I would like to welcome Sarah Juckes the communications manager of CompletelyNovel.com. She is here to answer some questions and introduce their model for independent publishing. Delve into the questions and feel free to go by their site and kick their tires and see if they may be right for you.
1) Can you explain CompletelyNovel in 50 words?
CompletelyNovel is a friendly publishing platform, specializing in helping authors create, publish and sell beautiful print books. We’re a little different to most publishing platforms. For one – we offer 100% royalty rates. We also have a friendly team on hand when needed, expert advice on tap and some of the best print quality around.
(That was 54 words – sorry!)
2) 100% royalties – how does that work?
Rather than taking a commission from book sales, we offer authors the option to ‘subscribe’ to publishing for one flat fee per month, or per year.
So, let’s say an author subscribes to our publishing Plus Plan. She pays £7.99/$11.99 per month to publish two different titles – perhaps her novel and its sequel. For this, she gets the use of our online tools to create her book, the opportunity to print copies at cost price, two ISBNs and distribution worldwide via high-quality print-on-demand.
As we don’t take any commission from her book sales, 100% of the book royalties are passed back to her on the first working day of every month. And that’s it! No upfront fees or hidden costs needed.
3) How is this different to publishers such as Createspace and Lulu?
Most other publishing platforms operate by taking a commission from your book sales, or by charging an upfront fee. As we cover our costs with a monthly subscription, an author can earn 100% book royalties. These means she will only ever pay £7.99/$11.99 per month to publish, whether she sells ten books, or ten thousand.
Currently, CreateSpace take a 40% commission of the retail price of every book sale, and Lulu takes 20% of the royalties. The math can get a bit confusing, so we’ve covered it in full detail using Pride and Prejudice as an example, here.
4) What kind of authors suit CompletelyNovel’s publishing subscriptions?
Our subscription model particularly suits authors who sell more than six copies of their book a month, so we have a lot of passionate writers on CompletelyNovel who are working to do just that.
Authors don’t need to have any previous experience with publishing. We have lots of free advice for newbies on our website, so they can learn as they go.
Books doing particularly well with us at the moment range from travel memoirs, to women’s fiction – literary masterpieces to business books. Ultimately, we find that a book’s success is down to the determination of the author who drives them.
5) What kind of authors DON’T suit CompletelyNovel?
CompletelyNovel isn’t for everyone. Authors who are looking for a ‘hands on’ publishing experience are better off going to a publishing services provider – the cost of which can be anything upwards of £700/$1000. We also don’t currently offer eBook distribution, although 99% of our authors publish an eBook independently to go alongside their print book, which we encourage.
One of the great things about subscribing to publishing on a monthly basis is that authors are free to leave whenever they want. They maintain all copyright to their work and their book will simply become unavailable if they choose to leave.
6) What’s the cost of a standard print book on CompletelyNovel?
Authors can actually calculate the print cost of their book here.
So – for an average 250 page paperback novel, it’s about £3.25/$5.04.
7) Where are you based?
We are in sunny Brighton, just south of London (by the sea) in the UK. We’re a small and friendly team, and most of us are actually writers ourselves.
Although we’re based in the UK, thanks to the wonders of the internet, we have authors publishing with us from all over the world.
8) Where can writers find more information?
Authors can find out more about what we do, here.
If you want more information on how subscribing to publishing works, we’ve popped it into a handy infographic, which you can find, here.
And yes – you can even drop me a line via a contact form, here.
Today’s off-day post came as a surprise, but I thought it should not wait and some of my Mondays are already booked for guests. At any rate we are in a wild ride! In some ways this surprise kind of sucks, but I have some blog material and I have been able to meet some new people and make some connections by a mistake I didn’t catch earlier. So there are silver linings somewhere.
Last night I was contacted on my business page for my new upcoming publishing imprint Soaring Eagle Books about another publishing company by the same name. When I set up the page, I had mistakenly put the website URL I had HOPED to obtain, but forgot to change when I found out the URL was taken. I’m as human as the next person, so mistakes happen. Presently, I don’t have a website, and my company isn’t operational yet–I just have the social media channels built and branded and the logo. Of course, when it is time to go public all of those details will be sorted out, especially when I am open for clients. I am still curious about how they found my page since I haven’t been trying to promote it at all since the company is still in the making. Anyway, I am glad they did, so they have saved me some grief on down the road and helped me fix something that needed to be pronto.
I don’t ever plan on being a big company or a small press of any kind whatsoever. I will be the one to help out with formatting, cover design, and distribution. If the author uses one of my ISBNs and are published under my imprint or their own, the author will own everything I create for them and it will be theirs to do with as they wish, including their accounts which they will be paid directly from the retailers and distributors and they will have direct access to their accounts. I don’t plan on doing all that, but I will help people who want it though, but it won’t be in my own account. I won’t take any royalties and they will print their books for wholesale through their own IngramSpark account or CreateSpace free platform account. Since the authors will have their own accounts, they can continue to upload to these accounts whether or not they use my services again. They will be free to use their files at a local printer and just use IngramSpark or CreateSpace for their distribution. They choose; it’s theirs anyway. They just pay me to package it for them just like they would a formatter or a cover designer, it’s just I help them with all that and since I know where the good ones are and I know the lingo and I hire out what I cannot do. Been around the block a few times ;). I am working on putting together a couple marketing packets, but they will be services that work, and they will guarantee exposure, not sales since no one can guarantee that if they say they can, you might want to reconsider publishing with them. I am still carefully researching that :).
I will not own any rights to the author’s work except the limited rights to print and distribute should they use my ISBN. The agreement is still a work in progress, but I plan on it being easy to read, no legalese (since this is not my 3rd language, and it makes me twitch), and no author unfriendly clauses. No unpleasant surprises or fees. Everything will be discussed up front.
I do all this since I have dealt with the dark side of publishers and self publishing. That’s one of the reasons why I have this blog. There are some nuances of even the best pay-to-publish companies that are beginning to bug me, so I plan on doing things differently. Maybe for some authors the things about these companies will be okay–they were when I was trying to get back on track and learn the ropes. Some things may work for some people, but I will be for the authors that going that route may not be quite right and going at it totally alone is not either, so I am providing the middle road as it were or just what they need. But now I have outgrown them and I know there are others who want that helping hand that are getting slaughtered out there, which also the other point of today’s post.
Penelope “Penny” Fletcher’s Soaring Eagle Books
The individuals in question that visited my page were a former partner and a former author who parted on some very unpleasant terms which I will share in a moment. To visit the site of this publisher to poke around Click Here. Please note before clicking: This is not my publishing company! At the time of this writing there is no website for my company, nor do I recommend or am affiliated with this publisher. More on that in a moment.
Here are some links for your viewing pleasure to the author’s website where she has quite an array of posts with screenshots about her ordeal with this publisher–so scroll through and look for yourself as well as a post on a forum (also read the comments). I will summarize it all in a nice little bow for you and what I think about it. The former assistant in question is a guest on her blog, so check it out.
This company tries to come off as a traditional small press. Please note, a traditional small press in any shape or form, new or old, doesn’t charge you money up front for editing, formatting, cover design, or marketing. Some hybrid presses, pay-to-publish companies, or vanity presses do this though, so what do we have here?
From what I have gathered from the website and from the posts and proof by Gen Griffin, and my own harrowing experience with Xlibris, I have drawn the conclusion that this publisher is a vanity publisher masquerading as a small traditional publisher, and when this happens, run away as fast as your proverbial feet will carry you. It is not a hybrid press, and it is not what I call a reputable pay-to-publish company either. The term “self-publishing company” is going out of style, and the term has since became tarnished because of publishers like this and Author Solutions and Publish America. To be sure, I’m sure that Author Solutions companies masquerade as traditional publishers ever since they partnered with Penguin.
As per Rachel Thompson’s quote of the hour, “Let’s deconstruct.”
On the website there is the talk of “services for fees”, but as you can seeand there is no fee structure, so the author doesn’t know the risk thereof or has any indication to know what to expect here or any means for planning. From the forum post above and the posts on Gen Griffin’s blog, she had been approached with a contract as if this company was a traditional publisher, plus this publisher retains exclusive rights to the work for X amount of time like a trade publisher–from what I ascertain from the posts it is 3 years for this company. Not bad, well… at least it isn’t for the length of thecopyright (that’s the rest of the author’s life+ 70 years–which is BAD by the way–AKA “forever” in publishing). I also see that the publisher takes a 50/50 split from the royalties while the author is still paying for marketing services from what I can guess from the website and from the posts. Total vanity press tactic. Then there is the age old tactic from the posts that the author has to buy X amount of books for the initial print run and X amount of books yearly if the book doesn’t sell to “make up some sort of difference”.
Mark Levine would wonder why this publisher is entitled to 50% of the royalties when they aren’t REALLY doing anything to promote your book, and you still have to buy services or left to do it on your own? He would also advise to dodge any evasive or vague terms or language about the things in the former paragraph or in regards to fees. Again, traditional small presses don’t charge fees for publishing or marketing. They just give tiny advances or none at all and their budgets are small, so the marketing would be up to you–it’s just that you wouldn’t be paying the publisher so to speak.
Then there is the question about pricing of a so-called “trade paperback”. Here is the paperback listing for Gen Griffin’s Book on Amazon and the pricing (do not buy–the author will not see a dime). If the pricing was for the regular paperback that we indie authors usually produce the pricing might be okay, but since this is supposedly a “trade paperback” or a mass market paperback, this price quite high. Why? Trade paperbacks are usually printed offset, a smaller trim size, with a cheaper paper quality, and in large quantity. All of these things drive down the printing cost per book, and that’s why you can get a 600 page book for $4.99 as opposed to ~$18. Usually, when a small press has a paperback and/or a trade paperback they have a hardcover edition available which is not too hard since the press should have the cache of ISBNs available as well as making the necessary tweaks to the cover to create the hardcover edition. Just a thought :/.
From the posts, we can see that the marketing tactics used by this publisher breaks social media rules and annoys people since it’s spam. Vanity press violations! All of the vanity presses that I know of use tactics like these that don’t work, and they just annoy people. They simply spam people and call it marketing which you pay them for. #faceplant Then there is the sad tale of missing sales reports, missing royalties, yadda yadda. When reading all this I had terrible flashbacks and memories like I did when I had my experience with Xlibris.
What makes Gen’s story even worse is that she can’t get the rights back to her book, so it had to be left to die, and she had to redo the entire series because this woman wouldn’t do the right thing and give the money owed or her rights back. I became physically ill reading about all this. Penny Fletcher has enough stuff against her to be sued by people. I would almost guess she learned from Kevin Weiss of Author Solutions or from whoever runs Publish America. They would be proud.
After looking at the website, I was not all that impressed. It was barebones at best. Not forthcoming on information and a lot of information is just plain wrong. Traditional publishing still works for some people and there are still some good small presses both old and new that would be great to work with. Evolved Publishing is one of them. Some hybrids like Booktrope are also good, so check them out. Of course there is no contract and I hope to see one soon. If I ever do, I will post about it!
Amanda Taylor’s Soaring Eagle Books
Above is the logo for my company, and you can go to the above site to see Penny Fletcher’s logo. I have purchased the domain for the company, but there won’t be anything there since I have no site. It will be soaringeaglebooks.org I will eventually have a kick butt site and I have a designer in mind. I have rectified the blunder on my associated social media sites with my publishing imprint and removed the links from Penny Fletcher’s company. MY URL will be crosslinked on all my sites and social media channels for Soaring Eagle Publicity and my author stuff. This URL will be on the copyright pages of any book that is published there as well as the logo. All roads will travel back to the above URL.
MY Soaring Eagle Books will not masquerade as anything. I will not be pretending to be a small traditional press. This is my own independent imprint that will be open to clients where I will be the go-between or provider of cover design, file formatting, and upload, and more all fees included for all work entailed by me or anyone I work with. If the author wants me to create their stuff and use their own ISBNs, no problem. My imprint will be on the book only if the author doesn’t have their own, and they use one of the ISBNs that is registered under my imprint. The books are still theirs though. I talked a bit about how things will work earlier.
My purpose of opening up to clients in the future is to not be the next big thing, the next big publisher, or any kind of traditional press or whatever. I don’t guarantee any bestsellers, but I will try to do my best to provide the best service and quality as possible at a reasonable price without all the hassles or nasty surprises. Been there, done that, so you don’t have to. I hate it when publishers say they understand what authors go through and they turn around and do the exact same thing. Another definition of insanity. Practice what you preach, people. Somebody please slap me if I don’t; I will try my best as humanly possible to NOT do crap like the aforementioned publisher or any of the other rogues that are out there.
Of course you might be wondering why don’t I just start over after this discovery? I have too much time and money invested to turn back now. I’ve spent time on branding and accounts of more than just social media. Why do I have to sacrifice my dream and hope because someone else didn’t want to do the right thing? Since this other company is not that old, it would seem that it should fall by the wayside and reputation and word of mouth should prevail. So should doing the right thing as well as faith and trying to do good by people in a world that a good name and a good reputation are hard to come by. I will keep people updated on this blog on how things progress as well as on my author and sister company streams. Amanda Taylor’s Soaring Eagle Books will be safe. I am not going to grade my own company. That’s not fair. I will let other people like clients do that for me.
Penny Fletcher’s Soaring Eagle books is not. Stay away. STAY FAR AWAY. If I was grading this company for a company review it would get a Sucks 🙁 rating. An F. Mark Levine would give it an F. Anyone I know would give it a thumbs down. Rachel Thompson would nail it for social media violations.
Point and clarification made. The end.
I would like to welcome Tanisha Williams to NAG today. She will be back in a couple weeks to discuss a different topic as well. Today, though, she will be talking about why it is important to leverage social media and to talk some more about a new ebook platform Chat Ebooks. Click on the links to check out the site. Authors and readers alike are wanted!
Important note: Just as I am colleague Rachel Thompson have said time and time again, social media is not just sell, sell, sell, your book–it is about meeting and interacting with people and building relationships. Enjoy!
Ever since the advent of the Internet and e-reading devices, the self-publishing industry has virtually exploded in popularity. In the days before the digital revolution, self-publishing was somewhat frowned upon as a type of “vanity press”, where authors had to finance their own publishing efforts due to an implied lack of outside interest in the book. Nowadays, any author wanting to self-publish a book can present his/her work to a potential audience of millions of people with only a few clicks of the mouse. Needless to say, it is easier now than ever for aspiring authors to experience self-publishing success due to the outstanding opportunity that the Internet has afforded.
Hugh Howie, a prolific and highly successful self-published author, recently published an eye-opening report asserting that the earnings of self-published authors have actually surpassed those of authors who have signed with the big five publishing houses (Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Hachette, Harper Collins, and Simon & Schuster). This salient data point underscores the shift in the balance of power that is taking place where authors’ publishing capabilities and royalties are concerned.
Although this data is definitely encouraging to the aspiring ebook author, it is important to note that only a relatively small percentage of self-published authors earn the lion’s share of the royalties. According to a survey of over 5,000 authors conducted by Digital Book World, a mere 0.6% of self-published authors earned over $200,000 in 2013, and roughly one-fifth of the self-published authors surveyed earned nothing at all. While the number of extravagant success stories will always be in the minority, this does beg the question as to what may be the “missing ingredient” that keeps many self-published authors from achieving breakthrough success.
This is where ChatEbooks truly begins to stand out as a digital publishing platform. Although there are a large number of publishing platforms and venues to choose from, and each one has its strengths and weaknesses, ChatEbooks is unique in that it offers not only the ability to self-publish your book, but it also leverages the power of social media to connect authors with their readers in an unprecedented manner.
Most ebook publishing platforms allow you to upload and sell your book, as well as receive reviews from readers, but they do not offer anything in the way of establishing true connections with your readers through social interaction. ChatEbooks harnesses the strengths of social media in order to help authors and their readers engage and connect within the context of the selling/reading experience. If you are an avid ebook reader, you may be able to leave a detailed review of an author’s book, but wouldn’t it be even better if you could provide feedback directly to the author, and then have that author respond in kind? This is the type of interaction that ChatEbooks provides to its users. Having this kind of direct access to the authors whose work you have come to appreciate and support is nothing short of a book lover’s dream.
If you are an aspiring author, you will definitely appreciate the benefits of using ChatEbooks in light of the limitations of other publishing platforms. You will retain complete control over the pricing and distribution of your book, and you are allowed to keep 100% of the revenues from the sale of your book. Also, unlike many other digital publishing platforms, you will have immediate access to any monies generated from your book sales. The unique social media interactivity offered by ChatEbooks allows you to engage with your readers in an exciting and personal way, a benefit that can pay great dividends in the form of referrals and recommendations. It is no secret that word-of-mouth is still the most powerful form of advertising, and by offering your readers a personal connection to your work via ChatEbooks, you open the door for them to share your work with their network of friends. This can produce more fans of your books, and more revenues for you!
It is easy to see why ChatEbooks is the ebook publishing platform of choice for authors who are looking to expose their work to a diverse audience, and connect with their readers in a meaningful way. With the myriad of advantages that ChatEbooks offers, it only makes sense to join and begin taking advantage of this powerful self-publishing platform.
About the Author
Tanisha Williams is the author of two non-profit e-books “501c3 In 12-Steps” and “Simple Internal Controls That Protect Your Assets”. Her desire for more interaction with readers was the key inspiration behind the development of her latest business venture ChatEbooks (https://www.chatebooks.com/). ChatEbooks, launched in October 2014, harnesses the strengths of social media in order to help authors and their readers engage and connect within the context of the selling/reading experience.
Amazon.com is CONSTANTLY coming up with some of the coolest and innovative ways to bring authors and readers together. This is probably why they are the dominating online book retailer, but I still wouldn’t necessarily call them “Author’s Best Friend”.
The newest thing they have came out with is #AmazonCart which ties Amazon to Twitter. A reader can add a book to their cart from Twitter without leaving Twitter. Just because it’s in the cart doesn’t mean the reader has bought your book yet, but it simply means they might later or they put it there to check out and buy later. Probably one of the biggest disconnects about promo is that it takes people from Twitter when they really don’t want to go. This can help bridge the gap a tad, but I wouldn’t abuse it. Still doesn’t give the license to tweet link, link, link…
A reader simply has to reply to a tweet with any Amazon product link (can be shortened) with the hashtag #AmazonCart and voila! It’s in the cart. Of course there is a setup process, but all that information can be found here.
Per Amazon AuthorCentral, people can leverage this on a book launch. Pretty cool huh? Contact them for details. When you login, information will be on the homepage. Not on AuthorCentral? Sign up today, it’s free. Need help? Ask me :).
Authors can leverage a bit more when they do their occasional promo tweet. And I did say and do mean occasional. Have a catchy blurb or a line to catch the reader’s attention, but you still have to have room for a shortened link and a call to action pointing to Amazon or that it is an Amazon link in 120 characters or less. Challenging, but not impossible. Get creative! That’s about all there is in regards to tips about how to tweet it to hopefully catch a reader as they are scanning the feed and at least get them to reply or retweet with that hashtag. The rest is up to them :).
Like all good things in life, do it in moderation. Spam rules for Twitter TOS still apply and do does the “cool kid” rules of Twitter etiquette.
People aren’t on social media looking to buy, so keep that in mind. They want to be educated, entertained, or looking to socialize.
Then after all the coolness and newness wore off, then begs the question about how this can probably contribute to the author spam problem we have on Twitter already. *headdesk*
Probably a lot.
It’s already a toxic wasteland of not just author spam but spam in general. There are a lot of sellers on Amazon.com. When there are new tools, there are those people who will abuse them, so not big surprise there. Don’t be that author.
For goodness sake, don’t put it in an automated DM, but from the looks of things I don’t think you can, since DMs are private (and for #AmazonCart to work it needs to be public, so that snake’s head is cut off at the get-go (thank goodness!). Don’t @ someone or a bunch of people on Twitter and tell them to add your book to their cart. It’s just another flavor of spam. Spam with jalapenos is still spam. Just a regular ol’ general promo tweet is all you need. If someone is interested, they’ll act. Just like how they do when they visit your profile ;).
When using this tool try not to spam! You’ll just irritate people. Aggravated people won’t share or purchase from you.
So keep up the conundrum of the more content over promo, you don’t want to annoy your potential or existing readers :).
Again, this is just one tool out of many to use at your disposal. It is free in the terms of cold, hard cash, but not in the sense of that Twitter brownie point bank! Save those delicious brownies when you really need them. or they’ll be gone and then you’ll have to wait to “bake” some more!
If you have read this blog at any length of time, you should know that there are unscrupulous publishers out there to scam authors. However, a while back I had an experience with a scammy bookseller. I haven’t seen anyone speak of any fraudulent or scammy booksellers on any blogs anywhere. So could this be something new to keep a lookout for? Something like this could happen to a traditional or an independent author who would try to expand their distribution if the opportunity arises.
If anyone knows anything about scammers, they should know they are attracted to places where the money is–like a moth to a light. I have read quite a bit that the self publishing boom is beginning to accumulate some dough. Again, a traditional author that is left to fend on their own will pretty much gravitate and work with people and entrepreneurs in the indie community. I know because I have met and worked with them :).
You can also say scammers are like cockroaches; there are ten more you don’t see for every one you see.
To read the more personalized account about the whole ordeal with this unscrupulous children’s bookseller in all its creepy glory, click on the link below to visit my author website:
I shared that story on WriterBeat and ReadWave as well as on my social media with readers and other authors, and I received some surprising reactions about what could have happened. They were actually very scared for me. I almost believe this was no ordinary scam, but a catfish scam. This is simply because the perp seemed more interested in the author herself than getting any free books or money from her. I do believe his initial contact had nothing to do with books from the get-go.
After my experiences with Xlibris and Author Solutions, I have learned how to smell a rat pretty quickly. AS reps are simply the best deceivers for anyone who doesn’t know their reputation. That said, I was onto something being pretty early on because my guard was up, but I never expected to be fishing for catfish. Until recently, the only catfish I was familiar with were the ones that live in the water. I say it’s a catfish scam since he was looking to have a relationship and he was trying to get me to go to his home country. Like I said, the books were an afterthought or not a thought at all on his part. To read more about these kinds of scams Google/Ask/Bing catfish scams for more reading.
From this ordeal I can draw some conclusions. If there are any more rogue booksellers out there, I would say most of them are not catfish. Most of them will simply want free books for them to sell and you not get your royalty.
Here is a list of things to look for/watch out for if you have suspicions:
- Does not have a website. Most booksellers will usually have a website where their contact information and present catalog of books to sell. My fake bookseller did not have a website of any kind.
- Use flattery in the initial contact. In my case this was taken more to the extreme. A scammer will use some sort of flattery since it has a ‘disarming’ effect. This is one of the main weapons in the AS arsenal. The author’s appearance or anything else about them is not relevant for business. If they say your book is so ‘great’, how do you know if they actually read it? Simple. Someone suggested asking a question or two from the book or sample that would require actual reading and cannot be pulled from the Book Description. If they get it right, the praise is legit, and they actually read it. Surely you can think of something. No one knows the book better than the author, right? This is also a handy-dandy defense, if Author Solutions tries to sell you dreams. They tell every single author that comes through their cattle chute that their book is great. That’s how they try to get you!
- Ask you to mail books at your expense. Booksellers will purchase books from your distributor, and it doesn’t matter where in any part of the world. They rarely or never approach an individual author, but if they do, they will purchase the books at a wholesale discount of 40-55%. They will also ask about or look if the books are returnable. My scammer tried this even though I provided distributor info and didn’t answer questions about royalty splits, returns, etc. Sometimes, though, an independent bookstore or sometimes Barnes and Noble will allow you to mail/bring books in which will be at your expense, but that brings me to the next point:
- Does not provide a written contract of any kind. I have experience in this area in both local bookstores and an independent bookstore in another state. Before any books are sent or anything is done, there is a written agreement that determines the length of time the bookstore will carry the book or details of a one time fee, etc. Royalty splits and returns of unsold books to the distributor or author will also be included. Not so with my scammer.
- Ask the author to pay a salary. Booksellers do not take salaries from authors in any shape or form. They make their profit by purchasing the books at a discount and reselling them. They also will take a portion of the royalty in most cases, or ask for a one time submission fee (which is usually small), but all of that is spelled out in the site and/or the written contract. This is how they make their money. Think about how Amazon works for a moment; they require a discount to purchase print and they take a fee on any book sold in any format. Booksellers usually only buy books in small portions and they usually look at samples and return unsold books after such-and-such time. My scammer tried this, but I have a feeling that the “salary” in question was not monetary since he demanded my physical presence to pay it and completely disregarded Paypal or Western Union. I know for a fact that these platforms perform services of this nature to his home country.
- Tries to force you to talk by phone. There is just something about scammy people in how they want to talk to you on the phone. Sometimes they try this with you on the first contact. Most business can be done by email or fax, so phone is not necessary, especially if it’s international. International correspondence can be done via Skype, but not everyone has it or is comfortable with it. Most authors would rather not talk by phone. Our minds are connected to our fingers rather than our mouths. AS reps get you on the phone and won’t let you off. I took Mark Levine’s advice and watched the movie Boiler Room. It’s dead on. That’s what any scammer will do if they get you on the phone. Don’t want to talk on the phone? You don’t have to. Politely ask to chat by email or something. If they don’t honor that, then breaking connection is perfectly okay. You don’t need that kind of stress in your life.
- Multiple Social Media Accounts on the Same Platform. This is not the same thing as having multiple social media accounts on different platforms. Scammers have sock puppets and or variations and/or other aliases in case one of their accounts is sniffed out. Based on a hunch, I looked the guy up since he had sent me a friend request from another Facebook profile with an alternate spelling of his name and the name on his email address he sent me had a different spelling than the Facebook profile we were connected on. What did I find? 3 other Facebook accounts with variations, and that’s all I know of, but that was quite enough, but he didn’t have a Facebook page. He also had two accounts on Linkedin. After I unfriended him, he changed the profile picture on the Facebook account we were connected on. Coincidence? I don’t think so! Who knows if there were sock puppets? There are ways to know but that is a bit to tech for me.
These simple tips can help safeguard you if a bookseller should come your way and not your distributor’s way. So be alert!
There has been quite a bit of content already about the general bullying, carpet bombing, and all those fun things going on on Goodreads before and after Amazon bought it. A lot of this ire seems to be pointed at authors, but I am beginning to find out more and more that professional reviewers, companies, as well as the casual reviewer are getting burned here.
A very prominent reviewer that I know simply asked a question in a discussion and all fiery hell broke loose. She also owns a company. The “readers” and “reviewers” descended upon her like a school of piranhas and started making incorrect assumptions and accusations against her within seconds and ran her out after tarring and feathering her. That is the point of a discussion among real readers and reviewers, isn’t it? To discuss books? You would think! She had just recovered from a different attack, so this was uncool on so many levels.
Another author I am friends with was discussing how he stays off of Goodreads except for the menial tasks and avoids discussion and interaction due to all mudslinging that goes on there with a newbie author. There has been a lot cleaned up but it’s not all the way clean yet.
I know quite a few businesses and blog tour companies that use Goodreads in their marketing plans in how they shelve books, utilize lists, and post reviews there. Authors and publishers do giveaways with ARCs there in hopes of reviews. They censor their connections so none of this crap happens to them or their clients.
As for me, I only respond to private messages on GR. I shelve books for my company for clients. I list books I would like to personally read and rate and review books that I did read. For author tasks I do the occasional giveaway and list the books there and upload the epub. I censor and respond to friend requests.
There is tremendous potential for the site, but staying clear from the minefield is key. The minefield seems to be with the interaction on the site in the forums and some group discussions. If you don’t know, then steer clear. Never, ever comment on a review on the GR site definitely if it’s negative. There are still some legit negative reviews there, but there are quite a few shill negative reviews. There are some questionable positive ones as well. Some reviews attack the author and have nothing to do with why the reader didn’t like a book. If a reader says the main character is stupid, that’s fine, but not so if the reader says the author is stupid. A negative review saying the formatting is terrible or the editing has a lot to be desired is okay, but it’s not okay to say the author’s face needs to be rearranged with a hammer. Get the idea? Find something that crosses the line? Flag them as inappropriate to the GR staff. Block people who attack you. Never engage.
You can find good readers and reviewers there to friend, but I would check their profile. Do their shelves have unfriendly names? What is in their reviews both positive and negative? What do they read? Are they in questionable groups? Is their review average very, very low? Do they have one star ratings (no reviews) on hundreds and hundreds of books (which they probably didn’t read)? Maybe even go to their site! There have been some top ranking people of Goodreads such as librarians and top reviewers that have done some of these things, so titles mean nothing! So check EVERYBODY out!
This could be advice for readers, reviewers, businesses, and authors alike. Know who you’re friending. Censor your connections. You don’t want to let a fox in the hen house do you?
The questionable people that are making the biggest stink are only a small percentage, but they do a lot of damage. They are known for causing so much trouble that people’s careers have ended, hazards to health, threats to person and property, and the list goes on. Books were even sunk before release because people wrote fraud bad reviews when the ARCs weren’t even sent out. It sucks to have to use street smarts on a book site, but if you have something to loose, then it’s prudent to do so. Stop by STGRB to ID known offenders or report some you know, so others can avoid them too. They’re here for everyone and the founders are reviewers, so it’s not all about authors.
It’s great to interact with readers, but it seems to be safer elsewhere like G+, Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook. GR has tools to find these people on Goodreads as well or you can find people from your book tour on Goodreads on their sites. They may invite you to their groups. That’s a safe way to build relationships there.
Have questions? Comments? A story to share? Leave them below!
During the past three weeks I have seen and heard about other publishing professionals besides authors attacking reviewers and all the fun bad behavior against an honest critique of a book. This has nothing to do with the bully reviews (which are not really reviews IMHO) we are hearing more about (more on that later) these days. Even still in the face of a bully review, it’s best not to engage and feed the trolls (that’s what they want).
This is something I didn’t think I would ever see or hear about. It’s bad enough authors are doing it–but really? REALLY? A publicist shouldn’t make a reviewer want to cower under the bed just because she felt the characters should be better developed or the writing had a lot to be desired. An editor shouldn’t attack a reviewer because the character development is lacking or the main character is incredibly asinine and annoyed her. They did their job–an honest (honest isn’t always positive) assessment for the book for other readers. Reviews aren’t for the author unless there is a note in said review that says “Note to Author” or it is written in direct address with the author’s name. Usually, the author will be contacted privately.
I don’t know if there are any publishers doing it so far…
A couple of of the reviewers in question were connections on Facebook. For the sake of this post, I am not going to go into the whole thing about what happened–it’s pretty much the same ol’ same ol’. I also looked at the reviewers’ reviews and they were honest critiques about what they didn’t like, why, and some constructive comments. For good examples of troll reviews visit STGRB.
However, in these cases, the publicist, agent, or even an editor comes after the reviewer in the stereotypical bad behavior we’ve heard so much about already. But guess what? Usually the author takes the fall for what other people did out of their control. They don’t usually find out about it until there is a firestorm and wonder what the heck happened (when there is no Call to Arms by the author). Sometimes the author can be involved, but for this post, these are for examples where the author was not involved in the attack–the publicist, etc were. In summary, this can and does happen. Probably 75-85% of the time it is the author–this post represents the other 15-25%.
Then, the author must go and make amends and try to fix the situation. Their careers are on the line, because the agent lost her scruples with a reviewer. The author tries to pick up the pieces and hope to put them back together again. When people peel back the layers and find out that the agent did it, it almost screams like “the butler did it”. There are those kinds of cases in real life, and they are not in the majority. It’s a cliche because it does happen.
For the record, NO publishing professional, author, publicist, or otherwise should EVER attack a reviewer on their pages or a public forum. Not all (probably most) negative reviews are not troll reviews. A comment saying that the characters need to be developed better, so I can care about them doesn’t make a reviewer a troll. Now a review saying an author needs to be gang raped in prison or sodomized by lawn sculpture for writing *blank* is a different story. Still, an author should never attack there are other means to deal with the situation professionally. In the case of a troll, don’t poke the hornet’s nest and not expect to be stung. Avoid. In another post I will teach you how to spot a troll and how to avoid them. There are ways to do this under the radar and professionally, and I have discovered this from personal experience and by talking with book bloggers. It would be a similar process used for tour host selection by blog tour companies.
When querying for reviews, and you spot a reviewer that is looks suspicious, avoid and don’t submit. You owe it to yourself and your readers, or in the case of the publicist, your client. It’s not the # of reviews or the star count, but the quality of those reviews both positive and negative. If a troll wins your book in a contest or buys it, then all bets are off. Publicists and other professionals should adopt a similar MO.
As an author, this sounds pretty scary to me. These are just incidences I am aware of, and undoubtedly not isolated incidences. Generally speaking, most of these professionals will not behave this way. Finding out that my publicist (if I had one) attacked a reviewer under the guise of my name or whatever would make me very angry and embarrassed. I worked hard on my books and my platform, and I don’t want to see him/her make it come crashing down in two seconds with their actions. That reflects on me until if and when I can clear it up. First things first, they would be fired, and I would be finding me another and be more careful. No ifs, ands, or buts. I have worked with book bloggers and reviewers myself, and I have a good idea about what they expect from us. I would just pray that I could make amends with the community for what somebody else did, and just hope my good name be cleared. I would also hope that maybe someone would be concerned and ask. To be sure, I would hope that would never happen. Take note: things can go awry when you had stuff over, and it can bite YOU in the ass. It depends who it is handed over to.
What would be the moral of this story? Network, research, background checks, word of mouth etc. when looking for a publicist, agent, or an editor (if you need/want one).If it can work for publishers and other businesses, it can work for them. Make sure they have a good reputation with reviewers as well as authors. Friend both in the community and ask around. Having a good name with reviewers will definitely help you and your chances with success.
Have questions, comments, or stories to share? Need publicist or editor recommendations? Leave a comment or email me privately (About page) .
Today I will be talking a bit about my new business venture Soaring Eagle Publicity. Today is it’s grand opening! As of late I have been working on that among other things.
For authors and writers I will be offering promo packages, extensive platform construction services that will include tutorials, extensive marketing services. The platform services go WAY beyond the coaching that I am offering here. The Service page for this site will be changing! With the platform services I will also provide prewritten tutorials so the platform can be built, grow, maintained and used. That’s the whole point of a platform. It’s one thing to know you need a platform and maybe build it, but it’s something else to maintain and use it for the long haul.
For the first two months of operation I will be offering ALL promo packages for FREE! Offer ends Sept 12 2013! ALL authors are welcome! Traditional, hybrid, or indie it doesn’t matter!
Writers also have free listings they can use to list their free, limited time offers, and bargains. Participants in promos will be added to the Amazon Outpost. Platinum and Gold promos will be included in the widget on the homepage. This comprehensive store is Copper’s Book Outpost. Also authors can use coupon codes or no code for these–not everyone has the ability to directly change their price. Whether the author, their publisher, code or no code, offers the freebie or discount no problem. Nobody is excluded. That’s the whole idea isn’t it?
So who is Copper you ask? He is the bald eagle mascot and my partner in crime–hoping to lend a talon to the cause while I lend a hand. I don’t have a pet bald eagle since I think that’s illegal :(, but I do get to see them and the ospreys when I visit the lake close to my house. It’s a common thing in my fantasy world–now back to what I was saying… It just wouldn’t be “Soaring Eagle” Publicity without him!
Extensive publicity services will include submission to book bloggers and reviewers. I will be doing it in a more personal manner to the bloggers. No mass, impersonal emails and I will make sure the blogger is interested in genres like yours for their review or coverage. These are lessons learned being an author and working with bloggers and reviewers and a lot of research! I will be offering Blog Tour Publicity. This is publicity for anyone’s blog tour in addition to what the author, publicist (if applicable), host blogger, and the tour company is doing. Everyone wins. So, SEP is not another blog tour company. We have plenty of those already. We now just need someone to ‘help everybody out’. That is something I haven’t seen yet…
Promo posts and extensive publicity services are backed by social media support.
What’s in it for Bloggers and Readers?
Bloggers and readers can find out who’s on tour, who has a freebie or a bargain and guest authors have the option to give away free books! For “Bloggers Wanted” features and press releases, bloggers can contact SEP or the author directly for review copies if they are interested. Bloggers pick and choose what they are interested in. SEP doesn’t treat your like a review machine and I will not “hit up on you” so to speak–I will treat you like people. There is no obligation for reviews–bloggers can feature any way they like. Any coverage is better than none. Bloggers if you find you don’t like a book and don’t want to give a bad review and wish to swap out for a feature or interview, no problem! I personally know that this is a favor just because you love authors and books, and it means much to you!
Bloggers and readers can follow on social media or subscribe to the Eagle Eye Chronicles (blog subscription) to find out what’s new–eventually there may be a newsletter component, but that’s a WIP right now. It’s all about the readers and helping them find their next great read. How can they decide if they don’t know about it?!
So, authors go fill up the outpost shelves with your bargains, deals, and freebies or snag you a free promo while they are being offered.
Readers and bloggers feel free to browse the Book Outpost and sign up for the Eagle Eye Chronicles so you can find out about giveaways, tours, and “Who’s On” for the day!
Everyone–feel free to grab badges (from the sidebar and about page–3 styles) and follow on twitter, facebook, etc. Everything is there on the site!
Thanks everyone in advance!
During the holiday weekend I stumbled across a post that piqued my attention on Facebook. It led me to the blog of Maya Cross and so then I found the daisy chain of other articles and other names. Here are the articles for your reading pleasure (there are more embedded in them as well):
Daily Mail UK (Amazon)
The forerunner of this controversy is Barnes and Noble with Amazon falling in second. Who is to know if other retailers are doing it? Who knows at this point.
If you are an author this should tick you off.
If you are a reader this should tick you off.
The readers have spoken. It’s the readers who really choose who the bestsellers are and who rises and who falls. They are the real gatekeepers. Everything around publishing is about the reader. That’s why writers write, reviewers write reviews, why books and ereaders exist…
The Big 6 do not determine who succeeds. The NYT does not. USA Today does not. It’s the readers–always has been. So why in the world are retailers (and anyone else who is involved) should be stacking the deck in favor of ANYONE else? Why are they hiding what readers want? Even if Angelina Jolie wrote a book, it still shouldn’t be #1 because someone stacked the deck. That should only happen, if the readers say so by talking about it and buying it.
The common denominator is that these authors are indie. Indie authors have discovered there is a glass ceiling despite the readers have spoken. There is also discrimination of genre. This creates the problem of discovering more readers which is the whole idea behind everything an author does. This is not a traditional vs indie author post. At all. If the shoe was on the other foot, then it still wouldn’t be right. There really isn’t a division among authors–we all do the same thing. We all write something, hammer it as close to perfection as possible, and try to find a readership.
This outrage also has a bit of hypocrisy to it as well (see sources).
The point here is it shouldn’t matter where the book comes from or who made it, if the readers want it, and they say it rocks. They are the ones who choose what they want to read, not Random House or NYT or some invisible elitist group. It’s up to the authors to write it or write something new and try to get it discovered. Everyone else are just middlemen who get the product to the buyer (reader) in a pretty package.
From a business standpoint this doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Barnes and Noble has driven another nail into their own coffin by doing this. Neither do we need a monopoly which wouldn’t benefit anyone either. What are we to do? Spread the love. How? Publish and distribute at as many retailers as possible and readers buy at more than one if/whenever they can.
If B&N doesn’t get their act together they may be out of business and it will make Amazon that much closer to world domination (which we don’t need). As long as Amazon has competitors, then it will be in check and be a nice place for authors (their system isn’t perfect). Just another reason why to spread the love.
Has everyone heard? Amazon and Goodreads have gotten married! Er, well, is it good news or bad news? For some people it’s good, for some it’s bad, for others it’s in between, and for more, it can all go one way or the other.
What people do you ask? Readers, book bloggers, publishers, other retailers, and authors–so basically everyone in the book loving community. Any concerns whatsoever are not necessarily unfounded.
As of late, Amazon has done some things to all parties involved over time. Generally some things are really great, and others not so great. The removal of tags and like buttons, as well as some categories disappearing from Amazon have hurt everyone, not just authors. It makes readers have a harder time discovering new authors, especially when Amazon has become the giant slush pile that readers must cipher through–just to name a few.
Just like any big corporation, Amazon doesn’t really relate to the real world or where normal people hang out. When big corporations come, they bring with them their rules and their red tape that can put a damper on anyone’s parade. they just don’t seem to “get” how normal people function on a daily basis.
So where do I fall into this with my sentiment? Probably in the latter two categories: I have mixed feelings and things can go well or badly.
Here are a couple articles for you to check out about the debate. I have seen others’ opinions in some of my groups and I have heard a bit from readers and book bloggers and not just authors.
From these articles anyone can see the pros and cons in general of the partnership and any certain turn of the tide can make things go well or badly for other parties involved.
I agree that Goodreads is the best and easiest to use book social media site. I have met more people and found more tools and shared more intel on this site than Librarything or Shelfari by themselves or combined. Goodreads’ “word of mouth” tools are the best hands down, and their free author program is top notch, so you don’t have to spam discussion forums to get noticed (which I don’t recommend anywhere, BTW). Goodreads also makes it easier for authors and readers to offer and look for books at other retailers in one place.
Amazon is without a doubt the best online bookseller. Anyone who has more than one retailer will definitely say they sell more books on Amazon than any other–generally.
Goodreads has social game, and Amazon seller game.
Many blog tour companies such as Orangeberry combine the inner tools of both Goodreads and Amazon for their events and tours in addition to what the bloggers and authors do themselves.
Good things could happen if they merged together without messing up what each other has and enhance what they could share, but like I said, big corporations don’t live in the real world. It’s all up to what Amazon does and what Goodreads allows them to get away with.
Like users have mentioned in the articles: “Will Amazon Kill the Goodreads social experience? Amazon has already done it to Shelfari, and partially to Librarything…” Is this why I have found these two latter sites to be not-so-user friendly and a little quirky? Regardless, I am on them anyway and they have tools that I can still use. It’s another way to find readers even though I don’t find as many. I kind of wondered this during my first journeys in the bush…
Will what happened within the Amazon discussion forums be implemented to Goodreads? Well, the sock puppets kind of helped with that, too. Since then the authors have their own corner to have a concert. If any readers come by it’s by chance, so it’s just best to do marketing and promotion outside of Amazon. One of those places is Goodreads by ads, book giveaways, book tours, and events. Will all that be shot down?
Reviewers and book bloggers are concerned about what will happen to their book reviews. Will they be policed and their time wasted if they are taken down? These people work hard just because they love books and the authors who write them.
Will other retailers such as Kobo be cut out of the equation? Will Amazon monopolize Goodreads?
Will readers be all herded to Amazon? Will it be harder for them to make a choice where they would like to buy said book or leave a review?
Authors and publishers need the book bloggers, reviewers, and retailers to help reach the readers that are there. Will there be kinks or clogs in the pipeline now? That all depends. So as of right now everyone is holding their breath and waiting to see what pans out.