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Messages - Saboth

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Well, that's going to stifle the economy a bit.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Quick question re: Freebooksy
« on: June 20, 2018, 01:36:30 PM »
Just checked and Amazon is showing the pre-order at exactly 50 pages. Looks like I need to add a little something.

Thanks for the info!

"It was a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very.....

very, very, very.... day in June"

Writers' Cafe / Re: Promos that work for wide authors?
« on: June 20, 2018, 09:04:43 AM »
Kobo free promos are the bomb. Go direct through Kobo, and ask for the "Promotions" tab to be added to your page.

I've also found that advertising on FB for iBooks and Kobo is possible and works fairly well. Patty taught me in this post:,263783.0.html how to create one ad for multiple countries.

I find FB advertising is expensive in terms of downloads, but the sell-thru tends to be excellent.

ETA: Riffle, Bargain/Freebooksy, ReadCheaply, ManyBooks, FussyLibrarian, BookBarbarian, ENT, and RobinReads (for Nook) are great decent for wide authors.

That's very useful. I went wide a few weeks back and sold nothing. I made my prequel free and got a Kobo free promotion and that helped jumpstart Kobo a bit. I just did a freebooksy and that seems to have helped with Apple and B&N (although B&N still remains the lowest, by far). I've gotten some free DL on Google Play, but no sales yet, even with the Freebooksy.

I've had a Facebook ad (video) that gets lots of clicks and interest. It's one where they click a link, and the link leads to my universal page on D2D. The ad is running in about 10 different countries, except the USA. I don't think it's generating any sales, but I suspect it's because of the link leading to that universal page. If I could get this ad generating sales, it would be awesome, because right now my average bid is hanging around .03-.04 per click.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Bookbub International Question(s)
« on: June 20, 2018, 08:31:10 AM »
How much of a shot does a permafree have with Bookbub? They say they really want great deals for their readers, but they say they might consider permafree. Does it turn a 1 in 500 chance into a 1 in 5000 chance?

I think this treatment of customers has really stifled reviews. I think in the past, you might get 1 review per 50-100 DL, but now it seems more like 150-200+ (on Amazon). I recently went wide, and was amazed that on Kobo, I was getting 1 review per 70 DL. I guess Kobo doesn't treat its customers like criminals, causing them to fear leaving a review.

I love when they teach you the "secrets." Especially when they're the "secrets THEY don't want you to know."

There's one commercial that comes on during the day that I find hilarious. "We'll help you get rid of your credit card debt. It's the one secret credit card companies DON'T want you to know." The credit card companies are painted as these evil villains, and the credit card spender is some hapless innocent.

Writers' Cafe / Re: "How we measure page reads" KDP notice
« on: June 19, 2018, 11:45:12 AM »
My two most recent books (1 and 2 in a series), formatted exactly the same with identical front and back matter. 66,006 words=369 KENP. 62,445 words=308 KENP. On one book, 202 words per page. On the other book, 178 words per page. My writing style and language doesn't vary that much between the two books. One book has 6% fewer words, and 5% fewer characters including spaces, but it is allocated 17% fewer KENP.

No one can convince me there is a real, scientific formula for this. Some kind of magical thinking? That I might buy.

Maybe it's more like rolling stats in an RPG. "12 Str" /roll again. "15 str" roll again. "18+2" Yes!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Advice on going wide. . . leaving KDP Select
« on: June 19, 2018, 09:25:13 AM »
Thanks! I thought I was stuck. :)

You should give a reason for leaving, though. If you just say "hey, can you pull me out of KDP?" they will probably say no. State that you are concerned about the threats authors have been getting about illicit page reads, or warnings of suspensions or bans for authors in Kindle Unlimited (or whatever other reason you can give).

Pretty much as expected.

Amazon: "We are aware of your concerns and we take them very seriously".

The novice prawny author is hit with losing 1/2 her page reads, and emails stating her account might be suspended or banned unless she takes care of this problem that she didn't even know existed. Every few weeks or months she loses another 5 star review out of the blue, while praying each day to see a new good review. She continues working diligently her next book, putting a lot of care and love into it, unsure of what the future holds.

The shifty kraken author pays to have 300 five star reviews within the first week of launch, pays 5 ghostwriters to crank out thousands of pages of cookie cutter content, releases a new book every 2 weeks, ranks 100 in the overall store, makes 50 books out of 10 books, while paying click farms for rank boosts, and Amazon shrugs.

Writers' Cafe / Re: I'm in tears. Amazon has cut my numbers for May.
« on: June 17, 2018, 08:02:28 AM »
What exactly is LitRPG and MMOs?

An MMO is an online game where thousands or millions of people play in a game world (like a fantasy world filled with giants, ogres, etc.) They create an avatar to explore this world, going on quests, teaming up with other players to accomplish goals.

litRPG has different genres in it, but in general it's usually a story from the viewpoint of one of these characters. Either someone in the real world ends up in one of these games, somehow, or they are in the game due to virtual reality, or the story is simply from the pov of a character in the game. They go on quests, explore the world, etc. The main difference is the reader is aware they are in a game, and they are provided with the character stats. Like a character might have 5 strength, 3 agility, 2 wisdom, etc., and they gain more as they level up in the game. So there's usually math involved, where the character becomes more powerful as they gain more levels and equipment.

"I looked at my stats and put one point into strength, because I wanted to be able to use the new sword I got from the quest, which requires 6 strength. Now when I hit a goblin, it takes 11 damage instead of 9, because the sword gives me 1 extra damage, and my strength gives me 1 extra damage."

Writers' Cafe / Re: I'm in tears. Amazon has cut my numbers for May.
« on: June 17, 2018, 07:30:46 AM »

Can I ask a stupid question at this point?

What is the attraction of writing LitRPG? And can it be changed into something not being hit by Amazon? Seems to me the easiest thing would be to stop writing litrpg, and write something different using the same skill set. But then, I know nothing about it.

It's a popular genre that is really hot right now. Books can easily hit 1K or 2K without any marketing at all. It's a bit difficult to write properly, and probably shouldn't be written by people who aren't intimately familiar with MMOs or RPGs, unless they are prepared to do a lot of research (I haven't written any, as keeping track of the numbers and doing math sounds like too much of a chore to me).

Writers' Cafe / Re: I think bots are reading my book--what can I do?
« on: June 16, 2018, 05:30:35 PM »
Well, my KENP were like 450 (or close to it, I forget) and 355 (my new release). His books were shorter, so probably more like 300 or so. Mine did have KENP assigned in the dashboard, and his came out two weeks before mine, so I assume he had KENP assigned as well. Unless you mean Amazon assigns a placeholder in their system while showing something different on the KDP screen.

Writers' Cafe / Re: I think bots are reading my book--what can I do?
« on: June 16, 2018, 05:14:44 PM »
Hi, I hope this hasn't already been covered, I searched every bot thread pretty thoroughly and couldn't find quite this same situation.

I started pubbing erotic short stories in KU in late May. I saved up a bunch so I'm putting out 2 a week. I'm off to a small but encouraging start, a few purchases and several borrows on each new release.

However, last Thursday I noticed a huge spike in reads on one story. Each story is about 20-30 KENP, and I'd never gotten more than 100 pages read in a day on one story. Thursdaym I checked in the morning and there were exactly 500 pages read on a story I released May 25th, which has had no other activity since May. Later that day there were another 500, for exactly 1000 total for the day. No sales on that title, just reads.

Then today, I checked in the morning before I went to work and there are again exactly 500 reads on that same title.

Maybe this was an over-reaction, but I panicked and unpublished the book, since it doesn't seem to be getting any activity other than these strange large chunks of even reads, and I'd rather lose a few bucks on this book rather than have my account shut down by Amazon.

I've done zero marketing on this title other than the initial NL list release announcement, which I do weekly with each set of releases. Only two things are different about this title from others, that I can tell:

1) It has one single 4 star rating on GR (none of my other titles have been rated) and
2) when I google searched it it popped up on what I assume is a pirate site, upload4earn. I emailed them asking them to take it down, but am wondering if this is where it was targeted for bots--if that's what this is.

I'm trying to figure out what to do next--do I contact Amazon and tell them I think my book is being read by bots, or would that be painting a target on my account? Do I republish and assume they'll just strip pages they find to have been read by bots? I don't want to make money if these reads aren't legit, but also don't want to lose everything for trying to be honest.

Anyone else have a similar experience or insight? Can I assume these are bots, or is there a chance they are legit reads?

I have so many questions! XD

Interesting. I was in KU, but had to pull out because Amazon threatened to terminate my account (this was before the new "friendlier" emails where they say they are just going to take your page reads and maybe not terminate).

So, I never noticed a real uptick in page reads when I was supposedly being botted. If I was getting them, it was only a few hundred here and there, but they must have blended in with my normal sales. But Amazon said I had illicit page reads in April and May, so I pulled out of KU around May 13. Page reads declined until they were hovering around 0 to maybe 25 a day by the end of May. Then June hits. June 1 I have exactly 500 page reads. Two days later, I have exactly 500 page reads. One week from that date, 500 page reads. They've since stopped, but of course now they stand out like a sore thumb when most days I get 0.

I have a friend who was also accused of illicit page reads, and he's had a few "500" days this month too. Sooooo...I'm thinking bots. The interesting thing about this though is Amazon took 20K page reads in April (out of 40K) and 40K in May (out of 80K). Looks like I'm going to have maybe 1500 this month, so was Amazon really taking *only* illicit page reads, or a straight up 50% penalty? How were "illicit" page reads 20K in April, 40K in May and 1.5K in June (the first month completely out of KU)? Especially when I was out of KU for the last half of May.

She's very entertaining. I'm kind of shocked that a person with almost 9 million subscribers has only 63 reviews on her book, and after doing funny shout out for her book yesterday, the book is only ranked 50K.

Writers' Cafe / Re: KDP insinuates that Amazon ads are manipulative?
« on: June 14, 2018, 01:51:46 PM »
Whatever is going on with the page reads thing has nothing to do with AMS ads, or promotions. There are people who use AMS only (like yourself) or *no* promotions at all that are being hit. Either authors are being targeted by click farms to cover the click farm's activity and/or click farms are being hired to eliminate/hinder the competition in certain categories.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Poll: should I create a poll?
« on: June 13, 2018, 12:33:25 PM »
The answer I wanted wasn't listed. "Yes! I honestly love polls and all top 10 lists!"

In the last year I've had eight BB promotions and i assure you I don't have some magic BB fairy dust.

Do you feel like getting 1-2 BB (or maybe a bunch of other promotions) got the ball rolling? Or does all momentum cease once the promotional tails for promotions die off (speaking of wide, not Amazon)?

Writers' Cafe / Re: I'm in tears. Amazon has cut my numbers for May.
« on: June 11, 2018, 04:58:29 PM »
Is there widespread confirmation that the penalty is always 50%?

I've heard people saying it but are the collecting evidence along the way? I don't track my numbers day to day so honestly if they were cut I wouldn't know at all (except perhaps noticing a lower figure on Book Report).

A 50% cut isn't bad page reads being removed. It's an algorithm, a checkbox unthinking punishment. It means that Amazon doesn't know how many pages reads are fake otherwise they'd just remove those.

It really looks like they find a bot KU reader account, then select every book it touched and cut page reads by a fixed percentage for all those authors.

50% seems to be the most common. But there does seem to be some kind of formula going on. Like 25%, 50%, 65%. You don't usually see someone they got hit for 5% or 16%.

Writers' Cafe / Re: I'm in tears. Amazon has cut my numbers for May.
« on: June 11, 2018, 11:07:43 AM »
Point is, it's impossible to say what's what because it's all completely hidden in pea soup fog. We have no way of knowing where the reads are coming from so we no way of knowing if we're being wronged, righted, robbed, botted, compensated or gifted. It's a guess wrapped inside an estimate covered in speculation sauce.

This is why I'm going to give wide a shot, despite the odds. We don't know anything, but we SHOULD know all of these things. It's not like Amazon doesn't have the capability to let us know how many borrows we have in a day. So now we have many unknowns:

1. How many borrows?
2. How many legit page reads?
3. How many false page reads?
4. What will the payout be this month?
5. Will I make $4,000 or $1,000 this month? (not me, but bigwigs)

I can't think of any other business where sales and payout rate is kept completely hidden from vendors and you just have to trust the store with no way to audit. Now there's also the hidden surprise if you'll be paid .0045 per page read or .00225 (once Amazon confiscates 1/2 page read profit in the following month). I suppose it's better than a permanent ban, buuuuut no one can plan their life around all those unknowns.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon as your competitor
« on: June 11, 2018, 09:04:53 AM »
I think one interesting dynamic is Amazon is treating authors as both customers and merchants. They're moving Also Boughts and Also Viewed to the bottom of the page and moved rows of ads to the top. They obviously believe they can make good money off of AMS. This will reward authors who spend thousands on AMS ads every month over those who can't afford to do so. Then Amazon of course makes 30% off of any sales and/or Kindle Unlimited subscriptions on top of the author "subscriptions" (what authors pay into the AMS system). So we are essentially customers, competitors, and "employees". It reminds me of how in the past workers were put in company housing and forced to use company tokens to buy their necessities at company stores (which usually had massive markups). Their rent was also deducted out of their paycheck before they received it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: GR Self-Serve Ads - experiences? results?
« on: June 10, 2018, 08:12:40 AM »
To all above: this is excellent feedback and what I was looking for. THANKS! Looks like GR Ads are staying at the bottom of my list.

To Saboth: I also do the Trickle Approach with AMS, and I just let it run over the long term (in the black). But you might want to rethink BookBub. I followed David Gaughran's advice with multiple LIMITED tests, and found one combination that is workable (although sales tracking is a crapshoot).

Yeah, my strategy might be bad on Bookbub ads. I'm doing one ad with about 30 keywords and authors, for all channels, but I've heard some people do one keyword per ad and test that way.

Writers' Cafe / Re: GR Self-Serve Ads - experiences? results?
« on: June 10, 2018, 06:23:45 AM »
My experience:

AMS - good for a steady trickle of sales, but their slow reporting makes it difficult to analyze. You could have an ad that looks like it's bleeding money, just to have a week's worth of sales show up all at once and now the ad is profitable. However, if the sales don't show up...yeah, you lost money.

Goodreads - I bought $20 credit to play around with it and they have yet to spend one penny. Hundreds of impressions, zero clicks. A month later, my budget is still $20, even if I add more authors/books and up my bids.

Bookbub - costs about 2x-3x more than AMS. Even at .31 bids I'm not getting many impressions or clicks. I think if you have a lot of $$ to spend, it probably works well. But there's no way to really track sales. Bookbub might work well with big genres and big names, but for niche genres, I'm not sure.

Facebook - they'll spend every penny you give them, but it's hard to know if you are getting anything out of it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: I'm in tears. Amazon has cut my numbers for May.
« on: June 10, 2018, 05:48:05 AM »
This happened to me for the month of May. I lost 390K page reads... they basically slashed it in half, then emailed me to let me know. I sort of got over it, because, what else are you going to do? I have since emailed them to ask if my current page reads for the month of June are accurate or if they too will change negatively. I sort of want to know which books were read by fraudulent accounts. I can't really afford to leave KU because at the moment I'm averaging about 80K page reads per day. Even if they slash that in half, it's still a fair amount... It does suck though. Didn't really sleep very well Friday night - the night I saw them slashed in half... As you can imagine, I had no idea what on earth was going on...

Yeah, I was talking to a friend about this (we were both affected). It sounds like maybe Amazon isn't going to suspend authors anymore, but rather just steal 1/2 of their page reads going forward. Why do I say "steal"? Because I don't believe for one second that 1/2 of all of our page reads are illicit. So scammers gave me 25K illicit page reads in April, then 40K in May? Exactly 1/2 each month? No. And I seriously doubt 390K page reads of 780K were illicit in your case. It's not always 50%. Some people are losing more like 75% or 25%. It's obviously based on some kind of formula rather than them actually taking only illicit reads.

So if you have a 100K word book, Amazon pays about $2.25 for a full read (already low). But if they take 1/2 your page reads every month, the profit for each book is cut in half, that pretty much means you now make $1.12 for a 100K book or 56 cents for a 50K book. I guess better than nothing, but devastating for profit.

I've been very interested in this as well, after being forced to leave KU due to accusations of page reads. Wide so far has been a ghost town. Crickets for the first week. I made the first in my series free with hopes of seeing some activity, but nothing yet. I managed to get a Kobo promotion on my free book and it's resulted in hundreds of free downloads and...3 sales. There are of course dozens of posts about going wide, but many of them are outdated and the methods no longer apply.

So is it just basically paid promotions regularly to get traction, coupled with newsletter swaps? And at some point once you get traction you'll start to see some regular sales? Do the other stores ever really give you any algorithm love if you can prove your books can sell a bit, or is all the heavy lifting done by promotion on your end and once you stop, sales in the other stores stop?

Writers' Cafe / Re: I'm in tears. Amazon has cut my numbers for May.
« on: June 09, 2018, 05:35:55 AM »
This makes no sense at all.

This is less than what I'd call normal reads for the number of sales.

I was expecting read values way in excess of sales, not less.

There is nothing here in the stats to suggest anything untoward is happening. If bots were illicitly reading these books, the reads value should be an order of magnitude higher.

Which makes me wonder, what else is going on here we dont know about, and Amazon wont tell us?

Yeah, doesn't really make sense. Now, if I saw I had 20K page reads one day, I'd say "damn bots", but for April, I'd have 100 one day, 500 one day, 900 one day, 200 next day (I hadn't released in about 5 months). When I released, that changed to 4,000 one day, 5,000, 6,000, but I was also getting 25-30 sales a day. In the end, April would have been 50K page reads. For comparison, previous months were 70K, 60K, 50K. So April probably would have been around 40K, except for a new release, that bumped it up to about 50K. Instead, April ended up being 25K, because Amazon said 1/2 of my page reads were elicit. So my range would have looked like: 70, 60, 50...25k? Why a 50% drop in borrows in one month?

Plus, how are spammers giving me exactly 50% (or close to it) page reads each month? So April they give me 25K page reads (supposedly), but in May they gave me 40K? Two explanations: Amazon is using some kind of formula to punish someone for page reads and isn't actually removing only illicit page reads, or since September of last year, scammers have been giving me 50K page reads one month, 45K the next month, 35K the next month, 25K the next month and Amazon didn't catch on until April (personally I believe they are just using a formula and subtracting page reads even if they aren't illicit in order to really slam some fear into authors). Nothing else adds up.

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