How Scammers are Ripping Off Authors Now More Than Ever – And Why You May Fall Victim

“The only constant in business and marketing is everything is constantly changing.”

These were the words my professors told our class in both my intro to business and intro to marketing classes in college. I have found no truer words in all the classes I took while studying for my business management degree. If someone out there insists that they know how something in business works every. Single. TIME, without fail, I have one word for you – run.

Anyone who has spent more than two minutes in any type of business, but especially in the publishing industry, knows the one thing which never changes is nothing ever stays the same. There is no one-size-fits-all marketing plan that will work 100% of the time for 100% of the authors for 100% of all fiction books, without fail. Anyone trying to tell you different doesn’t know as much about business as the average college student still sitting in Intro to Business/Marketing 101. Veteran authors know you have to go back to the drawing board every single time, every single book, every single launch. Just like we have to have our fingers on the pulse of the next hot new trope, we also must be able to roll with the latest marketing strategies that get results.

Not sure if someone is trying to sell you snake oil or if they really know what they are talking about? Take a look at how they are actually making their money. Does the bulk of their income come from selling courses and other services that target authors, or are they making their money off doing the thing they are teaching? If you are not sure, then ask yourself these two simple questions.

Question 1: If this course worked so well, and they were able to truly turn anyone into a bestselling author making thousands of dollars every month, then why would they want to share that secret? Why wouldn’t they just do this wonderful business strategy they are peddling to produce their own bestselling books and make thousands of dollars like they claim they can do for other authors?

Question 2: Why would they also then create more competition for themselves in the publishing industry by helping other authors hit bestseller status?

The long and short of it is – it simply doesn’t make economic sense to sell an earth-shattering money-making secret and simultaneously create even more competition for yourself in the market, unless the way they are making their money isn’t by using their own advice, but selling said advice to other authors while promising them the moon (and a six figure income to boot).

This brings me to an important case study I came across when I began researching the best ways to market an indie book. Everyone knows what a “success story” 50 Shades was (and still is, considering we recently got the same book from a different POV which also sold millions of copes). However, what most people don’t know (and what EL James has tried to scrub from the internet but hey, screenshots are forever) is James used a combination of gorilla marketing and a huge pot of her own money to basically buy her way into bestseller status. Let’s take a look at the backstory.

Some people may not be aware, but before James became a world renowned author, she was relatively famous in her own circle of readers on a Twilight fanfic site. That’s right, 50 Shades started out as fanfic. But you probably already knew this. The book was initially called Master of His Universe and after prompting from readers, James self-published the book. She coerced her former fanfic fan base into nominating and then voting for the book in one of Good Reads’ many lists and contests that used to frequent the site where it ranked very well. The book would later be picked up and published by an Australian press before Vintage Books (now owned by Random House) offered her a contract. (there is a lot of interesting details to this story and I highly recommend doing some in-depths search if you can still find anything from the old archives. You’ll want to look for articles written between 2010 and 2013, anything written in the past 3 to 5 years mentions little to nothing about the origins of how all this really came about) According to one case study I came across, James spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $100K of her own money on marketing and promoting the book. If rumor serves, I believe the deals for the first movie was also signed, or at least in the works, when she was signed on with VB.

Now, James will vehemently deny spending this much money. In her own words, “I didn’t even have $100K!” But as I said, the internet is forever, and try as she did to scrub this sordid backstory from the catacombs of the past, those of us who were lucky enough to see the articles and the original posts, etc. know the real story. Fanfic and bitchy attitudes aside, there is still a correlation between this story and what it has to do with selling and buying marketing courses in the publishing industry. As far as that goes, there is a direct correlation between this story and what it takes to actually make money as an indie author. That in itself is no big secret – you have to have money, and lots of it. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In a nutshell, if you toss enough money at it, you can literally make any book into a bestseller. And while I used 50 Shades as an example, there are other books out there where authors have tossed even more of their own money into marketing their books in order to crack bestseller status. I came across one romance author who admitted to sinking $1K a day into Amazon ads just to keep her books ranked in the top 10K overall on Amazon. It’s the age-old adage where if you throw enough shit at the wall, something will eventually stick. To be blunt, publishing has turned into a pay-to-play industry where only authors who have a hefty marketing budget are able to gain any real traction. And this is a tiny little tidbit which many marketing gurus and those peddling author courses that promise to turn you into a $100K/year earning author conveniently leave out of their own marketing pitches.

I’m sure there are marketing coaches out there reading this shaking their heads muttering, “But I show authors exactly what to do and exactly how to word their ad campaigns and exactly where to marketing/promote, and the exact set of keywords they need to use on the Amazon ads to make them effect. If they follow my directions and do what I tell them then they are guaranteed to make big money!”

And what happens when the book doesn’t make the author lots of money? What is the excuse then? Will the coaches then claim it’s because the book didn’t get a proper edit or have a good enough cover or wasn’t a very well written novel? I’m sure they can sell you all those services. And do they even bother to tell authors their books aren’t up to par? What if they don’t? Then who is at fault when authors shell out thousands of dollars on these courses only to find out they didn’t have a marketable product to begin with? Where does the money pit end?

Let’s look at the flipside of that argument. What if their book has everything going for it? What if it has a killer cover, edited within an inch of its life, perfectly formatted, and written to market yet it still fails to become a bestseller? The author does everything to the letter but the book still fails to perform. Who is at fault then? Is it because the author didn’t have the money to spend on marketing (something which isn’t their fault and definitely should have been disclosed prior to signing up for any of these courses), or is it because the one-size-fits-all marketing plan just flat doesn’t work? Either way, it disproves every sales pitch used in order to get authors to sign up for their courses. You can’t very well claim that it’s just the course/advise/service that is earning an author $100K/year if they also have to sink $100K/year into various marketing avenues. When it comes down to it, any book with that kind of marketing dollars behind it will have a fairly decent ROI, as 50 Shades has proven time and again.

Do you see where this is going? There simply isn’t any way anyone can claim to make any author into a bestseller making thousands of dollars a month, no matter how “fool proof” the courses are. When the books fail to thrive, and there are many which will, it begs of the question of where the fault lies.

Thus there are two very important lessons to learn which lies at the heart of marketing courses – the first being how much time and money will ultimately be required for an author to find something that truly works for them (throw enough shit at the wall to see what sticks) through trial and error, even when following step-by-step instructions on what to do. (I wrote another article on this very thing – the three “missing ingredients” or “secret sauce” these courses do not tell you about) And second – when the book fails to thrive, where does the blame fall? Even when the book is up to par, and an author follows everything to the letter, where does the fault lie? Is there a money-back guarantee? .

This brings me to a few important questions to ask prior to signing up for any course.

1.      Is there a money-back guarantee? If the book fails to perform, regardless of the reasons, is there a money-back guarantee offered? If not, or if they offer other of their services instead of a monetary refund, then you may want to seriously rethink their offer.

2.      How much money will you need to spend on marketing and promotions after you have completed their courses and/or services? If they have a very specific marketing plan in place, then they should know how much money their plan will require to at least get it started. If they can’t give you an answer on how much money you will ultimately have to shell out to make their plan/course/services work (it just depends on your book and the genre and the keywords you use, but if you follow my instructions you’ll start seeing a ROI in no time!), then you may want to give pause. Trial-and-Error should not be a part of their sales pitch – they should be giving you hard data that clearly shows how much money their average author is spending on marketing when using their courses/services, how many sales that marketing strategy is generating, and how much net profit the author is seeing. Claims like creating thousands of authors making six-figures or that they have thousands of happy authors or pointing you to a bunch of reviews of their services should not ever be offered up instead of hard data. If the claims can’t be backed up by hard numbers, then you may want to pass it on by. And never, ever, let the company harass you, guilt you, or threaten you. Above all else, do your due diligence and research the person/company across the internet, including keywords such as “scam” and “scandal” with their names. It should go without saying any company wanting to bully, harass, or threaten you or your career, who otherwise act in an unprofessional manner online, even in private groups, should not warrant your money or time. If you even suspect the company of doing this, even in the past, it should be an automatic hard pass no matter how many raving reviews from authors. It’s not worth your hard-built career chasing after rainbows which may end up getting your butt scorched by the lightning that comes out of the thunderstorm. The quickest way to taint your name is to have it associated with a person or company who has been known to scam authors, be in legal negotiations/have been sued, who use threats/bullying, or have otherwise been involved with, suggested, or used black hat/immortal business practices to further their careers or the authors they are selling services to.

3.      Does it require signing a contract or NDA? Again, there is literally nothing anyone can teach you that isn’t already out there on the internet somewhere, in some form, if you know where to look and how to research it. Anyone who thinks otherwise and tries to force you into signing some type of contract or NDA or calling any of their ideas “trade secrets” is an immediate red flag, especially if the contract gives the company/person the right to cancel their services without a refund because the author was “suspected of leaking secrets” or otherwise discussing or disclosing any of the information. This is a loophole which gives the company a legal way to pull their services without a refund and without prior warning. Imagine shelling out thousands for a marketing course only to have the company ban you from receiving any more of the information because they suspected you had “leaked” something from their course. Short of getting a lawyer, there is little recourse for authors so again. It bears repeating for you to do your due diligence and be wary of any company who makes you sign any type of NDA or contract to gain access to courses and marketing information. And if one does require it, have a lawyer look over it before signing it. The last thing you want to do is sink your life savings into these courses only to be banned from receiving the rest of the course/service you paid for because of something in that agreement.

Right now I know there are multiples of you shaking your head mumbling, “But what about the ones who truly want to help authors out of the kindness of their heats?” To this I’m going to say, “Bull. SHIT.” and here’s why. If they were really interested in helping authors they wouldn’t be charging for their services. I’m not saying charging for things isn’t good, but let’s not sugar coat this. We’re all adults, and whether you want to admit it or not, making money off of authors has become big business in recent years. No one is doing this because they legitimately want to help others make money; they are selling these types of courses and services for one very simple reason: to make money for themselves. And that’s fine, but thanks to an influx of authors over the years because of the ease of self-publishing, it now means scammers and snake oil peddlers have a never-ending supply of authors who do not know any better, who do not do their due diligence, and are easily taken in by anyone claiming they can make all your writing dreams come true. While it is a sad fact, it is still a fact nonetheless. So again, ask yourself – if their advice works so well they claim they can easily make you rich as an author selling books, why aren’t they using this advice themselves and getting rich off of selling their own books?

For all you authors out there, be you a newbie or a veteran, take heed and use caution. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

** Chances are, I’ve hit a very big nerve with this article. Authors who were taken in by these companies and individuals who don’t want to admit they made a mistake, scammers who are pissed that I’m shedding light on this sordid topic and will begin to do damage control, and readers who may feel they were taken advantage of by buying into a hyped up book that turned out to be just another average story written by an average author. I don’t write these articles for anyone but my fellow authors as a warning. So long as we are quiet about the dark side of this industry, it allows the scammers to thrive and spread like a cancer. By not talking about it, we are indirectly supporting such companies and scammers. If nothing else, do your due diligence and stay away from any suspect company or person. Even if you are not shouting names from the rooftops, at least warn your closest author friends who may not do as much research as is required to fully steer clear of the sharks swimming in the waters. I also know there are going to be those out there who wonder what my qualifications are that makes me such an expert on all this. 30 years. That’s my expertise. I’ve spent 30+ years in this business. I have spent decades researching authors, marketing courses, promotional strategies, and everything remotely related to the publishing industry. I have been both traditionally and independently published. While I may no longer be a “bestselling” author, I have been an Amazon international “bestseller” several times over the years. What I haven’t done, however, is lost thousands of dollars on sketchy author courses and marketing classes. I did research, I compared the information available in the classes to what I could find for free online, and I asked questions of my fellow authors, many of which who were more than happy to share their own research, experiences, and techniques. I researched the hell out of companies and classes, I scoured old archives, articles, and message boards (those message boards are a treasure trove of “author beware” information on companies and individuals), and no matter how great a company looked, there was always some dark secret that surfaced when digging deep enough. Take my years of wisdom or don’t.**

An Open Letter to Ashley Purdy

I’m going to preface this by saying – I have no idea what to say about this. I do not know the correct words to “make it all better.” I’m honestly not sure anyone does. Despite my complete inability to write something which may stand out in among the sea of good wishes from the thousands of fans, I’m at least going to try.

First, I’m going to say I support you, and your decision. And if you had told this to me in person, I’d give you a big ‘ol bear hug and say, “It’s all going to work out, Ash, and I’ll always support you.”

Secondly, I want you to know that I not only support you, but my inbox in all my social media and my email is always open if you need an ear to listen, want to vent, or just need someone who will nod and say, “I get it.”

Because – I get it.

I don’t want to go into the reasons why I get it, because I don’t want to make this about me. It’s about you, and what you need, what you want, and what works for you. We’ve all been down the dark abyss at some point, some of us further down into the darkness than others. We’ve all stood at a crossroads at some point in time, wondering which path to take. Some of us will get it more than others, but that’s okay. Whatever your reasons may be, whatever you may need or have decided – I support you. And I’m here, if you happen to need a shoulder, or an ear, a supporter, or cheerleader, or even a friend. No strings attached, because that’s not how I operate. Creatives have to stick together, have to build each other up, and I’m all about community, and friendship.

I guess what I’m trying to say is – as long as you are happy, or at least on the road to finding some happiness, then that’s all that really matters. And, if by some miracle you should ever happen to want to take a chance on the crazy writer who tends to be a bit – um, weird – then I’ve always got a spare ear or two which will gladly listen to whatever you would like to talk about – no strings attached.

So, I wish you the best of luck, Ash. Whatever your road ahead may hold, I wish you nothing but continued success and all the happiness in the world.

XOXO

Nikki

Nikki’s Gone Crazy $0.99C Sale!

Been waiting to finish out the Before the Sun Rises series? Putting off finishing up the Sweet Seductions series? Well the wait is over. For a very limited time ( I might change these prices back tomorrow, you just never know) every single book in my catalog is just $0.99 So if you’ve been wanting to catch up on anything Nikki related, today is the day to do it! Grab my entire collection for less than the cost of a really nice meal at TGIFriday’s.

New 2019 Signing Events Added

Nicola has added two new signing events to her schedule for 2019, including CWC’s AuthorCon2019 in August and RidCon2019 in September. Be sure to check out the 2019 Events Page for details on each upcoming appearance.

Unpopular Opinion: Yes, Authors are Just as Entitled to Their Opinions as Everyone Else

Okay guys, I’m about to play devil’s advocate here. Why? Because when I see everyone jumping on the bandwagon to completely trash someone’s career, be they author or blogger, I’m not going to sit back and watch the shit hit the fan. After thirty plus years in this biz, I fucking know how hard it is to be an author, how much money it takes to properly launch a book, and how much money and time and energy it takes to try to keep that book in front of someone, anyone, who is willing to pay for it. I also know that you can literally do everything possible, literally move the earth, and it still not be enough to get your book noticed.

So I’m going to try to lay this out as clearly as possible and show the problems I have with how all this went down. First, the jest of it. To put it all into a nutshell (which, honestly, you can’t really do that and get the full story, but we can at least try to recap) a blogger wrote a review on a ARC copy they had received. Blogger did not like said book and gave reasons. Author got butthurt over a bad review and proceeded to post on her blog about her getting butthurt over the bad review. Blogger finds the post on the author’s blog and gets butthurt over the butthurt.

Pretty simple.

Not.

First, I’m going to say that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, in their own damn space. And I do mean everyone is entitled to their opinions. Personally, I think this whole “authors aren’t entitled to get hurt over a bad review and should grow a thicker skin” is a bunch of BS. If bloggers and readers are entitled to express their opinion publicly over how bad a book was to them, then by all the gods authors have the same damn right to express how much it pisses them off, or how much it hurts, to know that someone hates something that took them months, even years to write. Sure, we need to go about it with poise and grace and not go all crazy hunting down bloggers or readers who leave us bad reviews. We have to draw the line somewhere.

But in our own space, among our own fans and tribe, then yeah – we have every right to voice our butthurt.

 

 

Now granted, there are limitations to those rights. I said everyone has a right to express their own opinions in their own space. That means if you come onto MY blog post on MY website or onto MY social media thread and make a comment on MY threads, then you bet your sweet ass I’m going to defend myself. It’s my space, it’s my fans, and it’s my tribe that I’m moaning to. It’s my right to be bitchy in my own space. They get me. They understand.

It’s one thing to go into MY space and moan about my butthurt. I find nothing wrong with that. It’s when authors or bloggers go outside their own space and invade someone else’s to moan about the butthurt that I find unprofessional. And this is why I find this whole situation to be suspect.

The blogger in question admits her fellow blogger confronted the author after she came across the author’s butthurt post. And then she confronted the author herself. Let’s make this clear. The author posted a blog post on HER OWN WEBSITE. She was in HER private space, on HER website, expressing HER feelings about a review. The blogger admits to this openly, and has said this on at least one thread about all this.

Everyone on social media is calling out this author for acting unprofessional, yet the only unprofessional behavior I’m seeing here is a blogger who confronted an author after said author expressed how much a bad review hurt. In her own space. On her own social media accounts. The fact of the matter is, what started this whole thing was the author posted on her own personal blog about how much it hurt to get a bad review. And this is what happened, according to the blogger:

 

 

 

Okay, let’s make sure we have this straight. The blogger posted her review up on GR’s the same exact day the author posts her butthurt post on her website about seeing a bad review. Now, here is where I’m having more problems about all this. The author states the review she was referring to in her blog post was one she had seen on Booksprout, a website specializing in ARC reviews. Below is the author telling one of the bloggers this:

 

 

For those who do not know, when an author offers ARC copies of a book through Booksprout, we have access to see those reviews DAYS before they actually hit the platform they are being posted for. In the case of Amazon and GoodReads, I’ve seen a lag time of as much as four days from the time the review showed up on my Booksprout dashboard til the day it actually showed up on the platform it was posted to. So yeah, I absolutely believe the author when they said they were talking about a review they saw through Booksprout. The blogger assumes the author is speaking about her review because it was the first one posted on Goodreads. However, it is very possible the author was looking at her Booksprout dashboard and seeing a review on THERE that hadn’t actually posted to Goodreads yet. I know the blogger has said she knows it was her review the author was talking about because hers posted to GR first. But, as I said, when you do your ARCs through BookSprout and the reviews post through there, they show up on the author’s dashboard as much as 4 DAYS before the review actually posts on some of these platforms. So, yes, it absolutely is entirely possible the author really was talking about a completely different review that only she could see on GR at the time.

These “assumptions” being made are the very reason why no one should ever confront anyone about a bad review. It wasn’t okay for the blogger to confront the author over her posting in her own space about the review, any more than it’s okay for an author to confront a reviewer or a blogger or a reader about a bad review. Sure, bemoan about it on your own website, page, social media, private groups, etc. but do NOT call out or confront whoever left you the review. By the blogger’s own admission, that is not what happened here. The blogger actually hunted down the author and confronted the author on the author’s own social media pages and platforms. Despite the author apologizing and trying to tell the blogger she was misunderstanding which review she was speaking of, the blogger just wouldn’t let it go.

This is not okay. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why people think it was okay for the reviewer to do this.

And honestly, judging by what was posted on the blogger’s website about all this, if the screenshots taken are as bad as things got with the author, then quite frankly I honestly do not see what the problem is. The author was in her own space. The blogger invaded that personal space to call her out.

If this is not what happened then someone please fill me in. Cause I’ve been all over the blogger’s website and from what I’m reading, this is what happened.

Now – the fall out. The author was dropped by her publisher. Great. The author has been forced to completely erase her social media accounts and start all over again – from scratch. I find it ironic that the blogger specific states on a blog post over all this “I’ve seriously considered giving up everything I’ve spent years working my ass of [sic] for with our blog.” And yet this is EXACTLY what the author in question was forced to do – all because she defended her right on her own blog to post what she wanted to on her own blog.

Hell, maybe the author went totally ape shit and said some really shitty things. I don’t know. Since all her social media is gone now, I have no way of looking into this any further. All I have to go off of is what the blogger herself posted and the screenshots she took. And as I said, from where I’m sitting, I only see one person who was behaving unprofessionally – and it wasn’t the author.

The reviewer struck first, and if someone comes after you in your own space, then I say all fucking bets are off. You would get upset if someone came into your house and started badmouthing your family, right? Same damn principle. From what I’m seeing, the author was merely defending herself.

But as I said, maybe I’m missing something, or a lot of somethings.

But I will say this.

The blogger keeps saying we need a change in the book world.

We absolutely do.

We need for everyone to stop thinking they are the only ones that matter. If authors aren’t willing to write, then bloggers won’t have their review blogs. If authors aren’t willing to give away ARCs, then a lot of reviewers won’t have their blogs or be able to read books for free. And if bloggers and reviewers aren’t willing to review then authors won’t have nearly as many reviews on their books.

Let’s face it – we need each other.

But we also need to respect each other’s right to voice our opinions.

Stop confronting each other. Reviewers, write your reviews and be done with it.

Authors, don’t read the damn reviews and if you stumble across one, take the butthurt with a grain of salt.

Yes, it fucking hurts. Bloggers, do you hear what I’m saying? You know how much it hurts when authors get pissy about your bad review? Yeah, we’re hurting just that damn much because we opened ourselves up to ridicule when we opted to publish – kinda like you did when you decided to post your review. It fucking hurts when someone pisses all over your hard work, regardless of whether that hard work is in the form of a book or a book review.

It.

Fucking.

Hurts.

So everyone, please, can we just pull our heads out of collective asses and get back to what matters – writing?

Marvel’s End Game & Cosplay Fun

I’ve been so busy I completely forgot to upload some of the really awesome photos from Marvel’s End Game viewing party with the Southern Geeks group! We had an awesome time last month with just a few of the over 5K members of the SGG. Everyone was out in cosplay (except for me – I didn’t have time to really get a good cosplay together) and had so much fun posing with some of our local southern family. The movie was seriously AWESOME and I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it yet to GO GO GO!!

We had all planned a road trip back on May 4th for the annual Free Comic Book Day but unfortunately, life got in the way for most of us, including myself. My good friend Deby and were all packed and ready to ride but we had some bad thunderstorms and tornadoes coming through the area so we decided not to go. This was to be my first road trip with the Southern Geeks but it looks like I’ll have to wait until later in the year when I hope to help them out at some of the local comicons coming up. Until next time, here are a few of the pics I snapped before the viewing party.

 

 

For even more fun photos and ramblings, be sure to follow me on social media!

Nora Roberts Sues #CopyPasteCris, But She Can’t Go After Amazon

In early March I wrote three blog articles, I Write My Own Damn Books Can We Just Get Real for a Moment, and An Open Letter to Nora Roberts, after it was discovered the self-proclaimed USA TODAY bestselling author Cristiane Serruya had plagiarized dozens of authors and books, including Nora Roberts, Courtney Milan, and EL James, just to name a few. For the record, according to the archive on USA TODAY‘s website, Cristiane Serruya has never once hit the list. And now that she has been called out on her plagiarism, she’s admitted that she hasn’t even written one single book, instead farming it out to ghostwriters she hired on the notoriously unscrupulous site Fiverr.

Now Nora Roberts is going after blood as she has sued Brazilian author Cristiane Serruya for her blatant theft of approximate ten of her books. Needless to say, authors both big and small are urging her on, happy someone is finally standing up to the cesspool of low quality books and scammers that have been running rampant on Amazon for nearly a decade now, the steady flow of Frankensteined books and half-assed rough drafts forcing many authors to quit publishing altogether while simultaneously banishing the professionally produced books to the proverbial Amazon dungeons.

Authors are sick of being forced to compete with the immoral writers who have no qualms about using every unethical and black-hat tactic they can think of to squeeze as much money out of the Amazon publishing system as possible. By them doing so, it has forced a lot of authors to stop writing and publishing as they simply cannot compete with those scammers who are able to spend $100K or more on AMS ads and other forms of advertisement each year. Those of us who have been limping along hoping the system would eventually right itself have been left with our books banished to the proverbial dungeons of Amazon, no longer able to make sales or have any visibility on our books at all.

Needless to say, now that someone like Nora Roberts has learned the disgusting ways of the publishing world the hard way, and has thus been caught up in it, we are all very excited to know she is not taking this shit lying down. Everyone is behind her, authors and readers alike, and we are all cheering her on. Many authors are holding out hope that Nora’s voice in regards to how bad Amazon has let things get will be the first step in righting a system that was built on dishonesty and greed. Many are voicing their hope that Nora will actually take on Amazon itself.

Unfortunately, I’m not as hopeful as the rest in regards to her taking on  Amazon. Honestly, she doesn’t have enough money to do it. And if you want to get down to the nut-cutting, not even JK Rowling has enough money to take on Amazon.

Before everyone gets bent out of shape, I think we all need to take a real, hard look at Amazon’s revenue and why they are able to get away with all the shit they do, why they do not bother to police their own store, or even enforce their own rules and TOS other than when it suits them. Once you look at the basic economics of Amazon, you’ll understand why it would literally take all of the Big 5 publishers and all of their top 5% earning authors making a class-action lawsuit against the Zon, followed by pretty much every single author and business that has ever been a part of their store, to truly do any type of damage to them.

According to CNBC, Amazon reported earnings of $10.1 BILLION in 2018 alone. Gross profits for the year were over $141 BILLION. In 2017, their net profits were just over $3 BILLION, with a gross profit of over $118 BILLION. Of that, it is estimated that approximately 30% of that income came from book sales, which would be approximately $3 BILLION in net profits for 2018.

With numbers like this, it is no wonder everyone is fighting so hard to be seen on Amazon. Unfortunately, with revenue streams in the tens of billions, it is also no wonder Amazon has been completely unfazed by the multitude of authors who have been steadily calling them out for their bad practices. So while Nora may reportedly be worth $370 million and JK Rowling $1 billion, Amazon has enough revenue coming in to keep any type of lawsuit buried in the court system for decades.

While all of us would certainly LOVE to see Amazon come tumbling off its pedestal for once, it’s going to take more than just Nora Roberts to do it. It’s going to take more than just the Big 5 publishers to do it. It’s going to take more than just JK Rowling to do it. In fact, about the only way to get a retail giant like Amazon to take a step back and actually put the fear of bankruptcy into them would be if the top 20 richest authors in the world got together, along with the Big 5 publishers, and every other author who has ever done business with them, all fighting together to put the proverbial nuts in a vice.

I, for one, would happily jump on board that express train. Hell, I’d happily tap dance on the ashes that was once the Zon-Almighty.

But for now, I’m another author who is standing behind Nora Roberts hoping she is able to draw blood. It may be a small victory in the grand scheme of things, but if enough people begin beating down the gates of Amazon, then maybe, just maybe, we can take back our sagging careers and turn this once noble profession back into the proud industry it used to be.

And – you go, Nora!

Fantasy $0.99 Book Sale!

 

Love fantasy? Love a great book sale? What could be better than 24 awesome fantasy books across multiple genres, each for only $0.99 or less? Well, if you love a good fantasy book, I can’t think of anything better. But don’t wait! These books are only available at this deep discounted price for a very short time. CLICK HERE to browse and make your selection(s). As always, if you love the book, please leave a review. Or pie.

#FantasyFalls #FantasyBooks #vampires #werewolves #shifters #highfantasy #ghosts #goblins #paranormalfantasy #urbanfantasy #Gothic #gothicromance #zombies #cyberpunk #steampunk #postapocalpytic #fairies #witches #warlocks #demons #magick #mythology #psychic #magicalrealism #timetravel #sciencefiction #sciencefantasy #dragons #dungeonsanddragons

Waiting on that Series to Complete? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Wait

 

I’m going to shoot straight from the hip on this. One of my pet peeves to hear from readers is the dreaded “I’m going to wait until the series is completed before I buy any of the books.” It’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. Dagger: meet heart.

Before I get into the (really good) reasons why you shouldn’t wait for a series to complete before diving right in, I’m going to ask as few questions.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, did you wait until the series ended to start buying the books? Did you wait until all the movies came out before you went to watch them?

If you are a Twilight fan, did you wait until the series ended to start buying the books? Did you wait until all the movies came out before you went to watch them?

If you are Game of Thrones fan, have you not watched a single episode, waiting instead until all the seasons are complete before watching them? How about The Walking Dead?

And if you are a Laurell K. Hamilton fan, have you not read a single one of the Anita Blake series, instead opting until the series is finally complete before you start on it? (Here’s a hint, that’s her cash cow and she has no intentions of ending that series so long as it’s selling)

Anyway, you get the idea. Chances are, if you got hooked into any of these fandoms, or the thousands of others out there on both the book, comic book, graphic novels, and TV series front, you aren’t waiting – you are counting down the days until the next book/comic/episode/movie drops. It’s why I, and so many other authors, hate to hear a reader say they are “waiting” for a series to complete before they decide to buy.

If you are one of them, here are some pretty compelling reasons *not* to wait.

1.       Interest and sales versus a lack thereof: as I mentioned above, if you are into the Anita Blake series, you probably already know that series is still going strong. The reason why is because there is still a lot of interest in the books, characters, and story lines. To put it simply, it’s still making money. So long as a series is making money, or readers still show interest, then an author will continue to write more and more books in the series. And for those series like Anita Blake and The Vampire Chronicles, this means the author has no intentions of ending the series, which translates into readers seriously missing out if they opt to “wait it out” to see what is going to happen with a series.

2.       On the flip side of this is the “lack of interest.” There are only so many books an author can push out a year, and that number drastically decreases for those like me who are juggling a regular full-time Evil Day Job along with writing. For this reason, we have to be especially particular about what we spend that limited amount of time on. If readers take the “wait to see” attitude on our series, we view as that as a lack of interest. Lack of interest = lack of sales = we won’t continue to spend our time writing in a series that isn’t producing any royalties. This means we may completely scrap a series and not write another book in that world, opting instead of spend our time writing on a series or stand alone novels that may interest our readers more.

The best way to encourage an author is to buy their books, series complete or not. Taking a “wait to see what happens” with any series could very well spell death to that series. How many really awesome TV series have been cancelled because the ratings weren’t good enough for the studio to warrant investing the time and money it takes to film more episodes? It’s the same principle with authors, especially us indie authors. If you “wait to buy” until we finally finish writing all the books in a series, you may discover a series that gets scrapped because there wasn’t enough interest in it.

And for those wondering, please don’t “wait until the series ends” when it comes to the Before the Sun Rises books. I have no intentions of ending that series unless it stops selling. I could literally write another twenty books just with the characters and story lines I already have notes for. Who knows what I may come up with between now and Book #20!

Movie Review – Velvet Buzz Saw

 

I recently kicked DirecTV to the curb and embarked on the streaming lifestyle. After all, if I’m going to pay nearly $200 a month on unlimited bandwidth and an internet connection that supposedly rivals NASA, I might as well get something out of it besides me working my butt off writing books. So, enter in Hulu, NetFlex, & Sling TV.

My love affair began with binge-watching LOST on Hulu, but quickly spiraled out of control into watching NetFlex original series and movies. I’ll be honest – I tried watching several NF original movies, but just couldn’t get into them for a variety of reasons: bad acting, bad plot line, flat characters – the usual.

However, Velvet Buzz Saw was one of those movies that, despite not being as riveting as The Haunting of Hill House, it wasn’t so bad that I had to stop watching it, like I did with The Rain. It was fairly interesting, had just enough action and suspense to keep me watching. It wasn’t exactly scary, more of a thriller than anything.

So here’s my take on it. The first thing it had going for it was the lead being played by Jake Gyllenhaal. I’ve seen this guy act in a lot of movies, and he seems to be pretty adaptable. Because of this, I was willing to give the movie a try. As usual, Jake did not disappoint. Out of all the characters I’ve seen him play, this one was probably about as “on the fringe” as his Brokeback Mountain persona. He plays the bi-sexual art critic Morph, a character that somehow managed to seem both high-strung and low-key at the same time.

Again, while the plot line was not riveting, it did have potential. I feel like maybe the movie failed to capitalize on what it had going for it. The death scenes could have most certainly been gorier. The beginning seemed to prattle on, almost losing me in the first twenty or so minutes. There seemed to be far too much dialog about art and corporate espionage and yet failing to really drive the entire thing home. The acting wasn’t necessarily bad as it was a bit more over-the-top. It really felt like the director was going out of his way to create a film that skirted all the major genres – horror, action, drama, thriller – in an attempt to be as blasé as possible.

As I said, it wasn’t so bad that I had to stop watching it, but it certainly could have been better. I feel if the director had actually chosen a genre and a rating and followed through, it would have been much better. But alas, all we ended up with was a mediocre film which made art seem both boring and dangerous.

I’d give Velvet Buzz Saw a solid 3 stars out of 5.