Hype and more Hype. What’s real?

Written By: Jackie Weger - Oct• 25•17

 Indie author Alert:  How the heck do you sort the Wheat from the Chaff?

Winter Wheat, mid Spring

Gonna tell you something. I’ve lived on a wheat farm and I know how to sort the wheat from the chaff. Sorting the good from the just plain awful in our indie universe is more difficult. The reason: We want to believe the hype. We want to believe if we just fork over $49 here or $100 there,  our books are gonna be best sellers. Sadly, it is not gonna happen.  I beta test a bunch of promos. Some I stick with for 30 days–others smell as high as road kill after a couple days. I’m gone.

Right this minute, I am super angry and trying to keep a lid on it. Twitter has been in an uproar…blocking and suspending dozens upon dozens of our Twitter Accounts. We no more than get our accounts unlocked and five minutes later, suspended again.  I have a Twitter account that has been suspended since June 20. It was phished/hacked. Something. I spent 10 days trying to get it squared away and gave up. I’m finding ghoulish promoters sprinkling promises with a kind of hype that smells sweet until you hand over your $$$, then the stink starts. Might as well lift up the tail of a skunk and be done with it.

Published July 2017. Organic reviews are slowly coming in. 31 so far with a nice rank of 4.9/5.0.

Bad Actors Sell Snake Oil ~ Looks good, sounds good–Bites!

Next, David Gaughran blogs about an author whose sale stats were stripped from her book because of suspected activity to manipulate sales. Read it HERE.  Kinda scary.  The author is well known on Kboards.  I used to enjoy Kboards, but I got scammed out of over $500 by an author on Kboards. I reported it to Amazon. Amazon caught up with the scam and the author, but I never did get my $$$ back. Kboards does not vet the folks who join and post. All are welcome and there are some bad actors. Those same bad actors populate Amazon Community Forums and Facebook groups, too. We have to be alert. We have to watch our backs and our wallets.  I’ve said from the get go: Know who you’re talking to on the Web.  I give it a good shot, but even then I see one of my blog posts on another site bylined by an author I know. No ping back. Pffft.

A colleague, whom I know well and trust, told me the story of an author who promoted with a site and also had his books stripped of stats. Moreover, Amazon detected credit card fraud and refused to pay the author for the sales. Oops. The promoter is still in business.  The author got punished.  This happened. I tried to sign up for Pluggio today and learned some fool fred@bloggs.com is using my name and email for a Pluggio account. Now I have to prove who I am. Is that slick or what? If I have a guardian angel I want her to zap that guy with a serious prostate problem. Failing that, painful priapism will do.

Now, there is a huge discussion again! across indie forums about going wide or staying in Amazon Select.  We keep being told Bookbub won’t accept an indie unless that indie is published wide. Here’s what I know: Publishing wide is not a guarantee of a Bookbub slot. So I’m sticking with Amazon Select. Mostly because even after four years, I’m still learning the ehow of our indie universe.

It is Author Choice to go wide or not. I network with dozens of authors. If one goes wide, you really have to own a barrel of patience while your books find an audience. It helps if you have a backup cash flow or a decent slush fund to keep afloat. Also, the know-how to plot and plan promotions.  Going wide because another author does so is not a reason for YOU to go wide–unless it is the best decision for your books.

Hey! Be my new BFF: Tick this icon to sign up for my newsletter.

I’ve started designing coordinated newsletter sends.  Eight or a dozen of us of us agree to a newsletter send over a span of five days and each newsletter promotes all author participant’s books.  This is different from newsletter swaps. Tried that. Promoted books for authors who never reciprocated. My gosh. Some of the authors in the swaps insist their book be the only one in MY newsletter. HUH? I pass.  I often know one or two authors who are in a boxed set. I’m asked to promote the set in my newsletter. I’m ornery. Not doing it, unless every author in the set will promote one of my books. They won’t. I’m happy to tweet it, but not putting it in front of my newsletter audience without a ping back. This is a tough business. I may be short-sighted. I’ll live with it. Maybe buy new eye glasses. My subscriber list is golden. I’m gonna take care of it as best I can.

Now, if you are interested in coordinated newsletter sends, do comment below. I’ll contact you.  No erotica. Well-edited books. If newsletters are not your thing, I can recommended some promoters. I use them and trust them, or my colleagues do. I beta test every site. No Promoter gets on eNovel’s list unless they perform for an ROI or great exposure for the fee charged. Here’s a short list to get you started:

fkbt. bookdoggy. GoodKindles. fussylibrarian. ManybookseReaderIQ. frugal freebies. BookBasset. Bookangel. mybookcave. ebookshabit. Book scream. RedRosesRomanceyournewbooks. peoplereads. contentmo. Booksends. eReaderCafe.

Because I’m fueled by angst this blog is little bit all over the place. I know it.  Last thing, in every dang forum I visit the chats turn to Reviews. Wholly boring. Believe it or not, the best way to gather organic reviews is to put this gentle plea right after THE END in your book. Same page as THE END, otherwise Amazon bots are gonna snag your reader towards sponsored books. Thus far the plea has been good for 2000+ reviews on my books.

Thank you for taking time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review.  Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated.  Thank you again, (author name).

I’m @Jackie Weger, 2017, founder of eNovel Authors at Work. We’re a group of  extraordinary indie authors who support one another day in and day out.  Our goal is to sell books and most of the time, we do.  Visit our Author pages and see for your self.

 Comments Welcome. Be nice. If you can be nice, be articulate and add to the discussion. Please.  Okay. I’m done. Y’all have a good one. 

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24 Comments

  1. It’s a jungle out there, and your research and common sense is so valuable. I’ve just had my fingers burned, I believe, by a promoter who has done nothing for my book and, frankly, I’m not convinced his methods show any more experience than my own. I won’t be sticking with him.
    Unscrupulous promoters prey on authors who are busy; busy writing the next book or just busy keeping life’s plates spinning. Thank goodness they’re not all like that.
    Thanks for being there, Jackie.

  2. Unscrupulous promoters see newbie (and not so newbie) authors coming and they rub their hands in glee. Just finished my taxes (Aussie taxes) and it gave me a belly ache. Great blog post Jackie. Kinda fits your mood at the moment. I think we need the patience of job to withstand this whole indie gig.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Waving to Aussie Mary D. Brooks. You know, I have the patience. I’m just fed up with arrogant fools and scammers. Not a single one of us is a world-wide household name, but we work to market our books and find a niche with readers who enjoy our books, which is just as good. I know well how hard you work and travel and do speaking engagements. And writing is just one of your many talents. Mary is combining her love for web design and her storytelling and created Zoe’s Journal site: You can read Zoe’s journal (In the Blood of the Greek’s) here. Fascinating!

  3. More wise words. And priapism is now part of my cursing vocabulary (no, Google, I don’t mean prism). Special thanks for the list of trustworthy promoters!

  4. Donna Fasano (@DonnaFaz) says:

    I agree with you that promoters have increased their rates to the point that the ROI just isn’t there. I understand your frustration. Thank you for keeping us alert!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Thank you, Donna. Frustration is when I feel like I got beat on like a rented mule. This is different. I have sort of a low grade anger. Communities of indie authors have got to clean up their acts. In eNovel, the savvy indie authors lend a helping hand to the less savvy. We don’t take advantage of the newbie. But outside of eNovel, we have to tread lightly to stay safe and keep our integrity and wallets intact. Right his minute I have a promo offer from an indie author who says for over $100 and I’ll put your book in front of 5 million readers…
      Yep, 5,000,000,000. That child’s own books are sucking mud in stats. But does the newbie know to go look? Investigate? Nope. That offer is a total sham. Move over Bookbub? Geez.

      Promoters know damned well they ain’t moving books in the current climate. They know their open and click through rates are miserable. Why not reduce rates until the market evens out? Instead they’re offering discounts and you have to engage it NOW! Like it’s a present. Pffft.
      For those of you who don’t know, Donna has An Almost Perfect Christmas on sale for a limited time 99c.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Donna, you’ve been leader in our indie industry from the get go and know your stuff. I do not faint over the frustration as long as I can find a better and safer way to promote our books. I love Amazon. It gives me a platform to showcase my books, but Amazon needs to give us more transparency when they nail an author’s books. We need to know who the bad actors are so we can avoid them. I run like a mad woman from any author recommending Fiverr for anything. The bad actors know a newbie is look for a cheap shot and crawl all over them. In case you haven’t picked up one of Donna’s books, you have to read the Ocean City Boardwalk Series. The books are more than just enchanting. We know those people.

  5. Good advice as usual. I rarely pay for promos. Also, I’m stuck in twitter jail.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Twitter Jail? You are in such good company. Folks…Aurora is so low key and shy you can miss her! But here is the skinny on Aurora Springer: She has a doctorate in molecular biophysics and has a day job in academia where she works with crystals. That is magic and creating new worlds is what she does in her fascinating books. Check her books out HERE. All read free with Kindle unlimited.

  6. Linda Lee says:

    Thanks, Jackie. I needed a good chuckle along with your perspective. Pinned & shared.:)

  7. Julie Frayn says:

    Gah! Book 5 and I put “END” and the plea for reviews on their own pages after the story. Jackie, you keep teaching me something every day. Even if it’s something I used to know but ratsemfratzem forgot…

    I tend to err on the side of not clicking links, not going with promoters that I am not really aware of already. Maybe it’s my other life as head of IT and because I spend so much time warning others not to fall for the spam.

    Also – this brought my sister to mind (thanks for that). One of her sons had severe allergies and she used to use an old fashioned wooden bowl to chaff her own wheat. This was before there were alternatives like spelt or gluten-free.

    xo
    Julie Frayn
    Author of Mazie Baby

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Julie! Ummm. Is ratsemfratzem a new word? Or your fav curse word in a new language? LOL. I’m so glad you stopped by. And super glad to know you raise the alarm about scammers, too. I recently bought a slot from ebookasaurus and when I replied to the ‘check your info’ email, the site is gone! Hacked perhaps. But I keep getting a notice: “You’ve requested a page that currently is on the SiteLock network. SiteLock was unable to connect to the server. For more than 3 days now. Gotta hit Paypal to get my $$ back.

      for those of you who don’t know Julie, her book Mazie baby swept rating across the board. the book Is astonishing. And this week; A new Release!
      Pocketful of Bones. A thriller that will have you looking at friends and family and wondering who you can trust. Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

      • Julie Frayn says:

        Ratsemfratzem is when I’m not in an f-bomb friendly space :). I get so much email spam. Post office couldn’t deliver my parcel. Federal court wants me on a jury. I got 14 parking tickets in one day. Can’t keep up. The bottom line with all those though? They’d never have had my email address to begin with. Some scammers and spammers are easy to see (bad grammar/spelling, links and email addresses that, when you hover your mouse over them, are clearly not from a courthouse etc…

        Thanks for the kind words. And the plug 😀

  8. P. C. Zick says:

    It’s been a rough month in so many ways. Finally out of Twitter jail but never sure for how long. It’s good to let others know and for that, I thank you, Jackie.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      I hear you, Patricia Zick. I’m astonished that so many authors find their Twitter accounts suspended again and again. I haven’t seen a single promoter who sells Tweets get an account suspended. For those of you have yet to pick up a P.C. Zick novel, Do! Start with the first in Patricia’s Behind the Love series: Behind the Altar. Always FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

  9. srmallery says:

    Good article as always, Jackie. Why do I keep thinking that the world of social media has become like the Wild Wild West…?? Sure feels like it sometimes. Can I have that whiskey at the bar now, please???

  10. Thanks for this, Jackie. There’s some weird stuff going on in Indieland lately. An author this morning said she’d suddenly been contacted by Amazon to prove she holds the publishing rights to the fourth in her series. Not the first or the last, but the fourth. Another author friend got locked out of Facebook until she could prove she is who she says she is. I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s weird and concerning.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Gosh! I saw on a Facebook page an author reporting her book was pulled almost the instant it went live. Amazon insisting the author did not own the publishing rights. It’s anybody’s guess what triggered the bots. I hear you about Facebook. I think some authors are being caught up in the ‘cleansing’ by the owners of Facebook, especially if the author has been in the political arena recently. Could be what’s happening with Twitter.
      For those of you not familiar with Melinda’s list, she’s the author of the Cedar Hollow Series. Beautifully written, sometimes raw, but utterly engaging. Read one and you have to read them all.

  11. Another fantastic post. Good luck with the coordinated newsletters, Jackie. Dedicated to writing my next novel at the moment, but I may opt in, if you’ll have me, sometime next year.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Frossie! I’ll always have you! Good writing with your new book. I love the Lady of the Pier Series. Frossie has the first book in the trilogy FREE. Snag it. You will feel an irresistible the pull to the Greek Islands. Next vacation!

  12. Mary Smith says:

    Great post, Jackie. It really is becoming a jungle here in indieland. When doing a promotion I tend to stick to the same ones I know and trust, even if the numbers aren’t quite as good as they once were. Any promoters who approach me out of the blue just get deleted – don’t even bother to check them out – especially not the ones who mention my out-of-print book. Don’t know how they can sleep in their beds at night! They’re a bit like the vanity publishers of old, only they have an advantage as the idie author has already published the book.

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