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Messages - Puddleduck

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« on: April 16, 2018, 05:54:05 AM »
Sorry, but just because you like writing tiny ol books, doesn't mean the rest of us have to suffer because of it. My first ever published book was over 200K and its sequel was 220K. According to you, I should be punished for writing long books that readers love so much they launched my career.

90k or 120k is not "tiny" by any definition that anyone in the publishing industry uses, so you're being a bit silly with that. And you wouldn't be prohibited from writing/publishing long books. This is about KU specifically, not any book published on Amazon. You would still have the option of publishing your book for sale and not being in KU. Or being in KU with the knowledge that you'd be taking a hit. There are risks and compromises no matter which you pick (KU or wide) anyway, so it's not like a limit is the same as saying you can't publish your books, which is kind of what you're making it out to be.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Forbidden words
« on: April 15, 2018, 06:00:33 PM »
Fiction isn't an English paper. Fragments are my friend. :) I often start sentences with "because" or "but." Including sentences that turn out to be ... fragments.

I use fragments very frequently.

And remember, Beowulf starts with "So". And that story's managed to last quite a while without anyone much caring about that.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Lowering the KNEP Cap from 3000 to 1000 Pages
« on: April 15, 2018, 05:57:09 PM »
I think 1,000 or even 750 sounds reasonable. Yes, it would exclude boxed sets and a certain number of epic fantasy stories, but I think it would end up with the vast majority of legitimate authors/books on one side of that line and the vast majority of scammers on the other. It's not a perfect solution, but (short of eliminating KU entirely), I doubt there is a perfect solution. I also like that "Please cut page read payouts to XXX pages per book" is simple, direct, and easy to understand (and easy for Amazon to implement, should they choose to). That makes it easy for many authors to ask for the same thing without confusion or mixed messages. That's good, when you're trying to get a single message across with many voices.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Forbidden words
« on: April 15, 2018, 05:48:50 PM »
No, not those kind. :) Why do some people say you are never supposed to use certain words, such as "because", "but", "to be", etc.? The list of forbidden words seems to vary by individual.

Well, it would be easier to answer this if you gave a specific list of words you wanted to talk about.

In general though, yeah, I think it's just that people will take advice to be careful about overusing it and interpret it as don't ever use it, then spread that around. Because people just kind of work that way, if you've noticed.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Raising Account Approval w Mailerlite?
« on: April 15, 2018, 05:47:09 PM »
Do they give different people different limits? Because I just signed up for Mailerlite, and I'm pretty sure it said I could send 1,000 emails, which I assumed was just the max for free accounts.

Should Canadian/U.K./Australian authors set crime fiction in U.S. city to better capture U.S. market?

Absolutely not.

For all the reasons lots of people have already given. Not sure why people outside the US think Americans only want to read about Americans/America, but we really like reading about other places. Especially when written by people who can write those places authentically. Setting it where we live and getting it wrong is really annoying, but setting it where you live (or where you've been) and we haven't is exciting and interesting. (But I also agree that you need to set the story where it makes the most sense. All other things being equal, though, go with a place you're familiar with.)

Threads like this make me think people outside the US have a really weird opinion of Americans.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Wow, anyone not rorting the system???
« on: April 14, 2018, 08:43:58 AM »
So . . . what I take away from this is that I have books that aren't selling it's because they're terrible. Period.

Not necessarily. I don't know you or your books. My statements certainly weren't intended to mean that all books that don't sell are because they're bad, but it's definitely true of some books that don't sell (I might say a lot). Sometimes they're good books that just have terrible covers and need some editing for typos and such (those things are important). Not all authors are capable of even knowing what a good cover is; that is itself a skill that we as authors need to develop. There are also a lot of books that aren't marketable, not through any fault of the book but just because not enough people want that type of book. Visibility is a factor, yes, but when people say, "My books aren't selling so it must be because other people are scamming the system" -- that, to me, is a sign that the author probably hasn't looked at the overall picture and is looking for a way to simply place blame on others, which is usually a sign to me that they're immature in their writing career and therefore the likelihood is higher that their writing is also not yet at a professional level. Newbie writers don't know how awful their writing is (usually) and are usually more likely to lash out at others and place blame on everyone but themselves. Experienced writers (who are usually--but not always--also better writers) are more likely to say things like, "This particular thing I write isn't widely marketable; how can I either make it more marketable or narrow my marketing efforts to really target those who might be more likely to like my books."

When it comes to "Why isn't my book selling?" threads, it's easy for other people to tell you, "Your cover is bad. You need a new one." (Yes, it does sound like the example someone posted where a certain designer was recommended was a scammy trick. That doesn't mean the problem is never the cover. It just means you should never let yourself be directed to one particular designer but pick one out yourself.) It's not that hard for people who want to help to examine the blurb and suggest improvements. Some people even go beyond that and comment on the "look inside" sample. But if the problem is that the book is a total train wreck from all angles, that's A) not something that is necessarily evident by glancing at these things and would require really digging into the whole book, and B) not something that most people would say on a forum (and might not even be allowed, since "your book sucks; start over" might be seen as a little too mean and unhelpful by mods and the others in the community). Which means that for people whose problem is that their book is just not good, they won't get the feedback they need--and let's be honest, if they did get that feedback, would most likely not heed it. Which would mean they'd keep looking for outside sources and keep getting annoyed when they did what others suggested and it didn't fix the problem--because the underlying problem is, "Your book can't be fixed. Start over." And a lot of beginning writers want to (and keep being told by some parties that they can) just throw their first effort out there and rake in the cash, when in reality it takes most of us some amount of practice before we write something that's actually good enough that people would pay money for. Yes, some authors can publish their first book and do well. But that doesn't mean everyone can, and I think most of those who do have that success have other practice behind them that taught them some of the necessary skills. And the amount of practice it takes to get good varies from person to person, so it's not as simple as, "Write five books and your sixth will sell like hotcakes." People want easy answers and quick results, and that's just very often not the case.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Wow, anyone not rorting the system???
« on: April 14, 2018, 07:53:08 AM »
1. Many of us with the actual skill and ability to provide critical feedback don't do it anymore because we have been attacked for it too many times. The truth is, some books DO NOT deserve to be published, are horrible train-wrecks, and there is nothing that will fix them. But no author wants to hear how poor their sentence structure actually is or that they really need to take a basic grammar course. (I swear to the gods, if I never hear "Forget my spelling and grammar! What about the story!?" again, it will still be too soon.)

2. many of us with the actual skill to read critically don't offer critical advice because we "don't want to hurt anyone's feelings." We aren't afraid for ourselves, but we don't want to come across as a "mean" person "Destroying someone's dream!" Again, there is this illusion in our industry that anyone who thinks enough happy thoughts and works hard enough should be successful. It is not true. There are not enough happy thoughts in the galaxy to help some of the waste of bytes books I have had the displeasure of reviewing over the years. But people don't want to say anything because they don't want people mad at them or upset.

A friend-of-a-friend asked me several years ago to critique his manuscript. It was a train wreck. I couldn't even finish it, much less articulate all the ways it needed to be fixed. I told him so. I learned that I'm not very nice about giving feedback. I didn't say it in a mean way or try to crush his dreams or anything; I'm just very blunt and, when asked for my opinion, will give it. I don't believe he's published anything yet, and last I heard he was still fiddling with that one book.

I think one reason people give surface feedback is also because it takes time and energy to read and critique a book, and the more of a train wreck it is, the more time/energy it takes. Unless we're getting paid for it, that's usually not worth it to most people. It's easy to glance at a cover or blurb and critique those, but actually critiquing the book itself is a pretty big favor to ask of someone. And when I see people posting on this board "why is my book not selling?" they're usually not even trying to get someone to read their book in full because they know people won't want to do that. And yet people are trying to help as they can, so they take a few minutes to respond to the blurb/cover/sample. But sometimes the problem goes much deeper, and it's just a bad book, so those responses will never be helpful because they're not getting at the actual problem.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Further pondering of the results of going wide
« on: April 14, 2018, 07:39:50 AM »
Speaking of sell-through after a free promo... I think people on here put way too much emphasis on immediate sell-through. Personally, as a reader, I might grab a free (or 99-cent) book when it's on sale and then not read it for a long time, but that doesn't mean that there's no sell-through once I do get around to reading it. As a tradpub example, I grabbed "Monster Hunter International" when Audible had it on sale once, didn't get around to listening to it for like a year or more, and then once I did, soon bought everything that author ever published. I know this sort of delayed sell-through isn't measurable to the author/publisher, especially if the reader ends up buying them through a different store later, but when I see people talk about the efficacy of sales, I feel like the fact that sell-through often doesn't happen immediately is totally missed. Instant results are not the only results.

I've got to stop reading this board with coffee in my hand!


Again, just my opinion as a reader, but if you keep within about 10k difference, I don't think readers notice at all. Go longer and they certainly do, and you must include enough plot to make those extra words worth it to the reader.

I don't think anyone's arguing against that. I don't think anyone here is in favor of needless padding. (The tricky part, of course, is that 'padding' to one reader might be 'character development' to another reader, and certainly seemed, presumably, to be non-padding to the author.)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« on: April 12, 2018, 02:43:45 PM »
I tend to believe patterns of behavior over reported opinions. Teenagers say they don't use Facebook and they're on Insta, (were) on Snapchat, and other more, um, nefarious social media services. Except they're lying. They use Facebook a LOT.

So ... if some number of people who belong to a group is doing something (has a certain opinion, whatever), and one or more individuals who are also members of that group say that they don't do that thing, then the individuals are lying? Because others in the group are doing that thing? Groups of people can't lie, so that must be what you're saying. I'm sorry, but the behavior of people who are not me does not make me a liar when I tell you my own behavior. And if I'm looking for accurate information, I'm probably more likely to trust what people directly tell me (even if I can only be sure that it's true for that individual) over statistics (which can be manipulated) or generalizations based on my assumptions about mass behavior (or mass inaction).

And not complaining about something doesn't mean that someone likes that thing or is in favor of it. Liking a book despite some part of it is not the same as liking it because of that part. You have no idea how many of your readers are thinking, "Well, this thing is annoying, but I'm still enjoying this other thing, so I'll put up with it until my annoyance outweighs my enjoyment." A whole lot of people never complain about stuff they don't like, but it doesn't mean they like it. It certainly shouldn't be taken as support of it. Since they're not complaining, you think they love it, so when their annoyance with that thing finally outweighs their enjoyment of the rest of the book, they likely won't tell you why. They'll just stop buying your books. Or not buy stuffed books in the first place, and so never become a reader of an author that they might have otherwise liked. If you're so convinced "readers love bonus books", you'll never see the correlation.

As for your "vote with your dollars" plan...

I make my living off Amazon. My beautiful home, my car, the diamond on my wife's finger, the incredible vacation I'm about to take... it all comes from Amazon. I'm not going to cut my nose off to spite my face.

You can beg and ask all you want, but if the mega-corporation you've hung your entire livelihood on isn't receptive, you can't make them listen. If they know you'll stay and do what they want no matter how badly they treat you, they don't have any incentive to change. That's just the truth. Don't shoot the messenger. (And I'm not sure, "But my business is 100% dependent on Amazon and I'm not willing to change that so I have absolutely no leverage with them," is really making the point you think it's making.)

I'd guess that people who have only read tradpub books may be more sensitive to this. I come from fanfic, where if someone's got a series, you can have huge, wild swings in story length. IIRC, Cassandra Claire's Draco series is like:
Book 1 - 50k
Book 2 - 200k

Without any context, it seems like the difference between a giveaway and a gift (as mentioned) is that in order to "win" something, there has to be the possibility that you will not win it. So if a giveaway is set up in such a way that everyone who enters is guaranteed to "win" the prize, and there are infinite prizes so there can be as many prizes as entrants, then they're not really "winning" anything and it's just a roundabout gift. Simply using the words "giveaway" and "win" aren't enough to actually change what it is. Not sure how much that difference means to Amazon, but if we're talking ethics, I'd say that's the difference.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« on: April 12, 2018, 12:44:31 PM »
Lets all accept that as of this moment, Amazon seems to allow bonus books.

Considering this thread was started to point out evidence that they don't, I doubt that's going to happen.


"The sky is cloudy. See, this weather report proves it."

(20-odd pages of lively arguing later)

"Okay guys, let's all just agree the sky is clear, and we can move forward on the real issue: what to do about the wind."

Sorry, that just amuses me. I do agree that Amazon's behavior is the real problem, whether we think they allow stuffing or not, whether we think stuffing is ethical and customer-friendly or not. I really don't think that we can do anything about it, other than choosing as authors whether or not to be in KU (or Amazon at all, for that matter, though that's more extreme than most would go), and/or choosing as customers to give Amazon our business. I've taken my e-book buying mostly elsewhere. Choosing not to do business with a company (or cut down your business with them from what it had been previously) speaks much more loudly than all the petitions and e-mails in the world. If we're going to band together to make Amazon listen, that's the way to do it. If we keep doing business as usual with them, they really have no reason to care that we're angry.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Justified text or not
« on: April 12, 2018, 12:37:40 PM »
I think justified is the more traditional way to go, but I don't think it's a huge problem if it's not. (Unlike with paper books, where justified is definitely a must.)

New conspiracy theory. Someone just tweeted this under #amazonclosed.

@amazon accidently admitted to closing "at least a million" accounts. There was no reason that they are giving. If #amazonclosed your account, file a report AND a review with @bbb_us. Don't let them do this to us. Call your attorney General. Do whatever it takes to be heard.

What if thatís true and the bots automatically removed all the reviews and page reads from a million accounts? A million closed accounts would add up to a lot of page reads.

Wow. That's ... something. I wonder how many accounts Amazon has. What percentage of all accounts are fraudulent? (she wonders, knowing she'll never get an answer...)

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« on: April 12, 2018, 12:02:04 PM »
How would that be any different than now?

It's easier just to say ONE TITLE PER ASIN IN KU and be done with it. Simple, clean, effective, and there's no room for interpretation.

True. I think the down side would have fairly minimal impact, and people could adjust to it anyway. If it's not worth putting out a boxed set without the option of getting page reads as well as buys (and I don't know how much that would impact an author's income, since I don't know how many people would borrow the boxed set but not borrow the books individually if a boxed set wasn't available), then ... I guess authors will just adjust their strategy.

I think you're right about the simple solution. But I also think, based on Amazon's behavior, that they don't necessarily want a simple solution. If simplicity and clarity were what they wanted, they could have made it happen by now. But others mentioned up thread about how big corporations make things messy and incompetent just through sheer size, and I think that's definitely in play here. When it reaches that point, even if they have someone on their team making the exact point you just made, it would probably still get added too and reworded before implementation until it's just as vague and complicated as it is now.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« on: April 12, 2018, 11:52:29 AM »
And since I'm kind of amazed no one's mentioned it yet in this thread, can I just point out one thing that I, as a reader, don't like about stuffed books?

It's a lot harder to keep my e-library organized when some of the books are hidden inside the files of other books. (I say "is" but I mean "would be" since I don't--to my current knowledge--have any stuffed books.) I purchase books and use Calibre to organize them, so this is actually a concern that I'd have. Yeah, you kinda get the same thing with boxed sets, but at least those are clear about what they are and usually have reference to all the books on the cover, so it's not disguised as a single book. I don't have to remember, "Oh yeah, to read Romancing the Bear-man I have to open Hot for Wolfie, open the TOC, and scroll down."

I know it's a small thing, and I know I'm in the minority in this bothering me, but it's yet another part of how stuffed books provide a dissatisfying customer experience.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« on: April 12, 2018, 11:43:04 AM »
I'm lumping it together for simplification. It's easier to say "One title per ASIN - no box sets in KU" than it would be to police the issue. Right now bonus content is specifically allowed. If they wanted to stop that within the confines of KU, it'd just be easier to make a blanket ONE TITLE = ONE ASIN rule than it would be to sit there checking every book to make sure it's not a box set.

This probably would be the easiest/clearest way to do it, even if it would also catch up legitimate boxed sets from non-stuffing authors as well as anyone who includes a short story at the end. But between that and what's happening now, it might be worth it. The down side is that the boxed set (if an author's already created one) would still be unable to be wide, according to KU rules, which would kinda suck, since it would then only be useful for buying through Amazon, which might not make them worth the cost/time of setting up.

I made my stance completely crystal clear. I think book stuffing is unnecessary in KU. I think the easiest way to get rid of book stuffing in KU is to just implement a blanket "one title per ASIN" rule for KU books. That wouldn't be a difficult regulation to deal with, and it would still allow box sets to exist without any issues (they just can't be in KU - simple). I'm not conflating bonus books with box sets, I'm saying that it'd be easier to deal with bonus content as a whole if we didn't TRY to draw a distinction. KU doesn't need bonus books and it doesn't need box sets. If you just get rid of bonus books without getting rid of box sets, we're just going to have a top-chart full of box sets, and then everybody will be in here complaining about that.

I also know that bonus books in the back of a title are allowed at Amazon under the current rule. I'm not "pro stuffing", I'm "pro not attacking legitimate authors over imaginary rules we just made up". There is nothing "ignorant" about that stance.

I apologize; I was responding to her statement in general and not intending it as in regards to your post specifically. I see what you're saying. My comments were more in regard to others who lumped boxed sets and stuffed books together previously, where they do seem (to me) to be doing so to muddy the actual issue as a defense of stuffing, rather than pointing out that if Amazon did lump boxed sets together with stuffing and other bonus content, it would be easier to clean up the issue.

I think that spread is okay. I think it's best if they're roughly the same length, but I think you've got a fair bit of wiggle room as to what "roughly" means. I know the Harry Potter series is an outlier, but those books have very different lengths, and it didn't seem to bother many people. It's something to consider, but I think making sure each book is as long as that book needs to be is more important.

As a reader, I get more bothered when I see things like book 1 is a short novella (22k) and book 5 is a medium novel (75k). That's way too big a spread for me, as a reader.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« on: April 12, 2018, 11:31:01 AM »
I don't understand why bonus books and boxed sets keep getting lumped together.

Most stuffed books that I've come across do not indicate there are bonus books inside whereas a boxed set is clearly defined in the title and description of the book.

I also don't see why boxed sets shouldn't be allowed in KU, aren't there readers out there who specifically look for boxed sets vs singles? And it seems pretty handy for someone wanting to read a whole series through without having to stop and pick up the other singles. I don't know, this is all my opinion so it's probably wrong but I really dislike seeing the two lumped together as if they're the same practice.

I agree; I think the pro-stuffing camp keeps doing it to muddy the issue, either intentionally or through ignorance. They keep arguing that boxed sets (and all "bonus content") are okay, and the rest of us keep reminding them that no one's saying boxed sets (and "bonus content" like short stories and previews) are not (or shouldn't be) okay and are not the same as stuffed books. Then they ignore that point and carry on as if the clarification was never made.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Wow, anyone not rorting the system???
« on: April 12, 2018, 11:14:03 AM »
It's Ethics 101 that posting reviews by family & friends is wrong. You're asking people who benefit from you being richer to post a review.

I had honestly never thought of it that way. My first thought was, "Well, that's silly. They don't benefit ..." But then I thought long term, past the couple extra bucks a newbie might hope for, and yeah, I guess if I did strike it rich from my books, I'd probably spread a little of that wealth to my family and friends. (I doubt family/friends would think long term like that either, but from an outside perspective, I can see it.) So I guess it makes more sense to me now. So thanks for that.

Though I do think Amazon interprets "family and friends" way too broadly. I'm pretty sure some person who works in my building and I don't even know or some barely-on-speaking-terms old high school classmate that I'm friends with on Facebook will benefit in any way even if I become a millionaire. The policy is all the worse due to the fact that I can't control those people from reviewing or not reviewing anyway, so it would be wrong to hold the author responsible for reviews they post.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« on: April 12, 2018, 10:54:26 AM »
Just because you're a woman, doesn't mean you can't be engaged in activities that are anti-woman in nature.

You don't speak for all women, you say it's not sexist. I don't either, I say it's sexist. There's no point in debating this, because we will never sway each other.

Ahh, so it is a "you don't agree with me, so your perspective as a woman is invalid" thing. Good to know.  ::)

And yeah, you kind of do present yourself as speaking for all women with that first statement, that you can be the arbiter of what is an "activity that is anti-woman in nature" and other woman aren't, and that your statement holds more weight than another woman's.

Sexism is not a matter of personal opinion or feelings. You can't just say "I think it's sexist so it's sexist" and not expect anyone to contradict you.


To the men on this thread, speaking as a woman (but not all women), I'd like to apologize for the direction this thread has now taken. We're not all so eager to play the sexism card just to dismiss opinions we don't like in totally unrelated arguments. Some of us like to hold it back for when it's actually appropriate.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« on: April 12, 2018, 10:49:04 AM »
To me, then, this isn't about bonus books but is part of a much bigger picture which, in my mind, does involve sexism as well as a blind refusal to recognize that Amazon is a business & that business & writing are two very different things.

So how do you respond to the fact that many of the people on this thread speaking out against stuffing are women--many, possibly all, also readers and/or writers of romance?

Is this one of those "if you don't agree with me, then you've internalized sexism and your female perspective doesn't count" things?

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Files Suit Against Book Stuffers [MERGED]
« on: April 12, 2018, 10:28:54 AM »
it's also about policing what women like to read.


It's really not.

I'm a woman, for the record. I read and write romance. I'm anti-stuffing. So nice try playing the sexism card, but no.

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