Current totals on #copypastecris as of this morning: 51 books, 34 authors.
Blowback’s inevitable when you go public–especially on social media–about any issue.
With this one, I’m finding (unsurprisingly) people who object, complain, or smack at me and others tend to be protecting their own interests.
It’s all, yes! Fix this, fight this, go after the crooks and scammers, make the system fair. But don’t talk about or criticize or upset my personal apple cart.
Ghostwriters aren’t to blame, stop being mean to us!
The profession itself is certainly not to blame. But that profession is being used and abused by scammers, and by those willing to ghostwrite ebooks fast and cheap, often for the same ‘author’ who then tosses up multiple books a month.
They couldn’t generate those books, crushing the honest self-published writers without the ghosts who provide the service. So stop providing the service if you’re an honest person.
I’m not, and was very careful not to toss the entire profession or honest ghosts or work-for-hire authors in that same muck. But the practice of hiring ghosts, the practice of ghostfarms to generate scam books has to be exposed.
This is a cheat to the honest writer and to the reader.
I want to take a stand for my fellow authors, and to take a stand for readers. Because I value all of them.
Free or cheap books. I explained my thoughts on this as best I could. The reason so many self-pubbed must give away or sell their honest work so cheap is BECAUSE the scammers exploit a weak, flawed system. A readership now accustomed to fast and cheap demand it. And many of those readers don’t understand an actual writer can’t produce a book a week.
The writers going off about me being rich, privileged, not understanding their situation couldn’t be more wrong. I do understand it. I had to work my way up through a very crowded field in the early 80s. I know what it’s like. I’m not condemning anyone struggling to get their work noticed, I’m saying the prevalence of free and dirt cheap are devaluing the very writers who struggle. And the system and the scammers have forced them into this.
Do you want the scams exposed, do you want a level playing field in a stronger system? Do you want a chance to build a career, make an actual living doing what you love? Or do you just want me to shut up about it when it affects you?
The readers who slap back because: I can’t afford to pay more. You’re a millionaire in a mansion, (note, I don’t live in a mansion), I want to read lots and lots and lots of books every week, so lay off me.
Readers don’t have as much skin in the game as writers, but they do have some. For every cheap fake book you buy for a buck–because you didn’t take a couple minutes to check that author’s credentials, you’ve tossed money away.
You shouldn’t have to check. It’s outrageous any reader should have to take even two seconds of their time for anything like this. It enrages me.
To the readers who demand–and I mean those who demand the fast and cheap or free–why do you think the writer should work their butts off for nothing? You want to call me entitled because I’ve spent over three decades working MY butt off? Excuse me, I really think that shoe fits the other foot.
Let me quickly speak about used books. I have never–even when it was an unpopular stand with a lot of other writers–had any issue with used books. The stores, the trading books, the yard sales, whatever. In fact, I’ve often suggested a reader new to me try one of my books from that source. Someone bought the book, and therefore, the author was paid.
There are lots and lots of ways to access books inexpensively, and this is one of them. Libraries are amazing–and the writer gets paid.
You have a budget? So does Writer Jane Smith who’s doing everything she can to write her book, maybe in addition to her day job, raising a family.
But you’re a voracious reader, you have to read.
Jane has to eat. Jane has to pay the mortgage.
I sympathize with the voracious reader on a budget. I’m a reader, voracious, and when I was a single mom raising two kids, I had to find a way to work a book buy into my grocery budget.
The problem is, this is an ugly, cheating, greedy beast with many, many tentacles. You can’t kill the beast by ignoring any of those tentacles. because it’s going to take another swipe, and the other tentacles will regenerate.
What I’m hearing from those who object to my statements on specific areas is: We want change, we want fair, we want some asses kicked, oh yeah, but . . . Only our way, only the asses we want kicked, only if it doesn’t touch me.
Not going to happen. I do this my way, or I don’t do it at all.
Guess what? I can deal with my specific issue–Serruya’s infringement of my work. And walk away from the rest. It’d be a lot easier to do just that.
I should be working on my book, right now. As I should have been since this all started. I want to take a stand for my fellow authors, and to take a stand for readers. Because I value all of them.
Because it’s the goddamn principle.
For those trying to tell me how to do that, understand. With me, this is all or nothing.
Now I have to go let my dogs out in my imaginary mansion, because it seems it’s my staff’s lifetime off.
Back to add a link to Shiloh Walker’s excellent post : How to Spot scammers…and raise hell
267 thoughts on “Blowback”
If I read anything that sounds familiar or smells off from any well known author….I will report it! Keep going Nora….
These actions that were callously and without thought done by another has woke the inner beast. Sometimes in life, I believe we all need to show our inner beast. It is that times as this that pulls a person away from what they truly love. When most start out as an author they have dreams. Along that road, part of the dream is seeing the smiles on any imagined reader’s face as they read our work. This cannot happen when there ARE in fact wolves out here just dying to feast. Nora, you take as much time as needed to take down the wolves. With your bravery and courage, your inner beast is nothing more than the strongest of lions. They have met their match!
Thank you Nora! I’m ashamed that I was ignorant of this. Let me say something about those cheap books. If you’re reading multiple 99cent books a week it’s because the writing is crap and someone forgot the story. There isn’t a word in there a second grader can’t read. Granted I only got to maybe page 10 before I dumped it, but, it was crap! I get Kindle unlimited and the offers come nearly every day. I don’t always check my email so I’m not sure. Now I’m totally ticked off I would have to check if the author is real or a bot person! I thought I was supporting a new author, now I want my 99cents back…PS I hope you are neglecting the next In Death book?
99 cents/free is an Indie author marketing tool that has been used since the dawn of independent publishing. I am an Indie author and write all of my books. I’ve been writing since childhood and have worked very hard as an adult to grow in my craft. I know how to write a story. Making these sorts of sweeping statements does not take into account the fact that it’s very difficult to gain visibility and traction as an Indie author in this new world of publishing. Basically, you’re saying that my 99 cent book is crap because it’s priced as such–but you haven’t read my work or the work of other authors who price at 99 cents. The one you read must not have been to your liking, but this doesn’t mean that ALL 99 cent books are written by incapable authors or scammers. As a long time fan of Nora Roberts, who I look up to, I now digress.
I have a couple of 99 cent books and they are not crap, thank you. They happen to be anthology pieces I got my rights back to. I’m not charging 2.99 for a lunchtime escape.
Who do you report it to? I’ve read new authors that I quit reading because the storyline was too similar to others I’ve read. I honestly didn’t realize this was an issue. I’m afraid to take advantage of my KU options now as I don’t want to support the cheats and liars.
Report it to the author, to their publisher (if they have one), and to Amazon. Most indie authors have facebook/twitter/websites with contact information. All publishers have websites (or they should).
If you read a new book and it seems too familiar, search the familiar passage on google, did it pull up another book??? If so contact the other author (if theirs was publisjed first) and give them specifics, such as title, author, location in the book of the suspected plagiarism… or if you recognize the book that was copied, double check the book and report to the author
Is Kindle Unlimited a subscription service?
Don’t be afraid to use your KU subscription. There are a lot of legitimate authors in KU, and—as you said—you can quit reading a story at any point if you start to get a tingly feeling (or just don’t like the book). The author will only get paid for the pages you actually read.
However, there’s a difference between similar plots/storylines popping up frequently because it’s a beloved genre trope, and plagiarized or ghostwritten schlock. The recognition of similar storylines doesn’t necessarily mean something has been plagiarized or is being produced by scammers. An example of this is the Hallmark Channel movies we see all year round. Many of them have *very* similar plots, but different characters/character traits/settings etc. And a lot of those movies are adapted from Hallmark novels. Similar? Absolutely. But totally legit. And in this case, the familiarity is part of what makes the audience love these books/films so much.
Check out the link Nora added to the bottom of her blog post for some excellent tips on how to spot an actual scammer, especially in KU. And thanks for looking out for authors who are working hard to write their own books!
There are plenty of legitimate authors in KU. Some ways you might check. Do they have books that have been published more than a year or two? (That doesn’t mean newer authors aren’t legitimate. It’s just one way to check.) Do they have reviews that seem “real” and have specific themes or points? If you read two or more of the same series, can you sense the “voice” of the author? (Many of us have distinctive voices. Nora is one such author.) If you go to their social media do their posts look like real life? Is there a flow to their writing or is it jerky and mismatched. Are there a lot of errors in the book? I’m not saying to do a lot of homework on an author. Go ahead and read. Just trust your intuition as a reader. 🙂
Nora, you are 100% the real deal in every way and that is why you are so beloved. Keep fighting the good fight – we are behind you all the way!! xo
Thank you, Nora. I was not aware pervasive this is. By shining your light on the issue, more people will become aware of rotten plagerism is and how some of the plagerizers want to normalize it.
Get ‘em, Nora!!
Yes!! Go, please! I’m one of those struggling authors and words don’t describe how it feels to have someone of your reputation and stature standing up for us and speaking out against the writing mills. All I can say is – thank you! And I will do what little I can to help – mostly in sharing your posts and whatever else you can think of.
Keep writing, Abby Gordon. I will search for your work too.
Keep fighting. Doing the right thing needs to be re-taught to generations of people who are too greedy and too lazy.
Stand firm Nora!!
I will keep buying your books.
Thanks as always for sharing your stories and your life with us your readers.
If you ever get to Columbus Ga or Montgomery Alabama let me know. Would love to shake your hand and buy you a cuppa jo.
Nora, I am with you 100%. You are the best.
You should be proud of the stand you have taken! It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, right is right! Keep fighting the good fight! Love your books and have since the beginning!
I am a voracious reader as well. Always have been. When I couldn’t afford to buy books, well, that’s what the library is for, isn’t it? Keep fighting for what’s right!
I say get it. And thank you. We won’t say it enough but I’ll start now. Thank you for standing for us, those who feel forced to put books up for .99 when it cost 3k and change to edit and produce and put it up on Amazon…I might be no one, but I appreciate you.
You do it your way and fuck everyone else. Those of us that have a brain and use it check shit out before purchasing the free or .99 cent book. In our world today everyone thinks they are entitled to tell you how to live your life and how to speak. As Eve would say, “BITE ME.” You take as long as you need to kick as many asses and you can and stand up for those that don’t have the voice and platform you have.
Thank you very much from a poor ass reader that is battling cancer for the 2nd time in three years, that had to sell her home and move back to mom and dads at 42 to try and get out a debt. I find a way to feed my addiction, so can the rest of the world.
Hear hear and good luck, Amy!
Bless you. I am so very sorry for your battle ??? be with cancer.
Just knowing how hard it is for you right now that your back living with your parents to keep expenses down and get out of debt and you still manage to buy your books is so admirable.
If you can do it every one else can do it too. Hugs, Beth Reed
Unfortunately, there will always be those folks that think something is terrible, except where it affects what they want to do. Ethics have just flat gone out the window anymore; students on a university campus don’t understand why they can’t go ahead & purchase that paper & turn it in under their own name; their folks have taught them to get ahead as easily as possible, forget that 10 commandments thing & that golden rule; they don’t really apply to their little darling. I think I may have mixed pronouns in there, but hopefully the meaning is there.
Don’t let them get to you, Nora! I appreciate you doing what you can; even if it takes time away from your own writing. But don’t let it take time away from that new grandbaby!
As any retail worker, served, customer service agent, or childcare worker will tell you, it’s not the “little darlings” who are self-righteous about maintaining their privilege. It’s *almost entirely* the parents and grandparents who have never had to work theee jobs, who get to retire at 60, who take a vacation every year or two. They’re the ones who don’t understand IP law, who are fine with just tapping a button on the iPad their grandkids set up without looking into the provenance of the purchase, and who straight-up refuse to discuss why certain unfair systems should change, MUST change, because those systems have always been ones that serve them. If you can find me quantifiable evidence that college kids and young adults and teenagers are even the slight majority supporting this plagiarism system, I would dearly love to see it.
You go, Girl! I am SO furious that you have to take time out for the amazing writing and creating you do to stop this thievery! You know the spirit of Eve Dallas in you is telling you to kick their asses! We loyal readers are all with you!
And, *mic drop*. Nora, I admire you standing up for yourself and for your fellow authors. AND for readers who want quality and to know that what they are reading is original. Though we weren’t rich, my parents always taught me quality over quantity. Purchasing a hardcover title of yours has always been something I look forward to and I appreciate that you know the value of your work. It’s why I used to save up to buy said hardcovers, and I consider myself so fortunate that I don’t have to ‘save up’ anymore; but it doesn’t take away the treat of having a quality book. Thanks for doing what you do and for standing up for what’s right!
I Love you. Your writing. Your ability to share. Your principles. Thank you for being you. Thank you for bringing an issue to my attention of which I was not aware. Just Thank You.
I love you Nora. You are the true heroine. The spirit of Eve is you. Thank you for leading this fight You can count on me
I have a kobo book and i can’t have the cheap as intried to read some of the frees but the story line isn’t detailed or it has no structure so on my kobo i have some of the ohurleys and the donovan as i cant find them in store and i bought them at 9.99$ Canadian but When i see a book and an author i love to read i either buy it hardcover or paper back Thank you for authors who writes stories to entertain us and Nora i am a Huge Fan i have all your books except Hidden Riches and your J.D books
It is a shame that this is happening i do hope you continue with your great words on a page to fill us with exceptionnel stories.
Nora, I just have to say: your passion, your honesty, your work ethic – all of these make you MORE of, not less of, a role model for other writers. Those of us who have the privilege of reading your blog get a glimpse of your dedication to your craft; we love the fun soup-making, the yearly purging, and – so funny! – the spa week with the gal pals ( which I am pretty sure inspired the game night at Del and Parker’s beach house), the NYC shopping trips, the wonderful vacations – we LOVE these glimpses into your life, but we also see your dedication to the discipline of writing, and the wonderful results of this that give us the stories that we cherish and that made possible those fun things mentioned above. I have many adjectives in mind when I think of you, but today, the word is “principled.”
This is me, standing up, clapping, and yelling I LOVE YOU.
I am also a voracious reader. I do read some of the kindle unlimited books. But, I have every book that you and Krentz, Howard, Stewart, Garfield, McNaught, Seyton, etc wrote on my Kindle. Which, I have had to buy twice. (I moved into senior housing and couldn’t take my hardbacks). It has never bothered me to pay for those books. They are old friends that I visit with. DO NOT give up the fight. Your true readers are with you all the way and we can tell how hard you work. Thank you all the hours of total enjoyment.
Makes me mad that this has happened to you Nora and all of the other authors. I do read a lot. I normally but my books at Barnes n noble. Recently started a kindle on my phone. You can bet I’m going to be watching what I down load if I download anything going forward. Thanks for being on top of this for everyone involved.
And if I read anything that sounds familiar I will report it to Laura.
Thanks Nora and team.
Go Nora!! I love that you are setting people straight. Or as people have said “kicking ass and taking names”.
I will admit that I have not researched the authors when I downloaded a free book from amazon, Kobo or Kindle in the past, but I will be from now on.
As a voracious reader who has worked in UBS’s and libraries, hear hear to those wonderful places that offer cheap books. Even in the UBS, people would complain about the cost of books, “I got it cheaper at Goodwill”. *sigh*.
I buy and what I don’t keep I donate. I’ve seen wonderful authors move on because their publishing houses went out of business and they couldn’t afford to self publish. It’s frustrating.
Thank you for pushing back. Nora.
I’m with you all the way Nora. Thanks so much for sticking up not just for yourself but for the other authors who don’t have your voice and the power that you’re able to wield. I’m definitely reviewing my own practice on how I buy my books. I use bookbub to introduce me to new authors without my spending lots of money. I’m going to start researching the authors first.
Thanks again for your fabulous writing and for sticking up for what’s right, it’s never an easy decision to make.
@Mireille Hay – just FYI, BookBub is great at weeding out the scammers and fraudsters. If you’re picking up a book from BookBub, don’t worry that it’s actually a plagiarized book. It isn’t. Only legitimate and ethical authors get promoted in BookBub. 🙂 So don’t let that worry you!
Nora, you go, girl! Sure, some folks are going to get their panties in a wad! They have probably fed into this practice. Don’t sweat it! Haters gonna hate! We love your fighting spirit against this corrupt system. It’s hurting all legitimate authors and those that are trying to be.
Once, I was reading a new author and I could have sworn I had read the chapter before. I looked and checked the book again, to be sure I had not read it before. Now, I’m wondering if it was one of these plagiarized books! It infuriates me as a reader! If I want to invest my time to read a book, I expect better from the author. As of now, I have narrowed my field of authors to a dozen or less. Yes, It’s hard to wait for the next book; That’s why I am so thankful for your many series, which I have reread over and over while waiting.
We, your faithful readers, stand behind you and support your valiant efforts to right this wrong. Go get them!!!!
Until I happened across your blog, I had no idea this was happening. I knew about the syndicate writers. At least I think that is what they were called. The writers that wrote the Nancy Drew mysteries, the Hardy Boys mysteries, the Cherry Ames books. My understanding of them was they were given the outline for the book and some specific guidelines to follow. They weren’t plagiarizing. I think some of the Cozy Mystery series books are like that. I appreciate your educating us, and I will be more careful.
syndicate books such as the ones you listed are a different thing altogether. The beef here is these $5 ghost writers and the “authors” who hire them to “complete” their books.
I read the Cherry Ames books about 50 years ago, when a book was a book. I think those books, as well as Enid Blytons, the Anne books, Little Women, etc , some written to a formula & others not started so many of us on our reading journey. We then ventured into other authors in the school library & then the town library & then to buying our own books. The only authors that I get all the new books from are JD Robb & Nora Roberts. There are some other authors I like but don’t necessarily buy & keep. My Nora Roberts do the rounds of friends who haven’t read her before, don’t collect books or can’t necessarily afford to buy every new book.
I didn’t think anyone can beat the system, but if there’s one person capable to do it, it’s you, Nora. Take them down!
Keep up the fight! I believe in paying for an author’s (or songwriter’s/singer’s) hard work.
I like what you said about an author using the 99 cent book to get people interested in an older series, to try them out. I’ve gotten hooked into several series that way and paid full price for each subsequent book in the series. It’s a great way to get new readers.
That said, I look closely now at any 99 cent book, check out the author and see what he/she has published. Another good source to vet a cheap book – the reviews. If multiple people are complaining about grammatical errors, then I avoid them because it’s probably because the books were rushed and thrown together.
You got me hooked in the 80s as Nora Roberts and your romances, but then I discovered JD Robb and the In Death series. I am going to try to get up to Boonsboro (I live in southern MD) for the next signing closest to the next In Death release.
If you are going up to Boonsboro read the series again before you go & then reread it when you get home. I went there in September last year with my husband & oldest daughter. We slept in Elizabeth & Darcy, & our daughter stayed in Jane & Rochester. She even turned the fire on, aircon down & snuggled into bed watching the video. The breakfasts were Devine & the pair of them enjoyed the whiskey & chess in the library. A long way from Australia, but close enough to NY where our daughter lives. It’s definitely on our agenda again for our next trip!
Nora ,I applaud you for trying to help other authors who were affected by this mess. I love your work, Both under Nora and JD Robb. You’re a great person to try and bring attention to this issue to help fellow authors when you don’t have to, or need to. Your work speaks for itself and is always worth the wait, which actually isn’t as long as some authors. It’s not that I’m complaining or mind waiting I know a good story takes time and effort to write. As for free and cheep books yes their nice but I also understand stand the need to do a quick look at the author or at least the reviews, and am always suspicious of a e-book that’s supposedly a top 100 selling book with 0 reviews and not many others listed on the authors page. Anyway keep up the good work. You are truly a great person & Author.
Oh hell no ! Take em down ! Lock stock & barrel !! I stand with you and the side of right ! I am not anywhere-near rich and have to budget my addiction to ! This has to be addressed and dealt with ! A long time fan in support of you !
You do you Nora!! If you don’t fight, who will? I was a single parent, when I “discovered” you. I’ve always loved books, but couldn’t afford new. So, I found you at a garage sale. A ratted, well used book, with In Death in the title. I. Feel. In. Love! Just keep doing you Nora. Anyone against you is either jealous or uneducated.
I have 25+ authors that I purchase through B&N with my tablet. Most of them I watch for release dates and pre order. If I want to try other authors I go through our library and check out the books. But I have tried Amazon and think it is a difficult system to use so after the first couple times I quit. When Loveswept first came out I purchased each and every one finding great authors to follow but I did find one that had published the exact same book as another author previous year never trusted that author again. I think if an author can’t come up with an original premise that they aren’t a very good author and should find another line of work.
You go! I have been a fan of yours forever it seems. I’ve built my collection of books over years. I admire that you are using your voice! Keep it up. If we can’t afford a book, a library card is free! Please keep sticking up for me, and all the other me’s out there. Thank you.
If people want to read a lot and not spend a lot of money- use your local library. You can even get EPub books on your e device from the library.
I am glad that Nora stands up for authors who do things the right way as I have a friend whi has self published a trilogy and I see what she has to do to get her books seen. She also has a full time job, kids in college and other responsibilities.
Keep fighting the good fight Nora.
Nora, You’re one of hardest working authors I had the pleasure to meet at a MARA dinner many moons ago. Your work is excellent and I enjoy every word. I’ll keep buying your books just for that reason. (Besides the fact that your nice to those trying to get started in the business.) People, you know the ones, who rip off the real writers should be dealt with accordingly. Keep fighting the good fight. Expose those idiots for what they are doing.
I am a voracious reader; I’ve taken out twenty romance novels at a time from the library. I’ve read great books and crappy books, and I’ve got to tell you there is nothing like the joy of reading a really great, well crafted book that pulls you into the story and makes you sorry when the book ends. I own books that I read over and over just for that pleasure. That is the feeling you should get from reading a book– that’s why it is important to support authors that have put their heart and soul, a piece of themselves into a book. It also is such a joy to watch an author mature and blossom in their craft, in their art. I consider a book purchase an investment, not only in the book itself, but in the author continuing to hone her craft and enhance her art (and yes, maybe to inspire others who are just starting out). Keep speaking out, Nora.
I can never understand those people who place their actions on the cost of a good, favored book. For many years my local library was my book source, as well as garage sales, etc. Heavens, I was working two jobs to take care of my family’s needs. I always knew that pay for the author was dimminished, but no cheating was utilized. Continue to educate us, Nora, on the underbelly of this scam against authors.
Get ’em, Nora! My motto is “So many books, so little time”. I love yours, love Craig Johnson, love writers who only write one book per decade, but I CAN’T do it and so admire those who can.
These days everything has to be instant–“just add water”–no flavor, whether it is soup or stories. There are books on every subject out there–read those–expand your horizons beyond a specific genre. I await further ass-kicking!
100% with you Nora. “imaginary staff has lifetime off”. *snort*
I’m not surprised that you’ve taken up the mantle on behalf of everyone else from your – haha – mansion – over the years I’ve seen you speak up for others as well as for yourself. I am still surprised that anyone would ever question your values or your motives after 200 +++ books over several decades of hard work. This is not a game and it’s not for the lazy asses who think the best way to make a quick buck (or many quick bucks) is to steal from someone else. And for people who don’t think it’s a big deal – it’s criminal. What’s not a big deal about that? (And on another note, I shared your prior post on my FB page without thinking I should ask you first if that would be okay. I get carried away when I get really pissed off, so I apologize.)
Thank you for all you do. Writing is an art. You are an artist. You should be paid for your art. Plagiarism is theft. Plain and simple.
I have been buying your books since the early 80s, and love them. I appreciate knowing about this issue, and I will be more careful about those inexpensive books in the future. I do preorder my favorite author’s books, and pay full retail for them.
I fear that yours is the fight of the Lord of Sancho against the mills, except that in your case they are rather pirates of blood and bone. As a reader I wonder how I can help you.
It completely blows my mind how “people” have the audacity to behave in such a way towards you, or anyone else for that matter. Here you are championing not only yourself but others who may have no clue they are being taken advantage off.
Thank you for being the person you are, and thank you for the wonderful books you create.
Nora, I completely agree with your stance on this. Authors should be paid for their work and creativity. Authors paint with words and give the reader, not only the background, but the characee’s thoughts as well. I do read ebooks because it is easier in my hands but I willingly pay for what I read. Keep fighting for what is right. I, for one, support your efforts.
I understand and respect your views. I already told Laura about one book that stole (IMO) Roarke. Do you consider ARC”s begging? I receive free books for honest reviews on Amazon. And they aren’t always positive. I’ve been guilty of the crime of asking for an ARC of your In Death books, simply because I want to see what happens next! You write such excellent work, are you really surprising that readers want more, faster?? Keep fighting for us all!
I have a question, is this the free and cheap books that are available on Bookbub? Unfortunately if so then I am guilty…because I will read a free book to see if I like the work then I will purchase the rest of the series for my Kobo…however there are three authors that are never purchased for Kobo and you are one of them…must have my books…hoping that they have saved all my Nora and JD Robb books from our house fire as I had every book she has written…been collecting since the 70’s…keep up the good fight and will try and change my kobo shopping habits.
BookBub is fine – they curate that site. Authors who offer books cheap or free via BookBub do so for the exact reason you state – they hope you’ll get hooked and buy more.
Bookbub books are generally special one sales or freebies, used to promote a new release or help boost the series in general. These aren’t the same thing as a scammer who uses clickfarms, etc.
I have seen the scammers use the clickable targeted ads on the bottom of the Bookbub emails. But certainly not all of them. In fact, there was a time about 8 months ago, when I was sure no one else was advertising on BB, because that was the only ad I saw. They have massive ad budgets. 🙁
@Kari Trumbo – the ads at the bottom of the email are a different beast, totally. They are not vetted by BookBub. The author themselves are, but once an author is approved for an advertising account, they can advertise any book they want. So those bottom ads are NOT the same as the main books – you’re 100% correct there.
And you’re also, sadly, 100% correct about the scammers having large budgets. Why wouldn’t they, since they’re paying so little to put out a book? Their overhead is stupidly low.
But, like you noted in your post, the vast majority of the ads at the bottom of the BookBub emails are NOT scams. I use that spot to advertise my books all the time. But it’s true that it isn’t vetted like the main books are. ❤️ So, bottom line: Be more careful with those books but don’t discount them out of hand simply because they’re down at the bottom.
I’m talking specifically about the books that BB uses to send out in their daily mailings. They are picky as hell for those. You have to have so many reviews and I think they dig beyond that as well.
They want quality books.
The pay per clicks are different, but they don’t get as much attention either.
Thank you Shiloh!
@Wendy O’Leary – Nope, not at all! I said this earlier in the comment section, but BookBub is a totally legit website, and they make sure that the authors who are promoted and the books that are chosen are totally legit. If you’re finding a book in a BookBub, it is not a scam; it is not plagiarized. Period.
So don’t let this change your buying habits! And *high five* for buying on Kobo. As an indie author, I can definitively say that Kobo is actually the best eBookstore out there in terms of working with the authors. They are an awesome company.
So keep doing what you’re doing! 😀
Thank you Erin…I am glad to hear this.
I am so effing mad about all of this; the scams, the horrible system, the criticism, the plagiarism. I’m a voracious reader and a girl on a budget…..LIBRARY!! (And thank you for not shaming library patrons!) But I’ve bought every Nora and JD book, even if it meant some creative financial juggling. I am so proud of you I could burst! I’m sure as the legal stuff progresses, you won’t be able to tell us everything, but I’ll look at the 3 bookcases in my living room of your books and know your wrath and integrity are hard at it. I hope someday we can get a blow-by-blow, word-by-word account of how you kicked ass! Here’s my unsolicited advice: Light ’em up Nora!!
I love a great book at a good price. The last few years as a single mom has been a struggle. Yet I value quality and love my favorite authors. If I can’t find it at a used book store, I look at the library. I currently have a list of books I want to read that when we get to the library, I check there. I appreciate that you are fighting for what is right and I will do my part!Thank you for caring enough to fight the fight!
Nora thank you for taking a stand and fighting for all of us. I’m am honored more and more with every post to make to say I am a fellow author. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. A
I’m with you, both as a self-published author and a voracious romance reader. Thanks for taking up the cause for us.
Again, my admiration for you grows exponentially with each of your blog posts! I could not agree with you more.
We would not be in this situation were it not for the unscrupulous publishers (I can NOT call them authors) who use dozens of ghostwriters to feed the beast. They’re rewarded with these rapid releases by Amazon’s algorithms. They’re rewarded for cheating the system, earning huge payouts, and earning the KU bonuses. Amazon used to post those ‘All Star Winners’. But when #TiffanyGate blew up, they stopped.
There are readers who want all books to be free. I ignore them.
As for the readers who support these ‘ghostwriter publishers’ they might not be as high in number as we are lead to believe. You can go to any social media page and ask: Have you heard of authors A, B, C, D, E, F (names pulled from the top 100 in Historical Romance) and you will get a resounding “No. Who are they?” I did this last summer. 99% of the 1,000+ readers all said the same thing: they’d never heard of them.
Many of these unscrupulous thieves/publishers are using click farms. It is the only thing that makes a lick of sense right now. We’re working diligently to try to figure that part of the equation out.
There are also numerous closed/secret groups on FB that, for a price, will teach you how to earn a Six Figure Income at Amazon and you never have to write the book. They will teach you how to game Amazon’s system. They will teach you all you want to know about cheating.
Please, do NOT sit down. Please do NOT be quiet. Many of us have been fighting these very issues for a year now. We are exceedingly grateful to have you in our corner.
Totally! Couldn’t have said it better, Nora and Suzan. Thank you to both of you for leading the fight against this. <3
My take, at this point, is many trying to self-pub–not scamming, but trying to self-pub–don’t want the boat rocked too much if it the waves splash up on them.
And when someone like me decides to rock the boat hard, they’d just as soon I jump overboard.
Even if they acknowledge the boar’s full of holes, they’d rather keep bailing it out.
If it keeps up with the name-calling, the insults, the swipes, I swim really well, and I can make it to shore, no problem.
Nora, I have been self publishing for the last eight years and I stand behind you 100 percent. Let the chips fall where they may ( I’m not making any money anyway) I just like to tell stories. By the way I’ve never read a Nora Roberts’ book that I didn’t like and I’ve never read aJ.D. Robb book that I didn’t love.
The thing is that the scammers – and their very effective PA’s have befriended swathes of self- pub authors over the past few years and enticed them into newsletter swaps and cross-promotion in a ‘you scratch my back with promotion, I’ll scratch yours’ game. A lot of the self-publishers didn’t have a clue that they were promoting scammer books or that they have associated themselves with ‘names’ not people.
The self-published authors who are saying ‘tackle the scammers but don’t let it affect me’ are doing so because they feel indebted to the scammers for helping with their sales/success. They have become co-dependent and rely on those ‘successful’ yet scammy author/marketer links to push their releases.
These authors have a choice to make. Do they want to level the playing field or do they want to continue networking with unscrupulous marketers who are gaming the system?
Nora, please keep kicking ass!
What I see is they made their choice. I can’t and won’t fight for people who attack from the inside. You can’t win the war when you’re so divided internally. The indie world isn’t my world, but this is becoming very clear to me.
The plagiarism drama–that was and is one thing. But there are so many who don’t want to admit the flaws that allowed it if those flaws reflect back on them.
That’s a big problem inside the indie world, as I see it from the outside.
That is a big problem in the indie world, as I see it from the inside. It’s not been easy making the transition from traditionally published to hybrid. More and more of us have done this as publishing houses closed. Three of the five small houses I was with closed. Republishing the back list on my own should have been a good thing, but it’s like a damn minefield out there as sales fluctuate all over. Get going good in one direction and bam else something blows. I’ve learned that each path has good and bad and gives different lessons. But one thing I’ve seen in common on each path is that some authors want to reach their goals the fast and easy way and they don’t want to hear it might require blood, sweat and tears. Hard work is not in their work ethic. There is a hell of a lot of adapting and adjusting an author must make to have a long career as an author and it’s a damn shame when other authors (or those pretending to be) are the ones laying the land mines. When they blow I get mad twice. First, for the thing that blew and second, for the time it steals away from our writing. Writing time is precious. It can be difficult to write when things blow up. Two things that bolster my spirits when things seem dire, are knowing there are authors who care about their fellow authors and who are willing to do something to help. The gift of your time addressing these matters is valuable and precious and I thank you for it. The second is our readers who support us and who just want to read a good story. I thank them too. God knows there have been days when that is what got me through a major illness and deaths in the family as I tried to keep pressing on in this writing path. Thank you again Nora, for words both strong and true.
This. Absolutely this. As a reader, I get some of those emails to try and keep up. I see newer but reputable author’s books in them and wonder how in the world this happened! We all have to be our own watchdog.
Thank you, Ms. Roberts, for taking on something you didn’t have to that can benefit us unknowns trying to learn the craft and publishing honestly. Your time is valuable but your voice is the loudest and, therefore, can be heard. Thank you
Please, please don’t jump ship, Ms. Roberts! I’ve been struggling for several years as an author because of the rapid decline of the market due to the boom of the self-publishing industry. As soon as authors were able to control their prices, they dropped them to 99-cents in order to draw the reader away from traditionally pubbed authors who had no control over their pricing. Why would a reader pay $3, $4, or more for an ebook when this one is less than a buck? And oh look! Here’s an anthology of 20 books by different authors for only 99-cents! This then forced authors to get creative with promoting to try and draw in new readers so a huge trend started where authors would band together in large groups to offer 100 free books in exchange for signing up for a newsletter or sometimes without needing to do anything. But this only hurt us even more. We were literally cannibalizing ourselves bc if a reader has dozens and dozens of free books on their tablet, why the hell would they go out and spend money on more?!
I’ve recently left my publisher (for unrelated reasons) and now I’m attempting to make a living self-publishing. I’ve decided to try KU because I know several legitimate authors who do very well in it. But you have to build up a backlist and you have to release every 2-3 months to do well. This is hard for me bc I’m a slow writer but I need to do well with this series so I’m killing myself and hardly spending time with my family just so I can make this happen. I keep telling myself “just one year, work yourself into the ground for one year and hopefully it pays off enough that you can lighten your schedule next year.” But it’s only February and I’m already exhausted. I don’t know how long I can keep this pace up. I can’t compete with the “authors” rapid releasing and using click farms and pricing their books at 99-cents and Free. I have one book I priced at 99-cents in an attempt to draw new readers to me who will hopefully buy my regular priced books but that means I have to think of that book as a “throwaway” book bc I don’t make any money on it. And that makes me sad bc I love that book. I put my heart into that book the same as all my others. It’s even more special to me bc it’s based on my little sister’s real life love story. But I have to treat it like the red headed stepchild that doesn’t deserve to be priced at a whole $2.99.
I’m tired, Ms. Roberts. So many of us are tired. When my friends and I started in this industry 6 and 7ish years ago (long after you’d established your reign as queen) we were making good livings. We were able to write full time without side jobs (which I now have to have to make ends meet) and it was perfectly acceptable to release one or two books a year. Hell, it was expected! Now if we release 4 or 5 a year, we’re considered SLOW. We can’t keep up. We care about our writing, we love our stories and our characters and our words. It goes against everything we believe in to just vomit onto the page and slap something out there for the sole purpose of making money.
So please don’t jump ship. Those of us who want nothing more than to write amazing stories for people who love to read, who love to get lost in our worlds…we need you. We need your voice and your platform and your passion for writerly justice. And I’d venture there’s a lot more of US who will follow you into battle than the ones who don’t want the boat rocked.
Gina L. Maxwell
Hey Gina! *waving* Have you thought about going wide? It’s actually more forgiving of a slower release schedule than being in KU is. KU virtually requires a high output in order to get any visibility, whereas wide favors the slower author. Also, being wide means you’re much, much, much more likely to get a BookBub, which is fantastic way of growing your career.
Just a thought. <3
Erin I am not in the business, just a voracious reader. What is wide? Is it another place to buy books? If so, how do I get to it?
Hi Erin, thanks for your sweet comment, and yes I thought about it. 🙂 (Mickey, “wide” means releasing across all platforms—Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, etc. as opposed to only Amazon through the KU program.) I’ve been wide for the last 6 years and I’ve watched my sales decrease more and more every year, and that was WITH the marketing backing of a publisher. That’s WITH an already huge fan base bc my debut book in 2012 hit the NYT & USA Today lists in under 4 weeks (I’m not trying to brag, I’m just trying to offer context for the kind of career I started with vs what it’s devolved to due to the extreme change in the market over the last several years). The problem isn’t the books, and I don’t say that from blind arrogance, I’m basing it off of reviews (readers have no issues telling us if a book wasn’t for them and the reviews will reflect that). The problem wasn’t a lack of marketing bc again, I had a publisher who gave me a ton of it over the years. I have an average of 2 BookBub 99¢ promotions a year on different books in my backlist, and yes, they’re great. They give that book a short boost in sales, and even though I’m taking a huge hit on the royalties (bc now I’m making only about 20¢ per book) the hope is that it gives me new readers who enjoy my writing enough to buy my other full priced books. The problem is that it’s a bandaid on a gun shot wound, and Amazon is making it impossible to be seen unless you play their KU game. Is it bullshit? Absolutely. Do I like being in KU and essentially shunning my readers who purchase books on other platforms? Hell no. (I make up for it by offering those readers a spot on my ARC Team. That way they’re getting a free book and I’m getting an honest review.) But Amazon has cornered the digital market and we can’t afford to ignore their power out of spite. At least I can’t. I went from making 6 figures 6 years ago to last year making less then what I would get at Walmart full time. And it’s because releasing 1-2 books a year now DOES. NOT. CUT. IT. And it’s because KU has taken over. And it’s because the market is glutted with free and 99¢ books and anthologies. We simply CANNOT get ahead if we play by the old rules. Believe me. We’ve been trying. I’m at the point where if I can’t make something happen in the next year, I can’t viably look my husband in the eyes and tell him that I still want to be an author despite the fact I’m bringing home less than I would with a full time job literally anywhere else. Bc at least that job will have set hours which means I can actually spend time with my family instead of killing myself all day and all night at the keyboard just to try and get ahead. But I DON’T WANT to give up writing. It took me years to find my dream job, something I’m good at, something I’m passionate about, something that allows me to touch others’ hearts like so many of my favorite authors have touched mine. But like I said, unless I can make something happen within this next year—something that resembles a reasonable and financially stable income—I’ll be forced to quit. So I’m trying KU. You’re right, it’s NOT forgiving for the slow writer, which I am. It feeds off of a large series backlist with regular releases. I know this, which is why I have to try. I hate that I have to play by Amazon’s rules in order to TRY to get ahead in this market, but I personally have no other choice at this point. Something’s got to give. And this is why I’m all for Nora rocking this boat. If she rocked it so hard that KU was killed off, I wouldn’t care. I’ll happily go back to releasing wide. But even if she rocks it just hard enough to force Amazon into policing their books and their “authors”, imagine how much JUNK would be gone. It’d be like killing all the weeds choking the garden and all we’d have left are the beautiful flowers. Wouldn’t that be amazing? I think so. 🙂
Please rock the boat. If I get splashed as a result, I’ll deal, especially if it means a more level playing field for legit authors in the long run. <3
You totally rock! I’ve admired (and purchased) your work since the beginning and I’m proud as heck to stand in your corner. If you need help, not that I can do much, I’m here for you.
Nora, I’m so sorry to read you’ve gotten blow-back from some self-published authors because a rotten fool-bot plagiarized your books, and you let us know about it. I appreciate you letting us know. I appreciate you not only taking a stand for your books, but taking a stand for others. One would think that legitimate authors and Amazon would have a vested interest in stamping out plagiarism and these other scams that result in dishonest, shoddy books. These scams hurt readers, writers, anyone who cares about the written word and good stories.
I started querying agents and publishers before I graduated from college, back in the days when that was the only legitimate option if you wanted to publish a novel. I got a few nibbles, even some pretty good bites, but no firm offers. One fairly well-known agent even told me that fantasy romance wasn’t a legitimate genre–a year before Harlequin started its Luna line. I remember laughing at that letter when I read over it later. After about seven years of this, I finished the second book in my first series after a substantial rewrite and realized I had something. Around this time, I entered the Amazon Breakout Novel Award, which led me to CreateSpace.
A year or so after discovering CreateSpace, I had a really bad day at my job, came home mad, and said to myself, “I’ve had it–I’m publishing my first book this weekend.” That was 2010, and it’s been a mostly wonderful ride ever since.
There have definitely been some bumps though. Although I appreciate the opportunities Amazon, Smashwords, etc., have given authors like me, I, like many others, have noticed some holes in the boat over the years, particularly the last several years. For instance, in 2012, my sales and many others dropped dramatically and suddenly–I noticed that my books no longer showed up in the also-boughts on several other book pages where they had showed up before. Another writer explained that Amazon had changed some algorithms. Still not sure if that was the case, but it certainly seemed that way. My visibility changed overnight for some reason. Anyway, I refused after that to depend solely on Amazon and made sure my books were available on a wide variety of platforms. I just did a free run with the first book in my series, but I think a lot of people now download a lot of free books and never read them, so I’m not going that route again. It’s not worth it. I was considering trying KU for my next book as an experiment, but I’m seriously reconsidering that now after reading your posts.
I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate you calling out the wrong-doers and pointing out the holes in the system.
I don’t care if we tip over the damned boat. We’ve been fighting this nonsense for a very long while. Life isn’t fair, but it should be equitable. Nothing about the scammers is equitable.
All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing. If we don’t continue to stand our ground the scammers win.
Thank you for being the voice of reason in this insanity.
What SHE said!
Keep up the fight. I am a voracious reader in that I read all day long and up to bedtime due to health issues I’m either on the couch or in bed. I know it takes time for a good book to be written. That’s why most of us have more than one author we love so while we’re waiting on you I just read someone else or reread you. I have a nook so I didn’t even know what this KU was until you mentioned it. Your faithful readers support you.
Since I was in elementary school, I have been a reader. One of my earliest memories is getting caught reading a historical novel (the sexy kind, lol) I was 9. Voracious? Lol, I can tell you verbatim what everything in my house says, shampoo, paint cans, coffee bags, cookie boxes, etc… I read EVERYTHING. My oldest takes after me, she tried for ages to get me to read on those free or discounted sites. I refuse. I told her the only one I might be willing to read was the fan fiction site. I don’t, because it feels different, like the story being told from a different perspective, trying to match. Which is exactly what it is. Not a single time, have I glanced at what she was reading there and seen anything other than what it is. Not one of those writers are pretending, they take the idea from the author, but they try to create their own from there. I am the quintessential broke reader. I make less than $1,000 a month and it goes to bills. Christmas is me literally going without a phone every other month to afford it. I don’t drive, library is out of the question. I do occasionally buy used books, I feel badly, but I know they were paid for, it’s almost like when I lend my books to friends. I DO NOT EVER read from the free or almost free sites. I never have. I knew there was no way they would be sustainable without screwing a lot of people (plagerism, ghost writers, lack of cohesion) I don’t see how anyone can possibly try to defend these. Honestly, there is no way to defend them, they need to stop. Thank you, Nora/JD, for fighting this. Please, please know that there are those of us that won’t comment as often, or as strongly, that have your back. You are doing a good thing. Also, I hope you don’t let the venom and negativity get to you. This is a good thing that you are doing. Thank you.
I am from Romania and for your books I make sacrifices to have them it is a gift I make for me and although I can not afford to buy immediately after the appearance and some books are not translated and are thus much more expensive, yet I have it all by 2017.
I better reread a book of yours that produces emotion every time .. to the next purchase than to read anything anyway. Not everybody is buying nonsense.
I’m so over all the people who feel entitled.
No one has the right to ask anyone to work for free. No one is forcing anyone to buy and read your books or any other authors. And, if any of those complaining had people walk into their jobs, (or their partners), and tell them they had to work faster and would be paid pennies on the dollar they would be the ones yelling the loudest. You have been very clear on who is to blame for this massive scam. Those that cann’t or won’t read it correctly or accept it have some kind of dog in the fight. Their minds are closed even as their complaints keep coming. If nothing else it gives a forewarning of who they are. You are fighting the good fight. Let the bottom feeders fall further to the bottom by their own words and know that the vast majority of us understand you have zero reasons to explain to them. Thank you for your hard work writing stories that take me out of my world and into others and for standing up for the rights of others who also write them.
Stay the course, keep the faith?❤❤
You are my hero!
You have my utmost respect for your stand on this issue. Its awful that you feel the need push aside your writing to do this, but you are the one in the position to actually make a difference, and so thank goodness you feel as you do!
As readers, of course we want fast and more. We fall in love with characters and stories, and its hard to wait for the next book. Those of us that read quickly, and read a lot, are always searching for the next book. Budgets may be tight, but authors deserve to get paid for their work. Its up to us, as readers, to support legitimate authors. Scammers hurt everyone.
Thank you Nora, for everything you are doing. This issue, and your stance on it, just reinforces why you are one of my favorite authors of all time.
I feel like who is making the most money on this ultimately is Jeff Besos & Amazon. He has so much power & money, I think the onus is on him to put a stop to it, and if not he needs to be held accountable.
Can legit writers sue the ereader companies for offering these other books for sale or for free? I support all your efforts Nora. When I see an article like this from you, I share it on Facebook. Hopefully this will get the word out so that people will quit supporting these thieves
I’m behind you 100% Nora. Keep up the good work. I never realized how many crooks ate in the industry. I’m very careful now about where I buy my books, especially the ones I buy for my kindle.
Stand for what you believe in…so sorry that this has taken so much of your time…when you can be doing what you enjoy most, writing books for us to read. I am grateful for all of the information you have been posting about how the publishing of books has changed…the good, the bad and the ugly. So glad that you are addressing all of this head on!
Plagiarism is just someone being lazy! Keep fighting for the honest writers! I love your books! Just recently moved across country, and I made sure all my Nora and JD books were packed on the truck. (They got left behind the first move across country!) I have my kindle, very rarely use the unlimited, but you can bet I have a good portion of my Nora and JD books on there. My husband complains because I have both kindle and book form of many. I told him that I have the actual book for the times when I can’t get to my kindle or I just haven’t bought the book on there yet. Some of those books have been bought multiple times over the years!
You go, you go, you go, Nora. How terrible for people who cheat or enjoy the benefits of cheating to go after you. How dare they. God bless you through this fight and thank you very much.
My favorite author, my thoughts are you get what you pay for…. sad that there are others out there who want cheap + fast outputs ..It shows in quality of the work .
Do it all.
We get complacent in our own little bubbles. Want changes for the common good but aren’t so willing to feel the weight of those changes when they impact us.
I say punch through those protective bubbles and expose it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly—even if it means some of us won’t like what’s reflected back.
Do it all. And thank you for sticking your neck out.
Great fight Nora…….keep it up….Your faithful readers are standing with and behind you and always will. I once bought a couple of cheap books and as I was reading I thought to myself…”why are they talking about this town here, there is no such place” and realized that the entire book was made up of people, places and events…I totally detest a book I can’t relate to….
When I read your books I can actually close my eyes and put myself there…it’s amazing….KEEP UP THE WRITING!!! I so look forward to your new books….best of all…..the endings are always a total surprise….
I love you! In an admiring, respectful kick ass way. They’ve really poked the bear on this one. Go get’em girl!!!
I will smiling wait for your next book while you fight the good fight. Thank you for your integrity.
I’m one of the few self-published authors who is lucky enough to be able to make a living at self-publishing and I agree with what you’ve said 100 percent. Free books don’t help authors – they are added to someone’s ever-growing Kindle pile of TBR. I used to be able to win some of the Kindle Unlimited monthly prizes of most read book – but when the scammers and the plagiarists took over, there was no chance for someone who was honestly writing the best story they could. Amazon could fix this problem – but they have not had enough pressure from people who count. Most of us, no matter how successful in self-publishing, are like the Whos in “Horten Hears a Who.” We can complain and stomp and rant all we’d like, but it’s not going to change until we get a Horton who is willing to stand up for the rest of us. Someone people will notice. (Please understand that I am in no way comparing anything else other than the courage and determination of Horton with the lovely and petite Ms. Roberts.) But once Ms. Roberts takes the time to step up – she ought to have all of the rest of us at her back. There are ways this system can and should be changed – but right now, it’s not a priority to the folks at Amazon. With Ms. Roberts help, perhaps we can make it so. Slightly off topic – while I appreciated (very much) the post about plagiarism that began this discussion, I was troubled by some of the responses that started to throw other writers under the bus, accusing them of the same crime – but with no evidence that I could see. We need to be very careful because a misspelled name or an incorrect accusation could ruin a writer’s reputation and their livelihood. This is through no fault of the original post. Thank you, again, Ms. Roberts for your courage and determination to see this through. I know we are supposed to “write what we know” and through this last few posts – I see many of the strong, courageous, female characters in your books shining through in your actions.
I nodded the whole way through your comment, Terri. I too am a full-time indie author, and…yeah. I agree with every single thing you just said. Readers are upset and so are authors, but we need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.
But that aside, it means the world to me that someone like Nora Roberts has taken on this fight for herself, when she absolutely could’ve walked away. That says so much about her character. <3
I agree, Erin, it really does!
I am so sorry people are lashing out so fiercely against you but we all know why they are doing it. You are fighting the fight that needs to be fought. And you are saying what needs to be said! Thank you!
I read as much as I can when I can but I’m very selective with who I read. I read your books (Nora Roberts & JD Robb) and Kay Hooper, Heather Graham and a few others.
Keep on fighting the fight! The writer I reported called herself Nora L. Roberts and the trash she was selling was called Link. It was in February 2017.
Thank you for your stories
I stand with Nora! Not many of her ilk would be willing to go to battle for the lesser or unknowns. Go Nora. And if you need to put an army of soldiers together…Send out the call. You’ll have legions.
Please continue to go all in because the fight to get noticed is slowly killing me and you give me hope.
Your 1 or 2 book a year author.
You should never have to justify making an honest living to someone who’s acting like an entitled toddler. If someone wants to read more more more..there are thousands upon thousands of books to choose from. No one can rush art or talent and you have both in abundance. You’re doing the right thing by protecting your work. Let the rest of it sort itself out and don’t worry about the whiners.
I have no authorship skin in the game. That said, I respect every hard working author out there who sweats out a story. I’ve been in the book business for 23 years and this plagiarism and cheap hire-for-churn helps no one but the greedy slime that cheat and steal.
This issue has a wonderful champion in Nora and Courtney and every other author who stands up.
If people slap back at the integrity this takes, look in the mirror and think closely about how you would feel if someone stole your work and you’re money.
Yes! Thank you! I am an indie author—small time, though in 2010 when I started things looked promising—and I can’t imagine not wanting someone with the respect, resources, and clout of Nora Freaking Roberts (sorry, but that’s how her name always comes out in my head, like Wow, it’s her) to champion a cause that brings validity and fairness back to my industry.
I’m an indie romance author who’s been affected by scamming. I’ve lost visibility, sales, and readers to these fucking thieves. I barely made three figures last year. That’s how bad it is. These idiots have made the dream of supporting myself with writing an absolute impossibility.
It’s also killed a lot of the joy of writing, knowing that it’s a fight just for each book I release to earn its expenses back. And I publish on a shoestring!
I, for one, am SO grateful you’ve taken up this fight, Nora. We’ve made zero progress trying to do it on our own, even when we’ve attempted to band together and approach Amazon as a united front. I spoke with KDP people in person at RWA in Orlando, showed them exactly how the scammers were doing things, was promised action. And nothing happened. I showed them the scammer who’d been burying me for three months at that point, and making all my promo runs that summer accomplish absolutely nothing. I should’ve been #1 on my list, but I never cracked top 20 because of that damn scammer.
About the authors who are mad at you for taking swipes at them, they’re participating in the problem in some small way. They need to be held accountable too.
I’m behind you, no matter what! As a (VERY) low-level Indie who’s struggled to get some kind of notice for 10 years, it’s very disheartening to realize that as long as cheaters can game the weak system that’s in place, I will never do more than barely break even. I would love to be able to help my husband pay the bills with my writing, that’s all. I have no aspirations of greatness. But as long as cheaters are allowed to proliferate, even that aspiration is denied me. I will stand behind you, beside you, and in any capacity needed to help end this bullcrap!
Thank you for being one of those assuming the responsible adult role in this scandal and defending the ethics of the legitimate players.
You are right to be enraged — and many, many authors (and readers) support you, whether they tell you about it or not.
I don’t understand why any legitimate writer would be upset with you. I stand with you and appreciate everything you’re doing. ?
I would like to see the names of these scammers and authors that are ghosting books, so that I don’t inadvertently buy one. It is really hard to tell who they might be. Or is that a legal issue of slander. I buy lots of books and have bought some 99centers, although it usually is an intro gimmick..
I can symphathize with wanting more to read but people stealing from hard working authors is still stealing! I use the library, used book stores, goodwill, yard sales and just reread to satisfy my cravings. I am amazed and ecstatic if I get 2 books a year from a favorite author! Keep going Nora…
I couldn’t possibly admire you more, Nora. For you words and your insistence on meeting this issue head on. Your standing up for other writers and readers is admirable. As a reader, I respect your stand so much. The only thing that bothers me about all of this is that it takes away from your valuable writing time. But that is because I’m being selfish because I await each and every book you write like a long lost friend. Thank you Nora- you’re my hero!
Go Nora! For those who want cheap their is the Library! Liars and cheats need to be exposed and stopped. I read about 150 to 200 books a year and I don’t want to read something a ghostwriter has put together.
Thank you. I’ve been trying to find the words (and the time) to reply for three days. Because I am an author, with a day job, that has been difficult.
I fell in love with reading and writing because of Anne of Green Gables, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Judy Blume.
I rediscovered my love of reading after college with Harry Potter.
And then I found JD Robb. And OMG. Roarke is my original book crush (well, so’s Eve to be honest).
Your books inspired me. Showed me the type of writer I wanted to be. The type who writes about the difficult, dark issues with tact and taste, but with gritty, raw emotion as well.
I’m not with a publisher (other than my own small company). And to share a tiny bit of my story…
In 2013, when I started publishing, I had my first $1000 month within three months. I had 2 books out.
Now, I have 18. And my income has dropped to the point where I’ve started to wonder how long I can keep doing this. All because of this system that’s been created, this machine that is publishing, and particularly indie publishing these days.
I won’t rapid release. I care about my characters and my readers too much. They deserve my best work. But this system demands it.
Anyway, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. I just wanted to say thank you, again. To have someone with your reputation, skill, and passion speak out about these problems…it makes me (and I believe many other indie authors) feel like we’re not so alone.
You continue to be an inspiration to me, both on the page and off.
Nora, I am Jane. I’m the indie writer who wants so badly to be a writer for a living while I work the day job, drive the long commute, and raise a family. I’ve been working on the craft for a decade. All the while the landscape has changed so fast that fear is doing its best to kill my dream. And yet I can’t let it go. I continue to write and this year I will finally publish my first full length novel. And after reading these posts of yours, I have changed the way I’m going to publish. I can’t compete with ghost farms or even legit ghostwriters. Or even the legit indie writer who can write much faster than me. And I can’t afford to go cheap to compete. So I’m not. If it takes me longer to reach my goal, so be it.
All that said, please don’t quit the fight for the ones like me. I don’t have the voice you do and yours is a voice we need desperately. I’m not the only Jane out there. There are a lot of us and we need to be heard through the noise. And if it’s the voice of the person who made me want to be a romance writer in the first place, all the better.
Thanks for all you do for Romancelandia and literacy in general.
I had no idea this was going on. I get emails from ereader about specials and free books. I have so many on my kindle I dont get very many. Sometimes if I like a book I’ll buy more from that author. That happened last night. I bought the first 3 books in her series. I’m glad you’re not opposed to libraries and used book stores. When I retired I make use of both. That’s how I found you. Love your books and often preorder. I’m not into paperbooks. They’re a pain to store and it’s too hard to find a book I want to reread. Also I live an hour out of town and I don’t like waiting for a new book in the stores. Our mailman isn’t always dependable.
The funny thing about YOUR money (and imaginary mansion) is that you EARNED it from your work, dedication, merit, and tenacity. If you want to paint your imaginary mansion in pure gold and eat off of diamond encrusted plates, you go, girl.
My self-publishing story:
I’m an Amazon self-published writer. I am slow. I’ve put out six short stories and a novel in the last three years. The first short story–only 15,000 words–took me months to write, tweak, polish (yes, I still see its quirks and flaws). I wrote it when I came home at night from the most emotional job I have ever or will ever have. I came home at night and my writing was my joy.
I submitted it for traditional publishing, but it got lost on someone’s desk for a year. When I inquired to its status, I learned it was rejected. As there wasn’t much market for my short novella, that was it–or I could polish my HTML skills and take a shot at self-publishing. While I did, I continued to write.
I had two short stories ready to go when I published the first in November for $0.99 (only 15,000 words, I couldn’t gyp people). Amazing! I had a five-star review when I woke (OMG!!SQUEE!!) and over 30 sales in the first two weeks, thousands of pages read on KU–all with no advertising. To me, this was incredible!
My second I put out in December to good sales. I’d been working on a third that I managed to finish just in time for Christmas. December, January, and February, I worked on a final short story which I put out February.
I peaked at 16,500 on Amazon’s Author Rank (which is based on total sales) after those two months of steady sales. Then I started my novel, so there were no uploads, no releases. Sales declined a bit in April. By June, I’d dropped to 100,000 and I’ve been sitting at 250-300,000 ever since (with rare peaks).
I published my novel to minimal sales–I hadn’t advertised originally, it was my mistake (ignorance & hubris) to think that I needn’t this time. After all, my others sold immediately!
But, by this time, I was buried under my lack of production. I had, inadvertently, been a book mill for those first three months. Four $0.99 releases, one after the other.
In total, for the past three years of sales, I’ve made less than $1,000.
Again, thank you.
Oh, and your comment about Jane Smith spoke directly to me. 😉
I haven’t kept up with this stuff on a daily basis for a while. It just became too distracting from the work of writing and I try to do this full-time and it’s already a struggle. 🙂 But there are a lot of us out here that are 100% on your side, regardless of how much it rocks the boat. In my opinion, we’re probably a silent majority. Just got too fed up with keeping up with the latest scam and decided to focus on what we could actually do–which is do our best writing the next book. I haven’t read one of your books since your Silhouette days but I’m thinking it is definitely time to give your Eve Dallas books a try. 🙂
Thank you for being strong.
Keep fighting Nora!! I have gotten the “free” books occasionally on Amazon, but won’t bother anymore. I wasn’t aware that’s where a lot of the scammers get their readers. I remember reading about your original lawsuit about the plagiarism by Janet Dailey and I was stunned that a professional writer would do that to another. I totally support you!! Keep fighting! Every time a new book of yours is published I preorder if possible- I download my books to the cloud now so I can read on any device- so sometimes it won’t let me preorder until really close to publication date. I love your books – been reading you for many years.
I’m so naive that I never dreamt, stuff like this occurs, Shame on me. I was at a booki signing hers. such a nice person.
I am a newly self-published author and I say please keep rocking the boat Nora! Your book Three Fates inspired me to write my first novel and I love your work. Keep fighting for the honest readers and writers who really love the stories and the characters and the magic.
Libraries are wonderful and in need of “customers”. For those of you who only want to do digital – guess what? – your library can do that too! I doubt there is a more voracious reader than me, and I do check out books from KU occasionally; mainly to try new authors (or new to me). But as much as I would love to have a new book from my favorite author every week, it would be in a word, crap! I want the plot, characters, etc. to be well developed and gripping – why would you read it otherwise?! That will not happen in the span of a week, I don’t care how talented the author(s) – whomever they may be – are.
When I’m short on funds, I know I can always re-read one of the thousands of books I own until I can buy a new one or use the library system.
Nora is attempting to bring down a corrupt system, and unfortunately that may impact those on the fringe of the system. So I recommend you “get out now”. This is long overdue and Nora needs our support and any other help we can provide.
Don’t be discouraged Nora! You are doing the right thing and everyone – authors and readers – will be the ultimate beneficiaries.
I’m a little lost as to what the subject of your truly sincere and heartfelt comments are about. Is it the issue of plagiarism, or cheap and free self published books, or both? I have purchased cheap as an introduction to an old series I may have missed but paid full price for the three or five or ten subsequent stories. I have bought your books before going digital, then repurchased those same books for my kindle – rereading the Concannon sisters now in digital format. So I guess I paid twice. Regarding plagiarism, I frankly would have no way of knowing what to look for to see if an author is legitimate. Maybe I can find a tutorial somewhere. I would never quibble about the cost of a book written by an author I’ve followed for years as I can only admire and envy the talent it takes to put thoughts together and form a memorable story. I hope there is a means of resolving these issues very soon.
A funny aside. I was reading a book I found at the library and had just read the back. I know this “voice” and looked at the author’s name and it was JD Robb. Lightbulb lit!!! Cool she has an alter ego for syfy cop books. Thank you for both sides of you!!!
Thank you for going to bat for both the authors and the readers.
Maybe I was naïve, but I never considered the books I’ve read to have ghostwriters, and probably the majority haven’t, but I am behind you with not wanting to read a book slapped together in a book “factory” by ghostwriters and put out cheap. Honestly, I don’t want any book done by a ghostwriter – if you write it, it should have your name on it.
I have used BookBub, and in my naivete thought it was publishers putting an author’s older works out at a discount to get new interest in them, and in many cases the ones I read were (and I ended up buying the author’s whole book list). But maybe they all weren’t, and so now I rethink my whole purchasing of books this way from new-to-me authors. It wasn’t about the price to me, but it became an easy way to find and read many authors I’d never heard of without breaking the bank and finding some new favorites. This has been an eye opening situation to me, and as a reader I’ll be doing much more due diligence with my reading selection.
I’m sorry that some readers feel entitled and actually expect and ask for cheap or free from an author. I’ve never expected it, and don’t expect NOW for new books either. But I grew up with the library and paper bookstores. Books came out when they came. This new internet generation has learned immediate gratification for things they want. Everyone has to learn to slow down and appreciate life – and the time it takes to produce a genuine good story.
Will give my support in any way to get this situation corrected, and authors receiving what they should for their hard work and dedication to their craft.
I think getting discounted or free books from BookBub’s daily features is fine. I consider it a low cost or risk-free way for readers to discover new-to-them authors, much like the garage sales or used book stores. This is also how I discover new authors to read.
I think it’s only a problem when somebody uses unethical means (pretending to write their own books and so on) to trick readers or manipulate the market OR readers demand that ALL books should be free or 99 cents.
Scammers don’t make it into BookBub. You’re fine! BookBub has strict quality control measures and insanely high standards for getting in. There’s not a scammer alive, that I’m aware of, that could get a BookBub and be featured in the email.
It also takes dozens of submissions, over the course of two or three YEARS, to even get picked. Scammers don’t have that kind of patience. They’d rather spend that $200-500 on click farms for KU page reads. They’ll make way more money in the long run than they would with a BookBub.
BookBub is also slightly prejudiced against books available at only one retailer, and scammers are almost always only found in the Kindle store.
Rachel, I totally agree with your post, with one comment:
To be honest, there’s no “slightly prejudiced” about it – BookBub HIGHLY prioritizes books that are available everywhere vs just Amazon. Especially in competitive cats like Contemporary Romance, the chances of getting chosen if you’re exclusive to just Amazon is virtually nil.
And to be honest, as someone who buys only on Kobo, I really appreciate that. If a book is only available on Amazon, I won’t buy it. Period. Yeah, I have the Amazon app on my iPad, but I refuse to patronize the store any more than I absolutely have to. I’ve let my Amazon Prime membership lapse. I no longer buy audiobooks on Audible.
I’m doing my part to starve the beast as best as I can. After seeing all that Amazon has done to ruin the book world, they are on my sh*t list, and that’s the politest way I have of stating my feelings on the storefront, lol.
First, you were my mother’s Fav Author. She passed last year, besides Louis L’Amour.
Second, You should not have to worry about YOUR work when you press the publish button. I am sorry all this is happening to you and all the other authors, and I hope one day the system will be fixed so you and others won’t have to worry about someone stealing YOUR HARD work.
I capitalized those words, so others understand, you’re doing a job you love. And it’s your hard work that got you where you are.
As I’ve said, I met Nora in the early 1980s. She was raising two boys alone, writing books for Silhouette. We’d go to conferences and three or four of us often would share a hotel room–because none of us could easily afford a room of our own plus airfare, conference fee, and eating the occasional meal. Because we all start somewhere, and no, it damn well isn’t at the top.
All these years later, she is still the same Nora. She digs her own gardens, makes her own dinner, and still lives in the same house she lived in all those years ago. She’s down to earth, caring, loyal to her friends, intensely passionate about this industry, her fellow writers, and every reader. She could have said, “I’ve got mine, now you go get yours.” She doesn’t need to be in this fight. But she is, because that’s who she is, the kind of person she was raised to be.
Granted, she takes niftier vacations these days…
Jealous people assume, small people attack — no big surprise there. Unfortunately, you can’t fix stupid.
On another note — if legitimate writers, writers now, those who hope to make writing their life, their career, are priced out of the industry, can no longer afford to write…all you’ll have left are the ‘dreck non-books’ that aren’t worth their price, be that dirt cheap, free, or they pay you to read them.
You love reading good books, read well beyond the bestsellers who might publish one book a year? Then support the real writers, or in a generation there may be no more writers.
Think about that for a minute. Sobering, isn’t it?
What a wonderful friend and writer you are!
I’m having a difficult time understanding why anyone could possibly take offense to what you have posted on this subject. This is your work that has been stolen. Your. Work. Words you carefully and intentionally spent time crafting and perfecting to create a story that may be entertaining, enriching, informative or just enjoyable to read. How can a person justify copying entire passages you or other authors have pulled from your own thoughts and imagination to attempt to pass on as their own and to make a quick buck? I don’t get it. This is no different than any other type of theft or cheating. Would these same people criticizing you think it is okay for someone to take their car, purse or other physical thing they worked to buy? If they spent hours creating items to sell at a craft fair, would they be okay with someone taking photos of them to make their own to sell at a cheaper price? Stealing is stealing, no matter why or the reasons for it. You are very successful and have gained wealth and respect from your hard work. Instead of being envious these complainers should bust their butts to try to achieve on their own merits. Not every talented basketball player will become the next Michael Jordan or every beginning writer the next Nora Roberts, but they can certainly try their best. With their own work!
I truly believe most of your fans would agree with you, especially if they took a few moments to fully reflect on the situation. The naysayers are most likely the ones who are also guilty. Blessings to you Nora.
As a voracious reader who lives on Social Security, this type of criminal activity breaks my heart. Sometimes when one of my favorite authors come out with a new book that I can’t afford to buy, I wait to see if they ever put it at a price I can afford even if it takes a year I am a member of KU but have stopped using it. I don’t feel right about not paying for the writers work. I’ll be withdrawing from it completely as soon as I read what’s already there and I’ll be explaining my decision to Amazon when I do. I support all of the honest authors, Indie or not. Keep up the good fight
A little info about KU – it *does* pay the author!
It pays for every page read. Even if someone reads 20 pages, decides it’s not for them, the author gets money for every page read from the KU “pot.” The customer pays for the service, the money goes into the “pot.” Larger the pot, a little more money paid per page.
As this is “free” reading for customers, that’s where I’ve received most of my royalties. People would rather read the “free” KU than pay for the book, but I, as the author, am still getting paid.
This is why it’s difficult to simply eliminate KU as it doesn’t necessarily help the legitimate authors (though, by all means, if you’d rather buy the book than pay for the service–or use Amazon at all–do what works best for you!).
It’s also paying the scammer with the clickfarms, drowning the honest indie out. And raking in thousands a week from that communal pot.
By all means, keep bailing out the boat if that works for you.
Oh, not at all!
If Layne’s worry was that KU doesn’t pay legitimate authors for their work, it does.
I’m trying to say that this is one of the tentacles. Cutting off KU won’t kill the beast.
Amazon still boosts these people based on sales, so if they’re spewing out books for $0.99 or free, it’s the same result.
$0.99 is the lowest price point that Amazon allows to set a book–UNLESS that book is available at a lower price elsewhere. So many of these groups will go to Smashwords or elsewhere and make their work available free there so that Amazon will price-match.
It’s, as you say, systemic. Not just a tentacle, but the whole beast needs a whack.
Sorry to imply otherwise, what I think you’re doing is selfless and I’m absolutely behind you!
Bailing out the boat, I’d lose a whopping $1.30 of royalties. Let it sink. I can swim too!
The answer to “Free books” is — Libraries.
Libraries exist to supply books FOR FREE to their patrons. (But libraries pay authors and publishers, and those sales are not inconsequential, so this is a win/win for readers and authors alike).
Today’s libraries usually even supply eBooks FOR FREE to those who cannot get to the library building for whatever reason. They also ship books to patrons who are homebound or otherwise unable to access the physical library.
You know what else libraries do? If you, as a patron ask, they will usually BUY the books that you request if those books aren’t already in their collections. And if they can’t do that, they will use interlibrary loan to BORROW those books for you from other libraries all over the world.
Libraries also license databases that include incredible amounts of full-text content, including plays, short stories, and other literature.
This is all generally FREE, or at least at very low cost.
How do I know all this? Well, because I worked as a librarian for over 30 years, and I have at one time or another provided all of these services to my patrons.
Now I am an author who writes full-time, and I see the damage that scammers, price undercutting, and a flood of “free” books have done to the market. I have author friends who have given up writing because they cannot compete with the scammers and other “publishing mill” operators.
Brava to you, Nora Roberts, for taking a stand. I fully support you, as an author, a retired librarian, and a reader.
I am glad that you keep writing about this, fighting ‘them’ and standing up for what is right.
You have worked hard for your ‘imaginary mansion’ and the life you live. That’s an example to follow, not for others to blindly criticize.
I appreciate your work and am more than happy to pay for it…and I loved Connections in Death. Thank you!
Ive been a voracious reader since I was in 4th grade. My Aunt supplied me with shopping bags of Nancy Drew, etc. I read Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit in 6th grade. I lived at the library. I went to garage sales, Good Will to supply myself with books. I bought my first hardcover in 1967, it was a Star Trek story, but I loved it, til I lent it to a cousin and never got it back. PAY THE AUTHOR! Such joy is worth more than we can pay, but at least pay the original price when you can.
Nora, I love your books, and you are one of the authors I buy hardcovers for. Otherwise, I might have to wait for the paperback. Now, of course i buy Ebooks too. LOL.
Nora, keep standing up for yourself and for us your loyal readers. What I can’t seen to wrap my head around is where are the other authors who’s work is being stolen? Surly some of them must have a following and reputation along the same lines as you. Why are they not speaking out “with” you?? I am sorry that you seem to be the only one with the guts to speak out . I applaud your courage and determination. They should be ashamed of themselves to let you take all the abuse for them. Keep fighting the good fight. We’re with you!!
Many of them are speaking out on Twitter and their own blogs. And they’re speaking out while struggling to vet their own books to find more copying.
It’s truly awful for all of us.
As a reader, I applaud all you are doing. And I thank you, for all my author friends, who DO work very hard to write a book…and pay their bills and live their lives. I read your very disciplined work/life style and know you work very hard to give us the books we love. And I sincerely appreciate that! Thank you. And thank you for standing up for all hard-working authors [that I know appreciate all you are doing/saying] as this underbelly just stinks. Please stay strong! I promise to do my part to support this stand.
Let Nora be Nora. That way everyone wins!
Just the fact that you’re willing to stand up and do anything for all the nameless/faceless authors (and readers) is amazing. If there’s anything you need, I hope you’ll reach out. Do it your way.
I’m jaded enough to know that that Amazon doesn’t care and Amazon has muchmuchmuch deeper pockets.
It’s crazy that some people don’t want to roil the waters lest it affects them. What you’re doing is admirable, Nora! As you said, you could deal with the plagiarist and let the rest go, but this affects all legitimate authors, including ghost writers, and you are their leader. As a voracious reader myself, I’d rather pay more than have fake books by fake authors for cheap. I support you all the way.
Thank you, Nora. In the past when I sold better and won some awards I had a reader point out the similarity between one of my books and some lines in another book. I took a look and sure enough, they were correct. This was several years ago and that person also had copied others.
I’m and self-published author (and a huge Eve and Roarke fan). I agree with your stance and I want to thank you for using your status to push these issues.
Perhaps I a,m naive, but those people yelling and screaming always strike me as trolls from some site with a hidden motivation!
Enjoy your dogs, and the day off from all the staff!
I stand with you Nora. Fight!
Well said Nora,
I have been reading your books for over 35 years and will continue to do so as long as you keep writing!!!! You are truly an amazing person!
I say you go all in! This is an important subject that has to be brought out in the open. For the authors & to the readers. I had no idea of the goings on behind the scenes. Your posts have made me think twice about what is being offered as an ebook. I’ve waited for books to go down in price (ie 6 months after release) before purchasing or grab that first book in a series at the “sale” price, then purchase the rest.
My heart goes out to all those authors affected by this theft. To see all your hard work butchered by someone else, who is to lazy to dream up their own story, has to be gut wrenching.
In my opinion, this is one of those times in life that if you have the means to help others, it’s what a good person should do. You are a good person Nora! You’ve already been here once, know the feelings of some of these first time or just starting out authors. I hope that with your support, willingness & resources to fight, that those authors keep writing & don’t give up their dreams. Every so often, we need a champion, one that won’t back down from the fight. Know that more people stand behind you, then against you.
“Because it’s the goddamn principle” I think this is my new favorite NR quote… I support you 110% , go girl! 🙂
Thank you for your willingness to stand up and fight!
As a writer and a reader, I’m with you 100%.
I hope the negative opinions of jackasses won’t deter you one bit. You could not be more right in trying to stop this awful process. I can no longer afford to purchase your books so I use the library, I don’t understand why people want to read hobbled together garbage over a well written book just because it cost less. You can take as many books from the library as you need. Anyway, hope you keep up the good fight.
Go get ’em!
Never back down Nora,we’re with you all the way.
Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you. As a Jane with a day job, I thank you. I teared up reading this and I appreciate it so much. I will always stand with you, Nora! Stay strong and keep fighting.
You’ve got my support, Nora.
What the indies don’t realize is how progressively WORSE this whole mess has gotten over the past couple years, but especially over the past year.
If something isn’t done soon, there won’t be many indies making money at all via Amazon.
You speak up now while you have a choice…and there’s a powerful voice willing to speak with you, or you risk being silenced down the road through no choice of your own.
I’ve been a Nora Roberts fan since the MacGregors were in serial paperback (And I have almost all of the In Death series in hardcover). I came here to say “Thank you for being so vocal about this!” I’ve been following the list of authors who have been plagiarized, and have added more than a few of their books to my to-be-ordered list.
I know that there are other “authors” who have been outted as plagiarizers, but I can’t find a list of them anywhere. I would like to know who they are so I can purge them (If I have any) from my library.
Thank you for your stand on this. This is one of the reasons I refuse to read Kindle. You can’t trust that the books are honestly written. I won’t buy an ebook of a new author. I know that some of my favored authors have had to resort to self-publishing and I buy when I can find them, but otherwise, I only buy hardcover, paperback and ebooks through a legitimate bookseller. There have been some paperbacks that you know are ghost written by multiple authors in order to get a new book a month out–i.e., Nick Carter series of paperbacks in the 1980s. This is acceptable because you know the publisher is selling the character and using multiple writers. I love getting cheap books as much as the next person because I read a lot, but I also know and accept that authors spend a lot of time in research and writing and are entitled to be paid for their labors. Everybody is entitled to be justly paid for their labors. You don’t expect from free hair cuts from your hairdresser do you?
I have a few favored authors that I would buy a new book from them if they published a new book every week. Unfortunately, no good author can write that fast. We are fortunate that we get 4 new books a year from Nora in a multiple of formats, i.e., hardcover or paperback.
Love your books. I am eagerly waiting for the final book in your “Year” series The Rise of the Magicks. Once I have all three books, I will have a hibernation weekend where I do nothing but read this series. It has been a long, long wait.
Yeah, there’s a lot of “writers” on twitter right now who haven’t plagiarized, but are using ghostwriters to put out way more books than normal. They’re profiting off the system and down want that gravy train to be shut down. It’s really amazing, the kind of ethical slide that KU has caused. If the scammers hadn’t started doing this, it’s very likely that most non-book-mills wouldn’t be using ghostwriters either. They started because they couldn’t compete with robots, and now they’re complicit. It’s tragic.
If more don’t speak up, and speak loud, the voices calling someone like me who has been willing to stand for them a rich elitist, a while elitist (!?), a rich traditionally published who’s badgering indies, a millionaire who’s taking it out on poor people who want to read, etc are going to drown them out.
I see no reason to sacrifice my writing time and energies, tolerate the social media attacks–and the excuses of those who don’t want that boat rocked too hard.
Though the indie world isn’t mine, I’m willing to help and support the hard-working indies in the struggle to fix the system. I was willing to go to the wall for them, not just because I was plagiarized, but because I learned why it was so easy to do so to so many.
But when I realize how many don’t want their particular place in it fixed, I see why the system remains broken.
I won’t fight on two fronts.
Nora, I truly hope you don’t give up on this fight because it is important and I’m sorry you’re suffering attacks from people in social media. Those accusations lanced in your direction are so unfair.
People look at your success and forget that you clawed your way to that success with decades of dogged labor and an incomparable work ethic. I wish people would just stand back and look at things in a bigger context rather than pointing a finger at someone who is trying to stand up and speak when other voices were ignored or muted.
This indie author is very grateful for your courage and tenacity.
As an indie going back to 2011, I appreciate what you’re doing and saying. I have seen so many changes in just eight years. Some good, some not. But one thing I have always learned is to listen to all. To constantly learn and evaluate sonyou can grow. There are always problems inside industries and it usually takes someone from the outside to see things we don’t.
I do think the issue goes back to subscription services not fully understanding the verasiousness of romance readers. Scribd and others have had to cut back and limit the genre because there was so way to fairly compensate the author. ITunes music and Spotify experienced the same issues and it took Taylor Swift to change that so artists were fairly compensated. You’re our Taylor.
You now have my email from the comment. I am happy to share my experiences if you have any questions for a full tome indie.
Thank you for what you are doing,
Yes, the Spotify issue and Taylor Swift! I was thinking about that earlier today!
I, too, am grateful for your hard work, Nora. I’m an indie author and it’s true the world is divided. It basically comes down to whether someone makes more money with KU page reads or by sales. Which means talking about KU is by far the touchiest topic in the indie universe.
However, KU *is* where of most of the problems lie (lay? I need my editor, lol.). KU is also responsible for the vast majority of permanent $0.99 books (I’m not talking series starters, loss leaders, etc.), as well as the poorly ghostwritten books that often don’t make sense. There are also numerous groups that tell people to just throw stuff up with no editor or proofreader–fast is all that matters. The interesting bit is that these sort of issues rarely happen on other vendors. (I’m wide, at all of them, and it’s a very stark contrast.) The problem is that Amazon doesn’t care, unless it becomes negative PR. Still, I hope it can change one day. And I’m very grateful for you taking a stance, even when you have no skin in the indie world. <3
Jessie, I agree with you 100%! The scamming is a KU problem. It doesn’t happen on Apple or Kobo or B&N or any other retailer.
Yes, those that manage to make a profit on KU might not be happy but sometimes you have to give a little for the greater good. And perhaps, once they throw off the yoke of Amazon exclusivity, they will find their sales are equally as good as they now have access to a wider market!
(And LOL on the lay/lie issue! It gets me every time, too!)
Like Brenna and Kathleen, I am also grateful for your voice in this matter. I am one of the indie authors who most would consider successful. I’ve been doing this since 2011 and there is no denying that over the last couple of years the scamming in KU has reached a critical level. Something does need to give or new valuable voices and mid-listers will be drowned out. Thank you for caring about this. We need a powerful voice.
Nora, you are definitely the powerful voice we need. I applaud and thank you for what you are doing. I say blow up the mothership and let the hardworking authors who are willing to write quality stories and work honestly rise up from the ashes.
I am here to speak up and speak loudly in any way that I am able.
I agree with what Brenna and Deanna said. And I’m grateful you’re speaking out when you don’t have to.
Authors are speaking out on social media, in their fan groups, etc. to let them know what’s happening, why this matters. I saw more posts and tweets about this in the last few days than in the last 4 years. I love romance, and I certainly don’t want to concede our genre to scammers who only care about making money, while disrespecting romance and readers.
So again, thank you.
I’m sorry that this has taken up so much of your time, but I do want to once again thank you for stand up for us lesser known authors. Our voices just aren’t heard as much and it’s nice to have you on our side for however long you are able to fight.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Stay after them Nora! Copyrighted work need to be better protected. As a professional photography studio owner people expect me to turn over the work for pennies, it’s “just a picture”… well, that picture is my livelihood. You obviously enjoy it since you want it, but I’m too expensive when it comes to buying the print or the high resolution image with a Copyright release? My studio does not offer all the images on CD either. Something the outdoor, out of their home, this is just a hobby photographers do. This has cheapened my studio. I pay thousands of dollars for a professional studio space; employees and all the taxes and expenses to have said staff; insurance policies; the list could go on. Consumers want things very fast and cheap these days. It’s disheartening. Fast and cheap isn’t going to be on your wall in 20 years for your future family to see. Sorry to rant. This is a very near and dear topic to me.
Nora, don’t take this the wrong way, but I love you! Give ‘em hell!
I’m one who has a couple of Indy authors on Amazon that I always read and could read for free on KU but I choose to pay my $4.99 to buy their books because I know they need to raise their families and earn a living. Just like the rest of us.
I had no idea plagiarism was so rampant – thanks for exposing it and doing your best to stomp it into dust.
Thank you, Nora! This is a constant unfunny game of whack-a-mole with the ripoff artists.
I’ve sold more than 100 books and, while I haven’t discovered any plagiarizing of my work yet, I am dealing with tons of copyright violations. This includes the so-called Open Library (Internet Archive), which believes they are entitled to rip off (scan) print books without my or the publisher’s permission and loan out digital copies. They’re even doing this to my books that I decided I didn’t want issued digitally, for various reasons, as if I had no right to control my own work.
It’s infuriating. Like you, I’ve struggled for years. And while I’m not nearly as successful, I admire and respect my fellow authors who’ve hit the big time when they stand up for us little guys, as you’re doing. Thank you!
Go get them, Nora! I’m with you too! I have learned quite a bit during the last few days with all this! I’ll be much more careful picking out books to read. I use Amazon a lot and will check out authors before I buy or borrow!
Stay strong and continue this fight knowing that you have fans all around the world supporting you.
Give ’em Hell, girl! And just a side note to those who begrudge you the living you have worked Hard for and earned. It’ s called a library people. When my child was young and I couldn’t afford the book I wanted so desperately to read, I borrowed from the library.
I thought your original post was very clear about not throwing all ghost-writers under the bus. And your followup post further clarified the comments on cheap books (that legitimate authors do use price reduction via Bookbub and the like for backlist titles; we as readers just need to be vigilant-I know I’ve discovered some great new authors/series this way). Some people will just choose to be offended no matter how clearly we try to explain ourselves and no matter what topic the conversation is. It’s somehow become part of our society.
I’ve mostly been sad as I’ve read this – I have a young friend who self-published; I’m sure she did not have high expectations of her book receiving high sales but it’s sad to think that scammers may discourage her from further endeavours.
(p.s. on a somewhat unrelated note I’ve been so amazed, especially since reading your blog, at your intense writing schedule – you clearly treat it as a very serious job – as well as vocation – and probably work more hours at it than most of us do in our day jobs!)
Blowback be damned. Maybe it’s time to stop reading what they say. If you can’t afford to buy new hardcover books, do what i do. Reserve them at your library. The only books i buy, are the In Death ones, as soon as they come out, even if its not in my budget. You have to prioritize on what’s important to you.
As far as judging you, your wealth is very hard earned, and they know it, it’s just guilt and jealousy talking. As the Talmud says, “Don’t judge a man, untill you have walked in his shoes.”
Nora you are one of my all time favorite authors, and since I started reading your blogs, you have become one of my all time favorite people. You are a wonderful writer, a loving mother and grandmother, a loyal friend and a well-discipline individual. Those who snipe at you or resent you, are petty and jealous. I will buy your books until the day I die, and reread them to my heart’s content. Take comfort and joy from your friends, fMilyand loyal readers. We’re behind whatever you choose to do 100%.
I’m a huge reader, I have nook and kindle. I don’t do KU. I do once in a while by a cheap book but they are usually a book that is the beginning of a series that hooks you. I have read most of your books and J.D. Robb ones too. Love them all. Have quite a few hard back ones because I have trouble waiting for it to go to paperback sometimes.. Keep fighting Nora. I hope to win it and teach the cheaters a lesson
I’m guessing your imaginary mansion is right there up in NYC next to Roarke’s? Sheesh. I can share my extra strength Tums with you, I’m sure at this point in the game you need them.
As a voracious reader and a hopeful writer (not yet published), I can’t tell you how wonderful it is that you’re standing up as you are for others. You’re right, you don’t have to. I’m grateful for all the readers out there and for the hopeful, struggling writers, that you’re willing to take the extra step and stamp out these thieves.
God bless you, Nora. You don’t have to do this. Expose these people for who and what they really are. It’s not your job, but thank you so much for doing so. So many things you’ve written here I have thought too. It’s a cheat to everyone – readers, writers, prime members, everyone. And I appreciate that you are willing to use your very big voice to say something about it.
I think we do have to get to the point where we put our collective foot down and stop helping these scammers, by following their business model. Free and cheap. It sucks. Especially when you care. When you work your butt off to make your book the best you can make it. And then to be told you have to give it away and several more.
After reading your posts I’ve decided, not only am I not doing that, I am going to raise the price on all of my books. If only for the principle of the thing.
We have to stand up and say, No. Finally and definitively. And decide we are worthy of being paid for our work.
I hope you will continue to speak out but I will understand if it all just gets to be too much. You deserve to be able to just write your books, live your life without having to launch a crusade. But even if it stops here, I believe you have done more for all of us “Jane Writers” out here struggling, than you will ever know.
Get em’ Nora! You are totally on the right side of this issue. You have every right to protect your lunch and folks need to understand there ain’t no free lunch! You work very hard and the quality of your work is testament to that. Thank you for speaking up on an important issue.
Keep on kicking butt, Nora! We are behind you.
Keep writing about it, talking about it, putting it out there!
Only way for the guilty parties to be brought to justice!
Where I lived growing up, there weren’t yards for yard sales and there weren’t many book readers, outside of the nuns in school, that I knew. The New York Public Library was my source of everything! I read 2 to 5 books a week, depending what time of year it was. It was my only hobby! We had no money for books or magazines, we sometimes didn’t have money for food, electricity or gas! BUT, the library was free! I could sit and do homework, use the typewriters, do research, in a safe, clean, warm place. During the Summer it was air conditioned. Joy!
Now, as a retired grandmother, who had a pretty good career on Wall Street, the New York Public Library is one of the most frequent organizations I donate to. Also, Reading is Fundamental (RIF) which provides Kindergarten and grade school kids with free paper back books. I still have a Library card, which I use for a new to me author or genre I want to check out, mainly. Sometimes my 11year old granddaughter and I go to “Nona’s Library” so she can do research for school or check out books. My daughter got her her first card at 4yrs old, as soon as she could sign her name. I also vote at my branch, so tomorrow when they hold the special election, I will probably browse through a book or 2 or 3, while waiting on line.
The squeaky wheel gets the oil! The only way to correct the problem of ghost farms and other illegal practices, is to make noise about it! Keep up the good work!
Nora go for it. Don’t listen to those who criticize what you’re doing, they’re jealous of you. You have earned every penny you own through hard work. I love your books and try to buy them whenever I can afford them. Don’t ever stop writing/working.
Nora, thank you so very much for standing up for all of us, for the genre, for the readers and for other authors who may not be able to do so. Your drive, work ethic and your devotion to readers are a model I strive to follow. Thank you for all you do.
Thank you Nora! I’m ashamed that I was ignorant of this. Let me say something about those cheap books. If you’re reading multiple 99cent books a week it’s because the writing is crap and someone forgot the story. There isn’t a word in there a second grader can’t read. Granted I only got to maybe page 10 before I dumped it, but, it was crap! I get Kindle unlimited and the offers come nearly every day. I don’t always check my email so I’m not sure. Now I’m totally ticked off I would have to check if the author is real or a bot person! I thought I was supporting a new author, now I want my 99cents back…PS I hope you are neglecting the next In Death book?
Sue – Many good self-published authors offer their books for 99 cents. Not because their work is crap or someone forgot the story – but because it’s one of the few ways they can’t reach a new audience. Just like stores who offer milk for 99 cents to get someone in the door to fill up their carts – authors offer their books, so new readers will take a chance on them. And then read their other books. Often, these good self-published offers are working with Amazon on a special deal – once again because of the publicity or exposure offered to them. I know that there are plenty of 99 cent books that are crap – but there are also many $3.99 books and $10.99 books that are crap. The smartest thing a reader can do is make sure you read a sample, so you know what you’re buying.
Thank you for your courageous stand. No doubt it would be easier to do nothing. I believe your situation has parallels to Dr. Martin Luther King, and not only because he had a dream, and you have a dream trilogy. While Dr. King wasn’t a rich man, his income and livlihood was not dependent on white people. Because you are so sucessful, across multiple genres, no one would have the cajones or financial stupidity to try to force you to back down or back off. Thank you for enlightening us. I never knew about any of this and no doubt my ignorance has helped perpetuate the situation. Now that I know, please tell me who or what to boycott..maybe via a website? Obviously, I don’t want you to quit your day job (ever), but maybe you could get things started. Thank you for hundreds of enjoyable hours that I’ve spent in your books.
As an indie author who has felt there’s almost unrelenting pressure to pump out content in order to feed the beast and stay somewhat relevant, I couldn’t be happier to hear you taking a stand.
Have a (US) library card? Check out the Hoopla app. You may be able to borrow (up to 10 titles/month) ebooks and audio books from your library for free. You can access via computer (via url https://www.hoopladigital.com/) or apps available on most devices (I have on my Android phone and Amazon Fire tablet).
I also have a few series I love to read (and re-read), including the “In Death” series (seem to re-read complete series 1-2/year). Fortunately, my tablet has enough memory that I’m able to store the entire series on it.
Thank you to Nora for bringing this issue to my attention. I will be a lot more careful in finding books/authors to read.
Thank you Nora! As a reader and writer, the publishing landscape is frustrating. Mid-size and small publishers are closing because so many people no longer value quality books. Why pay $4.99 for an ebook when there are 100s for free or .99 cents. I’ve struggled with sales personally because how can I compete with a stacked system? I spend 100s if not a 1000 hours on a book.
I so deeply appreciate you calling attention to the issue. You have earned everything you’ve achieved in your career. I admire you and love reading your books. (The Witness is my #1 favorite.)
We are a community and will rise or fall together.
Thank you again!
Thank you Nora, and know this…. when things change, and I no longer have to run 99 cent sales in order to get my books in front of readers, I will know it was you who made the difference. Thank you!
Thank you, Nora!
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”
— C. S. Lewis
Nora, I’m grateful you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and figure out what’s what and work toward real solutions. Strengthening and creating safeguards against abuses and scams can only help all of us who care about books. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you all the best. Please take care.
I get a daily email from Kindle that is full of free books. I have “bought” more than one of those books, but that was because I thought they were legit. I always check to see if there are other books in the series, I always check to see if the characters in this book are continued or whether the book ends with an HEA. Now I’m tempted to cancel that daily email, which on one hand makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing, but on the other, I feel like I’m shutting down potential new authors that are struggling to get their stories read. Of the books I’ve gotten off the Kindle email, I would say about 50% of them I have actually finished reading and, of that, I would re-read maybe 5 of them. My apologies for contributing to a horrible situation.
Nora, the only people who are against you speaking out are the cheaters and the scammers. Just go look at the thread over on KBoards – they have their panties all bunched up with worry that readers might catch on. https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,309267.0.html?PHPSESSID=1f6e05de92826a3d8af5ccc84202500f
Thank you, Nora, just thank you.
I’m trying, and sincerely still not getting the indie writers who don’t want this situation to change. (The ‘don’t rock MY boat’ group.) Even if you’re making some money right now, how long do you think it will last as more and more unethical non-writers realize they can game the system this way? It’s possible in a year or two that you’ll wish a big name author had been willing to go to bat for the profession.
And as a reader? I’m more than willing to give new authors a shot. But I don’t have the time to wade through some of the crap I’ve seen posted on KU. (Not all, by any means, but definitely some.)
With a better understanding of where the crap comes from now, I’m thinking I’d be better off just buying a book or two a month (from the indie authors.) I want to support new writers, indie writers AND the profession as a whole, and KU clearly isn’t the way to do the latter.
Those who complain are part of the problem. Legitimate authors, whether traditionally published or indie, want this problem fixed.
I’m fortunate that I do well as an indie author. I don’t use KU, believing I deserve more than half a penny per page for my creative endeavors. However, I feel for my fellow authors who find themselves trapped in a flawed publishing mode and am willing to help. Just tell me what to do.
FYI: To the best of my knowledge, ‘scamming the system’* is only possible on Amazon. Apple, Kobo , B&N or other retailers aren’t plagued with the problem because they use the tried and true method of paying their authors.
It could be that readers and writers need to reconsider how they purchase and publish their books. Perhaps, until KU is fixed, readers need to buy elsewhere and authors need to stop going exclusive with Amazon.
*Scamming the system and plagiarism are two different beasts. Both are evil and can co-exist but one can happen without the other. Plagiarism can be found anywhere but scamming (that may or may not include plagiarism) is mainly an Amazon problem, imho.
Thank you Nora…for caring about your readers and fellow authors…you all deserve so much better.
After reading several ‘cheap’ books at KU by authors w/weird names…I caught on fast…not legitimate! The stories were awful. So I don’t do KU. I am sorry that Amazon treats the authors who use it so horribly and unfairly. I hope you and your team and others can find a solution. But Amazon is a monster, just like you said. And not easily killed.
I buy my books from B&N, Google Play, or Smashwords. I do miss used book stores…I bought and traded a lot of books in them over the years. But every thing has changed…sometimes it’s just not a change for the better.
I will pay $$$ for a good book by an author I trust. Because the book is worth it. You get what you pay for. And I always tell my fav authors to take your time with your stories… I don’t mind waiting because I know it will be good.
Since that post by Shiloh was added to the bottom of this post: Not every author is active on social media. That is not a way to identify a scammer. Some authors would rather be writing the next book than tweeting or posting. There are actually a number of scammers who actively cultivate personas that they use to interact with readers.
CK, if you read the post, you would have seen this:
“They popped up out of nowhere and there’s no socialization. That alone doesn’t mean much, because authors aren’t always the most social creatures. But there’s also no website. Just about every smart author knows a website is crucial. It’s where your fans go to look for you. There might be a facebook page or a twitter, but they’re almost robotic…little real interaction with authors, no real talk about writing craft.”
I was very specific about that, as I know more than a few reclusive authors myself who’d rather be writing, like Nora.
The whole point is to look at the author entirely and pay attention. If an author pops up out of nowhere, has no website, little to no social media presence, or a robotic looking one that doesn’t have much fan/reader interaction, etc, but suddenly has a book coming out every week or two like clockwork, then that’s a writer somebody might want to take a harder look at, maybe download the sample, etc, etc before buying the book, read it, etc.
These scammers do not put out quality work and it shows in the samples.
All of the above are *indicators* somebody COULD be a scammer, so for people wanting to *spot* scammers, those who are asking what they can do as readers, these are some of the steps, these are some of the ways.
I know this stuff is nerve wracking to indie authors, but you know what’s scarier if you look at the big picture?
Doing nothing and letting these scammers chase more and more midlist and indie authors out of writing altogether, which is happening every month. We can either take stand and help readers find ways to put out the problematic behavior or we can just let them drown us out.
I know which road I’m taking.
I’ve been self-publishing since 2013. I have a number of pen names because I like to write a variety of material and self-publishing lets me do that. As a writer I live in my writing cave and don’t seek to interact with readers.
My romance pen names have a shared web site that I never post to, a mailing list I’m abysmal at using, and email addresses where I’m pretty horrible at responding. Nothing else. I fit your quoted paragraph. It may make me bad at marketing, but it doesn’t make me a scammer.
And I do talk writing craft with other writers but under a different user name. I even write books about writing craft but not under my romance pen names.
I have no problem with taking a stand and am all for it. But when that stand is “if you’re a writer that doesn’t look like me you must be a scammer”, I feel someone needs to speak up and give the other side. That’s what I was doing.
Oh, bullshit. The person with the genuine pen name WROTE. THE. BOOK.
Get your moronic, enabling ass off my blog.
Laura, this one needs banning.
If you’d like to post a suggestion to readers on how to Identify scammers, please do.
I’m generally not very active on social media myself, as I prefer focusing on my writing. I’ve made an exception for a few days.
The link you posted above is suggesting that authors cannot sell their intellectual property (their books) to other authors and publishers. It’s literally calling someone a “scammer” for selling the rights to some books they wrote.
How on Earth is that a scam?
By that measure, every single traditional publisher that has ever bought rights to a book (and subsequently published that title with their own cover and marketing spin) would be a “scammer”.
Do you genuinely think it’s a scam for someone to sell the publishing rights/copyright for their original work to another person? If that person then packages and sells that book to the masses, is that a scam?
I’m genuinely open to talk if you want to have a quick dialogue about this stuff. That link you posted is just an honest author trying to sell the books THEY wrote, and some random silliness besides.
If you don’t see how selling a book already published to someone else so they can do a search and replace on names, maybe make a few tweaks then slap a new name and cover on it and publish it is a scam, I can’t have a dialogue with you.
It’s a cheat, on every level.
To compare that with getting the rights back to your own book, republishing that book yourself, under your own name is stunningly foolish.
Every honest author I know who does that markets the book as ‘classic’ or ‘vintage’, always letting the reader know. There’s no deception.
The author posted in the link is in no way honest.
I want to add, because, wow, this pisses me off, that anyone who can and does sell their book to someone else to fuss with it, a little or a lot, before republishing under the buyer’s name had NO heart, NO pride in that book.
A writer, a real one, has pride and heart in their work.
This type, it all about the Benjamins, screw the craft, screw the reader.
Nora these “non-authors” call themselves “publishers” now. They really think this is a “legit” way to be an “author”. And I don’t know “Frost” above, but he’s an active voice over on KBoards encouraging people to believe this is legit and fair because this is just about MONEY to him.
Some of them scout out authors on Amazon who used to sell and then (for various reasons) took their books down and they TRY TO BUY THESE OLD BOOKS so they can republish them under new fake names in their “book farm”. (And yeah, if you’re reading this and doing that, I know who you are. This world is very small and we all talk).
No legitimate author wants to use other people’s work and put their name on the cover. And I agree – hiring ghosts in fiction defeats the purpose of being a writer.
What is the point of hiring ghosts and buying stories only to slap a fake name on the front and sell it, if it’s not for money? There is no point. And the fact that some of them cheat their way onto the USA or NYT bestseller lists just makes me angry. You are not an author if you don’t write the words. Your name on the cover is deceitful and (in my mind) unethical.
I have a few 99c books and I’m in KU now, but I only went in to KU because my books were being buried by scammers. I’m all for change. And I’ll adapt to anything that comes out of this.
So please keep going Nora. We’re standing with you. <3
Frost, since they’re my words, why don’t you *engage in a quick dialogue* with me?
Funny how you’re trying to engage another author over *my words*.
Leaving my website this time so you can find my contact info.
But…honey, this fight is one you haven’t a chance in hell at winning.
It is hard work being a writer. Add the pressures of self-publishing and it can become overwhelming. The past couple of years have been made even harder by scammers and opportunists, as you, Nora, and so many others have pointed out on these blog posts. It honest to God makes you want to give up some days. If you speak out you are so often attacked, called jealous, told to mind your own business, and you run the risk of looking like a shrew in front of your readers. So for you, who has little stake in this race beyond the plagiarism issue, to give voice to this new culture of more for less and make it fast, please, gives us more of a punch in this fight. As you are typing away in your mansion, no doubt on a gold-plated keyboard with hunky man-servants at your beck and call, know that we appreciate you.
Please don’t bail, Nora.
Like many that have already commented, I am an indie author. I write in 2 sub genres of romance, Erotic and Paranormal. I have 4 books out in the 2 years I’ve been publishing. The first took me years to write, rewrite, edit, scrap it all, rewrite again, edit a million more times, and finally push that “publish” button.
That first book and the subsequent ones, as well as many that are in progress, got me through some horrible things. Writing was and is my outlet. Published or not, I have to write for myself.
I have dreamed of being an author since I was 6. I read voraciously through the years. Purchasing new books when I had funds, going to the library weekly (or twice a week) to get something new, scouring used bookstores when possible for out of print books from authors I discovered and adored.
Then the internet and ebooks became popular. I admit that I have purchased cheaper books in order to find new authors. The ones I loved, I found their blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter handles, and followed. I entered their contests and subscribed to newsletters and mailing lists. I did everything to get access to their thoughts on writing, inside looks at their characters and plots, and the first news about upcoming releases. And then purchased those new releases, at cover price, or reserved them at the library. Because paying for the time and effort someone took to craft a story is how we continue to get more stories of the same caliber or better. And I celebrated those releases with the authors online, or sharing their work. I had a blog and posted reviews. I was a voice, small but added to others who shared a love of these books too.
When I finally hit that first “publish” button on my book, there were no fireworks. There were no parties. There was no celebration outside of the glass of wine I drank that night alone. In fact, aside from a select few, no one knew I was writing. Because I use a pseudonym. It took months before I told my family and “outed” myself. Not because I was ashamed of my writing, or the content of my book, or anything along those lines. My biggest concern then, and I still have some residual thoughts on it, was that some of the content was incredibly personal and spoke of things I wasn’t sure certain people would accept as my truth.
My heart and soul goes into my words. MY WORDS! I spend months perfecting those lines, the plots, the characters. And I feel raked across the coals when I see scammers, plagiarists, click farms, etc., diminishing this industry as a whole. My books are rarely noticed, even when I offer a sale, and despite putting out promo tweets and Facebook posts and Instagram posts.
My best month, in over 2 years, I made $50. That was with massive amounts of pushing information about my upcoming release, and spending equal amounts of time writing and promoting. And that was with a day job, being a single mom, and having just completed my masters degree.
I am not a slacker. If anything, I’m an over achiever. But it is extremely disheartening to have books out, averaging 4 star reviews when they get any, and seeing so little return. I don’t write for money; I knew when I decided to self-pub that money would be minimal at best. But readers don’t even have the opportunity to find my books 99% of the time. I, as a reader, revert to those favorite authors I know are good more often than attempting to buy a new author because I have had such awful experiences reading newer “names” because of the flood of subpar books available.
So I don’t blame the readers for not choosing my books. But I wholeheartedly agree with you that change needs to happen, from the inside and the outside. Authors should be paid for their craft. Period. And those readers and writers who are selfishly saying don’t rock the boat need to sit the fuck down and shut up. Because bailing out the water flooding the craft is only staving off the sinking of the ship for awhile longer. Eventually, the ship will sink. And then where will we be? Left with only subpar crap to read.
I stand with you, Nora.
And on that note, once my enrollment time is up, I will be pulling all of my books from KU (only 2 are there of the 4), and I will be re-evaluating my pricing. Because my work, my time, my words are worth more than $.99. I refuse to devalue myself any more.
KU is a great idea, but it has been corrupted by the scammers who have learned how to game the system. And Amazon makes too much money from those scammers to do anything about it, at least that’s my read on their lack of attention to the issues.
Please don’t bail, Nora. Rock the boat. Hell, flip it upside down and let’s see who sinks and who swims and who is creative enough to build a new boat, or who is intelligent enough to grab a lifeboat or a life vest. Because you are a voice that is strong enough, powerful enough, to be heard when the rest of us are still struggling to gain traction.
A struggling author, an avid reader, and a grateful writer.
You are an inspiration. Thank you.
The challenge with identifying scammers is that there’s overlap with legitimate authors as well. A brand new author who publishes a large number of titles in a very short period of time in a very hot genre could be a scammer. Or they could be an established author using a smart publishing strategy since publishing at least three novels at once has been shown to be a good way to find readers and keep them.
An author who publishes very fast, say once a month, could be a scammer. But again, there are legitimate authors who write that fast on their own. (Amanda M. Lee comes to mind as an example of a very prolific author who as far as I know is legitimate.)
Someone with a ton of positive reviews in a very short period of time could be a scammer or they could be someone with a voracious fan base or a well-developed ARC team.
David Gaughran and Phoenix Sullivan have done a lot of work around identifying scammers and as far as I know a lot of what they’ve found isn’t stuff that your average reader is going to be able to see. And a lot of the scam strategies I’ve seen aren’t things readers will even notice. (Like listing KU titles in box sets on pre-order on other sites, something that happened a couple years ago.)
My personal advice to readers would be to use the Look Inside option before buying or downloading a book. Every borrow through KU or every purchase drives the ranking of a book upward on the charts and makes it more visible which attracts more buyers. Don’t give that visibility to a book that in the first few pages is clearly not something worth reading. It won’t fix everything, but it will certainly help some if readers don’t buy or borrow based on a good cover and blurb alone.
I know that you have a lot of comments and if you don’t see mine I at least tried to apologise to you for being one who was cheering you on to fight the scammers.
If I offended you in any way I am so very sorry. I just really believe in you and I know that you are angry and hurt.
I have never been on a website for e books. I just can’t get into them. I have been lucky to have had every book you had written but I list them all in a flood a few years ago.
I am trying to build my collection back up. I have been to thrift shops, yard sales and of course I check out our library and their recycling store.
For me it is stealing for these scammers and I honestly don’t know how it can be stopped, but please forgive me for suggesting that you have a huge press conference because now I think it might be a bad suggestion.
Know that I am in your corner and also know that as soon as I discovered what Janet Dailey did I never picked up another book that she supposedly wrote. I also told everyone who was around me looking at books about her. Maybe it helped or maybe not, but how could she?
Now it’s how can e the readers help you fight this?
I will be checking all of the authors from here on out.
I love you Nora as so many others do. Beth Reed
You’ve worked very hard to earn your bully pulpit.
Use it, give ’em hell and no apologies.
And although you never wished for it, thanks for going public with the Dailey plagiarism. It’s provided my husband with a case study on plagiarism for his college freshman writing classes for the last 20 years.
As one of those voracious readers, AND struggling authors. Thank You!!!! Buy the book – if you can’t buy it at full price – there are libraries, yard sale, swap groups, etc. Thank you for doing what you do!
Nora, thank you for everything you are doing for your fellow writers and every reader. You have worked damn hard to get to the top of the heap. You deserve everything that you have. Don’t give up the fight. We’ve got your back and if there is anything you would like us to do, just say the word.
Keep fighting the good fight. I would rather have quality then quantity. I don’t need immediate gratification. We appreciate how hard you work to share your stories with us. I don’t mind the price or the wait.
Before this week I was completely unaware of this issue. I am not one who buys 1.00 books exclusively or even often. But I have. And have found some writers I really like that way. Maggie Shayne was one and Kelley Armstrong another. Most were a waste of my time. However I saw a 1.00 book the other day that peaked my interest, after your post had opened my eyes to the issue, the first thing I did was look for web page. There wasn’t one, but there was a well established Facebook page complete with pictures at various writer events (good sign). Then I looked to see how often were these books published? Once a year or so and they do appear to be self published. BTW I’m ok with that. Nothing wrong with self publishing. I still haven’t bought the 1.00 book. I want to do more research.
So thank you for making this public. I would not want to participate in this accidentally because I was ignorant to the problem . I am a huge fan and I am happy to wait the 6 months or so between books. You get them out faster than many and I am grateful for it but would NEVER expect or ask for an author to “hurry up and release more” that is just disrespectful of the art. And it is an art to write a well crafted, immersive novel. As far as the negative Nellie’s out there. There will always be some. You just do you cause you do it best.
I agree with everything you’ve said in this post, and I for one am damn grateful that you’re willing to fire back. Less well known authors have been fighting back against this crap for *years,* and nobody (looking at you, Amazon) seems to care unless we raise a public stink and it goes viral. If *you* start complaining about this, far more people in positions of power are going to notice. I can only hope it will have a positive effect on reduction of the scammers and plagiarists.
Nora Roberts, You. Are. The. Queen. I love your books, love your writing and savor my escapes into your stories. Thank you for continuing the battle against plagiarism in whichever form it may show itself. And please keep writing for all of your readers, myself included. You got this.
As a fellow author, I’m with you. People often forget that a writer who doesn’t get paid will often just stop publishing because it isn’t worth it. If readers want to continue to have new, quality stories to read, they have to be willing to pay for it.
Nora I support what you are doing whole heartedly. I have read since a small child and have been loyal to authors whom I have enjoyed over those decades. I perhaps noticed 10 years ago an Author I had followed, that as their books became more popular and frequent, the tone started to change. The story lines did not flow, the characters personalities changed. I then looked further afield reading popular authors who credited co authors and then understood what had happened with the other series of books, a series of ghost writers had taken over producing that authors books. I felt cheated, disappointed and also grieved for the loss of that character and their support cast who had changed over the past 5 years or so. I do not look for that author’s books anymore. Thank you for staying true to your characters and true to your readers. I wish you well with the challenge ahead. Regards
Thank you Nora from a reader who loves your work. I have a books to purchase list and use It when I have the money to buy if not the I rely on the library. I even give suggestions on which books to buy whether it’s physical or ebooks. Keep fighting this reader is behind the hardworking authors who share their unique gift with us. I never care when a release date is pushed back because I know they have lives outside of writing and am always happy when the books do come out because they are still around and healthy to continue sharing with us. So if you don’t hear it enough THANK YOU????
Nora, I am one of the people who left traditional publishing and found success in indie. I love that the opportunity is there for so many to live their dream of becoming authors, but I hate that Amazon has put a system in place that has attracted the worst of society. These people are not authors and don’t care about story. They are money-hungry parasites who flock to whatever system is the easiest to scam, then move on when that system breaks down completely or is sealed up. They are not artists. They have zero care for craft or the reader.
So many of us are thrilled that you are taking this on because we’ve been yelling from the trenches forever, but we lack the clout to force change. All you have to do is put out the call, and tens of thousands of legitimate indie authors will be standing right with you. We’re already doing what we can spreading the word. If there’s anything else we can do, just ask and it will be done.
Nora, I have loved your books since I started reading them in the early ’90’s. Your recent books, I have struggled with, but it hasn’t changed my belief that you are my favorite author. I don’t tend to try a lot of new authors often. I like about a dozen. But I will look on Amazon and read the free portions of the book that are available, then it gives me an idea if I will be happy with the rest of the book. I will also try a book via the free Audible credit. I enjoy good writing and you are the best. I applaud that you have taken a stand on this and hope that it makes a positive change. I remember many years ago in college, someone plagiarized a paper that I had written for a class and how that made me feel when the professor called me in to talk to me. That is small compared to what you and all these authors are going through. You go girl!!!!
Thank you for defending those of us who have a whisper instead of a voice in this battle.
As a self published writer who is lucky to get two books out a year, I appreciate your efforts. I am fairly new to publishing, and could not for the life of me figure out how some authors were putting things out so fast and for so cheap. Especially such poorly edited material. Now I know and it’s disgusting.
I will do my best to share everything you write on this subject as far and wide as I can.
Erin I am not in the business, just a voracious reader. What is wide? Is it another place to buy books? If so, how do I get to it?
Wide just means having your books on all the vendors: Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play as well as Amazon and possibly other places like libraries and Scribd. When authors say they are in KU -Kindle Unlimited- that means their books are only available on Amazon.
Mrs. Roberts over many many years you have brought so much enjoyment to me through your books. I am so sorry that you are having low down dirt rubbing belly snakes stealing your hard work and claiming as their own. I always buy your hardbacks because your books are my “friends” and I visit them over and over again. I can’t imagine how you and other authors come up with the story, charcters and plot. To try makes my head spin! So I am so thankful for all of you talented people for my mini vacations you have given me! I am ALWAYS eager for your next book, not to get them for free but for my next adventure! Go get’em and know you have people in your corner!
Writers have always been their own worst enemies. That’s why they continue to be the most expendable and poorly paid workers in the Hollywood hierarchy. Hell, they’re not even ALLOWED ON THE SETS of the movies they write. Remember in the 90s when Napster came along and the music industry went bonkers and cracked down on that so hard and swift that it disappeared? Remember how actors unionized and demanded overtime, safe working conditions, and residuals?
Watch as the publishing industry does nothing about this. Watch as writers continue to work for free, post their novels for free, and beg people to read their books for free or less than a dollar.
The very few who know their worth (like Nora) shouldn’t have to drag up all you writers just begging for a scrap of a free read.
I agree completely. Thanks for standing up not only for yourself, but other authors facing the same issues. I only started reading your books a few years ago, and you’ve become one of my favorite authors. Keep up the good work!
Of the thousands of books in my library, only three authors will go to the nursing home with me, and you are one. I’m getting unable to read print and now have to rely on ebooks. I applaud your hard work and dedication over the decades and I’m perfectly willing to pay an author full price for their work. it’s the least I can do. Thank you for taking this on. I wish there was a magic pill to solve the problem, but amazon only understands money. I wish I could help, but I don’t know another source to get my ebooks. Yours is the only authors blog I read, so I hope if there is a solution to help us pick only honest authors that you will let us know. Thank you so much for you heart, and your work.
You’re awesome. Thank you so much for fighting this fight for every legitimate author who loves writing, respects the craft and their readers. It breaks my heart that honest authors are quitting because they can’t afford to compete with scammers who take the majority of money from the KU pot, and that books have been used solely to make money with no regard for what books are really about: telling a story so that someone can live in another world and escape or learn something they didn’t know before and empathise. These scammers are desecrating something sacred, something that is based on empathy and emotion. Where will we be if the only ones able to afford to publish are scammers who rehash books over and over, quickly written (often crap) stuff that doesn’t enrich anyone.
You could be using all your time to write, and you could also avoid the stress that comes with fighting something like this, but you haven’t run the other way; you’ve done the brave and difficult thing solely to help others. You are an inspiration, and a sorely needed reminder for me that decent, ethical people who CARE still exist. Thank you so much, Nora. If you need any kind of support, I’m here to give it. I will totally stand with you. Dionne Lister
All anyone has to do to realize that Nora is SPOT ON about the devaluing of the romance novel by the proliferation of free and 99 cent books is look at the publishing industry. The major publishers are bailing out of romance as fast as they can. They can’t make money at it any more. The value of the romance novel has been so completely destroyed that they cannot break even, let alone turn a profit, competing against the free/cheap novel. We can debate ad nauseum how and why the print publishers failed to compete earlier, or whether Amazon et al helped ruin the value of the romance novel, but the fact remains that this is where we are. Only a handful of authors have the fan base and publishing clout to command ten to fifteen dollars or more for a print novel. And only another handful command high volume sales in e-book for some reasonable price of at least several dollars per unit for their work. Everyone else is flat out of luck. Which is tragic.
Not all self-publishers do a lot of commenting publicly.
For every one or two that do, there may be tens or hundreds of lurkers–who are in full support of what you and others are trying to accomplish. Some won’t be, for whatever reason.
Some prefer to do a lot of thinking before making opinions known. Some less-experienced authors aren’t even certain what to say, being unfamiliar with a lot of the problems in this side of the industry.
I know it seems everyone knows about this, but I was talking to some author friends an hour ago who knew nothing about it. The idea of scammers got a “Huh?” in response.
The Indie industry IS broken in many ways, and it needs fixing. I have been watching this industry since my first release in late 2010, and it continues to grow more and more tentacles. Some are extremely withered and rotten.
There are many who are working to change things, many still who are closely watching developments and preparing to act, and some are offering unseen support through donations to affected individuals’ legal funds, and personal email support or just shoulders to cry on. Or passing on information through mentorships or other message boards, or one-on-one so that newer authors don’t get victimized.
Jealousy exists, as does misinformation, pure spite and hate, deliberate misguidance done to other authors and a lot of other actions by other authors that are horrible.
I have been the victim of some of it, simply for having had some success. It’s one reason why I rarely speak out on message boards any longer—even those I once felt were “safe”.
But all-in-all, I have found that MOST of the romance community in general that I have interacted with is extremely supportive.
And willing to step up when the time comes.
At the heart of the romance industry will always be one thing—readers who want great stories. Stories we, as authors who love romance, can provide them. Writers (or readers) shouldn’t lose hope because of the Scamageddon that has been happening for the last handful of years.
I am often too busy to spend much time online. When I do say something, it’s because I feel the issue IS important.
Like this one.
Not all authors speak out frequently–but may be able to help in other ways. Even if it’s just by spreading the word when they can.
The self-publishing world may have many tentacles—but so does the internet. So does the romance industry.
Enough people sharing/talking/watching/following can make a significant enough noise.
A SINGLE voice is rarely loud enough to make change–but perhaps many joined together can make a real difference.
I am more than willing to offer mine.
I am behind you 100%. Go get them, Nora!! And thank you! From the bottom of my heart for taking the time and the effort to do this.
Thank you for being such a leader in this industry. You are appreciated.
I hope you go after all of them. I’m also a voracious reader, but I don’t expect the author’s to foot the bill for my reading habits. There are just too many ways to avoid that — you just can’t be lazy about finding them. Almost every library subscribes to an online entity like Overdrive.com, so get the books from the library. Sign up for emails from Amazon, Bookbub, etc. because they’ll provide lists of books on sale – some even free. Write reviews for your favorite authors. Anyway – there are just a lot of ways to feed your reading habit without resorting to those scam artists.
This is so shocking to me!!! Being a voracious reader on a budget is not a good enough excuse as far as I am concerned. For most of my adolenscence and early adulthood I couldn’t afford to buy all the books I wanted to read and most of what I read came from the library.
Bought books were left for special series/beloved authors I saved up for and birthday and Christmas presents.
A lot of effort goes into getting a book published and in our hands/on our devices. That costs overhead. Plus it’s the authors intellectual property.
Nobody claims to love art so much that they should be given it for free…. no, if you can’t afford to own art, you go to museums and galleries to enjoy it.
Likewise with books, if you can’t afford your book habit, go to the freakin library and get your books there, or get them second hand in used bookshops.
I am so sorry you and those other authors have had to deal with this. It must be so devastating to have your work stolen like that.
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