Tag Archives: amazon

The End of My Brilliant Career

In 2009 I started on Twitter. I was already writing, and had gleaned from the interwebs (those i first experienced back in about ’88, and wanted to play with, but didn’t get my chance until about 1998) that a social media presence was required. So i started this blog, and tweeting, and met some interesting folk.

Experienced as an editor, i wanted to self-publish, and didn’t even send the manuscript to any agents to look at. I decided Amazon wasn’t for me – for a start, they needed you to have bank account in either US, EU, Japan or Brazil, and i didn’t have one. (This has changed quite recently.)

Finally, in 2011 i published one book on Smashwords – and my dream since my teens (’73-79) was complete. I was a publisher! I hung onto that thought through a series of disasters and awful choice in friends, as it took me until 2017 to release the follow up to that book, and its companions. A quartet. Very proud. Released them literally on Thanksgiving (not a holiday in Australia!) As usual, my marketing is flawed. But still, i was in publishing.

I worked in actual big money publishing, so doing it myself felt wonderful. Once i’d got the books selling on Smashwords (and various distributors) I’d start with Ingram Spark and their Publishing On Demand packages, and put out paper versions of the books. I couldn’t wait.

Meanwhile, i found typos, edited those and put up new versions, and that was pretty much 2017 gone. And so i started really pushing my books, as the mistakes i’d clocked were fixed and they were fit for reading. I was selling. Selling well enough off the back of the good ratings for the first two books (which are free) that i could see the first paper versions, could even smell and feel them.

I was top of the ‘best reviewed’ charts, and that was the only reason i was selling. People go with the crowd. They don’t scroll through to page 120 to see who rated very poorly in case there’s a hidden gem. However i was nearly on the front pages of various most-downloaded and best sellers’ lists too, so i could see a glorious future, one with paper in it.

Then someone gave me a non-5 star review. And then another book got one too. They didn’t seem to dislike the books, they said they liked them, but still, 4 stars. Then another. And my books disappeared off the top of the charts. Not just down a bit, they went to page 120 or worse.

When i found my books, i saw that other people with even more 5 star reviews than me also had been nobbled by one 4 star review and were on page 120 too.

My sales dried up as my books moved off the front pages. Then they stopped.

I tried talking to Smashwords, even to Mark Coker (the CEO) and they were nice about the facts – which were – Smashwords rating system is unfair. It’s also open to abuse. I can go on there now, give the top rated people 4 star reviews, and they will disappear FOREVER. Unless you page through to page 120. They will be behind the guy whose mum gave him 1 glowing 5 star review. Yep – one 5 star review outweighs 20 of them if you get just one 4 star or lower review.

I have written about this before, but i figure you probably can’t be bothered paging back then coming back here again, so trying to sum it up. So Smashwords said they weren’t planning to do something about it in 2018, but they’d consider it for their 2019 list.

Since February 2018, i’ve been looking for some way to fix this. I tried Patreon (it’s supposed to be ‘be a patron to the arts’ but it seems to turn out ‘lots of artists begging and a tiny number get lucky’), discovered it wasn’t really my scene. And a week or so ago, i got Smashwords “Plans for 2019”. You guessed it, no plans to sort out the ratings system.

Which leaves me completely at sea. My entire marketing plans hinged on how well reviewed my books were, which gave them visibility – not just on Smashwords, but on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and in the Apple iBookstore. That visibility gave me sales, gave me more visibility, and so on.

I’m poor, i cannot afford to do more. I’m crippled and ill – i can’t get a better job or save (about $1500 would do it) or the usual tricks. And i’m 58 so even if i was fit, turning tricks is out of the question.

I could remove the books from the site, redo them enough to be plausibly ‘new editions’ then republish, but i’ll still be open to that one spiteful person who decides their books need to sell more than mine do, and gives me 1 bad review. So i won’t.

So this is it. The end. 

I’m going to do more books, i just won’t be bothering to put them out as an self-publisher. It will be the more usual route of Agent followed by (if i’m lucky) Publisher. Seven years of my life (and another two learning how to), i gave it a good shot.

N.B. Having just noticed that Amazon Australia (which opened in December 2017) allows me to publish via Amazon, i might put the books on there – seems better than allowing them to stay rotting in the basement equivalent of Smashwords.

So maybe i’m not at the end, it might be another beginning. Aargh, not again!


copyright 2018 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com




contempt for the public? we haz it!

A while back i posted OMG I Was Violated, about being plagiarised by someone who stole one of my blog posts – on the second day i was blogging here. I discovered all his posts were stolen, and reported them to Google Blogspot who were hosting his blog, and also took the time to let about nine other bloggers know that they’d been plagiarised too.

Google refused to take a plagiarism report unless in writing or by fax – neither of which are easily possible for me. Besides, the idea of trying to draft a legal document for a legal system i’m not part of was a serious turn-off – what if i said the wrong thing and laid myself open to a lawsuit? I’m poor enough, i don’t need to be in the freaking gutter. So i reported it as impersonation – he’d lifted a post which mentioned my name – and pointed out all the other people who’d been impersonated.

Absolutely nothing had happened – all the stolen posts were still up, and they never got back to me, despite me including my real name, photo, and other details as they requested. I was thinking well screw you, Google and Blogspot, i’m really glad i stopped using Google Mail (some of us like an indexing system that makes sense), and decided not to use Blogspot for my blog.

Then i heard on Twitter that Google had changed their plagiarism reporting requirements, and were now taking proper action against plagiarists on their sites. The info came from @problogger who as Australia’s top blog site, gets plagiarised a lot and has an excellent and scarily funny post on Top 8 Excuses for Stealing Other People’s Content . It’s scarily funny because the excuses are so freaking lame.

So i’ve put in a report , and contacted the last few people i could find from yet more stolen posts on his site, to let them know they can now report it easily. Some posts obviously weren’t his – but some people don’t let Google access their blog, so despite having actually read some of the posts on other blogs, i can’t find the owners. Fingers crossed they finally remove the stolen blogs and shut down the thief.

What really gets me, is that Google have up until now made it hard to report – which made them into a company that condoned intellectual and copyright theft. I don’t know why i expect them to be different from the other corporations – oh wait, yes i do – it’s because Google promote themselves as different, as being both human and humane. I’d have liked to boycott them – but trying to live without Google search might cause problems.

Anyway – if you want to report a plagiarised blog hosted on Google/Blogspot – go to this Google link, and fill the form in – is simple – all you need is your work’s URL, and the URL of the (must be Google/Blogspot) site that’s reproducing it without your consent.

Another corporation exposing its inhuman side is Amazon – who removed all gay and lesbian literature from their listings, and were subsequently outed on Twitter (among other places) over the Easter Weekend. This led to them being branded with #amazonfail in the Tweetstream.

I left the below on a blog this morning that asked if the whole Amazonfail thing actually mattered. Yes, i think it does.

I was on Twitter over the Easter weekend, so saw #amazonfail take off – Amazon first said in email to an author that “the company was excluding “ ‘adult’ material from appearing in some searches and best-seller lists.””

For ‘adult’, read ‘gay & lesbian’ – there were anti-homosexual books still available, along with very adult sex toys, and hetero erotica – funny how the catalogue works, huh?

Then Amazon changed their tune (perhaps realising it didn’t actually stand up to any serious scrutiny), and blamed a cataloguing error. It’s laughable. I’d take them seriously if they admitted someone had censored their lists of books, and they’d now fired that person/s. Instead, we got dribble – which however well-worded is still corporate spin to control the damage. However, the damage to their reputation is ongoing – #amazonfail is still on Twitter.

In six months, i think people will still be picking up stories like this from the net – after all – it’s news. Censorship, right wing religious views being forced on the book-buying public, and bigotry – it all works for me.

As for Amazon, well, lol. Yes, of course. We believe you, Amazon – that’s why the trend #amazonfail is still trending on Twitter and serious newspapers are taking up the story in droves.

Like the company and their ad agency that thought making up a fake romantic story was a good idea to sell clothes, and was surprised by the public backlash (i blogged about this in “lying and misrepresentation make u immoral scum…“), Amazon is discovering that introducing censorship via a secret agenda also doesn’t endear you to anyone, and then, when you lie about why you did it, people are even less impressed.

As i said at the end of “lying and misrepresentation make u immoral scum…

So – would you buy from a company that thought you were a stupid twat?

I wouldn’t. And i won’t.

UPDATE: 28th of April – another of the bloggers plagiarised let me know her post was gone from the plagiarist blog – i checked, mine is too.
I’m really pleased.

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