internet

The Book Ad Scam

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Ever tried to buy an ad at one of those book advertising websites?  You pay the fee and they advertise your book on their website/facebook/twitter for a day. Some are cheap-ish whereas others are hugely expensive and trade on nothing more than their name. The hook is simple – you pay them to put your book ad in front of thousands of potential readers/buyers via their website or email list. Seems great doesn’t it? The only problem is that all of them that I’ve come across so far – and that is a lot – demand you have a certain number of reviews at a certain level before they will then CONSIDER – yes, just consider – taking your book for an ad. Most often they still turn you down even if you can qualify.

I’ve seen a huge number of authors who, like me, moan constantly at how impossible it is to find genuine reviews. Yes, you can do the sock puppet thing by writing your own under fake names. You can buy them, and you can ‘trade’ reviews with another author (the unspoken rule here is that it has to be 5*). Getting genuine ones is impossible, completely and totally impossible. Not only do readers want you to give them your hard work for free, but they then won’t even bother to write a short 1 sentence review by way of recompense. I am quickly getting to hate so called readers.

This whole book ad thing is a total scam. The most well known of these advertising sites charges hundreds of dollars for a book ad, which you then have to ‘qualify’ for by having dozens of 5* reviews. Listen assholes, if I had that many 5* reviews I wouldn’t need your poxy website would I.

My advice to anyone and everyone is simple – don’t use these sites. They just want to take your hard earned money and even if you buy enough reviews to qualify, they then invent some other reason to turn you down – your book isn’t their genre, the cover isn’t professional enough, there is a single typo on page 427, or whatever.

I am sick of all the scams being peddled out there aimed at hard working authors like me. I am also sick of ‘readers’ who actually don’t read and certainly never review. This ridiculously out of control self publishing thing has to blow up soon, it has to. Then maybe, hopefully, all the peddlers of the dross will realise that they really should go back to doing manual labour, and those with real creativity can get their quality work out there. Then it will just be a case of educating the brainless masses on how to actually read quality work.

 

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How to recognise a new kind of sock puppet

There has been a lot of talk in recent months about sock puppets and for those who’ve only just returned to Earth, sock puppetry is buying reviews for your book or making a fake account from a site such as Amazon and giving yourself a glowing review.  That’s the basic version anyway.  Google it for more information.

I’ve discovered a new kind of sock puppet and this one wears a disguise to try to hide the fact that it’s just a sock puppet.  Over on facebook I get invited to many ‘pages’ and ‘events’ run by authors all wanting to market their book or raise its public profile and many of them resort to good old bribery to do it.

They offer you prizes such as Amazon gift cards, kindles, paypal money etc but in return for being allowed to enter this competition (which is nothing more than pulling a name out of a hat) you have to buy their book, download their book, vote for their book and/or leave a review.  Then and only then will you be entered into the draw, which you probably won’t win anyway.

Now, we’d all love a brand new Kindle Fire or £100 paypal money and many people go in for these so called ‘competitions’ without realising what they are actually doing.  They are taking the promise of material reward in return for leaving a glowing review of a book they’ve probably never read anyway, which gives potential readers a totally false view of the product they intend to pay honest money for.

Let’s say for instance that this gal wrote a romance novel and offers such a thinly veiled bribe and people leave glowing reviews of it on Amazon or Goodreads saying how wonderful it is, how perfectly written and how they can’t wait to read more from this wonderful wordsmith etc, you know the sort of drivel.  So a real buyer comes along and likes the look of the hot guy on the cover and thinks about buying it but decides to read the reviews first.  Everyone seems to be awestruck by this wonderful piece of literature so they buy it and eagerly await the postman.  When the knock at the door comes they almost bite off his arm to get at the package and rip it open.  With a fresh coffee to hand and the cat on their lap, they sit down to read.

Then they discover the spelling errors, the bad (or none at all) punctuation, the continuity errors, the horrendously stilted dialogue, incorrect or total lack of research, contradictions galore and generally bad grammar.  They might not know the mistakes are there on a conscious level but they will quickly realise the book is difficult to read, it doesn’t seem to flow and they cannot tell who is talking and who isn’t.  They will get irritated by the overuse of identical dialogue attribution (if it’s used at all) and will find themselves thinking,

“What the fuck is this all about?”

They will feel disappointed and angry at the wasted money and time and will then assume that all  indie/self published books are of a similar standard and will be far less likely to buy another.  For those of us who take a lot of care over the quality of our product, that is a slap in the ta ta’s we don’t deserve.  We must act to raise the bar for the whole indie/self publishing world and a huge part of doing that is to stop trying to con our customers.  You may think it’s okay to help another author out, even if you’re only doing it in the hope they’ll do the same for you (they won’t, believe me) but take a moment to think of the customer who reads your review.  Will they be happy that you told the truth?  If not then remember that same customer might not be too happy to buy your book when it comes out, after being conned with the last one.

It’s enough to make me give up writing

Sitting drinking truck loads of coffee while the cupboards are bare and the heating is off and the purse is empty.
Hoping beyond hope for a sale while watching those around me yelling their joy to the world at the wonderful new book they just bought that cost them 5 times as much as mine.
Foreign holidays to plan, new homes to buy, iphones to subscribe to and satellite telly.
Dinner at the Ivy, lunch at the local and nights at that new club in the High Street.
Gotta get that latest Kindle, y’know the one with all the gadgets?
And just look at those shoes baby, yes I know I have 40 pairs already but they’re shoes.
Let’s pop into Starbucks and try that new vanilla coffee toffee thing with a swirl of artificial cream on top and little choccy bits and screw the $4.50 price tag.

Oh I can’t afford to buy books right now dear, times are hard y’know.
Except of course that new one that’s almost but not quite but really is quite porno, we must have that.
And the sequal, and the sequal’s sequal too.
You wrote a book? Wow that’s great, well done. Is is free cos I can’t afford to buy books right now, times are hard y’know.
Oh look, that floppy green thing will go lovely for our trip to Jamaica

David The Hayemaker Haye and how he punched me in the face (virtually)

I used to be connected to David Haye’s facebook page.  I say used to be, because I’m not anymore.  I unliked his page this morning because something weird and strangely hilarious happened overnight that once again reinforces my somewhat sceptical view of the morals of most celebrities.

David recently brought out an iphone game app and he’s been spamming facebook with ads for it for a couple of weeks now.  I don’t have an iphone (I’m android) so I’ve not taken any interest and I have to admit that the amount of spam he’s been chucking out about it was becoming a tad annoying.  Anyway, a couple of days ago he posted a comment moaning about how few people seem to have downloaded his new game app and asking “why” we all hadn’t rushed to buy it (yes it’s a pay to download one, not free) and telling us that we should borrow an iphone from our friends or family so we can buy his new game.  Loads of people commented, and some of the comments were uncomplimentary about his new business/money making stance he seems to be taking since leaving the jungle.

I commented that as I don’t have an iphone, nor do I have a family and nor do I have friends who will loan me their iphone just so I can buy and play his new game app, I wasn’t interested.  I think I actually used the term “stick it.”  Not very ladylike I agree but it was extremely tame alongside some of the other comments I read (and laughed out loud at).

This morning I log onto facebook to find he’d banned me from commenting on his pics..!

I must admit I was amazed at that but then I laughed and am still giggling about it now (several hours later) and now I just think, what a self important asshole and how glad I am that I didn’t waste too much time being a fan.  Actually it was only the sight of his naked butt in the jungle that made me aware that he even existed as I hate boxing and think it should be banned, but I digress.  This is no loss to me at all and in fact it’s given me an interesting subject to blog about so I reckon I gained from this hilarious experience.

I often wonder whether it’s the money or the fame that turns what may have once been normal nice people into these self important megalomaniacs.  I then wonder if there is a cure.  I then realise I’m thankful I have the insight and self awareness not to ever become like that myself.

At the end of the day, I’ve been proved correct in my views on celebrities yet again.  I haven’t lost anything and my life will continue just as it always does.  He on the other hand, is famous and should be more aware that people talk to one another.  Word gets around and when you’re famous, you really shouldn’t piss off the folks you’re hoping are going to make you even richer.  He says he wants to become “an established actor” within 5 years.

That’s plenty of time for word to get around and bite him on his cute ass.

More than one way to swing a cat.

The one aspect of self publishing that almost every indie author finds difficult is marketing.  Trying to sell your shit is a thankless and monumentally difficult task and with today’s proliferation of indie authors and the ease with which we can all get our shit published, it gets harder each and every day.  The sheer number of authors all vying for the attention of readers means that most non authors are now numb to the fact that your shit is also out there because it’s lost amongst all the other shit.

The only way to get your work noticed is to be aggressive about your marketing and bombard every available platform with your ads.  You need a really thick skin and a ruthless attitude to the sensitivities of others and just post, post, post.

I have a lot of authors and writer folks on my friend list at both facebook and twitter and many of them are far more ruthless than I am at marketing.  There are many on my facebook list who I have just had to ‘hide’ from my wall because their relentless posts about their books got too much for me.  I fail to understand why these people think I’d want to buy their books when they can’t spare a moment to ‘like’ my facebook author page or repost one of my ads.  Seriously folks, either wake up and realise that if you want me to do something for you, you have to do something for me, or fuck off.

My problem is that I lack the self esteem necessary to ruthlessly post my ads without caring whether other folks want to see them or not.  I don’t  have the nerve to walk into shops and ask the manager if I can gift him a copy of my book.  I’d sooner be strung up by my nipples than stand up and shout about my shit and that’s my downfall.  Deep down inside there’s still that scared little autistic girl who believes she is unworthy of everything and although I know I write well and all the reviews my books have received have been fantastic, I still worry about selling myself.

What I do is post about my books once a day with a direct ‘buy’ link and then do another post alluding to my books without a direct ‘buy me’ approach (see my ‘endorsed by the great and mighty’ blog posts.

At the end of the day, what I need is for people to first know my books exist so that they can then choose whether to buy them or not.  There are many ways to keep people aware without the hard sell approach and I feel more comfortable utilising this less direct approach.  I’ve made a poster for the rear window of my car with pictures of my books and a plea for support.  People see it when I’m parked in the supermarket and you never know, it might encourage a few curious peeks at them.

If you don’t have the balls to use the direct hard sell approach, then think outside the box.  There’s more than one way to swing a cat, as they say.

Open Letter to Male Actor

Dear Male Actor (insert name of choice here)

I have been inspired to write this letter by my experiences of being your fan and I think it’s way beyond time that someone pointed a few things out to you.  You can of course, ignore the following (and you probably will even if you do find yourself here and reading) but that fact doesn’t negate the pertinence of what follows.

As with most of your female fans, I first noticed you because of your looks and my first thought was “phwoar” or something along those lines.  Shallow of me I know but then again, you trade on your looks for the most part and your acting is of secondary importance so you cannot justifiably mark me down for it.

Due to the elevated position you hold, you wield a lot of power but you often misuse this power, either due to ignorance or evil intent.  Your fans often look to you as a role model and they will take your example when acting and interacting with others in their own lives.  Many fans will choose to ‘adopt’ similar views and opinions as you, as a way of trying to be like you in the vain hope that their life will take a similar path as yours.  If the influence you have is a positive one, then they will hopefully grow in a positive way but if your influence is negative (which it often is unfortunately) then you are helping to create a new generation of maladjusted miscreants without a single compassionate bone in their bodies.

The monotonous regularity with which you hop from one casual affair to the next, the very public sexual liaisons you fail to control, the public infidelity, the self degrading alcohol/drug addictions you indulge in, the violence you publicly display towards those you are supposed to love and/or those who never deserve it and the complete ignorance of the fact that your fans finance your privileged lifestyle make you a very bad influence on today’s younger generation.

In any other profession, any employee who behaved in ways similar to those displayed by you would be summarily dismissed but again, because of your unique position, you get away with it because you can.  Just because you can, doesn’t make it right that you should.

In an ideal world, you would be constantly aware of your power to influence the very maleable minds of your fans and you would wield that power with humility and compassion.  In an ideal world you would always remember how much you owe us who have made you rich and adored by millions and you would take more time to interact with us because you’d know you owe us at least a moment of your time.  We know there aren’t enough hours in the day to spend time with each one of us but you could make a little more time to allow us to ‘reach’ you somehow.  In today’s technological world it is easy for us to reach you, if you make it possible.  In an ideal world you would realise that what the world needs now is positive role models so that our younger generation can grow up to be dependable, compassionate family men who don’t cheat on their women with every available attention seeking whore who manages to crash the Hollywood parties you cannot live without attending.  In an ideal world you would encourage those who listen to you, to honour their bodies with healthy nutrition and sensible exercise without life threatening addictions so that they can live long and healthy lives.  In an ideal world you would treasure all your fans, even those who aren’t 20 years old, skinny and blonde and surgically enhanced.

But we don’t live in an ideal world and you will continue to abuse your position.  I will still say “phwoar” whenever I see you but I will know that whilst beautiful on the outside, you’re not beautiful at all on the inside.

The Lilean Chronicles is now complete

The fourth and final volume in The Lilean Chronicles series is now in the process of publication.  It is live at Lulu.com now and will soon be available at Smashwords and Amazon.

I’m delighted to reveal the cover and to send my gratitude to JL Stratton for his patience and expertise in making another fabulous cover.

The Final Chapter – Out Soon

Just letting everyone know that the fourth and final volume in The Lilean Chronicles series will be published within the next week or so.

All the formatting has been completed and I’m just waiting for my cover art guy to finish working his magic.

The Lilean Chronicles: Book Four ~ Avalanche Effect

It’s been more than two years since Vincent, Farra & Kyle returned from their harrowing experiences on Drycenia and their idyllic family life is shattered by the arrival of a mysterious stranger and the dreadful news he brings them.  Going against the wishes of the Lilean spirit people, Vincent and Farra race from world to world in search of Gabriel and as faces from the past re-appear, they discover the links between a dreadful war, a medal won for valour and a legendary angel.

It began with a broken promise and ended with a change to the path of destiny.  A small action taken in a moment of desperation that causes massive changes to the destiny of others.

Facebook Fan Pages – heralding the imminent exodus

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed something troubling going on over at facebook.  I have my own personal page there (doesn’t everyone?) but also a fan page for my books and I’ve taken the trouble to trawl for fans and managed to achieve a none too shabby 447 fans.  Like a lot of people I felt it would be a more professional way to present my books and writing without the personal stuff that goes on at my personal page.

Several weeks ago those of us with facebook fan pages noticed an innocuous little thing at the bottom of everything we posted which at first we ignored until the truth of its function made us sit up and scream WTF..?  At the bottom of each post it says “seen by” and then a number.

This tells you how many of your fans actually saw this post, and it’s never anywhere near the number of fans you actually have.  As I say above, I have 447 fans on my facebook fan page, but my posts usually get “seen by” no more than 30 or 40.  In order to ensure your post is seen by all of your fans you have to – yeah you’ve guessed it – pay..!  Facebook charges $10 to ensure your post is seen by up to 3000 fans and that cost is PER POST, not a once in a lifetime thing.

There is a way around it and it’s very simple to do.  All you have to do is hover your mouse over the ‘Like’ button and wait for the drop down box.  Then click on ‘add to interests lists’ and voila, all of that page’s posts will be visible to you.  I’ve been posting this information for ages now, and so have a lot of other fan page owners but the problem is that no one can be bothered to take the 5 seconds to actually do it.  This is what fucks me off more than anything, more than facebook expecting us to pay.  The simple truth that people are too selfish and lazy to take 5 seconds to ensure they can see your posts, dismays and troubles me but doesn’t surprise me.    People are selfish and book people are notorious in their lack of desire to help out other authors.  They’re violently competitive, which I find, well frankly rather uncouth.

This makes the recent trend for facebook ‘like parties’ rather redundant now.  What’s the use of having thousands of fans if only 50 of them see your posts?  This also makes fan pages themselves almost redundant because there’s no way people are going to be persuaded to actually give those 5 seconds to click on the add to interests button unless you pay them.  With this rather sad realisation comes a decision – I’m giving up my facebook fan page.

I simply cannot see the point in maintaining the page when only 20 to 30 people will see my effort and rest just can’t be fucked.

Yes I’m annoyed.  I’m constantly amazed and annoyed at people’s capacity to be unhelpful, insincere, greedy, snooty and selfish.  So I’ve decided that since people don’t have the intelligence to be led by my example of helpfulness and giving, I’m going to do exactly what they do.

I spent over an hour last night ‘unliking’ every single writer’s fan page I’d taken the time and trouble to like and ‘add to interest lists’ and I shall never ‘like’ a writer’s fan page ever again.

I love writing my books and I’m good at it, better than many others I’ve seen and read and I will always write.  I love writing, it’s writers I hate..!

The real face of twitter

I’ve been on twitter for around a year or so.  Not long by many people’s standards but before I published my books there was no real need for the extra burden of different social networking sites.  Actually I did get onto twitter before that but I quickly found it to be useless for actively engaging with anyone, so I stayed away and didn’t use my account until I started self publishing.

And there’s the rub.  Twitter is crap for conversation.  If it’s friends and happy conversation you’re after, stay away from twitter and stick with good old eff bee.  Twitter is for 3 things and 3 things only.

1.  Celebrities

2.  Fans

3.  Advertising your shit.

I’ll take each of these in turn.  Twitter is THE place for today’s celeb’s to let the rest of us plebs know that they are actually real live people and not some cgi invention.  They post their pictures and funny videos and tell us all about what they’re doing on set or in the studio and trade witty repartee with other celebs. They also plug their latest movie/album/book/tv show etc on twitter.  For celebs, twitter is an amazing free advertising bill board and they love it.

Hot on the heels of all the celeb twitterers come their fans – in their millions.  The fans come to twitter simply to try to get noticed by their idol (yes I’ve done that too and quickly realised I was on a hiding to nothing).  Every tweet by their favourite celeb is pounced on and the number of replies skyrockets quickly.    Each one hopes and prays their idol will reply to their tweet and some of them will tweet hundreds of times a day solely to try and get noticed by their idol.  What they don’t realise is that alot of the more major celebs on twitter will  have ‘staff’ doing their tweets, announcing the latest movie/album etc and posting photos ad nauseam.  The chances of getting a tweet by a major movie star on twitter is about the same as me walking outside of my house right now and slipping up in a heap of rocking horse shit..!

I used to be a fan of Dwayne The Rock Johnson and used to tweet hello to him and send him the digital artwork I did of him but I never got a response.  Seeing his tweets and his responses (on the rare occasions when he does actually respond) has put me off him as a person.  He’s beautiful to look at and is good at acting but as a person he sucks.  Thanks twitter, you took my idol from me..!

And then there’s advertising.  Twitter is heaving with people all trying to sell their shit (me included) and each one tweets endlessly about how wonderful their product is and why it’s better than everyone else’s.  That’s all well and good but you see dear, there are no actual customers on twitter, only other crazed sellers who have no intention whatsoever of ever buying your shit nor anyone else’s.  If you’re trying to sell your shit on twitter, you’re wasting your time because you’re not reaching actual customers there.  It took me ages to realise this (I can be thick sometimes) and I sat down and wondered what the heck I was doing flogging my guts retweeting other authors, when the effort doesn’t increase my book sales.

And hard work it is too.  It takes a serious amount of time out of your day using twitter.  You’re expected to retweet people so that they will retweet you back.  I say, supposed, because in practice it doesn’t happen that way.  I spent a couple of hours a day retweeting people and only ever got 3 or 4 retweets in return and half of those I did get were ones where I’d thanked someone for retweeting or said hello to a new follower – all carefully chosen by the retweeter so as not to include a link to my work.

I now go there for just a couple of minutes a day to check for new followers and direct messages but I no longer retweet people.  The number of retweets I got in no way made up for the time I spent or the numbers of tweets I retweeted.  I have my facebook author pages set up so everything I post there automatically goes to my twitter page too so I’m still sort of using it as free advertising.

I prefer to actually interact with people so I stay on facebook.  I have my personal page and my author page and I find it more pleasing to have actual conversations with people than simply dispense links that immediately get lost in the cess pool of other tweets, which no one reads or pays attention to.

Is is just me?  What do you think of twitter?