Friday 25 January 2013

The 20p e-book, paid 5-star Amazon reviews and tags, Facebook bollocks and disappointments ...

There are a few things on my mind today. I could probably write a whole post about each, but I think, for my own sanity, I'm just going to gloss over them all so I don't get too worked up ...

1. The 20p e-book is starting to reshape the e-book market. You can read about it here. I'm scared. I'm scared that this will go on longer than just a marketing ploy and it will become the new 99 cent-er. Why am I scared? Not because of the price itself, but because of what the price represents. I feel that the industry is destroying the whole magic of buying and reading a book. With these prices, it's not special anymore. All it is, is competition. I feel the beauty of literature is being destroyed by greedy corporations. It's devaluing what we do. My opinion. There are many that would disagree with me.

2. There is a corporation that is selling 5-star Amazon reviews. You can read the full email Jodi Picoult received, on her Facebook fan page. But I shall copy and paste bits here. I quote:
"Hello. We’re an advertising studio Star5Amazon. ... We’re ready to work towards creating and maintaining an impeccable reputation of your books that will allow you to increase sales and attract new readers by means of excellent reviews. The price of one published review is $50. ... We know how to make the way of your book to five-star rating without causing suspicion. ... Neither automatic filter, nor people can tell where a review is written by a real user, and where it is written by our employees. If the review was banned, it will be replaced by a new one, free of charge. ... all activities are performed secretly, and no one will know that you are buying reviews."

3. Amazon seems to be removing tags from books. This is not good. Tags help readers find books. If there aren't any tags, then it's Amazon dictating the keyword searches, not the readers.

4.  Facebook have new advertising rules in place that are absolute bollocks. This is the email I received yesterday after trying to promote a post.
"Your promoted post wasn’t approved because more than 20% of your image is covered by text. As of 1/15/2013, this violates our Advertising Guidelines. Photos with too much text can be disruptive in news feed, where people are used to seeing photos of their friends and places in their lives. Use text sparingly to brand your image or add emphasis to what it’s showing."
What the HECK?

5. My contract with my small press has fallen through due to some unforeseen circumstances on their end. I am not lucky when it comes to publishing my books. So I'm back to square one. And I feel like crying. Seriously thinking of embracing the self-pub route completely. But I might just try my luck with a few more agents first ...

6. Now onto something a bit more positive. Check out this video of a brilliant Newfoundlander who has worked out how to make powerful solar panels out of soft drink cans! Maybe there's hope for us after all ...

Any thoughts on anything I've mentioned here? How do you feel about the 20p e-book? Buying 5-star Amazon reviews? Amazon removing tags? Facebook and all its illogical glory? This brilliant Newfoundlander? Tell me. I want to hear ...


  1. Jessica, I'm so very sorry your contract has fallen though. It's no comfort but it is happening a lot. Two friends of mine have lost their publication contracts since November and a further two have seen their agents leave.

    Try the self publishing route. It isn't either/or anymore. I self publish and I have an agent. It's a brave new world out there for writers.

  2. Jess, what a rotten lot for you! I use the 99c route for special offer on launch. My books are now at $2.99. I would like to raise the price but not sure if they will sell, as Amazon has set the bar for cheap books.

    I have no regrets going s/p, it means my books are out there, and being read. Something I never thought would happen. Coping with disappointment became too much to handle. Now I promote, and write novels. Not rich in cash only satisfaction.

    Good luck for the future. Hugs x

  3. Oh, and as for paying for reviews ... how low will one stoop? Where's the pride?

  4. *hugs* I hate to see you feeling so downhearted! I'm sorry to hear about your contract, but keep on trying. Maybe something better is waiting for you!

    And I absolutely agree with you about the 20p ebooks, and paying for reviews and ... well, everything! <3

  5. Jessica I am so sorry to hear about your contract falling through :-( I just don't understand Facebook at all. I can't believe that someone would offer 5 star reviews to be written for that amount of money.

  6. So sorry. Nothing is for certain in this business anymore. I heard somewhere that wishlists were the new tags at Amazon. But Amazon is always changing how they do things so, I just roll with it. If you want a small press or agent then go for that first. Don't s/p just because, not if you don't want to.

    And it's too bad FB went private. I'm not happy with it either.

  7. Jess, so sorry about your small publishing contract. Do hang in there because your books are all getting rave reviews.

  8. I think there's always been an attempt by corporations to game the system. Big chain stores squeezed out small bookshops, supermarkets forced cut price wars, even authors lie and cheat to get their books noticed.

    I don't think there anything new with 20p books. Just a variation on a theme.

    Eventually people will get books for free and pay the author what they think it's worth after reading it. Developing a relationship with your readers is probably more important than trusting a publisher or agent to have your best interests at heart.

    Mind you, I'm just guessing.


  9. That's just crazy-In all senses of the word!

  10. I'm afraid it's a free-for-all right now. Who knows where it will end?

  11. Terrible about your publisher.

    $50 for one 5-star review? That's not only disgusting, that's steep. You'd need 10-20 to be effective, and that's $500-$1000. Most authors won't recoup that money in sales.

  12. I already knew all this stuff, because we're so close on Facebook, but it is still so much bullshit. Except that last one. That's awesome.

  13. So sorry about your publisher!! That sucks.
    The company is proud is sells fake reviews - that's even sadder.

  14. I'm so sorry that your deal fell through :(!!! And wow...fake review company? I'm disheartened...

  15. I'm really sorry to hear about the publisher deal falling through. Grr.

    Yeah, I definitely hear where you're coming from with the new lows in ebook pricing. Keep in mind there has always been a "pulp" market of book buyers looking for cheap, easy read, plot-driven, genre fiction. What's hard for those of us whose work is too niche or literary to garner interest from traditional is that we risk being lumped with the pulp crowd if/when we go Indie rather than never publish. This is one conversation that needs to be happening more in Indie circles.

  16. Ugh, so much bad news. Well, no matter how you publish your book, I'm always excited to read it.

  17. Nothing like crap to keep you inspired, LOL! I'm not a bit surprised about paying for reviews and posts having restrictions, etc. It's all about profitting someone...and by someone, I mean large corporation.

    So sorry to hear about the small press. *hugs* I'm sure you'll figure something out. You've done such great work and made so many strides! Remember that. ;)

  18. Okay, regarding the fake review email, that just is ridiculous. Not so much that they're charging an outrageous price for one review, but that they barely could write English, and personally I wouldn't trust them to write a decent review. Not to mention since they are obviously dishonest and trying to game the system, how would one expect to trust them to even post the review let alone to repost with a new one when it got removed?

    Geesh! I didn't know anything about Facebook, but I recently read a Copyblogger article that said all of our best content needs to be on our own websites that carry our own domain names. FB, Twitter, Blogger-- all of these places owned by someone else can make their own rules, take off our content, whatever. Something to think about.

  19. Sorry to hear about this, Jessica. Good luck with however you decide to recover. And you will. If you self-publish, will you continue to edit and produce Vine Leaves Literary Journal with your partner?

    That's interesting about Facebook controlling how much of the post is image and how much is text, but it isn't surprising. Seems like every week something that was free is no longer.

  20. Sad to hear about the troubles, Jessica. I just wish the best for you and hope a door opens soon. You've worked so hard!

  21. Hi Jess .. sorry about the loss of the deal - that's a blow - but I'm sure there's an upside somewhere along the line ..

    The Amazon - Facebook changes are a muddle - but I'm always happy to read round the edges ... and learn as I go ..

    The solar panel guy .. does sound like he's got something - clever chap .. ant he talks just like my recent blog posts about the weather!! Cheers Hilary

  22. I think DEVALUING our books is a CRIME... It needs to stop. I could see a one day or even week promo to jump start a new novel but to continue at this price... NO.... As for buying reviews ,,,, THIS SHOULD BE BANNED! What's the point of spending time creating an honest review if FALSE ones are taking over.... SOMETHING SHOULD BE DONE!

  23. I’ve no problem with the 20p thing as a marketing ploy—people have been giving their books away for free to pique interest and maybe get a few positive reviews—but the problem is there will be people out there (I know this because I’m this kind of person) who’ll just hoover up books for free or for 20p and hardly read any of them and probably never review those they do read. There is a saying—‘You get what you pay for’—and I know what people mean when they say that but if you or I were to sell our books for 20p people would be most definitely getting more than they paid for. But would they appreciate that they’d got a bargain? Probably not. People don’t appreciate TV programmes. Even the crappiest programme has taken dozens of people weeks of work to produce and yet we’ll switch channels after a few seconds if it doesn’t catch our interest right away and in some cases our decision will be the right one but how often do people jump ship on something really quite good simply because they have so much else to choose from? My wife and I simply cannot get through all the TV we’d like to watch and that’s the good stuff! Books are getting like that. I bet there are hundreds of people out there with Kindles crammed full of books they’ve downloaded that they’ll never get round to reading. Really, for writers now, it is the best of times and the worst of times—so easy to get in print, so hard to get read.

  24. Sorry about your deal -- hope it means something better is waiting for you in the near future!
    The first two points of your post scare me.


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