Author Topic: Box set scams on Passive Voice  (Read 131292 times)  

Offline MyraScott

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Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
« Reply #300 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. 
« Last Edit: April 29, 2017, 07:27:44 am by MyraScott »
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    Offline Not any more

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #301 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.



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    « Last Edit: May 07, 2017, 01:46:52 pm by Becca Mills »
    This post remains on KBoards over my objections.

    Offline Betsy the Quilter

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #302 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.

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    Offline sela

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #303 on: April 29, 2017, 08:01:09 am »

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




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    Offline thesmallprint

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #304 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
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    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.

    Offline JumpingShip

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #305 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?


    Offline ChristinaGarner

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #306 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 isnt 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

    Offline Wayne Stinnett

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #307 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.
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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #308 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.

    Offline Rick Gualtieri

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #309 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.

    https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,250477.0.html
    « Last Edit: April 29, 2017, 08:33:41 am by Rick Gualtieri »


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    Offline sela

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #310 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.
    « Last Edit: April 29, 2017, 08:42:42 am by sela »
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    Offline ChristinaGarner

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #311 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.

    https://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.

    Offline Findaway

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #312 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?

    Offline JalexM

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #313 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.

    Offline ChristinaGarner

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #314 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.

    Offline Cheryl Douglas

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #315 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.

    Offline Elizabeth Ann West

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #316 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.


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    Offline Rick Gualtieri

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #317 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.


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    Offline CassieL

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #318 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.)

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    Offline JalexM

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #319 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.

    Offline Silly Writer

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #320 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

    Offline MyraScott

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #321 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!
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    Offline WHDean

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #322 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!


    Offline ChristinaGarner

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #323 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?

    Offline JalexM

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    Re: Box set scams on Passive Voice
    « Reply #324 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.

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