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.

More Trademark Drama

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos Canberra Australia Winter Afternoon Sonya Heaney Oksana 7th July 2017

The #cockygate trademark drama – started by an author obtaining a trademark to the word “cocky” and threatening authors with legal action – has taken an even more serious turn over the past few days. The author in question, Faleena Hopkins, has now filed legal proceedings against some of the authors and others caught up in the drama she created.

We might not be able to do much to help, but we can buy the authors’ books to show some support (the authors being attacked, not Hopkins!).

This is appalling from start to finish. Honestly, what is going through Ms Hopkins’ mind?

Keep up to date on the cockygate hashtag on Twitter.

Now “Forever”?

The trademark wars continue, with another author attempting to steal another word out from under everyone in publishing.

While the trademarking of the word “cocky” did set a dangerous precedent, the trademarking of the word “forever” seems even more worrying, and certainly more restricting. However, that’s exactly what seems to be happening as I type.

Despite what every article under the sun said, cocky is hardly a common word in book titles. Forever, on the other hand…

I’m not sure what has Heidi McLaughlin convinced she owns the word, but surely most people associate forever with a certain hit from Judy Blume in 1975, not any recent romances!

Judy Blume Forever 1975 Young Adult Romance Vintage

Why would you even want to?

Trademark Symbol.

The more I think about this insane trademark saga in the publishing world (actually, now there’s more than one word at stake), the more I think some authors are totally misguided.

Why would you want to steal a word from everyone else? Even if you write twenty books using the word in the title, people aren’t only going to want to read YOUR books.

People want variety. Even when they’re sticking to a particular genre, they still want variety! If I read a great book with a certain theme, I go looking for books by other authors with similar themes.

So, what if someone else has the word “cocky” in their book title? So what if I read another “cocky” book first? What if once I’m finished reading that one I search for the word and discover yours?

It’s a GOOD thing to have many options. Readers (and romance readers more than others) read so many books they go to social media platforms to beg for help finding MORE of the type of book they want!

I don’t just want ONE romantic suspense book about a reunited couple; I want THOUSANDS. I don’t want ONE historical romance about a Victorian self-made man; I want THOUSANDS.

Literally the only reason to trademark simple words and force others’ books to be removed from sale is greed. But it’s counterproductive.


Cocky Rebellion cockygate rebelliongate trademark Nika Dixon

Credit to Nika Dixon

Just in time for the weekend!

Less than a week after the drama of an author trademarking the word “cocky” spiralled out of control, sparking Twitter hashtags like #cockygate, we now have #rebelliongate.

Yep, that’s right. Now there’s an application to trademark the word “rebellion” not just for books, but across all kinds of media and all kinds of products. The people who were mocking the romance genre and women in general this past week are now scared their own genre is under attack.

Trademark Symbol.

Follow Kevin Kneupper for information and updates on both cases. Not just a writer, he is also a lawyer who came out of retirement to fight this pro bono on behalf of everyone.

These trademark stories… there’s so much greed behind them. I keep thinking of the American company that commandeered the Ugg Boot – an Australian icon. Or that Kardashian who tried to steal Kylie Minogue’s name!

What became of the “Royal Fad”?

CrownPrincessMaryWeddingDressFront2 HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson Wedding.

At the beginning of this year we were told books about royalty were THE NEXT BIG THING in romance and women’s fiction. Apparently inspired by the slew of television shows about royals, from Victoria to The Crown to whatever it is Elizabeth Hurley is starring in at the moment, hot princes were going to be the new vampires or kinky billionaires.

Did it happen? Did I miss it? Because I don’t really think it took off.

Some months ago Carina Press put out a specific call for modern, Kardashian-style royal-themed submissions. I also saw it mentioned as the new fad on major romance blogs like (the late) Heroes and Heartbreakers.

However, apart from a little trickle of royal-themed books, I’m just not seeing – or feeling – it.

While I love a well-written royal-themed story, it was never something that interested me generally. I think of the nightmare of Princess Diana’s marriage – literally being stalked to death. I think of the obligations to breed for the sake of the nation, and the creepy way people treat Kate Middleton’s pregnancies – ugh.

I think of inbred royals, such as the mad, *married* Crown Prince of Austria who took a teenage girl as his mistress, took her off to a hunting lodge, MURDERED HER, and then killed himself. Or the Russians with their haemophilia.

In short, I don’t see “sexy” when I think of royalty! Look at all those dorky Windsors! I’m really not looking forward to the day we’ll have King Charles on all our banknotes and coins…

Maybe the royal thing HAS taken off and it has just passed me by, but I’m looking at upcoming books on review and publisher sites literally every day, and I’m not seeing them.

Or maybe the people “in the know” in the publishing world really don’t know how to predict fads.

The Week: 16th – 22nd October

Canberra Australia Lilac Spring Flowers Garden Sonya Heaney 17th October 2017 Blue Sky Nature Sunny Afternoon

The lilac is out in Canberra, and smells gorgeous.

Sunshine and spring flowers on Tuesday afternoon.


My review of The Lost Letter: A Victorian Romance by Mimi Matthews

Joanna Shupe Excerpt: A Daring Arrangement

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

Fashion Plates: 150 Years of Style

The anniversary of Stalin’s deportation of Ukrainians

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee taken off Mississippi school reading list

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee taken off Mississippi school reading list.

Cover Love

Clementine Ford: It’s 2017 and people still assume the person in charge is a man

Clementine Ford: It’s 2017 and people still assume the person in charge is a man

Clementine Ford It's 2017 and people still assume the person in charge is a man

Clementine Ford: It’s 2017 and people still assume the person in charge is a man

Interesting recent article that I’m sharing on here because it was inspired by a publishing company’s new policy. Clementine Ford is an Australian journalist and feminist.

The article was inspired by one publishing house in Ireland that has started tossing all queries and submissions made out to “Dear Sir” without even looking at them. Why? Because the people who run the business are women.

I admit: we’re still conditioned to think like this. I caught myself making a sexist assumption the other day, and was appalled. It takes time to change (hell, most of us still default to calling all animals “he”!), but I think that you could at least do that much research when submitting a manuscript.

The Overwhelming Gender Bias in “New York Times” Book Reviews

 NYT-wordmark The New York Times
This article was doing the rounds of the internet recently.
Recent analyses have found that women are less likely to be published in top tier literary outlets, or to have their work reviewedespecially by men.
While I agree with it, and think it is a problem with most publications, not just this one newspaper, I also have some issues with the tone of the article, and this sentence in particular:
Women are less likely to receive reviews when writing about topics that aren’t deemed “feminine.”
I’ve spent a lot of time on aeroplanes this year, and have been reading a lot of airline magazines. What I notice is that books written by women are NEVER reviewed unless they write about “masculine” topics such as gritty, grimy murders or political issues or something like that.
In fact, I quite often find book review sections in magazines and newspapers a waste of time because they only feature biographies of military men, or murder mysteries etc., which is fine sometimes, but more than a little dry and boring. I find there’s no variety.
And what the hell is wrong with being “feminine”?? When reading for entertainment I prefer books that deal with human beings, not facts and statistics. If women write those themes – and if they’re allegedly feminine things – then good for us.
There IS a huge issue with women being discriminated against in the publishing industry, however – despite women being bigger consumers of books – so more articles like this are definitely needed.