“Plagiarism, ‘book-stuffing’, clickfarms… the rotten side of self-publishing.”

Plagiarism, “book-stuffing”, clickfarms… the rotten side of self-publishing.

Scams are rife, particularly when some authors can rake in thousands each month – but high-profile victims of plagiarism warn ‘day of reckoning is coming’.

The Guardian has a fantastic summary of recent scams and all that plagiarism currently going on in the self-publishing world.

I would strongly recommend writers and readers alike give the article linked above a read.

And I would strongly recommend against using Amazon’s dodgy Kindle Unlimited/KDP Select reading/publishing platform (as opposed to Kindle Direct Publishing, which I have no issue with). As a writer, your work is being buried by scammers. As a reader, your money is going to those scammers, and you’re helping to harm genuine authors.

Book Stuffing and Author Ethics

If you keep up with dramas in the publishing world, you’ll probably have already heard about the scammers infiltrating the Kindle Unlimited program.

You can go to this Twitter thread to understand in detail what is going on.

Authors who enter their books into the Kindle Unlimited scheme must agree to sell exclusively through Amazon. They are paid via page reads, from a pool of money that is shared between ALL authors.

In order to make lots of money, some “authors” have been employing all sorts of tricks to make their readers skip through thousands of pages per book. By doing this they get paid a great deal per book – at the same time as stealing that money from their fellow authors. Having only one pool of money means there’s only so much of it to go around.

Book Stuffer Kindle Unlimited Scammer

A book with heaps of other books stuffed in the back.

The #cockygate drama helped to bring the scammers to attention (Faleena Hopkins, of cockygate infamy, is a book stuffer and system cheat).

One of the worst scammers, Chance Carter, has *finally* been removed from Amazon, after years of making his fortune by cheating the system in every imaginable way. His porny “romances” shot to the top of Amazon’s romance bestseller lists with thousands of fake or solicited reviews, stuffed books, and offers of diamond jewellery for positive publicity.

He was also collecting a bonus for being one of the “All-Star” bestsellers.

Chance Carter Book Stuffer Amazon Scammer

Chance Carter offers diamonds in the middle of a book!

Unfortunately the Kindle Unlimited scheme is full of male romance authors looking to get rich quick. They pose as women and publish books stuffed with five or six other, previously published books, often written by ghost writers.

This is especially troubling as when they pose as women they also go to social media with questions like this for their readers:

Kira Blakely Book Stuffer Kindle Unlimited Scammer

It’s creepy, and shows an agenda that has NOTHING to do with a love of the genre.

Many readers have uncovered these men’s identities when alarm bells started going off in the sex scenes of their books. The scenes contain revolting things no self-respecting woman would *ever* write, not even those writing kinky stories (I’ll spare you the details, but they’re on Twitter if you look). The lack of respect for women is appalling, especially considering the books’ target audience.

Cockygate looks to have tanked Faleena Hopkins’ career, but she’s managed to do even more than that. Now she’s set off a chain of events that have widely exposed many other unethical authors.

The Week: 23rd – 29th October

Misty the Cat Sonya Heaney Spring Flowers 26th October 2017

This week has been stressful and upsetting as I spent it trying – and succeeding – to keep the neighbour’s cat alive after she had a stroke while visiting us on Sunday night.

What we didn’t initially know was that the neighbour was in Queensland for the better part of a fortnight (the son of another neighbour was being paid to feed her). We went to his door with her just after 2am, and then tried again at 6:30am.

When we found out where he was I spent Sunday night to Friday morning with her, sleeping on the couch while she slept on the rug (because she kept falling off everything), giving her water through a dropper thingy, trying to get her to move again…

She improved a lot, but now – and she is back visiting for hours a day instead of living here full-time – she has lost her purr. She used to purr more loudly than any cat I’ve ever met before, and now she is eerily silent. She also sleeps a lot more.

The picture above was from Thursday, when we got her outside for a few minutes.

She is already so old she has gone blind and deaf, and I was given permission to have her put down, but there’s no way I could have done that unless she was really suffering. There I was, on the floor with her, crying buckets on Sunday and Monday…!!

She spends so much time here I sort of feel she is as much my cat these days (as I type this she is back here, napping next to me).

Also: another possum has moved into the tree just over a metre from my bedroom window. Hearing Exorcist screams all night (possums are cute, but terrifying!) is not much fun…

Enlighten Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 11th March 2017 National Library of Australia Canberra Women's History Reflection Night

This week Lonely Planet named Canberra the third best place in the world to visit in 2018. I agree – I love this city. However, the nasty newspapers in other cities here will be churning out editorials insulting us (it’s a favourite Australian pastime to insult the national capital). Australians are weird like that. It’s like each state and territory is a different country instead of being part of the same one.

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They also named Seville #1 – and I also agree. It is my favourite city in the entire world, and I’ve spent anything from a week to a month there at a time on many visits over the years, including a ten-day visit only a couple of months ago. I hope it doesn’t now get totally ruined by touts and illegal traders and tour groups like Barcelona etc.

R.I.P. Miranda Neville

Frances Mallary

Coming Up for Mary Balogh

Someone to Wed (Westcott #3) by Mary Balogh

Out Next Week

A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred Book #1) by Joanna Shupe

Amazon’s Forums Now Closed

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Buffy for Halloween

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Adult Colouring Book Cover

Tiny Bookcase

Paper Art - Miniature Library with tiny books - Diorama

Amazon’s Forums Now Closed

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Forgive me for the lateness, but this was news to me only a couple of days ago.

Amazon – in following with movie/television site IMDB – has closed its message boards, eliminating a couple of decades of conversation, recommendations, and themed discussions in an instant.

I am really disappointed about this for two reasons.

#1 Because, while everyone still obsessively uses the likes of Facebook, the online book community is shrinking at an alarming rate. Goodreads groups that used to be crazily active now only get posts every other month. Other forums – such as Harlequin’s – are almost completely dead (though I suspect some of that is the fault of Harlequin itself, who keep “revamping” their site needlessly, and booting long-term users off it so they have to sign up all over again – many do not).

The Amazon forums were amazing for book recommendations, with some threads many years old and many thousands of posts long – and now it’s all gone forever.

And – #2

What I said in the last sentence: it’s all gone.

I’m thinking specifically of the romance fiction community here, but also the other book discussions – *especially* those where self-published authors asked for assistance and advice.

Some discussions were many, many thousands of responses and recommendations long. There were threads for everything. If you had a favourite theme or trope in your reading you could find years and years of recommendations. People searching for a book they read thirty years ago but could no longer remember the title or the author invariably found the information they needed from long-time posters there.

I haven’t been active on the Amazon forums for some time. I didn’t really have the time to keep up with that – and Goodreads, multiple blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr etc. etc. etc. But I always felt safe knowing it was there when I wanted it.

Sure, the place had some crazy trolls, and the likes of Anne Rice herself – she of Interview With the Vampire fame – caused some absolutely ridiculous drama there over the years.

However, it may not have been perfect, but it was a huge community. And now it’s a huge loss.