOT of people have SEEN the evidence" - because a lot of people are pretending they haven't. this way when people join and see that evidence for themselves, they can be aware that this was something people knew about but CHOSE not to share with them.


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 09:40:47 PM
There are literally photos of how she spends the funds on her sets on the page. 297 photos in fact, all in one post for someone to click through.
You're using the number of the facebook page as a detractor.

Which is behind a membership link and she uses the membership numbers as justification. So no, I'm not joining a group and giving her more ammo. Again, she can put the information on an open website and I'll gladly view it.

If she can't do that, then too bad, so sad, I'm sticking with the people who have never once let me down.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:42:29 PM
Which is behind a membership link and she uses the membership numbers as justification. So no, I'm not joining a group and giving her more ammo. Again, she can put the information on an open website and I'll gladly view it.

If she can't do that, then too bad, so sad, I'm sticking with the people who have never once let me down.

See above post :)

Part of the "truth" of those screenshots is that people you trusted were aware of them and mislead you. Seeing them IN THE GROUP is how you will realize that. Outside of that, I'm not RE-posting almost 300 screenshots every time someone decides to repeat something they KNOW is a lie. Anyone who CHOOSES to be willfully ignorant of the facts is not someone it's worth my time to prove myself to anyway. I've taken measures on my end to show my motivations, and now, other people's motivations are showing by how they choose to respond to that. And I'm cool to let it stand. I won't win over everyone - only those who want the truth. But those are the only people I care about winning over anyway :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 28, 2017, 09:42:36 PM
It's not morally acceptable. but it's also not happening just because people say it is, so maybe one day we can discuss what actually is happening. :)

In case anyone missed it, you can see for yourself what's actually happening here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/976086735798716/

Am I to understand from that statement, that none of the authors in any of those box sets paid money to be in it, with the hopes of getting "their letters?" Because a lot of people on here have already stated that they did exactly that.

By definition, that is "buying your letters."
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 09:42:54 PM
Which is behind a membership link and she uses the membership numbers as justification. So no, I'm not joining a group and giving her more ammo. Again, she can put the information on an open website and I'll gladly view it.

If she can't do that, then too bad, so sad, I'm sticking with the people who have never once let me down.
Justification for what exactly?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: oakwood on April 28, 2017, 09:43:43 PM
Regardless of if this is unethical, safe, smart or just a waste of money... it is designed to create fake credentials. Regardless of if the market (amazon) hits back, it is a very short term gamble. Readers, regardless of the credentials on the covers, soon learn whether the material is worth the read or not. The term bestseller is washed out and lacks enough punch, regardless of if it is Amazon Bestseller or NYT Bestseller. readers have already seen the term on so many covers covering barely readable stuff that the term, which used to be a mark of excellence,  is already fading as a marketing boon.

There is also something to be said about those feeling the need of such an imaginary boon which everyone by now knows (should know) has a very very short peak effect and it smells of desperation.

The organizer is way smarter than the authors since he/she/they push a pretty risk-free project, if the terms are clear and a product/service is delivered as agreed, there is not much Paypal will object and the only risk is being taken by the authors, as in having their readers react that the contents do not rise the expected "bestseller" quality, and as in running the risk that the marketplace sees the project as a manipulative construction.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 09:43:53 PM
I am forming my opinion. I'm judging people on the actions they've done and the way they've treated others. The authors I'm trusting have done far more for me than even my own family. So I find it hard to believe that they'd be doing this out of some petty vendetta, especially when many of them are even more successful.

That is entirely your prerogative. From what I have seen, the people who complain loudest are filled with envy or a misplaced sense of loyalty. They can deny it all they want, but I watch and read a lot. No one is perfect, and I've seen a few of the biggest anti-Rebecca people do things that I found morally reprehensible and absolutely disgusting. Then turn around and act like the victim. It's appalling to me, and why I don't trust half the negative things I hear. Add on what I've seen with my own eyes, and it seems like gossip, exaggeration, and rumor mongering.

People talk to me because I don't judge. Unfortunately, even the best people can get themselves all twisted up without really exploring the true reasons they feel/believe something. Did that happen here? I don't know.

Have a good night!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 09:45:03 PM
I'm guessing you didn't know she teaches a comprehensive master class on writing and marketing with more focus on craft than I've seen in a lot of other classes and workshops.

Which proves what exactly? If teaching a master class on writing and focusing on craft were the entire story here this thread wouldn't exist.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 09:45:55 PM
That is entirely your prerogative. From what I have seen, the people who complain loudest are filled with envy or a misplaced sense of loyalty. They can deny it all they want, but I watch and read a lot. No one is perfect, and I've seen a few of the biggest anti-Rebecca people do things that I found morally reprehensible and absolutely disgusting. Then turn around and act like the victim. It's appalling to me, and why I don't trust half the negative things I hear. Add on what I've seen with my own eyes, and it seems like gossip, exaggeration, and rumor mongering.

People talk to me because I don't judge. Unfortunately, even the best people can get themselves all twisted up without really exploring the true reasons they feel/believe something. Did that happen here? I don't know.

Have a good night!

I don't know who you're talking about, but it doesn't describe any of the people I've spoken to. Many of them don't even write in the same genre. They just know that unethical behavior hurts all of us and that's what irritates them.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:46:10 PM
Am I to understand from that statement, that none of the authors in any of those box sets paid money to be in it, with the hopes of getting "their letters?" Because a lot of people on here have already stated that they did exactly that.

By definition, that is "buying your letters."

If you join my group, you can see for yourself that sets are 'list aiming' not list promising. that means we we spend advertising the way any big 5 publisher would if they were aiming to get a book on a bestseller list. The money is for marketing. If paying money for marketing and hoping that marketing will get you on a list is buying your letters, well, then I guess the goal posts just moved again, huh?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 09:47:55 PM
No one is guaranteed success, and until very lately I'd believed the cream were rising to the top, or at least that's how it should be. You're not penalized anything when you write a book, advertise it and hope it catches on with people. It's not a penalty if you don't succeed, it just means you have to evaluate your skill set and improve. Most of us dream of being a bestseller, but that dream doesn't give us license to engage in unethical practices as way of trying to force the dream to come true.

A wide readership is earned. Earning it means achieving it honestly, organically, ethically. Buying the dream is not the same thing as earning it.

It's not that cut and dry, not in romance. Wide romance is a different animal then KU romance based on three different reports I've analyzed. Even in KU there are different breakdowns. It's a different market. I don't want the wide audience, I like the KU audience cause that is what I write. It's a different Wordcount, different cover style, different price point, different tropes. So, my books would not be good wide. I know that, and it's why I cater to my audience.

So, that doesn't work for me here :) Wide isn't the end-all answer for me. In KU I'm a smashing success, but KU can't be a NYT/USA best seller. Which is my point.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 09:50:05 PM
Am I to understand from that statement, that none of the authors in any of those box sets paid money to be in it, with the hopes of getting "their letters?" Because a lot of people on here have already stated that they did exactly that.

By definition, that is "buying your letters."

Chipping in for covers, formatting, and promotions isn't "buying your letters". Just like doing the same for a book in hopes of reaching the NYT/USA isn't "buying" your letters.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 28, 2017, 09:50:35 PM
If you join my group, you can see for yourself that sets are 'list aiming' not list promising. that means we we spend advertising the way any big 5 publisher would if they were aiming to get a book on a bestseller list. The money is for marketing. If paying money for marketing and hoping that marketing will get you on a list is buying your letters, well, then I guess the goal posts just moved again, huh?

Ah, I get it. You're just claiming the moral equivalence of the Big 5? Makes perfect sense now.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 09:53:59 PM
I don't know who you're talking about, but it doesn't describe any of the people I've spoken to. Many of them don't even write in the same genre. They just know that unethical behavior hurts all of us and that's what irritates them.

There's that assumption that unethical behavior is being done when the person everyone is blasting says it's not happening. I've watched and seen that it isn't happening. But I'm not at her desk looking over her shoulder. Are they beside her watching her do this unethical behavior? Or are they just hearing about it from other sources? That's my problem with this particular bandwagon.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 09:54:54 PM
Ah, I get it. You're just claiming the moral equivalence of the Big 5? Makes perfect sense now.

I have no idea what the morals are of people I haven't met. I only know what publishers standardly use for marketing (Click through ads, newsletter ads, ARC copies, etc) - industry standards. People clearly don't agree on whether those publishing standards are ethical or not. IMO, buying a book cover, paying for an editor, and spending money on marketing (which my screenshots show that's where the money goes with nothing left over for anything else), is not immoral. But you're free to disagree. My issue isn't with that. I'm cool for us to disagree. but let's disagree on what's actually happening, not on things that are being made up. Because the things being made up - I ALSO agree those things are unethical. If I didn't, then I wouldn't be inviting people to look at the truth to realize that's not what I'm doing. But if the marketing I AM doing (paid ads, great cover, etc) are in your opinion unethical or immoral, then that's another discussion, isn't it? But we can't get to that discussion if we're talking about something that's not really happening. Wishing you well, but if I disappear, it's because I just can't hang like I used to. I'm usually in bed by now.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 09:55:15 PM
It's not that cut and dry, not in romance. Wide romance is a different animal then KU romance based on three different reports I've analyzed. Even in KU there are different breakdowns. It's a different market. I don't want the wide audience, I like the KU audience cause that is what I write. It's a different Wordcount, different cover style, different price point, different tropes. So, my books would not be good wide. I know that, and it's why I cater to my audience.

So, that doesn't work for me here :) Wide isn't the end-all answer for me. In KU I'm a smashing success, but KU can't be a NYT/USA best seller. Which is my point.

By 'wide audience' I mean, a lot of readers, regardless if you're in KU or not.

And if you've honestly earned your way to being a smashing success I think that's fantastic...not easy to do and it's something to be proud of. Obviously, if you're writing well and people love what you're doing then the NYT/USA lists will come, should you ever choose to venture outside of KU. My problem is those authors who are not acting honestly and are buying their way past the honest hard-workers who give it their all and do things above board.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Robyn Wideman on April 28, 2017, 09:55:45 PM
Am I to understand from that statement, that none of the authors in any of those box sets paid money to be in it, with the hopes of getting "their letters?" Because a lot of people on here have already stated that they did exactly that.

By definition, that is "buying your letters."

So let me get this straight. Because I paid to join a boxset it doesn't count? That is some straight up b.s.

Did I pay to join a box set. Yes.
That covered a professional cover, formatting and promotions.
I spent less to join the box set than I did on one of my normal releases. I did invest more later, but everything I paid extra made more money.
Did I do anything ethically or morally wrong. No.



Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 10:01:09 PM
By 'wide audience' I mean, a lot of readers, regardless if you're in KU or not.

And if you've honestly earned your way to being a smashing success I think that's fantastic...not easy to do and it's something to be proud of. Obviously, if you're writing well and people love what you're doing then the NYT/USA lists will come, should you ever choose to venture outside of KU. My problem is those authors who are not acting honestly and are buying their way past the honest hard-workers who give it their all and do things above board.

Oh, I see! When I saw "wide audience" I assumed you meant WIDE and not just large.

My fans are rabid and I just started publishing in January. I've achieved goals I thought it would take years to accomplish in a very short amount of time, and I already spoke about how much money I made. So for me, yes I feel I am a smashing success. But, I also can see your POV that not everyone who does a box set is in the same boat as I am. I'm an outlier all across the board, and realize that, so I don't want to be hypocritcal and claim I deserve something over someone else who is working just as hard, but might not have put all the pieces together. I think I had luck, as well as fricken hard work, on my side. Where others might not have found that lucky factor.

On the flip side, there are people who do better than I, and their product is atrocious and I can't help but wonder "how". So, all told, that is why I am on the "yay boxset, yay letters" side of things.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 28, 2017, 10:01:54 PM
I have no idea what the morals are of people I haven't met. I only know what publishers standardly use for marketing (Click through ads, newsletter ads, ARC copies, etc) - industry standards. People clearly don't agree on whether those publishing standards are ethical or not. IMO, buying a book cover, paying for an editor, and spending money on marketing (which my screenshots show that's where the money goes with nothing left over for anything else), is not immoral. But you're free to disagree. My issue isn't with that. I'm cool for us to disagree. but let's disagree on what's actually happening, not on things that are being made up. Because the things being made up - I ALSO agree those things are unethical. If I didn't, then I wouldn't be inviting people to look at the truth to realize that's not what I'm doing. But if the marketing I AM doing (paid ads, great cover, etc) are in your opinion unethical or immoral, then that's another discussion, isn't it? But we can't get to that discussion if we're talking about something that's not really happening. Wishing you well, but if I disappear, it's because I just can't hang like I used to. I'm usually in bed by now.

I didn't say ethical. Please look up the definition of ethics and morals.

What I meant was, and I'll say it as clearly as I can, I don't see it as morally acceptable, to dangle a $.99 bait of 20 books, that 20 writers paid to have dangled, for the sole purpose of getting "letters."

It can be done simply by working hard, learning your craft, telling good stories and selling them to readers, in a consistent fashion.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 28, 2017, 10:02:54 PM
So let me get this straight. Because I paid to join a boxset it doesn't count? That is some straight up b.s.

Did I pay to join a box set. Yes.
That covered a professional cover, formatting and promotions.
I spent less to join the box set than I did on one of my normal releases. I did invest more later, but everything I paid extra made more money.
Did I do anything ethically or morally wrong. No.

I joined a box set to learn more about marketing from people way ahead of me. I spent less on the box set than I did on my first release that still hasn't earned out.  Whether the box set hits a list means [crap] to me; it's not why I joined and I wouldn't use the letters on my books anyway, because I don't think it matters to readers.

If anyone thinks that was unethical of me, they are entitled to their opinion.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:03:36 PM
My problem is those authors who are not acting honestly and are buying their way past the honest hard-workers who give it their all and do things above board.

Same here. I hate when people are dishonest and think that success should come from honest, above-board hard work. that's why my sets are run the way they do, and why I am transparent and provide proof of that *to anyone who wants the truth*

- but I already publicly shared all of this information outside of the group multiple times, and I'm done RE-posting the same things. Because it's telling if people choose to ignore facts and evidence and side with rumors. People either want the truth or they don't. I've done my share by posting it, and those who are truly acting from an ethical and moral place can choose to see the truth. Everyone else can just go on rumors. And that's fine by me :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 10:05:47 PM
I didn't say ethical. Please look up the definition of ethics and morals.

What I meant was, and I'll say it as clearly as I can, I don't see it as morally acceptable, to dangle a $.99 bait of 20 books, that 20 writers paid to have dangled, for the sole purpose of getting "letters."

It can be done simply by working hard, learning your craft, telling good stories and selling them to readers, in a consistent fashion.

Wendy (I think that was her name) spent $250 on promotional FB boosts and got her USA letters. Do you feel that was morally wrong of her to do and she doesn't deserve those letters? You have a newsletter if I'm not mistaken. That costs money to maintain. You've hired people to design covers. More money towards marketing. Wouldn't you be morally wrong in your own definition since you are using those to market your books?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CrazyHorze on April 28, 2017, 10:06:07 PM
If I bought 50,000 copies of my books and gave them to people living on Skid Row, or orphans living in refugee camps and got the NYTs designation that way, it wouldn't make any difference. I would still have bought my way onto the NYTs bestsellers list.
So what? You would have bought your way onto the biggest marketing platform that exists for writers, the bestsellers list. Because to a professional writer a best sellers list is a marketing tool. It's not some medal of honor. Readers should believe in the magic of the bestsellers list and the NYT spends countless amounts of dollars to make sure readers keep believing in the magic of the bestseller list. We are professionals. We cannot act like readers. Children believe in Santa Claus. Parents don't. It's like Oscar night, everybody in Hollywood knows who gets the Oscar. The one who spent the most to buy it. The actors are there to showcase themselves and find new roles and the filmmakers are there to showcase their movies and sell cinema tickets. None of these Hollywood types believes in the magic of the Oscars. It is the people who go to movies and who watch Oscar night unfold on their TV who should be mesmerized by the beauty and glitter of Oscar night. As far as I'm concerned you have sellers and you have customers. When it comes to books, we are the sellers and the readers are the customers. All this time there was this dark cloud hanging over Rebecca and no one was really saying what she was doing that was so wrong and that demanded that she be exiled and reviled. Whoever (wink, wink) wrote the blog post did all of us a great favor, because this conversation has made it clear what Rebecca is doing. This lady is using marketing gimmicks to get her writers onto the biggest marketing platform there is for writers, the best sellers lists. And writers who get on the best sellers list get visibility, get sales, get opportunities. That is what Rebecca is doing. She is helping writers reach the biggest marketing platform there is for writers. Writers should be be worshipping her like a saint. If you believe in the magic of the bestseller list like some rube, like some reader, I understand why you are talking about ethics. It's like Santa Claus. He doesn't exist, but the children think he does. As far as I'm concerned I don't believe in the magic of the bestseller list. I'm a professional. I'm a writer. The best seller list is just a marketing platform, but on the highest level. I'd like to thank the people on both sides. This discussion helped me form my opinion.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 10:08:00 PM
There's that assumption that unethical behavior is being done when the person everyone is blasting says it's not happening. I've watched and seen that it isn't happening. But I'm not at her desk looking over her shoulder. Are they beside her watching her do this unethical behavior? Or are they just hearing about it from other sources? That's my problem with this particular bandwagon.

If a service's very existence is predicated upon manipulation then you don't need to be privy to its details to discern as much, and it's not bandwagon-jumping to rightfully call out unethical practices when you see them. In fact, when it comes to the indie community, it would be a disservice to your fellow indies to NOT call out those unethical practices when you see them.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:08:38 PM
I didn't say ethical. Please look up the definition of ethics and morals.

What I meant was, and I'll say it as clearly as I can, I don't see it as morally acceptable, to dangle a $.99 bait of 20 books, that 20 writers paid to have dangled, for the sole purpose of getting "letters."

It can be done simply by working hard, learning your craft, telling good stories and selling them to readers, in a consistent fashion.

I spoke about morals too. I am speaking about morals AND ethics because people in this thread are talking about both :)

So here's something to keep in mind, if you want to talk facts. There is no "sole purpose" of getting letters with my sets. My sets have a lot of purposes. Every set has one main aim with smaller goals. Sometimes the aim is to grow audience, sometimes to make money, and usually to make a list - but those really, all sets do all of those things, ideally. It's just about what is prioritized.

Now, if you think ANTHOLOGIES are immoral, that's totally your right to feel that way. I won't be offended. I'm certainly not the only authors who helps with them or participates in them, and who am I to say how you should feel about them? But as I said before, I'm happy to talk about where we disagree on *what's actually happening* - but being against something I'm not doing isn't an argument, since in those cases it sounds like we're actually on the same page, and your only issue is you were misled into thinking I did something I didn't. I'm sure there's plenty I actually AM doing that we can disagree about, though, such an you finding anthologies immoral where I don't. I'm fine to agree to disagree when it comes to things that actually are relevant to what I do. But it's silly to argue over something that I'm not doing, that there is evidence I'm not doing.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:10:38 PM
If a service's very existence is predicated upon manipulation then you don't need to be privy to its details to discern as much, and it's not bandwagon-jumping to rightfully call out unethical practices when you see them. In fact, when it comes to the indie community, it would be a disservice to your fellow indies to NOT call out those unethical practices when you see them.

"If a service's very existence"
it's not a service

"is predicated upon manipulation"
there's no manipulation, and there's evidence of this fact

"then you don't need to be privy to its details to discern as much, and it's not bandwagon-jumping to rightfully call out unethical practices when you see them."
except you didn't see them. You heard about them from someone who is intentionally misleading you, when there is evidence that unethical practices aren't actually happening.

"In fact, when it comes to the indie community, it would be a disservice to your fellow indies to NOT call out those unethical practices when you see them."
Agreed. That's why people are calling out the unethical practices of this in this thread.


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 28, 2017, 10:11:01 PM
Yeah, thank Rick for that. :D Had he left this on his Facebook page, it probably wouldn't have blown up quite so much. Unintended consequences and all that.   At least writers have more information to consider now, which is always a good thing.

Except this wasn't on my FB page. Maybe try reading the op.  As for my FB page, I post there what I please, same as anyone else.

And oh well.  Knowledge is power.  If some read this and decide to go one way, that's fine. If they decide to go the other way that's fine too.  It's a debate worth having rather than sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring potential issues.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 10:11:35 PM
If a service's very existence is predicated upon manipulation then you don't need to be privy to its details to discern as much, and it's not bandwagon-jumping to rightfully call out unethical practices when you see them. In fact, when it comes to the indie community, it would be a disservice to your fellow indies to NOT call out those unethical practices when you see them.

There is the issue. She's already said none of that is going on! There is no manipulation. She is firmly on the ethical side of things. Half the people see it, and agree she isn't manipulating anything because they are actually part of the boxsets. The other half refuse to believe it and refuse to look at the screen shots, instead holding onto their beliefs based on "what they've heard". So yes. Definitely, call out those unethical practices! But! Don't keep propagating that rumor when they are refuted. Which is happening here.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 28, 2017, 10:12:40 PM
Wendy (I think that was her name) spent $250 on promotional FB boosts and got her USA letters. Do you feel that was morally wrong of her to do and she doesn't deserve those letters? You have a newsletter if I'm not mistaken. That costs money to maintain. You've hired people to design covers. More money towards marketing. Wouldn't you be morally wrong in your own definition since you are using those to market your books?

Her books, nor mine have twenty other books tacked onto the back, for the sole purpose of tempting readers with a stack of five cent books. Nor are they offered for $.99 other than the promotional advertising. I advertise to put my book in front of readers. And they buy them to the tune of $400,000 royalty this year. Trust me, you don't want to debate me on marketing concepts.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:15:22 PM
Her books, nor mine have twenty other books tacked onto the back, for the sole purpose of tempting readers with a stack of five cent books. Nor are they offered for $.99 other than the promotional advertising. I advertise to put my book in front of readers. And they buy them to the tune of $400,000 royalty this year. Trust me, you don't want to debate me on marketing concepts.

I think that's awesome. It's working for you and you should keep at it! I'm super excited about your success and hope it continues for you. You're definitely following one of the many right ways to publish and I LOVE hearing from authors who are doing so well. Keep kicking butt!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 10:16:06 PM
Same here. I hate when people are dishonest and think that success should come from honest, above-board hard work. that's why my sets are run the way they do, and why I am transparent and provide proof of that *to anyone who wants the truth*

- but I already publicly shared all of this information outside of the group multiple times, and I'm done RE-posting the same things. Because it's telling if people choose to ignore facts and evidence and side with rumors. People either want the truth or they don't. I've done my share by posting it, and those who are truly acting from an ethical and moral place can choose to see the truth. Everyone else can just go on rumors. And that's fine by me :)

For the sake of the thread, go ahead and post your "truth" here.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 10:17:16 PM
For the sake of the thread, go ahead and post your "truth" here.
Or just click on her facebook service page.
Or not.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:17:49 PM
Except this wasn't on my FB page. Maybe try reading the op.  As for my FB page, I post there what I please, same as anyone else.

And oh well.  Knowledge is power.  If some read this and decide to go one way, that's fine. If they decide to go the other way that's fine too.  It's a debate worth having rather than sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring potential issues.

SO MUCH THIS!!! Rick and I both agree: Don't stick your head in the sand. Don't ignore potential issues. GET THE FACTS. It's very easy NOT to stick your head in the sand yet many CONTINUE to do this, on purpose! Or some know the truth and PRETEND their head is in the sand. Don't take anyone's word for it. See for yourself and decide for yourself. This is YOUR career and you deserve to think for yourself.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 10:18:28 PM
There is the issue. She's already said none of that is going on! There is no manipulation. She is firmly on the ethical side of things. Half the people see it, and agree she isn't manipulating anything because they are actually part of the boxsets. The other half refuse to believe it and refuse to look at the screen shots, instead holding onto their beliefs based on "what they've heard". So yes. Definitely, call out those unethical practices! But! Don't keep propagating that rumor when they are refuted. Which is happening here.

Question: why do the boxsets exist in the first place? Why are people buying their way into them? Are they looking for shortcuts?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Robyn Wideman on April 28, 2017, 10:19:06 PM
Her books, nor mine have twenty other books tacked onto the back, for the sole purpose of tempting readers with a stack of five cent books. Nor are they offered for $.99 other than the promotional advertising. I advertise to put my book in front of readers. And they buy them to the tune of $400,000 royalty this year. Trust me, you don't want to debate me on marketing concepts.

Are you suggesting your way is the only right way?

Tempting readers with five cent books...  Because no one every gives away free books to as many people as they can to generate interest in their other books....

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 10:19:27 PM
Or just click on her facebook service page.
Or not.

Or just post the "proof" here. Easily done.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:19:46 PM
For the sake of the thread, go ahead and post your "truth" here.

Let's see. In January, I spend HOURS posting nearly 300 screenshots, were are already up for anyone who wants to see them.

Now the onus is on me to REPOST 300 screen shots, instead of people clicking a button that gives them access to that?

Nah. Anyone who would ask me to do that doesn't want the truth, so it'd be a waste of time. I'm only making the truth available to those who wish to seek it. That's enough for me. If some people never learn the truth because they choose not to, I'm okay with that :)


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 10:20:50 PM
Or just post the "proof" here. Easily done.
Or, you can save everyone time and just click one little mouse button.
But that will be too much work.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 10:22:56 PM
Her books, nor mine have twenty other books tacked onto the back, for the sole purpose of tempting readers with a stack of five cent books. Nor are they offered for $.99 other than the promotional advertising. I advertise to put my book in front of readers. And they buy them to the tune of $400,000 royalty this year. Trust me, you don't want to debate me on marketing concepts.

Everyone has their own -goals-. You do not agree with what boxsets. That is 100% your prerogative. I think boxsets have their purpose. I advertise to put my books in front of readers as well  HOWEVER, one of my personal dreams is to have my letters. But, I'm not going wide. And you can't make the lists without apple and nook reporting in. So yah, I'm going to dangle my bits out there and shake my ass to get them while heading towards the six-figure mark this year (and I've only been published since January)

So: Money? Check. Dream of getting letters? Check! For me, that's a win.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:23:01 PM
Question: why do the boxsets exist in the first place? Why are people buying their way into them? Are they looking for shortcuts?

Some people pay several hundred dollars to get a BookBub feature to promote a book of theirs for free so that they can reach thousands of new readers.

Some people, especially if they can't get a Bookbub, join a boxed set to promote a book of theirs where they will make a small profit (instead of giving it away completely for free) so that they can reach thousands of new readers that way.

Hope that answers your questions! I've done quite a few anthologies, even after getting my letters, so it's definitely not about that. But I'm picky who I work with. One of the ones I did recently was with Bryan Cohen - it was a fairytale anthology and a lot of fun to write for and great way to connect with new readers. While I've also been approved for book bub, I like to diversify my audience by using different marketing approaches to reach new readers :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:24:34 PM
Or just post the "proof" here. Easily done.

I'll make a deal with you. Post 300 pictures DIRECTLY to this thread, so that people can see it without clicking a link. Then I'll pay someone (because I don't have time) to do the same for me and post all that info here for me as well. I mean, so you can show me how easily done posting 297 screenshots would be compared to clicking a link and a button.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Crystal_ on April 28, 2017, 10:25:03 PM
Most people give away a few copies during release week. They might do a FB contest or they might buy copies for beta reader or friends.

If that isn't wrong, then giving away a bunch of copies to hungry readers isn't wrong.

I don't think giveaways should count to the list, but the issue isn't with people using giveaways. It's with the lists themselves. It's just like bonus books. I hate them, but I don't blame authors for using them. I blame Amazon for not making them against the rules.

And maybe not so much with the sanctimony about how many copies we can sell without a marketing budget. I write great books and I spend a lot on marketing. The two things aren't mutually exclusive.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 10:25:39 PM
Or you could just make the group posts public so people don't have to join to see all this proof. But I guess that's too hard.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 10:26:09 PM
Question: why do the boxsets exist in the first place? Why are people buying their way into them? Are they looking for shortcuts?

Everyone has their own reasons. I didn't want to spend a load of money and put my books wide to make it. For me it is a fiscal choice. So, I am joining a boxset. Is it a shortcut? I don't think so. To me, it's a group of people pooling resources to achieve a common goal.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 10:26:18 PM
Let's see. In January, I spend HOURS posting nearly 300 screenshots, were are already up for anyone who wants to see them.

Now, to defend myself against straight lies, the onus is on me to REPOST 300 screen shots, instead of people clicking a button that gives them access to that?

Nah. Anyone who would ask me to do that doesn't want the truth, so it'd be a waste of time. I'm not out to prove myself to people who know they are lying. I'm only making the truth available to those who wish to seek it. That's enough for me. If some people never learn the truth because they choose not to, I'm okay with that :)

So, the only way someone can learn the "truth" of your business practices is if they join a group where driving up membership numbers furthers said business practices? Give me a break.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:27:42 PM
Or you could just make the group posts public so people don't have to join to see all this proof. But I guess that's too hard.

From Facebook "Privacy changes are limited in groups with 5,000 members or more." My options are closed or secret. Not public. Sorry.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on April 28, 2017, 10:28:51 PM
Lest anyone think I sent "the organizer" a death threat . . . when I posted publicly 2/19/17  that I would never work with Rebecca Hamilton, a friend of mine who is a former police officer made the joke "I don't know anything about this, but I have your back girlie. And you know I know how to hide the bodies. :)" all as completely separate comments. Funnily enough, I NEVER tagged "the organizer" in my post, she just up and decided the Rebecca Hamilton I was talking about was her. She picked up that shoe and put it on.

Why did I post what I did? Because for like the sixth time when I showed support for another author who felt defrauded a whole bunch PM'd me out of the woodwork. Some have thousands tied up... and can't walk away. I wasn't kidding when I said I have given the advice to flake out, to just get away.

There were calls in the private author groups that is run by "the organizer" that people said they reported the whole thread and comments to Facebook. It was so not even what she makes it out to be that Facebook did nothing. Nada. The company that shuts people down for too many links in PM etc. I didn't get put into Facebook jail. Nothing.

And you don't have to join a private group and out yourself on Facebook to see "my proof." I use my real name online and my professional Facebook is public.

So here you go . . . https://www.facebook.com/elizabethann.west.7/posts/1207835562658589

So there you go. And it's now 1:28 AM my time. :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 10:29:55 PM
So, the only way someone can learn the "truth" of your business practices is if they join a group where driving up membership numbers furthers said business practices? Give me a break.
You can have it only one way. Don't be angry when the giver gives you answers, but you decide to not pass an easily cross-able line.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 10:30:28 PM
So, the only way someone can learn the "truth" of your business practices is if they join a group where driving up membership numbers furthers said business practices? Give me a break.

Or, you can join, read it, and quit. Thereby negating any membership number boost for the five seconds it takes for you to pull up the posts.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Robyn Wideman on April 28, 2017, 10:30:42 PM
Or you could just make the group posts public so people don't have to join to see all this proof. But I guess that's too hard.

Or you could just join, since you obviously have an issue with the way other people do their business.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on April 28, 2017, 10:31:31 PM
There is the issue. She's already said none of that is going on! There is no manipulation. She is firmly on the ethical side of things. Half the people see it, and agree she isn't manipulating anything because they are actually part of the boxsets. The other half refuse to believe it and refuse to look at the screen shots, instead holding onto their beliefs based on "what they've heard". So yes. Definitely, call out those unethical practices! But! Don't keep propagating that rumor when they are refuted. Which is happening here.
I think you said you've been published since January?

I still consider myself pretty new as I first published 4-1/2 years ago. But boy, I've learned a lot in those years. And I wouldn't have called myself overly naive. I guess if I could go back and tell then-me a few things, one of them would be to be even more cautious. And to watch and listen before deciding. I feel fortunate in some ways that I didn't really learn about author groups or talk to anybody until I'd been published for almost a year and had sold 100k books. It meant that I could think, "Huh. That doesn't seem necessary/right/whatever" and not feel a sense of desperation.

Over the years, I've learned who sells consistently well on their own and is aboveboard and trusted by other bestselling authors (using that term loosely to mean authors who consistently earn six and seven figures). I still don't know a lot of the time, but at least I know who to listen to. It's a complicated industry, and many in it, whether that's Amazon or promotional sites or individual authors, have various agendas and public and private faces.

At a few months in? I'd advise caution. I'm being general because this advice IS general. I don't cross promote and I don't do list building stuff or participate much (don't go to conferences etc.). But I do know that reputation matters--the reputation of those you do business with and, especially, your own.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 28, 2017, 10:31:38 PM
Are you suggesting your way is the only right way?


I thought I made it perfectly clear. I do what I see is morally right. Others have different morals. Hurray, rainbows and unicorns for everyone. If you and I don't share the same moral compass, that's fine by me. I follow my own.

I'll say it even clearer, so that nobody else can misconstrue my words. I find the whole idea of a $.99 box set of 20 books by 20 authors, who paid to be in it for the sole purpose of being able to say they are a NYT or USAT best seller an act of moral repugnance. Again, that's just me, one old Marine's opinion, based on my own moral compass.

I could probably pull out of KU, bundle all thirteen of my novels, price the box set at $.99 and hit both lists. But ya know what? None of my books would be best sellers. And I, me, a party of one, would know that.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:31:59 PM
Elizabeth, not that I think your friend was being funny (though I respect you do) that wasn't the death threat I was referring to. But I'm glad it gave you a giggle when your friend said that. Everyone deserves joy in their life.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 10:32:31 PM
From Facebook "Privacy changes are limited in groups with 5,000 members or more." My options are closed or secret. Not public. Sorry.

Then post it on a website. After all, this is your brand that's being threatened. If you have foolproof evidence of your innocence, you should make it freely available for everyone to see without the requirement to join your group.

And don't give me the "I don't have time" excuse. This thread is now eleven pages long. In all the time you've been repeating "join my group for proof," you could've easily done a bulk upload of all those images on a Wordpress post and been done with that.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: NeedWant on April 28, 2017, 10:33:46 PM
To me the main issue is not the box sets or manipulation or whatever because I'm not interested in box sets anyway. I was interested in a promo (genrecrave I think) until I actually saw some of the stuff that RH has posted here and on Facebook. I've seen her attacking other authors on Facebook, and I've also seen her co-authors and authors she works with behave in ways that I don't approve of. Posting stuff on Facebook, writing Amazon reviews defending each other while attacking other authors, etc. This all makes me leery of working with this person. If you're doing that stuff out in the open, what are you doing when no one's looking? Now even if it was proven that there's nothing fishy going on, I still wouldn't work with someone like that because obviously their ethics don't align with my own.


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:34:37 PM
I'll say it even clearer, so that nobody else can misconstrue my words. I find the whole idea of a $.99 box set of 20 books by 20 authors, who paid to be in it for the sole purpose of being able to say they are a NYT or USAT best seller an act of moral repugnance. Again, that's just me, one old Marine's opinion, based on my own moral compass.

Thankfully that's not the sole purpose. Some of the sets are never even posted wide because it's not even part of the purpose. But it's cool for you to hate the sets even if that's not the sole purpose. I don't think it's immoral, but it's definitely not for everyone.

Man, wouldn't it rock if we all put this much time into standing against other immoral acts, like rape, racism, sexism, etc? I'm totally ashamed to admit that I've spent more time this week defending against BS instead of trying to raise awareness and discussion in those TRULY immoral aspects of life.  My friends need to get me back on track. Totally shameful :/
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Holly Dodd on April 28, 2017, 10:35:23 PM
I think you said you've been published since January?

I still consider myself pretty new as I first published 4-1/2 years ago. But boy, I've learned a lot in those years. And I wouldn't have called myself overly naive. I guess if I could go back and tell them-me a few things, one of them would be to be even more cautious. And to watch and listen before deciding. I feel fortunate in some ways that I didn't really learn about author groups or talk to anybody until I'd been published for almost a year and sold 100k books. It meant that I could think, "Huh. That doesn't seem necessary/right/whatever" and not feel a sense of desperation.

Over the years, I've learned who sells consistently well and is aboveboard and trusted by other bestselling authors (using that term loosely to mean authors who consistently earn six and seven figures). I still don't know a lot of the time, but at least I know who to listen to. It's a complicated industry, and many in it, whether that's Amazon or promotional sites or individual authors, have various agendas and public and private faces.

At a few months in? I'd advise caution. I'm being general because this advice IS general. I don't cross promote and I don't do list building stuff or participate much (don't go to conferences etc.). But I do know that reputation matters--the reputation of those you do business with and, especially, your own.

I've been published since January. I've been on Kboards since 2011 (On this account too so you can verify my join date). I watch. I learn. I've seen Rebecca start at the bottom and work up to this tipping point. The market constantly changes. KU wasn't around back then. It was all erotica. etc, etc. I was around when Amanda Hocking was making waves. Just because I only hit the button, doesn't mean I haven't been in the background. I'm aware how things change. Right now, boxsets are yay. I'm okay with that.

As an edit: That also means I know who to emulate, who to listen to, and who to ignore. Who sells. And not to be impressed by 'best selling' claims. There are people who make so much money, and sell a lot, who you never hear about. And then there are those who seem like they should be selling a lot, but aren't.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 10:36:00 PM
Some people pay several hundred dollars to get a BookBub feature to promote a book of theirs for free so that they can reach thousands of new readers.

Nothing wrong with that.

Quote
Some people, especially if they can't get a Bookbub, join a boxed set to promote a book of theirs where they will make a small profit (instead of giving it away completely for free) so that they can reach thousands of new readers that way.

Not being able to get a Bookbub doesn't give anyone the excuse to engage in manipulative practices as some kind of 'even-up' over a perceived wrong. Not everyone can get a Bookbub, and if you can't, keep trying. At least with Bookbub you're promoting your own work, not throwing in with a stack of other books as way to game your rank and "get letters" that you didn't actually personally earn.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 28, 2017, 10:36:24 PM
I'll make a deal with you. Post 300 pictures DIRECTLY to this thread, so that people can see it without clicking a link. Then I'll pay someone (because I don't have time) to do the same for me and post all that info here for me as well. I mean, so you can show me how easily done posting 297 screenshots would be compared to clicking a link and a button.

Obscurantism as its finest.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:37:28 PM
Then post it on a website. After all, this is your brand that's being threatened. If you have foolproof evidence of your innocence, you should make it freely available for everyone to see without the requirement to join your group.

And don't give me the "I don't have time" excuse. This thread is now eleven pages long. In all the time you've been repeating "join my group for proof," you could've easily done a bulk upload of all those images on a Wordpress post and been done with that.

I have already posted publicly in multiple places, and as I said - why would I defend my brand to people who are CHOOSING not to learn the truth. It doesn't matter WHERE I post it, people who don't want to know the truth are going to ignore. So the truth isn't for them. I shouldn't have to report the SAME evidence 100 times just for it to be posted in yet ANOTHER venue a week later, and aGAIN people to ignore the facts. That's why now I just say - join the group. This is how I can tell who really wants the truth and who wants and excuse to hold onto lies. It's how I weed out people's motivations. And right now, that's a great thing to be able to do :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: TheForeverGirlSeries on April 28, 2017, 10:38:59 PM
Not being able to get a Bookbub doesn't give anyone the excuse to engage in manipulative practices as some kind of 'even-up' over a perceived wrong. Not everyone can get a Bookbub, and if you can't, keep trying. At least with Bookbub you're promoting your own work, not throwing in with a stack of other books as way to game your rank and "get letters" that you didn't actually personally earn.

Agreed. And that's why no one is engaging in manipulative practices here. Except maybe those here who know they are posting false information... But I mean, we can just keep saying I'm doing things I'm not doing. If you say it enough times, that makes it true.

Oh wait. That's not how this works. :P
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 10:40:20 PM
I have already posted publicly in multiple places, and as I said - why would I defend my brand to people who are CHOOSING not to learn the truth. It doesn't matter WHERE I post it, people who don't want to know the truth are going to ignore. So the truth isn't for them. I shouldn't have to report the SAME evidence 100 times just for it to be posted in yet ANOTHER venue a week later, and aGAIN people to ignore the facts. That's why now I just say - join the group. This is how I can tell who really wants the truth and who wants and excuse to hold onto lies. It's how I weed out people's motivations. And right now, that's a great thing to be able to do :)

Here's a little tip from someone who does website work for a living.

When you post stuff on a website, you don't need to post the same evidence 100 times. You just need to post it one time, then share the link.

It's a real novel concept, I suggest you try it.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 28, 2017, 10:40:41 PM
Why did I post what I did? Because for like the sixth time when I showed support for another author who felt defrauded a whole bunch PM'd me out of the woodwork. Some have thousands tied up... and can't walk away. I wasn't kidding when I said I have given the advice to flake out, to just get away.

I've gotten them too. Post something about a subject like this and get a bunch of off the record PMs. And of course, those are easy to dismiss from the other end because we won't share the names because that's not what anyone worth a damn would do to someone reaching out to show solidarity, but asking for anonymity because of fear of retribution.  I can't even imagine doing that to someone.  All we can do is share that it happens and let others judge for themselves 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on April 28, 2017, 10:41:11 PM
Elizabeth, not that I think your friend was being funny (though I respect you do) that wasn't the death threat I was referring to. But I'm glad it gave you a giggle when your friend said that. Everyone deserves joy in their life.

So that's exactly what I mean. You said up thread the reason you said people HAD to choose to be friends with me or you on Facebook was because you got DEATH THREATS, and then I post free and clear for all to see, all that was said on MY thread, now you want to be like "Oh not that."

There is nothing to be gained from a conversation with you, you can't even keep things consistent for less than an hour on a KBoards thread. Yeah, you had to say "You can be friend with me or EAW but have to choose because I've had DEATH THREATS" and when you're called out on it, you're like oh no, that's not what I meant.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 28, 2017, 10:41:41 PM
Thankfully that's not the sole purpose. Some of the sets are never even posted wide because it's not even part of the purpose. But it's cool for you to hate the sets even if that's not the sole purpose. I don't think it's immoral, but it's definitely not for everyone.


Maybe if I said it louder; "I'll say it even clearer, so that nobody else can misconstrue my words. I find the whole idea of a $.99 box set of 20 books by 20 authors, who paid to be in it for the sole purpose of being able to say they are a NYT or USAT best seller an act of moral repugnance. Again, that's just me, one old Marine's opinion, based on my own moral compass.

I don't care about any other sets. It's those that are being done just for the "letters."
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 28, 2017, 10:43:26 PM
Here's a little tip from someone who does website work for a living.

When you post stuff on a website, you don't need to post the same evidence 100 times. You just need to post it one time, then share the link.

It's a real novel concept, I suggest you try it.
She did post a link and she did share it. You just chose not to act on it.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 28, 2017, 10:44:03 PM
She did post a link and she did share it. You just chose not to act on it.

We've been over this. Please refer to the previous posts.


Edited. PM me if you have any questions. --Betsy/KB Mod
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Robyn Wideman on April 28, 2017, 10:44:55 PM
Maybe if I said it louder; "I'll say it even clearer, so that nobody else can misconstrue my words. I find the whole idea of a $.99 box set of 20 books by 20 authors, who paid to be in it for the sole purpose of being able to say they are a NYT or USAT best seller an act of moral repugnance. Again, that's just me, one old Marine's opinion, based on my own moral compass.

I don't care about any other sets. It's those that are being done just for the "letters."

So if I joined a set with the goal of expanding my market base, learning new marketing techniques and making money along with possibly making a list I am not morally repugnant?

YES. I'm in like flint.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Becca Mills on April 28, 2017, 10:54:06 PM
Posting has accelerated beyond my ability to keep up, so I'm going to lock this for a time in order to read. Also rather in need of a pee break. Ahem.

Please note: I am repeatedly removing explicit accusations of lying. Such accusations are not in keeping with KBoards's forum decorum, and members who keep making them will find themselves unable to post here. By all means, make claims and provide evidence for them (though Rebecca, I think I have your Fb group address memorized, at this point, so further mentions of it are probably not necessary). Members can decide for themselves whether apparent discrepancies are due to obfuscation, confusion, lying, or whatever else.

ETA: Okay, reopening this thread. This is an important matter, and there are strong feelings on all sides. Let's keep it as professional as possible.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Lydniz on April 29, 2017, 12:11:04 AM
Well, this has all been most enlightening.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: BellaJames on April 29, 2017, 12:50:13 AM

I agree with everything Sela wrote, Rosalind James has made some great points in this thread and Wayne Stinnett.

I understand that having letters is important to some authors but why not focus on writing engaging books that people actually want to read and buy organically, promote them in an ethical way and work towards the NYT/USAT lists gradually. Is there hard evidence that having these letters suddenly gives you a sustained boost in sales or credibility?

I see NYT times bestselling author everywhere I look on Amazon and it has become less and less impressive.

With some of these romance box sets, there are authors included that I've never heard of before and I look at their ranks and reviews for their other books and they are often not that impressive.

As others have said, most of this thread looks like a big advertising thread for Rebecca's facebook page.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 29, 2017, 03:19:51 AM
I don't even care if people are shooting for the bestseller lists. Sure, saying USA Today Bestselling author means . . . well, let's just say if thousands of people have the credential, then it isn't worth all that much. But gaming KU by putting in books that are really links to Instafreebie titles, playing games with covers and content to evade KDP censors (who have repeatedly pulled down Rebecca Hamilton's box sets when they crossed lines), and especially bullying and harassing people who want out, is all behavior that crosses some very clear ethical lines for most writers.

Someday Amazon is going to do a crackdown. They're going to cast a net and drag a lot of bottom dwellers up to suffocate, gasping on deck, and we've seen in the past how these crackdowns pull in a lot of bycatch. Do you want this to be you?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: This_Way_Down on April 29, 2017, 04:42:10 AM
I went out in my field where I grow my [expletives], and it was bare. Why should I care if someone hit the lists in a box set? Or if they beat the IRS? Or violate PayPal's TOS? Is it impacting me? No. Is it preventing or discouraging readers from buying my books? No. Is it just something to get worked up over? Yup!



Edited to remove profanity. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 29, 2017, 05:28:13 AM
I went out in my field where I grow my [expletives], and it was bare. Why should I care if someone hit the lists in a box set? Or if they beat the IRS? Or violate PayPal's TOS? Is it impacting me? No. Is it preventing or discouraging readers from buying my books? No. Is it just something to get worked up over? Yup!


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

And that is precisely the attitude *anyone* gaming the system in any way hopes you'll have.  So win for them, I suppose.

However, time and again, it has been proven that anytime the system is gamed in a significant way, Amazon responds by bringing a hammer down in some way or another, more often than not catching others who don't deserve it.  None of us want to be the "indie police", but this is already a competitive enough industry without others running roughshod over the rules and making it more difficult for the rest.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: crow.bar.beer on April 29, 2017, 05:38:25 AM
So let me get this straight. Because I paid to join a boxset it doesn't count? That is some straight up b.s.

Yep, it doesn't count, not in the same way.
But not because you paid to get in, rather because it's a multi-author box set.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 29, 2017, 05:40:03 AM
Personally, if I was worried about my family, I think I'd stop deliberately stirring up drama then telling people they had to take my children into account when calling out my business practices. 

Anyone who puts their family first should actually put their family FIRST and not use them as a guilt tool when the going gets rough. Own your business practices. Own your decisions. Your kids didn't make your decisions.  Your family only becomes part of this discussion when you bring them into it.  If your business impacts your family, the only person responsible for that is you.

I lose a lot of respect for people who blatantly use children to distract people from issues they've created.  It's incredibly manipulative and disrespectful to anyone who does business with you, that you expect people (who have their own children, personal situations and lives) to cut you extra slack for your own business practices by claiming that your children give you a special exemption.

As someone who has children and a business, I find this really horrifying. Children are not shields. Do not throw them under the bus because you have run out of justifications.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on April 29, 2017, 05:41:01 AM
I went out in my field where I grow my [expletives], and it was bare. Why should I care if someone hit the lists in a box set? Or if they beat the IRS? Or violate PayPal's TOS? Is it impacting me? No. Is it preventing or discouraging readers from buying my books? No. Is it just something to get worked up over? Yup!


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

As a straight, white man living in America, there are lots of things that don't personally affect me. Racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Does that mean I should just ignore these problems and shrug whenever I see them? Of course not. Just because something bad doesn't affect you does not mean you should just ignore it.

But this kind of unethical behavior can affect you. You're competing for things like Bookbub slots and Amazon ranking. If these box sets are beating you organically or through ethical marketing practices, great. But if they're taking slots you could have gotten or shoving your book down in the ranks because of unethical practices, that's a problem.

It also damages the credibility of self-publishing as a whole. There's a reason everyone cringes whenever an indie starts a flame war with a reviewer in the comments.

And as Rick said, it could also mean you get swept up in accidental punitive action. Go look at the thread about Amazon and the KU reads issue. How many people in there have been accidentally targeted by Amazon because of actions of scammers?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: This_Way_Down on April 29, 2017, 05:48:05 AM
And that is precisely the attitude *anyone* gaming the system in any way hopes you'll have.  So win for them, I suppose.

However, time and again, it has been proven that anytime the system is gamed in a significant way, Amazon responds by bringing a hammer down in some way or another, more often than not catching others who don't deserve it.  None of us want to be the "indie police", but this is already a competitive enough industry without others running roughshod over the rules and making it more difficult for the rest.
I suppose I could don my cape and hood and charge off to....where? Scams happen. Pearl clutching and screaming at the sky about it will not change a thing. I couldn't care less about the USA Today or the NYT lists. I've never made it, and I'm still clearing six figures several times over. So beat that with a stick.
And not all box sets are scams. I've been in two. One was put together by Kevin J. Anderson and the other by a popular indie. In neither case did I pay a dime. In fact, I made several thousand dollars. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: This_Way_Down on April 29, 2017, 05:52:19 AM
As a straight, white man living in America, there are lots of things that don't personally affect me. Racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. Does that mean I should just ignore these problems and shrug whenever I see them? Of course not. Just because something bad doesn't affect you does not mean you should just ignore it.

But this kind of unethical behavior can affect you. You're competing for things like Bookbub slots and Amazon ranking. If these box sets are beating you organically or through ethical marketing practices, great. But if they're taking slots you could have gotten or shoving your book down in the ranks because of unethical practices, that's a problem.

It also damages the credibility of self-publishing as a whole. There's a reason everyone cringes whenever an indie starts a flame war with a reviewer in the comments.

And as Rick said, it could also mean you get swept up in accidental punitive action. Go look at the thread about Amazon and the KU reads issue. How many people in there have been accidentally targeted by Amazon because of actions of scammers?
What damages indie is unedited crap people continuously put up for sale. As far as taking slots: Hey, they're outselling me. I can whine about it and cry foul, or I can work harder to sell more books. I'll choose the latter.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 29, 2017, 05:57:05 AM
I suppose I could don my cape and hood and charge off to....where? Scams happen. Pearl clutching and screaming at the sky about it will not change a thing. I couldn't care less about the USA Today or the NYT lists. I've never made it, and I'm still clearing six figures several times over. So beat that with a stick.
And not all box sets are scams. I've been in two. One was put together by Kevin J. Anderson and the other by a popular indie. In neither case did I pay a dime. In fact, I made several thousand dollars. 

And, hey, that's fine. I don't care to drag anyone into this who doesn't want to be (albeit one could argue that posting at all = caring :).  But like I said, anyone gaming any system is going to be happy when people turn a blind eye.

As for box sets themselves, I agree. I never said they were bad.  Have been in a few myself.   This is more about discussing dirty deeds that may or may not go on behind the scenes than sets themselves.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: This_Way_Down on April 29, 2017, 06:05:58 AM
And, hey, that's fine. I don't care to drag anyone into this who doesn't want to be (albeit one could argue that posting at all = caring :).  But like I said, anyone gaming any system is going to be happy when people turn a blind eye.

As for box sets themselves, I agree. I never said they were bad.  Have been in a few myself.   This is more about discussing dirty deeds that may or may not go on behind the scenes than sets themselves.
The dirty deeds I see are scammers selling their very own "fool proof" methods and bulls%$t ad campaigns to the gullible. But there again, nothing I can do but be disgusted. As for my degree of caring...I should be working. But I needed a break.  ;D
I was actually under the impression that USA Today and NYT stopped putting box sets on the list. I guess I was wrong. The fact is, I never look at it.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 29, 2017, 06:08:50 AM
As for my degree of caring...I should be working. But I needed a break.  ;D

Then hopefully we provided a few pages of distraction.  :P
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 29, 2017, 06:25:12 AM
I lose a lot of respect for people who blatantly use children to distract people from issues they've created.  It's incredibly manipulative and disrespectful to anyone who does business with you, that you expect people (who have their own children, personal situations and lives) to cut you extra slack for your own business practices by claiming that your children give you a special exemption.

Thank you, I was stunned earlier in the thread when someone suggested I shouldn't question Hamilton's questionable business practices because she has a sick child. I hadn't even seen that part of the thread at that point but was baffled. A pure ink squirt of a defense.

(http://www.mentalfloss.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/435ink.jpg)

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 29, 2017, 06:32:50 AM
So if I joined a set with the goal of expanding my market base, learning new marketing techniques and making money along with possibly making a list I am not morally repugnant?

YES. I'm in like flint.

Dude, I even put it in big, bold letters. I actually combed through my post, deleting words and adding others, so that I couldn't be misunderstood. Every word in my post had meaning. How did you miss the word SOLE? You need to either read slower, enunciating each word clearly, or maybe have someone define what the words mean for you.
SOLE -  adjective 1. being the only one; only:

If you do something for multiple reasons, then none of them is the SOLE reason, and you are excluded. But, just for the sake of debate, how about telling me all the things you learned from your experience, about expanding your market base, the new marketing techniques you learned, and the scads of money you made along the way. If you truly want to learn the brutal, tough methods of becoming successful as a writer, perhaps you should follow the example of those who have actually done it, not those whose books are floundering, those who have willingly shared their experiences publicly, not those who hide behind the anonymity of private groups, those who actually published books on the subject, AFTER having become successful at writing novels. Oh look! There's one in my sig-line!

I got a PM from a member here, actually several. But, this one in particular hit the nail on the head. They mentioned how there are people out there, who will actually download a blank Harvard diploma, put their name on it, and hang it proudly over their mantel, bragging about their accomplishment. This whole massive box set idea to get a BS tag, just reeks of the same mindset.

I want it! I want it now!
That's child thinking. Adults learn to delay wants, to work hard to achieve them. Not make demands.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Anarchist on April 29, 2017, 06:35:57 AM
But, like, that's just my opinion, man.


I'm just posting as a hat tip to Raminar.


(https://d1jn4vzj53eli5.cloudfront.net/mc/2017_04/Lebowski.gif)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: WhatsHisName on April 29, 2017, 06:36:48 AM
Personally, if I was worried about my family, I think I'd stop deliberately stirring up drama then telling people they had to take my children into account when calling out my business practices. 

Anyone who puts their family first should actually put their family FIRST and not use them as a guilt tool when the going gets rough. Own your business practices. Own your decisions. Your kids didn't make your decisions.  Your family only becomes part of this discussion when you bring them into it.  If your business impacts your family, the only person responsible for that is you.

I lose a lot of respect for people who blatantly use children to distract people from issues they've created.  It's incredibly manipulative and disrespectful to anyone who does business with you, that you expect people (who have their own children, personal situations and lives) to cut you extra slack for your own business practices by claiming that your children give you a special exemption.

As someone who has children and a business, I find this really horrifying. Children are not shields. Do not throw them under the bus because you have run out of justifications.

+ 1,000,000

There are too many great quotes on this thread to list them all, but this one nails 'something' for me ... The ethics of a trading partner should ALWAYS be taken into account when doing business.

Thank you for another eye opening thread, and for keeping it civil. Long may KBoards continue.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 29, 2017, 06:39:53 AM
Personally, if I was worried about my family, I think I'd stop deliberately stirring up drama then telling people they had to take my children into account when calling out my business practices. 

Anyone who puts their family first should actually put their family FIRST and not use them as a guilt tool when the going gets rough. Own your business practices. Own your decisions. Your kids didn't make your decisions.  Your family only becomes part of this discussion when you bring them into it.  If your business impacts your family, the only person responsible for that is you.

I lose a lot of respect for people who blatantly use children to distract people from issues they've created.  It's incredibly manipulative and disrespectful to anyone who does business with you, that you expect people (who have their own children, personal situations and lives) to cut you extra slack for your own business practices by claiming that your children give you a special exemption.

As someone who has children and a business, I find this really horrifying. Children are not shields. Do not throw them under the bus because you have run out of justifications.

Thank you so much for this, Myra. It is not possible for me to upvote this enough.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: J.A. Sutherland on April 29, 2017, 06:54:05 AM
So what about this swapping of a boxset's content after release?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: raminar_dixon on April 29, 2017, 06:56:17 AM

I'm just posting as a hat tip to Raminar.


(http://i.imgur.com/jEwqRGN.jpg)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: she-la-ti-da on April 29, 2017, 07:01:02 AM
Interesting thread, especially some of the responses, and not in a good way. I've lost respect for a couple of posters I once respected greatly, all in defense of someone who isn't worth it (oh, snap, am I going to get the named and shamed treatment?).

Everyone's ethics are their own. I do my best to avoid skirting ethical quagmires. Some don't. That's their problem. But things that might affect me? Like doing something that gets a set I'm in removed from Amazon? Yeah. That cost me money for something that oddly enough, Amazon was okay with. Until they weren't. That's how Amazon rolls, for those not familiar with their game.

That said, using children as a defense against being criticized? Over the top. Step away from the computer and take care of said offspring. Seriously.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Patty Jansen on April 29, 2017, 07:07:42 AM
At risk of being told "these are not the death threats you're looking for" I received some info, a few months back, that apparently I made a death threat.

Uhhhhhh. Thats the first I've heard of it.

Apart from telling the person "Pfft, whatever", back in August 2016, a comment which I've seen copied as if it was some outrageous reply across several Facebook groups, I've had zero interaction with this person.

Death threat?

I might have made a tasteless joke on my FB feed, that's it. I reserve the right to make tasteless jokes on my own FB feed.

I'd start ROTFLMAO but unfortunately several people I know were pressured to break off all contact with me or else.

I mean, seriously. Do I even have to comment on this? Which adult lets someone else bully them into who they can interact with?

Up to a certain point I'm with This_Way_Down and IDGAF about whether this is allowable under the Amazon TOC or not. Once people have been given the info, they're adults and can make up their own minds about risk and benefit. It's the emotional blackmail and bullying that gets me.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 29, 2017, 07:13:05 AM
All I can say at this point is thank goodness Rick is here to keep a watchful eye over all of us. History has shown us that self-appointed police always work out well.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 29, 2017, 07:16:34 AM
All I can say at this point is thank goodness Rick is here to keep a watchful eye over all of us. History has shown us that self-appointed police always work out well.

Whistleblowers are often only judged harshly by those who would prefer they remain quiet.

Although nice try on once again trying to make this about me.  You'll notice, though, mine is not the only voice speaking out against such things.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 29, 2017, 07:19:00 AM
Whistleblowers are often only judged harshly by those who would prefer they remain quiet.

Although nice try on once again trying to make this about me.  You'll notice, though, mine is not the only voice speaking out against such things.

I'm sure the indie world will be grateful for you and your posse. Good day to you.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 29, 2017, 07:25:08 AM
I'm sure the indie world will be grateful for you and your posse. Good day to you.

I am.  Thanks, Rick!   And thanks to The Passive Voice for always looking out for indie authors.

These things need to be discussed so that people go into these business arrangements with the full knowledge of what they are taking part in.  As someone who's been in web marketing for a very long time, I've seen too many people who didn't ask the right questions end up with consequences they didn't anticipate.

Plenty of people find this specific type of marketing to be fair while others have objections... what you're paying for shouldn't be a mystery. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 29, 2017, 07:41:50 AM
"Nah. Anyone who would ask me to do that doesn't want the truth, so it'd be a waste of time. I'm only making the truth available to those who wish to seek it. That's enough for me. If some people never learn the truth because they choose not to, I'm okay with that "

Bookmarking this thread as research material for a future novel.



Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on April 29, 2017, 07:46:37 AM
OK, people.

If you're here for entertainment value, nothing I can do about that.  But this is a serious discussion about community concerns.  Posts that do not serve that discussion have been and will be removed.  More may be removed as the mod staff continues to monitor and review this thread.

Betsy
KB Admin
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 29, 2017, 08:01:09 AM

I'm just posting as a hat tip to Raminar.


(https://d1jn4vzj53eli5.cloudfront.net/mc/2017_04/Lebowski.gif)

The Dude always has the answer. :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: thesmallprint on April 29, 2017, 08:08:45 AM
OK, people.

If you're here for entertainment value, nothing I can do about that.  But this is a serious discussion about community concerns.  Posts that do not serve that discussion have been and will be removed.  More may be removed as the mod staff continues to monitor and review this thread.

Betsy
KB Admin

I'm astounded the thread has been left open so long. It's an atom bomb to some campfires I've seen quickly doused. I prefer to see threads go on as long as possible (and I know moderating is perhaps the least enviable job on the internet) but if this is to be a new benchmark for thread-locking or not, then there won't be many that will be closed in the future.

If that is the case, all the better, but perhaps it's time for mods to rewrite the guidelines.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MaryMcDonald on April 29, 2017, 08:13:49 AM
All I can say at this point is thank goodness Rick is here to keep a watchful eye over all of us. History has shown us that self-appointed police always work out well.

I never saw him trying to police anything. Bringing current practices out in the open for anyone to look at and decide for themselves if it is what they want to get into isn't policing. If the practice is legitimate, then there should be no worry about the method.

Also, as others have noted earlier, whether the practice is ethical or not can be debated until the cows come home, but I don't think anyone would condone bullying and name shaming. If even half of what I've read has happened to authors who drop out of a set is true, then shouldn't that behavior be made public so other authors can make an informed decision on whether they want to participate in that particular boxset?

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 08:21:09 AM
I am.  Thanks, Rick!   And thanks to The Passive Voice for always looking out for indie authors.

These things need to be discussed so that people go into these business arrangements with the full knowledge of what they are taking part in.  As someone who's been in web marketing for a very long time, I've seen too many people who didn't ask the right questions end up with consequences they didn't anticipate.

Plenty of people find this specific type of marketing to be fair while others have objections... what you're paying for shouldn't be a mystery. 

I love this post so much I want to marry it.

As someone who has been mostly circumspect about my dealings with Rebecca--only to have her repeatedly blast me on Facebook, to book retailers, to online friends--I am grateful to those who are speaking up--especially when they, themselves, have not been personally affected. Had this thread been in existence back in August, I'd have saved myself a lot of money and aggravation. (Not to mention the time I've spent with lawyers!)

I'd like to draw an important distinction here about gifting copies. Gifting them is one thing, and anyone can make a decision what they are comfortable with. Incentivizing people to claim said gifted book (instead of converting it into a gift card) with an entry into a drawing for a higher denomination Amazon gift card is a whole other thing. (This is how GenreCrave's Book Blast works--there is a FB group with 5k+ plus people who do exactly that.) Similarly, promising to add money to the advertising budget of a box set in exchange for buying a copy of a solo title is verboten. (And really tacky.)

From Amazon on the topic:

"We encourage our authors to find creative and legitimate ways to promote their books. At the same time we work to prevent any manipulation of the Kindle platform and work hard to protect the revenues of our authors. With that in mind, reimbursing individual customers to manipulate sales rank isn’t permitted."

Since the author is responsible for the tactics used by anyone you hire to promote your book, buyer beware. Amazon may not be cracking down now, but that doesn't mean they won't. I suspect that, like me, most who buy a blast have no idea how it works. But ignorance of the rules isn't usually a good defense against breaking them.

For anyone interested, someone just PM'd me that the post is back up: http://insideindie.weebly.com/case-1-the-bestseller-list-box-set-gig.html
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 29, 2017, 08:28:55 AM
All I can say at this point is thank goodness Rick is here to keep a watchful eye over all of us. History has shown us that self-appointed police always work out well.

I don't think "police" means what you think it does, Jim. Just because the light is turned off, doesn't mean the cockroaches aren't there. Rick's bringing light to an unsavory subject, especially one that is hidden behind closed doors, isn't policing. Policing, is kicking in the door and squashing the roaches.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Lydniz on April 29, 2017, 08:30:34 AM

As someone who has been mostly circumspect about my dealings with Rebecca--only to have her repeatedly blast me on Facebook, to book retailers, to online friends--I am grateful to those who are speaking up--especially when they, themselves, have not been personally affected. Had this thread been in existence back in August, I'd have saved myself a lot of money and aggravation. (Not to mention the time I've spent with lawyers!)


This is why this thread should be kept open. I'm not quite sure why some people seem so upset that it was started in the first place. I think we'd all like to know what we're getting into when we buy a service.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 29, 2017, 08:30:45 AM
Incentivizing people to claim said gifted book (instead of converting it into a gift card) with an entry into a drawing for a higher denomination Amazon gift card is a whole other thing. (This is how GenreCrave's Book Blast works--there is a FB group with 5k+ plus people who do exactly that.)

I posted another thread about actions such as that yesterday.  When someone runs a drawing for a prize and requires some sort of paid entry, without an option to enter for free, it's an illegal lottery.  I used to run online drawings at the various companies I worked for throughout my career, and believe me, there was no such thing as putting one up without first having a mountain of lawyers scrutinizing it.   This is not an issue that states take lightly.

http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,250477.0.html
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on April 29, 2017, 08:32:35 AM
I get that people don't like others to police their business. We're all grown-ups here and many of us are mavericks who prefer to do things ourselves, which is why we got into self publishing.

This is a brave new world of publishing we're in. There's a lot that's different from the way things were done before. There's a steep learning curve to conceiving of, writing, editing, publishing, promoting and selling books in this new world. One of the biggest is how to get and keep our books visible because in the indie author world, after having a great product, visibility is everything.

You need a great product. You need it to be visible to the customers who want to read it.

A great product means something that customers want to buy and read. Visibility means that it appears in front of said customers so they can buy and read it.

Because there's so much competition, people feel discouraged. How does little old me get my book in front of potential customers?

Having a great cover, a great hooky blurb, great keywords, title, tagline, preview that hooks the reader, a hooky premise -- that's how you get your book -- at base -- in front of customers. Amazon has created an environment where those attributes are rewarded. The algorithms give your book the chance that every other book gets and whether it sinks or swims is up to the quality of the product and how in demand it is to customers.

You take care of those 7 things plus writing a book that delivers on the premise and you will get that chance. If you're in KU, you get extra visibility because it's a reward for being exclusive.

Now, it's almost a given that you will do some paid promotion to get your book visibility -- on Amazon, Bookbub if you can get it, and others. Facebook ads.

Boxed sets are a way to provide readers with a sample of the work of many different authors. They are a marketing tactic to introduce authors to new readers. It's like a loss leader. I have obtained new readers through my stint in boxed sets. The first one I was in also hit the USAT. I organized a couple others that didn't but that did well.

BUT the most important part of my success as an indie was writing the book that went into that boxed set. It was a bestseller on Amazon a year earlier, not because of the boxed set. It was the #2 indie book for that qualifying week six months before I went into the boxed set. So that first boxed set I was in that hit the USAT was simply more visibility. It wasn't what made my book visible or me as an author visible. That USAT designation did not make my career. I got Bookbubs before I got the USAT. The USAT gave me other things that were valuable -- like a relationship with top indies in my genre who were NYTs and USAT bestsellers on their own merits. It taught me about organizing a boxed set and what went into it.

Those are valuable things. But they did not make me a success.

Now, I totally respect Wayne Stinnet. You can't go wrong listening to his advice or reading his books. He's proven himself in this biz. However, he is a Marine. ;) They're the toughest SOBs around and they can do things the hard way (they would say the right way) because a lot of what they do is the hardest stuff around.

BUT I disagree with him that it's not okay to enter a boxed set just to hit a list. That's okay. I can disagree with people I respect and still respect them.

The WHY doesn't matter to me as much as the HOW.

If you think it's going to help you get a Bookbub promo to get letters, fine. It likely will, but great reviews and great rank and a great genre appropriate cover will do that better. If you want to work with other authors and learn how to do promotions, fine. You can do that without entering a boxed set, paying thousands of dollars and using shady tactics that bend TOS or break TOS to do so.

What matters is HOW you do things. Are you bending rules and TOS? Are you finding loopholes that break the spirit of the law if not the letter? Are you breaking TOS or abusing them? Are you buying your way onto the list plain and simple? Is what you're doing scammy? Are you doing things that you don't want others to know? Is your leader enforcing secrecy rules? Are they using black hat tactics to get rank and sales? Are you participating in a blackballing of someone at the behest of your Beloved Leader?

How you treat people matters. How you behave personally matters.

We're a community. We have every right to discuss the ethics of people in our community, especially those who have clouds of smoke around them and are constantly involved in dramas about their behaviour because their reputations affect us all.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 08:35:07 AM
I posted another thread about actions such as that yesterday.  When someone runs a drawing for a prize and requires some sort of paid entry, without an option to enter for free, it's an illegal lottery.  I used to run online drawings at the various companies I worked for throughout my career, and believe me, there was no such thing as putting one up without first having a mountain of lawyers scrutinizing it.   This is not an issue that states take lightly.

http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,250477.0.html

The difference here might be that in this case, a purchase isn't necessary to enter. What's necessary is to claim a free book. Still a violation of Amazon's rules, but not sure about law.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Findaway on April 29, 2017, 08:35:48 AM

Similarly, promising to add money to the advertising budget of a box set in exchange for buying a copy of a solo title is verboten. (And really tacky.)


Could you explain what you mean by this? Are people in the box sets buying other books that are being promoted and the money is given back?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 08:38:14 AM
Could you explain what you mean by this? Are people in the box sets buying other books that are being promoted and the money is given back?
No, that is not true.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 08:47:21 AM
Could you explain what you mean by this? Are people in the box sets buying other books that are being promoted and the money is given back?

When Rebecca was launching a recent solo title, she posted in each of the box set groups (believe there were 12+ at the time) that anyone who bought at .99 would have $1 added to the advertising budget of that set. Many people posted copies of receipts from multiple retailers b/c they were getting the money back in the form of advertising. It was a back door way to buy copies of her own book.

ETA that since there is no profit involved here, it seems strictly an effort to affect rank, which as we know, is not allowed.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Cheryl Douglas on April 29, 2017, 08:47:30 AM
I've always thought it was funny to see an author tout themselves as a "best selling author" and then see their books' ranks in the sale-a-week range. It's ephemeral.


I've heard this comment quite a bit in this thread and others. I just wanted to speak to my own experience because you may only be seeing a small piece of the puzzle if you're using Kindle Spy or checking random book rankings on Amazon.

Speaking from personal experience, did the letters help me sell more? Not necessarily. But I'd been making six figures a year every year before I made the list. For many, like me, Amazon only represents one piece of the pie. If I break it down, with 45 books out, I may only sell a copy or two of each at Amazon every day, I'm not sure. My rankings probably wouldn't be stellar for any one book. Still, it adds up because I sell those same 45+ books every day at both B&N and iBooks. Plus another 10-15 at Kobo. I will never be a runaway bestseller. My readers are probably the only ones who will ever know my name. Hitting the USA Today list was just another thing I could cross off my bucket list. Now I'm moving on.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on April 29, 2017, 08:50:22 AM
And that's another GREAT distinction ChristinaGarner . . . .

It's very tempting when someone who sells more than you or has a bigger name than you tells you in a private group something is just how it's always done. They encourage the behavior. They demand the gifting with a bigger giveaway to turn in the receipts by midnight etc..... and when they DO this stuff, take NOTICE when they themselves are no longer doing something.

More than once I have seen "the organizer" postings from a private group that say "Gift the copies and make sure they show proof" but then when it's called out hide behind "I can't control what other authors do or do not do."

Know when you are the one being set up to be thrown under the bus if the wheels start coming off . . .

As to the corollaries between current indie practices and trad pub, one literally has nothing to do with the other. If you are so big as Random House or HarperCollins and you can totally DEAL WITH it if Amazon shuts you down, then by all means, have at marketing and promoting however you can move your books, with no thought to how your actions might make the ecosystem harder for you and others down the line or what consequences may come. If you have a stable full of lawyers to go toe-to-toe with Amazon when they decide arbitrarily you have violated something, then yeah, you can totally push the rules and guidelines to the brink.

Completely separate from that, and what I think is the bigger warning than anything at all, if you submit a manuscript to Random House and later pull the submission or the contract falls through, Random House doesn't go to forums and social media to say YOU cost them all kinds of money and you are making them stressed out and being mean and attacking them. :) So that's really where for me, all of the comparisons to "well trad pub does this too," fall flat.

And I really hope USAToday's staff are intrigued there are people who boast they can sell you a spot on that list in a boxed set for $500-$2,000. Because like it's pointed out, if everyone is a bestseller, no one is a bestseller.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 29, 2017, 08:50:28 AM
The WHY doesn't matter to me as much as the HOW.

If you think it's going to help you get a Bookbub promo to get letters, fine. It likely will, but great reviews and great rank and a great genre appropriate cover will do that better. If you want to work with other authors and learn how to do promotions, fine. You can do that without entering a boxed set, paying thousands of dollars and using shady tactics that bend TOS or break TOS to do so.

What matters is HOW you do things. Are you bending rules and TOS? Are you finding loopholes that break the spirit of the law if not the letter? Are you breaking TOS or abusing them? Are you buying your way onto the list plain and simple? Is what you're doing scammy? Are you doing things that you don't want others to know? Is your leader enforcing secrecy rules? Are they using black hat tactics to get rank and sales? Are you participating in a blackballing of someone at the behest of your Beloved Leader?

How you treat people matters. How you behave personally matters.

We're a community. We have every right to discuss the ethics of people in our community, especially those who have clouds of smoke around them and are constantly involved in dramas about their behaviour because their reputations affect us all.

100% agreed. A few folks have tried to turn this into a "stop saying all box sets are bad" argument. That couldn't be further from the truth.  I very much applaud any author who's gotten their letters through hard work, whether it's on their own or in a set.  Perfectly cool with that. 

But there are lines between white hat and black hat.  For instance:  "I need some sales on iBooks.  I'd appreciate anyone who bought it there" = fine in my book.  "I need some sales in iBooks. If you do so, and show me the receipt, I'll give you XYZ in return" = a definite crossing of that line to me. 

And for those answering that who cares about a few potentially shady sales compared to thousands of legit ones, even one gamed sale is still gaming the system, potentially pushing out someone who otherwise would have earned that spot. 

ps: just to add, I have no issue with anyone who joins something, thinking it's legit, finds out later there was shady stuff going on, then decides to not do business with that entity again.  I'm not going to fault someone for that.  I'm also not going to fault anyone who has legitimately had a good experience with a business, witnessed no shenanigans, and decides to continue working with someone. 

Witnessing the bad stuff, then going back for seconds or thirds, that's an entirely different story in my book, though.  In short, I mostly have issues with anyone who is well aware of nasty stuff going on and simply doesn't care, ignoring the means for the end.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Cassie Leigh on April 29, 2017, 08:51:12 AM
So what about this swapping of a boxset's content after release?

Was definitely done on at least one box set and Rebecca even admitted so on another Kboards thread a while back when it came up in a discussion.

And, for those demanding proof, she had posted in her FB account screen shots of a conversation with an author from December 2016 who wanted out of one of the boxes where she very clearly discussed this whole version 1 vs. version 2 of the box set and swapping out content, so it's not in doubt that it was a plan or that she gave that author a hard time for not being comfortable with it. And then in that recent Kboards thread she admitted it was actually done with at least one box set where it wasn't even published as a new version. (I think more recently she is publishing them as new versions at least, but that still links reviews and as someone mentioned upthread the bestseller status.)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 08:53:23 AM
When Rebecca was launching a recent solo title, she posted in each of the box set groups (believe there were 12+ at the time) that anyone who bought at .99 would have $1 added to the advertising budget of that set. Many people posted copies of receipts from multiple retailers b/c they were getting the money back in the form of advertising. It was a back door way to buy copies of her own book.

ETA that since there is no profit involved here, it seems strictly an effort to affect rank, which as we know, is not allowed.
Strange, I was in one of those groups, yet, she never posted anything of the sort.

A lot of rumors going around.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Silly Writer on April 29, 2017, 08:59:21 AM
Strange, I was in one of those groups, yet, she never posted anything of the sort.

A lot of rumors going around.

A lot of these rumors are supported in the blog post that just went back up (linked from PV). Would you care to comment on those? Just trying to get a clear picture here, and no one seems to be denying nor defending those screenshots.

Inquiring minds want to know.

http://insideindie.weebly.com/case-1-the-bestseller-list-box-set-gig.html
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 29, 2017, 09:00:21 AM
Hey mods-

I'm looking for a post where someone said it was immoral to be in box sets because they are too easy to sell.  Rebecca said it was here last night, but I can't find it.  Can you let me know if it was deleted?

Thanks!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: WHDean on April 29, 2017, 09:02:26 AM
This seems like the perfect time to announce my new boxed set marketing business. It works like this:

You send me as many paper copies as you can of one of your books, a digital copy of your cover, and a modest fee. I make up boxes with split covers, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Your Title, Anthology" by "J. K. Rowling and Your Name." Then I give the boxes to my friend in Amazon's distribution centre. When someone orders a paper copy of Rowling's book, he boxes your book in with hers and ships it out. Simple as that!

This is way better than any other boxed set ideas. Not only can you claim to be a "New York Times bestselling author," you can also claim to be "co-author with J. K. Rowling" on the anthology!

If you're worried about the ethics, stop worrying right now. Who's harmed by getting a free book? No one! And nothing in Amazon's TOS says "you can't use a warehouse guy to stuff your book into a boxed set with Rowling" or anything like that--I double-checked. As for me and my warehouse guy, well, if giving away free books for the enjoyment of others is a crime, we plead guilty as charged!

Sing up now!

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 09:05:23 AM
Strange, I was in one of those groups, yet, she never posted anything of the sort.

A lot of rumors going around.


Not a rumor--fact.

Mods--is posting screenshots acceptable here if they weren't PMs?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 09:05:30 AM
A lot of these rumors are supported in the blog post that just went back up (linked from PV). Would you care to comment on those? Just trying to get a clear picture here, and no one seems to be denying nor defending those screenshots.

Inquiring minds want to know.

http://insideindie.weebly.com/case-1-the-bestseller-list-box-set-gig.html
I commented on them earlier in the thread, near the first few pages.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on April 29, 2017, 09:10:22 AM
One wonders what's more likely.

Getting your account banned or breaking even.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 29, 2017, 09:13:26 AM
One wonders what's more likely.

Getting your account banned or breaking even.

Amazon works in mysterious ways. Trying to understand that is sometimes maddening.  One can skirt the rules for years and get away with it.  Or one transgression can get you banned for life.   Trying to lay odds on that is like betting if the weather tomorrow will consist of waffles or leprechauns.  :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Silly Writer on April 29, 2017, 09:16:37 AM
I commented on them earlier in the thread, near the first few pages.

I went to your profile and read your posts. I see where you mention "baseless accusations" but that's all I can find that may defend or deny the screenshots posted. If that's the response you're referring to, then I have to argue the word 'baseless.'  They're not baseless if there are screenshots to validate the claims; which there are. True?  ::)

On the other hand, if the proof-of-innocence screenshots you keep alluding to in the private FB group would negate/explain the accusatory-screenshots from the Passive Voice link, why not post them like this person did? Easily clickable without having to join a group to see them?

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 29, 2017, 09:17:33 AM
I'm sure the indie world will be grateful for you and your posse. Good day to you.

I don't know Rick, other than what I've seen on KB over the years, but yes, I'll agree with you. I'm grateful, and my estimation of him has gone up as a result of this thread. My opinions on other posters have also changed, some for the better, some for the worse.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 09:19:21 AM
I went to your profile and read your posts. I see where you mention "baseless accusations" but that's all I can find that may defend or deny the screenshots posted. If that's the response you're referring to, then I have to argue the word 'baseless.'  They're not baseless if there are screenshots to validate the claims; which there are. True?  ::)

On the other hand, if the proof-of-innocence screenshots you keep alluding to in the private FB group would negate/explain the accusatory-screenshots from the Passive Voice link, why not post them like this person did? Easily clickable without having to join a group to see them?
You can join the group and then leave. It's that simple.
Do I really need to post 297 photos just for your convenience?
The answers are there for you.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on April 29, 2017, 09:19:41 AM
Amazon works in mysterious ways. Trying to understand that is sometimes maddening.  One can skirt the rules for years and get away with it.  Or one transgression can get you banned for life.   Trying to lay odds on that is like betting if the weather tomorrow will consist of waffles or leprechauns.  :)

Lol.

Put another way, if the risk of banning is non-zero and breaking even less than assured, is it worth the risk?

Would you bet on waffles and risk  p*ss ing off the leprechauns?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 29, 2017, 09:20:26 AM
Amazon works in mysterious ways. Trying to understand that is sometimes maddening.  One can skirt the rules for years and get away with it.  Or one transgression can get you banned for life.   Trying to lay odds on that is like betting if the weather tomorrow will consist of waffles or leprechauns.  :)
I remember getting an email saying one of my books had "inappropriate content" and would be removed from the store until I fixed it. Turned out to be something in the ToC they didn't like. Book had been there for years. Fixed the same thing in seven other books as a precaution. Someone asked once why some of my covers were different size from others. Answer: changing Amazon requirements over the years.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on April 29, 2017, 09:20:46 AM
One wonders what's more likely.

Getting your account banned or breaking even.

Uncle Joe, you almost made me spit out my coffee... :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 29, 2017, 09:22:45 AM
You can join the group and then leave. It's that simple.
Do I really need to post 297 photos just for your convenience?
The answers are there for you.

Yes, the answers are there. Whereas from you all I see is your continued assertion that nothing is wrong, that people who make accusations are liars, etc. Meanwhile, multiple people have pointed out their experiences, and there are screenshots of troubling behavior in the article linked to from the OP.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 29, 2017, 09:24:14 AM
Uncle Joe, you almost made me spit out my coffee... :)
Is that an accusation against those of us who drink tea? I absolutely defend the ethics of tea drinkers and our right to laugh at his post, too. :P
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 09:25:06 AM

On the other hand, if the proof-of-innocence screenshots you keep alluding to in the private FB group would negate/explain the accusatory-screenshots from the Passive Voice link, why not post them like this person did? Easily clickable without having to join a group to see them?



The 300 screenshots are of her BB ads page. The problem with them (and if I had copies I'd happily post them to illustrate the point) is that they don't prove anything except possibly how much she spends. I don't recall there being individual shots of the BB ads page that shows exactly which book is being advertised. Instead it was rows of ads with the amount spent. The problem with that is that you can NAME an ad anything. One could call an ad "___box set ad #1" and instead advertise their own book.

I'm not saying she did this--I have no way of knowing. I'm just saying the "proof" doesn't actually prove what she says it does.

ETA that even if those shots did prove what she says they do, they don't disprove any of the other allegations.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 29, 2017, 09:30:57 AM
(http://i1072.photobucket.com/albums/w378/galeriaddo/RH_zps51p9zoac.jpg)

This is the post I'm looking for.  I haven't seen any posts where anyone says being in a multi-author box set is immoral, but it looks like some things were moderated.  This sounds crazy, but there's no point arguing it if no one really said it... can you let me know if someone actually posted that box sets are immoral because they are too easy to sell?

Thanks

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 29, 2017, 09:33:27 AM
Wayne clearly doesn't think much of them, but RH saying this is a smokescreen. People are saying that her particular way of playing the box set game is filled with dubious end runs around Amazon's ToS, bullying, and other unethical behavior. It has nothing to do with the legitimacy of box sets in general.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 09:35:45 AM
Yes, the answers are there. Whereas from you all I see is your continued assertion that nothing is wrong, that people who make accusations are liars, etc. Meanwhile, multiple people have pointed out their experiences, and there are screenshots of troubling behavior in the article linked to from the OP.
I call a spade a spade.
Whenever I ask for people to post proof, they never do, nor do I call out or reply to people who had a personal experience with her, like Patty and a few others. I'm posting from my experiences while you post from allegations.
What have you've one with her? What experience do you have with her?
Do you really believe every allegation that someone claims? When in fact, I am part of the group people are making baseless claims about and in my personal experience, of actually being apart of the groups those people are wrong?
I can show you every post in the set I was a part of that allegedly bought thousands of giveaways to hit the list, I can show you every one of Rebecca's post in the group where she is allegedly forcing us to buy her books for other sets.
Yet, strangely enough, there aren't any of those kind of post.
I'm telling you that every single accusation was wrong, from my own personal experience, from my very own eyes and you're going to question my claims when I say they aren't true, just because you heard someone else say something different?
Am I a [redacted] liar? Because that's what you yourself is claiming of me.
Who is in the wrong here?
The people who's actually been in her sets til the end, or the people who are just spreading what they heard?
Don't be a lemming and jump off the cliff with the leader.
There's a lot of dancing around in this thread.



edited -- profanity not necessary, thanks -- Ann
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 09:39:13 AM
(http://i1072.photobucket.com/albums/w378/galeriaddo/RH_zps51p9zoac.jpg)

This is the post I'm looking for.  I haven't seen any posts where anyone says being in a multi-author box set is immoral, but it looks like some things were moderated.  This sounds crazy, but there's no point arguing it if no one really said it... can you let me know if someone actually posted that box sets are immoral because they are too easy to sell?

Thanks
There are a lot of post in the middle of this thread from Sela, Wayne and a few others claiming that they are straight up immoral. Find the second to last mod post and start going back from there.
This thread has been going from allegation from allegation at break neck speeds.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Anarchist on April 29, 2017, 09:39:19 AM
Is that an accusation against those of us who drink tea? I absolutely defend the ethics of tea drinkers and our right to laugh at his post, too. :P

This is, by far, the most jarring post in this thread.

Why drink tea when you can enjoy the savory delights of espresso?!

;)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 29, 2017, 09:40:38 AM
I call a spade a spade.
Whenever I ask for people to post proof, they never do, nor do I call out or reply to people who had a personal experience with her, like Patty and a few others. I'm posting from my experiences while you post from allegations.

There is a web page with screen shot after screen shot of people being bullied, thousands of gift copies being sent out, specific needs mentioned to hit one retailer or another, etc., etc., etc. Here it is again:

http://insideindie.weebly.com/case-1-the-bestseller-list-box-set-gig.html (http://insideindie.weebly.com/case-1-the-bestseller-list-box-set-gig.html)

Did you:

1. Lose the link?
2. Not read it?
3. Read it and think that it's all faked?
4. Read it and really not see any unethical behavior here???
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 09:41:23 AM
I'm posting from experience too, Jalex, and nothing I've said is baseless.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Boyd on April 29, 2017, 09:42:48 AM
This is, by far, the most jarring post in this thread.

Why drink tea when you can enjoy the savory delights of espresso?!

;)

What absolutely terrified me, was that people dunked their biscuits in their tea... then to find out biscuits are cookies.  I've been using milk for years... ACK!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 29, 2017, 09:43:21 AM
People are saying that her particular way of playing the box set game is filled with dubious end runs around Amazon's ToS, bullying, and other unethical behavior. It has nothing to do with the legitimacy of box sets in general.

That's what I thought- that the problem was uploading half the actual content and getting the rest through instafreebie and requiring people to find others to download gift copies and using box marketing to sell the orgainizer's own books and so on.

I just wanted to make sure I didn't miss something.  There's nothing wrong with multi-author box sets, as far as I know.  And no one seems to be saying there is anything wrong with them, just that some of the ways they are being marketed are not immoral, but possibly illegal, like the receipts-for-lottery thing. 

In case anyone did actually say that, I would argue that box sets definitely aren't immoral and they aren't really an easy sell. (Ask anyone who's organized one!)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 29, 2017, 09:43:56 AM
I'm posting from experience too, Jalex, and nothing I've said is baseless.

It's almost like there's a second definition of the word "baseless" that I don't know about.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 29, 2017, 09:44:52 AM
There are a lot of post in the middle of this thread from Sela, Wayne and a few others claiming that they are straight up immoral. Find the second to last mod post and start going back from there.
This thread has been going from allegation from allegation at break neck speeds.

Thanks!  Do you mind quoting them?  I still can't find them.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 09:45:44 AM
I'm posting from experience too, Jalex, and nothing I've said is baseless.
That's why I only questioned you on the book for book thing, and not the other things. You said it was recent but how recent? This year? Because in the set I was in, she did nothing of the sort.

It's almost like there's a second definition of the word "baseless" that I don't know about.
You claimed different things then her. You're allegations are still baseless.
You have a habit of reading only what you want to see.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Anarchist on April 29, 2017, 09:46:41 AM
What absolutely terrified me, was that people dunked their biscuits in their tea... then to find out biscuits are cookies.  I've been using milk for years... ACK!

That's practically criminal. There oughta be a law.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 09:49:24 AM
Thanks!  Do you mind quoting them?  I still can't find them.
I don't have time to go through the thread, but it starts around page 7 I believe.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 29, 2017, 09:50:37 AM
I don't have time to go through the thread, but it starts around page 7 I believe.

You don't have time to go through the thread, and you apparently don't have time to look at all the screenshots of sketchy and downright unethical behavior on the link in the OP, either. So why are you so confident in your assertion that we should all just move along, nothing to see here?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 29, 2017, 09:51:13 AM
There are a lot of post in the middle of this thread from Sela, Wayne and a few others claiming that they are straight up immoral. Find the second to last mod post and start going back from there.
This thread has been going from allegation from allegation at break neck speeds.

Sheesh, read ALL the words, dude. I copied and pasted it like three times, never edited it, bold-faced and upsized the words for clarity. One repetition of what I said about the morality of this game is at the top of page 12, the mods haven't deleted it. It's not about box sets ebing immoral, it's not about Hamilton being immoral, it's not about being a BS artist is immoral.

Buying your way onto a list that recognizes the best, is immoral. Earn it, don't buy it.  And again, that's only MY opinion of what I see as the line between morality and immorality. YMMV, but substitute morality for mileage.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: LadyG on April 29, 2017, 09:52:24 AM
That's why I only questioned you on the book for book thing, and not the other things. You said it was recent but how recent? This year? Because in the set I was in, she did nothing of the sort.


So you've done ONE box set with her, and that makes you both an expert and her biggest defender? Something's not right here.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 09:52:39 AM
That's why I only questioned you on the book for book thing, and not the other things. You said it was recent but how recent? This year? Because in the set I was in, she did nothing of the sort.

Three $500 box sets and a $2,000 collection in the past nine months. Plus countless giveaways, NL building services, etc. I assume that counts as direct experience.

Just to be clear, I didn't claim book for book--I said she offered to add money to the advertising budget of box sets in exchange for participants of the sets buying copies of her solo title.

The mods haven't cracked down on the posting of screen shots so I'll happily do the same, although I don't have a photo bucket account, etc., and have no idea how else to post them. It probably won't be until later in the day.

Editing to say if anyone else who does have a quick way to post screenshots is willing to do so sooner, I'll happy supply them to you.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 29, 2017, 09:56:07 AM
Buying your way onto a list that recognizes the best, is immoral. Earn it, don't buy it.

1000% this.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 29, 2017, 09:56:22 AM
I don't have time to go through the thread, but it starts around page 7 I believe.

I've read them multiple times.  I do not see anyone saying participating in a multi-author box set is immoral.  If you can't find them either, I'm going with "no one said that."
(http://i1072.photobucket.com/albums/w378/galeriaddo/coolstory-1.gif)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 09:58:33 AM
You don't have time to go through the thread, and you apparently don't have time to look at all the screenshots of sketchy and downright unethical behavior on the link in the OP, either. So why are you so confident in your assertion that we should all just move along, nothing to see here?
I already looked through it and gave my answer to you. I'm not going to baby you through it.
Just because you decide to ignore it is your problem.
So you've done ONE box set with her, and that makes you both an expert and her biggest defender? Something's not right here.


What's not right exactly? Spell it out.


Three $500 box sets and a $2,000 collection in the past nine months. Plus countless giveaways, NL building services, etc. I assume that counts as direct experience.

Just to be clear, I didn't claim book for book--I said she offered to add money to the advertising budget of box sets in exchange for participants of the sets buying copies of her solo title.

The mods haven't cracked down on the posting of screen shots so I'll happily do the same, although I don't have a photo bucket account, etc., and have no idea how else to post them. It probably won't be until later in the day.

Editing to say if anyone else who does have a quick way to post screenshots is willing to do so sooner, I'll happy supply them to you.
Got it, I understand.
Personally, I don't think that's morally wrong or against the TOS. But if you do, then that's fine with me. I won't argue it.
I've read them multiple times.  I do not see anyone saying participating in a multi-author box set is immoral.  If you can't find them either, I'm going with "no one said that."
(http://i1072.photobucket.com/albums/w378/galeriaddo/coolstory-1.gif)

It's literally a post above you.
Apparently spending money on marketing is bad.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 29, 2017, 10:00:11 AM

Editing to say if anyone else who does have a quick way to post screenshots is willing to do so sooner, I'll happy supply them to you.

I'm techno-challenged, so if I need to post a picture on here, I first post it on Facebook, with the post set to "me only", then click view image, and copy and paste the link to the image. Works every time, but I often forget to turn off "me only" and wonder why I don't get any feedback on subsequent Facebook posts.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Evenstar on April 29, 2017, 10:00:23 AM
I would like to thank the mods for not shutting this post down. It is actually very informative for a lot of people, who I'm sure are not commenting simply because, like me, they have no personal experience of any of it to draw upon.

I would like to ask a question if I may and get an answer from someone actually involved in the sets, even if just briefly; perhaps JalexM would be good enough to confirm his experience on this topic too.

Is it true about people being asked to buy in using Paypal's friends and family option rather than under business services? I find that rather concerning, why is no one discussing the huge ramifications of this? I can only assume it simply can't be true?  Would really appreciate a straight answer on that.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 29, 2017, 10:00:48 AM
It's literally a post above you.
Apparently spending money on marketing is bad.

Oh, you mean the post where he does not say that very thing?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on April 29, 2017, 10:02:30 AM
I just want to say I think this thread is very valuable and many of us have wished for the truth to come out for a long time. I will encourage members of Kboards to keep calm and don't take the bait on name calling because it often gets threads locked and shut down and then they die into the ether. Another pattern that has happened in the past with other threads like this have happened is certain people purposely try to get more name calling and nastiness to happen so the thread gets locked and closed.

And thank you to the mods here, I know this isn't an easy job to let both sides have their say, but also protect Kboards itself.

And for the record, I drink coffee, tea, and espresso. And this little author Momma has to get to work, because I also have health problems, a child on the autistic spectrum who I homeschool, a military husband, and more tasks to get done than time. I don't cut myself any slack, and I don't expect others to do so either. CHEERS! And Happy Weekend everyone.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Lydniz on April 29, 2017, 10:03:36 AM

Is it true about people being asked to buy in using Paypal's friends and family option rather than under business services? I find that rather concerning, why is no one discussing the huge ramifications of this? I can only assume it simply can't be true?  Would really appreciate a straight answer on that.

The screenshots on the website seem to indicate that's the case.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 29, 2017, 10:03:57 AM
I would like to ask a question if I may and get an answer from someone actually involved in the sets, even if just briefly; perhaps JalexM would be good enough to confirm his experience on this topic too.

Is it true about people being asked to buy in using Paypal's friends and family option rather than under business services? I find that rather concerning, why is no one discussing the huge ramifications of this? I can only assume it simply can't be true?  Would really appreciate a straight answer on that.

There's a screen capture on the initial link, with Hamilton's response the part on the bottom:

(http://insideindie.weebly.com/uploads/1/0/4/9/104935491/published/808913278.png?1493081267)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 10:04:32 AM

Is it true about people being asked to buy in using Paypal's friends and family option rather than under business services? I find that rather concerning, why is no one discussing the huge ramifications of this? I can only assume it simply can't be true?  Would really appreciate a straight answer on that.

I can confirm this is true. She says it's b/c she makes no profit. However, she had me pay that way even for the $2,000 collection even though the contract clearly states part of the money goes toward her coaching services. She claims PayPal has no issue with this. They've vehemently told me otherwise.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 29, 2017, 10:05:03 AM
Got it, I understand.
Personally, I don't think that's morally wrong or against the TOS. But if you do, then that's fine with me. I won't argue it.

Jalex, you do realize that you just told Christina that you have lower moral standards than she does. Or did you mean that you have a more enlightened idea of what morality is? I think the former, as Christina's notion of morality seems to be more closely aligned with my own.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Becca Mills on April 29, 2017, 10:05:46 AM
Thanks!  Do you mind quoting them?  I still can't find them.
My *guess* is that Rebecca's referring to Wayne's posts, Myra. I don't remember deleting any posts claiming boxed sets are inherently immoral, but I'm not able to double-check that from my phone.

In response to another question, the mods will have to discuss the posting of screenshots. As two of us are out and about at the moment, that's going to take some time. My initial impulse is that any third party's identifying info should certainly be redacted, but we may well want to restrict such posting beyond that, once we can discuss it.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 10:06:06 AM
I would like to thank the mods for not shutting this post down. It is actually very informative for a lot of people, who I'm sure are not commenting simply because, like me, they have no personal experience of any of it to draw upon.

I would like to ask a question if I may and get an answer from someone actually involved in the sets, even if just briefly; perhaps JalexM would be good enough to confirm his experience on this topic too.

Is it true about people being asked to buy in using Paypal's friends and family option rather than under business services? I find that rather concerning, why is no one discussing the huge ramifications of this? I can only assume it simply can't be true?  Would really appreciate a straight answer on that.
She does do that. At least for the buy in's, I don't remember for her other services(Her book blast are awesome and drama free, ha). She has claimed that she has talked to paypal about it and they were fine with it since she doesn't get paid from the buy in. But, that's based on if you believe her or not. I do, but if you don't, then I can see that being a detractor.
Oh, you mean the post where he does not say that very thing?
Where do you think the money for buy in goes?
To new shoes?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 29, 2017, 10:06:15 AM
Is it true about people being asked to buy in using Paypal's friends and family option rather than under business services? I find that rather concerning, why is no one discussing the huge ramifications of this? I can only assume it simply can't be true?  Would really appreciate a straight answer on that.

I paid the buy in for my box set through the business services option. Because my writing is a business. I can't speak for the other members in the box set with me as to how they paid. I can say no one in our box set was required to pay using the friends and family option. I haven't looked at the Paypal TOS in a while, but I suspect doing so isn't permitted. I don't remember if anyone was asked to--I didn't monitor the facebook group that closely. *shrug*
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 29, 2017, 10:06:51 AM
I just want to say I think this thread is very valuable and many of us have wished for the truth to come out for a long time. I will encourage members of Kboards to keep calm and don't take the bait on name calling because it often gets threads locked and shut down and then they die into the ether. Another pattern that has happened in the past with other threads like this have happened is certain people purposely try to get more name calling and nastiness to happen so the thread gets locked and closed.

And thank you to the mods here, I know this isn't an easy job to let both sides have their say, but also protect Kboards itself.

And for the record, I drink coffee, tea, and espresso. And this little author Momma has to get to work, because I also have health problems, a child on the autistic spectrum who I homeschool, a military husband, and more tasks to get done than time. I don't cut myself any slack, and I don't expect others to do so either. CHEERS! And Happy Weekend everyone.

I agree, I'm glad the mods have kept it open because this is an important topic that effects most if not all of the indie community.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 10:08:19 AM
I paid the buy in for my box set through the business services option. Because my writing is a business. I can't speak for the other members in the box set with me as to how they paid. I can say no one was required or asked to pay using the friends and family option. I haven't looked at the Paypal TOS in a while, but I suspect doing so isn't permitted.

Did you incur the PayPal fees? B/c I was told expressly that if I paid via the services option I needed to pay those fees which is also a violation of PayPal's TOS.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 10:09:22 AM
Jalex, you do realize that you just told Christina that you have lower moral standards than she does. Or did you mean that you have a more enlightened idea of what morality is? I think the former, as Christina's notion of morality seems to be more closely aligned with my own.
Who knew that you were the moral compass that all should strive for.
I don't care if you think certain things are morally wrong. But don't dare claim that you are morally superior to me.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 29, 2017, 10:10:24 AM
Did you incur the PayPal fees? B/c I was told expressly that if I paid via the services option I needed to pay those fees which is also a violation of PayPal's TOS.

Nope, no fees for me. I pay fees on international business transactions, but not domestic.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 10:11:18 AM
Jalex, you do realize that you just told Christina that you have lower moral standards than she does. Or did you mean that you have a more enlightened idea of what morality is? I think the former, as Christina's notion of morality seems to be more closely aligned with my own.



Also, it's not about what anyone thinks violates Amazon's TOS, it's what THEY think does. Whether they exercise a punitive option is at their discretion, but this is likely viewed as rank manipulation--why else pay someone back to buy your own book?? (To up your rank/visibility, that's why.)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 29, 2017, 10:11:30 AM
Where do you think the money for buy in goes?
To new shoes?

Do the math, man! She makes a profit. Whether she spends it on shoes or childcare is immaterial.


Edited by Becca, who can't remember the code for wee type.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jakedfw on April 29, 2017, 10:11:42 AM
Quote
It's literally a post above you.
Apparently spending money on marketing is bad.

When someone says "this type of marketing is bad" and you say "they said spending money on marketing is bad," you are misrepresenting the content of their statement.

What boggles my mind is that I had to literally scroll up like two inches to see what a total misrepresentation you made.

ETA: clarified second quote to be more in line with original comment.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 10:12:50 AM
Do the math, man! She makes a profit. Whether she spends it on shoes or childcare is immaterial. Saying she doesn't is like saying a calculator lies.
Do it for me. How exactly is she making a profit?
Do you have her expense report?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 29, 2017, 10:13:24 AM
But don't dare claim that you are morally superior to me.

I didn't. You did.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 29, 2017, 10:13:27 AM
I can confirm this is true. She says it's b/c she makes no profit. However, she had me pay that way even for the $2,000 collection even though the contract clearly states part of the money goes toward her coaching services. She claims PayPal has no issue with this. They've vehemently told me otherwise.

I don't claim to be a Paypal expert, but doing it this way doesn't it:

1) negate the 2-3% charge that Paypal charges for money transfers
2) makes it more difficult to dispute / issue a chargeback.

From Paypal's website:

If you’re making a purchase, there are 2 payment types:

    Goods - Select this payment type when you’re paying for something that you didn’t buy on eBay.
    Services - Use this payment type when your purchase is not a product but a service (for example, work performed for you by someone else)
When you make a purchase, the seller pays a small fee to receive your money.

If you’re sending a personal payment, payment types include:

    Gift - Select this payment type when you’re sending money as a gift for a birthday or other special occasion.

You can make a personal payment to anyone in the U.S. for free. There is a small charge for payments made with a debit or credit card.

Nothing about chargebacks on this page, though.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 10:14:46 AM
Nope, no fees for me. I pay fees on international business transactions, but not domestic.

Incur was the wrong word--I mean to say I was told by Rebecca that if I used the services option I would need to add $16 to my payment to cover her merchant fees.(TOS violation) It's a way around PayPal's buyer protections.

It was on the sign up form we both used for the Spellbound box set. Sounds like you were allowed to ignore that directive.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 10:15:28 AM
I didn't. You did.
No I didn't. I said we had different Morals on the issue. You straight up said I had lower moral standards.

I don't claim to be a Paypal expert, but doing it this way doesn't it:

1) negate the 2-3% charge that Paypal charges for money transfers
2) makes it more difficult to dispute / issue a chargeback.

From Paypal's website:

If you’re making a purchase, there are 2 payment types:

    Goods - Select this payment type when you’re paying for something that you didn’t buy on eBay.
    Services - Use this payment type when your purchase is not a product but a service (for example, work performed for you by someone else)
When you make a purchase, the seller pays a small fee to receive your money.

If you’re sending a personal payment, payment types include:

    Gift - Select this payment type when you’re sending money as a gift for a birthday or other special occasion.

You can make a personal payment to anyone in the U.S. for free. There is a small charge for payments made with a debit or credit card.

Nothing about chargebacks on this page, though.

You can in fact, make a claim on gifts, it doesn't make it harder to get back either.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on April 29, 2017, 10:17:18 AM
Do it for me. How exactly is she making a profit?
Do you have her expense report?

She's just doing all of this out of the goodness of her heart. Bless her, man, who could ever doubt that? 40,000 grand for a 20 book (sorta) box set, but hey, it all goes into marketing, every last penny. And those people who say that she told them part of it goes for a nebulous "coaching" fee are just bitter haters.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 10:18:49 AM
She's just doing all of this out of the goodness of her heart. Bless her, man, who could ever doubt that? 40,000 grand for a 20 book (sorta) box set, but hey, it all goes into marketing, every last penny. And those people who say that she told them part of it goes for a nebulous "coaching" fee are just bitter haters.
Strange, she never had a set that was worth 40000 grand that has gone out yet.
Does it feel good to just say things and not have any proof to back it up?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 29, 2017, 10:18:54 AM
You can in fact, make a claim on gifts, it doesn't make it harder to get back either.

Fair enough. I don't send too many "gifts" so I haven't run into it much.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 10:19:03 AM

You can in fact, make a claim on gifts, it doesn't make it harder to get back either.

This is 100% untrue. You cannot dispute them via PayPal, you must go to your bank. Banks have different standards, time frames, etc., and getting money back is more difficult.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 29, 2017, 10:19:24 AM
Do it for me. How exactly is she making a profit?
Do you have her expense report?

$500 buy in X 20 writers = $10,000.
Cover - $100
Formatting - $1000
Ads for a week - $2000
Gift copies - $1000

Profit - $5900

Am I missing some expenses? I've never done one of these, but I've published one or two books and successfully marketed thim. Just a bit. I think the formatting cost may be high.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jakedfw on April 29, 2017, 10:19:50 AM
Quote
Do it for me. How exactly is she making a profit?
Do you have her expense report?

Well, if her marketing actually worked, she wouldn't have to have an army of people buy the books to get on the list.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on April 29, 2017, 10:21:11 AM
Is it true about people being asked to buy in using Paypal's friends and family option rather than under business services? I find that rather concerning, why is no one discussing the huge ramifications of this? I can only assume it simply can't be true?  Would really appreciate a straight answer on that.
Yes, this is true. She's not the only one who does this. I had another promo service ask for this and had a different price for their services if you paid using business services. The "I'm doing this as a favor" shtick will go about 2 minutes if she's ever audited by IRS, but that's none of my business.
 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 10:22:33 AM
Fair enough. I don't send too many "gifts" so I haven't run into it much.
To be fair, I feel a little iffy about the gifting part, but she has never lead me astray before.
This is 100% untrue. You cannot dispute them via PayPal, you must go to your bank. Banks have different standards, time frames, etc., and getting money back is more difficult.
I filed and won a claim before for gifting. A google search would show others have as well.
You just don't get the typical amount of protection. You have to argue harder for your dispute.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jim Johnson on April 29, 2017, 10:23:07 AM
Incur was the wrong word--I mean to say I was told by Rebecca that if I used the services option I would need to add $16 to my payment to cover her merchant fees.(TOS violation) It's a way around PayPal's buyer protections.

It was on the sign up form we both used for the Spellbound box set. Sounds like you were allowed to ignore that directive.

Honestly, I don't remember. I looked at my expense sheet from last year and I see the $500 payment for Spellbound. Sue me--I have a toddler. I can't remember what I had for breakfast much less what I paid for a buy-in last, what, August? :D
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 29, 2017, 10:23:54 AM
Yes, this is true. She's not the only one who does this. I had another promo service ask for this and had a different price for their services if you paid using business services. The "I'm doing this as a favor" shtick will go about 2 minutes if she's ever audited by IRS, but that's none of my business.
 

Having only learned about practices like this from this thread, it makes me wonder if you peel back the indie self-pub layers just how much rot you're going to find. It's alarming, frustrating and heartbreaking all at the same time.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on April 29, 2017, 10:25:04 AM
This is 100% untrue. You cannot dispute them via PayPal, you must go to your bank. Banks have different standards, time frames, etc., and getting money back is more difficult.

Visa and Mastercard will always allow chargebacks, or an attempt at them.  Banks can be iffy, depending on how it was done.  Thanks for the clarification! 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jakedfw on April 29, 2017, 10:25:08 AM
Quote
To be fair, I feel a little iffy about the gifting part, but she has never lead me astray before.

Well, seeing as the gifting part is pretty much the only way to get on the best seller list without actually, you know, having enough fans to buy your books, then you're feeling iffy about the entire thing.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 10:25:35 AM
$500 buy in X 20 writers = $10,000.
Cover - $100
Formatting - $1000
Ads for a week - $2000
Gift copies - $1000

Profit - $5900

Am I missing some expenses? I've never done one of these, but I've published one or two books and successfully marketed thim. Just a bit. I think the formatting cost may be high.
You do know that her sets are on preorder for three months, so the ad spend isn't just for one week, it's spread out.
She doesn't give a thousand dollars worth of copies.
If there are any gifts, they all come from the authors personal pockets and it's not in the thousands.
If we go by your budgeting and fit it within the real constraints, then she would be in the red.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on April 29, 2017, 10:26:39 AM
Personally, I don't think that's morally wrong or against the TOS. But if you do, then that's fine with me. I won't argue it.

If viewpoints on morality differ, one has to be a lower standard than the other, correct? You said you don't think something's morally wrong, and Christina said she thought it did. Two different levels of morality. One has to be lower. Are you saying your morals are higher than hers? Cause, you know, it didn't sound that way.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on April 29, 2017, 10:27:02 AM
Visa and Mastercard will always allow chargebacks, or an attempt at them.  Banks can be iffy, depending on how it was done.  Thanks for the clarification! 

Iffy is exactly the right word. If the money was gifted directly from your bank, the only recourse is through your own bank, period.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on April 29, 2017, 10:27:14 AM
You do know that her sets are on preorder for three months, so the ad spend isn't just for one week, it's spread out.
She doesn't give a thousand dollars worth of copies.
If there are any gifts, they all come from the authors personal pockets and it's not in the thousands.
If we go by your budgeting and fit it within the real constraints, then she would be in the red.

But why is the gifting done at all?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Stewart Matthews on April 29, 2017, 10:28:22 AM
But why is the gifting done at all?

PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: J.A. Sutherland on April 29, 2017, 10:29:36 AM
But why is the gifting done at all?
I think there's some conflation on gifting. One is talking about PayPal, the other about books.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 10:30:23 AM
Well, seeing as the gifting part is pretty much the only way to get on the best seller list without actually, you know, having enough fans to buy your books, then you're feeling iffy about the entire thing.
You do know I was posting about paypal and not actually gifting books right?

If you read some more you learn that the money goes toward advertising on Bookbub and other venues. Any book gifting are done from the authors own pockets and isn't in the thousands.
If viewpoints on morality differ, one has to be a lower standard than the other, correct? You said you don't think something's morally wrong, and Christina said she thought it did. Two different levels of morality. One has to be lower. Are you saying your morals are higher than hers? Cause, you know, it didn't sound that way.
You're arguing levels, I'm arguing views.
Just because a viewpoint is different doesn't make the standards any different.
You're arguing for arguing sakes.
Like me, I don't believe in a God, but a lot of people do. That doesn't any person more right or wrong their views, just different.


Edited. PM me if you have any questions. --Betsy/KB Mod
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 29, 2017, 10:30:37 AM
But why is the gifting done at all?

Basically, it's buying your way up the Amazon ranks and into the USAT lists.   All those "sales" of the book are actually just paid purchases by the promoter, redeemed by people who have been given gift money to buy them.

If you took $10000, put your book up at $.99 and gifted 10000 copies of the book (with warnings that they must download the book by midnight), you could buy your way onto the list and you become a USA Today Bestselling author.   And your book would rank really high in the Amazon store.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Becca Mills on April 29, 2017, 10:30:55 AM
Jalex and Wayne, time to put the lower/higher morality issue to rest.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: JalexM on April 29, 2017, 10:33:43 AM
Basically, it's buying your way up the Amazon ranks and into the USAT lists.   All those "sales" of the book are actually just paid purchases by the promoter, redeemed by people who have been given gift money to buy them.

If you took $10000, put your book up at $.99 and gifted 10000 copies of the book (with warnings that they must download the book by midnight), you could buy your way onto the list and you become a USA Today Bestselling author.   And your book would rank really high in the Amazon store.
The box set I was in have over 5000 sales before it went off preorder.
5000.
At the end of the first week, we had around 6500 sale in total.
For people arguing rules and TOS's, they should know that you can not gift a preorder.
So, where is this magically number of gifting 10k copies is coming from?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on April 29, 2017, 10:35:53 AM
The box set I was in have over 5000 sales before it went off preorder.
5000.
At the end of the first week, we had around 6500 sale in total.
For people arguing rules and TOS's, they should know that you can not gift a preorder.
So, where is this magically number of gifting 10k copies is coming from?

Chill, dude.  That was an example, not an accusation. (http://i1072.photobucket.com/albums/w378/galeriaddo/drinks.gif)  Here, have a beer on me.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Becca Mills on April 29, 2017, 10:38:38 AM
I've locked the thread temporarily so all mods have a chance to catch up.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 01, 2017, 03:47:58 PM
The forum's owner and staff have now had a chance to fully review this thread and associated correspondence, so we're reopening it for posting. Thanks for your patience.

Going forward, we ask that new posts in this thread be focused very specifically on the issues raised in the OP. This is not the place for larger discussions of the value of boxed sets or "letters." We also ask that posts be strictly limited to offerings of new facts and evidence and analysis thereof. Such information will allow members to make up their minds on the issues. Information is harder to find when it's interspersed with off-topic material or personal arguments. Name-calling, snarkiness, and jabs will be deleted, and anyone posting such material will be barred from further participation in the thread. It is not the role of KB staff to adjudicate conflicts; it is our role to facilitate conversation by enforcing professional civility, and we will be doing that rigorously here.

We ask that screenshots of threads from Facebook and other sites NOT be added to this thread as within-post images. If you would like to post a link that leads to a site where screenshots appear (as the OP does), that is acceptable, but do not place "img" tags around the link.


Thanks,
the KB Mod Team
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Evenstar on May 01, 2017, 03:57:33 PM
Thank you for reopening this thread, there is an awful lot being discussed here that I would like to get to the bottom of and understand better
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 04:16:22 PM
I agree, it's a very important topic. Thanks to the mods and site owner for allowing it to stand.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on May 01, 2017, 04:18:08 PM
The box set I was in have over 5000 sales before it went off preorder.
5000.
At the end of the first week, we had around 6500 sale in total.
For people arguing rules and TOS's, they should know that you can not gift a preorder.
So, where is this magically number of gifting 10k copies is coming from?

The issue is not whether there were 10,000 or 1,000 or 500 copies gifted to hit the NYTs list. The issue is using gift cards or gifting to make enough sales to hit the list.

Whether it's 500 or 5,000 or 50,000, it's the principle of the thing, not the number.

It's one thing to run a giveaway to publicize the release, and gift a few copies as a way to spread the word about a new release. That's a normal part of marketing. Free samples and all in Walmart.

It's an entirely different kettle of fish to buy gift cards or gift copies in bulk / large numbers that are intended to ensure the book or collection qualifies for USAT or NYTs.

That's not kosher. It's buying your way onto the list vs. getting the designation via actual customers/readers buying it out of their own free will.

The whole issue of a bestseller's list is to promote or inform people about what books are selling the best in a given week. It's supposed to say "These books are the best selling books this week."

It is not meant to say "These authors bought enough copies of their own books in order to be the top selling books this week."

If people can't see the difference, well, I got nothing.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 04:24:22 PM
Agreed, Sela.

Also, incentivizing people to download the gifted book--by promising entry into a drawing for a gift card--is a TOS violation. (And, as was pointed out in another thread, possibly illegal in some states.) I've spoken with Amazon about it and it's considered rank manipulation. It's their discretion on whether they punish the TOS breach, but it is a breach, and they can drop the hammer anytime.

Beyond the possible consequences, people will have to decide for themselves if that tactic lines up with their integrity.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on May 01, 2017, 04:37:58 PM
When anybody you're thinking of doing business with is constantly in the midst of drama, with accusations constantly flying back and forth, remember: This business is all about reputation. You'll be known by the company you keep, and you'll also be in a bind if your scruples tell you to bow out but you'll be out big money/get named and shamed if you do.

This stuff happens. But it sure as heck isn't true that "everybody does it" or "it's too hard to figure out Amazon's TOS." Really--it's not that hard to figure out the rules, and most authors follow them. Want to know why KDP cracked down on multi-author boxed sets in KU, though? A few organizers playing shell games. Doesn't make boxed sets themselves unethical or most organizers dishonest. But some are.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: SummerNights on May 01, 2017, 04:41:15 PM
Is it true about people being asked to buy in using Paypal's friends and family option rather than under business services? I find that rather concerning, why is no one discussing the huge ramifications of this? I can only assume it simply can't be true?  Would really appreciate a straight answer on that.

I haven't worked with the organizer but a friend who has asked me to post this on their behalf as a response to your question, Evenstar.

"This is the exact language used when I was asked to pay for participation in the set: $500 if sending Friends and Family, $516 if in the US and sending as a services payment, if not in US and not sending as Friends and Family, please message for fees."

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on May 01, 2017, 04:48:41 PM
"This is the exact language used when I was asked to pay for participation in the set: $500 if sending Friends and Family, $516 if in the US and sending as a services payment, if not in US and not sending as Friends and Family, please message for fees."

It's absolutely a fact that she asks for payment via F&F. It was the subject of a thread here (not sure how to dig it out?) where Rebecca herself stated she asked for payment as a gift/F&F because organising the boxed sets isn't a business service (despite the fact there are contracts etc). It is also a concern that there is a growing number of authors who pulled out of boxed set (for various reasons, because let's face it, life happens) and they now have no recourse to get their money back because it was paid via F&F.

http://insideindie.weebly.com/pay-pal-ff.html
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 01, 2017, 04:50:33 PM
I haven't worked with the organizer but a friend who has asked me to post this on their behalf as a response to your question, Evenstar.

"This is the exact language used when I was asked to pay for participation in the set: $500 if sending Friends and Family, $516 if in the US and sending as a services payment, if not in US and not sending as Friends and Family, please message for fees."


Of equal concern is anyone spending > $600 via friends and family and whether 1099s were submitted at year end.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 01, 2017, 04:53:08 PM
Of equal concern is anyone spending > $600 via friends and family and whether 1099s were submitted at year end.
Oh, piffle. IRS doesn't care about indie publishing. There's no money in it. :P
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 01, 2017, 04:56:07 PM
The forum's owner and staff have now had a chance to fully review this thread and associated correspondence, so we're reopening it for posting. Thanks for your patience.

Going forward, we ask that new posts in this thread be focused very specifically on the issues raised in the OP. This is not the place for larger discussions of the value of boxed sets or "letters." We also ask that posts be strictly limited to offerings of new facts and evidence and analysis thereof. Such information will allow members to make up their minds on the issues. Information is harder to find when it's interspersed with off-topic material or personal arguments. Name-calling, snarkiness, and jabs will be deleted, and anyone posting such material will be barred from further participation in the thread. It is not the role of KB staff to adjudicate conflicts; it is our role to facilitate conversation by enforcing professional civility, and we will be doing that rigorously here.

We ask that screenshots of threads from Facebook and other sites NOT be added to this thread as within-post images. If you would like to post a link that leads to a site where screenshots appear (as the OP does), that is acceptable, but do not place "img" tags around the link.


Thanks,
the KB Mod Team

Let's try to keep posts pertinent, informative and specific lest important information for the community be lost, please...

Thanks!

Betsy
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 05:02:44 PM
It's absolutely a fact that she asks for payment via F&F. It was the subject of a thread here (not sure how to dig it out?) where Rebecca herself stated she asked for payment as a gift/F&F because organising the boxed sets isn't a business service (despite the fact there are contracts etc).


She did state that. However, the Charmed Legacy contract states that a portion of the money is for a year-long writing and marketing schedule and "coaching every step of the way."

Those are services which makes it a lot harder to claim to be just a pass-thru when the profit is in the contract. And yes, I was asked to pay F&F for that as well. I had never been asked to pay anyone that way and didn't know any better. For anyone else, I hope it's a huge red flag.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Becca Mills on May 01, 2017, 05:09:36 PM
Not sure if anyone has been paying attention, but someone is updating that site. http://insideindie.weebly.com/case-1-the-bestseller-list-box-set-gig.html

Things are getting interesting. Scroll down to the comment section. Wow.

That comment section contains some really distasteful remarks about authors I like and respect -- a good example of what our forum decorum prevents KB from becoming. :(

Also, for the record, I possess ZERO cats.

Nor do I. --Betsy

cats? What are cats? -- Ann
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 01, 2017, 05:12:55 PM
Those are services which makes it a lot harder to claim to be just a pass-thru when the profit is in the contract. And yes, I was asked to pay F&F for that as well. I had never been asked to pay anyone that way and didn't know any better. For anyone else, I hope it's a huge red flag.

Don't know if I've mentioned this before in the thread, but I think it's awesome that you and a few others have come forward and shared some of your experiences.  I've heard too many stories via PM of fear of reprisals. My hope is that others are inspired by your example as well. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 05:18:18 PM
Don't know if I've mentioned this before in the thread, but I think it's awesome that you and a few others have come forward and shared some of your experiences.  I've heard too many stories via PM of fear of reprisals. My hope is that others are inspired by your example as well. 

Thanks, Rick. I thank all of the rest of you for speaking up when you have no skin in this game. I hope it will embolden others to come forward and share their experiences. I have no agenda other than providing the facts as I witnessed them. Others can decide how they want to proceed. For some that business model will be in alignment with their integrity. Others, not so much.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 05:29:29 PM
Of equal concern is anyone spending > $600 via friends and family and whether 1099s were submitted at year end.

You're totally right about this, and something easily overlooked. I want to ask how one does that when a tax ID is not provided but it might be too off topic. I'll consult the interwebs. But, not supplying a tax ID number could probably also be considered a red flag to watch out for.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on May 01, 2017, 05:39:54 PM
For those who cancelled and wanted a refund, was there a 'no refund' policy written into the contract? Also, had you been told of what would be taking place with the project when you agreed to the contract?

If your answer is 'yes' and you agreed to the terms, then ...

For any author who joins these boxed sets, it's just as much a commitment to follow through with your obligation that was stated from the start to be a part of that program, as it is for the organizer to follow through with their end of the deal.

If an author pulls out for reasons other than the organizer not following through with their commitment and not providing the service/product the author had paid for ... the organizer would be justified for not refunding especially if book formatting, book cover, scheduled ad setups/placements, etc. had already been in the works/taken place.

Also there are many others involved who are affected with us breaking our commitment to the contract/project (ex: the other authors in the project, the book cover designer, the content designer/formatter, etc.), not only the organizer, especially if a certain budget was set for ad expenses and new expenses would be incurred since the book cover would need to be redone, reformatting the book's contents to take out the canceling author's story, etc.

Asking for a refund would be out of integrity if all the above had taken place (especially if it was stated in the contract and agreed to by signing that contract).

Again, there are always two sides to the story.

So I ask again for those who had asked for a refund, by your good conscience, do you feel that you were justified in asking for the refund? Did the organizer fail to deliver what they committed to?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on May 01, 2017, 05:40:21 PM
You're totally right about this, and something easily overlooked. I want to ask how one does that when a tax ID is not provided but it might be too off topic. I'll consult the interwebs. But, not supplying a tax ID number could probably also be considered a red flag to watch out for.

Not a tax professional here, but when you pay via PayPal you do not have to send a 1099misc, that's covered in that instruction. However, paying via Family and Friends which wouldn't be captured for a 1099k (the over $20,000 and 200 transactions a year) would complicate things. I would be very leery of paying for business expenses in such a way in case I was audited. How do I prove the expenses really we're for a boxed set marketing endeavor vs. not just me helping an author friend out? I would be worried if I claimed money I sent via Family and Friends as a business expenses and I was audited and the IRS asked that other person, if they lie and say it was a personal loan or something, then I would be possibly viewed as guilty of being fraudulent on my taxes and I reported it! That's why business should go through official business channels. Friends and family should be just that, expenses not related to business.

Also, I think too the insistence that preorders can't be gifted is rather insulting to those of us who have seen the turn in you receipt for the .99 book you bought for a bigger giveaway. Rafflecopter has great resources about illegal lotteries and sweepstakes and giveaways and how you also have to worry about consideration meaning a readers time. You cannot require a bunch of tasks like a survey or turning in receipts to be grounds for entry to anything.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 06:06:10 PM
For those who cancelled and wanted a refund, was there a 'no refund' policy written into the contract? Also, had you been told of what would be taking place with the project when you agreed to the contract?

If your answer is 'yes' and you agreed to the terms, then ...


This is a great question and one I'm happy to answer.

I was in 3 box sets and one collection. This thread is about box sets so I'll narrow my answer to that.

Here's how it works:

Rebecca Hamilton posts in her GenreCrave FB group about openings for a box set. Here's an example of the original terms for the Spellbound box set (this is before payment is sent):

   1.   Close to 60k words
   2.   Not free on any platform when the set is live
   3.   Able to be wide for week 1 of release
   4.   Able to be in Kindle Unlimited for 3 months, commencing after first week
   5.   Young adult/New adult set, appropriate for all ages groups

There was a Google sign up form that required the transaction ID for the money sent. (Again, this is before the contract)

In my case, I never received a contract for the Spellbound set, however I did receive one for Myths and Legends, and I e-signed. Here's where the no refund policy goes awry.

We all know that in December two of Rebecca's sets got taken down by Amazon for violating the exclusivity rule. At the time she was adamant it was a new rule, however we also know it had been present in the terms since at least 9/30/16. (Possibly before, but my memory fails.) So, either she drafted contracts while ignorant of a standing rule or in defiance of it--you can decide for yourself.

She then posted we would either need to completely unpublish our works after the first week wide, swap out our full-length novel for something (anything--novella 5k short) else, or withdraw.

A month or so later, she said we would have to sign new contracts. The problem with that was, legally, we didn't need to sign them. All four attorneys I consulted agreed that

a) because the original contract had no language requiring signing a new contract
b) and because contract 2 (contrary to her claim) differed substantially from contract 1

the first contract was voidable and could be rescinded. Once that happens, both parties must be made whole. In this case, that would have required her to return my money, and that of anyone who opted not to sign the 2nd contract. She has refused to do so, erroneously claiming the no refund policy. However, it's not a refund.

For the two box sets I did not receive contracts for, the only terms I could be held to would be the ones upon sign up--ones she could no longer fulfill. Again, the money due back is not a refund. Also, regarding Spellbound, KU terms weren't the only thing that changed. It went from a set "appropriate for all ages" to allowing "super steamy." For YA authors like myself, that was a problem, even though we were soundly shut down. Still, it's a change in terms that was not agreed to by both parties. Unilaterally changing the terms of a contract is another way it becomes (legally) voidable.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ShayneRutherford on May 01, 2017, 06:09:15 PM
Don't know if I've mentioned this before in the thread, but I think it's awesome that you and a few others have come forward and shared some of your experiences.  I've heard too many stories via PM of fear of reprisals. My hope is that others are inspired by your example as well.

I agree totally with Rick, and want to say thanks for having the guts to come forward and share all that you have, Christina. <3
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 06:15:04 PM
I agree totally with Rick, and want to say thanks for having the guts to come forward and share all that you have, Christina. <3

Thanks, Shayne, very kind of you to say! I think we all saw "that post" and know what it's cost me, but enough is enough. <3
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on May 01, 2017, 06:15:28 PM
I never knew that about the contracts changing Christina. That makes sense now when you think about Amazon's terms that specifically calls out they can change the terms at any time. Contracts between professionals that lacked that make sense that it would require newly agreed terms, and a cautionary tale for people who build businesses that hinge on the availability of other 3rd party businesses to speak with attorneys for their boilerplate contracts. That experience speaks to a lot of different parts of the indie world and is a great thing to share.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on May 01, 2017, 06:15:43 PM
Mods - does the issue surrounding paying for services as Friends and Family need its own thread or can it be discussed here?

There appears to be a twitter account tweeting screen shots and a discussion with PayPal about the F&F issue but I don't want to post a link and hijack this conversation, although it's kind of tied in as its how some authors are paying to opt in to a boxed set.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 01, 2017, 06:16:34 PM
Something people should keep in mind is that contracts are not necessarily binding. A contract involving any kind of illegal activity (not saying that is the case here) is null and void on its face. When you sign a contract that doesn't have every little thing spelled out so there is no argument about what things mean, you are opening yourself to a world of trouble.

If you do not have the money to have a contract vetted by a lawyer, then you don't have the money to sign the contract. It's as simple as that. The courts do not consider stupidity a valid defense.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 01, 2017, 06:18:11 PM
Mods - does the issue surrounding paying for services as Friends and Family need its own thread or can it be discussed here?

There appears to be a twitter account tweeting screen shots and a discussion with PayPal about the F&F issue but I don't want to post a link and hijack this conversation, although it's kind of tied in as its how some authors are paying to opt in to a boxed set.

Give us a sec to confer and agree. :D
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 06:31:15 PM

If you do not have the money to have a contract vetted by a lawyer, then you don't have the money to sign the contract. It's as simple as that. The courts do not consider stupidity a valid defense.


This is such a great point. If I'd not been so foolish, I'd have saved myself a world of hurt.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Nicholas Erik on May 01, 2017, 06:57:13 PM
I'd like to draw an important distinction here about gifting copies. Gifting them is one thing, and anyone can make a decision what they are comfortable with. Incentivizing people to claim said gifted book (instead of converting it into a gift card) with an entry into a drawing for a higher denomination Amazon gift card is a whole other thing. (This is how GenreCrave's Book Blast works--there is a FB group with 5k+ plus people who do exactly that.) Similarly, promising to add money to the advertising budget of a box set in exchange for buying a copy of a solo title is verboten. (And really tacky.)

This is a post back from around p.5/6 (probably p.10/11 for those with standard 25 posts per page settings). I understand that most people are discussing the box sets, but a lot of Kboarders use the Book Blast, too (and it's expensive). And as someone who has used the Book Blast/Mega Book Blast six times over the past year or so, this is extremely troubling.

Can you (or anyone else) expand on how the Book Blast works? Given its popularity, some extra insight would be great. I'm a little unclear as to what's happening with the gifting. The order page (http://www.genrecrave.com/schedule-today/) talks about how the method is secret (bolding mine):

Quote
This is not a newsletter feature. This is a direct marketing campaign. We have various segments of readers on social media who have signed up for us to send them a message if we find a book we think they might like. Our book blast covers a send to the three best-fitting segments of readers we have. We do not give out information about our readers or about our segments, as this is one of the most effective services for new releases and our secret business model...Please note: There is no way to view a Book Blast because that is done via a direct marketing campaign.

This wording suggests, to me, posting in private Facebook groups, FB ads, maybe some Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram, whatever, stuff. E.g. the secret sauce is just marketing hype - fairly standard promotion, just access to the GenreCrave platform/readers. Whatever, fine - punch up and differentiate your services with great copy. But the gifting thing is an altogether different animal - and while, perhaps "secret" and unique, is not what I signed up for at all.

To be 100% clear, Rebecca and her staff have always been fair and courteous to me, even rescheduling blasts/waiting on my book link until the wee hours of the morning. But if the Blasts are fueled by gifting, it makes the sales useless for sell-through/also-bought purposes (which is the main reason I booked them - since the upfront ROI has always been highly negative). Looking over the results from each run in light of Christina's post, the sales distribution make a lot more sense (e.g. all in one day and then absolutely zero tail - like 150 to 3). I just had a Mega Blast on 4/29 (scheduled weeks before this whole thing broke) that fit this exact pattern. No other service just totally craters with a 95%+ drop.

Whether other authors want to play in the gray areas of the TOS isn't my concern. Everyone can choose the level of risk they're comfortable with. This behavior strikes me as something Amazon would raise an eyebrow at, but that doesn't matter - I'm not a lawyer or contract expert. However, I personally have zero interest in risking my account for any reason - especially not for a promo service.

Nick
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Randall Wood on May 01, 2017, 07:00:27 PM
Mods - does the issue surrounding paying for services as Friends and Family need its own thread or can it be discussed here?

There appears to be a twitter account tweeting screen shots and a discussion with PayPal about the F&F issue but I don't want to post a link and hijack this conversation, although it's kind of tied in as its how some authors are paying to opt in to a boxed set.

I'd say its more than kind-of tied to it. The same Paypal issues in the twitter feed are discussed at the same website that originated this thread. I see several red flags that connect with the current topic of contracts, payment, taxes and business ethics.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 01, 2017, 07:07:24 PM
Mods - does the issue surrounding paying for services as Friends and Family need its own thread or can it be discussed here?

There appears to be a twitter account tweeting screen shots and a discussion with PayPal about the F&F issue but I don't want to post a link and hijack this conversation, although it's kind of tied in as its how some authors are paying to opt in to a boxed set.

I'd say its more than kind-of tied to it. The same Paypal issues in the twitter feed are discussed at the same website that originated this thread. I see several red flags that connect with the current topic of contracts, payment, taxes and business ethics.

It depends on whether AliceW wants to have a broader discussion on the issues of using Family & Friends, separate from this thread or specifically wants to address the use of it in the instances described on Passive Voice.  Alice?

Betsy
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on May 01, 2017, 07:12:59 PM
Can you (or anyone else) expand on how the Book Blast works? Given its popularity, some extra insight would be great. I'm a little unclear as to what's happening with the gifting.

My understanding is that the GenreCave promotions work in a couple of different ways. Disclaimer, I am not Rebecca, I don't run an author services business and I am relaying what I have heard or seen in the groups.

While Rebecca states she has a newsletter list of over 250,000 subscribers, they don't get notifications of GC promotions (which I find odd, but then I don't run a promotions service so maybe not using such a large newsletter list is common?). Instead there is a top secret group where GC promotions are posted. There is a reason KU titles are preferred, because many people in the secret group have KU subscriptions. Promoted KU titles are easy, group members are incentivised to download the promoted copy. Paste a screen shot that you have downloaded the book and go in the draw to win a prize (usually a gift voucher).
Non-KU/99 cent titles operate similar, but the promotion price is used to either gift a copy within the group (same deal, gift must be redeemed to affect authors rank, post a screen shot to enter the draw) or the organiser pays people to buy the book and reimburses in some way.

I have heard anecdotally (from grumbling authors) that for KU titles there is a rank spike (from the download) but very few pages read, since people download to enter a draw, not to actually read the book.

I no longer belong to those groups, maybe someone who does can provide more information/screen shots if required?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on May 01, 2017, 07:15:07 PM
It depends on whether AliceW wants to have a broader discussion on the issues of using Family & Friends, separate from this thread or specifically wants to address the use of it in the instances described on Passive Voice.  Alice?

I think there is a much broader topic about using F&F to pay for a range of services and it might be a worthwhile discussion about when to use it, tax implications etc that is way past the scope of the boxed set issue. I'm happy to start a new topic to talk about F&F in general terms?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on May 01, 2017, 07:18:30 PM
In the last few days the whole family and friends thing is being talked about in a bunch of places and it has a lot of moving parts beyond just boxed sets. A separate thread might be best so even Ann of Arlington can point us in the direction of good resources.

"Even Ann of Arlington?"   :o. --Betsy
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 01, 2017, 07:19:24 PM
I think there is a much broader topic about using F&F to pay for a range of services and it might be a worthwhile discussion about when to use it, tax implications etc that is way past the scope of the boxed set issue. I'm happy to start a new topic to talk about F&F in general terms?

That would be fine, thanks for checking.

Folks, this doesn't mean that the Paypal payment issues can't be discussed here in terms of how it was used in these box set contracts, but a broader discussion of how to use Paypal correctly as a consumer and provider is certainly a topic worth having a separate thread here.  If it goes well and stays civil and informative, I could see it being a valuable resource.

Betsy
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 01, 2017, 07:25:46 PM
My understanding is that the GenreCave promotions work in a couple of different ways. Disclaimer, I am not Rebecca, I don't run an author services business and I am relaying what I have heard or seen in the groups.

While Rebecca states she has a newsletter list of over 250,000 subscribers, they don't get notifications of GC promotions (which I find odd, but then I don't run a promotions service so maybe not using such a large newsletter list is common?). Instead there is a top secret group where GC promotions are posted. There is a reason KU titles are preferred, because many people in the secret group have KU subscriptions. Promoted KU titles are easy, group members are incentivised to download the promoted copy. Paste a screen shot that you have downloaded the book and go in the draw to win a prize (usually a gift voucher).
Non-KU/99 cent titles operate similar, but the promotion price is used to either gift a copy within the group (same deal, gift must be redeemed to affect authors rank, post a screen shot to enter the draw) or the organiser pays people to buy the book and reimburses in some way.

I have heard anecdotally (from grumbling authors) that for KU titles there is a rank spike (from the download) but very few pages read, since people download to enter a draw, not to actually read the book.
This is how it works, but I was never told how the secret sauce inside her secret group worked. Whether I got KU downloads or not, I don't know. I didn't get any sales. I stacked promos and could see the buys from those. If I had known I was paying $300 for what amounts to a click farm, I never would have got involved.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on May 01, 2017, 07:27:56 PM
This wording suggests, to me, posting in private Facebook groups, FB ads, maybe some Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram, whatever, stuff. E.g. the secret sauce is just marketing hype - fairly standard promotion, just access to the GenreCrave platform/readers. Whatever, fine - punch up and differentiate your services with great copy. But the gifting thing is an altogether different animal - and while, perhaps "secret" and unique, is not what I signed up for at all.

To be 100% clear, Rebecca and her staff have always been fair and courteous to me, even rescheduling blasts/waiting on my book link until the wee hours of the morning. But if the Blasts are fueled by gifting, it makes the sales useless for sell-through/also-bought purposes (which is the main reason I booked them - since the upfront ROI has always been highly negative). Looking over the results from each run in light of Christina's post, the sales distribution make a lot more sense (e.g. all in one day and then absolutely zero tail - like 150 to 3). I just had a Mega Blast on 4/29 (scheduled weeks before this whole thing broke) that fit this exact pattern. No other service just totally craters with a 95%+ drop.

Whether other authors want to play in the gray areas of the TOS isn't my concern. Everyone can choose the level of risk they're comfortable with. This behavior strikes me as something Amazon would raise an eyebrow at, but that doesn't matter - I'm not a lawyer or contract expert. However, I personally have zero interest in risking my account for any reason - especially not for a promo service.

Nick

I believe those promotions are all about gifting and raffles, not about finding readers for your book.  I don't use the service, but that is my understanding from people who do use it.

This might be interesting reading:   https://www.docdroid.net/ZPzHGk5/she-tells-all-new-release-plan-for-twitter.pdf.html#page=4
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on May 01, 2017, 07:29:38 PM
The issue is not whether there were 10,000 or 1,000 or 500 copies gifted to hit the NYTs list. The issue is using gift cards or gifting to make enough sales to hit the list.

Whether it's 500 or 5,000 or 50,000, it's the principle of the thing, not the number.

It's one thing to run a giveaway to publicize the release, and gift a few copies as a way to spread the word about a new release. That's a normal part of marketing. Free samples and all in Walmart.

It's an entirely different kettle of fish to buy gift cards or gift copies in bulk / large numbers that are intended to ensure the book or collection qualifies for USAT or NYTs.

That's not kosher. It's buying your way onto the list vs. getting the designation via actual customers/readers buying it out of their own free will.

The whole issue of a bestseller's list is to promote or inform people about what books are selling the best in a given week. It's supposed to say "These books are the best selling books this week."

It is not meant to say "These authors bought enough copies of their own books in order to be the top selling books this week."

If people can't see the difference, well, I got nothing.


I just wanted to say, well said, Sela - completely agree. For me, "the principle of the thing" is the crux of this issue.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Nicholas Erik on May 01, 2017, 07:58:09 PM
I believe those promotions are all about gifting and raffles, not about finding readers for your book.  I don't use the service, but that is my understanding from people who do use it.

This might be interesting reading:   https://www.docdroid.net/ZPzHGk5/she-tells-all-new-release-plan-for-twitter.pdf.html#page=4
This is how it works, but I was never told how the secret sauce inside her secret group worked. Whether I got KU downloads or not, I don't know. I didn't get any sales. I stacked promos and could see the buys from those. If I had known I was paying $300 for what amounts to a click farm, I never would have got involved.

My understanding is that the GenreCave promotions work in a couple of different ways. Disclaimer, I am not Rebecca, I don't run an author services business and I am relaying what I have heard or seen in the groups.

While Rebecca states she has a newsletter list of over 250,000 subscribers, they don't get notifications of GC promotions (which I find odd, but then I don't run a promotions service so maybe not using such a large newsletter list is common?). Instead there is a top secret group where GC promotions are posted. There is a reason KU titles are preferred, because many people in the secret group have KU subscriptions. Promoted KU titles are easy, group members are incentivised to download the promoted copy. Paste a screen shot that you have downloaded the book and go in the draw to win a prize (usually a gift voucher).
Non-KU/99 cent titles operate similar, but the promotion price is used to either gift a copy within the group (same deal, gift must be redeemed to affect authors rank, post a screen shot to enter the draw) or the organiser pays people to buy the book and reimburses in some way.

I have heard anecdotally (from grumbling authors) that for KU titles there is a rank spike (from the download) but very few pages read, since people download to enter a draw, not to actually read the book.

I no longer belong to those groups, maybe someone who does can provide more information/screen shots if required?

Thanks for the responses. I'm really at a loss for words. On the one hand, I now fully understand why the tail numbers looked off with the Book Blasts as I got more data. On the other hand, that's super lame to discover after spending $1,500+. The money is one thing, but I'm more concerned about unknowingly being associated with this type of gifting behavior. I am never using any of GenreCrave's services again.

To anyone who purchased a Book Blast based on my recommendation in my launch services thread, I sincerely apologize. Obviously I had no idea about the "secret" behind them, but that still sucks. That thread has been updated accordingly. Ridiculous.

Nick
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 08:02:29 PM
This is a post back from around p.5/6 (probably p.10/11 for those with standard 25 posts per page settings). I understand that most people are discussing the box sets, but a lot of Kboarders use the Book Blast, too (and it's expensive). And as someone who has used the Book Blast/Mega Book Blast six times over the past year or so, this is extremely troubling.

Can you (or anyone else) expand on how the Book Blast works?

Hi, Nick.

Yes, to my understanding, the Genre Crave Book Blast is about incentivizing readers to claim your book as a gift. (Which will then show to you as a sale.)

The process is outlined on the weebly site others have linked to in this thread but here's the basics:

There's a private FB group with about 5.6k people in it called Book Giveaways: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1627459970853706/ (there may be others; I don't know.)

Author pays $200+ for a Genre Crave Book Blast
On the day, the book is listed as free--available for claiming as a gift--and if they do, they'll be entered to win a gift card. (Rick is brought up that this is against the law in some states, just FYI.)
Obviously, the more "segments" you pay for your blast, the more money available to buy gifts, the bigger the impact on your rank.

So, you spend $200. She pays her assistant, say, $25 to handle the giveaway. (I'm guessing the amount--I don't know, I just know she has her assistant do them.) I've been told the gift card is also $25. (Haven't seen proof yet so can't say for sure). For your $200 you'll probably make about $35 in royalties, and b/c folks were incentivized to download the "gifted" book, many are likely not readers, which means little to no sell through.

I have had 2 blasts and neither led to follow up sales. And, like you said, the drop off is steep--b/c the "giveaway" only runs one day.

In her "tell all course" (excerpts are on the weebly site) she says this is her super secret way to sky rocket a launch and goes into detail about it.

The problem with offering this as a service is that anyone using the book blast is playing roulette with their Amazon account. I was told in no uncertain terms that they view this as rank manipulation and that the author is solely responsible for choosing providers that say w/in their TOS.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CABarrett on May 01, 2017, 08:05:58 PM
That's not kosher. It's buying your way onto the list vs. getting the designation via actual customers/readers buying it out of their own free will.

The whole issue of a bestseller's list is to promote or inform people about what books are selling the best in a given week. It's supposed to say "These books are the best selling books this week."

It is not meant to say "These authors bought enough copies of their own books in order to be the top selling books this week."

If people can't see the difference, well, I got nothing.

This reminds me of the 2013 scandal involving ResultsSource and the bestseller lists. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/januaryfebruary/buying-bestsellers-resultsource.html) No statement is intended about any of the book marketers currently under discussion (I don't have any knowledge other than this thread), but I thought it was interesting that this same argument has occurred about traditionally published print books.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on May 01, 2017, 08:06:43 PM
There was a Google sign up form that required the transaction ID for the money sent. (Again, this is before the contract)

I would never send payment without getting the contract first. We never know if the contract may state things not discussed that we can't agree to.

In my case, I never received a contract for the Spellbound set, however I did receive one for Myths and Legends, and I e-signed. Here's where the no refund policy goes awry.

We all know that in December two of Rebecca's sets got taken down by Amazon for violating the exclusivity rule. At the time she was adamant it was a new rule, however we also know it had been present in the terms since at least 9/30/16. (Possibly before, but my memory fails.) So, either she drafted contracts while ignorant of a standing rule or in defiance of it--you can decide for yourself.

If it was present in the terms since September, why didn't anyone bring it up in the group? Did everyone else not know about this rule as well? If nobody knew about it, then it's plausible Rebecca was unaware of it too.

But this is where everyone needs to do their due diligence, and if you know that the project may be violating the TOS, the concerns need to be brought up so the organizer is made aware of them to ensure that the project is in line with the TOS. All concerns should be brought up in the Facebook group before anyone signs the contract.

She then posted we would either need to completely unpublish our works after the first week wide, swap out our full-length novel for something (anything--novella 5k short) else, or withdraw.

I'm assuming this was the solution that had to be put in place to fix the Amazon TOS issue? This wasn't something that subsequent boxed set projects went through since she (and all the other authors) should have already known what not to do, right?

And at that time, did she offer a refund to those who wanted to withdraw?

A month or so later, she said we would have to sign new contracts. The problem with that was, legally, we didn't need to sign them. All four attorneys I consulted agreed that

a) because the original contract had no language requiring signing a new contract
b) and because contract 2 (contrary to her claim) differed substantially from contract 1

the first contract was voidable and could be rescinded. Once that happens, both parties must be made whole. In this case, that would have required her to return my money, and that of anyone who opted not to sign the 2nd contract. She has refused to do so, erroneously claiming the no refund policy. However, it's not a refund.

I would agree. If the second contract differed that much, you would have the right to refuse to sign it.

It went from a set "appropriate for all ages" to allowing "super steamy." For YA authors like myself, that was a problem, even though we were soundly shut down. Still, it's a change in terms that was not agreed to by both parties. Unilaterally changing the terms of a contract is another way it becomes (legally) voidable.

Oh my. That also I would agree with you on. If the original terms had changed that radically, your argument with not being given the service/product that was agreed to is sound.

I'm still unwilling to condemn Rebecca because I do feel her intention/motivation is to help people. I do feel she needs to re-evaluate the methods in which to provide these services to authors so that it's a win-win for everyone (the authors and herself) without crossing boundaries, even if Amazon's and PayPal's reps have deemed them to be okay, because as we all know, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Edited - I was writing this post and see there are tons more after Christine's, so I'll need to catch up :D
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Deanna Chase on May 01, 2017, 08:13:27 PM
I'll just point out that the exclusivity rule has been the rule since the beginning of KDP-Select. This isn't and never was a new rule. You have never been able to have your book available on another vendor while it's been in KDP Select and that includes preorders.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on May 01, 2017, 08:15:17 PM
This reminds me of the 2013 scandal involving ResultsSource and the bestseller lists. (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/januaryfebruary/buying-bestsellers-resultsource.html) No statement is intended about any of the book marketers currently under discussion, but I thought it was interesting that this same argument has occurred about traditionally published print books.


I worry that examples from what trad pub books get away with though is dangerous because none of us have the muscle they do to protect them. We can't go toe to toe with Amazon if Amazon decides to close our account.

Some changes I have noticed since many of the gray hat tactics have been circulating in the last year plus from multiple organizers and promoters is that we are now responsible for the results of promotions we buy. That was never language I saw in emails from the Zon until just the last year or so.

So by delegating your marketing to a third party in any shape that you don't fully understand is a risk. Marketing isnt magic, so like has been mentioned before, if there's not a mailing list you can join to see and use, run. We all still agree Bookbub is one of the best promotions you can get and any one of us can get our genres email newsletter any day of the week to see how it works. There's no real proprietary secret sauce in marketing unless you need to hide what's really going on.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on May 01, 2017, 08:17:38 PM
I'll just point out that the exclusivity rule has been the rule since the beginning of KDP-Select. This isn't and never was a new rule. You have never been able to have your book available on another vendor while it's been in KDP Select and that includes preorders.

I believe the one that's in question is having an individual title published by the author and also in a boxed set published by someone else (both for sale at the same time). Thus the 'swap out' mentioned in Christine's post. Those who are involved, is this correct?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Cassie Leigh on May 01, 2017, 08:19:49 PM
There have been various iterations.

Early on there was the pre-order wide while all the books were in KU scenario.
Later there was the start the set with one group of titles and then swap them out for other titles scenario.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: CABarrett on May 01, 2017, 08:23:24 PM
I worry that examples from what trad pub books get away with though is dangerous because none of us have the muscle they do to protect them. We can't go toe to toe with Amazon if Amazon decides to close our account...

I am in complete agreement that this is terrifying stuff.  :o
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Deanna Chase on May 01, 2017, 08:23:51 PM
I believe the one that's in question is having an individual title published by the author and also in a boxed set (both for sale at the same time). Thus the 'swap out' mentioned in Christine's post. Those who are involved, is this correct?

Ahh, okay. Yes, that is new. I believe Amazon started enforcing that right around Christmas last year.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 08:25:34 PM

Also there are many others involved who are affected with us breaking our commitment to the contract/project (ex: the other authors in the project, the book cover designer, the content designer/formatter, etc.), not only the organizer, especially if a certain budget was set for ad expenses and new expenses would be incurred since the book cover would need to be redone, reformatting the book's contents to take out the canceling author's story, etc.


I forgot to address this in my previous response, and I'd like to. I agree there are a lot of authors involved--each is impacted by the actions and ethics of their fellow authors in the set and the organizer.

In may case, I was kicked out of the Spellbound box set. I found out when Rebecca posted that I'd dropped out. (I hadn't at that point, but that's beside the point.)

She announced that she wasn't sure if I was donating the spot or "forcing a refund" with PayPal. (I was doing neither, but that too, is beside the point.) Because of that, she wasn't sure if she'd need to charge someone the $500 buy in to cover my "forced refund" or could offer the spot for free.

Several people offered to pay the buy in. That would have meant she was free and clear to return my money (money owed to me, not as a refund, but because she was not honoring the terms of our original contract as previously stated) and yet, she chose not to. One might ask themselves why, if her primary interest is the authors in the set.

Also, once it became clear the terms of the box set were going to change so drastically (Having to UNPUBLISH our books to participate? Swapping out full length novels for shorts? {like that's not gonna tick some readers off--and rightfully so} Not to mention, for those, like me, who were going to pull our books out immediately following the wide week in an effort to avoid the other two options, we were now not going to receive nearly the amount of profit or exposure we would have with 3 months in KU) Rebecca could have offered to reshuffle the set. None of the ones I was involved with had even been put on preorder when this all happened.

If, as she claims, box sets are done by her for free, and she receives zero profit, why not do the right thing and offer to return the money of those who no longer felt it was a good fit? I suspect she could have filled the spots, because for many it was still a fine trade, but even she couldn't--why not offer? If there's no profit, (and in the case of my 3 sets, ads had not been booked) what's the difference if, for a month or two, only one box set went live?

One has to wonder.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Silly Writer on May 01, 2017, 08:26:32 PM
Thanks for the responses. I'm really at a loss for words. On the one hand, I now fully understand why the tail numbers looked off with the Book Blasts as I got more data. On the other hand, that's super lame to discover after spending $1,500+. The money is one thing, but I'm more concerned about unknowingly being associated with this type of gifting behavior. I am never using any of GenreCrave's services again.

To anyone who purchased a Book Blast based on my recommendation in my launch services thread, I sincerely apologize. Obviously I had no idea about the "secret" behind them, but that still sucks. That thread has been updated accordingly. Ridiculous.

Nick

To be fair, how could you have known? I didn't know either a year and a half ago when I booked a book-blast through here when it was "Hungry Author" and the description is pretty much the same as it was; and it doesn't mention gifting (excerpt from website taken one minute ago):

"BOOK BLAST - $299

Our Book Blast is our best selling service and often books out solid two-three months in advance. This is not a newsletter feature. This is a direct marketing campaign. We have various segments of readers on social media who have signed up for us to send them a message if we find a book we think they might like. Our book blast covers a send to the three best-fitting segments of readers we have. We do not give out information about our readers or about our segments, as this is one of the most effective services for new releases and our secret business model.

Titles $2.99-$4.99 have the best immediate ROI, but do not move as many copies or have the same ranking effect as titles priced $0.99. If you are looking to boost your book in ranking, we strongly recommend a $0.99 title. Newer titles perform better than older titles, but users have gotten great results even with titles that have been out for years. We will only perform one book blast per title at this time.

Book Blasts cannot be cancelled or rescheduled as we begin set up as soon as we receive your order. Our employees spend a lot of time setting up your book blast in the weeks leading up to it, and then they dedicate an entire day to getting you as many sales as they can.

Our records indicate that most of our clients get 80-400* sales with this blast. Many of our readers are reviewers, too. However, we do not guarantee book reviews or results on any of our packages. All we can do is guarantee our best effort to get you as many sales as possible with our readers. As with our other services, we recommend having a stellar cover and blurb for this feature.

We also offer a MEGA BOOK BLAST. The Mega Book Blast is for authors looking to make 120 – 700* sales. Although we cannot guarantee results, your book offer will go out to almost twice as many readers.

* Average sales based on $0.99 price point and are not a results guarantee. Results occur over the course of 1-2 days.

Please note: There is no way to view a Book Blast because that is done via a direct marketing campaign. Here is an example of the kind of proof we can provide that you blast ran. There is an extra fee for “Proof of Delivery” same as most companies have if you want to add tracking to a order you’ve placed. That said, your results will be clearly measurable by your ranking increase and sales."



Edited to correct special character issue on KB. --Betsy/KB Mod
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 08:29:35 PM
I believe the one that's in question is having an individual title published by the author and also in a boxed set published by someone else (both for sale at the same time). Thus the 'swap out' mentioned in Christine's post. Those who are involved, is this correct?

Yes, you're correct. It was present before December but that's when it started being enforced that I am aware of.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on May 01, 2017, 08:32:08 PM
Yeah there's been a couple of changes on exclusivity expansion that coincidentally match situations with certain boxed sets. For example, there used to be no language specifically saying that books in KU couldn't be on preorder on another vendor until after threads here about some boxed sets flagrantly flouted that didn't exist (putting boxed sets in KU while the boxed set was also up for preorder on other vendors with intention to take it off sale the moment it went up for sale so only preorders we're honored for a list run and also to make sure they got the minimum 500 needed on a vendor not Amazon). There were boxed sets taken down, later restored, and a language change in the KU terms.

The same content can't be in KU on multiple KDP accounts rule that came about this December revolves around the wording that was always there "content that you have the exclusive right to publish" but probably wasn't just the multi-author boxed sets causing that expansion/enforcement but also the number of scammers making bogus boxedsets of titles in various orders on multiple pen names and likely multiple KDP accounts that were trying to farm page reads but never so many on one name or book to pop for All Star status and further scrutiny.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 01, 2017, 08:32:39 PM
I believe the one that's in question is having an individual title published by the author and also in a boxed set published by someone else (both for sale at the same time). Thus the 'swap out' mentioned in Christine's post. Those who are involved, is this correct?
That rule was in place when I published a short story in an anthology in 2013. All of the authors were warned about it.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 08:41:54 PM
That rule was in place when I published a short story in an anthology in 2013. All of the authors were warned about it.

Wow, I had no idea. I knew the TOS were dated in September but had no idea it went as far back as that.

And wheart, you're right; I should have known. At the time, like many, I thought as long as the book was out of KU while the set was wide (I'd planned the release date of my book so it would be) I thought it was OK to be in KU in two places. (Solo title and set)

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: C. Gockel on May 01, 2017, 08:42:49 PM
I have a few thoughts:

1) BookBub no longer takes letters from multi-author box sets into consideration. I suspect if they don't, other advertisers will follow their lead (and perhaps already do without explicitly saying so.)

2) I actually have USA Today letters from my individual box set. It honestly didn't change the world. I had some nice sell-thru for a little while, but then, like all sales bumps, things trickled back to my typical monthly income.

3) You don't have to hit a bestseller list to benefit from a box set. I've been in several box sets and anthologies that haven't hit the bestseller list, but they actually did great by sell-thru, which means I got readers. Readers who love your work are more important than letters.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on May 01, 2017, 08:50:15 PM
I have no letters, and I just bought a 4400 square foot house for cash. Just sayin.

I really don't think letters or no makes much difference. Certainly not worth jeopardizing your account and professional reputation for. Come awaaaaayyyy from the light.

(Deleted earlier post because I confused two topics. I should have said that the rule saying you couldn't have a title in Select and on preorder wide was always pretty clear. Basically, exclusive means exclusive. Not on Instafreebie. Not in a boxed set wide. Pretty clear.)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Deanna Chase on May 01, 2017, 08:52:17 PM
It wasn't new, though. It was always against the TOS, and anyone with an inkling of the contract they agreed to when they published surely would have known it. Just "not cottoned on to by Amazon yet."

Messing around on the wrong side of the line, even if a salesperson says it's the right side of the line, is a good way to get an account suspended by Amazon. Just because they haven't thought of or enforced sanctions against that particular scheme yet doesn't mean they won't. And saying, "I didn't know it was against the rules" isn't going to help that person who got taken in by the promise of ...whatever.

Well, I actually don't remember seeing it in the TOS and plenty of reps told us multi author boxed sets were fine as long as all the individual books in it were exclusive to Amazon. In fact, a friend of mine was putting together a multi author KU boxed set around the time Amazon started to enforce and the rep didn't even know it was a "new rule." So maybe it was there and maybe it wasn't, but I don't remember it and Amazon reps didn't even know. I think it's fair to give those of us "rule breakers" a pass on that one. But you can bet as soon as Amazon said, "Nope," we fell in line.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 08:54:17 PM
I have no letters, and I just bought a 4400 square foot house for cash. Just sayin.

I really don't think letters or no makes much difference. Certainly not worth jeopardizing your account and professional reputation for. Come awaaaaayyyy from the light.

Totally agree. I thought I'd be getting exposed to thousands of new readers. Even if only 10% of those who bought the set read my book, that would have been worth it. That's not how these particular sets are run, which is why I rescinded my contract and backed away--even with her telling me she wouldn't return my money. I'd never have claimed those "letters." (That's not a put down for those who do--it's just not what I want to do.)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Nicholas Erik on May 01, 2017, 08:55:19 PM
To be fair, how could you have known? I didn't know either a year and a half ago when I booked a book-blast through here when it was "Hungry Author" and the description is pretty much the same as it was; and it doesn't mention gifting (excerpt from website taken one minute ago): [snip]

That's true. I still feel bad. From what I've read in this thread, the service is at best completely worthless, and at worst, putting you in Amazon's crosshairs. 

Hi, Nick.

Yes, to my understanding, the Genre Crave Book Blast is about incentivizing readers to claim your book as a gift. (Which will then show to you as a sale.)

The process is outlined on the weebly site others have linked to in this thread but here's the basics:

There's a private FB group with about 5.6k people in it called Book Giveaways: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1627459970853706/ (there may be others; I don't know.)

Author pays $200+ for a Genre Crave Book Blast
On the day, the book is listed as free--available for claiming as a gift--and if they do, they'll be entered to win a gift card. (Rick is brought up that this is against the law in some states, just FYI.)
Obviously, the more "segments" you pay for your blast, the more money available to buy gifts, the bigger the impact on your rank.

So, you spend $200. She pays her assistant, say, $25 to handle the giveaway. (I'm guessing the amount--I don't know, I just know she has her assistant do them.) I've been told the gift card is also $25. (Haven't seen proof yet so can't say for sure). For your $200 you'll probably make about $35 in royalties, and b/c folks were incentivized to download the "gifted" book, many are likely not readers, which means little to no sell through.

I have had 2 blasts and neither led to follow up sales. And, like you said, the drop off is steep--b/c the "giveaway" only runs one day.

In her "tell all course" (excerpts are on the weebly site) she says this is her super secret way to sky rocket a launch and goes into detail about it.

The problem with offering this as a service is that anyone using the book blast is playing roulette with their Amazon account. I was told in no uncertain terms that they view this as rank manipulation and that the author is solely responsible for choosing providers that say w/in their TOS.

Thanks for the response. So glad the "Mega" Blast sales promotion I thought I was purchasing, was, in fact, just an increased chance of getting my KDP account flagged. Caveat emptor, right?

Needless to say, for anyone lurking or booking promo in the future, I think we all need to be careful of what promo providers we use. This has been stated before, but if something is opaque or secret, don't use it. Period. This is a long game, and any temporary ranking boost isn't worth getting your account shut down over. In light of this information and declining results for legitimate promo sites, I'm shifting almost all of my marketing efforts to PPC, where I know exactly where the dollars are going (since I'm the one in control of them).

As I stated previously, I will do zero business with Genre Crave in the future. Everyone can make their own decisions based on risk tolerance.

Argh.  :-\

Nick
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on May 01, 2017, 08:57:23 PM
Well, I actually don't remember seeing it in the TOS and plenty of reps told us multi author boxed sets were fine as long as all the individual books in it were exclusive to Amazon. In fact, a friend of mine was putting together a multi author KU boxed set around the time Amazon started to enforce and the rep didn't even know it was a "new rule." So maybe it was there and maybe it wasn't, but I don't remember it and Amazon reps didn't even know. I think it's fair to give those of us "rule breakers" a pass on that one. But you can bet as soon as Amazon said, "Nope," we fell in line.
Sorry, Deanna. Edited post above. I was confusing the two things: preorder wide while in KU, and multi author boxed set in KU. Not reading carefully enough myself. :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Deanna Chase on May 01, 2017, 08:58:24 PM
Sorry, Deanna. Edited post above. I was confusing the two things: preorder wide while in KU, and multi author boxed set in KU. Not reading carefully enough myself. :)

Ah, yes. I got confused earlier myself. :D No worries. Lots of moving parts with this one.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Jill Nojack on May 01, 2017, 08:59:33 PM
I just had a Mega Blast on 4/29 (scheduled weeks before this whole thing broke) that fit this exact pattern. No other service just totally craters with a 95%+ drop.

Nick

Freebookservice has a similar pattern, but theirs is x amount over each of three days and then it craters (they used to only do free, now they have the 99 cent paid option, too).  That has been confirmed to be click-farming (by members of this forum), but it also claims to have a secret mailing list that is all hush hush.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Susan Stec on May 01, 2017, 09:11:25 PM
I forgot to address this in my previous response, and I'd like to. I agree there are a lot of authors involved--each is impacted by the actions and ethics of their fellow authors in the set and the organizer.

 If there's no profit, (and in the case of my 3 sets, ads had not been booked) what's the difference if, for a month or two, only one box set went live?

One has to wonder.

Several people offered to pay the buy in. That would have meant she was free and clear to return my money (money owed to me, not as a refund, but because she was not honoring the terms of our original contract as previously stated) and yet, she chose not to. One might ask themselves why, if her primary interest is the authors in the set.

One has to wonder.

She did some of the things you mentioned to me, Christine. In  December I pulled out of 2 sets and the isa Fae collection because of her ethics, and because of a change in contracts. At the time she was angry about being reported, and in a PM with all the authors in one of the active sets, Fall into Magic (it was pulled by Amazon),  which I was also a part of. She and some of the authors, Gina and Noree doing the talking, wanted to start reporting other sets to prove it wasn't just Rebecca breaking TOS's "new rule" I have screen shots of this conversation hat was incouraged by the organizer, Rebecca. She is not a publisher. She stated then that the only way "Zon" could've found out was if she was reported by the small group out to get her.
I did not want to be part of that, and with all the trading of books as you mentioned, Christina, I just wanted to distance myself, which I did on the private pages for the sets I was in. I was the first, in all her active sets, to publicly challenge her.  And several others followed.

She also said I had donated my spot and my cover in the collection, I found out later. i had not donated anything. But since she made the cover, she had a copy.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 01, 2017, 11:11:03 PM
I never knew that about the contracts changing Christina. That makes sense now when you think about Amazon's terms that specifically calls out they can change the terms at any time. Contracts between professionals that lacked that make sense that it would require newly agreed terms, and a cautionary tale for people who build businesses that hinge on the availability of other 3rd party businesses to speak with attorneys for their boilerplate contracts. That experience speaks to a lot of different parts of the indie world and is a great thing to share.

I totally missed this post, but thanks, Elizabeth. You're totally right about the 3rd party thing. In order to make the new rules of the 3rd party apply to a prior contract, that contract would probably need to have language that made that clear. (INAL, but I can't think of another way.)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: This_Way_Down on May 01, 2017, 11:48:57 PM
It is obvious to me that we are dealing with a second wave of disruption in the publishing word. Only now it is the first wave of disruptors getting disrupted by the second wave. Mom and pop shops were disrupted by Wal-mart. Wal-mart is being disrupted by Amazon. Traditional publishing was disrupted by the first wave of indies and now that they have grown fat and stale they are getting disrupted by the new wave of indies who learn from guys like Mark Dawson who spends 30000 dollars a month on Facebook ads to sell his books and Rebecca who is skirting the line of good and bad to sell her writers' books. I applaud both of them. They are innovators. If the new wave of disruption is causing you pain, maybe now is a good time to think of the pain the first wave of indies caused the traditional publishing. How many of them lost their job because of us?



Edited. As Betsy said in reopening the thread, name-calling is not permitted. You may not post again in this thread, CrazyHorze. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615).
Speaking for the first wave of indies, we haven't been disrupted. Not even a little bit. Many burned out and quit, true. But others went on to be hybrids and traditional writers. We're still putting out books and selling well. Hell, I'm doing better than I did when this all began. I have a solid foundation and great fans. I don't have to scheme and plot for visibility. I just send out an email to my readers. Nothing more complicated than that.
As far as Rebecca Hamilton....never met her. Moreover, I could not care less what she does. She has zero impact on my career. And Mark Dawson can spend whatever he wants on Facebook ads. Don't know him either. I certainly don't care what he does.
When my sales fall off, nine times out of ten it because I haven't released anything recently. It's not a result of what someone else is doing. It's not because of some "new wave" of indies.
All the plots and scams in the world cannot replace a solid fanbase and good business practices. Well, that and writing good books.



Edited quoted post. PM me if you have any questions. --Betsy/KB Mod
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on May 02, 2017, 01:55:06 AM
Huge difference in my mind, and I believe in most folks', between Mark Dawson and this kind of thing. One is white hat and one is black hat. Problem with black hat techniques, even if you have no ethical issues, is that you're risking your reputation and the wrath of Amazon. Probably not a good bet long term.

Authors who are successful in the long term think, well ... long term. They tend to use methods that are sustainable, like prioritizing quality of product and presentation. Long term success is about growing a group of real readers who are fans. Effective advertising is just communication with the market that wants your book, drawing their attention to it so they can find it and test it out. The long term benefit comes from the people who read it, not just the sale itself.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Evenstar on May 02, 2017, 03:28:09 AM
I want to thank those who are putting themselves on the line to expose all the many different areas.

But I have more questions. I realise a lot of this has been covered with screen shots on the Passive Voice and the blog it relates to, but as I don't know who wrote the blog, it means I am unable to take it at face value. Instead, I've been checking facebook groups and other forums  and it has been shocking me enormously to hear first hand experience right here and in other places that it is in fact all completely true.

So, I want more information. And before I get shouted at, I think it is absolutely fair and right to ask for it!

It isn't in regards to gifted copies, it's this:

Do some of her boxed sets betray this part of the TOS?

From KDP TOS:

If we terminate this Agreement because you have breached your representations and warranties or our Content Guidelines, you forfeit all Royalties not yet paid to you.

Regarding above-mentioned content guidelines:


Poor Customer Experience
We don't accept books that provide a poor customer experience. We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience. See the Guide to Kindle Content Quality for examples of content that's typically disappointing to customers.


And regarding the Guide to Kindle Content Quality:


Missing Content
Missing content issues occur when some intended part of the book is either mistakenly removed or includes references to a portion of the book that isn't included in the book.

Critical Issues
More text is missing than just a short phrase
Missing image section that the product description or the contents of the book indicate should be included
Main book content that is only accessible through external links
Product description indicates book includes CD, DVD or other ancillary content that is not accessible
Missing or unplayable audio/video content in a Kindle Enhanced with Audio and Video


Or...

Wrong Content
Books with wrong content are always removed from sale.

Wrong content occurs when a customer receives something other than what is advertised. This is most commonly caused by uploading an incorrect file, but can sometimes also occur if updates are made to the product information or copy/paste issues make the description incorrect. The easiest way to fix it is to upload the latest version of the correct file.


The way the boxed set operation has been described, it sounds like there could be some of this going on. Or not?




Edited. PM me if you have any questions. --Betsy/KB Mod
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 03:36:49 AM
It is obvious to me that we are dealing with a second wave of disruption in the publishing word. Only now it is the first wave of disruptors getting disrupted by the second wave. Mom and pop shops were disrupted by Wal-mart. Wal-mart is being disrupted by Amazon. Traditional publishing was disrupted by the first wave of indies and now that they have grown fat and stale they are getting disrupted by the new wave of indies who learn from guys like Mark Dawson who spends 30000 dollars a month on Facebook ads to sell his books and Rebecca who is skirting the line of good and bad to sell her writers' books. I applaud both of them. They are innovators. If the new wave of disruption is causing you pain, maybe now is a good time to think of the pain the first wave of indies caused the traditional publishing. How many of them lost their job because of us?

In spite of considering myself well educated, I'm having a difficult time making sense of this line of thinking. Should I think of Rebecca as Willie Sutton, or as Robin Hood? And what does any of this have to do with Amazon's ToS? If we were talking about someone who was challenging conventional wisdom and devising a revolutionary way of selling books, then I could follow the reasoning. But we're not. We're talking about manipulating rankings by violating standards of conduct laid out in a contractual relationship with a corporation that provides a platform for us to sell our books. We can take it or leave it. Patting yourself on the back for devising a way of twisting a sketchy loophole probably lasts about as long with Amazon as it does with IRS. A mouse needs to be careful if it tries to make a career out of pulling the cat's tail.




Edited quoted material. PM me if you have any questions. --Betsy/KB Mod
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 02, 2017, 04:47:57 AM
For anyone following just this thread on potentially scammy box set tactics, there's some awesome advice and info related to this also over on the using PayPal for business thread. 

http://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=250612
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: thesmallprint on May 02, 2017, 05:02:45 AM
This is getting like the diet industry with people looking for quick and painless fixes. The latest is the glory of marketing and the scramble to climb aboard the tumbril seems to be knocking the common sense out of many. When you leave your brains on the pavement there will be a gaggle of modern day snake oil sellers ready to fill the empty space in your head with daft promises.

Here's rule number one:  if somebody says they have a 'secret recipe' (as mentioned in some of the Book Blast quotes here) paint a  big red X on their back, expose them, laugh at them in public, do anything except give them money.

Once the marketing craze dies down, some other 'thing' will be right along shortly afterwards. Eschew it, folks. Ignore them all. If you are to make a living from writing then let it be through your talent. Word of mouth is all the marketing you need if you are good enough and in this for life. If you're not good enough you might get temporary 'success' from a flurry of marketing but it'll never hold up, no matter how much time and money you throw at ads, blurbs, covers, mailing lists, promotions.

Marketing is not the Holy Grail. Mark Dawson released figures recently highlighting the most successful promotions of all those he takes part in - including the thousands spent on ads. If I'm remembering it right, his best return was from BookBub. So, there it is, apply for BookBubs as regularly as you can. If your work is good enough they'll give you one. If you get one you'll get more readers. If you get more readers they'll tell other readers about you.

Stop feeding the snake oil merchants; it makes them breed.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Patty Jansen on May 02, 2017, 05:08:11 AM
Can I just say how awesome it is of the moderators to have allowed this thread to live. A lot of people are very happy to have these issues heard.

Over the past six months or so, I've spent hours fielding desperate emails and messages from people who signed up and paid, then didn't like the T&C or the tone in the groups or fell foul of the organiser, were bullied, had their author-Facebook friends put under pressure to unfriend them and desperately wanted out. Many lost hundreds, if not *thousands* of dollars.

Every time a thread was started about it here, it was shut down before the affected people could have their say and present their material. Many were simply too afraid of the blackballing and bullying to say a peep. There are still many behind the curtains who are still too afraid to speak out.

Whether or not anyone wants to get involved with tactics that skirt the edges of the Amazon T&C is up to them, but at least now it's become clear what goes on and what the risks are.

I'm sure that we can all agree that certainly, those who were not included in the sets, who pulled out long before the sets went live, and where a replacement was found, should have their money back. Maybe some people don't care about $500, but most do, especially if you get nothing for it except bullying and a wedge driven in your group of online author friends. Upcoming sets are $2000. Some people have walked away with NO return, NO money refunded and No inclusion in any box set.

They lost all their money. They lost friends. They are rightfully LIVID.

On behalf of the people who have messaged me and who are still afraid to speak out, thank you.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on May 02, 2017, 05:10:14 AM
It is obvious to me that we are dealing with a second wave of disruption in the publishing word. Only now it is the first wave of disruptors getting disrupted by the second wave. Mom and pop shops were disrupted by Wal-mart. Wal-mart is being disrupted by Amazon. Traditional publishing was disrupted by the first wave of indies and now that they have grown fat and stale they are getting disrupted by the new wave of indies who learn from guys like Mark Dawson who spends 30000 dollars a month on Facebook ads to sell his books and Rebecca who is skirting the line of good and bad to sell her writers' books. I applaud both of them. They are innovators. If the new wave of disruption is causing you pain, maybe now is a good time to think of the pain the first wave of indies caused the traditional publishing. How many of them lost their job because of us?



Edited. As Betsy said in reopening the thread, name-calling is not permitted. You may not post again in this thread, CrazyHorze. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Stop and re-read what you just wrote. Then think about it.

You are applauding using underhanded tactics and violating Amazon TOS as "revolutionary."

Applauding.

Did you also applaud the KU scammers? Did you also applaud the Wall Street creeps who caused the financial crisis?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Ann in Arlington on May 02, 2017, 05:29:18 AM
Can I just say how awesome it is of the moderators to have allowed this thread to live. A lot of people are very happy to have these issues heard.

Over the past six months or so, I've spent hours fielding desperate emails and messages from people who signed up and paid, then didn't like the T&C or the tone in the groups or fell foul of the organiser, were bullied, had their author-Facebook friends put under pressure to unfriend them and desperately wanted out. Many lost hundreds, if not *thousands* of dollars.

Every time a thread was started about it here, it was shut down before the affected people could have their say and present their material. Many were simply too afraid of the blackballing and bullying to say a peep. There are still many behind the curtains who are still too afraid to speak out.

Whether or not anyone wants to get involved with tactics that skirt the edges of the Amazon T&C is up to them, but at least now it's become clear what goes on and what the risks are.

I'm sure that we can all agree that certainly, those who were not included in the sets, who pulled out long before the sets went live, and where a replacement was found, should have their money back. Maybe some people don't care about $500, but most do, especially if you get nothing for it except bullying and a wedge driven in your group of online author friends. Upcoming sets are $2000. Some people have walked away with NO return, NO money refunded and No inclusion in any box set.

They lost all their money. They lost friends. They are rightfully LIVID.

On behalf of the people who have messaged me and who are still afraid to speak out, thank you.

While I take your point and are generally in agreement with you, I'm not sure about the bit of your post I bolded. It seems to me, that they should NOT have paid until they had seen the T&C. Obviously, that's easy to say, and someone who's real eager and has no reason not to trust a person may skip that step. But for me, that is a big lesson new authors should take from this: Do Not Pay ANYTHING until you've seen a written agreement/contract and are comfortable with the terms.

It's a bit different if you did this due diligence and the contract looked good and then you discovered after the fact that all was not as it seemed. The real possibility of that happening is all the more reason to be sure you have something in writing to start with so that if there are problems later on, you have evidence. Watch Judge Judy, people! :o Invariably the side that loses is the one who says "I don't have it with me." And Judy says, "Where did you think you were coming today?" Of course, the side who wins is the one who has the text messages from the other saying "I promise to pay you back." ::)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: EB on May 02, 2017, 05:34:31 AM
I want to thank those who are putting themselves on the line to expose all the many different areas.

But I have more questions. I realise a lot of this has been covered with screen shots on the Passive Voice and the blog it relates to, but as I don't know who wrote the blog, it means I am unable to take it at face value. Instead, I've been checking facebook groups and other forums  and it has been shocking me enormously to hear first hand experience right here and in other places that it is in fact all completely true.

So, I want more information. And before I get shouted at, I think it is absolutely fair and right to ask for it!

It isn't in regards to gifted copies, it's this:

Do some of her boxed sets betray this part of the TOS?

From KDP TOS:

If we terminate this Agreement because you have breached your representations and warranties or our Content Guidelines, you forfeit all Royalties not yet paid to you.

Regarding above-mentioned content guidelines:


Poor Customer Experience
We don't accept books that provide a poor customer experience. We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience. See the Guide to Kindle Content Quality for examples of content that's typically disappointing to customers.


And regarding the Guide to Kindle Content Quality:


Missing Content
Missing content issues occur when some intended part of the book is either mistakenly removed or includes references to a portion of the book that isn't included in the book.

Critical Issues
More text is missing than just a short phrase
Missing image section that the product description or the contents of the book indicate should be included
Main book content that is only accessible through external links
Product description indicates book includes CD, DVD or other ancillary content that is not accessible
Missing or unplayable audio/video content in a Kindle Enhanced with Audio and Video


Or...

Wrong Content
Books with wrong content are always removed from sale.

Wrong content occurs when a customer receives something other than what is advertised. This is most commonly caused by uploading an incorrect file, but can sometimes also occur if updates are made to the product information or copy/paste issues make the description incorrect. The easiest way to fix it is to upload the latest version of the correct file.


The way the boxed set operation has been described, it sounds like there could be some of this going on. Or not?




Edited. PM me if you have any questions. --Betsy/KB Mod

From what I observed online when it happened, yes, that happened with a particular box set. The box set was put on preorder and readers bought the book based off the description. When the final preorder file was uploaded, it exceeded the file size requirements to be priced at $0.99. Amazon notified the publisher that the price would have to be increased when the file was uploaded and it exceeded the file size requirements for the $0.99 price point. The publisher choose to split the file, uploading a kindle file that had only half of the books promised, and inside the book was a link to instaFreebie to download the other half of the book.

The file size pricing requirement was not new. Readers who already pre-ordered at a lower price always get the lowest price offered during the pre-order period even if the price increases before the sale date. From Amazon, Pre-order pricing (https://kdp.amazon.com/help/topic/A2IYW63O37VCD1)

This is the information that was added to the back of the book: (the link to instaFreebie has since been removed) From the response to a negative review HERE on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/review/R2BEMRASLJ9OIW/ref=cm_cr_rev_detmd_pl?ie=UTF8&asin=B01KJNAGHE&cdForum=Fx3PQ1RNU8PVK99&cdMsgID=Mx1MU47ZU4XXK48&cdMsgNo=5&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx96QG60A3R34&store=digital-text#Mx1MU47ZU4XXK48)
Quote
Dear reader,

We apologize for the inconvenience of having to download the second half of this file through another site. Unfortunately, Amazon gave us a choice: Either increase the price of the book, or make the file smaller. We really wanted you to get this deal for $0.99, and the file could not be made any smaller, so we split in two.

If you prefer not to download the second half, we have another GREAT solution for you. On November 20th, the price of the collection goes up to $2.99. At that time, we can load the FULL file. You will be able to request the updated file be pushed through to your kindle at NO additional cost. At that time, you’ll have the full collection all in one file on your kindle.

However, if you want access to the second half of this collection NOW, you can grab it by following the link below to download the rest of the Wicked Legends titles - again, at no additional cost.

Thank you for understanding, and again, we apologize on behalf of Amazon for forcing us to create the file in this way. We always prefer to get you the full file upfront, which is something all the other venders have allowed us to do. But we hope these stories make it worth the wait!

***

We hope this helps clear the issue. Again, we understand Avid Reader's frustration, though at the same time, we want to make sure other readers are getting a completely accurate picture of the situation at hand, and the review above is unintentionally misleading about the situation (I believe due to the reader misunderstanding the situation - for that, we apologize that our wording wasn't clearer.)

That said, the claim that readers have to pay more money for the rest of the books is not true , nor is it true that they must download the rest via another site. That alternative is optional.

I repeat, you absolutely can get the updated of the file in a few days, directly to your kindle, at no additional charge. By no additional charge, we mean that the full file will be delivered and that is included in the $0.99 you already paid.

The cause of this set up is, 100%, Amazon's doing, and we are just doing our best as authors to honor a promise to our readers.

Thank you for your time and understanding.

x Rebecca Hamilton
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Patty Jansen on May 02, 2017, 05:46:47 AM
While I take your point and are generally in agreement with you, I'm not sure about the bit of your post I bolded. It seems to me, that they should NOT have paid until they had seen the T&C. Obviously, that's easy to say, and someone who's real eager and has no reason not to trust a person may skip that step. But for me, that is a big lesson new authors should take from this: Do Not Pay ANYTHING until you've seen a written agreement/contract and are comfortable with the terms.

It's a bit different if you did this due diligence and the contract looked good and then you discovered after the fact that all was not as it seemed. The real possibility of that happening is all the more reason to be sure you have something in writing to start with so that if there are problems later on, you have evidence. Watch Judge Judy, people! :o Invariably the side that loses is the one who says "I don't have it with me." And Judy says, "Where did you think you were coming today?" Of course, the side who wins is the one who has the text messages from the other saying "I promise to pay you back." ::)

The T&C were changed on some people, several times. Christina has already explained how this was done. In my personal case, and it was piddly and minor, but there was no line in the T&C that said "Thou shalt send an email to your email list when I dictate within five minutes of my saying that you should." Problem was, I'd just sent an email and simply asked if I could send a bit later. Was refunded my money on the spot and was made persona non-grata for doing nothing more than that. I was lucky. I "only" lost a number of friends I wished I could have kept.  On second thoughts, I really wish I could have kept some of them.

I laugh about it, but seriously, that's the tone. People see this and want out, often long before they get an opportunity to get into trouble themselves, and before the sets go live. If these people were actually refunded as any sane business would (since the preorders hadn't even gone live for some of them) a lot of this anger in this thread would not have happened.

About skirting the Amazon T&C, no one who joins has a clue that this happens. Very few people ever find out, even the ones who are in the sets. The screenshots in that post come from a super sekrit course where you can learn all the ways to do this kind of stuff. Ever wondered why the sets are never uploaded in the organiser's name? Because if you gift copies of other people's books, it counts as full sale.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on May 02, 2017, 05:48:11 AM
It is obvious to me that we are dealing with a second wave of disruption in the publishing word. Only now it is the first wave of disruptors getting disrupted by the second wave. Mom and pop shops were disrupted by Wal-mart. Wal-mart is being disrupted by Amazon. Traditional publishing was disrupted by the first wave of indies and now that they have grown fat and stale they are getting disrupted by the new wave of indies who learn from guys like Mark Dawson who spends 30000 dollars a month on Facebook ads to sell his books and Rebecca who is skirting the line of good and bad to sell her writers' books. I applaud both of them. They are innovators. If the new wave of disruption is causing you pain, maybe now is a good time to think of the pain the first wave of indies caused the traditional publishing. How many of them lost their job because of us?

Edited. As Betsy said in reopening the thread, name-calling is not permitted. You may not post again in this thread, CrazyHorze. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Seriously? Skirting the line of good and bad is alright in your world? Right is right and wrong is wrong. The ability to distinguish one from the other is learned at a very young age. However, some people don't learn it, or don't learn it well. Others CHOOSE to ignore the difference, and intentionally break the rules. Prisons are full of these people and personally, I have no sympathy for any of them. Break the rules, pay the consequences.

This isn't a discussion about cutting edge marketing methods. It's a discussion on knowingly violating not just the TOS of the vendors we sell through, but the decorum of good business practice and just being a good person. If you can tell a good story, you can write a book. If you have a few bucks, you can hire someone to make it a better book, through better editing, formatting, and cover design. There aren't any shortcuts to success, but those who whine because they want something and want it now, will always be looking for one. Those people are easily distracted by the charming smile of the snake oil salesman. I also have no sympathy for them.

Patience is an adult quality. Instant gratification is what children demand.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 02, 2017, 05:49:40 AM
While I take your point and are generally in agreement with you, I'm not sure about the bit of your post I bolded. It seems to me, that they should NOT have paid until they had seen the T&C. Obviously, that's easy to say, and someone who's real eager and has no reason not to trust a person may skip that step. But for me, that is a big lesson new authors should take from this: Do Not Pay ANYTHING until you've seen a written agreement/contract and are comfortable with the terms.

It's a bit different if you did this due diligence and the contract looked good and then you discovered after the fact that all was not as it seemed. The real possibility of that happening is all the more reason to be sure you have something in writing to start with so that if there are problems later on, you have evidence. Watch Judge Judy, people! :o Invariably the side that loses is the one who says "I don't have it with me." And Judy says, "Where did you think you were coming today?" Of course, the side who wins is the one who has the text messages from the other saying "I promise to pay you back." ::)

This is an excellent point and one I'd be a hypocrite to say I haven't done before (albeit thankfully in much smaller denominations).  A lot us want to primarily be writers or publishers. There's no real interest in the boring business side of things.  However, we do ourselves no favors by going down this path because we ARE a business and will be held accountable as such if things go awry.  As much as I would love to live in a world where a handshake was all that was needed to seal the deal between two honorable parties, the reality is much much different. 

A lot of us spend a great deal of time buying books, attending classes etc on improving our writing and/or marketing, but it would also greatly benefit us to spend some time learning the ins and outs of running a business (vs. the perils of learning by trial and error).  Buy books on this, attend meetings, find your local chapter of the Small Business Association and see if you can find someone willing to mentor you on the basics.  It's the side of what we do that seems to be most often be neglected, but ultimately is no less important than anything else we do to further our craft.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Ann in Arlington on May 02, 2017, 05:54:36 AM
The T&C were changed on some people, several times. Christina has already explained how this was done. In my personal case, and it was piddly and minor, but there was no line in the T&C that said "Thou shalt send an email to your email list when I dictate within five minutes of my saying that you should." Problem was, I'd just sent an email and simply asked if I could send a bit later. Was refunded my money on the spot and was made persona non-grata for doing nothing more than that. I was lucky. I "only" lost a number of friends I wished I could have kept.  On second thoughts, I really wish I could have kept some of them.

I laugh about it, but seriously, that's the tone. People see this and want out, often long before they get an opportunity to get into trouble themselves, and before the sets go live. If these people were actually refunded as any sane business would (since the preorders hadn't even gone live for some of them) a lot of this anger in this thread would not have happened.

About skirting the Amazon T&C, no one who joins has a clue that this happens. Very few people ever find out, even the ones who are in the sets. The screenshots in that post come from a super sekrit course where you can learn all the ways to do this kind of stuff. Ever wondered why the sets are never uploaded in the organiser's name? Because if you gift copies of other people's books, it counts as full sale.

Well, as I said, if you agree to something and then the terms change . . . . having written record of what you agreed to is critical. It's unfortunate, but all you can control is how you behave. It is appropriate to shine a light on behavior that does not appear to be professional.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: PhoenixS on May 02, 2017, 05:56:18 AM
First, another thank you to the mods for keeping this thread open.

Second, just to note that while there are many who have been/continue to be afraid to speak out publicly, not all have been silent. I know several people who have approached Amazon directly with their concerns.

Third, to Evenstar's concerns about the bolded copy in the T&Cs in her post, yes, many of Rebecca's box sets have been violating the critical issues section. Some of her boxes have been removed because of it as have other organizers' boxes following that example. As has been pointed out elsewhere, the gamble is in the timing. All Rebecca needs is that one-week window right after release to not get caught.

Fourth, regarding the Paypal account(s)... my understanding (and I'm not privy to any of Rebecca's closed-wall groups so she can jump in her to correct me, if needed, but this is gleaned from what I've seen in her own public posts on the subject) is that she maintains several PP accounts. The explanation I've seen is that this helps her track the money better -- which money goes to which box type of thing.

On the face of it, that sounds innocuous enough. For someone on the up-and-up, that could indeed be nothing more than good accounting practices, despite the fact that Paypal allows an individual to have only one personal account and one business account.

What's wrong with having multiple business accounts? PayPal will send a 1099K to accounts with over 200 transactions totaling over $20K. Theoretically, if someone has, say, 10 box sets with 22 authors each who are paying $500 each, if that all came in on one account, that's 220 transactions totaling  $110,000. That will trigger a 1099K. But if each box set is its own account, then each account only generates 22 transactions totaling $11,000. No 1099K. And for boxes with a $2K buy-in, even though that total amount is $44K and over the $20K threshold, the number of transactions is only 22 and will not trigger a 1099K.

So the potential at least for tax fraud is high in a situation with multiple accounts.

[ETA: To my knowledge, F&F transactions don't trigger a 1099K regardless.]
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Patty Jansen on May 02, 2017, 05:56:33 AM
Well, as I said, if you agree to something and then the terms change . . . . having written record of what you agreed to is critical. It's unfortunate, but all you can control is how you behave. It is appropriate to shine a light on behavior that does not appear to be professional.


Which is why many of us are happy that the thread hasn't been shut down before all this could be discussed. So thank you.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on May 02, 2017, 06:20:14 AM
Which is why many of us are happy that the thread hasn't been shut down before all this could be discussed. So thank you.

There is so much fear of retaliation... without public discussion, so many people are afraid to put their business in the crosshairs for sabotage.    You shouldn't have to risk your social media presence or your Amazon account just because you were trying to market your books.

No one should have to enter the Twilight Zone of being attacked simply for trying to get their books in front of readers- and the fact that people are finding out that they are not getting what they paid for until after they've sent their money in is a real "boiling the frog" scenario.   

People sign up in good faith but each thing they are asked to do (send PayPal funds that skirt the IRS, give out gift copies, downvote another author's book or unfriend them) ties them into the cult mentality a little more and makes it harder to speak out. 

Because you should have known better, they are told.   You got yourself into this mess and now you are part of it.

That's ridiculous.  Writing and publishing and promoting are businesses, not secret clubs.  I swear some of the stories of these people ought to be made into books because it is truly the innocent being sucked into an organization that they can't get out of without damaging themselves.

Thank you for this thread.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on May 02, 2017, 06:32:23 AM
The problem with "well, they should have known better" is it borders on victim-blaming. I haven't read the contracts used in these situations, but I have read contracts in plenty of other situations that were really confusing. It's very easy to say, "well, you read the contract and it was up to you to understand it," but another question should be, why is the person writing that contract stipulating these terms? Why are they presenting them in language purposefully designed to be muddy?

Yeah, the person signing the contract should have been more aware. But I don't believe that 100% excuses the person writing these contracts.

And as Myra pointed out, that kind of talk also scares people out of sharing their stories so other writers can learn from their mistakes.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 02, 2017, 06:46:34 AM
I don't think it is meant as victim blaming or as an excuse for the vendor; I think it is meant as a caution to people reading this thread to assist them in evaluating services in the future.  Members have posted here that, in hindsight, they indeed should have known better.  Let's leave it at that and not lose the focus on answering questions that have been asked concerning the business practices in question, thanks.

Betsy
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on May 02, 2017, 06:48:34 AM
The problem with "well, they should have known better" is it borders on victim-blaming. I haven't read the contracts used in these situations, but I have read contracts in plenty of other situations that were really confusing. It's very easy to say, "well, you read the contract and it was up to you to understand it," but another question should be, why is the person writing that contract stipulating these terms? Why are they presenting them in language purposefully designed to be muddy?

Yeah, the person signing the contract should have been more aware. But I don't believe that 100% excuses the person writing these contracts.

And as Myra pointed out, that kind of talk also scares people out of sharing their stories so other writers can learn from their mistakes.

These are good points. In addition, people make mistakes, and I give a lot of credit to people who were behaving in a certain way and then walk their way back from it, saying, "You know, I got stuck in the quagmire in part due to my own mistakes, and now I'm going to try to extract myself." Too often, the natural tendency of most of us (myself included) is to double down, to justify, to wade ever deeper until we're drowning in our mistakes.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: lincolnjcole on May 02, 2017, 06:57:13 AM
What's crazy is a friend of mine had Amazon threaten to close her account for gifting one book to a friend who, unrequested, then left a review.  The email from Amazon warned her they "don't tolerate authors trying to manipulate ranks."

With a single gifted copy.

And yet a promo organizer buys a spot on the lists with thousands of gifted copies and claims to get a special call from an Amazon executives on Sunday telling her how much they love her and would never think of doing anything to hurt her?

It makes not one bit of sense.  Not even a little.

I can attest to this, but not quite with the same conclusion as you drew. A friend of mine was targeted for a similar letter from Amazon for trying to 'game' the system when friends and family attempted to post reviews on his book. He has 13 reviews total after several months with a number of copies sold.

However, Amazon is notorious for being willing to back the big players. They send letters like this to small players so they can brag about 'regulating' and protecting their system to keep a fair playing field, and then look the other way when big players do it (because the big players bring in tons of money). In the last few years and especially months Amazon has started instituting new systems designed to punish and harm indie authors for the benefit of traditional publishers, but this shouldn't surprise anyone: just like in politics, the lobbyists focus on helping the minority rather than the majority and most people are left out in the cold.

In this particular case, an indie system was developed to more or less 'cheat' to bring in huge amounts of money and prestige, and it raises the bar of entry for other indie authors who want to compete. It's essentially a natural evolution of the game where the cost of entry goes up, benefits go down, and the elite separate themselves from the rest of the back through semi-shady tactics. History can and will be rewritten by the victors.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 06:57:46 AM
I have dealt with contracts in a professional capacity for the past 30 years (no, I'm not a lawyer). Currently, I'm locked in litigation because I signed a poorly-written contract in my personal life 12 years ago. Stupid happens. Try to keep it to a minimum.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 02, 2017, 07:06:15 AM

In this particular case, an indie system was developed to more or less 'cheat' to bring in huge amounts of money and prestige, and it raises the bar of entry for other indie authors who want to compete. It's essentially a natural evolution of the game where the cost of entry goes up, benefits go down, and the elite separate themselves from the rest of the back through semi-shady tactics. History can and will be rewritten by the victors.

Hence why posts like this and others.  Amazon can and has been known to act if something is proven to be an issue that isn't going away.  Case in point that KU bonus a lot of us got some months back from them finally acting on the various page reads scams going on.  One could argue their reasons for doing so, but I'd like to think multiple voices in the industry putting pressure on them to act helped.

There is also the customer to think about, who I think we can all agree is Amazon's top priority always.  It's been discussed here some items which are very much potential customer / product issues:  half-filled box sets with links to instafreebie to download the rest, box sets which never list the actual books within them - allowing different ones be swapped in and out, etc.  All of these are potential issues which their customer care has to deal with - and have no doubt they will rule in favor of the customer.

It's not an easy fight, but pushing to make sure Amazon enforces their TOS fairly and doesn't tolerate black hat tactics to defraud customers (or their other vendors) is a fight where we can make a difference.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 07:09:25 AM
This is the information that was added to the back of the book: (the link to instaFreebie has since been removed) From the response to a negative review HERE on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/review/R2BEMRASLJ9OIW/ref=cm_cr_rev_detmd_pl?ie=UTF8&asin=B01KJNAGHE&cdForum=Fx3PQ1RNU8PVK99&cdMsgID=Mx1MU47ZU4XXK48&cdMsgNo=5&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx96QG60A3R34&store=digital-text#Mx1MU47ZU4XXK48)
This absolutely floors me. I don't think anything else needs to be said.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 02, 2017, 07:14:15 AM
This absolutely floors me. I don't think anything else needs to be said.

Me too. There's a level of arrogance in assuming that anyone would be okay with this.  The whole point of Amazon is one click and it's on my kindle.  Not everyone wants to go through other steps and - more importantly - not everyone is savvy enough to know what the heck an instafreebie even is or how to use it.  For all readers know it's some pirate site (yes, we know it's not, but think of someone not in our industry). 

I liken this to me purchasing a set of tools, only to find half missing and I need to send in a business reply card to claim the rest.  Yes, they might be free, but that's not what I - the customer - signed up for.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: she-la-ti-da on May 02, 2017, 07:23:01 AM
I don't think it is meant as victim blaming or as an excuse for the vendor; I think it is meant as a caution to people reading this thread to assist them in evaluating services in the future.  Members have posted here that, in hindsight, they indeed should have known better.  Let's leave it at that and not lose the focus on answering questions that have been asked concerning the business practices in question, thanks.

Betsy

That may have been what was meant, but that wasn't how I read it, and it seems I wasn't the only one. People make mistakes, they trust people they shouldn't. If there's no safe place for them to share what happened, then the bad acts continue to go on.

Due to the person in question's bad acts, I have been affected myself, and I've never done business with her. I'd like to have more evidence presented, so thanks for keeping the thread open. I only wish I could see the comments on that linked site, but it cuts off after the first one for me. :(
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AYClaudy on May 02, 2017, 07:47:11 AM
This entire thread has been eye opening to me and really made me think about my business and long term goals in a new way. Thank you to all who are discussing so openly.

I feel like I'm in a business ethics course all over again, and I'd love to hear more thoughts about gifting practices.

While gifting enough copies to hit a list is (in my mind) clearly wrong, there seems to be a lot of gray areas leading up to this or around the practice of gifting in general.

I'm not connected to this in any way, but it's raised several questions about what I thought was standard practices-- or at least rampant practices. 

If you are in KU my take on the TOS is that the only way to give away copies of your book (as a contest, raffle, giveaway) is through direct gifting. But even outside of KU, I would think there are definite advantages for the reader and the author to gifting through Amazon. While you are not supposed to do it to alter rank, that is a side effect of running giveaways for promotion. So at what point or what volume of giveaways does this become wrong?

I can understand Amazon's position of allowing it since it is really just gift cards for the book's amount, and the reader could use it for anything they wanted. So maybe that's where it becomes wrong, then requiring it to be used within a given time frame to ensure it boosts your rank?

I'm honestly just curious of where other people's lines are about this and IF amazon were to put a limit on it, what would/ should that limit be?

(Just to clarify, I have gifted copies of my books as part of author takeovers and release week giveaways for promotion, but never large quantities that would do much for ranking, maybe 10 at the most at a given time, and never with requirements for claiming the prize. Although I can't lie it's been tempting when the rank is teetering and about to break 100, but then I actually refrained from any giveaways because I wanted to see how high I could go from actual sales. Just the way my ego works  :D)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Susanne123 on May 02, 2017, 08:32:33 AM
As someone who has not yet published, I'd like to thank so many experienced authors for stepping up and taking the time to educate us. I know it takes time from your writing and I do appreciate this thread. My head is spinning.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 08:36:40 AM
As someone who has not yet published, I'd like to thank so many experienced authors for stepping up and taking the time to educate us. I know it takes time from your writing and I do appreciate this thread. My head is spinning.
It doesn't have to be this complicated. Most people can have an entire career without any of this kind of drama. Really.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: C. Gockel on May 02, 2017, 08:48:00 AM
Quote
It doesn't have to be this complicated. Most people can have an entire career without any of this kind of drama. Really.

This.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on May 02, 2017, 08:48:20 AM
In regards to gifting through the vendor: I do not do this.

Why?

In my experience, and I DO give my readers ample opportunities to get my books for free both chapter by chapter and at the end as a PDF or other file download, it is better to handle the gifting stuff yourself. Note, I am not gifting in order to make  list or boost my sales rank, if those are your goals, and we've covered how they really shouldn't be your goals, but if they are, this system won't work for you.

Giving readers free books is not unethical. Like I said, I do it all the time. I prefer to give my readers the files to download so that #1 I can see who is savvy enough to do so and therefore more likely to leave me an honest review. I only ever ask for honest reviews, and for the most part those are 3-5 stars and I'm fine with that. Reviews are for readers. :)

#2, if I am handling the gifting, I have their email address that I know works. This is important, because as we all know, many of us have Amazon accounts with email addresses we rarely check unless we have to. We've had the Amazon account for going on 10+ years, so's the email address, we all know how functional that email address is likely to be . . .

#3 and this is going to be WHOA, AMAZING . . . many of my readers who get a FREE copy from me go BUY the book for themselves. I gave them the book free and they appreciate that, but then they go to the store to buy a copy because they want to own it, too. This means that my free systems don't impact my ability to make a living wage at this.

I do realize this method won't help anyone make a USAToday Bestseller List, nor does it help you debut a book #1 in a heavily competitive category. But I always say rank doesn't pay the bills . . . this is an example of a long-tail, long-career type system to build true fans vs. incetivizing downloads.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 02, 2017, 08:54:07 AM
I do realize this method won't help anyone make a USAToday Bestseller List, nor does it help you debut a book #1 in a heavily competitive category. But I always say rank doesn't pay the bills . . . this is an example of a long-tail, long-career type system to build true fans vs. incetivizing downloads.

Doing it this way you're potentially building a relationship with the reader.  A loyal reader is going to ultimately be far more beneficial to your business than a quick bump in rank. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 02, 2017, 08:54:14 AM
#3 and this is going to be WHOA, AMAZING . . . many of my readers who get a FREE copy from me go BUY the book for themselves. I gave them the book free and they appreciate that, but then they go to the store to buy a copy because they want to own it, too. This means that my free systems don't impact my ability to make a living wage at this.

As a reader, I've done this--more with KU reads than others (since one I have a book in my permanent Kindle library, I don't really know whether it as free or not).  But if I fall for an author  :) I want the books to be mine whether I'm in KU or not.  I want it to be a long-term relationship, not an office romance.

Betsy
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: EB on May 02, 2017, 09:06:21 AM
There is so much fear of retaliation... without public discussion, so many people are afraid to put their business in the crosshairs for sabotage.   

Yes. That's the sad part of it all. It is not fun to be on the other end of a targeted hate campaign. Discussion about this issue is at least one positive thing to come out of it. :(
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 09:08:07 AM
While I take your point and are generally in agreement with you, I'm not sure about the bit of your post I bolded. It seems to me, that they should NOT have paid until they had seen the T&C. Obviously, that's easy to say, and someone who's real eager and has no reason not to trust a person may skip that step. But for me, that is a big lesson new authors should take from this: Do Not Pay ANYTHING until you've seen a written agreement/contract and are comfortable with the terms.

It's a bit different if you did this due diligence and the contract looked good and then you discovered after the fact that all was not as it seemed. The real possibility of that happening is all the more reason to be sure you have something in writing to start with so that if there are problems later on, you have evidence. Watch Judge Judy, people! :o Invariably the side that loses is the one who says "I don't have it with me." And Judy says, "Where did you think you were coming today?" Of course, the side who wins is the one who has the text messages from the other saying "I promise to pay you back." ::)

I agree 100% that I shouldn't have sent money before seeing a contract. However in the case of the three sets I as in, second contracts (with different terms) were later forced upon participants. At that point, it's simply not legal to keep the participant's money unless they sign the new contract.

I have the proof that all of this happened exactly as I've stated--multiple lawyers who have reviewed my documentation agree that this is a cut dry case--the monies are owed to me. That doesn't negate the fact that thus far she has refused to do so.

I first requested my money back in January. At the time, I hadn't consulted an attorney and asked for refunds because of the change in terms not feeling like a good fit. I kept it professional and knew to tread lightly having witnessed her public retaliatory tactics. (Had I seen any of the before I'd paid, I never would have; I find bullying abhorrent.) She responded that there were no refunds and proceeded to post on Facebook a long rant about how I was "letting 70 authors down" and she hoped I decide to be a "woman of my word."

I mean, honestly--who conducts business this way? But it is effective--someone who only has $500 in the game who wants out, decides instead to keep their head low, go through with their set and get away. I can't tell you the amount of messages I received to that effect after she first went after me. "I'm so sorry you're going through this--I want out too, but I'm scared of the 1-star review brigade" etc.

Someone like myself who is owed thousands has to make a choice--is it worth it to hire a lawyer? If the demand letter goes unanswered is it worth it to go to court?

Not just because even if you prevail some/most of your award will go to the attorney, but because I know from firsthand experience the lengths Rebecca will go to in order to assassinate a person's character. The attempt this past Sunday was the most recent and especially vicious, defamatory, and easily proven for the lies they are. It's that post that has forced my hand on several fronts, because no one accuses me of plagiarism or attacks my character without answering for it. At this point, I'm willing to go in the hole if necessary, that is how repugnant of an attack it was.

But it's that exact behavior that keeps others from speaking up, and it's that fear of retaliation that is still keeping folks silently PM-ing me support and screen shots.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 09:20:08 AM

Whether or not anyone wants to get involved with tactics that skirt the edges of the Amazon T&C is up to them, but at least now it's become clear what goes on and what the risks are.


Exactly this. I have no wish to tell others what they should or shouldn't do. But like Nick said earlier, if I'd known what a Book Blast was, I wouldn't have booked one. For those how see how it works and see that it could be flagged for rank manipulation and still decide it's worth the risk, they should book the service.

Likewise, if any of the other tactics in this thread are a good fit for a person's personal integrity, they should continue to do business with Rebecca and GenreCrave. It's transparency I want, so that people can make an informed choice.

I'm also grateful for the thread remaining open. Thanks, mods :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 02, 2017, 09:21:08 AM

Not just because even if you prevail some/most of your award will go to the attorney, but because I know from firsthand experience the lengths Rebecca will go to in order to assassinate a person's character. The attempt this past Sunday was the most recent and especially vicious, defamatory, and easily proven for the lies they are. It's that post that has forced my hand on several fronts, because no one accuses me of plagiarism or attacks my character without answering for it. At this point, I'm willing to go in the hole if necessary, that is how repugnant of an attack it was.

But it's that exact behavior that keeps others from speaking up, and it's that fear of retaliation that is still keeping folks silently PM-ing me support and screen shots.


That's why I'm glad this forum has been left open.  It's public.  No behind closed doors shenanigans.  Anyone speaking up here and then being retaliated against - well, first off, hopefully it doesn't happen.  But, if it does, you 1) have a potential record to show to Amazon to correlate against any 1 star deluges and 2) I'd like to think there's enough of us here who can both give support to anyone being bullied as well as offer any help or advice we can give on how to deal with it.  There's a good group here on kboards and I think most of us don't want to see that happen to anybody. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on May 02, 2017, 09:21:51 AM
While I take your point and are generally in agreement with you, I'm not sure about the bit of your post I bolded. It seems to me, that they should NOT have paid until they had seen the T&C. Obviously, that's easy to say, and someone who's real eager and has no reason not to trust a person may skip that step. But for me, that is a big lesson new authors should take from this: Do Not Pay ANYTHING until you've seen a written agreement/contract and are comfortable with the terms.

It's a bit different if you did this due diligence and the contract looked good and then you discovered after the fact that all was not as it seemed. The real possibility of that happening is all the more reason to be sure you have something in writing to start with so that if there are problems later on, you have evidence. Watch Judge Judy, people! :o Invariably the side that loses is the one who says "I don't have it with me." And Judy says, "Where did you think you were coming today?" Of course, the side who wins is the one who has the text messages from the other saying "I promise to pay you back." ::)
Here in the real world, we don't have access to Judge Judy. Going to court is ruinously expensive. If you've lost five hundred, two thousand dollars? Just gift it to a lawyer of your acquaintance. Maybe she'll buy you a bottle of wine with it, and you can drown your sorrows.

Not to mention the flying monkeys that would descend on you. That's scarier than losing the money. Most people feel forced to swallow their loss and walk away, or try to get out by pleading ill health, family emergency, etc.

I don't have personal experiences. I don't cross promo. I've seen lots of screen shots, though, and also the open part of the Facebook page before I was blocked. It gets ugly.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 09:25:45 AM
That's why I'm glad this forum has been left open.  It's public.  No behind closed doors shenanigans.  Anyone speaking up here and then being retaliated against - well, first off, hopefully it doesn't happen.  But, if it does, you 1) have a potential record to show to Amazon to correlate against any 1 star deluges and 2) I'd like to think there's enough of us here who can both support anyone being bullied as well as offer any help or advice we can give on how to deal with it.  There's a good group here on kboards and I think most of us don't want to see that happen to anybody. 

Thanks, Rick. <3

The support I've been getting is amazing. The public support is the most helpful, but even the private support is comforting. So many people have been scared for so long. For me it wasn't so much fear as--what is this worth to me? I have a life to live and books to write. I can see why many prefer to remain silent but I hope that more will speak up.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Cassie Leigh on May 02, 2017, 09:27:06 AM
...the 1-star review brigade" etc.

You know, this hasn't come up here explicitly yet, but I actually decided I wasn't comfortable working with her (and walked away from some advertising I'd already paid for) because of a situation with another author that she broadcast all over her FB page and that resulted in a number of her followers going and leaving one-star reviews on that author's page based on just her say-so about what had happened. (Unfortunately, discussion of that matter wasn't allowed on Kboards and was shut down almost immediately even though it would've been a productive conversation to have.)

I almost never review books, but for those who do, IMO, any review you leave should be a legitimate review of that author's work.  Leaving reviews based on someone else's opinion of the book (and this is a wider issue than just this situation), is not okay.  And doing so because of someone else's opinion of the author is even worse.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Ann in Arlington on May 02, 2017, 09:37:11 AM
Me too. There's a level of arrogance in assuming that anyone would be okay with this.  The whole point of Amazon is one click and it's on my kindle.  Not everyone wants to go through other steps and - more importantly - not everyone is savvy enough to know what the heck an instafreebie even is or how to use it.  For all readers know it's some pirate site (yes, we know it's not, but think of someone not in our industry). 

I liken this to me purchasing a set of tools, only to find half missing and I need to send in a business reply card to claim the rest.  Yes, they might be free, but that's not what I - the customer - signed up for.

FWIW, if I bought a book and got halfway through and saw that, to finish it, I had to download it via a link, I'd be returning the book to Amazon and complaining loudly. Even if past the 7 days I'd be contacting them and demand my money back. Yes, even if it was only 99 cents. AND, I'd report it via the link on the book page. And, I might even leave a non-positive review.

I get that we're talking about anthology type things, but still: if I expected 10 shorts and only got 5, clearly I did not get what I paid for.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Perry Constantine on May 02, 2017, 09:42:30 AM
The 1-star brigade is troubling, especially because of the tacit endorsement of this activity. I could be wrong, but I have never seen an instance of her telling her followers not to do that or chastising those who have done it.

I had a similar issue early in my career. Not exactly the same, but similar. When I published one of my early books, I sent it to a review site. The review that was posted was very critical, but the criticism was fair. At the time I didn't know any better, so I posted a link to the review on my blog at the time, thanked the reviewer for reading and commenting, and said I'd consider what he said.

Then I went about my day and when I got home, I found out several of my fans had spammed the reviewers site with insulting comments. I was absolutely disgusted and I immediately posted a blog entry issuing a public apology to the reviewer and urging my fans that this kind of behavior is completely unacceptable and it's not the kind of support I want.

The reviewer appreciated what I did and has actually become a good friend of mine since then. And that's the way I think an ethical author should address these kinds of things. If she's really not endorsing the 1-star brigade, she should call them out.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Ann in Arlington on May 02, 2017, 09:43:23 AM
As a reader, I've done this--more with KU reads than others (since one I have a book in my permanent Kindle library, I don't really know whether it as free or not).  But if I fall for an author  :) I want the books to be mine whether I'm in KU or not.  I want it to be a long-term relationship, not an office romance.

Betsy

If I get a free book as a "try it, you might like it" I do 'own' the book -- as much as I would if I bought and paid for it.

What that free book does for me is let me have a taste -- like at Costco -- and if I like it, I buy the mega pack of whatever they're selling. I don't go back and try to pay the person for the sample. ;)

KU is different --  so, yeah, if you want to have a copy to keep without having to borrow when you want to re-read, you'd have to buy it.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Ann in Arlington on May 02, 2017, 09:46:14 AM
I agree 100% that I shouldn't have sent money before seeing a contract. However in the case of the three sets I as in, second contracts (with different terms) were later forced upon participants. At that point, it's simply not legal to keep the participant's money unless they sign the new contract.

I have the proof that all of this happened exactly as I've stated--multiple lawyers who have reviewed my documentation agree that this is a cut dry case--the monies are owed to me. That doesn't negate the fact that thus far she has refused to do so.

I first requested my money back in January. At the time, I hadn't consulted an attorney and asked for refunds because of the change in terms not feeling like a good fit. I kept it professional and knew to tread lightly having witnessed her public retaliatory tactics. (Had I seen any of the before I'd paid, I never would have; I find bullying abhorrent.) She responded that there were no refunds and proceeded to post on Facebook a long rant about how I was "letting 70 authors down" and she hoped I decide to be a "woman of my word."

I mean, honestly--who conducts business this way? But it is effective--someone who only has $500 in the game who wants out, decides instead to keep their head low, go through with their set and get away. I can't tell you the amount of messages I received to that effect after she first went after me. "I'm so sorry you're going through this--I want out too, but I'm scared of the 1-star review brigade" etc.

Someone like myself who is owed thousands has to make a choice--is it worth it to hire a lawyer? If the demand letter goes unanswered is it worth it to go to court?

Not just because even if you prevail some/most of your award will go to the attorney, but because I know from firsthand experience the lengths Rebecca will go to in order to assassinate a person's character. The attempt this past Sunday was the most recent and especially vicious, defamatory, and easily proven for the lies they are. It's that post that has forced my hand on several fronts, because no one accuses me of plagiarism or attacks my character without answering for it. At this point, I'm willing to go in the hole if necessary, that is how repugnant of an attack it was.

But it's that exact behavior that keeps others from speaking up, and it's that fear of retaliation that is still keeping folks silently PM-ing me support and screen shots.


And I agree: if the terms change AFTER you've agreed to something -- that's not legitimate business practice and you have the right to back out and for the other party to make you whole.

I totally get that there may be repercussions to exerting that right -- legal fees, professional retaliation.

Again, my point is only that this makes it that much MORE important for rookies to research everything and be sure the people they're dealing with are above board in their business dealings.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Ann in Arlington on May 02, 2017, 09:48:43 AM
Here in the real world, we don't have access to Judge Judy. Going to court is ruinously expensive. If you've lost five hundred, two thousand dollars? Just gift it to a lawyer of your acquaintance. Maybe she'll buy you a bottle of wine with it, and you can drown your sorrows.

Not to mention the flying monkeys that would descend on you. That's scarier than losing the money. Most people feel forced to swallow their loss and walk away, or try to get out by pleading ill health, family emergency, etc.

I don't have personal experiences. I don't cross promo. I've seen lots of screen shots, though, and also the open part of the Facebook page before I was blocked. It gets ugly.


Sorry -- my Judge Judy reference was only meant to be a way of emphasizing to have things in writing in case it goes sideways.

I do get, as I've mentioned, that exercising your rights is sometimes not worth the aggravation and cost.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: HopelessFanatic on May 02, 2017, 09:50:23 AM
In regards to gifting through the vendor: I do not do this.

Why?

In my experience, and I DO give my readers ample opportunities to get my books for free both chapter by chapter and at the end as a PDF or other file download, it is better to handle the gifting stuff yourself. Note, I am not gifting in order to make  list or boost my sales rank, if those are your goals, and we've covered how they really shouldn't be your goals, but if they are, this system won't work for you.

Giving readers free books is not unethical. Like I said, I do it all the time. I prefer to give my readers the files to download so that #1 I can see who is savvy enough to do so and therefore more likely to leave me an honest review. I only ever ask for honest reviews, and for the most part those are 3-5 stars and I'm fine with that. Reviews are for readers. :)

#2, if I am handling the gifting, I have their email address that I know works. This is important, because as we all know, many of us have Amazon accounts with email addresses we rarely check unless we have to. We've had the Amazon account for going on 10+ years, so's the email address, we all know how functional that email address is likely to be . . .

#3 and this is going to be WHOA, AMAZING . . . many of my readers who get a FREE copy from me go BUY the book for themselves. I gave them the book free and they appreciate that, but then they go to the store to buy a copy because they want to own it, too. This means that my free systems don't impact my ability to make a living wage at this.

I do realize this method won't help anyone make a USAToday Bestseller List, nor does it help you debut a book #1 in a heavily competitive category. But I always say rank doesn't pay the bills . . . this is an example of a long-tail, long-career type system to build true fans vs. incetivizing downloads.

If I weren't exclusive with Amazon, this is how I would handle gifting/giving free copies. However, it's my understanding that by being in Select/exclusive it is against Amazon's TOS to give even free copies. Last thing I want to do is upset the Zon, so I'm trying to figure out the best way to handle things. Of course, it was my decision to be exclusive so I have to work within their guidelines.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on May 02, 2017, 09:52:41 AM
Doing it this way you're potentially building a relationship with the reader.  A loyal reader is going to ultimately be far more beneficial to your business than a quick bump in rank. 

Although it seems like a fair number of people believe that the quick way to get rich in this business is to collect large sums of money from a small number of writers, rather than small sums of money from a large number of readers.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on May 02, 2017, 09:55:33 AM
Someone like myself who is owed thousands has to make a choice--is it worth it to hire a lawyer? If the demand letter goes unanswered is it worth it to go to court?

This is exactly the sort of case where a GoFundMe campaign would be a legitimate way to help defray costs. Just putting that out there.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 09:58:12 AM
If I weren't exclusive with Amazon, this is how I would handle gifting/giving free copies. However, it's my understanding that by being in Select/exclusive it is against Amazon's TOS to give even free copies. Last thing I want to do is upset the Zon, so I'm trying to figure out the best way to handle things. Of course, it was my decision to be exclusive so I have to work within their guidelines.
You are allowed to provide a free copy to reviewers and for other professional promotional businesses. Note I didn't say a thousand free copies. ARCs have always been a part of publishing.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: SevenDays on May 02, 2017, 10:03:27 AM

This is the information that was added to the back of the book: (the link to instaFreebie has since been removed) From the response to a negative review HERE on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/review/R2BEMRASLJ9OIW/ref=cm_cr_rev_detmd_pl?ie=UTF8&asin=B01KJNAGHE&cdForum=Fx3PQ1RNU8PVK99&cdMsgID=Mx1MU47ZU4XXK48&cdMsgNo=5&cdPage=1&cdSort=oldest&cdThread=Tx96QG60A3R34&store=digital-text#Mx1MU47ZU4XXK48)

Holy hell.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AYClaudy on May 02, 2017, 10:05:00 AM
If I weren't exclusive with Amazon, this is how I would handle gifting/giving free copies. However, it's my understanding that by being in Select/exclusive it is against Amazon's TOS to give even free copies. Last thing I want to do is upset the Zon, so I'm trying to figure out the best way to handle things. Of course, it was my decision to be exclusive so I have to work within their guidelines.

That's my understanding as well. Which then goes against their rank manipulation since even though that's not the intention when I gift, it is a side effect, even just minor.  But if I wasn't in KU, I'd probably use bookfunnel or something of the sort for giveaways.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Bill Hiatt on May 02, 2017, 10:09:26 AM
In regards to gifting through the vendor: I do not do this.

Why?

In my experience, and I DO give my readers ample opportunities to get my books for free both chapter by chapter and at the end as a PDF or other file download, it is better to handle the gifting stuff yourself. Note, I am not gifting in order to make  list or boost my sales rank, if those are your goals, and we've covered how they really shouldn't be your goals, but if they are, this system won't work for you.

Giving readers free books is not unethical. Like I said, I do it all the time. I prefer to give my readers the files to download so that #1 I can see who is savvy enough to do so and therefore more likely to leave me an honest review. I only ever ask for honest reviews, and for the most part those are 3-5 stars and I'm fine with that. Reviews are for readers. :)

#2, if I am handling the gifting, I have their email address that I know works. This is important, because as we all know, many of us have Amazon accounts with email addresses we rarely check unless we have to. We've had the Amazon account for going on 10+ years, so's the email address, we all know how functional that email address is likely to be . . .

#3 and this is going to be WHOA, AMAZING . . . many of my readers who get a FREE copy from me go BUY the book for themselves. I gave them the book free and they appreciate that, but then they go to the store to buy a copy because they want to own it, too. This means that my free systems don't impact my ability to make a living wage at this.

I do realize this method won't help anyone make a USAToday Bestseller List, nor does it help you debut a book #1 in a heavily competitive category. But I always say rank doesn't pay the bills . . . this is an example of a long-tail, long-career type system to build true fans vs. incetivizing downloads.
Interesting! My take is a little different.

Like AYClaudy, I started giving reviewers free copies through Amazon gifting because I was a little concerned about Select guidelines. I know some other authors have received the answer from customer service that giving a few free copies to reviewers was not a violation of the Select TOS, but Amazon is not always consistent, so I figured I'd err on the side of caution. This language comes from Amazon's guidelines, though I don't remember exactly where: "You may not intentionally manipulate your products' rankings, including by offering an excessive number of free...products, in exchange for a review." That sounds as if Amazon sees gifting a few books to reviewers as OK, though what excessive means could well be questioned. In general, a small number of gifted copies aren't going to have much effect on ranking, especially if they tend to happen one at a time over a long period. An Amazon ebook giveaway, which is part of Amazon's own system, would produce a more immediate and noticeable bump. Personally, I was never trying to manipulate my rank, and I'd be fine with a policy that didn't count gifted copies or that had a separate button that said "gift a review copy" that didn't count in ranking.

With regard to #1, I'm not seeing the link between savvyness and honesty. I've known people who were very honest but not tech savvy enough to sideload a file to their Kindle. Anyway, I always felt that giving a reviewer the same experience as a purchaser avoided the risk that the reviewer would be annoyed by problems getting the file sideloaded and perhaps unconsciously have a more negative attitude toward the book.

With regard to #2, I think that varies a lot. Most of the people I know use their regular email address with their Amazon account. However, if someone didn't, I'd assume if they knew a review copy was coming, they'd check their Amazon email.

With regard to #3, I can't argue with that one. Clearly those people are serious fans!


Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Boyd on May 02, 2017, 10:10:29 AM
That's my understanding as well. Which then goes against their rank manipulation since even though that's not the intention when I gift, it is a side effect, even just minor.  But if I wasn't in KU, I'd probably use bookfunnel or something of the sort for giveaways.


AFAIK, gifting from your own account (the one the book is published under) does not count towards rank, so it'd be safe from rank manipulation stuff thingy things.  If it's gifted from another account that did not publish the book, then it does count toward rank.  I could be wrong, but this is my understanding of how it works.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 10:12:58 AM

Personally, I think they should just remove the ranking benefit of gifted copies. With giveaways through Amazon, each giveaway only counts as one sale no matter how many copies are a part of the giveaway, and it has no effect on rank.  I've learned the hard way to double check the TOS myself, rather than take someone's word that something is fine. Gotta protect my own booty.

As for the person this thread is about, I can only speak to my own experiences. Business wise, I've never been asked to do something against TOS or unethical/immoral. I wasn't part of the box sets that are being talked about in this thread. I am a part of a few box sets (with this organizer and others), but none of this has been asked of me. It was clear upon signing the contract that my contribution has to be exclusive, and even in the pre-order file the story can't be in KU. My reasons for being in box sets/anthologies has nothing to do with making a list. My goals are exposure and author networking, and I have no desire to do anything that would risk my Amazon account.

Outside of business, as a friend, Rebecca has always gone above and beyond in her support, with no gain for herself. As someone who has only had positive experiences, as well as having received some rather ugly PMs from those speaking against her (nobody on Kboards and I'm not naming names because that isn't cool), its hard to stomach everything that's been going on. I can only speak to my own experience, everything else would be hearsay or rumor. Author bullying and witch hunts are ugly and unacceptable no matter who is doing it or their reasons why. I won't participate in it regardless of my relationship with whoever is asking. No one deserves to be one-starred, or harassed, or have people turned against them.



Hi, Felicia. Thanks for speaking about your experiences with Rebecca being positive. All sides to a story are important so people can make a decision about who they do business with.

In regards to the giveaway not affecting rank: I've heard this also; however, I'm confused about something. I've seen giveaways run with only one book as the prize, and I believe, only one winner. Meaning, anyone who enters, wins. If that doesn't affect rank, what's the advantage?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 10:16:08 AM
AFAIK, gifting from your own account (the one the book is published under) does not count towards rank, so it'd be safe from rank manipulation stuff thingy things.  If it's gifted from another account that did not publish the book, then it does count toward rank.  I could be wrong, but this is my understanding of how it works.

This is what I found out yesterday:https://kdp.amazon.com/help/topic/A2SPN65RHEW2G

Gifting for Kindle
Customers can gift all titles available through KDP on Amazon.com, through wish lists or book detail pages. The only current exception is for titles that are not available in the country where the customer lives.

Your royalties will be based on the price and royalty option selected at the time the Kindle gift was purchased. After the gift recipient downloads your title, your royalties will accrue, and the sale will show on your reports. A gift sale counts toward a sales rank only if it is redeemed within 24 hours by the recipient.

You are welcome to gift your book to as many people as you like to help promote it. Be aware that gift recipients have the option of choosing a gift certificate instead. Also, as with all Kindle sales, gift recipients have the option to return the gift within 7 days of downloading. Learn more on the Amazon Help page, Give and Receive Kindle Devices and Books.

I suspect this might be why some of the screen shots on the weebly site tell people they have to claim by midnight.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Boyd on May 02, 2017, 10:19:47 AM
This is what I found out yesterday:https://kdp.amazon.com/help/topic/A2SPN65RHEW2G

Gifting for Kindle
Customers can gift all titles available through KDP on Amazon.com, through wish lists or book detail pages. The only current exception is for titles that are not available in the country where the customer lives.

Your royalties will be based on the price and royalty option selected at the time the Kindle gift was purchased. After the gift recipient downloads your title, your royalties will accrue, and the sale will show on your reports. A gift sale counts toward a sales rank only if it is redeemed within 24 hours by the recipient.

You are welcome to gift your book to as many people as you like to help promote it. Be aware that gift recipients have the option of choosing a gift certificate instead. Also, as with all Kindle sales, gift recipients have the option to return the gift within 7 days of downloading. Learn more on the Amazon Help page, Give and Receive Kindle Devices and Books.

I suspect this might be why some of the screen shots on the weebly site tell people they have to claim by midnight.

Ahhhh, thank you!  I was unaware of this! 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: HopelessFanatic on May 02, 2017, 10:21:44 AM
Hi, Felicia. Thanks for speaking about your experiences with Rebecca being positive. All sides to a story are important so people can make a decision about who they do business with.

In regards to the giveaway not affecting rank: I've heard this also; however, I'm confused about something. I've seen giveaways run with only one book as the prize, and I believe, only one winner. Meaning, anyone who enters, wins. If that doesn't affect rank, what's the advantage?

I'm not sure. The giveaways I ran through Amazon were to gain follows on Amazon. It was just something I did to see how it worked. I know with giveaways, if the person doesn't claim the prize, you don't get it counted as a sale (so you don't get the royalty). It's possible people don't understand how the giveaways work and it not affecting rank so they think it does. I don't know.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: PatriciaDreas on May 02, 2017, 10:22:03 AM
I have no "skin in this game" but have been following this thread as a precautionary tale (not that I'm really grasping everything). I noticed the following in my morning newsletters:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N18NFS9/?tag=affiliatetagremoved

Is this an example of a "book blast" promotion?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AYClaudy on May 02, 2017, 10:22:11 AM
You are allowed to provide a free copy to reviewers and for other professional promotional businesses. Note I didn't say a thousand free copies. ARCs have always been a part of publishing.

Amazon use to use language that made me think that was the case, but they've since updated the KU exclusivity language to say:

"You may also provide professional reviewers with a copy of your book via email for the purpose of editing, proofreading and helping with other quality improvements."

That makes it all a bit less likely that e-mailing free copies to giveaway winners or even reviewers that are not "professional" is okay with them. It even seems to be that if the reviewer is just reviewing, that's not okay, that they need to be a beta reader or something...
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 10:29:31 AM
This is exactly the sort of case where a GoFundMe campaign would be a legitimate way to help defray costs. Just putting that out there.

You aren't the first to mention this to me. I would be mortified to do so, but it might come to that. Thanks for the suggestion. My hope would still be to settle this without litigation, but that seems extremely unlikely at this point.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 10:33:12 AM
I have no "skin in this game" but have been following this thread as a precautionary tale (not that I'm really grasping everything). I noticed the following in my morning newsletters:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N18NFS9/?tag=affiliatelinkremoved

Is this an example of a "book blast" promotion?

No; that looks like an affiliate link to a box set on Amazon.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 10:36:51 AM
I have no "skin in this game" but have been following this thread as a precautionary tale (not that I'm really grasping everything). I noticed the following in my morning newsletters:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N18NFS9/?tag=affiliate link removed

Is this an example of a "book blast" promotion?
This is a boxed set organized and promoted by the company in question. Past there, I have no knowledge of how it is put together or promoted. I do note that in the front matter is an offer of a free gift and it says with a receipt the buyer will receive additional books for subscribing.

:shrug:
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on May 02, 2017, 11:11:32 AM
Several people offered to pay the buy in. That would have meant she was free and clear to return my money (money owed to me, not as a refund, but because she was not honoring the terms of our original contract as previously stated) and yet, she chose not to. One might ask themselves why, if her primary interest is the authors in the set.

If I remember correctly from what I read in one of Rebecca's posts ... if someone has to drop out, they would be donating their spot and paid back/refunded via the royalties. Is this correct? And was that written into the original contract that you signed? Was that the method to which refunds were to be handled?

If this is correct, I would presume she might've been just sticking to the principle of the thing and not making exceptions in the case many authors take to doing this. I could see where that would be a problem (authors having buyer's remorse after things are well into the process and money already spent for book covers, etc.).

However, if others were willing to pay the buy in, in my opinion, she should have taken their offer and with that, refunded you. And if others followed suit, and no one was willing to pay the buy in, then the contract terms stand with the royalties refund method.

You mentioned she did refund you on the one boxed set, so are you still awaiting refunds on the other two?

If you are and those two boxed sets are up for sale still, she would need to honor that part of the first contract, so you may still receive your refund from the royalties. Unfortunately, that may take a while unless the price is increased to $2.99+ to receive a higher royalty rate.

I can see both sides of the fence here because ... on one hand, you can't have people cancel out after time/effort/expense and setups have already been cast. On the other hand, in your case, you had every right to not sign the second contract when the anthology's content changed from 'clean' to 'steamy.' That wasn't the product you had originally agreed to.

I'm gathering from what's been said, it seems the first contract had to be changed due to unforseen circumstances with Amazon's reps originally approving the boxed set(s) saying it would be fine, and then later changing their stance on that. In all fairness, we can't blame Rebecca for having to incorporate those changes since it would be an important change.

However, the 'clean' to 'steamy' change is a different issue altogether and reason for someone who writes 'clean' to want to pull out.

The only question then is, how you'd be receiving that refund as I mentioned in my first paragraph.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 02, 2017, 11:15:16 AM
The only question then is, how you'd be receiving that refund as I mentioned in my first paragraph.

I think you're kind of going on the assumption here that there was an amicable break, maybe followed by Rebecca telling Christina she'd have to wait for the box set to earn out.  Maybe I'm reading between the lines, but that's not what I'm seeing in Christina's posts.  I'm seeing more of a case of  "Too bad / so sad ... oh and let me trash your reputation while I'm at it".  Christina, please correct me if I'm wrong here.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: elizabethbarone on May 02, 2017, 11:24:16 AM
If this is who I think this is about, I have direct personal experience working with this person. And it's not a happy story. Lots of bullying and very unprofessional behavior. I've kept my mouth shut over the years because I didn't want any retaliation. I know other authors who've worked with this person and have nothing but positive things to say, so I've long been in an uncomfortable position. I just do me and stick with my close knit circle of trusted authors and freelancers.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on May 02, 2017, 11:33:36 AM
In my personal case, and it was piddly and minor, but there was no line in the T&C that said "Thou shalt send an email to your email list when I dictate within five minutes of my saying that you should." Problem was, I'd just sent an email and simply asked if I could send a bit later.

Was there a reason that the dates the authors were to email their mailing lists, needed to be on particular days? Was that discussed in the Facebook group beforehand (before the contracts were signed)?

An Amazon ebook giveaway, which is part of Amazon's own system, would produce a more immediate and noticeable bump.

The Amazon Giveaway method doesn't count toward ranking.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 11:38:56 AM
If I remember correctly from what I read in one of Rebecca's posts ... if someone has to drop out, they would be donating their spot and paid back/refunded via the royalties. Is this correct? And was that written into the original contract that you signed? Was that the method to which refunds were to be handled?

If this is correct, I would presume she might've been just sticking to the principle of the thing and not making exceptions in the case many authors take to doing this. I could see where that would be a problem (authors having buyer's remorse after things are well into the process and money already spent for book covers, etc.).

However, if others were willing to pay the buy in, in my opinion, she should have taken their offer and with that, refunded you. And if others followed suit, and no one was willing to pay the buy in, then the contract terms stand with the royalties refund method.

You mentioned she did refund you on the one boxed set, so are you still awaiting refunds on the other two?

If you are and those two boxed sets are up for sale still, she would need to honor that part of the first contract, so you may still receive your refund from the royalties. Unfortunately, that may take a while unless the price is increased to $2.99+ to receive a higher royalty rate.

I can see both sides of the fence here because ... on one hand, you can't have people cancel out after time/effort/expense and setups have already been cast. On the other hand, in your case, you had every right to not sign the second contract when the anthology's content changed from 'clean' to 'steamy.' That wasn't the product you had originally agreed to.

I'm gathering from what's been said, it seems the first contract had to be changed due to unforseen circumstances with Amazon's reps originally approving the boxed set(s) saying it would be fine, and then later changing their stance on that. In all fairness, we can't blame Rebecca for having to incorporate those changes since it would be an important change.

However, the 'clean' to 'steamy' change is a different issue altogether and reason for someone who writes 'clean' to want to pull out.

The only question then is, how you'd be receiving that refund as I mentioned in my first paragraph.

I have received zero money back--I was not refunded for a set. I'm sorry if there was a miscommunication on that. I was kicked out of one, (she claimed I'd backed out, but I hadn't) and then I rescinded the contract for the others.

I was told I could be paid back from the royalties--IF there was a profit. (That's a big if, b/c sometimes people add thousands more the sets and they are paid back first. Also, I have valid concerns about her ethics and accounting practices to that wasn't a viable option for me.)

Here's the real problem, as I've stated--the moment we were told the original contracts were not good enough and would need to sign new ones to participate, we were not bound in any way to those contracts. At all. Those who chose to enter the new agreement were free to do so. Those of us who chose not to were owed out money back--not as a *maybe* later on *if* the sets made money. She could have given our spots to others willing to pay for them--she chose not to.

And Rebecca is absolutely responsible for providing a contract that depends on a 3rd party's TOS and not including provisions for the TOS changing. You might personally think I should have agreed to the second contract because it wasn't her fault that Amazon started enforcing a long-standing rule, but that simply isn't the law.

Rick, I hope I answered your question above--she did offer royalties if and when they occurred. Two minutes after I received that email she blasted me on Facebook which only made me less likely to trust her. (Also, I don't take screen shots of ads as proof of money spent, so...)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on May 02, 2017, 11:51:02 AM
If I remember correctly from what I read in one of Rebecca's posts ... if someone has to drop out, they would be donating their spot and paid back/refunded via the royalties. Is this correct?

No. In most cases I've heard about if you drop out (or are kicked out) there is no refund. Next person up who takes your spot also pays the opt in.

Here's the bit that seems to be tripping a lot of people up - what she posts publicly and what actually happens, are two different things. She tells people there are refunds when there aren't and she then is paid twice, because the next author also pays the same amount.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 12:11:17 PM
wheart,

I just want to reiterate that the terms of the contract covered changes that had nothing to do with KU. For instance, there was a clause in the new contract that said any verbal/written agreement made after the date of signing would be legally binding. My personal experience with Rebecca made it impossible for me to agree to that. What she deems an "agreement" is likely not what I would deem one.

Regardless, the changes made that had to do with KU impacted the profit to be made dramatically and impacted the reader experience. (Unpublish and lose our reviews? Shorts instead of novels? That's not what I signed up for.) I even offered that maybe we just keep the set wide--that way we could all stay in with our novels and not tick off readers. I suggested that solution even though it would have cost me substantially to keep my book out of KU for 3 months, as it accounts for half of my income. She shot me down.

The fact remains, once second contracts were required, the first were voidable and each party needed to be made whole.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on May 02, 2017, 12:20:35 PM
I have received zero money back--I was not refunded for a set. I'm sorry if there was a miscommunication on that.

My mistake. There's soooo much verbiage to read in this thread, lol, that I might've forgotten who said what. I went back to find who said that and it was Patty who said she got a refund.

You might personally think I should have agreed to the second contract because it wasn't her fault that Amazon started enforcing a long-standing rule, but that simply isn't the law.

No, I don't think anything of that sort. I don't know what was in that contract and can't make that assessment. Plus that wouldn't be my call to make. Only you know what would be right for you. I'm just trying to assess what's true and make sure that everyone is getting a fair judgement.

There are certainly things that I wouldn't recommend with Rebecca's program. But I've gone back to read a lot of her posts here on Kboards because I truly hate to see someone whose heart and intention is in trying to help people, being raked through the coals without a fair and objective trial. In my eyes, she's responded quite amicably, at least here on these forum. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I can't join Facebook groups so I can't read what's written or observe her behavior there.

For me, I see Rebecca as having made some major mistakes but her crime is having trusted Amazon's and PayPal's reps' words with approving things that we all know can change any moment. Also being stubborn to not heed the warnings of authors who were concerned about those things.

I don't see her as a bad person who is out to hurt people or scam them. I do hope she learns from this ordeal and make the changes to her program that would make these issues no longer issues.

I do hope Rebecca and you all can reach a solution to where everyone stays professional in their dealings with these matters and follows through with their commitments that were agreed upon. If Rebecca has committed to paying the refunds back with royalties, she should do so regardless of how long it takes. That would be the right thing to do.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 12:38:21 PM
Thanks for clarifying your stance.

I cannot agree on your stance that she refund me with royalties no matter how long it takes because it is not a refund it is money legally owed to me. And it's money she was legally obligated to pay months ago. There is simply no legal standing for her to do otherwise.

I'm surprised you see this thread as Rebecca being raked over the coals. I think myself and everyone else have been reasonably measured with our responses, only speaking of facts and our direct experiences. I'm sorry if you feel differently.

Trusting Amazon and PayPal reps are not her only crimes. ("Crimes used colloquially, as breaking Amazon's TOS is certainly not a crime.) She posted on this very forum that she only has people pay via friends and family b/c she makes no profit, which is proved untrue by her asking me to pay that way for Charmed Legacy, a contract which has payment for her services built into it. There are countless examples of this, but I'm not looking to get the thread closed.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on May 02, 2017, 12:44:28 PM

There are certainly things that I wouldn't recommend with Rebecca's program. But I've gone back to read a lot of her posts here on Kboards because I truly hate to see someone whose heart and intention is in trying to help people, being raked through the coals without a fair and objective trial. In my eyes, she's responded quite amicably, at least here on these forum. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I can't join Facebook groups so I can't read what's written or observe her behavior there.

For me, I see Rebecca as having made some major mistakes but her crime is having trusted Amazon's and PayPal's reps' words with approving things that we all know can change any moment. Also being stubborn to not heed the warnings of authors who were concerned about those things.

I don't see her as a bad person who is out to hurt people or scam them. I do hope she learns from this ordeal and make the changes to her program that would make these issues no longer issues.

I do hope Rebecca and you all can reach a solution to where everyone stays professional in their dealings with these matters and follows through with their commitments that were agreed upon. If Rebecca has committed to paying the refunds back with royalties, she should do so regardless of how long it takes. That would be the right thing to do.

Many of us started in that opinion zone about a year+ ago Wheart. Like I myself have never lost money to Rebecca, or done any boxed sets. And it was like every single time we all thought "Okay, well maybe she understands now . . ." it just kept getting worse in terms of public shaming, private boasts of rules being okay to break and invoking reps, lawyers, and even sheriff offices as all on her side. It gets really bizarre at times when you try to follow the timeline.

My perspective comes from when I was book promoter/marketer. Some here can remember when I ran the author ads of TheCheapEbook and can attest that we had a very solid reputation. We also cared about helping authors out and had free programs for advertising. Authors saw this, they could post a book once per day on a special Facebook page just for them and we used those posts to fill in our spots in our daily deals email. Authors could also buy banners up top or Facebook posts, all about $5 each or $25 for the month of an ad in rotation . . . we never required books to be a certain price, we were one of the few outlets that promoted wide books at regular prices.

I never had an author who requested a refund get told no. Everyone who wanted a refund, for whatever reason, got one. I never spent money from ads that hadn't run yet, how was I to know if my server wouldn't go down etc.? We did BIG promotions too, our Santa Sampler was $10,000 back in 2012 with 100 authors participating. Everyone had a separate log in to see their feedback on their samples on Amazon from real readers. We gave away thousands in Kindle Fires, etc. everything was itemized out in the budget and authors knew me and my staff were making $5,000 across 3 people for 8 weeks of work (so about $200 a week). No one ever has a problem about people making money for the work they are doing. Where it would have been shady of me would be if I had collected that $10,000, never delivered any of those pages and promotions on time, and waited for authors to complain to me they don't see their ad vs. sending them an easy email of "here's your ad." It was easy to provide good customer service.

The only reason I stopped being a book marketer is because the Amazon Affiliate program changed to the point that we would have had to rely even more heavily on our author ads for cash flow, there were a few authors who drove me bonkers and on a $5 ad they wanted 20 billion emails to hold their hands and then still wanted a refund when the $5 ad didn't make them top 100 in the Paid Kindle Store (and yep, they got a refund, and removed fromt he email list for new ads LOL), and it is a hard business to run. It's a lot of moving parts . .  . you have scheudling to maintain, authors need day swaps, and to be honest with you, this is very egotistical to say, but my skills exceeded that task oriented day-to-day aspect of running the ad program. My business partner and I who ran the site amicably closed it down, amicably worked on publishing projects together later, and amicably are still best friends today. Already talked to her on the phone for the day, matter of fact. :) I realized that for me, the stress of worrying about day-to-day operations AND future cash flow (new ads, managing new purchases, onboarding new authors to how to market their books), creating all of the ads, etc. was not for me. I wanted a bigg percentage of my income to be passive based, like the backlist of a publisher. That was my personal choice.

That said, running these kinds of companies takes a lot of mental fortitude and strong organizational skills. It's tempting when there's thousands of dollars in a Paypal account to start spending beyond that month's intake. What I mean is that we booked on a rolling 90 days. So I would have signups for say May, Jun, July in the paypal account. I had to make sure when the end of May happened, I ONLY paid out May's ads keeping 20% in reserve for 6 months in case someone's ad ran and they still wanted a refund. See, I'm from a school of customer service (Disney) where you refund that $5 or $50 right away and keep the customer's good will. And that worked. Shrinkage and returns or authors flaking out is PART of working in this industry, just like we have customers who return our books. You can't base your revenue projections on every single ad or every single client/reader working perfectly to plan. If I was running a 20 book boxed set, I would have made sure the marketing budget had gates that at some point would mean we don't buy THIS until after the boxed set comes out and the full service delivery happens. In Rebecca's situation, most often than not she is trying to run a business and call it a hobby. She states things like she makes no profit, she's doing this as a friend, etc. This is one reason I think things get so out of hand, and is just a blanket warning to anyone:

Run your business like a businesss. Run your friendships like a friendship (and there should be no money invovled).

Anyway, I do empathize that running an author promotion business is NOT EASY. Authors is divas :) (not saying the victims are divas, just a general observation there), and that all of this is a very big cautionary tale and why it's being shared now. The red flags are red flags for a reason, and a 100 red flags on a company can mean you have a wonderful, perfect experience. Or it could mean you are the unlucky one who gets the full slate of consequences disproportionately. Risk management, especially business to business, is a critical skill we all have to have.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on May 02, 2017, 12:49:12 PM
Question for the mods Re: GenreCave

There's some valuable information in this thread about the promotion service called GenreCave, but its getting lost amongst everything else. It is a service often talked about/recommended on the k-boards. Should that discussion have its own thread, so it is easier to find/searchable in the future? Some authors use that service and it might be valuable to have a seperate thread to discuss GenreCave methods, results, ROI and overall experiences? The service doesn't have a yellow pages listing, so there's nowhere to post feedback etc.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on May 02, 2017, 12:56:41 PM
I'm surprised you see this thread as Rebecca being raked over the coals. I think myself and everyone else have been reasonably measured with our responses, only speaking of facts and our direct experiences. I'm sorry if you feel differently.

Sorry, I should have said 'some people' raking her over the coals because some have made disparaging remarks that would have an affect on her reputation as to what kind of person she is.

You have shared your own experiences in an amicable way, and I thank you for that. It has given those of us who haven't had firsthand dealings know what has transpired.

Another lesson we can all take away from this is ... don't jump into more than one project at a time. We should always test the waters first to make sure we're happy with the outcome especially when there's a lot of money at stake.

I wish you well.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 12:56:57 PM
Question for the mods Re: GenreCave

There's some valuable information in this thread about the promotion service called GenreCave, but its getting lost amongst everything else. It is a service often talked about/recommended on the k-boards. Should that discussion have its own thread, so it is easier to find/searchable in the future? Some authors use that service and it might be valuable to have a seperate thread to discuss GenreCave methods, results, ROI and overall experiences? The service doesn't have a yellow pages listing, so there's nowhere to post feedback etc.
I beg to differ. That is the business we've been discussing the entire time. There is no separation.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Krista D. Ball on May 02, 2017, 12:58:08 PM
Many of us started in that opinion zone about a year+ ago Wheart. Like I myself have never lost money to Rebecca, or done any boxed sets. And it was like every single time we all thought "Okay, well maybe she understands now . . ." it just kept getting worse in terms of public shaming, private boasts of rules being okay to break and invoking reps, lawyers, and even sheriff offices as all on her side. It gets really bizarre at times when you try to follow the timeline.

I agree wholeheartedly with you. I also haven't had any dealings with her since before she was a published author (so, the way-way-WAY back machine), and none since. I have not been an author she's accused of [anything] publicly and I don't have friends or close acquaintances affected by her business practices. I have no goats in this farm.

But it's naive, as well, for us to pretend this hasn't come up repeatedly. It came up with another author (who's name I forget) who had a thread here about a box set being taken down and, again, we all warned about the KU books on Kobo. Again and again, there is a public scrambling because yet another book was taken down by KDP. There is the paypal issue, the gifting, the KU books, the swapping, the public call outs of comments made on KBoards and dragged to Facebook to cause boycotts of authors...we've been aware of it for a long time now.

In the end, what people think they're doing or what they say they're doing doesn't actually matter. It's what they are actually doing. The fear alone of people speaking out about this sets off the alarm bells. Deal with her business or not (I don't even know if she runs it by herself or with others, honestly). But don't confuse friendship with business. THey are two very different things and it's easy to stop being friendly when you have someone's cash in your pocket and no easy way for them to get it back.

As you say, red flags are red flags.

*note: I have two online acquaintances who were harassed by Rebecca for calling out her business practices (but didn't do business with her).
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Becca Mills on May 02, 2017, 12:59:44 PM
Folks, let's try to stay as on-topic as possible, so that the most relevant info remains easy to find within this very long thread. For instance, discussion of how gifting can work within and outside KU might better taken place in a separate thread. Also, please remember to stick to personal experience and concrete evidence rather than secondhand reports.

There are certainly things that I wouldn't recommend with Rebecca's program. But I've gone back to read a lot of her posts here on Kboards because I truly hate to see someone whose heart and intention is in trying to help people, being raked through the coals without a fair and objective trial. In my eyes, she's responded quite amicably, at least here on these forum. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I can't join Facebook groups so I can't read what's written or observe her behavior there.

Our goal is not to "pass judgment" as a community. Rather, we want to provide a space where every member can make information available so that individuals can make their own informed decisions. We're open to information from both sides of this issue, so long as that information is concrete and direct and presented within the bounds of our forum decorum.

Question for the mods Re: GenreCave

There's some valuable information in this thread about the promotion service called GenreCave, but its getting lost amongst everything else. It is a service often talked about/recommended on the k-boards. Should that discussion have its own thread, so it is easier to find/searchable in the future? Some authors use that service and it might be valuable to have a seperate thread to discuss GenreCave methods, results, ROI and overall experiences? The service doesn't have a yellow pages listing, so there's nowhere to post feedback etc.

Great question. Since GenreCrave is part of Rebecca Hamilton's suite of services, let's keep discussion of it in this thread while the moderators think about the possibility of separating it out for visibility. We can always break those posts out into a separate thread later, if need be.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 01:06:04 PM

Another lesson we can all take away from this is ... don't jump into more than one project at a time. We should always test the waters first to make sure we're happy with the outcome especially when there's a lot of money at stake.

I wish you well.

Thanks for clarifying about the coals and you are absolutely right about one project at a time. That is another mistake I made.

And thank you for the well wishes--same :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on May 02, 2017, 01:06:53 PM
You aren't the first to mention this to me. I would be mortified to do so, but it might come to that. Thanks for the suggestion. My hope would still be to settle this without litigation, but that seems extremely unlikely at this point.

If the cost of an attorney is stopping you, I'd be more than happy to contribute through a GoFundMe, or directly to the attorney. A line has to be drawn and an example made of those who cross it.

As to your later comment, that any change in the contract would still be legally binding, no way. Any change in a contract, even changing the word "too" to "two" would require a new signature, or at the very least, your initials on the change, agreeing to it.

*ETA a comma.


Edited. This thread's second life is dedicated to concrete evidence and discussion thereof. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on May 02, 2017, 01:07:41 PM
I beg to differ. That is the business we've been discussing the entire time. There is no separation.

I was talking specifically about the GenreCave book promotions, as opposed to the boxed sets. But happy to stick with the mods decision.

I thought separating it out might be easier for people to find in the future, as GenreCave is often used/recommended by other authors and the name of this thread doesn't indicate the business or services under discussion.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on May 02, 2017, 01:17:03 PM
My perspective comes from when I was book promoter/marketer. Some here can remember when I ran the author ads of TheCheapEbook and can attest that we had a very solid reputation. We also cared about helping authors out and had free programs for advertising. Authors saw this, they could post a book once per day on a special Facebook page just for them and we used those posts to fill in our spots in our daily deals email. Authors could also buy banners up top or Facebook posts, all about $5 each or $25 for the month of an ad in rotation . . . we never required books to be a certain price, we were one of the few outlets that promoted wide books at regular prices.

...

Thanks for sharing all that, Elizabeth  :). In my own past business (I'm retired now) I've had to deal with customers (retail and wholesale) so I certainly can relate to the headaches involved, lol, and also when customer service is put above your own welfare (even if you have to take a loss at times). I'm not going to compare with you my scars (like in the movie Jaws :D) since it's not important here, but I enjoyed reading yours. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 01:19:58 PM
I was talking specifically about the GenreCave book promotions, as opposed to the boxed sets. But happy to stick with the mods decision.

I thought separating it out might be easier for people to find in the future, as GenreCave is often used/recommended by other authors and the name of this thread doesn't indicate the business or services under discussion.
The Book Blasts that use the same tactics as the boxed sets are run by GenreCrave. There has been extensive discussion of these on this thread. You're right, there's a lot here to sort out. It's the totality that shows the pattern. Each item by itself might be explained or justified. When you look at a pattern of behavior that defines a business model you get the whole picture.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 02, 2017, 01:21:11 PM
I was talking specifically about the GenreCave book promotions, as opposed to the boxed sets. But happy to stick with the mods decision.

I thought separating it out might be easier for people to find in the future, as GenreCave is often used/recommended by other authors and the name of this thread doesn't indicate the business or services under discussion.

If people search for GenreCrave, either here or by an external search engine (it's GenreCrave, isn't it, not GenreCave?) this thread will show up, even without it being in the subject.

I think if a separate thread were to be started, there would be a lot of duplication.  As Becca said, let's keep it here for now, reserving the right to change our minds if we need to. :D

Betsy
KB Mod
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 01:29:43 PM
If the cost of an attorney is stopping you, I'd be more than happy to contribute through a GoFundMe, or directly to the attorney. A line has to be drawn and an example made of those who cross it.

As to your later comment, that any change in the contract would still be legally binding, no way. Any change in a contract, even changing the word "too" to "two" would require a new signature, or at the very least, your initials on the change, agreeing to it.

*ETA a comma.


Edited. This thread's second life is dedicated to concrete evidence and discussion thereof. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

That is a very kind offer, Wayne, and I appreciate it more than I can say. Right now the costs are such that I can cover them, but if it goes beyond that, I'll consider asking for help :)

With regards to the contract--you're right. But I remember Rebecca posting something like, reply to this thread to prove you read it. (Can't remember what the post was about.) By the terms of the new contract she could claim that a "written agreement." It might not hold up in court, but many might not know that, and who wants to go to court anyway?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on May 02, 2017, 01:44:02 PM
Our goal is not to "pass judgment" as a community. Rather, we want to provide a space where every member can make information available so that individuals can make their own informed decisions. We're open to information from both sides of this issue, so long as that information is concrete and direct and presented within the bounds of our forum decorum.

*thumbs up*! :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Silly Writer on May 02, 2017, 01:58:24 PM
<snip>
There are certainly things that I wouldn't recommend with Rebecca's program. But I've gone back to read a lot of her posts here on Kboards because I truly hate to see someone whose heart and intention is in trying to help people, being raked through the coals without a fair and objective trial. In my eyes, she's responded quite amicably, at least here on these forum. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I can't join Facebook groups so I can't read what's written or observe her behavior there.

For me, I see Rebecca as having made some major mistakes but her crime is having trusted Amazon's and PayPal's reps' words with approving things that we all know can change any moment. Also being stubborn to not heed the warnings of authors who were concerned about those things.

I don't see her as a bad person who is out to hurt people or scam them. I do hope she learns from this ordeal and make the changes to her program that would make these issues no longer issues.


Okay, I've stayed out of this so far because I have already been a victim of RH and don't want to live through that nightmare again, but at this point, I'm gonna speak up--and I hope the dozens of others out there who had this happen to them will also, if only to help the newbies in the future, and/or keep RH from ever doing this to anyone else again.

I'll start with the fact that some of RH's business tactics are sound. She actually does a good job for some people, too. In 2013 her services got me me to #4 Free in the Entire Store with a promo she was running then. It was legit, I saw it happening. She teamed me up with 3 other authors like myself and we all blitzed each other on all social media and newsletters, and she also sent out social media blasts--which we could see. It wasn't expensive, but it was effective. I give her that one.

So...fast forward to a year and a half ago. I used to be on these boards all the time. I'm a helpful person by nature and if you look at my past posts you'll see that's what I do here. Mostly when I post, it's to help one of my peers. I rarely get involved in drama. I have many author friends. No enemies, that I'm aware of. I too believed all the hype about RH's new services, so I paid $150 for a New Release BookBlast from Hungry Author (one of the previous names of her companies). At the same time, I commissioned her to design me several FB ads for the cost of $20 each (I think). The Book Blast, at that time, said it was a social media and newsletter blast out to 150,000 of her followers and newsletter subscribers.  So, like any other service I pay for, I joined all her newsletters and followed her on social media. It also included sending the book beforehand to her reader/review list, which could get you anywhere from 5-80 reviews upon release day. (reviews were not guaranteed and I ultimately ended up with 1, which is not my complaint)

I thought we were friends, RH and I. The day of my launch, she forgot my blast. I very nicely emailed her a few days later and asked about it and she snarkily replied it would go out at the scheduled date. I politely replied the date had passed. She apologized and said she was getting to work on it. I didn't get upset at all. No problem. Stuff happens...so a few days passed all I saw were 2 tweets. I checked every newsletter several times, and her FB posts, but couldn't find any mention of the book. I reached out again and she bit my head off, implied she couldn't tell me WHERE my book had been blasted, but that she had spent 7.5 hours just that evening on it. I told her I wasn't seeing sales. I had also ran an ENT and a few others as well as sent out my own Newsletter. My newsletter clicks matched up exactly to the number of buys on the newsletter day, and the other promo services claimed the other sales, so I really wasn't seeing where she'd done anything.  (as of this thread I now know why I couldn't see anything happening, as apparently it was all shady gifting?)

I reached out to her via email/pm to ask where was the blitz happening? But all I could get back from RH was snark and defensive remarks. Having been on her FB and seen the naming/shaming of anyone who dared to question her services before, I walked it back, accepted full responsibility and even apologized and said I must've been wrong (which I wasn't), etc., etc... I decided I'd just take the blame and eat that $150 bucks rather than upset her. Finally, that appeased her. But before the conversation was over, I asked if she'd resize the graphics I'd purchased to the appropriate size that Facebook requires, as they had come over a month or so before, and since I was just then ready to launch ads, I had found out that day that they were the wrong size for ads. I have no skills in graphics and didn't have PhotoShop nor did I know how to do that (I do now though).

She lost her mind. She refused to re-size. Said she no longer had them (?). Accused me of asking her to work for free (by this time I had paid close to $200 and still hadn't got anything I'd paid for as far as I knew) and then she blocked me on FB and began her Name & Shame Game on me, even posting my graphics with my book covers for her friends/minions to attack me. I did not ask her to work for free. I paid for those services. I also didn't ask for a refund...just a resizing on the ads, and I'd eat the blitz cost. But she was on a rampage. She'd moved on from the last victim (which I watched in horror just a few days before) and was now on me like fly on rice.

My friends--who were astonished and gut-punched for me--sent me screenshots of the naming/shaming. I was so humiliated. I just wanted to hide under a rock. And I kind of did.

The embarrassment and unfairness of the whole thing pushed me into a deep depression. I gave up writing/marketing for a long while after that. She had this reputation here on Kboards that made me feel like everyone would think this drama was all MY fault. I couldn't write my books. I stopped helping newbies and pretty much stayed off Kboards. I basically hid under my blankets away from the Indie World to lick my wounds. It was like that bad dream where you feel like you're standing in front of all your co-workers naked and have no where to run.

If it wasn't for my tight group of writer buddies (all members here) that wouldn't let me give up, I wouldn't have ever wrote another word or published anything else. I lost A LOT OF TIME to that bizarre attack. I lost a lot of momentum on my books, and I still haven't got it back. I lost sleep. I shed a lot of tears. I didn't deserve that. No one does. And I can name a lot more authors just like me who didn't deserve it, and have yet to speak out due to the brutality of what they too went through. Of course I won't name them. If they want to step up, they can. If not, I totally understand why.

We writers are weird. Lots of us don't do well in real-life social situations. MANY of us come to Kboards to find our tribe. We get to know people and get comfortable. We learn. We help. We lift each other up. We make ourselves part of this community. We make it a place to vent, help, learn, and hang out when we just CAN'T write the wordz and need someone who understands what we feel when we just can't write the wordz and instead want to screw off for a while. But when you're publicly crucified, vilified, and made a spectacle of in front of your peers, you lose your place; your sense of belonging. We all deserve to be treated kindly, professionally and fairly, especially if that's the way we treat others. RH ruined Kboards for so many people. So many have felt violated and shamed with her public tar and featherings. She took a lot from me with this bullying.

People used to ask me where I've been...why don't I post much anymore...what have I been doing. You can see I have a few thousand posts, yet none of the rookies even know who I am.

Well, now you know why.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: A J Sika on May 02, 2017, 01:59:50 PM
This whole thread makes me so sad... and leery of promo-sites

Already, many promo-sites have become ineffective because of stringent affiliate rules and reader fatigue (because of constant email blasts). And now, we get to know that some of the more effective ones might be playing loose with Amazon's rules and thus risking our accounts because of their 'secret sauces' or whatever...

*sigh

To be honest, whenever I read Rebecca's posts, she comes off as a very nice person who makes bad decisions at times. Unfortunately, this is my sole source of income. I don't have the luxury of getting in bed with someone who makes mistakes that could end up hurting my business.

So for Rebecca; even if you feel attacked or ganged up on, there are obviously kinks with your business operations (the gifting thing, paypal payment, one-star brigade, review swapping etc). They might be unintentional but they are happening and you need to deal with them instead of burying your head in the sand - or in this case in your private facebook page where your fanclub are just rarara-ing you.

Please, please, please fix your business model before you end up getting someone's account blocked.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 02, 2017, 02:14:45 PM

People used to ask me where I've been...why don't I post much anymore...what have I been doing. You can see I have a few thousand posts, yet none of the rookies even know who I am.


I'm truly sorry you had to go through that.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Cassie Leigh on May 02, 2017, 02:16:50 PM
Question for the mods Re: GenreCave

There's some valuable information in this thread about the promotion service called GenreCave, but its getting lost amongst everything else. It is a service often talked about/recommended on the k-boards. Should that discussion have its own thread, so it is easier to find/searchable in the future? Some authors use that service and it might be valuable to have a seperate thread to discuss GenreCave methods, results, ROI and overall experiences? The service doesn't have a yellow pages listing, so there's nowhere to post feedback etc.

There is a thread for the GenreCrave service: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,234876.0.html
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Monique on May 02, 2017, 02:18:15 PM
RH ruined Kboards for so many people. So many have felt violated and shamed with her public tar and featherings. She took a lot from me with this bullying.
 

Yes, you're not alone.

It's been nearly a year since I posted here. I left because of attacks from RH, too.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Silly Writer on May 02, 2017, 02:22:49 PM
Yes, you're not alone.

It's been nearly a year since I posted here. I left because of attacks from RH, too.

I asked about you to a friend this last weekend! I wish you'd have reached out to me. Or me to you. Didn't know you went through this too.
(((Big Hug)))
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 02:23:06 PM
Yes, you're not alone.

It's been nearly a year since I posted here. I left because of attacks from RH, too.

This is really upsetting and totally believable. I'm glad you've both added your voices here.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: C. Gockel on May 02, 2017, 02:27:48 PM
Quote
People used to ask me where I've been...why don't I post much anymore...what have I been doing. You can see I have a few thousand posts, yet none of the rookies even know who I am.

Well, now you know why.

I'm so sorry that this happened to you.

Quote
It's been nearly a year since I posted here. I left because of attacks from RH, too.

And this is why so many good writers leave. I'm so sorry Monique.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Krista D. Ball on May 02, 2017, 02:33:00 PM
Yes, you're not alone.

It's been nearly a year since I posted here. I left because of attacks from RH, too.

I forgot about this. So, yes, I have had someone I consider an online friend to have been attacked by RH through KBoards-to-Facebook connection. I stand corrected in my previous post.

And, yes, my fear of RH off Kboards has been my reason for rarely posting here anymore. Since disagreement results in an immediate accusation of libel, it's just not worth the headache. She's not done it to me here, but it's happened enough in regular cycle to others that it's not been worth the headache.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 02:35:34 PM
Yes, you're not alone.

It's been nearly a year since I posted here. I left because of attacks from RH, too.
I was thinking about you recently and how active you used to be in this forum. Wondered if you just got busy or tired of some of the crap that occasionally goes on. Sorry to hear the real reason, but glad to see you again.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: wheart on May 02, 2017, 02:36:42 PM
Thanks for sharing, everyone (especially those directly involved with their experiences on both sides of this issue).

Glad to see those who haven't been around a while, are back on these forums. Many members miss you so you shouldn't stay away because of any one person.

Anyway, *hugs* to everyone who is hurting (on both sides).
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Krista D. Ball on May 02, 2017, 02:45:07 PM

People used to ask me where I've been...why don't I post much anymore...what have I been doing. You can see I have a few thousand posts, yet none of the rookies even know who I am.

Well, now you know why.

Well, I remember you :) I'm sorry you've went through this. It's not right.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on May 02, 2017, 02:48:11 PM
So for Rebecca; even if you feel attacked or ganged up on, there are obviously kinks with your business operations (the gifting thing, paypal payment, one-star brigade, review swapping etc). They might be unintentional but they are happening and you need to deal with them instead of burying your head in the sand - or in this case in your private facebook page where your fanclub are just rarara-ing you.

Personally I think it's been going on for far too long to be unintentional. There is an old thread on AW dating back to 2012 that touches on her (starts about half way down page 29) and appears to show the exact same tactics especially with dodgy methods, fake accounts, 1-star attacks and then crying victim when people confront her. She was ultimately banned from Goodreads for creating sock puppet accounts and harassing reviewers. And this is all 5 years ago.
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?230972-Authors-should-really-stop-telling-readers-how-to-give-reviews/page29
And from Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.html?id=305663058&page=1&type=review#comment_48160987
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 02, 2017, 02:48:34 PM
Well, I remember you :) I'm sorry you've went through this. It's not right.

No, it's not. None of this is right, for anyone it happened to.  There's a vast difference between a deal gone bad and this.  Losing money is one thing, but this sort of stuff crosses lots of lines, both professional and personally.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: she-la-ti-da on May 02, 2017, 02:58:08 PM
Silly Writer, your post made me cry. You could have shared what happened to you. I would have believed you. I got person in question's number early on, she's been on Ignore for years.

Monique, hugs to you as well. I guess I always figured you were too busy to post any more, but it turns out like so many others you've been harassed until you couldn't put up with anymore. I'm sorry.

It's easy to give the benefit of the doubt, and that's good, but believe me, this isn't the first time I've heard of the behaviors of the person in question. It's been going on for years, and people are so afraid to say anything that many just don't know how this person operates.

Like others have said, research and know what you're getting into. No one can tell you what to do or not do, it's your career. But be aware that people aren't always as nice as they first seem, and sometimes their business isn't riding shiny unicorns.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 02:58:40 PM
No, it's not. None of this is right, for anyone it happened to.  There's a vast difference between a deal gone bad and this.  Losing money is one thing, but this sort of stuff crosses lots of lines, both professional and personally.

This is another issue that needs to be brought up. In order to keep doing business with her, a person needs to be OK with these tactics. You cannot spend two days on Facebook without witnessing the harassment. I have already apologized to one author who very famously got harassed and pummeled with one stars a few months ago. I was in over $4k deep and just wanted to keep my head low and get out. I didn't join the dog pile, and already knew I'd not be engaging in any future services/sets/collections, but I didn't speak up and I'm ashamed of that.

Anyone in her group saw that vileness directed at me this weekend which only ads to the countless other rants directed at others. Might be worth asking yourself whether it aligns with your integrity to keep such company.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Mari Oliver on May 02, 2017, 02:59:50 PM
I've been following this thread since the beginning. I find it sad, worrisome, and depressing. What is the point of working hard to write good books and build an audience if folks can just buy their way to the best-sellers list or drop $$$ to soar to the top of the Amazon algorithms? What hope is there for those of us who have limited funds, limited resources? Is is a waste to take years building an audience when another author with way more funding can get it right away? Why even bother?

I didn't realize this sort of thing was going on.


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Silly Writer on May 02, 2017, 03:01:15 PM
Silly Writer, your post made me cry. You could have shared what happened to you. I would have believed you. I got person in question's number early on, she's been on Ignore for years.

Monique, hugs to you as well. I guess I always figured you were too busy to post any more, but it turns out like so many others you've been harassed until you couldn't put up with anymore. I'm sorry.

It's easy to give the benefit of the doubt, and that's good, but believe me, this isn't the first time I've heard of the behaviors of the person in question. It's been going on for years, and people are so afraid to say anything that many just don't know how this person operates.

Like others have said, research and know what you're getting into. No one can tell you what to do or not do, it's your career. But be aware that people aren't always as nice as they first seem, and sometimes their business isn't riding shiny unicorns.

Thanks. I fully expect to wake up to a rash of 1-stars tomorrow, or maybe in the next week...but it will be worth it if it keeps one more person from being next on the chopping block. I hope in the future, we Kboarders can stand together and not be afraid to speak out against these types of shenanigans. I know I won't be silenced anymore.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Krista D. Ball on May 02, 2017, 03:08:01 PM
I've been following this thread since the beginning. I find it sad, worrisome, and depressing. What is the point of working hard to write good books and build an audience if folks can just buy their way to the best-sellers list or drop $$$ to soar to the top of the Amazon algorithms? What hope is there for those of us who have limited funds, limited resources? Is is a waste to take years building an audience when another author with way more funding can get it right away? Why even bother?

I didn't realize this sort of thing was going on.


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Well, I just keep my head down, keep writing my books, and to hell with any and all abusive scammers and their supporters. From the KU page read scammers with their ripped content right down to those stealing money from authors.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Krista D. Ball on May 02, 2017, 03:09:21 PM
Thanks. I fully expect to wake up to a rash of 1-stars tomorrow, or maybe in the next week...but it will be worth it if it keeps one more person from being next on the chopping block. I hope in the future, we Kboarders can stand together and not be afraid to speak out against these types of shenanigans. I know I won't be silenced anymore.

Thank you for doing it. Lord knows many of us knew it was going on, but opened witnessed situations like yours and were too afraid.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Gentleman Zombie on May 02, 2017, 03:23:04 PM
I've been following this thread since the beginning. I find it sad, worrisome, and depressing. What is the point of working hard to write good books and build an audience if folks can just buy their way to the best-sellers list or drop $$$ to soar to the top of the Amazon algorithms? What hope is there for those of us who have limited funds, limited resources? Is is a waste to take years building an audience when another author with way more funding can get it right away? Why even bother?

I didn't realize this sort of thing was going on and that authors were being ripped off in this way. It's truly sickening.

It's always been this way, even before ebooks were a thing. Books are a product and marketing is what sells a product. The issue at hand is what kind of marketing is ethical. So don't let the thread get  you down.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Edward M. Grant on May 02, 2017, 03:30:54 PM
It's always been this way, even before ebooks were a thing.

Wasn't buying your way onto the bestseller list by buying copies of your (print) books in the right stores a grand old tradition in trade publishing?

There's a reason I really don't care whether a book says 'XYZ Bestselling Author' on the front when I buy it. Those letters may have meant something once, but have become horribly degraded over the last decade or two.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: C. Gockel on May 02, 2017, 03:34:21 PM
Quote
I've been following this thread since the beginning. I find it sad, worrisome, and depressing. What is the point of working hard to write good books and build an audience if folks can just buy their way to the best-sellers list or drop $$$ to soar to the top of the Amazon algorithms?

Chin up! Being on the bestseller list doesn't mean a lot. I know authors who make 200k+ (not me!) who never hit the bestseller list. And there are authors who have listed who aren't making squat. You also don't have to be on top of the algos. Trust me on this, my books generally hang around the 30,000 range and yet I'm able to make a living.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Donna White Glaser on May 02, 2017, 03:38:05 PM
Yes, you're not alone.

It's been nearly a year since I posted here. I left because of attacks from RH, too.
I've been wondering where you've been, Monique! I'm so glad to see you here again.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Mari Oliver on May 02, 2017, 03:40:13 PM
It's always been this way, even before ebooks were a thing. Books are a product and marketing is what sells a product. The issue at hand is what kind of marketing is ethical. So don't let the thread get  you down.
It was fleeting. Nothing some Fleetwood Mac and a cup of coffee couldn't cure. :D
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 02, 2017, 03:59:11 PM
Thanks. I fully expect to wake up to a rash of 1-stars tomorrow, or maybe in the next week...but it will be worth it if it keeps one more person from being next on the chopping block. I hope in the future, we Kboarders can stand together and not be afraid to speak out against these types of shenanigans. I know I won't be silenced anymore.

If that happens, my advice would be to bring it here. Make it public. Maybe together the folks here can help.  At the very least, it'll shine a light on this and make it known.  This is the sort of stuff that group wants people to slink away from.  So perhaps the best recourse is to do the opposite.

That said, it's your business. So kind of easy to say from my end. But know you have support here.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ........ on May 02, 2017, 04:05:52 PM
Personally I think it's been going on for far too long to be unintentional. There is an old thread on AW dating back to 2012 that touches on her (starts about half way down page 29) and appears to show the exact same tactics especially with dodgy methods, fake accounts, 1-star attacks and then crying victim when people confront her. She was ultimately banned from Goodreads for creating sock puppet accounts and harassing reviewers. And this is all 5 years ago.
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?230972-Authors-should-really-stop-telling-readers-how-to-give-reviews/page29
And from Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.html?id=305663058&page=1&type=review#comment_48160987

Gosh, that goodreads thread nails the behavior! There has been smoke and fire for a number of years.

Personally, I can confirm I've seen Rebecca come into private groups when doing a list run offering inducement for sales. Sometimes its marketing dollars provided for her against any service you buy from her. Other times it's newsletter feature. Sometimes the author involved offers an email mention (something like "Show me the receipt and I'll push your book in my next newsletter to 10,000 readers!).

The most recent of these was in the 20Booksto50K Facebook group, which was odd given the group has strict "no marketing" rules. One of the admins approved it, it was up for a few days and then vanished. Authors were posting on it that they had bought the book on Apple or B&N and it was *absolutely* in return for marketing dollars or other inducement.

Such inducements are against not just Amazon but Apple and B&N, et al terms of service, particularly regarding rank manipulation.

I joined GenreCrave looking for advertising options. I didn't know a Book Blast was actually RH gifting copies to her carefully cultivated group who were then entered into a competition to win gift cards.

I'm incredibly grateful I didn't go ahead with that promotion. All Amazon needs to do is see unusual gifting activity on your account and you could lose it.

It is once again a reminder that you should not trust any service that cannot be clearly explained or relies on super secret special sauce. BK Knights has a website, a twitter and facebook where you can see it all happen. BookBub and others too.

USA Today, if they cared about the credibility of the "letters" should ban multi-author boxsets from their list.

The Dark Humanity boxset RH was involved in did that "swapping out" titles thing. You can check the one-star reviews where people talk about what was in the preview wasn't in the book and that titles from the same author were in there but not the one they thought. There is even a review titled "bait and switch?".

As soon as these boxsets make the list, they're unpublished from everywhere except Amazon. So you can't see any negative reviews on B&N, Apple, etc, without accessing a cached version of the website. It's a neat way to hide all the one-star reviews regarding the content quality and stories being switched out.

You can look at Dark Humanity and see every author in it. Last I checked almost all of them now say "USA Today Bestseller" and many have added it to front covers.

We have no idea how many of the copies that moved on B&N or iBooks were from the cultivated "buy and enter competition" group. No idea how many were gifted copies operating under the same thing.

Those authors proudly proclaiming their bestseller status appeared on that list for a hot minute and then vanished and we know that some portion of the sales were illegitimate. In RH's own words, she has carefully cultivated the gift group, tossing out anyone who doesn't redeem their gifted copy within 24-hours.

I'm honestly not sure if the authors in those boxsets know *how* their letters came to be. I was certainly unaware of the true nature of the BookBlast until recently. There is a lot of legitimate marketing activity and tasks these authors are given so it's entirely possible they believe they truly did earn their bestseller status with their massive coordinated attempt.

It's good the word is getting out and this thread is staying open. I was an inch away from buying a BookBlast before I found out what was going on. People speaking out about what is happening possibly saved my Amazon account!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on May 02, 2017, 04:06:01 PM
Thanks Silly Writer and Monique, for sharing these stories. I am so sorry you faced this.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Silly Writer on May 02, 2017, 04:23:55 PM
If that happens, my advice would be to bring it here. Make it public. Maybe together the folks here can help.  At the very least, it'll shine a light on this and make it known.  This is the sort of stuff that group wants people to slink away from.  So perhaps the best recourse is to do the opposite.

That said, it's your business. So kind of easy to say from my end. But know you have support here.

I took a screenshot of my book page(s) and review sections that are date-stamped a moment after I posted here. If I have any retaliation I'll send it to Amazon to figure out. I'd suggest anyone who spoke up do the same and if we get hit, we can all send the screenshots with the reviewer names (probably will be many of the same) then we'll have proof of the retaliation 1-star/up-down voting. Maybe Amazon will step in then.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: KennySkylin on May 02, 2017, 04:49:01 PM
People used to ask me where I've been...why don't I post much anymore...what have I been doing. You can see I have a few thousand posts, yet none of the rookies even know who I am.

As one of those rookies, I think you should definitely post here more. You seem like a very nice and knowledgeable person. I guarantee there are many people out here who will appreciate you and the others that have left or felt discouraged because of any harassment.

Most people can get a vibe for who is on the up-and-up and who is rotten in situations like this. Hopefully you all will never feel dissuaded in any way from sharing with this or any other community because of some bully or shady nonsense.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ........ on May 02, 2017, 04:50:35 PM
If you go back through the mega boxsets RH has made, many vanish after a short time. All the one-star reviews about bait and switch vanish too - certainly makes it harder for any author to check the reader customer experience with these box sets.

It seems to be a very common issue that customers are delivered a file with contents only in it too.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: chc on May 02, 2017, 04:58:49 PM

We writers are weird. Lots of us don't do well in real-life social situations. MANY of us come to Kboards to find our tribe. We get to know people and get comfortable. We learn. We help. We lift each other up.We make ourselves part of this community. We make it a place to vent, help, learn, and hang out when we just CAN'T write the wordz and need someone who understands what we feel when we just can't write the wordz and instead want to screw off for a while.

This is what Harv loved about KBoards... The community. The family of it all. This is why I have kept it going even though it was really his "baby." This KBoards family was very good to him and to us when he was so sick. This is what I want for KBoards...for those who read and those who write.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 02, 2017, 05:03:26 PM
I've been following this thread since the beginning. I find it sad, worrisome, and depressing. What is the point of working hard to write good books and build an audience if folks can just buy their way to the best-sellers list or drop $$$ to soar to the top of the Amazon algorithms? What hope is there for those of us who have limited funds, limited resources? Is is a waste to take years building an audience when another author with way more funding can get it right away? Why even bother?

I didn't realize this sort of thing was going on and that authors were being ripped off in this way. It's truly sickening.

Hey Mari, I think you are reading this wrong.

People are not building a career this way or making money. They are spending thousands merely for the title of "best seller". They aren't actually a best seller, they don't have a readership, a long term career or the money that comes with being a best seller. They ONLY have the ability to tell their friends they are a best seller.

Few if anyone has spun this into an actual professional career.

There are no shortcuts. Putting out good books, with appropriate covers, in series, over time is still the ticket.

So no frets Mari!


Edited. We're holding the line on the name-calling and labeling, folks. Evidence and analysis thereof will shed enough light. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 05:06:12 PM
As one of those rookies, I think you should definitely post here more. You seem like a very nice and knowledgeable person. I guarantee there are many people out here who will appreciate you and the others that have left or felt discouraged because of any harassment.

Most people can get a vibe for who is on the up-and-up and who is rotten in situations like this. Hopefully you all will never feel dissuaded in any way from sharing with this or any other community because of some bully or shady nonsense.
The problem is that the nastiness doesn't manifest here. It shows up every where else. Reviews, up or down votes, on Facebook and​ Twitter, in your inbox.

Full disclosure, I gave The Forever Girl a three star review in 2012. It was the last review I ever posted.


Edited.  - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: jaehaerys on May 02, 2017, 05:06:38 PM
I know this has been said by others more eloquent than I, but I just want to say to those speaking out here, I'm sorry for what you've been through. It's sad that authors are having these experiences. I admire your courage in speaking up. Also glad that the mods have allowed this discussion to continue, and I'm happy that such a supportive indie community like kboards exists. Monique and SillyWriter, welcome back, I've always appreciated your posts. All the best to you. :)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Wayne Stinnett on May 02, 2017, 05:10:56 PM
Welcome home, Monique and Silly Writer. And anyone else lurking, but timid about coming forward. I'm really sorry these things happen to good, honest, hard-working people, whose only mistake was trusting someone. How do we as a community tolerate these kind of actions. Of course, your posts are now the subject of much ridicule. But, it's behind closed doors.

I like the idea of screen shots of your current reviews. Maybe that should be done daily, even. I really think this is a tactic that will likely not be employed again. As they will know it can come back to haunt them. But, if it does, please come here and post it for the world to see. Your friends here can complain to the Zon about it, and steps will be taken.

Again, welcome home.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ........ on May 02, 2017, 05:15:34 PM
Hey Mari, I think you are reading this wrong.

People are not building a career this way or making money. They are spending thousands merely for the title of "best seller". They aren't actually a best seller, they don't have a readership, a long term career or the money that comes with being a best seller. They ONLY have the ability to tell their friends they are a best seller.

Few if anyone has spun this into an actual professional career.

There are no shortcuts. Putting out good books, with appropriate covers, in series, over time is still the ticket.

So no frets Mari!


Edited. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

Yes, it's true. Go through the Dark Humanity authors. Many would not be making a living wage. The ones who are, the bigger names, essentially sponsored a bunch of authors onto the USA Today list on the back of their hard work and good books. 
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on May 02, 2017, 05:18:05 PM
For those lurkers who still think this is "new" behaviour by this book promoter, as opposed to a consistent method of operating her business, here is a Cuddlebuggery blog post from 2012 about Rebecca Hamilton asking for positive reviews to be up-voted, negatives one down-voted and threatening lawsuits to anyone who speaks out against her.
http://cuddlebuggery.com/blog/2012/04/02/buzz-worthy-news-april-2-2012/

Thread from AW about her former publishing company Immortal Ink Publishing. If you read the posts you will find that many of her practices and responses seem eerily familiar.
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?240635-Immortal-Ink-Publishing
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 05:20:23 PM
I took a screenshot of my book page(s) and review sections that are date-stamped a moment after I posted here. If I have any retaliation I'll send it to Amazon to figure out. I'd suggest anyone who spoke up do the same and if we get hit, we can all send the screenshots with the reviewer names (probably will be many of the same) then we'll have proof of the retaliation 1-star/up-down voting. Maybe Amazon will step in then.

Good idea. Better safe than sorry.

Rebecca is currently going after me on Facebook for a second time this week with yet more claims that I left her box sets because she would not let ME break the rules. It's a laughable notion--I specifically planned the launch of my book around the date it needed to be out of KU by for the wide week.

She well knows this, because we had a back and forth in the box set group later, when she posted I had to be out 10 days in advance, when that had never been expressed--my title was going to be out 4-5 days prior. Luckily I have screen shots of all of this so that I can prove these allegations to be the falsehoods they are. (Not to mention Amazon clearly lists when my book launched)! Still, it's a crappy thing to have to deal with.

Character assassination as a business practice seems like a good way to get in some pretty serious trouble.

Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 05:31:04 PM
For those lurkers who still think this is "new" behaviour by this book promoter, as opposed to a consistent method of operating her business, here is a Cuddlebuggery blog post from 2012 about Rebecca Hamilton asking for positive reviews to be up-voted, negatives one down-voted and threatening lawsuits to anyone who speaks out against her.
http://cuddlebuggery.com/blog/2012/04/02/buzz-worthy-news-april-2-2012/

Thread from AW about her former publishing company Immortal Ink Publishing. If you read the posts you will find that many of her practices and responses seem eerily familiar.
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?240635-Immortal-Ink-Publishing
😘
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 05:34:26 PM
Oh, I remember STGRB well. I even made their list of authors to avoid. 

Why is it the biggest bullies always claim to be the victim of bullying?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 05:42:44 PM
Why is it the biggest bullies always claim to be the victim of bullying?
It's called deflection.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Silly Writer on May 02, 2017, 06:20:08 PM
If that happens, my advice would be to bring it here. Make it public. Maybe together the folks here can help.  At the very least, it'll shine a light on this and make it known.  This is the sort of stuff that group wants people to slink away from.  So perhaps the best recourse is to do the opposite.

That said, it's your business. So kind of easy to say from my end. But know you have support here.


Thanks Rick, and I will bring it here. If for nothing else, to show the non-believers it is still happening...

Good idea. Better safe than sorry.

Rebecca is currently going after me on Facebook for a second time this week with yet more claims that I left her box sets because she would not let ME break the rules. It's a laughable notion--I specifically planned the launch of my book around the date it needed to be out of KU by for the wide week.


I'm so sorry this is still happening to you. Hang in there, she moves on quick. It'll be someone else's turn in the barrel in a few days :)

Welcome home, Monique and Silly Writer. And anyone else lurking, but timid about coming forward. I'm really sorry these things happen to good, honest, hard-working people, whose only mistake was trusting someone. How do we as a community tolerate these kind of actions. Of course, your posts are now the subject of much ridicule. But, it's behind closed doors.

I like the idea of screen shots of your current reviews. Maybe that should be done daily, even. I really think this is a tactic that will likely not be employed again. As they will know it can come back to haunt them. But, if it does, please come here and post it for the world to see. Your friends here can complain to the Zon about it, and steps will be taken.

Again, welcome home.


Thanks Wayne. Much appreciated.

I know this has been said by others more eloquent than I, but I just want to say to those speaking out here, I'm sorry for what you've been through. It's sad that authors are having these experiences. I admire your courage in speaking up. Also glad that the mods have allowed this discussion to continue, and I'm happy that such a supportive indie community like kboards exists. Monique and SillyWriter, welcome back, I've always appreciated your posts. All the best to you. :)

Thank you!

This is what Harv loved about KBoards... The community. The family of it all. This is why I have kept it going even though it was really his "baby." This KBoards family was very good to him and to us when he was so sick. This is what I want for KBoards...for those who read and those who write.


It's what most of us love about what Harvey created. We all miss him, too. (((Big Hugs))) and thank YOU for keeping it going for us!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: SummerNights on May 02, 2017, 06:50:46 PM
Okay, I've stayed out of this so far because I have already been a victim of RH and don't want to live through that nightmare again, but at this point, I'm gonna speak up--and I hope the dozens of others out there who had this happen to them will also, if only to help the newbies in the future, and/or keep RH from ever doing this to anyone else again.

I'll start with the fact that some of RH's business tactics are sound. She actually does a good job for some people, too. In 2013 her services got me me to #4 Free in the Entire Store with a promo she was running then. It was legit, I saw it happening. She teamed me up with 3 other authors like myself and we all blitzed each other on all social media and newsletters, and she also sent out social media blasts--which we could see. It wasn't expensive, but it was effective. I give her that one.

So...fast forward to a year and a half ago. I used to be on these boards all the time. I'm a helpful person by nature and if you look at my past posts you'll see that's what I do here. Mostly when I post, it's to help one of my peers. I rarely get involved in drama. I have many author friends. No enemies, that I'm aware of. I too believed all the hype about RH's new services, so I paid $150 for a New Release BookBlast from Hungry Author (one of the previous names of her companies). At the same time, I commissioned her to design me several FB ads for the cost of $20 each (I think). The Book Blast, at that time, said it was a social media and newsletter blast out to 150,000 of her followers and newsletter subscribers.  So, like any other service I pay for, I joined all her newsletters and followed her on social media. It also included sending the book beforehand to her reader/review list, which could get you anywhere from 5-80 reviews upon release day. (reviews were not guaranteed and I ultimately ended up with 1, which is not my complaint)

I thought we were friends, RH and I. The day of my launch, she forgot my blast. I very nicely emailed her a few days later and asked about it and she snarkily replied it would go out at the scheduled date. I politely replied the date had passed. She apologized and said she was getting to work on it. I didn't get upset at all. No problem. Stuff happens...so a few days passed all I saw were 2 tweets. I checked every newsletter several times, and her FB posts, but couldn't find any mention of the book. I reached out again and she bit my head off, implied she couldn't tell me WHERE my book had been blasted, but that she had spent 7.5 hours just that evening on it. I told her I wasn't seeing sales. I had also ran an ENT and a few others as well as sent out my own Newsletter. My newsletter clicks matched up exactly to the number of buys on the newsletter day, and the other promo services claimed the other sales, so I really wasn't seeing where she'd done anything.  (as of this thread I now know why I couldn't see anything happening, as apparently it was all shady gifting?)

I reached out to her via email/pm to ask where was the blitz happening? But all I could get back from RH was snark and defensive remarks. Having been on her FB and seen the naming/shaming of anyone who dared to question her services before, I walked it back, accepted full responsibility and even apologized and said I must've been wrong (which I wasn't), etc., etc... I decided I'd just take the blame and eat that $150 bucks rather than upset her. Finally, that appeased her. But before the conversation was over, I asked if she'd resize the graphics I'd purchased to the appropriate size that Facebook requires, as they had come over a month or so before, and since I was just then ready to launch ads, I had found out that day that they were the wrong size for ads. I have no skills in graphics and didn't have PhotoShop nor did I know how to do that (I do now though).

She lost her mind. She refused to re-size. Said she no longer had them (?). Accused me of asking her to work for free (by this time I had paid close to $200 and still hadn't got anything I'd paid for as far as I knew) and then she blocked me on FB and began her Name & Shame Game on me, even posting my graphics with my book covers for her friends/minions to attack me. I did not ask her to work for free. I paid for those services. I also didn't ask for a refund...just a resizing on the ads, and I'd eat the blitz cost. But she was on a rampage. She'd moved on from the last victim (which I watched in horror just a few days before) and was now on me like fly on rice.

My friends--who were astonished and gut-punched for me--sent me screenshots of the naming/shaming. I was so humiliated. I just wanted to hide under a rock. And I kind of did.

The embarrassment and unfairness of the whole thing pushed me into a deep depression. I gave up writing/marketing for a long while after that. She had this reputation here on Kboards that made me feel like everyone would think this drama was all MY fault. I couldn't write my books. I stopped helping newbies and pretty much stayed off Kboards. I basically hid under my blankets away from the Indie World to lick my wounds. It was like that bad dream where you feel like you're standing in front of all your co-workers naked and have no where to run.

If it wasn't for my tight group of writer buddies (all members here) that wouldn't let me give up, I wouldn't have ever wrote another word or published anything else. I lost A LOT OF TIME to that bizarre attack. I lost a lot of momentum on my books, and I still haven't got it back. I lost sleep. I shed a lot of tears. I didn't deserve that. No one does. And I can name a lot more authors just like me who didn't deserve it, and have yet to speak out due to the brutality of what they too went through. Of course I won't name them. If they want to step up, they can. If not, I totally understand why.

We writers are weird. Lots of us don't do well in real-life social situations. MANY of us come to Kboards to find our tribe. We get to know people and get comfortable. We learn. We help. We lift each other up. We make ourselves part of this community. We make it a place to vent, help, learn, and hang out when we just CAN'T write the wordz and need someone who understands what we feel when we just can't write the wordz and instead want to screw off for a while. But when you're publicly crucified, vilified, and made a spectacle of in front of your peers, you lose your place; your sense of belonging. We all deserve to be treated kindly, professionally and fairly, especially if that's the way we treat others. RH ruined Kboards for so many people. So many have felt violated and shamed with her public tar and featherings. She took a lot from me with this bullying.

People used to ask me where I've been...why don't I post much anymore...what have I been doing. You can see I have a few thousand posts, yet none of the rookies even know who I am.

Well, now you know why.

I'm so sorry this happened to you, Silly Writer! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for not giving up.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Dpock on May 02, 2017, 07:05:07 PM
Isn't this RH person (and her former STGRB mob) just the tip of the iceberg? My impression has been there are cabals, cliques, and gangs operating all over Amazon and it's most telling in the reviews. I'm sure that needs no explanation.

I've mentioned this before only to be told to mind my own business. I don't disagree on this point, but it's nice to vent every now and then.

It would be nice if there was a guild of some for legitimate indies playing by all the rules (maybe there is) that had some real firepower to manage disputes or call foul when appropriate. Some collective bargaining power with Amazon would be good to have on our side.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 07:07:22 PM
For those who missed STGRB and its now-defunct website, we started this thread with Passive Voice... Read the comments.

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2012/07/stop-the-goodreads-bullies/


Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on May 02, 2017, 07:25:38 PM
I will admit I am really confused. How does STGRB (Stop the Good Reads Bullies) factor in to the boxed set issues? Did Rebecca Hamilton run that site or something? Or just make some tweets about reviews asking for up votes and down votes?

TBH I had my hands full with a completely different set of bad actors at the time, so I wasn't involved at all with the Good Reads stuff. Maybe someone can make more sense of what we are supposed to see with the comments on Passive Voice? So many of the links etc. are just holding pages with the content of the site gone....
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 02, 2017, 07:33:03 PM
I will admit I am really confused. How does STGRB (Stop the Good Reads Bullies) factor in to the boxed set issues? Did Rebecca Hamilton run that site or something?
She was one of the major players. That is why she was booted from GR. It's the pattern of behavior.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Patty Jansen on May 02, 2017, 07:37:43 PM
She was one of the major players. That is why she was booted from GR. It's the pattern of behavior.

I googled this a lot a few months back, but while woe is me responses to reviews were easy to find, could find zero evidence that she was one of the organisers of STGRB.

On behalf of the people who have been bullied and have lost money on the box set thing, please keep this off the thread unless you have evidence. I don't want this thread to be locked. It needs to stay on topic and discuss current issues.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ........ on May 02, 2017, 07:55:22 PM
I googled this a lot a few months back, but while woe is me responses to reviews were easy to find, could find zero evidence that she was one of the organisers of STGRB.

On behalf of the people who have been bullied and have lost money on the box set thing, please keep this off the thread unless you have evidence. I don't want this thread to be locked. It needs to stay on topic and discuss current issues.

It's hard to know exactly how she was involved. There are posts like this one that show she was referring people to the website: https://www.facebook.com/annericefanpage/posts/934951083216946

Also she was on Goodreads fighting and arguing with people around the same time, particularly Kat Kennedy. There is a post on it here: https://stopthestgrbbullies.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/stop-the-gr-bullies-on-kat-kennedy-part-one/

It's all ancient history now (sorta) but you have a series of things happen close together in time, then the STGRB page appear. The ownership *wasn't* RH but then you see her picking her side in the fight and various other things going on.

It all doesn't matter much to this particular topic I think and I'm not sure it's possible to get to the truth.

Edit: I'll add that a lot of it is mixed up in time, things happening at X, written at Y, screengrabbed at Z. It's far too complicated to make any real sense of.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Kwrite on May 02, 2017, 08:04:13 PM
Christina, you've probably seen this already but RH kind of implied today that you plagiarized an entire box set and uploaded it to Kobo so that you would get her in trouble with Amazon.
I mean, you can't make this stuff up.

 :o
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ChristinaGarner on May 02, 2017, 08:06:01 PM
Christina, you've probably seen this already but RH kind of implied today that you plagiarized an entire box set and uploaded it to Kobo so that you would get her in trouble with Amazon.
I mean, you can't make this stuff up.

I've been getting screen shots of everything being said about me--thankfully there are many looking out for me, and now that the attacks have turned especially vicious and I have solid evidence of them being lies, even more are reaching out and offering support.

I can state unequivocally that the accusation is 100% untrue, as are all of her accusations against me thus far.

There really is not basement to this thing.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Becca Mills on May 02, 2017, 09:15:28 PM
I googled this a lot a few months back, but while woe is me responses to reviews were easy to find, could find zero evidence that she was one of the organisers of STGRB.

On behalf of the people who have been bullied and have lost money on the box set thing, please keep this off the thread unless you have evidence. I don't want this thread to be locked. It needs to stay on topic and discuss current issues.

Thanks, Patty, yes -- I do think the STGRB stuff is too dated and unprovable (since the site is gone) to be a useful topic to dwell on here.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 02, 2017, 11:29:23 PM
Good idea. Better safe than sorry.

Rebecca is currently going after me on Facebook for a second time this week with yet more claims that I left her box sets because she would not let ME break the rules. It's a laughable notion--I specifically planned the launch of my book around the date it needed to be out of KU by for the wide week.

She well knows this, because we had a back and forth in the box set group later, when she posted I had to be out 10 days in advance, when that had never been expressed--my title was going to be out 4-5 days prior. Luckily I have screen shots of all of this so that I can prove these allegations to be the falsehoods they are. (Not to mention Amazon clearly lists when my book launched)! Still, it's a crappy thing to have to deal with.

Character assassination as a business practice seems like a good way to get in some pretty serious trouble.

Can we see those screenshots? (Just to clarify, so there's no confusion...the ones YOU have to prove YOUR allegations, not the ones getting sent to you)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 02, 2017, 11:34:00 PM
Way to keep it classy, and keep this thread on target. It says a lot that you're seeing those new screen shots re: you and not reacting and haven't posted about it here since it was sorta off subject (although it does fall into the bullying part a bit). Like many others, when she posted the attack on me, I also was pm'd the screenshots. I appreciate the many people staying in that group who question the ethics and inform everyone of all the baseless accusations.

Can we see some of these screenshots you say you have?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 12:40:21 AM
I forgot to address this in my previous response, and I'd like to. I agree there are a lot of authors involved--each is impacted by the actions and ethics of their fellow authors in the set and the organizer.

In may case, I was kicked out of the Spellbound box set. I found out when Rebecca posted that I'd dropped out. (I hadn't at that point, but that's beside the point.)

She announced that she wasn't sure if I was donating the spot or "forcing a refund" with PayPal. (I was doing neither, but that too, is beside the point.) Because of that, she wasn't sure if she'd need to charge someone the $500 buy in to cover my "forced refund" or could offer the spot for free.

Several people offered to pay the buy in. That would have meant she was free and clear to return my money (money owed to me, not as a refund, but because she was not honoring the terms of our original contract as previously stated) and yet, she chose not to. One might ask themselves why, if her primary interest is the authors in the set.

Also, once it became clear the terms of the box set were going to change so drastically (Having to UNPUBLISH our books to participate? Swapping out full length novels for shorts? {like that's not gonna tick some readers off--and rightfully so} Not to mention, for those, like me, who were going to pull our books out immediately following the wide week in an effort to avoid the other two options, we were now not going to receive nearly the amount of profit or exposure we would have with 3 months in KU) Rebecca could have offered to reshuffle the set. None of the ones I was involved with had even been put on preorder when this all happened.

If, as she claims, box sets are done by her for free, and she receives zero profit, why not do the right thing and offer to return the money of those who no longer felt it was a good fit? I suspect she could have filled the spots, because for many it was still a fine trade, but even she couldn't--why not offer? If there's no profit, (and in the case of my 3 sets, ads had not been booked) what's the difference if, for a month or two, only one box set went live?

One has to wonder.

Did you get the refund?

Also, following Amazon TOS is your responsibility too, as an author. Sounds to me like you made the decisions about leaving KU or staying in.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 12:42:11 AM
Can we see some of these screenshots you say you have?

Sir, the amount of screenshots out there on this are legion. Spanning many years. Many sites. Many subjects...targets? (trying not to use the term 'victim' here...sorry Becca).

If you don't want to believe people who don't post screens, that's fine, there are plenty to look at in the OP itself. Also you can't post screens here, just links, but I assume either will do.

It's important to remember that people talking about this have been around for years. Career writers, and they are risking a massive backlash. Even if you don't think that backlash is coming, many who are posting very much fear it. They are taking a real risk to warn off new people. Their empathy, and maybe anger at what happened to them, makes the risk of backlash worth it. These aren't just a bunch of web trolls talking trash. Please keep that in mind when questioning motive or veracity. Also, there might be law suits going down, in which case a lot of evidence you seek is legally sensitive and a new person just isn't going to be able to access it. You've not gained enough trust.

There are a ton of facets here, but you'll get it all figured after you hit a dozen posts or so, like me. Lol.

Welcome to the site.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 12:43:19 AM
Huge difference in my mind, and I believe in most folks', between Mark Dawson and this kind of thing. One is white hat and one is black hat. Problem with black hat techniques, even if you have no ethical issues, is that you're risking your reputation and the wrath of Amazon. Probably not a good bet long term.

Authors who are successful in the long term think, well ... long term. They tend to use methods that are sustainable, like prioritizing quality of product and presentation. Long term success is about growing a group of real readers who are fans. Effective advertising is just communication with the market that wants your book, drawing their attention to it so they can find it and test it out. The long term benefit comes from the people who read it, not just the sale itself.

Do we have any proof of black hat techniques being used? Proof as in proof, not speculation.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 12:48:04 AM
Can I just say how awesome it is of the moderators to have allowed this thread to live. A lot of people are very happy to have these issues heard.

Over the past six months or so, I've spent hours fielding desperate emails and messages from people who signed up and paid, then didn't like the T&C or the tone in the groups or fell foul of the organiser, were bullied, had their author-Facebook friends put under pressure to unfriend them and desperately wanted out. Many lost hundreds, if not *thousands* of dollars.

Every time a thread was started about it here, it was shut down before the affected people could have their say and present their material. Many were simply too afraid of the blackballing and bullying to say a peep. There are still many behind the curtains who are still too afraid to speak out.

Whether or not anyone wants to get involved with tactics that skirt the edges of the Amazon T&C is up to them, but at least now it's become clear what goes on and what the risks are.

I'm sure that we can all agree that certainly, those who were not included in the sets, who pulled out long before the sets went live, and where a replacement was found, should have their money back. Maybe some people don't care about $500, but most do, especially if you get nothing for it except bullying and a wedge driven in your group of online author friends. Upcoming sets are $2000. Some people have walked away with NO return, NO money refunded and No inclusion in any box set.

They lost all their money. They lost friends. They are rightfully LIVID.

On behalf of the people who have messaged me and who are still afraid to speak out, thank you.

Can we see some proof of these accusations regarding the multitude of people scammed by RH, or do we just take your word for it?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 12:48:10 AM
Did you get the refund?

Also, following Amazon TOS is your responsibility too, as an author. Sounds to me like you made the decisions about leaving KU or staying in.

You see, right there. Christina Garner, who can clearly defend herself and surely she will, has been published on Amazon since AT LEAST 2012. You can assume she knows all about this pesky TOS business you are talking about.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 12:49:40 AM
Do we have any proof of black hat techniques being used? Proof as in proof, not speculation.

The answer is yes.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 12:51:35 AM
Can we see some proof of these accusations regarding the multitude of people scammed by RH, or do we just take your word for it?

The answer is to your first question is well documented throughout this lengthy thread, you'll have to read it. And no, don't take anyone's word. Check the screen shots, testimonials, etc...just like a court would do if you want to get that strict.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 12:55:09 AM
In regards to gifting through the vendor: I do not do this.

Why?

In my experience, and I DO give my readers ample opportunities to get my books for free both chapter by chapter and at the end as a PDF or other file download, it is better to handle the gifting stuff yourself. Note, I am not gifting in order to make  list or boost my sales rank, if those are your goals, and we've covered how they really shouldn't be your goals, but if they are, this system won't work for you.

Giving readers free books is not unethical. Like I said, I do it all the time. I prefer to give my readers the files to download so that #1 I can see who is savvy enough to do so and therefore more likely to leave me an honest review. I only ever ask for honest reviews, and for the most part those are 3-5 stars and I'm fine with that. Reviews are for readers. :)

#2, if I am handling the gifting, I have their email address that I know works. This is important, because as we all know, many of us have Amazon accounts with email addresses we rarely check unless we have to. We've had the Amazon account for going on 10+ years, so's the email address, we all know how functional that email address is likely to be . . .

#3 and this is going to be WHOA, AMAZING . . . many of my readers who get a FREE copy from me go BUY the book for themselves. I gave them the book free and they appreciate that, but then they go to the store to buy a copy because they want to own it, too. This means that my free systems don't impact my ability to make a living wage at this.

I do realize this method won't help anyone make a USAToday Bestseller List, nor does it help you debut a book #1 in a heavily competitive category. But I always say rank doesn't pay the bills . . . this is an example of a long-tail, long-career type system to build true fans vs. incetivizing downloads.

To newbies...This is BS advice. Higher rank means more exposure means more income. Achieve it ethically and morally, by all means, but do try to achieve it.


Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Logan R. on May 03, 2017, 12:58:47 AM
To newbies...This is BS advice. Higher rank means more exposure means more income. Achieve it ethically and morally, by all means, but do try to achieve it.

Why are you giving advice to "newbies" when you've only had 6 posts? I'd much rather take Elizabeth's advice than that of someone who's made so few posts. If you'd like to provide links to your own works or let us know why we should trust you, please do. Until then, I think I'll follow the advice of those more established authors.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on May 03, 2017, 01:00:37 AM
Do we have any proof of black hat techniques being used? Proof as in proof, not speculation.

Yes. It's in the previous 25 pages that you obviously didn't read in your rush .


Edited. AliceW, it's the middle of the night where I am. Pretty please, don't make my phone bark at me. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: AllyWho on May 03, 2017, 01:04:16 AM
To newbies...This is BS advice. Higher rank means more exposure means more income. Achieve it ethically and morally, by all means, but do try to achieve it.

Since you know all about it, why don't you firstly lay out your publishing creditentials and then explain to us how paying a promoter thousands of dollars to gift your book, results in more income for the author?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 01:05:00 AM
To newbies...This is BS advice. Higher rank means more exposure means more income. Achieve it ethically and morally, by all means, but do try to achieve it.

To newbies? Lol. Like us?

Higher rank for one's self perhaps means more exposure, fans, eyes, etc...but that's not what's happening here. Being part of a well gifted boxed set is not the same thing at all. I would argue it's radically different.

But we can just check this. We can make a call out to anyone that has used the gifted boxed set method and broke even, made money, launched a career. I only need one solid example out of the hundreds that have participated. Did this method, irregardless of ethics or morality, net anyone any money? (ignoring the organizer, of course, one assumes money flowed that direction but I'm supposed to pretend I can't be sure that it did, so I'll not state so definitively).

I'm really the wrong person to be answering these leading questions, but everyone else seems to be asleep and, well...here I am. Uncle Jo, defender of the whatever.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 01:07:17 AM
Why are you giving advice to "newbies" when you've only had 6 posts? I'd much rather take Elizabeth's advice than that of someone who's made so few posts. If you'd like to provide links to your own works or let us know why we should trust you, please do. Until then, I think I'll follow the advice of those more established authors.

Logan! Where you been my superhero brother? Not seen you in awhile. Love it!

EDIT: I've not been here in a bit though...so...lol.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Becca Mills on May 03, 2017, 01:13:03 AM
Honesty, as moderators have noted at several points in the latter portion of this thread, we are looking for members to relate their own personal experiences and/or to back their claims up with concrete evidence. Links to sites hosting screenshots, as in this thread's OP, are permissible, though the screenshots themselves should not be posted here. We would like to make evidence from both sides of this issue available so that every member can come to her or his own decision. We are also asking members to avoid name-calling and labeling ("scamming," "black hat," etc.), as happened when the thread was new and passions were running high. If you are not convinced by Christina's descriptions of her personal experiences, that's fine. If you have evidence of your own to provide or experiences to relate, please feel free to do so. Welcome to KBoards.

Other members, please do not rise to the opportunity for a fight. Remember that keeping this thread open is our shared priority.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 01:18:57 AM
Honesty, as moderators have noted at several points in the latter portion of this thread, we are looking for members to relate their own personal experiences and/or to back their claims up with concrete evidence. Links to sites hosting screenshots, as in this thread's OP, are permissible, though the screenshots themselves should not be posted here. We would like to make evidence from both sides of this issue available so that every member can come to her or his own decision. We are also asking members to avoid name-calling and labeling ("scamming," "black hat," etc.), as happened when the thread was new and passions were running high. If you are not convinced by Christina's descriptions of her personal experiences, that's fine. If you have evidence of your own to provide or experiences to relate, please feel free to do so. Welcome to KBoards.

Other members, please do not rise to the opportunity for a fight. Remember that keeping this thread open is our shared priority.

But Becca!....-whines, puts his sword away, apologizes, slinks back into the darkness of the internet-
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 01:20:39 AM
Honesty, as moderators have noted at several points in the latter portion of this thread, we are looking for members to relate their own personal experiences and/or to back their claims up with concrete evidence. Links to sites hosting screenshots, as in this thread's OP, are permissible, though the screenshots themselves should not be posted here. We would like to make evidence from both sides of this issue available so that every member can come to her or his own decision. We are also asking members to avoid name-calling and labeling ("scamming," "black hat," etc.), as happened when the thread was new and passions were running high. If you are not convinced by Christina's descriptions of her personal experiences, that's fine. If you have evidence of your own to provide or experiences to relate, please feel free to do so. Welcome to KBoards.

Other members, please do not rise to the opportunity for a fight. Remember that keeping this thread open is our shared priority.

No I am not satisfied by the personal accounts. There are many tall tales and accusations not substantiatied by any concrete proof here. And I have read this thread back to back. If screen shots aren't allowed to be posted here, then they can post links to places where they are allowed to be posted. None have done so.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 01:21:00 AM
The answer is yes.

Let's see it...
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 01:21:42 AM
Yes. It's in the previous 25 pages that you obviously didn't read in your rush .


Edited. AliceW, it's the middle of the night where I am. Pretty please, don't make my phone bark at me. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)

I did read the 25 pages. Saw no actual proof, just accusations.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 01:22:54 AM
The answer is to your first question is well documented throughout this lengthy thread, you'll have to read it. And no, don't take anyone's word. Check the screen shots, testimonials, etc...just like a court would do if you want to get that strict.

Testimonials sure, but no actual proof of wrongdoing.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 01:25:04 AM
To newbies? Lol. Like us?

Higher rank for one's self perhaps means more exposure, fans, eyes, etc...but that's not what's happening here. Being part of a well gifted boxed set is not the same thing at all. I would argue it's radically different.

But we can just check this. We can make a call out to anyone that has used the gifted boxed set method and broke even, made money, launched a career. I only need one solid example out of the hundreds that have participated. Did this method, irregardless of ethics or morality, net anyone any money? (ignoring the organizer, of course, one assumes money flowed that direction but I'm supposed to pretend I can't be sure that it did, so I'll not state so definitively).

I'm really the wrong person to be answering these leading questions, but everyone else seems to be asleep and, well...here I am. Uncle Jo, defender of the whatever.

What proof do we have that high rank was achieved by gifting? According to Amazon gifted copies do not influence rank.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Becca Mills on May 03, 2017, 01:29:00 AM
No I am not satisfied by the personal accounts. There are many tall tales and accusations not substantiatied by any concrete proof here. And I have read this thread back to back. If screen shots aren't allowed to be posted here, then they can post links to places where they are allowed to be posted. None have done so.

It's your right not to be convinced, Honesty. Internet forums aren't courts of law. All we can do is provide a space where people can view the evidence others choose to provide and come to their own conclusions.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: PaulineMRoss on May 03, 2017, 01:33:26 AM
What proof do we have that high rank was achieved by gifting? According to Amazon gifted copies do not influence rank.

I don't have any personal stake in any of this, so I speak here only as a concerned bystander, but my understanding is that Rebecca herself has stated that gifting is the 'secret sauce' that achieves the high rank, and that if an author gifts copies of her own book, that doesn't affect rank, true, but if it's another author's book, it DOES affect rank. But if I've got that wrong I'm sure someone will correct me.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Ava Glass on May 03, 2017, 01:37:15 AM
According to Amazon gifted copies do not influence rank.

Not true.

Quote
A gift sale counts toward a sales rank only if it is redeemed within 24 hours by the recipient.

https://kdp.amazon.com/help/topic/A2SPN65RHEW2G
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 01:39:50 AM
Let's see it...

http://insideindie.weebly.com/case-1-the-bestseller-list-box-set-gig.html

This is a pretty good start. But I want to point out that all evidence is ultimately based on testimony. Testimony that it's not a photoshop. In a court of law it's referred to as the process of authentication (though, honestly, it's been forever since I passed the bar so don't quote me). It takes a person with a good reputation to really authenticate or validate evidence. So please check out the reputations of the people posting testimonials and screen shots. You'll find them to be paragons, but some you can't authenticate because the internet is highly anonymous. So I can understand, somewhat, your reticence despite the outcry.

If you are trying to convince yourself to spend thousands to achieve a rank or something, if that's who you are, well, most are warning against it. But if you cannot be swayed, go for it. Come back and tell us if you broke even. I'm still looking for the person who did.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Becca Mills on May 03, 2017, 01:42:13 AM
Testimonials sure, but no actual proof of wrongdoing.

I agree that screenshots and other such evidence can make personal accounts more convincing. But as I was just saying to my students today ... well, yesterday, at this point, ethos can also factor powerfully into making an argument convincing. Christina, Patty, Silly Writer, and Monique are all members of long standing who have spent years on the forum demonstrating their credibility. Those of us who've been here a while know them, know their books, know their personalities, know their values. It seems that for many, their track record as members of the community makes them believable.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: dgaughran on May 03, 2017, 01:54:41 AM
Here's a testimonial: I started receiving complaints about all this maybe ten months ago. I wanted to see what was going on for myself, so I checked out the claims, and I saw it with my own eyes: a box set in KU which had titles that were wide - on Kobo, B&N and Apple. Multiple titles. Over two different box sets. They weren't mentioned in the sales description, but once you clicked inside the book you could see them.

So... yeah.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ........ on May 03, 2017, 02:04:59 AM
I have a testimonial too, Honesty- Rebecca and another author came into the 20Booksto50K facebook group to trade inducements for authors purchasing books to get a boxset number up so it could make a list. This is a direct violation of TOS.

Then the post was deleted shortly thereafter. I didn't take a screenshot but perhaps others did.

In Rebecca's group I've also seen her offering marketing dollars if you bought a particular book. It's usually put as "Hey, this book needs help at iBooks/B&N/whatever. Buy a copy, show the receipt and I'll put that much toward your next marketing campaign/advertising".

Have seen it more than once. Also a violation of TOS.

If you read the inside indie website they also show the screenshots where Rebecca talks about her group of readers who are gifted copies and must claim them or be kicked out of the group. She says there is a high claim rate. This is how the BookBlasts operate.

It is of zero surprise to me that a new account would appear at this point trying to cast doubt.

To any author out their reading this - keep your cool. Being baited into a fight is exactly what is required to shut the thread down.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: NeedWant on May 03, 2017, 02:24:56 AM
I have a testimonial too, Honesty- Rebecca and another author came into the 20Booksto50K facebook group to trade inducements for authors purchasing books to get a boxset number up so it could make a list. This is a direct violation of TOS.

Then the post was deleted shortly thereafter. I didn't take a screenshot but perhaps others did.

That's what I saw as well in the notification email Facebook sends me (by the time I clicked on the link the post had been deleted). The author in question (who's also a member here) said they needed to hit certain sales numbers in Apple, Kobo, Nook stores to qualify for a USAT bestseller list or something to that effect. Didn't take a screenshot either, but I definitely saw it.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Evenstar on May 03, 2017, 02:31:42 AM
Testimonials sure, but no actual proof of wrongdoing.

Honesty - Did you read the InsideIndie blog that this all comes from? There are a ton of screenshots on there. All very damning and backing up what people here are saying.  Unless you are suggesting that they have been photoshoped or made up?  But if you believe them to be genuine screenshots then they paint a very bleak picture of inciting people into breaking the Amazon TOS and F&F Paypal payments and also several examples of bullying.

This community works on a basis of social responsibility and building trust in recognisable names who post helpful advice.  I have been here for years now, so I have come to respect the opinions of certain people and to know their online 'voice'.  Many of those people are speaking up for the first time and it does not fit with their characters to be making baseless accusations.

You are showing up as new to this community whereas others have thousands of posts to validate their input here. It counts for a great deal. Perhaps you have been here a long time under another name, or perhaps you have never been to kboards before, but we know and trust these people.  Even those who post here as an anonymous fun name, are well respected authors that many of us know through other areas of the publishing world.

Mods - if this next bit is considered not on point enough or too inflammatory then I totally understand it being deleted:

Many others also know and trust Rebecca Hamilton from here too, which is what makes it so sad, but there are too many trusted voices on the other side to be ignored now.  It doesn't benefit them to be going on a witchhunt, especially if what they are saying about retaliation is true (which the screenshots indicate that it is), but bullying is a terrifying experience and destroys careers and self esteem, and it does need to be addressed or it continues. I consider it every bit as important as "box set scams" (The title of the thread), perhaps more so. We can all avoid making decisions that violate terms of service but we can not control personal attacks and the damage they do which can last a lifetime for some people. Only by having many people standing up at same time does it come to light, and hopefully stop.  Rebecca seems like a nice person, but she has a lot of fans who are very passionate and unfortunately they defend her with tactics that are undermining the wonderful and supportive world of indie publishing, as well as affecting real people and their lives.  I'm sorry if that sounds accusatory, but bullying makes me feel sick and I don't want to see it pushed under the carpet.  :(
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 02:43:45 AM
http://insideindie.weebly.com/case-1-the-bestseller-list-box-set-gig.html

This is a pretty good start. But I want to point out that all evidence is ultimately based on testimony. Testimony that it's not a photoshop. In a court of law it's referred to as the process of authentication (though, honestly, it's been forever since I passed the bar so don't quote me). It takes a person with a good reputation to really authenticate or validate evidence. So please check out the reputations of the people posting testimonials and screen shots. You'll find them to be paragons, but some you can't authenticate because the internet is highly anonymous. So I can understand, somewhat, your reticence despite the outcry.

If you are trying to convince yourself to spend thousands to achieve a rank or something, if that's who you are, well, most are warning against it. But if you cannot be swayed, go for it. Come back and tell us if you broke even. I'm still looking for the person who did.

Most of the stuff on that site is five years old, as in before the boxed sets era. I meant recent proof of people scammed, and getting ganged up on, etc.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 02:46:26 AM
Why are you giving advice to "newbies" when you've only had 6 posts? I'd much rather take Elizabeth's advice than that of someone who's made so few posts. If you'd like to provide links to your own works or let us know why we should trust you, please do. Until then, I think I'll follow the advice of those more established authors.

Consider my posts as my own personal testimonials and opinion, which I would like to offer anonymously. You are of course completely free to follow the advice of anyone you wish to follow advice from.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 02:52:09 AM
I don't have any personal stake in any of this, so I speak here only as a concerned bystander, but my understanding is that Rebecca herself has stated that gifting is the 'secret sauce' that achieves the high rank, and that if an author gifts copies of her own book, that doesn't affect rank, true, but if it's another author's book, it DOES affect rank. But if I've got that wrong I'm sure someone will correct me.

Sounds like something Amazon should take care of, don't you think? As moderator Becca Mills stated in response to one of my posts, this forum is not a "court of law." Especially since I've yet to see a shred of proof that any of this was actually done or said.

Edited. PM me if you have any questions. --Betsy/KB Mod
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 03:03:39 AM
I agree that screenshots and other such evidence can make personal accounts more convincing. But as I was just saying to my students today ... well, yesterday, at this point, ethos can also factor powerfully into making an argument convincing. Christina, Patty, Silly Writer, and Monique are all members of long standing who have spent years on the forum demonstrating their credibility. Those of us who've been here a while know them, know their books, know their personalities, know their values. It seems that for many, their track record as members of the community makes them believable.

I have followed this forum for 5 years too. And I researched the background of this issue over the last couple of days since this thread started, as well as the backgrounds of the people involved. There are also a lot of mentions of the vast numbers of people scammed by RH, yet only a handful of the same authors keep posting about it.  As for breaking Amazon TOS by either gifting, or having a title in KU and wide at the same time, that's for Amazon to handle, and if anyone wishes to break those rules, they will most likley face the consequences. Everyone is free to read the TOS and follow them. Or not.



Edited. PM me if you have any questions. --Betsy/KB Mod
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MonkeyScribe on May 03, 2017, 03:04:52 AM
Sounds like something Amazon should take care of, don't you think? As moderator Becca Mills stated in response to one of my posts, this forum is not a "court of law", so what gives anyone here the right to drag someone through the mud so publically and with what I can only read as malicious intent. Especially since I've yet to see a shred of proof that any of this was actually done or said.

You continue to say you haven't seen any proof or evidence. Multiple people are posting here about their experiences. We have long-time trusted members like Monique and Silly Writer, bestselling writers like Rosalind, and even David Gaughran, who has done yeoman's work for years helping out indie writers on his blog, in his writing, and at conferences. In addition, the OP links to a web site with extensive records about this sort of behavior in the original post. What you're saying is that you don't believe the evidence and proof. That is another thing entirely.

I belong to two different groups of professional writers, some of them earning mid-six figures or above, and both of them have been discussing, off the record, Rebecca Hamilton's bad behavior, bullying, and gaming the system for at least a year now. This isn't just random people deciding to hunt down a successful writer out of jealousy.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 03:07:35 AM
Here's a testimonial: I started receiving complaints about all this maybe ten months ago. I wanted to see what was going on for myself, so I checked out the claims, and I saw it with my own eyes: a box set in KU which had titles that were wide - on Kobo, B&N and Apple. Multiple titles. Over two different box sets. They weren't mentioned in the sales description, but once you clicked inside the book you could see them.

So... yeah.

OK, so someone was violating Amazon's TOS and they probably got penalized for it. I'm sure it happens everyday. The best thing to do is report it.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 03:09:44 AM
Most of the stuff on that site is five years old, as in before the boxed sets era. I meant recent proof of people scammed, and getting ganged up on, etc.

Careful. You are venturing into areas that can be proven. I'm not seeing any screenshots older than 2016 on that site.

EDIT: To be fair there are a lot of undated screen shots. But I'm not sure the dates matter when it comes to questioning the ongoing and long term business practices of the person in question.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: ........ on May 03, 2017, 03:11:31 AM
Honesty - you keep repeating you haven't seen a shred of proof - look at the section of inside indie regarding gifting copies. Those are recent screenshots (and you can see dates).

It's all there quite clearly - offering inducements to buy violates TOS.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 03, 2017, 03:13:27 AM
Folks,

A reminder that we are asking for members to post first-hand experiences, good or bad, on the box set topic. 

You've made your request, Honesty.  People will consider whether what they've provided is sufficient or not, and you or other readers can make judgments based on what is in the thread and who has been posting.  If you have first hand experience with this promoter or promotion, you are welcome to share it.

Betsy
KB Mod
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 03, 2017, 03:15:47 AM
Honesty - you keep repeating you haven't seen a shred of proof - look at the section of inside indie regarding gifting copies. Those are recent screenshots (and you can see dates).

It's all there quite clearly - offering inducements to buy violates TOS.

There's a twitter site out there too, @iamscamilton, I believe. Unedited screenshots there.  Feel free to browse.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Logan R. on May 03, 2017, 03:22:17 AM
Consider my posts as my own personal testimonials and opinion, which I would like to offer anonymously. You are of course completely free to follow the advice of anyone you wish to follow advice from.

But your posts are not testimonials or opinions. They're just attacks. You're attacking people for giving their own testimonials and opinions, but when you do the same you're crying "this is just what I think and say! You have no basis for calling me out!" For example:

Sounds like something Amazon should take care of, don't you think? As moderator Becca Mills stated in response to one of my posts, this forum is not a "court of law." Especially since I've yet to see a shred of proof that any of this was actually done or said.

Edited. PM me if you have any questions. --Betsy/KB Mod

Emphasis my own.

You've given no proof as to why anybody should take your advice. You're coming to the defense of RH, but you're not giving any evidence as to why we should believe she's great.

Trust me, I want to believe she's as great as the next person. I hope she's doing all these great things, getting people their letters and stuff like that, just because she's that altruistic. I'm an optimist like that. But you're not doing her or anybody else any favors. Everybody that's given testimonies and warned about her services are people I trust because they've proven themselves. You have not done that. You could do that if you provide screenshots and testimonies of your own, but attacking members of this forum that have freely given advice and information to help all of us is not going to get you anywhere.

And to the mods, thank you for keeping this thread open. Light needs to be shined on things like this. I agree that there's been a lot of speculation, and I do wish that both sides could provide more screenshots and proof. However, I think the one thing better than screenshots and testimonials is first-hand experience.

Which is exactly what we're seeing here.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 03, 2017, 03:22:56 AM
I have a testimonial too, Honesty- Rebecca and another author came into the 20Booksto50K facebook group to trade inducements for authors purchasing books to get a boxset number up so it could make a list. This is a direct violation of TOS.

Then the post was deleted shortly thereafter. I didn't take a screenshot but perhaps others did.

I do have a screenshot.  I had posted it to my personal FB page, where it caused a bit of a kerfluffle.  Anyway, it mentions Rebecca, but was actually posted by her co author.  No idea if Rebecca herself also posted, I'm not in 20books so if she did I didn't see it (the other post was discussed quite extensively outside of the group since the mods seemed to be pruning dissenting opinions at the time, hence why I have a copy).

Anyway the offer was buy the book on iBooks and Nook and then, after showing a receipt of course, you'd be offered a spot in the co authors newsletter.  Blatant buying of sales in my book, but others disagreed.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 03:23:04 AM
Consider my posts as my own personal testimonials and opinion, which I would like to offer anonymously. You are of course completely free to follow the advice of anyone you wish to follow advice from.

Yeah but you have to see how little umph that has. You risk nothing. People are putting their names and reputations on the line here. Even I am, as small fry as I might be. Assuming the bulling is true, I could be completely eradicated should I step too far over the line. One starred to oblivion! But perhaps the fact that I have not been attacked lends credence to your assertion, I assume, that all these veteran professionals with years of tenure are liars.

Or are you saying they are just mistaken? Not liars really, but mistaken? Or maybe they are jealous of the titles being gained through this method? Life time professionals jealous of people with titles but no career or sales?

It seems like you are just casting aspersions?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Evenstar on May 03, 2017, 03:23:43 AM
Consider my posts as my own personal testimonials and opinion, which I would like to offer anonymously. You are of course completely free to follow the advice of anyone you wish to follow advice from.

What exactly is your own personal testimonial if you don't mind me asking?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 03, 2017, 03:25:17 AM
Also, just to add, please don't take Honesty's bait. Unless they're sharing anything or linking to anything more substantial than "I don't believe you"' I think it's safe to say that engaging further is a) a waste of time and b) puts this thread in lockdown danger.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 03:33:37 AM
Also, just to add, please don't take Honesty's bait. Unless they're sharing anything or linking to anything more substantial than "I don't believe you"' I think it's safe to say that engaging further is a) a waste of time and b) puts this thread in lockdown danger.

Yes. You beat me to it. I'm not used to a heavily moderated forum, but I assume this is coming.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 03:34:47 AM
You continue to say you haven't seen any proof or evidence. Multiple people are posting here about their experiences. We have long-time trusted members like Monique and Silly Writer, bestselling writers like Rosalind, and even David Gaughran, who has done yeoman's work for years helping out indie writers on his blog, in his writing, and at conferences. In addition, the OP links to a web site with extensive records about this sort of behavior in the original post. What you're saying is that you don't believe the evidence and proof. That is another thing entirely.

I belong to two different groups of professional writers, some of them earning mid-six figures or above, and both of them have been discussing, off the record, Rebecca Hamilton's bad behavior, bullying, and gaming the system for at least a year now. This isn't just random people deciding to hunt down a successful writer out of jealousy.

Can you please direct me to those FB groups. Via PM is fine. Thanks!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Honesty on May 03, 2017, 03:36:04 AM
There's a twitter site out there too, @iamscamilton, I believe. Unedited screenshots there.  Feel free to browse.

Thanks!
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 03, 2017, 03:43:41 AM
Yes. You beat me to it. I'm not used to a heavily moderated forum, but I assume this is coming.
Also, just to add, please don't take Honesty's bait. Unless they're sharing anything or linking to anything more substantial than "I don't believe you"' I think it's safe to say that engaging further is a) a waste of time and b) puts this thread in lockdown danger.

If it hasn't become clear, we are committed to leaving this thread open.  This means that we are monitoring the thread very closely and have and will continue to edit posts, remove posts, ban people from the thread and place people on post approval as required.

We're asking for first hand accounts of people's experiences, good and bad.  Screenshots may be linked to, if desired.  And keep it classy, KBoards.

Let's everyone move on, and remember that not every post needs to be responded to.  If you don't think a post adds to the conversation, ignore it or report it if you think it violates Forum Decorum.

Betsy
KB Moderator
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Joseph Bradshire on May 03, 2017, 03:47:00 AM
Can you please direct me to those FB groups. Via PM is fine. Thanks!

Someone will link the FB page.

But honestly, dude, like I said before, if you are a new writer...this method doesn't start a career. It doesn't make money either.

I'm not 100% on that though, but I do invite anyone who has made money on this to please let us know. I'm certain some would put up with the alleged sacrifice of integrity and risk the alleged possibility of bullying if a career/money was the result.

I've just not seen anyone walk away with a career from this, no matter how much money they laid down. Which is why I even say anything. Not because I'm a jealous hater, but because I have empathy for new people and don't like to see them taken advantage of (allegedly).

EDIT: Correction. I also have friends who tell me they were taken advantage of, that's another reason I'm logged on for the first time in years and going to bat.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Lydniz on May 03, 2017, 03:49:01 AM
I'd just like to thank the mods for their efforts in keeping the thread open. I know that earlier threads on the same subject have tended to be killed off once things started getting heated, but this is all stuff that needs to be said - and most importantly read by authors who might not have been aware this was going on.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Logan R. on May 03, 2017, 03:57:49 AM
Someone will link the FB page.

But honestly, dude, like I said before, if you are a new writer...this method doesn't start a career. It doesn't make money either.

I'm not 100% on that though, but I do invite anyone who has made money on this to please let us know. I'm certain some would put up with the alleged sacrifice of integrity and risk the alleged possibility of bullying if a career/money was the result.

I've just not seen anyone walk away with a career from this, no matter how much money they laid down. Which is why I even say anything. Not because I'm a jealous hater, but because I have empathy for new people and don't like to see them taken advantage of (allegedly).

As someone who's made a living off this for a couple years, and been publishing (and been a member of this forum) since 2011, I can agree that yes, this is definitely not how you do things. In my six years (as of next week!) I've seen plenty of people come and go. Some do the right things, some do the wrong. Some do things I agree with, some do things I don't. That's the beauty of this forum. Everything is public, out in the open. You can read and see if the things said here are things that you morally agree with or not.

Most of the time, the immoral things are more obvious than others. I'm not attacking anyone in particular, not even you Honesty. I'm just saying that from what I've seen, this is not how you do things.

I could be totally wrong, but that's my own, personal, opinion and testimonial. No screenshots required.


NOTE: Edited to clarify a couple of things. It's late here so some of my thoughts weren't coming across very well.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 03, 2017, 04:12:07 AM
Let's keep the focus on first-hand experiences with the box set promotions and not on each other.  I'm going to have to insist and be heavy-handed with my pruning shears.  Posts have and will be removed; as we review the overnights, more may be removed.  Please don't hesitate to PM me if you have questions.

Betsy
KB Mod
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on May 03, 2017, 07:15:19 AM
Betsy, I don't wish to derail this thread. Would it be permissible for me to start a different thread about different ways to be free? I know the concept of permafree etc. Has been talked about before, but that one post I made about a different way I've been free seems to keep getting quoted and it might be better to move discussions about that to a separate thread.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Betsy the Quilter on May 03, 2017, 07:19:51 AM
Betsy, I don't wish to derail this thread. Would it be permissible for me to start a different thread about different ways to be free? I know the concept of permafree etc. Has been talked about before, but that one post I made about a different way I've been free seems to keep getting quoted and it might be better to move discussions about that to a separate thread.

That would be fine, EAW, and a good topic for discussion, thanks!


Betsy
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Krista D. Ball on May 03, 2017, 07:28:29 AM
Here's a testimonial: I started receiving complaints about all this maybe ten months ago. I wanted to see what was going on for myself, so I checked out the claims, and I saw it with my own eyes: a box set in KU which had titles that were wide - on Kobo, B&N and Apple. Multiple titles. Over two different box sets. They weren't mentioned in the sales description, but once you clicked inside the book you could see them.

So... yeah.

I can back this up by saying that I've also heard the grumblings for about a year or so. I have personally looked at her box sets on Kobo (since I buy most of my books there) and have seen KU titles in box sets on Kobo. When posts were made on KBoards about box sets being taken down, etc etc the blurbs and TOC would change on Amazon, but often the insides on Kobo weren't - still showing KU titles.

I've also seen the use of price matching to get around max Amazon size requirements for 99c box sets. i.e. Pricing at $2.99 on Amazon because the box is too big, and then pricing at 99c elsewhere, triggering a price match, to get the 99c Amazon price for the preorder phase. I don't know if this is allowed or not; I just know that I've gotten nastygrams from Amazon for something as simple as another retailer changing their price before Amazon does when setting up a sale, and being told I'm not allowed to sell a book for cheaper elsewhere ~~Or Else.~~
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Stewart Matthews on May 03, 2017, 07:32:25 AM
One thing hasn't been clear to me while following this thread--what happens to the box sets when the promo is over? Are they taken down from Amazon? Are any payouts made to participating authors? Do those authors see a boost of sales on their other books or receive a surge of email signups?
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: EB on May 03, 2017, 07:54:56 AM
Amazon's rules are clear on book file size requirements and price.
This speaks volumes to me.
http://insideindie.weebly.com/ask-and-ye-shall-receive.html (http://insideindie.weebly.com/ask-and-ye-shall-receive.html)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Alan Petersen on May 03, 2017, 08:11:00 AM
I have a testimonial too, Honesty- Rebecca and another author came into the 20Booksto50K facebook group to trade inducements for authors purchasing books to get a boxset number up so it could make a list. This is a direct violation of TOS.

Then the post was deleted shortly thereafter. I didn't take a screenshot but perhaps others did.

In Rebecca's group I've also seen her offering marketing dollars if you bought a particular book. It's usually put as "Hey, this book needs help at iBooks/B&N/whatever. Buy a copy, show the receipt and I'll put that much toward your next marketing campaign/advertising".

Have seen it more than once. Also a violation of TOS.

If you read the inside indie website they also show the screenshots where Rebecca talks about her group of readers who are gifted copies and must claim them or be kicked out of the group. She says there is a high claim rate. This is how the BookBlasts operate.

It is of zero surprise to me that a new account would appear at this point trying to cast doubt.

To any author out their reading this - keep your cool. Being baited into a fight is exactly what is required to shut the thread down.

I've been lurking on this thread. It's like a roadside accident I can't stop rubbernecking. And I am grateful for those that have spoken up so others might not be unwittingly get tangled up in a promo that doesn't appear to be on the up and up when it comes to TOS and other personal view things.

For me personally, any service that has a "secret sauce" would be a red flag. That Freebook service awhile back was the same thing. They wouldn't share their "secret sauce" which ended having innocent authors that tried the service threatened by Amazon.

For a promo site/service, there is no secret sauce that's a trade secret. We know how BookBub and other sites do it.

But what's prompted me to comment is that 20Booksto50K keeps getting dragged into this. I'm just a member there, I'm not a mod or admin, but it's very clear that what happens in a CLOSED Facebook group should stay there. Sharing info, asking for screenshots of private posts within a closed group violates the terms (rules) of just about every closed/private Facebook group and would probably get dot...dot..dot  banned.

With regards to what's being discussed in this thread, there are enough sources of evidence out there (including a dedicated website chock-full of screenshots) to make the case against using this person's services without violating the terms/trust of a closed Facebook group.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: C. Gockel on May 03, 2017, 08:16:00 AM
Quote
One thing hasn't been clear to me while following this thread--what happens to the box sets when the promo is over? Are they taken down from Amazon? Are any payouts made to participating authors? Do those authors see a boost of sales on their other books or receive a surge of email signups?

This is kind of off topic, but ... in general authors all get payouts depending on the amount of money made, and how much they put in. A lot of sets don't require any buy-in and the organizer will just pay for expenses from profits. Payouts back in the day before KDP put the 3500 page limit per title were huge, but I think they've been decent before KDP started enforcing the exclusivity rule. I've heard in these 20 author sets they were making $500/per month commitment.

Sell-thru depends on the quality of the book and how well it fits the theme. This is inevitable, and sell-thru isn't something an organizer can control.

But you don't have to list to get sell-thru. Just getting up high in the ranks, and selling a lot of books will give your series a boost. I know because I've been in several sets like this.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Elizabeth Ann West on May 03, 2017, 08:20:27 AM
I've been lurking on this thread. It's like a roadside accident I can't stop rubbernecking. And I am grateful for those that have spoken up so others might not be unwittingly get tangled up in a promo that doesn't appear to be on the up and up when it comes to TOS and other personal view things.

For me personally, any service that has a "secret sauce" would be a red flag. That Freebook service awhile back was the same thing. They wouldn't share their "secret sauce" which ended having innocent authors that tried the service threatened by Amazon.

For a promo site/service, there is no secret sauce that's a trade secret. We know how BookBub and other sites do it.

But what's prompted me to comment is that 20Booksto50K keeps getting dragged into this. I'm just a member there, I'm not a mod or admin, but it's very clear that what happens in a CLOSED Facebook group should stay there. Sharing info, asking for screenshots of private posts within a closed group violates the terms (rules) of just about every closed/private Facebook group and would probably get dot...dot..dot  banned.

With regards to what's being discussed in this thread, there are enough sources of evidence out there (including a dedicated website chock-full of screenshots) to make the case against using this person's services without violating the terms/trust of a closed Facebook group.

Respectfully, being a closed group does not override other issues. Like if someone in a closed Facebook group posts proof they are defrauding people or scamming people, the virtue of a closed group should not protect that individual. There were a LOT of people who left 20booksto50k over what happened with the "buy this book and post your proof for a newsletter swap."

I've been on the receiving end of a bigger author flexing her Top 100 in the Paid Kindle Store status to get me to do all kinds of shady stuff. Most of it I said absolutely not, but I did work for free for 3 months before my husband got me to realize what I was doing . . .  all for a promise of exposure.

In my opinion, ANY closed Facebook group or private author space that protects wrongdoing in the interest of privacy is how we get ourselves in these kind of messes to begin with.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Usedtoposthere on May 03, 2017, 08:21:13 AM
I've been lurking on this thread. It's like a roadside accident I can't stop rubbernecking. And I am grateful for those that have spoken up so others might not be unwittingly get tangled up in a promo that doesn't appear to be on the up and up when it comes to TOS and other personal view things.

For me personally, any service that has a "secret sauce" would be a red flag. That Freebook service awhile back was the same thing. They wouldn't share their "secret sauce" which ended having innocent authors that tried the service threatened by Amazon.

For a promo site/service, there is no secret sauce that's a trade secret. We know how BookBub and other sites do it.

But what's prompted me to comment is that 20Booksto50K keeps getting dragged into this. I'm just a member there, I'm not a mod or admin, but it's very clear that what happens in a CLOSED Facebook group should stay there. Sharing info, asking for screenshots of private posts within a closed group violates the terms (rules) of just about every closed/private Facebook group and would probably get dot...dot..dot  banned.

With regards to what's being discussed in this thread, there are enough sources of evidence out there (including a dedicated website chock-full of screenshots) to make the case against using this person's services without violating the terms/trust of a closed Facebook group.
I'd venture that many of us not directly affected have seen screenshots and proof that aren't ours to share. We've also seen Facebook shenanigans (well, I have) and review targeting. Did I screen shot? Nope, I just made a strong mental note to steer clear and then did so.

Reputation matters in this business. Who you are online matters. Your record of how you treat people matters. And your choice of business partners matters. All those things are how others will judge you--and that matters. Why is Becca a moderator here? Because she's wicked smart and fair-minded. How do we know that? Years of watching her respond on this site. *

Sucking up accomplished. They're putting in my new library floor downstairs. Time to go down there and shift impatiently from foot to foot.



*Plus she paid us. --Betsy
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 03, 2017, 08:22:07 AM
But what's prompted me to comment is that 20Booksto50K keeps getting dragged into this. I'm just a member there, I'm not a mod or admin, but it's very clear that what happens in a CLOSED Facebook group should stay there. Sharing info, asking for screenshots of private posts within a closed group violates the terms (rules) of just about every closed/private Facebook group and would probably get dot...dot..dot  banned.

With regards to what's being discussed in this thread, there are enough sources of evidence out there (including a dedicated website chock-full of screenshots) to make the case against using this person's services without violating the terms/trust of a closed Facebook group.

I guess the issue there is that pretty much *everything* being said on the RH side of things, ie the stuff being shared in screenshots, is behind closed doors in either closed or secret groups.  So the question is what do you do if someone uses (or abuses) the closed nature of a group to post things that are potentially against TOS or unethical?  Do you respect the group rules and let it go, or not? 

It's a tough choice, I agree. By acting on what you think is the greater good, one actively risks being alienated because others may think you're not trustworthy.  It's a classic case of whistleblowing, which doesn't always work out well for the whistleblower themselves.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on May 03, 2017, 08:23:55 AM
When a person enters into a business contract, they should expect businesslike behavior, not personal sob stories and attacks.  They certainly shouldn't expect months of nightmarish attacks, threats and legal hassles.

I guess the more money you have sunk into it and the better results you get, the easier it is to look the other way while authors are being hounded, blamed and bullied?  Or do people think everyone else is lying and only the promoter is telling the truth?

Aside from tactics and buying your way to letters, I really don't know how people watch the dogs being let loose on an author who's run afoul of the organizer and thinks it's ok to keep doing business with that organizer.  There are too many of these stories to convince yourself that every single one of them "deserved" it.  There is too much evidence.

Or maybe it's just that everyone sees the torches and the pitchforks set loose and no one wants the mob set on them.  I will tell you that I unpublished my books before posting in this thread because the threat is very real.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: HopelessFanatic on May 03, 2017, 08:29:59 AM
I've been lurking on this thread. It's like a roadside accident I can't stop rubbernecking. And I am grateful for those that have spoken up so others might not be unwittingly get tangled up in a promo that doesn't appear to be on the up and up when it comes to TOS and other personal view things.

For me personally, any service that has a "secret sauce" would be a red flag. That Freebook service awhile back was the same thing. They wouldn't share their "secret sauce" which ended having innocent authors that tried the service threatened by Amazon.

For a promo site/service, there is no secret sauce that's a trade secret. We know how BookBub and other sites do it.

But what's prompted me to comment is that 20Booksto50K keeps getting dragged into this. I'm just a member there, I'm not a mod or admin, but it's very clear that what happens in a CLOSED Facebook group should stay there. Sharing info, asking for screenshots of private posts within a closed group violates the terms (rules) of just about every closed/private Facebook group and would probably get dot...dot..dot  banned.

With regards to what's being discussed in this thread, there are enough sources of evidence out there (including a dedicated website chock-full of screenshots) to make the case against using this person's services without violating the terms/trust of a closed Facebook group.

I just want to point out that the website full of screenshots are often screenshots of closed groups, secret groups, or PMs. I know some of the screenshots were shared in confidence and yet are still being posted without permission. That makes me feel really icky for the person whose trust has been broken. Nothing is safe right now. Whatever you say in a closed or secret group or a PM or anything can be used against you or at least shared without your permission. I'm not saying it's right or okay, but it is what it is.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: brkingsolver on May 03, 2017, 08:34:36 AM
I just want to point out that the website full of screenshots are often screenshots of closed groups, secret groups, or PMs. I know some of the screenshots were shared in confidence and yet are still being posted without permission. That makes me feel really icky for the person whose trust has been broken. Nothing is safe right now. Whatever you say in a closed or secret group or a PM or anything can be used against you or at least shared without your permission. I'm not saying it's right or okay, but it is what it is.
I think many of us are being reminded that nothing on the internet is truly private. A woman I know had her boss mention that he'd seen a nude picture of her. The picture was seven years old from her university days and she'd completely forgotten about it.

At the risk of sounding priggish, if you watch your behavior and what you say/write, then you don't have to worry about being "exposed". As I said, a reminder for all of us.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Stewart Matthews on May 03, 2017, 08:36:27 AM
I've been lurking on this thread. It's like a roadside accident I can't stop rubbernecking. And I am grateful for those that have spoken up so others might not be unwittingly get tangled up in a promo that doesn't appear to be on the up and up when it comes to TOS and other personal view things.

For me personally, any service that has a "secret sauce" would be a red flag. That Freebook service awhile back was the same thing. They wouldn't share their "secret sauce" which ended having innocent authors that tried the service threatened by Amazon.

For a promo site/service, there is no secret sauce that's a trade secret. We know how BookBub and other sites do it.

But what's prompted me to comment is that 20Booksto50K keeps getting dragged into this. I'm just a member there, I'm not a mod or admin, but it's very clear that what happens in a CLOSED Facebook group should stay there. Sharing info, asking for screenshots of private posts within a closed group violates the terms (rules) of just about every closed/private Facebook group and would probably get dot...dot..dot  banned.

With regards to what's being discussed in this thread, there are enough sources of evidence out there (including a dedicated website chock-full of screenshots) to make the case against using this person's services without violating the terms/trust of a closed Facebook group.

I would normally agree with you. Closed groups are closed for a reason.

However, its very difficult to have a thread about underhanded behavior if one is not allowed to show any examples of such.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: MyraScott on May 03, 2017, 08:37:46 AM
I just want to point out that the website full of screenshots are often screenshots of closed groups, secret groups, or PMs. I know some of the screenshots were shared in confidence and yet are still being posted without permission. That makes me feel really icky for the person whose trust has been broken. Nothing is safe right now. Whatever you say in a closed or secret group or a PM or anything can be used against you or at least shared without your permission. I'm not saying it's right or okay, but it is what it is.

I think a good rule of thumb is to never put anything on the Internet anywhere that you wouldn't stand behind.   Forums and social media are publishing and once you put things out there, you can't control where they go.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Alan Petersen on May 03, 2017, 08:39:11 AM
Respectfully, being a closed group does not override other issues. Like if someone in a closed Facebook group posts proof they are defrauding people or scamming people, the virtue of a closed group should not protect that individual. There were a LOT of people who left 20booksto50k over what happened with the "buy this book and post your proof for a newsletter swap."

I've been on the receiving end of a bigger author flexing her Top 100 in the Paid Kindle Store status to get me to do all kinds of shady stuff. Most of it I said absolutely not, but I did work for free for 3 months before my husband got me to realize what I was doing . . .  all for a promise of exposure.

In my opinion, ANY closed Facebook group or private author space that protects wrongdoing in the interest of privacy is how we get ourselves in these kind of messes to begin with.

I agree. I didn't see that post on 20Booksto50K but the person above said the mods deleted it. So they're protecting 20Booksto50K members from that type of shady behaviors. I know that because it's a closed group doesn't really mean jack on the Internet. But If there is unethical stuff going on in a closed group we're asked to report it to the mods and even Facebook and they take care of it.

I'm talking about third-party closed groups here. If there is a closed group actively involved in black hat stuff and shady stuff then I agree, those posts are fair game and should be screenshotted for evidence. But an innocent third-party closed group, I just don't believe it's right to share what happens inside a closed group. Especially in this situation where there already is a ton of evidence.

Anyway, that's my opinion on the matter. I don't want to get into a big brouhaha over this. It's just my opinion.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: PhoenixS on May 03, 2017, 08:41:45 AM
I can back this up by saying that I've also heard the grumblings for about a year or so. I have personally looked at her box sets on Kobo (since I buy most of my books there) and have seen KU titles in box sets on Kobo. When posts were made on KBoards about box sets being taken down, etc etc the blurbs and TOC would change on Amazon, but often the insides on Kobo weren't - still showing KU titles.

I've also seen the use of price matching to get around max Amazon size requirements for 99c box sets. i.e. Pricing at $2.99 on Amazon because the box is too big, and then pricing at 99c elsewhere, triggering a price match, to get the 99c Amazon price for the preorder phase. I don't know if this is allowed or not; I just know that I've gotten nastygrams from Amazon for something as simple as another retailer changing their price before Amazon does when setting up a sale, and being told I'm not allowed to sell a book for cheaper elsewhere ~~Or Else.~~

Amazon's rules are clear on book file size requirements and price.
This speaks volumes to me.
http://insideindie.weebly.com/ask-and-ye-shall-receive.html (http://insideindie.weebly.com/ask-and-ye-shall-receive.html)

Proof of the forced price matching despite file sizes too large for the 99 cent price is easy. Just check out the newest box set launch that was linked to from this thread yesterday. I did. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N18NFS9/
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Rick Gualtieri on May 03, 2017, 08:46:31 AM
I agree. I didn't see that post on 20Booksto50K but the person above said the mods deleted it. So they're protecting 20Booksto50K members from that type of shady behaviors.

Normally I would agree. Had it been a case of someone posted it, and the mods immediately deleted it with a warning, it would be a no brainer.  But I think plenty who are in the group can attest it was a pretty big blowup, with at least some of the mods actively defending the original post, and ultimately causing some people to leave the group. 

Like I said before, I'm not in 20Books. Never have been.  But this was a big enough issue that it spilled over into other discussions.  That typically doesn't happen for a quick "oops that was a mistake" post.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: HopelessFanatic on May 03, 2017, 08:52:48 AM
I think many of us are being reminded that nothing on the internet is truly private. A woman I know had her boss mention that he'd seen a nude picture of her. The picture was seven years old from her university days and she'd completely forgotten about it.

At the risk of sounding priggish, if you watch your behavior and what you say/write, then you don't have to worry about being "exposed". As I said, a reminder for all of us.

Oh, I agree. As for being exposed, people make mistakes. Or they agree to do something that can be seen as unethical, but don't end up doing it. Christina is one example of this. There are people who believe that she broke TOS in a box set she wasn't even in, because of a screenshot that only shows part of the picture. I now have a deep distrust of screenshots having seen how they can be twisted or context can be removed. There are accusations of things that didn't happen which in my mind does a disservice to those who are telling the truth because it casts things in doubt. If I go by my personal experiences, as well as the experiences told to me by people that I respect and trust, it paints a very different picture.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: sela on May 03, 2017, 08:58:53 AM
I've read this thread over several times now.

Here's what I've gleaned.

It's a tough world out there for indies. There are 4,000 new ebooks published on Amazon EVERY DAY! All of this intrigue is because writers are desperate to succeed in a very crowed and competitive market. When people are desperate, they are open to being flimflammed.

The big question indies face is how do we get our books visible? How do we make a career out of this, if that's our goal?

I've been in this business since June 2012 and have consistently made six figures since 2013. I've taken courses. I've learned how to advertise on social media. I've applied for promos. I've tried to maximize my catalogue's appeal via new covers, reworked blurbs and keywords. All my books have been professionally edited. I've read pretty much every single writing book out there. I've watched hundreds of hours of videos and listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts. I've read industry blogs. I've written and published 13 full-length novels, 3 novellas and several short stories.

What I have learned is that there is no secret sauce.

There is only:

1) Writing a commercial book that has an audience, and,
2) Getting that book in front of its audience, and,
3 Doing that over and over again.

The first is a matter of craft and smarts.

The second is a matter of professional presentation and marketing.

The third is a matter of perseverance.

No secrets. All the information you need is out there if you want to read and watch and listen and study.

If you do not have the level of success that you want, and if you have done everything you can with respect to a great cover, a great blurb, great keywords, appropriate category, a polished manuscript, some promotion, and you are still not selling books?

Going into a boxed set using shady techniques to hit a list is NOT the way to go.

If you have not achieved the level of success you desire and you have done everything possible to make your books commercially successful, maybe go back to square one and look at your craft. Maybe you need to work on storytelling.

It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you've done everything else right, maybe you don't yet have storytelling down.

Do more reading and studying of what sells. What is it that makes those bestsellers sell? I guarantee you it isn't doing shady things to get your book increased in rank, although certain shady techniques may work in the short term. Gifting copies may be useful when you run a promotion as a gift, but gifting copies in mass numbers will not make your book sell. I guarantee you it won't make your book become a bestseller to put USAT or NYT on the cover. Neither will any shady techniques to get people to click borrow just to improve rank and get more visibility. Keyword stuffing, etc. may help somewhat, but in the end, that book has to have appeal.

All the techniques of the book scammers will only work for a short time and only until Amazon cracks down. The money will be short term, and might even never come if Amazon discovers their scam.

The bottom line is this: If your book is not appealing to a large readership or not satisfying those readers who do pick it up, no amount of marketing, promotion and letters above your name will make it a success. Black hat techniques will move copies for a short term until you get caught and then you'll have to scramble to find a new scam.

Readers determine what books succeed. Focus on your target readers -- readers you want to buy your book. Figure out what they want and give it to them. Do it as professionally as you can. Don't cut corners.

The bottom line in self publishing is that to succeed, you have to focus on what matters: telling what readers consider is a cracking story and do it over and over again.

If you want to make a living as a story teller, someone claiming to have a secret sauce that you can buy to become a success is just a way for them to separate you from your money.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Anarchist on May 03, 2017, 09:01:28 AM
I don't want to get into a big brouhaha over this.

+1 for using a word that always makes me laugh for some reason.

And for what it's worth, I completely agree with you regarding whether things posted in private groups should be shared publicly.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: NeedWant on May 03, 2017, 09:05:48 AM
I agree. I didn't see that post on 20Booksto50K but the person above said the mods deleted it. So they're protecting 20Booksto50K members from that type of shady behaviors. I know that because it's a closed group doesn't really mean jack on the Internet. But If there is unethical stuff going on in a closed group we're asked to report it to the mods and even Facebook and they take care of it.

If they had banned the offending party from the group, I might agree. They didn't. That person still posts there.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Krista D. Ball on May 03, 2017, 09:06:09 AM

What I have learned is that there is no secret sauce.]

There really isn't, is there?


Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: lilywhite on May 03, 2017, 09:09:52 AM
I guess the issue there is that pretty much *everything* being said on the RH side of things, ie the stuff being shared in screenshots, is behind closed doors in either closed or secret groups.  So the question is what do you do if someone uses (or abuses) the closed nature of a group to post things that are potentially against TOS or unethical?  Do you respect the group rules and let it go, or not? 

It's a tough choice, I agree. By acting on what you think is the greater good, one actively risks being alienated because others may think you're not trustworthy.  It's a classic case of whistleblowing, which doesn't always work out well for the whistleblower themselves.

I'll also add that, for those of us who left that group in disgust over this incident, I have no loyalty to that group and if I'd taken a screenshot I'd have no compunction about sharing it. Michael A is a fantastic guy, smart and capable, and he appears to have a great deal of integrity -- but what happened there in that group was revolting. Wayne Stinnett is worth 400 of any one of those individual mods that attacked him for his principled response to what was a clear case of buying rank. In hopes of not being pruned, I'll say no more.
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: lilywhite on May 03, 2017, 09:12:30 AM
When a person enters into a business contract, they should expect businesslike behavior, not personal sob stories and attacks.  They certainly shouldn't expect months of nightmarish attacks, threats and legal hassles.

I guess the more money you have sunk into it and the better results you get, the easier it is to look the other way while authors are being hounded, blamed and bullied?  Or do people think everyone else is lying and only the promoter is telling the truth?

Aside from tactics and buying your way to letters, I really don't know how people watch the dogs being let loose on an author who's run afoul of the organizer and thinks it's ok to keep doing business with that organizer.  There are too many of these stories to convince yourself that every single one of them "deserved" it.  There is too much evidence.

Or maybe it's just that everyone sees the torches and the pitchforks set loose and no one wants the mob set on them.  I will tell you that I unpublished my books before posting in this thread because the threat is very real.

This. It took me literally one week of seeing how this person sends her [fans] after anyone she perceives as "against" her to know that I would NEVER work with her. I've had her and almost everyone who works with her blocked on all social media since at least last fall, if not earlier.


Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca (http://www.kboards.com/index.php?action=pm;sa=send;u=59615)
Title: Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
Post by: Alan Petersen on May 03, 2017, 09:12:51 AM

What I have learned is that there is no secret sauce.]

There really isn't, is there?




About ten years ago I lost 80+ pounds. Everyone asked for my "secret". I cut out fast food. Watched my sugar intake. Ate healthier. And worked out at the gym, every day. The look on their face when I told them the "secret" was like I had just told a six-year-old there was no Santa Clause.

And as depressing as this enti