Author Topic: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits, Amazon Taking Action (MERGED)  (Read 151242 times)  

Offline PhoenixS

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Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
« Reply #750 on: June 24, 2018, 06:44:21 am »
I've been reporting a long time, so I have some trend data to call on. Here's a thing about reporting that may go unnoticed: Some of us are not simply reporting Top 100 Paid books and authors. We're reporting general practices. We're reporting obvious botting and the services that provide them. We're reporting posts and newsletters that encourage incentivization and other ways to manipulate reviews/rank/sales/borrows. We're reporting multiple box sets that contain multiple iterations of duplicated titles that aren't sitting in the Top 100.

It's true that correlation doesn't always mean causation. But guess what? Sometimes it does. Let's not forget that. We've seen individual bad actors get slapped down. We've seen a website botting service shut down (yep, a 3rd-party website that Amazon had no contractual relationship with -- we had to get creative with that one ;) ). We've seen the TOS/T&Cs quietly amended several times to either explicitly forbid or at least strongly suggest a forbidding of specific practices. And we've seen the occasional broad sweep of bad actors booted from the store. Thousands of books gone in a single purge. There's a reason some scammers have left the store or have had to change their practices or spend a lot more money to stay in the game. A casual glance may not surface the results reporting has had, but the trend is there for those in the know.

When it's one person reporting, Amazon backburners the report and doesn't act as fast on it. When multiple people report, they start taking a bit more interest. And when there's a social media or regular media storm that explodes around it, they move faster to crack down. Never, ever, ever as fast as we want them to or as fast as they could move. I'm the first to say how aggravating that is. I rollercoaster through "Amazon doesn't care" and "Well, look at that -- maybe they do care after all," often getting whiplash with the way things move. But adding tweets, FB posts, blog posts, media articles, and other public ways to get the evidence out that's being reported one-on-one always -- always -- helps.
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    Offline DonovanJeremiah

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #751 on: June 24, 2018, 07:53:55 am »
    Fantastic! A week ago, I just put out a bundle of books (appropriately labeled and indicated on the cover and in the blurb) and now I get to deal with people reporting me for stuffing.

    Some would tell me not to worry since I'm not in KU at all (neither the single books nor the bundle). I wish I could trust people in this rush to "stamp out all the stuffers and scammers!" not to catch me in their nets.

    Because I can see that happening. I guess we'll see.

    Offline David VanDyke

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #752 on: June 24, 2018, 10:36:42 am »

    Also, in a general reply to other things in this thread. it's pretty amazing that people are willing to take thousands of dollars out of the hands of authors who play by the rules. I'd wager most people who think it would be fine to get rid of bonuses have never been in danger of getting one, because that's an amazing thing to suggest. Take someone else's legitimately earned money away so I can feel things are fairer. I am seriously side-eyeing that entire argument.

    I've gotten bonuses, yet I would be fine if they were gone, if that helped level the playing field. Frankly, I never was comfortable with the entire concept of bonuses' effect on the system because it simply expands the top end and incentivizes a cutthroat, winner-take-all approach to competition.

    I'll use poker as an analogy. Flat tournament structures (gradual increases in prize money, starting lower in the rankings) generally reward skill. Steep tournament structures, where the prize money is mostly at the top and it goes up faster, generally reward skill less, i.e., luck becomes more of a factor. Cheating is seldom an issue in poker because it's so closely monitored, but imagine if cheating were relatively easy--the extra-big money at the top would incentivize even more cheating than expected.

    Another analogy: so-called sin taxes. Taxes on things like liquor and cigarettes, if they get too high, incentivize cheating the system (smuggling from a low-tax place to a high-tax place, fake tax stamps, even fake goods). The more profit there is to be made, the more likely "ordinary people" will cross the line--and those without any compunctions jump for joy as they rake it in.

    Yes, the bonuses put money in legit authors' pockets--but the price is too high. It's like saying that it's okay that (say) half the tax dollars on a particular program are wasted or end up in corrupt pockets because the other half is put to good use. Maybe that program needs to be scrapped or reformed wholesale, even if that reduces the income of some.

    Every law or regulation burdens the law-abiding citizenry in some way, usually with the goal of eliminating a worse problem.

    Bonuses are just that--bonuses, not earnings. They're artificial awards intended for top authors to keep them in the Amazon stable. They're the equivalent of government subsidies to already-profitable big businesses. If the bonuses have the horrible side-effect of rewarding scammers, then maybe the side-effects are not worth it.
    « Last Edit: June 24, 2018, 10:38:21 am by David VanDyke »

    Offline unkownwriter

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #753 on: June 24, 2018, 02:43:05 pm »
    Fantastic! A week ago, I just put out a bundle of books (appropriately labeled and indicated on the cover and in the blurb) and now I get to deal with people reporting me for stuffing.

    Some would tell me not to worry since I'm not in KU at all (neither the single books nor the bundle). I wish I could trust people in this rush to "stamp out all the stuffers and scammers!" not to catch me in their nets.

    Because I can see that happening. I guess we'll see.

    Oh, for the love of Pete! No one, absolutely no one, is advocating turning people in simply for having a freaking box set! Not a single person! None. Zero. Zip. Nada. What we're talking about is those people who have ten box sets/collections/compilations/whatever they call it, all filled with the same ten books. I just don't get why this is so hard for people to understand.

    Again, it's not about bonus content, it's about stuffing books full of junk so they can get to 3K KENPC and then getting people and/or bots/click farms to "read" the books all the way to the tune of a $14 payout, while good little authors like me are hoping someone will read our books for real, with only about 500 KENPC and no cheating. I simply can't see why people can't understand this.

    It's not about telling people they can only write books a certain length, but about stopping the massive volumes of junk that people are getting those $14 payouts, plus bonuses. If removing bonuses is part of the solution, you better believe Amazon will drop them and pretend they never existed. Why this doesn't seem like a good idea to everyone, stumps me. The only answer I can come up with is, they depend on the rules being vague and enforcement non-existent, because they're playing that game.

    When I was working outside the home (ha), I never, ever depended on getting a bonus to work my budget. I never counted on getting a big tax return to plan in providing for my family. That's extra money that's nice to have, but it can be gone in an instant. I knew people that did, and when the bonus didn't come, the raise was less than they expected, the tax laws changed and they didn't get that big refund, they suffered for it.

    Offline SuzyQ

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #754 on: June 24, 2018, 02:49:00 pm »
    Oh, for the love of Pete! No one, absolutely no one, is advocating turning people in simply for having a freaking box set! Not a single person! None. Zero. Zip. Nada. What we're talking about is those people who have ten box sets/collections/compilations/whatever they call it, all filled with the same ten books. I just don't get why this is so hard for people to understand.

    Again, it's not about bonus content, it's about stuffing books full of junk so they can get to 3K KENPC and then getting people and/or bots/click farms to "read" the books all the way to the tune of a $14 payout, while good little authors like me are hoping someone will read our books for real, with only about 500 KENPC and no cheating. I simply can't see why people can't understand this.

    It's not about telling people they can only write books a certain length, but about stopping the massive volumes of junk that people are getting those $14 payouts, plus bonuses. If removing bonuses is part of the solution, you better believe Amazon will drop them and pretend they never existed. Why this doesn't seem like a good idea to everyone, stumps me. The only answer I can come up with is, they depend on the rules being vague and enforcement non-existent, because they're playing that game.

    When I was working outside the home (ha), I never, ever depended on getting a bonus to work my budget. I never counted on getting a big tax return to plan in providing for my family. That's extra money that's nice to have, but it can be gone in an instant. I knew people that did, and when the bonus didn't come, the raise was less than they expected, the tax laws changed and they didn't get that big refund, they suffered for it.

    But... people are reporting each other for having more than 10% bonus content. I saw a blog where an author was raked through the mud because her book ended at 82%. People are going OFF THE RAILS.

    I also heard people are reporting ads for being sexual. So now they are the morality police. Another reason I would never report another author, even though I despise the practice of mega stuffing.

    Offline Atlantisatheart

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #755 on: June 24, 2018, 03:37:45 pm »



    Also, in a general reply to other things in this thread. it's pretty amazing that people are willing to take thousands of dollars out of the hands of authors who play by the rules. I'd wager most people who think it would be fine to get rid of bonuses have never been in danger of getting one, because that's an amazing thing to suggest. Take someone else's legitimately earned money away so I can feel things are fairer. I am seriously side-eyeing that entire argument.
     

    I believe I was the first person to suggest this, so you can aim that side-eye at me. I have had bonus' and I am in danger of getting them in the future, but just as I support getting rid of boxsets from KU, and one cover one book, even though my boxsets are my biggest earners, I think bonus' have done their job.

    Bonus' were never guaranteed and shouldn't be treated as part of a business plan, unless (generic) you are a scammer, and then they are what you're aiming for.

    I highly doubt that the authors who earn the bonus' are suddenly going to all pull out of KU because they can't guarantee getting wide what they get in page reads per month, but like everyone else, nobody is twisting their arms to stay.

    If amazon want to award bonus' then let be it a token gesture of 1k or so, but 25k was always going to get the scummers salivating.


    Offline Phxsundog

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #756 on: June 24, 2018, 03:44:35 pm »
    But... people are reporting each other for having more than 10% bonus content. I saw a blog where an author was raked through the mud because her book ended at 82%. People are going OFF THE RAILS.

    I also heard people are reporting ads for being sexual. So now they are the morality police. Another reason I would never report another author, even though I despise the practice of mega stuffing.

    You're right about the over-the-line parts of GetLoud reporting on issues that have nothing to do with book stuffing. You see them popping up and going off on tangents when well respected people like David and Suzan Tisdale don't keep the focus on specific abusive stuffers. I'm not saying it's their job to police everything or control this movement either. Only that everyone benefits when there's more focus, and so far the only way it happens is when David or Suzan decide to post about Cassandra Dee, Tia Siren and the rest.

    This is why I suggest anyone who wants to do it stick to reporting stuffing violations to Content-Revie[email protected] The pen names that are the worst abusers have already been identified on social media and continue to show up in the Top 100 every few weeks with a new collection or compilation. These pen names are taking the most from the KU pot, grabbing the bonuses with their inflated pages and making marketing painfully expensive for every KU author who doesn't stuff. They're causing well over 80% of the problems in the KU system. I support continuing to put pressure on these large robber barons vs. a legitimately confused author who might have bonus content of 12% because they formatted wrong.

    Offline BGArcher

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #757 on: June 24, 2018, 06:25:20 pm »
    You're right about the over-the-line parts of GetLoud reporting on issues that have nothing to do with book stuffing. You see them popping up and going off on tangents when well respected people like David and Suzan Tisdale don't keep the focus on specific abusive stuffers. I'm not saying it's their job to police everything or control this movement either. Only that everyone benefits when there's more focus, and so far the only way it happens is when David or Suzan decide to post about Cassandra Dee, Tia Siren and the rest.

    This is why I suggest anyone who wants to do it stick to reporting stuffing violations to [email protected] The pen names that are the worst abusers have already been identified on social media and continue to show up in the Top 100 every few weeks with a new collection or compilation. These pen names are taking the most from the KU pot, grabbing the bonuses with their inflated pages and making marketing painfully expensive for every KU author who doesn't stuff. They're causing well over 80% of the problems in the KU system. I support continuing to put pressure on these large robber barons vs. a legitimately confused author who might have bonus content of 12% because they formatted wrong.
    And you just brought up what I was referring to having an issue with. The over-the-top reporting. That's what I've always had an issue with. Also, philosophically, I think anyone in this thread honestly thinking that CC and cohorts are dead is not looking at the big picture. Of course they're not. He'll come back, (under a different name maybe?) he'll follow the rules just to the edge (would be my guess) and he will once again be at the top of the list in short order because regardless of whether you like his books or not, dude knew how to market. When that happens, I'm curious how those in this thread (and the RWA) will refer to him? Will they be happy that he's now following the rules and still getting all star bonus? Or will they continue to call him a bad actor?

    I respect a lot of you in this thread. I've read many of the books in peoples handles, and am stoked that this market (indie) exists at all. It's my principles that make me push back against group-think, namely I get squeamish around author's targeting other authors. I of course want the market to be fair for all authors, and want every single one of you to succeed. Of course bad actors need to go. Like I've repeated, I've reported too. I just am leery when people start putting on the amazon hat instead of the handle your own business hat. Suggestions on eliminating all star bonus, or people saying anyone that hires ghost writers are somehow untoward,  or reporting bundles, keywords, and so on.

    I leave with this note. It's never been a better, (or easier) time to be an entrepreneur/writer. We all grossly underestimate just how powerful the internet is, and I'm including myself in that. If we are failing or meeting our own expectations, desires, or goals as writer/ entrepreneurs, at the end of the day, that really is on us. If people are truly reporting things because they are trying to make the market that they sell their goods (books) cleaner, I'm all for it. But if doing so makes people think it will in turn make them more money... we'll see in July.

    Offline Nope

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #758 on: June 24, 2018, 07:18:56 pm »
    .
    « Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 07:58:20 pm by Nope »

    Offline KelliWolfe

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #759 on: June 24, 2018, 07:22:06 pm »
    I can side-eye an argument and not the people making it. I simply don't understand the willingness to take bonuses away from people to punish a few cheaters. Do the bonuses incentivize cheating? Sure. The entire structure of KU even without them does.

    The top salesman, the lawyer who made the most for the firm, the problem-solver who saved the company the most money, have always gotten the biggest Christmas bonuses. It's capitalism. Anything that encourages success also gives the small percentage of people who would cheat an incentive to find shortcuts. So you should get rid of the cheaters, not strip incentives away from the achievers.
    But as you said, the entire structure of KU incentivizes cheating. So you aren't going to get rid of the cheating. All you can hope to do is make it less profitable and more difficult for the ones doing so. Eliminating the All-Star bonuses would make it much more difficult for them to spend the tens of thousands of dollars on advertising that many of them are burning through every month to get to the top of the heap with mediocre books. As long as they can collect the bonuses they make a profit doing it. Without the bonuses they have to rely purely on borrows/sales revenue, which makes it a much riskier proposition.

    All of which is moot. Amazon isn't going to get rid of the bonuses any more than they're going to get rid of KU itself.

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    Offline Nope

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #760 on: June 24, 2018, 07:27:15 pm »
    .
    « Last Edit: October 04, 2018, 07:58:09 pm by Nope »

    Offline Phxsundog

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #761 on: June 24, 2018, 08:58:56 pm »
    And you just brought up what I was referring to having an issue with. The over-the-top reporting. That's what I've always had an issue with. Also, philosophically, I think anyone in this thread honestly thinking that CC and cohorts are dead is not looking at the big picture. Of course they're not. He'll come back, (under a different name maybe?) he'll follow the rules just to the edge (would be my guess) and he will once again be at the top of the list in short order because regardless of whether you like his books or not, dude knew how to market. When that happens, I'm curious how those in this thread (and the RWA) will refer to him? Will they be happy that he's now following the rules and still getting all star bonus? Or will they continue to call him a bad actor?

    I respect a lot of you in this thread. I've read many of the books in peoples handles, and am stoked that this market (indie) exists at all. It's my principles that make me push back against group-think, namely I get squeamish around author's targeting other authors. I of course want the market to be fair for all authors, and want every single one of you to succeed. Of course bad actors need to go. Like I've repeated, I've reported too. I just am leery when people start putting on the amazon hat instead of the handle your own business hat. Suggestions on eliminating all star bonus, or people saying anyone that hires ghost writers are somehow untoward,  or reporting bundles, keywords, and so on.

    I leave with this note. It's never been a better, (or easier) time to be an entrepreneur/writer. We all grossly underestimate just how powerful the internet is, and I'm including myself in that. If we are failing or meeting our own expectations, desires, or goals as writer/ entrepreneurs, at the end of the day, that really is on us. If people are truly reporting things because they are trying to make the market that they sell their goods (books) cleaner, I'm all for it. But if doing so makes people think it will in turn make them more money... we'll see in July.

    You have more confidence than I do in Chance Carter being able to easily find a way back in, much less back to the top of the KU ladder. I've always heard Amazon tries to keep out people who experience full account bans. And if they're caught, they get banned again, with no royalties paid. Nothing is impossible. However I can't imagine he'll come back under his Chance Carter alias even if he does have a new account. He'll have to build a new pen name from the ground up, without his real face doing creepy love chats with his readers for sales.

    He was an above average marketer with a large ad budget, a willingness to exploit the worst parts of KU like stuffing and below average content. Not some kind of rare genius who can build highly successful brands from nothing. He'd have done it many times over beyond the Chance pen name if that were true.

    If Chance manages to return under a new pen name that complies with KDP guidelines, then no, I'd consider him a former bad actor. That's just me. I still wouldn't ever work with him in a million years. Others will feel differently and will want to ensure that anyone banned from KDP stays banned forever. Same goes for the abusive stuffers who have unbundled their bonus books over the past few weeks without resorting to the collections or compilations trick. I'm not scrutinizing their books reporting them for nothing. I won't work with them considering their reputations but they're complying as far as I can see by removing their bonus content. Case closed. Again, that's just me. I know others believe the stuffers should be pursued until they're permabanned and Amazon redistributes their bonuses.

    Offline Jack Krenneck

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #762 on: June 24, 2018, 09:09:13 pm »
    Anything that encourages success also gives the small percentage of people who would cheat an incentive to find shortcuts. So you should get rid of the cheaters, not strip incentives away from the achievers.

    This is so right. Most of the suggestions in this thread harm legitimate authors. It's easy to say get rid of boxed sets, or longer works, or bonuses or to lower the page cap if these things don't hurt you. But it will hurt other authors.

    The only solution that will work is to keep an unrelenting focus on the scammers.

    Offline KelliWolfe

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #763 on: June 24, 2018, 09:41:59 pm »
    You have more confidence than I do in Chance Carter being able to easily find a way back in, much less back to the top of the KU ladder. I've always heard Amazon tries to keep out people who experience full account bans. And if they're caught, they get banned again, with no royalties paid. Nothing is impossible. However I can't imagine he'll come back under his Chance Carter alias even if he does have a new account. He'll have to build a new pen name from the ground up, without his real face doing creepy love chats with his readers for sales.

    The only solution that will work is to keep an unrelenting focus on the scammers.
    Except that the scammers often already have multiple (in some cases dozens of) accounts and spread their pen names and such between them precisely so that if one gets banned they can just keep right on going. This isn't something that they just put together as they go. There is an entire underground industry developing tools for these people to make this easy, scripting the processes so they don't have to spend time doing grunt work of creating accounts, scripting AMS ads, scripting stuffed book creation, etc., and using multiple bank accounts to prevent Amazon from being able to grab it all back if they ban the KDP account, and a lot of these people are working out of countries where trying to go after them to legally recover the money is next to impossible.

    Going after individual accounts is just playing whack-a-mole. You might get lucky and cause Amazon to nail one, but the scammer will just pop up with more accounts using different cheap, ghostwritten content along the same lines as before and using the same methods to goose those books to the top.

    We don't tend to think that way because we're authors, but these people are marketers. They don't care about individual books or pen names the way that we do. To these people those are just widgets that are ultimately disposable as long as they can keep producing new widgets and marketing them to make big money. I'm sure losing an account that valuable caused "Chance" some angst, but you're crazy if you think he didn't have others waiting on standby and that he isn't funneling brand new ghostwritten books into them right now using the exact same techniques and strategies as before.

    The money involved is simply too much for them to stop playing the games. For all practical purposes this is all reward and zero risk for them. We lose a KDP account and it's our livelihood at stake. They lose a KDP account and it's just the cost of doing business.

    Olivia Blake | Lessons in Love

    Offline Crime fighters

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #764 on: June 24, 2018, 10:34:21 pm »
    So, the proper thing to do would be to grab the eight of them by their ankles and hang them out to dry in civil court. I'm not counting on Amazon to go through with that, but it's a course of action they could take if they believe they're doing irreparable harm to their store, assuming their own inaction wouldn't be too high a barrier.

    Offline Phxsundog

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #765 on: June 24, 2018, 10:50:07 pm »
    I'm over 90% confidence Chance Carter didn't have a second KDP account, KelliWolfe. He never expected to get banned and it's not likely he had a Plan B, C or D. Without making this thread about Chance, he was overconfident in what he'd built and that's why he kept pushing the lines with reviews and page manipulation. I'm not going to tell you how I know it but I can assure you his unexpected ban was a terrifying shock to the Top 100 romance stuffers close to him. You raise good points about how hard it can be to permanently lock out scammers. I think the scenario you're describing where scammers go into the market with a consciously high risk of getting banned probably happens at the lower levels. Whether it does or not it's a good reason why we need Amazon to do two things: whack the abusers and close off the weaknesses in KU they exploit. Only doing one leaves the rest open.

    Offline KelliWolfe

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #766 on: June 24, 2018, 11:34:22 pm »
    I'm over 90% confidence Chance Carter didn't have a second KDP account, KelliWolfe. He never expected to get banned and it's not likely he had a Plan B, C or D. Without making this thread about Chance, he was overconfident in what he'd built and that's why he kept pushing the lines with reviews and page manipulation. I'm not going to tell you how I know it but I can assure you his unexpected ban was a terrifying shock to the Top 100 romance stuffers close to him. You raise good points about how hard it can be to permanently lock out scammers. I think the scenario you're describing where scammers go into the market with a consciously high risk of getting banned probably happens at the lower levels. Whether it does or not it's a good reason why we need Amazon to do two things: whack the abusers and close off the weaknesses in KU they exploit. Only doing one leaves the rest open.
    Maybe you're right about him. I can't say for sure since I don't know him and don't move in those circles. Personally I hope you are, and I hope the others like him are sweating bullets. I just know what I found on the black hats forums while digging up what I could on the scammer/marketer crowd when things started going sideways a while back. I know what they had available then, and they've had a couple of years to make improvements on their systems since. They don't stand still. They're always changing and adapting and trying to stay a step ahead of whatever Amazon is doing. KU is a lot like Prohibition and organized crime. The system created an environment where those guys flourished, and even if a few went to jail, the profits involved were so enormous that the threat of jail didn't deter others. With KU there isn't even the threat of jail time. There's no real threat at all. And as fast as Amazon closes one loophole these guys find half a dozen more, because the financial incentives are huge and the risks are basically nonexistent.

    If you're right about "Chance" and he was just someone who liked pushing the envelope until it bled, then he's not the real problem. Those people eventually get shut down by Amazon when they cross too many lines and that's the end of them. But you can get rid of the ones like him and it makes little real difference. It's satisfying as hell, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. It's the "true" scammers that are killing us on Amazon. The ones running a dozen accounts at a time with dozens of pen names and sliding under the radar. because they don't let any single pen draw too much attention. The ones who are hitting legitimate author books with bots to disguise their borrowing activity on their own books. They're not impossible to find if you take the time to look, but it isn't something Amazon is going to build automated detection systems for. It takes a person sitting down at the computer and digging around to detect, and they are never, ever going to do that because that's not how Amazon works.

    Olivia Blake | Lessons in Love

    Offline PhoenixS

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #767 on: June 25, 2018, 03:52:15 am »
    I'll disclose here because these guys are all besties now, and they're exchanging scamming tips the way most of us exchange recipes. I won't be giving away any trade secrets or giving them ideas they won't have already had.

    One well-known scammer whose account was banned from KDP last year was allowed to open a small publisher's account outside of KDP under a new LLC. Not through one of the aggregators but directly with Amazon. Books through new pen names from that new account are even allowed in KU. And, because Amazon apparently doesn't share information between its departments, this author, under the same name their banned account was under and with a book previously published in that banned KDP account, was given a Monthly Deal.

    So yeah, break TOS and T&Cs in multiple ways, multiple times, get yourself first banned from KU, then get your account terminated, and Amazon not only allows you to continue to sell in the store, but perks you along the way.

    Will Chance come back again? As I said...besties. If black hatters think the money is still easier on Amazon than through other endeavors, they'll come back. And Amazon, apparently, will welcome them with open arms.

    If KDP/Amazon is serious about cracking down on scamming, IMO they have to first stop enabling and rewarding it.

    Really, KDP, if we on the outside can see this stuff this easily, then dealing with scammers can't be rocket science. Besides, Bezos has that rocket science thing covered already.
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    Offline unkownwriter

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #768 on: June 25, 2018, 06:27:23 am »
    But... people are reporting each other for having more than 10% bonus content. I saw a blog where an author was raked through the mud because her book ended at 82%. People are going OFF THE RAILS.

    I also heard people are reporting ads for being sexual. So now they are the morality police. Another reason I would never report another author, even though I despise the practice of mega stuffing.

    But, having more than 10% bonus content is now not allowed. If the book ends at 82%, then the author needs to look at what they're putting at the end. Self-police, in other words.

    People have been reporting for sexual content since... well, since forever. Why that's even tied into this I have no idea. Amazon allowed sexual content, within their vague limits (no incest, no underage, and so on). There are people who want nothing but clean, inspirational type books, with no bad words, no sex, no hint of sex ever happening -- which is odd because their religious text is full of it -- and may they're taking advantage, or maybe it's just coincidence. I'm not on any forums where this is going on, certainly no author forums. But also remember that many of these folks are pushing books with sexual content into categories it shouldn't be. Erotica in just about everything, including children's books and inspirational books, and into nonfiction cats. So, yeah, this needs to be reported.

    As to people "going off the rails", we're seeing it here, with people going on and on about how they're going to be reported for stuff, so nothing should be reported. Good grief. All that has been asked -- and by Amazon itself -- is for people to show them the bad actors so they know what's going on. I've not seen anyone here who is so vindictive that they'll report any book. And I remember reading somewhere that reporting books simply to "get" another author ends up with the person doing the reporting being the one in trouble. I wish I could remember where I saw that, but the way Amazon acts, I wouldn't be surprised if someone going "off the rails" on another author got a slap down. Amazon knows who we are, after all. They may not know the biggest scammers, but they darn sure know us.

    Quote
    The money involved is simply too much for them to stop playing the games. For all practical purposes this is all reward and zero risk for them. We lose a KDP account and it's our livelihood at stake. They lose a KDP account and it's just the cost of doing business.

    I agree. Like politics, the money is just too darned good, too enticing, to ignore. That's why these folks are here, because KU is like opening a freaking bank vault and telling people to take what they want. The poor guy just trying to put in his twenty bucks in the Christmas fund, though? Better hold on to your... hat... because Amazon is coming for you!

    As to the bonuses being eliminated? I've been saying that for at least a year, as have others. I could see doing them for a while, to get and keep those who could bring readers to the program, but once they became free money for the marketers, they should have long been gone. I don't think everyone at Amazon is stupid, but some things make me wonder what the end game is. We were told readers didn't like all the short stories (especially the erotica), so that had to be pushed down in favor of the novels, but no one ever saw that it was hurting anything. But apparently readers are just fine with the top slots being junk books, the recommendations being more of the same (which may be why the also boughts are down at the bottom of the page now), and the search not bringing up books they like. So, what hurts readers more?

    Quote
    I'm not going to tell you how I know it but I can assure you his unexpected ban was a terrifying shock to the Top 100 romance stuffers close to him.

    It doesn't seem to have moved most of them on to the point of not doing what they've been doing, though. Maybe they think he was an aberration, and Amazon will back down now.

    The thing is, I know people who haven't done anything wrong are going to be hurt by Amazon cleaning up KU. I know authors who make good money in KU, and have never done anything shady. I know some who were doing well, but who are struggling because of the scammers. I myself get dinged every time Amazon tweaks something, changes the algos, or whatever, and I certainly don't do anything wrong or against TOS. But I know it's coming, and I know it's going to hurt like heck, but I will bear it if it means the loopholes are closed and the store is cleaned up. Nothing will ever stop the true scammers, but it can be controlled to a point where the program isn't just a free buffet for cheaters.

    Offline Anarchist

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #769 on: June 25, 2018, 06:50:11 am »



    Amirite?

    lol




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    Offline SuzyQ

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #770 on: June 25, 2018, 07:33:04 am »
    But, having more than 10% bonus content is now not allowed. If the book ends at 82%, then the author needs to look at what they're putting at the end. Self-police, in other words.

    People have been reporting for sexual content since... well, since forever. Why that's even tied into this I have no idea. Amazon allowed sexual content, within their vague limits (no incest, no underage, and so on). There are people who want nothing but clean, inspirational type books, with no bad words, no sex, no hint of sex ever happening -- which is odd because their religious text is full of it -- and may they're taking advantage, or maybe it's just coincidence. I'm not on any forums where this is going on, certainly no author forums. But also remember that many of these folks are pushing books with sexual content into categories it shouldn't be. Erotica in just about everything, including children's books and inspirational books, and into nonfiction cats. So, yeah, this needs to be reported.


    Uh... so I think that the people with books ending at 80% probably NEVER had any bonus content other than author back matter and excerpts and so didn't feel any need to update their files. Also the new rule says ABOUT 10%. I mean this is ridiculous. If you guys don't focus on the mega scammers the message is going to get lost. In fact I think it already is. If this was actually doing something I would be thrilled. But too many legitimate authors are getting raked through the mud over 5%-10% too much when they were never stuffing to begin with. Names of authors who aren't even in KU are getting bandied around. It is ABSURD.  I'm only half geartedly observing from a distance but I find it incredibly disturbing.

    As for reporting erotic content the one thing I saw on Twitter was not about childrens categories (dear lord, that IS disgusting!) it was a jealous author who was angry that her amazon ads did not get through and wanted to report a steamy romance novel for getting ads through. Meanwhile a cursory look at her covers revealed that the person doing the reporting had very poor judgment in determining what was acceptable for Amazon TOS. Any photo of a male pulling his pants down is a no-no. Couples can be embracing but they shouldn't look like they're about to penetrate. There are ways to skirt the line (from what I'm told bc yes, people in all genres are talking about this particular ninny) and she wasn't doing it. The author who got ads through was a lot smarter.

    And yes if you want to see it it's under the same # as the anti book stuffing campaign.

    Like I said, off the rails.

    Offline KelliWolfe

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #771 on: June 25, 2018, 09:03:50 am »
    I'll disclose here because these guys are all besties now, and they're exchanging scamming tips the way most of us exchange recipes. I won't be giving away any trade secrets or giving them ideas they won't have already had.

    One well-known scammer whose account was banned from KDP last year was allowed to open a small publisher's account outside of KDP under a new LLC. Not through one of the aggregators but directly with Amazon. Books through new pen names from that new account are even allowed in KU. And, because Amazon apparently doesn't share information between its departments, this author, under the same name their banned account was under and with a book previously published in that banned KDP account, was given a Monthly Deal.

    So yeah, break TOS and T&Cs in multiple ways, multiple times, get yourself first banned from KU, then get your account terminated, and Amazon not only allows you to continue to sell in the store, but perks you along the way.

    Will Chance come back again? As I said...besties. If black hatters think the money is still easier on Amazon than through other endeavors, they'll come back. And Amazon, apparently, will welcome them with open arms.

    If KDP/Amazon is serious about cracking down on scamming, IMO they have to first stop enabling and rewarding it.

    Really, KDP, if we on the outside can see this stuff this easily, then dealing with scammers can't be rocket science. Besides, Bezos has that rocket science thing covered already.
    I really wish I could say that this surprises me, but it doesn't. It's why I quit bothering to report any bad behavior on the site a couple of years back. Amazon has zero interest in policing their store or fixing the problems there, and until they do there's no point wasting time trying to do it for them. The people in charge aren't stupid. They know exactly what they're doing and they have their own reasons for allowing it to continue and even flourish.

    I have a strong suspicion that the level of scamming is so high and has been so from the very beginning that if Amazon was to eliminate it the KU program would look very, very bad. The people running KU don't want to have their budgets slashed or lose their jobs, so they allow it to continue to keep the gravy train going. Amazon is all about growth, not profits, and so long as those page reads go up every single month all is right with the world and everyone gets their bonus checks at the end of the year. If that means letting the scammers run wild, who cares?

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    Offline Desert Rose

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #772 on: June 25, 2018, 09:07:25 am »
    But, having more than 10% bonus content is now not allowed. If the book ends at 82%, then the author needs to look at what they're putting at the end. Self-police, in other words.
    Which is why it would help to know if things that have always been considered part of a book, even if not part of the main story, are part of that 10%. Because as it stands, I can think of any number of reasons that people might disagree on where the "book" ends and where the "bonus content" begins.
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    Offline KelliWolfe

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #773 on: June 25, 2018, 09:14:54 am »
    What's that they say about mob mentality? The gift that keeps on giving.

    And a book stopping at 82% means squat when it comes to bonus content. Back matter and ads for other books aren't bonus content and anyone who can't see that shouldn't even be in publishing. Gah. Shorter books are going to hit that 10% unreasonably fast if everybody starts going nuts and claiming every little thing is bonus content.
    This. By the time I've included the standard "leave a review and sign up for the newsletter" bit, the excerpt for the next book in the series, the catalog of my other books (there are rather a lot of them), and the About the Author page, I've blown past the limit on anything shorter than 30k words. I've had exactly ONE reader complain about that in the last 7 years, and I know damned good and well that having those things in there sells more of my books. Am I supposed to strip them down and take a big hit on sales because idiots who don't know the difference are out looking for blood?

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    Offline Phxsundog

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    Re: Amazon Actions re NEW Bonus Content Limits -- threads MERGED
    « Reply #774 on: June 25, 2018, 01:03:40 pm »
    Like a couple others I'm probably bowing out of this thread. Debating the extremists over-reporting people or arguing the scamming is so bad it's impossible to control isn't leading anywhere productive. It's demoralizing and it plays into what the scammers want, which is for us to give up and do nothing.

    The serial stuffers are worried. They wouldn't keep creating accounts on Twitter to argue with people all day if they weren't. They wouldn't keep calling David Gaughran and Suzan Tiadale cult leaders and criminals if they thought this campaign was having no impact. One third of the worst offenders wouldn't be unstuffing their books if they weren't feeling pressure to drop the bonus content.

    So I'll make one more call to anyone here who wants action to join dozens of level headed romance authors in reporting the worst abusers. If you see a stuffed book hiding under the new collection or compilation label in the Romance Top 100 then please report it to [email protected]

    Please consider asking KDP to clarify their new policy. We need to know whether these collections are violating TOS or if Amazon has decided retitling a stuffed book with duplicate content is okay. Thank you.



    edited, PM if you have questions -- Ann

    « Last Edit: June 25, 2018, 02:15:56 pm by Ann in Arlington »

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