As I said before I’m getting an education in the self-pubbed, indie author world. I’ve always been an traditionally published author, so I’ve neither lived nor worked in this world.
My books are, of course, available as e-books. My publisher publishes them in all formats. I just write the books.
Regarding books cheap or free, I’ve gotten an education there, too. What I’ve heard from various indie authors is basically this:
When this market opened years ago, those who chose to self-pub were able to take the time they needed to craft their story, do all the work required to publishe that work on line (it’s a lot). Most could and did–from my understanding–price their books at (rounding) about five dollars. Maybe more depending on the page count of the book.
At that price, the author earns 70% of the cover price. They’re doing all the work, paying–I hope–for a professional editor, paying for cover, for ads. It’s all out of their pocket, so they earn the lion’s share of the cover price.
They did the marketing, the advertising, the social media–while they worked on their next book. Maybe it took them three months, six months, even a year to craft that next book. Which they then published for about five dollars.
In this way, many could make a decent living.
A Broken System
Then came the scammers, and with the methods discussed in previous blogs, who flooded the market with 99 cent books. What a bargain! Readers couldn’t know these books were stolen or copied or written by ghostfarms. Couldn’t know about the clickfarms, the scam reviews.
At this price, the author receives only 30% (there’s a price point cut off on royalty rate). So all those out of pocket expenses may or may not be covered.
The legit indie saw her sales suffer, her numbers tank, her placement on lists vanish. To try to compete, many had to struggle to write faster, to heavily discount their work. Some had to give up writing altogether.
One other scamming method is to list a book–forever–as free. Not as a promotion, or incentive, but to toss up hordes or free books, so the reader wants–and often demands–free. They make their money off the scores of cheap and stolen books, and destroy the legit writer. Why pay when there are scores of free books at your fingertips?
Reporting bad actors, filing complaints didn’t do much. There have been, I’m told, some actions and improvements. But the scammers continue to thrive.
So those struggling authors have to devalue their own work, as many readers became accustomed to the fast and the cheap. Or the free.
I am NOT saying all books at a bargain price are scams, I am NOT saying readers should never scoop up a bargain or download a free book. I AM saying if you’re a reader who pushes for fast and cheap, who buys books simply because they’re under a buck, who hounds authors for free (and yeah, you know who you are, too) as I’m often hounded, this is a problem. This just plays into a broken system.
And I’ll happily say it again. Pay the artist, pay the creator.
Many authors–as Kasey Michaels explained so well in the comments on my previous blog–are and have been publishing their backlist on-line. Books they wrote for traditional publishers (for which they were paid) and now have the rights to. So many of them, like Kasey, offer a free book or a 99 cent one as a loss leader. But then up the price point for the rest in that series, or another group of books.
The straight to indie author is paid ONLY through those on-line purchases. And they can’t survive on thirty-three cents a sale. They wouldn’t have to without the culture these scammers created.
The scammers can survive, because of the volume they produce, of the bonuses they earn from incentive programs. I’m told some earn thousands, many thousands a week.
Feeding the Beast
Your honest, hard-working self-pubbed author? Not even close.
Writers are nowhere without readers. But readers are nowhere without those hard-working writers who pour their creative juices, their hours at the keyboard into the best book they can write.
If you want a book for a dollar, that’s your choice. It’s easy enough to check the author’s website, take a little preview of the story, see what else they might have to offer.
But if you’re a reader who’s just glomming those books because they’re cheap, because you’ve gotten used to cheap, it feeds the beast.
It’s still your choice–will always be your choice whether it’s buying on-line or buying paper.
For those–you know who you are, too–who’ve tossed my money back in my face, claim I’m elitist and mouthing off because I’m rich?
199 thoughts on “Let Me Address This”
Bravo! Jealous of your well deserved fame and hard earned money? Screw ’em. Keep up the good fight for all of the real authors who may not have the funds to sue.
I so agree!
I’ve purchased .99 books in the past, or downloaded the free ones, but that almost always leads to me paying 4.99 for the next several books in a series. I’ve purchased the .99 and free standalones, but you can always tell which ones were thought through. Knowing all of this now, I think I’ll stop with the free standalone books. I would never even think to call you an elitist. Anyone who does obviously doesn’t know your writer’s work ethic and/or how long you’ve been writing. It’s just too easy to take shots at whoever is on top
I could have written your post, except you’re a better writer. I won’t buy any more cheap stand alone books, either.
This is how it usually works for me. An author I enjoy or who is well reviewed will offer the 1st book in a series as free or $1 and then I’ll get hooked and buy the whole series at retail. I have Amazon Unlimited, and often the first book in a series is on AU and the rest are retail. And I’m good with that. There’s a few authors I’ve become friendly with through social media over the years and I’ve seen the struggles and work that goes into self publishing, or traditional publishing. It’s beyond infuriating that people will lie, cheat, or steal to make a quick buck.
I do the same, and I love getting the first book free or cheap. If I like it, I’m happy to pay for the others. This helps me find new authors, which I’m sure is the intent.
I also at first fell for a lot of the .99 standalone, but most are horrible.
I do this as well. I’m happy to buy a series at full price once I know I like the books or author. I have shared and supported self published authors as they do fantastic work. It’s good to get this out there and hopefully will educate the masses about what goes on. Is there anything amazon can do once the plagiarist has been identified? Ban them? Delete their books? Something?
You basically said exactly what I came to say. Thank you for saving me the typing.
I have also bought and read the free or .99 cent books to “try” an authors work. I’ve always thought it is a great bait trick. Hook me on the first book and I will probably buy every book you have written. But, if your bargain book is hastily written and shoddy work I will not be a repeat offender no matter how cheap or how many books you write. I value my favorite authors and enjoy the escape you give me. $7.99 is a small price to pay for hours of entertainment and a brief escape from the real world. Thank you all for your hard work. You bring joy to me often!
I agree and I too am going to quit the free or 99¢ books. They many times are just plain bad, and now I know why!
Nora, I have read your books since the very first one and love them, gladly buying hard bound till I got me Kindle. Keep on keeping on! Thank you!
This is where the sample on Amazon comes in handy. Read a few pages, maybe the whole sample and see if the book hooks you. I do this now with most books-regardless of price.
Debra – I do that as well. The sample tells me whether I want to read a read regardless of price. As an author–and yes, I write my own books–I may be a harsher critic, but life is too short to read bad books.
Thank you ma’am you nailed it. ♥️♥️♥️♥️
Perfect pithy response. And I mean that with the utmost respect. Go, Nora!
I’m a big fan of your books, have been for many years. I’ve gone from paper back to hard cover & now e-reader. I’m a member of book bub & admit to buying the cheap & free books. However after you last blogs I will be rechecking what I buy! I love to read, but not scammed or stolen stuff. Thank you for the education. (& the wonderful books you write).
Me too. I had no idea some could be stolen work. I appreciate the first book in a series free or cheap, then I buy all the rest and add the author to my buy list. Found many awesome writers that way. I think I will stop buying the stand alone ones without further research on the writer. Thank you for the information Nora. I want to support writers not help destroy.
Book Bub is a different story altogether. Authors and publishers pay (a lot!) to list there, and it’s good marketing. They (Bookbub) do their best to weed out the fly-by-nighters. Most if not all of the offers there are legit.
One clarification on Bookbub. There are Bookbub promotions, which are expensive and difficult to get. So yes, those books are legit. However, Bookbub the website will list ANY book. I don’t believe there is any vetting of those (at least not in the US). I’ve never heard of an author being unable to simply list their books on the website
I’m with Annie – although I really appreciate the concern, the one site you don’t have to worry about is BookBub. I am a full-time indie author and have had the great luck of being chosen for a BookBub three times in my career. They’re incredibly difficult to “win” as an author (I don’t even want to think about how many I’ve applied for it and HAVEN’T been chosen!) and then once you do “win,” (ie, your book gets picked), it costs hundreds and hundreds of dollars for the promotion itself. ?
But in return, BookBub vets the book and makes sure that it’s on the up-and-up, and that the author is on the up-and-up. Any book featured in a BookBub is not a scam, I promise.
Last but not least: Almost all scammers and thieves are operating within the Kindle Unlimited system, because Amazon has made it stupidly easy to steal from them using KU. The books being “written” aren’t being read by anyone – the scammers are using bots to “read” these books, and then the scammer gets paid for these “page reads.” Very rarely is a real author and a real reader actually involved.
Compare that to a book published on iBooks or B&N or elsewhere. A real reader has to plop down real money to buy real books, and you better bet your bottom dollar that if it was gibberish or poorly written, that reader won’t return for another dose of that. So there’s really no room for a scam to take place, if that makes sense.
So all of that ^^ to say that BookBub rarely runs books that are only available on Amazon; they highly prioritize books available on ALL storefronts, which means right out of the gate, there’s a very small chance that a scam book would be chosen (and then BookBub still does their work after that).
I don’t wish to imply that all KU authors are scammers, but I DO wish to imply that all scammers are in KU, because Amazon has done a downright sh*tty job of patrolling and fixing their own mess. Considering they are one of the richest companies in the world, I just don’t see any valid excuse for their ineptitude, other than they just don’t care enough to do their job.
Hopefully Nora can help fix this by forcing public attention to the problem. As one of the most popular authors on the planet, if she can’t do it, who can?
I’ll be right here, doing all I can to cheer her on. ❤️
As I posted in response to someone’s comment on Nora’s previous blog post, Amazon does not change their system because it’s not in =their= best interest to change it.
From an economic standpoint, they receive 64 cents — the lion’s share — of every 99-cent ebook sale, so there is no incentive to run ebooks through a plagiarism checker and potentially deny an ASIN to any ebook that might fail that check.
Sure, you could argue that Amazon “loses” money to scammers through KU, but they have protected themselves by limiting the payout pool to only a few million dollars each month. So, in truth, the only author-publishers enrolled in Kindle Select/KU who truly lose are the legit ones, because the scammers take the lion’s share of the KU pot. Since Amazon has made the business decision to limit its economic risk in the KU arena, and as long as there remain enough readers willing to pony up the subscription fees to keep this business model viable, Amazon has no incentive to change that system either.
The only way to effectively fight any economic unfairness is to vote with one’s feet. If you’re a reader, choose not to enroll in KU, or, better yet, cancel your KU subscription. Cancellations will get noticed. Enough cancellations, and the business model collapses.
Encouraging our readers to cancel their KU subscriptions may be the =only= viable way to convince Amazon to clean up the dirt pile they created.
You are correct Kim, however it is not just readers who need to walk away. Authors also need to stop signing up to be part of the KU program. They can still sell on Amazon, just don’t agree to the demand for exclusivity. I sell on Amazon but also on B&N, Kobo, Apple etc and my sales have remained good because I don’t depend on just one market.
Bookhub isn’t so bad. I think advertisement there is by invitation only and somewhat vetted. The scammers are mostly on Kindle Unlimited.
bookbub researches what books they offer, so probably 99% percent of authors you see on there are legit indie or famous authors just like nora, that is a site that indies use to get traction and reach new readers with teh free or 99 cent deals (we pay to be listed. for a .99 cent book an author can pay $130 to $1000 depending on the genre to list their book with BookBub, who then sends it out to YOU the reader for free or .99 cent) Book Bub is legit but still costs indies who don’t have a publishing company paying the fee
Thank you for the education!!! I love all of your books and will never ever go for a free or cheap online book again without doing my research!!
I have found that cheap and free books are worth exactly what you pay for them. Next to nothing.
Like most commenters I too am guilty of buying the cheap books. I had no idea i was supporting these fake “writers”. No more! I read because I admire the authors who have the skill and talent to write engaging stories and I want to only support those writers. Thank you for opening my eyes. Keep on writing Nora, and please keep up the good fight. Those people who don’t have the resources to stand up for themselves will surely appreciate that you do. A loyal and steadfast fan.
You go! I am so proud to be a fan of yours, always have been. I love a person who stands for what they believe instead of whimping out!! Every time I read about this I am reminded of this quote from Edmund Burke “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Loved youer ending response, what else would you expect from the woman whose genius created the one and only Eve Dallas!! Thank you for all you are doing!
I am so glad someone with a “voice” is speaking up for all the struggling writers out there, and letting readers know what’s what. While I will take advantage of a promo to introduce a new author, generally I have found you get what you pay for, and while I wish my favorite authors could write more quickly, I have found the reason I love them and their books is the time and effort and research they put into their craft!!
And if you do find a bargain that looks too good to be true, it probably is. Like the person who was selling Nora’s entire catalog in epub and Kindle formats, all for under $30.
When you find something like that, don’t buy it, contact the author, their publicist, and/or publisher first, to see if it’s an authorized reseller (most are not), and let them get the legal actions started.
I am more than willing to pay for well crafted items– books happily included. I will continue to pay full price for the chance to read newly published books by my favorite authors. I don’t have time to waste on the crap. I’m also willing to support new authors putting blood, sweat and tears into getting their books self published, by paying full price for them. If we can’t afford to buy, use the library.
As eloquent as ever thank you for making me more mindful about purchasing books. The education Ihave been receiving over the past few months has been eye opening.
I have bought the .99 cent book, of a “new” to me author, but then have gone on to buy the rest (25 or so) of the rest of the series. I usually only buy the few authors I love, Nora, Christina Dodd, Susan Mallory, Sandra Hill, Janet Chapman, Lisa Kleypas, Laurell K. Hamilton, J.R. Ward, Marie Force, Diana Gabaldon. I am very particular about the writing, and these ladies are the best, in my opinion. I won’t buy a book on line, of someone I don’t know, without trying some of their writing first. After seeing all of this, I certainly won’t be trying any more. To all the hard working authors out there, I salute you. I love to read, but could NEVER do what you do, and I appreciate all of your hard work. You go, Nora, and your readers will be behind you, one hundred percent!!!
Nailed it again Nora….. keep fighting the fight……I love your books and more than that, your integrity as a writer…..
Never have bought “free”, never will! Keep on pushing Nora, you are a rock star!!
Never have bought free or online books I like to hold the actual book in my hands. I have been a reader of yours from the very beginning. I used to read Janet Dailey till I noticed that her writing was like yous, or copied so I stopped reading her but I will never stop reading Nora or J D. Love all your books and have all of Nora and J D in my bookcase. Thank you! Keep up the good work and the fight.
I rarely purchase .99 books or even free ones, unless it’s an author I’m interested in and the beginning of a series. I rarely look at prices when I buy a book. They’re one of my few indulgences. I’m willing to pay for good work, and you are MORE than worth the money for your work.
When I want “free” books, I visit my local library, not Amazon.
I’m trying to think of a way that Amazon could stop this. Maybe require that all books be run through a plagiarism engine first? Require that all e-books are priced at $4.99 and above? I don’t know.
BTW, the latest in the In Death series is one I always buy on release day – I get Kindle AND audiobook because both are so enjoyable.
I agree, if you can’t afford to buy a book go to the library. I can get kindle books and audiobooks free. Love the In Death books! I was SO Excited to get a card from Eve and Roarke a few years ago!
As a former librarian, I absolutely cheer on the idea of getting your books from there. ??
I am now a full-time author – I pay all of my bills from my career as an indie author – so I thought I should jump in here with a thought about free books:
I have two permafrees (permanently free books at the start of my two series). I don’t have them up for free because I’m independently wealthy and can write for free. (Hahahahahahahaha! Excuse me while I collect myself over here…)
No, I have permafrees because I look at them like Costco looks at free samples – as a way of enticing people to try something new. It’s a cost of doing business. When I first released these two books, they weren’t free. I charged full price for them. But once there were enough books in those series to make it worthwhile financially, I made these books free, as a way of drawing in new readers and hopefully convincing them to read the rest of the series at full price.
The sales of the rest of my series is how I make my money. It’s how I pay my bills and for food in my belly (and my cat’s belly and my husband’s belly. ?) We all have this strange desire to eat on a fairly regular basis. Craziness…
So I guess what I’m saying is, don’t feel bad about downloading and reading a free book. For a lot of authors, it’s one of our best tools in our marketing toolbox. But if you read a book for free from an author and really enjoyed it, then understand that it’s time to pony up the money and buy the other books.
If you do that ^^ you’ll be every author’s best friend. ❤️❤️
(And if you can’t afford to buy the rest of the series, convince your local library to carry them and then EVERYONE can enjoy the books. Win-win!)
Amazon doesn’t care if they’re paying scammers. I believe their philosophy is either way they have to pay out the money so they don’t care who receives it. Indie writers have been reporting book stuffers, click farms, purchased reviews, etc. for years! Amazons response has been to ignore it, or in some cases to actually punish the reporter by shutting down their accounts. All this while setting up a system like Kindle Unlimited that tries to makes hostages of writers and destroy their seanings through a pay-per-page read system. It makes me question exactly WHO is the biggest scammer here. Possibly Amazon itself
Love it. I have no problem paying for the books. And for those that think Nora Robert’s should not make the money she does for for books. You work for free then right? Why should she not enjoy the fruits of her labor like the rest of you. I am happy you write your books and grateful for your gifts in that. Thank you
I often start a new author or series from a discounted first book. This gives me chance to get hooked, and then I’ll buy the series. I love finding series that have many many books for me to devour.
I have been reading your books for over twenty years, my favorites being the in Death series. Thank you for every minute of with you put into your books as I have gotten thousands of hours of enjoyment.
Love you so much and your way with words. Not just in the amazing books your write, which I gladly pay for and look forward to, but your blogs as well! Keep doing what you are doing!
I am happy you have weighed in on this, mainly because your stature in the industry means you might have the clout to get someone’s (AMAZON’s) attention. I follow many indie authors and several authors who do both traditional publishing and some indie publishing and Amazon’s culpability in this is huge, but the lesser known authors can’t seem to get Amazon’s attention in any significant way.
Go Eve!! I have all Ms. Robert’s books in paperback or hardcover. Just last fall I even listened to all the JD Robb books on CD. I have no problem buying books and supporting authors. Many books I read again. Books are cheaper than eating out and they don’t have any calories.
Nora you nailed this. I feel terrible for the hard working authors that get pulled in. So many people want everything for free. Wonder how they think the author is making any money? It is a sad situation and I wish someone could do something. I cannot imaging how many hours and brain cells it takes you to write a book, the people whine because you are gouging with the price? Would like to see these idiots try. I am more than happy to pay the price when it hits the stands. Thank You for your years of hard work. Go Get them Nora
You rock Nora, love what I have learned here with all your posts, knowledge is power! Thank you. 🙂
I started off as an indie romance reader finding new authors via Bookbub or Freebooksy, but typically if I loved their work, I continue with those authors paying full price, buying all their collected pieces and audiobooks if available. I know of one author that cranks out their books quickly but I know it’s a duo and basically they take turns releasing quick short novellas. I will say I’ve taken advantage of free books from an author before, however it’s usually an intro to a series and I keep on chugging after that one and always leave reviews and promoting books to my fellow romance lovers. Also I have two particular authors that I’m on an ARC reader list and I always purchase those books when they come out even if I’ve already read the book via ARC. This whole shenanigans just infuriates me and I’m glad a big name like you is stepping in and defending those indie authors who cant really take retribution to these farming books!
Hey Amanda! I’m a full-time indie author; I was just reading down through the comments here when yours caught my eye. I’m sure your favorite authors have already told you how much they appreciate your support, but I just wanted to reiterate that from an author’s POV, what you’re doing is simply awesome. I have a couple of people on my ARC team who buy my books even after they got them for free from me, because they know that having that “Verified Purchase” next to their review helps me out a lot (not to mention the income from the sale of the book, of course).
But anyway, THANK YOU for supporting authors in this way. It’s readers like you who make our careers possible. <3
Thanks for the latest follow up. You’re the best, Nora. Keep at ‘em! It’s terrible what’s happening.
Give ’em hell, Nora!! Us loyal fans support your efforts and would rather pay for quality over quantity.
You are fighting the good fight and we who appreciate creativity are with you. I am an interior designer who has fought similar types of battles in my own field. Your books are good. Your books are worth every penny I pay for them. Thank you for many many hours of enjoyment.
Also, I will admit that as a young mom with 5 kids ages 12 and down and a very small book budget, I scoured used book stores to get my books cheaply. I know that means no author got royalties from me, but in my defense, I would never have bought books new, because I couldn’t afford them. As soon as our financial situation improved, I started buying new, and although I am as likely as anyone else to purchase a book on sale if I run across one, I do not search only for 99 cent books! I sympathise with the readers out there on a budget, but the library is still free, so you don’t have to undermine authors by insisting on 99 cent and free stuff on Amazon and other e-vendors.
If you bought a used book, the writer had already been paid. I have no problem, whatsoever, with used book stores. The reader bought the book—the writer was paid, and the book became the property of the reader. The reader chose to sell it or trade it in. No problem. Someone else bought it. And maybe it they liked it, looked for more of the author’s book.
Which is why I give away my paperbacks all the time to readers. I put them in little free libraries and donation boxes (as well as prisons). Maybe someone reads it and passes it on. It’s a win-win for me. New readers.
I’ve never bought stand alone free books. That policy was founded on the notion of ‘you get what you pay for’, so I always assumed those books were garbage; my time has at least some value, so I don’t want to spend it sorting through garbage.
I love using a free or 99 cent loss leader to try out a series, or even a new to me but established author. I always figure the author or her publisher is using her back catalog to catch the attention of new readers.
You’ve completely opened my eyes to this issue. I have bought a few books like this. I’ll think twice before I do it again. I love your books❣
Nora, thank you for this eye-opening discussion on self-publishing and scamming. I used to write fan fiction – and still dabble a bit. It’s a way for me to be creative and indulge my love of writing in order to practice the craft. By developing my own original characters interacting with established ones, and writing for a specific fan base, I felt it was a way to hone my own skills for perhaps being published myself someday.
A few of the authors I used to write with have been published, through indie and traditional means. The idea their work (or any author’s) is being mined to make money for someone other than them is appalling. I may just have written tiny fan fiction tales, but it was still my work. I created it. You’re amazing to go after these crooks and I’m positive you’ll persevere.
Thank you for all your work, but especially for the In Death series. I am so grateful for you and your talent!
As a FAnfiction writer I completely agree with you. FAnfiction writers take the characters and create stories of their own. We don’t try to benefit from it or claim them as our own. Every FAnfiction work I’ve seen always credits the writer. I’ve actually gone and taken permission from a writer. We all remember the Ann Rice debacle. But I’ve also seen some writers take the fanfiction and just change the names and publish them as original work.
Thank you for saying this on such a large stage. My late husband was a published composer and arranger. When our children were of college age, his royalties and fees paid their tuitions. He died 40 years shy of a full life, and without the income from his published works the family wouldn’t be able to pay bills.
I don’t seem to have that problem. I usually only purchase your books:) ?♀️
I am not even 40, but I feel old. I love the feel of an actual book in my hands.
That said, thank you for fighting against brokenness.
Love it. These are your creations your work and you should not have apologize for what you have earned.
With each blog you post I am getting angrier and angrier at what I’ll term, the “book underworld”. These people, and I refuse to call them authors, make their money off of the true writer’s back causing a devaluation of the work and of the very core of writing. I have always bought Nora Roberts book in hard cover and will continue to do so as long as you continue write them. There are very few other author’s books I would do that for but as my favorite all-time author, Nora Roberts books, and her pseudonym, J.D. Robb’s books, will always have a place on my bookshelves. Indeed, I buy bookshelves specifically for her books! I am grateful to you, Nora, for shining a very bright light on this issue. It’s time for the beggars and stealers to stand up, be counted and get what’s due them. NOTHING!
Kudos to you for taking this on, for making a fuss, for leading the charge. A lot of readers and writers are going to be awakened by these posts and will join you in your fight. I had no idea this stuff was happening out there. It’s good that it’s being exposed now.
I discovered a favorite indie author, Angela White, because of a free book I downloaded. It’s still free to draw readers in, and the rest of the books in the series are between 3.99 and 4.99. I pay that gladly, and often wonder why she doesn’t charge more for them, as it’s a great story. I have downloaded a few other free books, from other authors, and it’s hit or miss. Some are crap, and some are worth paying for the next book. For the most part I have stopped downloading free books, as I tend to stick with favorite authors. But, had I not downloaded that first free book, I would have missed out on what is now one of my favorite authors. Now I eagerly await paying for the next book in the series as it comes out. That being said, I ALSO buy a new Nora Roberts or JD Robb eagerly when they come out, and I gladly pay the 14.99 for that. I have always believed in paying for good work. I am often amazed at how frequently Nora releases books, and can’t imagine how any legitimate author could put out books any faster. Although I often say I can’t wait for the next book, I would never say that they should churn them out faster than the creative process allows. I had no idea this was all going on in the “underbelly” of ebooks. I, myself, love ebooks, as I can carry hundreds of books with me wherever I go. I am so sorry for all that these authors are going through. Well said Nora, and I’m glad someone with your clout is standing up for these authors, who maybe can’t do it on their own. As to Nora being rich, as an avid reader of anything she puts out, I would say she’s earned every penny! (The hard way). And I have never gotten the impression of her being an elitist from anything I’ve ever read or heard about her, from blogs, books, or word of mouth from those who have met her, which I, sadly, have not. Keep up the great work, Nora, and give em hell!
CA: it is readers like you that authors like me LOVE! 😀 Very well said. And from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Well said CA, I also look at the cheap books and have found a couple of authors that I follow from free ebooks, and pay for the new books. I also read ebooks now as I can adjust the size of the font. Nora opened my eyes to the ebook underbelly but I have also been scammed by authors who publish a reissue, you buy thinking you have a new book and you have read before.
We, your readers are with you every step of the way!! Wrong is wrong, period!! Kick their ass “Eve”!
I have purchased the odd 99 cent book or free book but not many. Usually when it’s just a good deal. I always pay for my favorites (like Nora, or JD Robb) and always will. I only have a few authors I stick with.
Even at my “old-crone” age, people amaze me.
I have purchased 99 cent books – some were ok, some were truly awful and others led me to some truly exceptional authors.
Because of my vision, using an e-reader makes reading easier for me.
That said, I am glad you wrote this post, Nora. Having been a fan of yours for so many years – and having paid full-price on Amazon – I would never think of you as elitest.
In truth, your books are inspiring – not just with Eve’s outlook on life, but how she and Roarke overcame difficult childhoods and give back to society. I love how you can weave magic into so many stories. You and your family are inspiring – and sharing your blog is just another part of you for which I am so grateful.
As you say, it comes down to personal choice. A smart -e-reader knows the fakes from the real writers; we know how to hit that “Delete from Device” in a single moment. We know we are gambling with out 99 cents – we know the authrors who are writers from the heart – such as yourself.
It’s sad when petty jealousies become major taunts. I stand with you – as will your readers.
Love your work I have almost all of your books print version. I have been a fan since I read “The Last Honest Woman” in a magazine, while at doctor appointment.
I get tagged on because I buy all my books through the barns and noble app and read them on my tablet. I had so many books in my house and my husband had had it with books everywhere. ( I read all the time!) so our compromise was that I would buy all my books on my book or tablet from them on. I do but through legit stores. It free eweb sites. And yes most of the time if it’s a series the first one sometimes two are low priced to draw a reader in and the rest of the trilogy or series is normal priced. Cough cough I do have a select fe that I hide here and there because well I need the paper in my hand and on my tablet lol. Any writer who puts the time into their books of art deserves the recognition and royalties etc that go with it. I don’t personally think people who use ghost writers should be given the same, as I think the ghost writer deserves it. But that’s just me. Why get me amped about a book that you didn’t write and that you take full credit for. Bleh. Nora you are an amazing woman and artist and I love all the amazing work you do. So much so that my wallet is much lighter because I have to preorder all your work with out even previewing, why? Because I trust you as a writer and know that I will love the next work of art as much if not more then the last. Thank you!
I love your work Nora and have no problem purchasing your books. I have never read any work by an indie author. I am curious as to why they don’t take their books to a publisher. Is there a reason they choose the indie route? Why won’t a publisher publish their books?
You’ve asked an excellent question. There are a variety of reasons an author decides to go Indie.
The first is that it is incredibly hard to get traditionally published. I read stats claiming that out of 1000 manuscripts submitted to a publishing house, ten might be read by one of the lower minions in the business and .1% of those ten will be published.
Does this mean the unread manuscripts weren’t good? No. They might have been amazing but the world will never know as the odds are stacked against a new author being discovered. Some new authors are willing to keep submitting manuscripts over and over but others decide to strike out on their own.
Other Indies, like myself, simply don’t want to be traditionally published. We are the entrepreneurs of the book world who like to oversee a project from beginning to end. I don’t want a publisher telling me how long my books can be, or what the cover must be like. I don’t want to write to suit the ‘average reader’ or to have to deal with deadlines. I love the entire creative process from planning the story to finding images for the cover, formatting it for ebook and paper, creating graphics for my ads… It’s a steep learning curve if you want to do it properly but very satisfying in the end.
I hope this answers your question. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!
I’m one of those self-published authors, who is also published by a small press publisher, so I want to address this comment from my own experience. I do not mean this to be a rant or in any way reflective on the original poster. There are a lot of reasons people choose to self-publish and very, very few of them have to do with the quality of their writing. If I did not know that such comments often reflect only an ignorance of the business of writing, I might be very offended by that implication. I’m not because I didn’t understand it myself as a reader before I started writing my own stuff. Publishing is, first and foremost, a business. They cater to whatever the market is looking to buy at the moment. I write in a tiny little niche that is never going to appeal to a mainstream publisher because that market is just not large enough to convince a publisher to spend the money to cater to that particular audience. There are just not enough numbers to convince any publisher to invest the money for that particular market to be economically viable. As much as we like to think it’s all about quality and the ability to tell a good story, sometimes it’s simply a numbers game. Before the advent of self-publishing, I would’ve had two choices. Either change my writing be more mainstream or forget ever being published. Now, with self-publishing, I can tell the stories that I want to tell for the people who want to read them. That’s a very good thing and has nothing to do with the quality of my writing.
Yeah, I’m another one of those honest indie writers who is completely and totally niche. Have the stack of rejects for both long form and short form fiction which read “lovely work, love your writing, love your writing…can’t sell it.” Never going to get rich for it or win awards (I also specialize in earning semifinalist placements in competitons) but that’s the way it is. Sometimes it’s depressing, but it’s reality.
As a self-published author, I can only tell you it’s a choice. Getting published traditionally is very difficult. It’s even harder in Canada as we have very few literary agents and publishers here.
Self-publishing is an option that allows us to get our work out there and seen. Some have no ambition of being published traditionally and some hope to have their self-published works discovered by an agent or publisher.
Also, there’s the advantage of keeping the rights to your work (and all of the royalties).
Lots of reasons.
No one gets to tell me I can’t write about marginalized people as main characters or force me to whitewash my covers or make me rewrite the entire book because of one person’s arbitrary taste who isn’t me. I know how to plot and pace correctly; feedback is always welcome, but I don’t have time to rewrite a novel when I could just publish it and move on.
I retain control of my copyright. No one can forbid me from publishing under a different pen name or offering books to a different publisher or forbid me from writing at all during a particular contract. Yes, these things do happen, and they kill careers.
I don’t want an agent right now except possibly to negotiate foreign rights. They’re supposed to be providing a service to the author. I should be paying them, not the other way around, yet the publisher usually sends them the checks. Some agency house contracts are worse than boilerplate trad pub contracts.
I know how my books are performing every day, in almost-real time. I can pivot and launch a marketing campaign to save a dying book or tweak my promos, etc. whenever I want.
Why would I want to wait between 1 and 5 years to receive the total of an advance, especially knowing the odds are good the publisher will do little to promote my work? I can make more money going directly to distributors and outsourcing work like formatting and cover art that I don’t want to do myself, and I only have to pay contractors ONCE.
If you can dictate / type fast enough to write more than 4 books a year, you can experiment in new and upcoming genres before they’re saturated. By the time the trad pubs have hopped on the bandwagon, the tropes in a genre may have changed. I’ve never heard of a trad pub dragging a book from concept to store shelf in less than a month. Never.
If you’re one of the lucky few who get big ticket promotion and lots of attention from the publisher, they’re probably going to want to use your face and make you appear and sign books, etc. I write in several different genres. I have no desire to connect my very private real life with the world of drama and controversy that goes with being public. I’ve had stalkers. Nope nope nope.
Most publishers won’t accept proposals from non-agented writers since they passed the slush pile on to them. It’s more efficient for the publishers. For everyone else, not so much.
You often have to put a manuscript on hold and shop it to one agent at a time and wait up to a year to get a rejection. If an agent takes 1-2 clients out of 80,000 submissions a year (not a recent stat, but these were Kristin Nelson’s approx. numbers in 2008), and 95% of them are crap, that’s still 4,000 people who have put a book or an entire series on hold on the slim chance THAT agent is going to want THAT book at THAT moment in time and that there isn’t another really good book available that they might want more.
When I realized how crazy that was, I stopped pursuing agents and traditional publishing. Guess what? Readers like my work and pay me anyway!
Thanks for your strength Nora.
This is enlightening and worth attention. Music artists have shared similar struggles.
I appreciate the artist’s work. I pay for the enjoyment of it.
Thank you for being the kind of writer we can enjoy rereading during the hiatus our favorite authors need.
I have had thousands of paper books. I donated more than half my library to shelters when we moved this last time. I paid for every book. After we moved, I bought a Kindle, reluctantly, because I was traveling and it was easier to carry instead of the six or so paperbacks I normally took with me. All this background to say…what have I bought for my Kindle? Electronic copies of all of those paperbacks! I don’t seek out a 0.99 book. If a favorite author offers one, I’ll buy it if I don’t have it. But to seek out 0.99 or free? I know how much heart and soul an author puts into their work. They deserve every penny they get.
Thank you for standing up for all of them. It’s just a shame that enough can’t get together for a class action suit against Amazon, but then that would be cutting off your nose… It’s a no win. 🙁
Thank you for sharing this. I have read and loved a large number of your books and had no idea about this industry. I have occassionally downloaded free books (that weren’t very good) but did not realize where they came from. I will no longer do that as we need to support the real creative writers such as yourself.
I have to say that I’ve only purchased two digital anthologies of yours Nora simply because I couldn’t purchase in book form.all the rest of my collection is proudly in book form.i love the smell!?
As an aspiring writer (as I’m sure many of us are) this both scares me and pisses me off. I can’t imagine stealing anyone else’s work. What would be the point? It’s not mine, and even if I somehow put those lines in a book with my name on it, they are still NOT my ideas. I realize these are my ideals, and not everyone follows the same line….obviously. I also get where Nora is coming from when she adds those people who only want the cheap and free, which only keeps the wheel spinning in this vicious cycle. No one expects other products for free…why are books any different? Someone took a great deal of time to put that product (for you to enjoy) together. Why shouldn’t they be compensated for it??? Its just like any other piece of art…or handcrafted item. You are paying for what that particular person is giving you. I came to the Nora Roberts party a bit late, when I stumbled onto the In Death series a handful of years ago, but I have come to love the world she’s created, as well as respect the author herself. Keep up the good fight, keep writing and I, along with millions of others, will keep buying your books. Love to you and yours.
Thank you for enlightening me on this issue. I just wanted to encourage everyone with a limited books budget to use your public library. It’s a wonderful resource for traditional and ebooks, and librarians are a great resource for looking for new and interesting titles and authors. A great alternative to the $.99 books.
I snort laughed so hard at “Bite me” I scared my poor dog.
Good for you! ❤️ Your true fans are 100% behind you.
Thank you so much for the hours of reading pleasure you have provided me over the years.
I greedily pore over your books when they come out.
Your talent is truly a gift and a blessing.
You keep writing and I’ll keep buying your books.
Thanks again and be blessed.
I wish we knew who some of these authors are. Would be nice to know, to make sure we stay away from them. I agree with others. I’ve looked for the authors I like and gotten the reduced price leader book, or free. I am glad to know about all this. Thanks for telling us about it.
I very rarely will read a free or a .99 cent book by someone I don’t know because quite frankly the story line & polish are just not up to the same caliber as yours or from some of my other favorite authors. What you have said lately has also given me some in-sight on why I have felt let down by some books I was eager to read by a well liked author. I felt that the author hadn’t given me his best & was in a hurry to just publish another book. Now maybe I know why.
I will never read another book by Janet Dailey now that I know she plagiarized some of your work. Can you publish other names?
When I read articles about plagiarism and complaining about pricing of books I get angry and scared. I’m angry that professional authors would steal from their colleagues. They should be ashamed and prosecuted. If you don’t want to pay full price for books go to the library. But stop complaining to the authors. They don’t set the pricing. I’m afraid authors will get tired of all the complaints and stop writing, and that would be a loss for everyone. Ms Roberts thank you for the dedication to your profession. Please don’t stop writing books.
I am an e-reader due to vision issues. I too, have fallen for the ,99 deal. No more!
I have been a fan of yours from the beginning, have all your books on my shelves, and now on kindle, I cannot go without the feel of a book, but sadly cannot read it clearly.
You are a truly brilliant author, and a woman respected.
I will admit to getting a free book. I will also admit to buying $.99 books. I will also say you get what you pay for! For the most part, they suck! Bad bare bones plot line, character building and horrible proofreading have been done! I’m not saying all of those books are bad but for sure the ones that I’ve read are crap! When you pay for the time and experience and care that a real author, be it Nora or a new author you’re just trying out, it’s completely worth the money!
Well said. I have health issues that keep me in bed or on the couch a lot. I read voraciously but I’ve gotten way more careful of who I read and buy partly because of this. I have certain trusted authors that I automatically buy. I certainly sometimes wish all of my favorites could write faster lol. I’m just kidding. I realize you can’t get quality quickly. Love your books Nora.
I see a lot of people saying now they won’t buy .99 cents books. But until we get the scammers and such gone the only people you are hurting are a lot of legitimate authors who have had no choice but to drop their price to .99 cents to try and compete.
One thing you can do is research or do the look inside and see if there is double and triple spacing. If the look inside shows that as well as fillers. Suzan Tisdale on her Facebook offers some great advice on how to find those types of books.
Amazon has to step up and do something. I am a hybrid author, so my publisher has some of my titles and they are listed at 3.99 the majority full length and my novella is .99 and the anthologies are .99 cents. My indie are .99 cents.
My point is that we have to fix the problem with Amazon and the scammers. Legitimate authors are the ones that pay for the sins of the scammers.
Very well said!
So well said. Like many previous responders, I have bought the 99 cent books or taken the free ones. Many times I have followed that with buying the rest of the series or other novels by the same author. I also love the printed word and for favourite authors I still buy the hardcover … Nora Roberts, John Saul, among others … but I often also purchase the ebook.
Nora – for your dedication and hard work – we, the fans of your work, thank you and admire you!!!! For enlightening us to this issues – THANK YOUI!!!!! NOW it’s time we take on Amazon and tell them to clean up their act!!!!!! I will be buying fewer books, but they will be authentic books, not blackmarket shit!!!! I will work my book purchases into my budget and will enjoy every book I get as a diamond to add to my collection!!! I have bookshelves filled with your books and I will grow that before I grow any of that other work in my collections!!!!!!
I don’t buy really cheap ebook unless they are by an author I know and enjoy their writing. They few cheap books I have read have not been worth my time. I prefer rereading my favorite authors. Many of them such as Nora have a wonderful back list to re-explore. Thank you for caring the torch.
Thanks Nora for passing on all of this, it’s good to know how it all works or not as sometimes the case may be. I buy ebooks because for me it’s just easier and more practical and I don’t always go for free or cheaper books as for example the last in death book cost me £12.99 the most I’ve ever paid for an ebook and is now £9.99 ??♀️ But never mind I love your books ?
There used to be a website out there that people could get books free from established authors. A friend of mine was telling me about this and I thought that how could my favorite authors continue to write if everyone bought their books that way. So I just declined when she tried to give me the site. From what she has told me recently that site no longer exists. I wish now I would have reported it! And am sorry I didn’t!
I’m an author published with a small press. I love writing and always hope that although my sales are modest, my readers will enjoy my books . (I have no control over the price which my publisher sets, apart from a novella, for which I had the rights back and have as cheap as Amazon will allow.) I didn’t think ‘pirate’ sites would stock any of my books since I’m not a well known name with a big publisher. However, I decided to use a programme called ‘Blasty’ which hunts down pirated (stolen) books and was amazed to find there were nearly 1,000 instances of my books appearing on rogue sites So don’t feel too guilty about not reporting that one. – sadly, it seems that when a site is forced to close down it just starts up under another name.
Thank you Nora, for standing up for legitimate authors everywhere, whether they’re great names like Nora Roberts, or ‘small fry’ like myself.
If you were not already my idol, that closing line would have made you so. Bravo. And thank you. Some of us want a voice and you gave it back. Affirmation that we aren’t expecting too much goes a long way. Xoxo
Thank you for educating me on how the pricing at Amazon affects the authors and all the scamming going on. I will pay much more attention to my purchase habits now. I am a voracious reader and have a bulging ebook collection. I do not see myself stopping my one addiction any time soon, wait…sweet southern tea makes two addictions. Nora Roberts and J D Robb are autobuys for me, in audiobook as well for Eve and Roark! I would be lost without them in my life.
I will always appreciate a good writer and I will pay for a good book.I will confess I have fallen for the cheap book but if I like the author will pay full price.I will Definetly be more aware
You’ve hit the nail on the head. I cannot bring a book out a month… Its just not possible. To write a first draft, flesh out and do numerous checks and recheck; never mind waiting for rewrites from an editor. That time frame is impossible to work at. I’ve been saying for the last 18-months that free and 99p books are killing the market. It’s flooded with them and we are all being tarred with the same brush as the ones who don’t do the work. Who don’t put the hours in and pay for editors and check and re-ckeck our work. I have 2 out of my 16 books on at that price… but only because I have a new release in the series due out next month. Once it releases, my books will go back to their normal price. The introduction of Kindle Unlimited was the catalyst to this whole mess, the reason the scammers came out of the woodwork originally. Hell, when they spotted an opportunity to make major bucks they rubbed their hands in glee If your books are on the list of most read pages on KU, you can make anything between $25,000 – $75,000 extra… A bonus for your good work. That’s a huge incentive for these parasites to flood the market and remove the competition. Easy money and due to the no screening process to get them on KU to begin with there’s nothing to stop them. Amazon need to realise that they have caused this. Until they fix their flawed system it will continue. The only problem I see… Will there be any legitimate writers left on there before they see the light and finally put a stop to all the chancers and scammers?
I am glad you brought this subject up.
When we continually price our full-length novels at 99 cents, we are doing two things: Devaluing our books and teaching readers our books aren’t worth $3.99, or $4.99 or more.
I do offer a couple of my books at 99 cents simply based on size (short novellas). And I do have first in series free books. I sometimes runs special sales.
We wouldn’t have had to offer those 99 cents or free books had the thieves not scammed the system. It is quite difficult to compete with those cheap, poorly written scammer books.
I fervently believe there are two types of readers: The garage sale reader (who wants a 500 page novel for a nickel) and the reader who doesn’t care about price. The latter wants a compelling, well written, beautifully told story. It is the story, not the price, that is most important to them. The former might care about the story, but they don’t always care about the quality. Yes, I know that statement is going to piss a lot of people off, but I believe it is true.
I’m not saying anyone who reads a free or 99 cent book doesn’t care about the quality. I am talking about those readers who DEMAND free and 99 cent books.
Amazon MUST fix the issues that plague the KU program. Unfortunately it is the legitimate author who has to play by the rules these thieves have set into motion and that Amazon has seemingly turned a blind eye to.
Again, not all 99 cent books are cobbled together, poorly written stories. Just as not all readers who purchase a 99 cent book are cheapskates. People sometimes blur the lines.
Very true, Susan.
There are excellent, low priced books and there are horrible ones as well. Blanket statements aren’t useful and can hurt the struggling author who is trying to attract readers with low prices.
Another point not being mentioned is that authors–legitimate authors– need to stop agreeing to go exclusive with Amazon. By not using other distributors, authors are herding readers into the cave of the very giant they are trying to fight.
It will take a concerted effort by both authors and readers to fix this problem.
Hi Susan. The $0.99 pricing model did not begin because of scammers, nor does it continue because of them. It was a legitimate pricing model that began years ago by legitimate indie authors as a way of attracting readers to their books. My very first indie book was published in early 2012, and I priced it at $0.99 to get eyeballs since I was brand new author with utterly zero platform. Back then, $0.99 was the new marketing tool to try, and it worked. If there were any scammers in the ebook market at that time, which I rather doubt, they were not well known.
Many authors now still price at $0.99 for an enormous variety of reasons, not just because they “can’t compete” with scammers. If their books are in KU, page reads can very easily make up for the low sale price. Many readers absolutely will not take a chance on a new author unless they can “sample” the first book for free or $0.99, or if it’s in KU. Some authors like to “give back” to their readers who are voracious for books but on a tight budget, so they often price at $0.99. And so on.
Despite having a few $0.99 books for sale myself, I also wish the $0.99 price point would disappear as a regular thing, and only be offered as the occasional sale. But with the market the way it currently is, and with Amazon’s KU program set up the way it is, I don’t see that price going away anytime soon.
It should also be noted that traditional publishers seem to have happily jumped on the $0.99 bandwagon from time to time. You can sometimes see trad books offered at such a low price, usually ime if they manage to snag a BB. This low pricing is not only the realm of the indie book, although it may have gotten its start there.
This is true. I’ve seen many traditionally published books on sale from .99 cents to $2.99. These are books with a normal price tag of $15.99 or more. Most are first in a series. It’s a sales strategy even traditional publishers are using now to garner interest from readers.
Bravo! Well said. Thank you for the education.
Bravo! Well said. Your posts have been needed.
LOVE IT!! I am old school in that I prefer a paper book. I have purchased e- books if they are part of a series I can no longer find, or I want a copy of some I already have in paper as to preserve them. Sadly there will always be those who take advantage of the system, of honest hard working people, and not that they care, but of readers who don’t know what’s happening. A lot of readers really do stick with certain authors and will happily wait until the next book because it’s MORE than worth it! Some of us truly appreciate the talent and hard work that our authors put in to create the worlds in which we love to escape reality with. So I thank you, for putting your heart and soul into what you do so that I can do that very thing. Looking forward to the next book as always!
Thank you, Nora, for continuing this battle and keeping your many fans informed.
Because of vision problems, I order a large number of books on my Kindle. That said, however, they are usually by my favorite authors. And, I’m old school enough that I love the smell and feel of actual books; therefore, I also buy the books in hardback or paperback. And, in many instances, I buy the audiobook if I like the reader (e.g., I have all audiobooks by Susan Erickson reading your JD Robb books). You, and a handful of other authors, are the writers I buy sight unseen as soon as they are available for purchase…usually as hardbacks/e-books/audiobooks.
Thanks, again, for all you do as an author, artist, humanitarian, and all around fighter! Keep up the good work and know your loyal fans will continue to support you however we can.
Wow, I had no idea any of this was going on!☹️ However, I can’t say I’m surprised. A number of years ago I submitted a very unique rhyming poem as a children’s book to a number of publishers. In spite of some good feedback, no one published it, so I self published it as part of a collection of children’s poetry. I sold the books locally while doing poetry workshops for area schools. A number of years later I was going through a box of books in our school library and I was STUNNED to basically see a total rip off of my poem in book format. At first I couldn’t even grasp what I was seeing! I sat and cried. I couldn’t believe it! The child in the poem was changed to a boy, but the premise of the book was identical. I felt soooo betrayed, especially when I looked up the credentials of the author, and saw she was an editor for a publishing company. Obviously someone thought I had a good idea.
Was the phrasing identical too? Premises can’t be copyrighted, but words can. You could sue or settle over that.
I occasionally download free books from Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Google, but mainly I pay for the majority of my books, whether HC or e-book. I realize authors have to make a living and a free book is usually a come-on, to get you to buy other books in the series or by that author.
Sometimes an e-version of a book I have the HC comes out for $9.99, after a few years. If it was a favorite, I buy! This way it’s always in my NOOK or KINDLE, especially good when I’m traveling and don’t want to log 5 or 6 HC books.
We wouldn’t expect our plumber, electrician, handyman, etc., to work for free. So why should people expect you to work for free?
I always tell myself I’ll wait for the paperback release (and the price drop for the Kindle version) for each new Eve and Roarke book, but guess what, I didn’t manage to wait once so far 🙂
I don’t expect or demand free books, because I am aware that one book represents many months (or even years) of work for an author, and authors have to eat and pay their mortgage and whatever in order to be able to write. I do snap up free or heavily discounted books if the blurb intrigues me. If I like it, I try to leave a review (since that helps the author, too) and go on to buy other books by the author. My cut-off price for a Kindle book by a new-to-me author is about 10 bucks. Even though I am reviewing for a few authors and getting ARCs, I always buy the book, too, for two reasons: so that the author gets the sale and selfishly, so that I get the AVP badge.
As a long time reader, a hard cover or paper back has always been my choice. When the Kindle and Nook came about, I didn’t run right out and buy one. My son bought me a Kindle Fire years after they came out one year for Christmas and I enjoyed having it, as I not only could download books, but games and go onto the internet with it. But holding a book and having a library full of great books is still my first choice. But reading the smaller print has become a problem, because of eye issues so I now use my IPAD for most of my reading as I can make the print as large as I want for comfort. So Nora, this has been a real education in learning about what is happening and how. Thank you for this. Had I not followed you, I would probably not even known about this. I too have gotten a few .99 or $1.99 first book in a series and then paid 4.99 and up for the rest of the series. Have discovered some new authors I enjoy this way. Never have downloaded free. But having a long list of favorite authors that I follow, a month hardly goes by that someone isn’t putting out a new book. I have also discovered new authors from those that attend your book signing. I might have heard of them before but never read them or they are new and I will give them a try. Thank you for many hours and years of great reading! Oh and the BITE ME……loved it!
As a self-published author, I’ve seen arguments on both sides of the offering of books for free or 99 cents issues and I have offered the first book in my series for .99 a couple of times during promotions. When you have a very small advertising budget, you have to try different methods of getting the word out.
I believe most legitimate writers are very much against offering free and cheap books. You don’t see artists giving away their early paintings for free to get people interested. We don’t see any other businesses giving away their products for free. So, why do people expect authors to give away their hard work away for free?
I think it’s very important for those readers out there who only read books they can get for free online to read this post so they understand the damage they’re doing.
Thank you, Nora.
Ditto. I’m self-published too and wouldn’t dream of giving my books away for free. I want to get paid for my hard work so will never price them at a price where I get no royalties. Free sample, yes, but not free.
Ditto on painters as well. I also paint and have only given paintings away free as a gift to a friend or family member. If a stranger wants one, they pay for it.
I’ve gotten some free and $.99 books in the past by unknown authors (unknown to me). Some were so bad that I deleted them. I’m very wary of free or cheap books and always try to find reviews or something about the author. I’ve discovered a few new authors I enjoyed by being more discriminating. Nora’s books I get as they come out signed from Turn the Page Bookstore (including J. D. Robb). When a rerelease is available as a eBook for a reasonable price, I buy it, again, so when I travel I have her books with me to read. My husband would say the plagiarists should be shot (his solution to all the bad people in this world). I would like them all imprisoned for their crime. And I do believe plagiarism is a crime worth punishment. I support Nora’s fight and as a reader will do whatever I am able to assist in this fight. Keep writing your wonderful books, and keep fighting against those who try to profit illegally from your work and other auhor’s works.
I’ve often seen the ‘free’ or 99-cent offers and if they look interesting, I will check with my library to see if they have that first of the series. A couple of them actually turned out to be decent series – all through my library. The truism that you get what you pay for couldn’t be more real than this. When I went into a smaller space – I think the Swedes call it death cleaning – I stood firm on all my old favorites going with me and I continue to add to those series. Yours’, Hooper’s, Krentz and the rest of my mystery friends. The whiners absolutely can bite themselves in frustration, you were and still are a ‘working mom’ and as a fellow female I couldn’t be more proud of you.
When we were living on unemployment and part time at Walmart, all I could afford was free. I refuse to feel guilty about that. I discovered Courtney Milan because of free, Tessa Dare, Sarah McClean, Eliza Lloyd, and many other great writers. Once we could afford books again, I started catching up. I told people “there are a lot of free books on Amazon. There’s about a 25% readability rate. But 25% of free is good.”. Free books and libraries and the 3000 books in the back room fed my habit for 10 years.
I get that there’s a difference between the scammers and legit authors, but from this side of the equation, we-the-consumers can’t tell. I get emails notifying me about free books I might like. Sometimes the books are good, sometimes not. Sometimes I buy the next book in a series, sometimes I don’t get thru the first chapter. The one making the money from this scam is scammers, sure, but also Amazon.
Amazon needs to up their game. They need to be brought into this conversation and convinced or forced to look for plagurism. They need to take the scammers down when they’re found and help procecute the plagurists when they’re found.
The blog is a good start. But, Nora, you have a huge following. You’re an important author who has clout. Why am I not hearing this on Good Morning America? Why isn’t NPR talking about it? Those of us plugged into the Romance writer grapevine of blogs and Facebook are hearing about it, but we’re only a tiny part of the Amazon world-of-buyers.
(When I read the list of authors this person had plagurized, I thought “what an idiot!” Courtney Milan is an attorney. Nora Roberts has a huge platform. I mean, if you were going to piss someone off… These are the wrong people.)
Give me time.
Why don’t we (Nora’s fans) ask one of the news magazines, my suggestion is 60 Minutes to do an investigative report on this? Their reporters are excellent, well known and are known to have integrity.
Nora, unless you specifically disapprove, I’m going to start a campaign to get 60 Minutes interested. (Maybe you have someone else in mind?)
My small publisher closed. I retained rights to all my books. Now I’m self-publishing and have recently had doubts about my approach – write a good story, get edits, professional cover. Nora’s ‘rant’ was a breath of fresh air. I may never be rich, but darn it, I’ll not stoop to mass producing and giving my hard work away. Thanks for the boost, Nora Roberts!
WOW! This week has been quite an educational one. I have always had a great deal of respect for you and when your original Daily issue happened, that respect grew with the way you handled it – especially with the timing. This is truly awful. I am sorry this is happening again and I admire the way you stand up not only for yourself and your work but for others who aren’t in your position. Thanks for educating your readers as well. I have seen your blog noted on many author sites discussing this issue.
I, like many others, admit that I download free books but very seldom a standalone. The ones I have downloaded are usually only read for a few pages or a chapter before it becomes impossible to read. On the other hand, I have discovered some new to me authors that have hit my favorite list and am so glad that they offered that first free or deeply discounted book or I/we would be missing out on some great discoveries out there! I too will no longer be downloading anything cheap or free without doing some research first. Thank you for the continuing education on this problem.
Last, but certainly not least, THANK YOU for sharing your stories with us. You are still the #1 favorite author on my list. Your talent is remarkable and I devour every word of every book.
Recently, I have tried a few of the free and .99 books. I have found that most are bad. One other I scam I have noticed is a “series” of books for about .99 each but each book is about 50 pages.
I have several self published indie authors I enjoy and am glad to support–usually around the cost of a printed paperback. Until now, I didn’t know what was going on with the free and .99 books, so now I know what to look for. Thanks, Nora! I support your work and your cause.
What you could be seeing is a short story series each priced at 99 cents. That’s not necessarily a scam.
99 cents is as cheap as you can price books on Amazon and since people often price novels at 99 cents it can sometimes be a source of confusion to readers when short stories are priced that way as well.
I price my romance novels at $3.99 and $4.99 but also have a couple series of related short stories that I’ve published at a price of 99 cents each. On one series I did have those stories up as a collection as well for $2.99 until Amazon dropped the price on the collection to free and refused to return it to $2.99. The only way to not give the entire series away for free was to delist the collection, so now I have those stories all listed at 99 cents each. It’s not meant to be a scam, just asking 99 cents for each completed short story.
I buy them all – and I mean ALL. I buy your books on Kindle, get an audio copy at the same time, buy the CD’s or MP3 (sometimes both) for my mother and myself. And I buy the hardcovers and the mm edition for our local library.
I frankly think it is none of my business how much you’ve earned, although there are those who make it their business and feel warranted. What concerns me is your work ethic, the hours you spend, and the quality products you continue to produce.
People need to pay attention to the monkeys in their own zoo.
We stumbled onto Eve by accident and hooked. Had to reorganise our bookshelf a couple of times to make space.
As a newly self-published author through Amazon, this really, and I mean REALLY, makes me angry beyond reason. I would never dream of stealing someone else’s work and palm it off as my own. It took me two years to write the book in Afrikaans, a year to translate it into English, and another eight months back and forth with an editor.
Yes, I’ve read books and fantasised about how I would write it differently or how I would write a different direction or action of a character. But it always stayed a fantasy.
As a self-published author, I don’t have the financial means to go after anyone that steals my work, but you’ve got my support, Nora. I say these scammers should be named and shames. Book distributors like B&N, Amazon, Booktopia, should keep a list and refuse to destribute books by these lowlifes. It’s not like they make any money off these criminals.
Give them hell. You know deep down I always wondered how these places could charge so little and now I know.
I am one of those readers that wants the book in my hand
I will comment more later. My tablet is really hard to work with. Hugs
I just wanted to say that I’m so happy to see you not only taking an interest in the self-publishing world, but actually trying to learn how it all works, noticing the real problems that exist for self-published authors, and genuinely attempting to do something about it. I can’t recall ever seeing a trad-only author digging into the nuts and bolts of self-publishing — usually they either ignore it or look down their noses at self-published authors as a whole because they are “not good enough” to be traditionally published, and therefore worthless.
As a self-published author who’s also been traditionally published (two urban fantasy books with Simon & Schuster, awesome while it lasted but the sales just weren’t there without any marketing push so they dropped me), I’ve been on both sides of the fence — and when I first started self-publishing, everything was overwhelmingly confusing. They’re completely different worlds. I started before Amazon introduced Kindle Unlimited, and when KU came into the picture, things got even more confusing.
I thought perhaps I could help by offering a few more facts about the state of self-publishing today (I have read many, but not all, of the comments on your most recent blog posts, so please forgive me if this stuff has been covered before).
* Amazon offers 70% royalties on ebooks priced from $2.99 to $9.99, and 30% royalties on all other price points. Most self-published authors try to price competitively with other self-published books in their genre, usually ranging from $2.99 to $5.99.
* Authors enrolled in KU have exclusive marketing options relating to free and low-priced books. For each book enrolled in KU, every 90 days you can either make the book free for five days (Amazon does not allow you to permanently price a book at free, though they will sometimes price match if the book is free on other retailers, which is how “permafree” happens — but you can’t be in KU and have a permafree), or run a “countdown deal” that lets you temporarily reduce the price for up to 7 days, and shows the original price and the reduced price on the book’s sale page (so readers know it’s a temporary sale). During countdown deals, you get the full 70% royalty on 99 cents sales.
* In order to be effective, both free days and countdown deals in KU require a lot of additional marketing (simply because there are SO MANY cheap and free books on Amazon that without marketing, no one will ever find your specific books), which amounts to out-of-pocket dollars spent to either give books away, or sell them cheaply.
*Legitimate authors use these strategies in the hopes of impressing readers enough with their free or cheap work that they’ll go on to buy more of their books at full price (or borrow and read them all in KU).
* Scam “authors” do this in conjunction with artificial means of inflation (reader click-farms, incentivized giveaways / purchases, “gifting” massive numbers of books) to push their Amazon rankings high enough that the books will be seen and bought (or borrowed through KU) just because they’re visible on the top Amazon charts. Usually (but not always) the books are low quality, and the boost from the promotion doesn’t last long – but while their ranks are high, they can make a lot of money in a short amount of time. Then it’s rinse-and-repeat with more low-quality, high volume books.
* There was a problem (which has now been more or less corrected, though there are still remnants) with box sets, where authors would take a box set enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, reorder the books in as many ways as possible, and publish each reordered set as a new title. They would price all these box sets at 99 cents and use KU promotions and artificial inflation to not only make fast money, but get KU All-Star bonuses (several thousands of dollars), which are given for books and authors with the most page reads every month.
*It’s almost impossible to tell which authors in KU are legitimate and which are using black-hat tactics to artificially inflate their ranks, unless you actually start reading their books to see whether they’re any good. But even then, some of the scammers can write decently enough and are just using scammy tactics to make even more money than they already were with decent books.
There is so much more to it all, and I won’t touch on everything because I’d be practically writing a book in your comments. 🙂 Overall, it’s just insanely complex and generally a huge, steaming mess. This kind of stuff screws up all genres on Amazon, but romance is usually the hardest hit — because there is such a voracious market for it, and because too many people have the misconception that writing romance is “easy” and “formulaic”.
Mostly I just wanted to say thank you for your interest and involvement, and I’m sorry that some self-published authors are suffering from bunched panties because you’re speaking out on this topic. They’ve been immersed in this constantly-changing industry for years, and you’ve only started learning about it — what, two days ago? And you already have a better understanding than 99.9% of traditionally published authors about the whole thing.
Thank you for standing up for real authors, regardless of how they’re published.
I am so glad that you have taken this on, Nora. I know there are many of us, who just keep writing and hoping to someday have the ability to quit our day jobs and just…write. That’s my dream!
I would like to add that every author has to determine what works for their promotions budget. Many of us don’t have one…and rely on readers recommending books to their friends. A 99c group promo or free weekend can be a great way for people to see new (to them) books.
Also, I write ALL my own books. It’s such a wonderful feeling, when a reader enjoys something I’ve written!
Love your books Nora. No longer able to afford purchasing them but checking them out at the library for free is great! I have picked up a couple of free starter books then purchased the remainder of a series on Amazon Prime. Definitely not Nora Roberts quality but something a little different. Keep up the good work. Your books will always hold a special place in my heart!
Brava! Can’t think of a more appropriate place to invoke an EVE-ism!!!
Right. On. Thank you Nora.
Thank you for this post. I’ve been burned too many times by poorly written, or badly edited (or not edited at all!) books, so I’m very leery of free and .99 books. I always read the “Look Inside” portion before making a decision. If I like an author, I have no problem paying $4 or $5 and sometimes more per book.
I don’t know why people expect entertainment to be free. This applies to more than just books; somewhere out there is the next talented singer or song writer who won’t be able to make a living in music so they’ll be forced to sell life insurance. I’m sure the same is true for authors as well.
I laughed out loud at your last two words in this post! I think it’s great you are taking a stand and fighting back on this thievery going on. No matter what the industry, no other person has the right to take credit for another person’s hard work.
Thank you to Nora and all the others whose comments here are providing an education for this fledgling author. I’m still stunned that I had no clue about the depth of this issue.
As I full-time in my RV, there’s no room or weight allowance to keep many printed books so my kindle and nook get quite a workout.
Also, I’ve read advice from several authors who spoke at various schools over the years that I should read the genre in which I write so I’ve set my Bookbub to deliver those selections. I’ve begun several that are so bad that I don’t continue. If the title is too hot and steamy, I don’t select them. As time goes by, I’m becoming much more selective. But I need to learn more to be more discerning bc I don’t want to spend money or time on any of these charlatans so again, I appreciate the lesson you are all teaching me and I truly appreciate that Nora is going to bat for herself and the rest of us, particularly the new and, speaking for myself, clueless.
Nora, I love you period! End of period!! I have and always will, order my books from Turn The Page. Mainly because you and BW own it , but also I love getting the handwritten autograph that you so kindly add to it.
I don’t care for E books I like to hold a hardcover in my hands and smell the newly printed words.
You are my hero!! Thank you for all of your hard work! I very much appreciate it!! I’m a fan for life!
Well said! I actually fell this once where I downloaded several free and .99 books in the MC romance genre because it’s a genre I really enjoy I downloaded 5 books 3 I paid for at 99 cents, never in my life did I expect to be reading the same exact book word for word, there was only one difference the names were changed. Every single book was from a different author, so I couldn’t understand, I was completely flabbergasted, because these were authors I was seeing and hearing about everywhere, I never did this again unless it’s an author I know that’s running a sale or to promote a series.
I was a voracious reader. & I’d get my books from the library. Now that work, family & my laptop have all taken the majority of my time, i only make time for all the In Death books, & rereading some old NR books. Just like Roarke, i only read paper books. The only books i buy, are the ID ones. I can’t wait 6 months for the ppb ones to come out, & i want them in arm’s reach, when i get the itch to reread one. Two years ago, i couldn’t get my car out of the driveway, due to the snow. It was a tuesday, the day of a new ID release. I walked 12 blocks thru the snow, to my local Target to get the book, only to find they never got it. Reading anything by Nora is my release
I understand Nora’s outrage. It’s a cruel world we live in, where the almighty buck is king. But you must remember, that you are our icon, and your loyal fans hang on to every precious word you write. Please never stop.
I succumbed to the call of the siren and signed up for BookBub and still get their daily emails. I have looked at their offerings and decided early on this isn’t what I want to read so never purchased through this site. I would rather reread from my volumes of Nora/J. D. Robb books even though I know the outcome. Nora amazes me with her many readable and enjoyable writings. I was shocked to learn of these nasty deceptions. Thank you for sharing so I, and those I know, have become more aware.
I’ve been guilty of getting free books or the .99 variety. I also belong to KU, and while I sometimes use it to try new authors, several authors that really enjoy put the majority of their work on KU so that’s what I usually use it for – it keeps me in books by authors I really enjoy. Since I’m on a fixed income these deals are really helpful. If I try a book & hate it or if it is poorly written or poorly edited, I don’t get anything else by that author. I usually buy your In Death books for my Kindle. If budget too tight, I order from Overdrive through my local library. Thank you for bringing this scamto light & fighting for the true indie authors who might not have the ability to fight for themselves. You rock!
I’ve fallen for the freebie gimic before most aren’t eortg reading and stay at 25%read on my Kindle though some freebie books I’ve gotten during Author promotion first in a series type thing and usually if that’s the case I’ll go on to pay full cover price for the rest for instance I was saving up to buy the first in the series of Claire Delcroix Brides series when she pops up in my news feed with hey guess what free for the next two-wheeler days and I’m like Awsome and Affter reading it used the money I had saved back on book 2 in the series I have learned to read reviews the author pages the authors website or blog and Facebook instead of just snapping up freebie ebooks cause their free a lot are crap. Though now and then I go threw the top 100 free ebooks on Amazon I pick fewer than i did when I first got a Kindle app three years ago. And learned to appreciate my favorite authors and why I enjoy their work do much so many of those cheep or free books fall flat compared to your writting and I have no qualms spending money n your books Patrica Briggs books or a number of other authors if the storyline draws youninas all of your work gas me then you get what you pay for. I’ll be even pickier about free books in the future but will still get the promotional freebies from my face authors i fallow on FB if I haven’t already bought it first as happened with Patrica Briggs Moon called I bought it in e format two years ago and they put it as a free promo.gor the mercy series about six months baxk. So not all free books are evil guys but definitely being more cautious will help legit authors I’m alleas suspicious of those books that have supposedly been out months with no reviews offered as free or if info the author doesn’t seem legit. But thank you Nora for the information and I will be more cautious of cheep books in the future.
As a reader of romance for over 40 years….I have purchased a lot of books. If it’s by an author that I trust…like you Nora, or Linda Howard, Susan Grant, Lisa Kleypas, Gena Showalter…to name a few…I gladly pay $10 to $30’s! I know that they are wonderful writers and that they write their own stories and I will have great pleasure reading them.
I have never liked Amazon since this entire KU started. Suddenly I couldn’t see my favorite authors anymore…I have to search for them and I was pissed. Then I tried a couple of the free or cheap ebooks from writers I didn’t know and I was pissed because they were awful.
So I get my books from B&N or Smashwords…or Google Play…simply because I know that Amazon ruined the romance publishing industry. And I won’t support Amazon. I really hope that it can be repaired. I am so sad that so many good authors have been hurt by the scammers and liars.
I will stick with who I trust and those who are recommended to me by those I trust. It’s my money and I don’t want my money to support scum. I have no solution but I do know that you get what you pay for. If you want quality and a good story…then pay for it and show some respect to those authors who work their butts off to create it for you!
Hi Tricia, I first met Nora in ‘84 and have never known a writer who works harder for her readers. Also, if you “follow” your favorite authors on Amazon (click on the name on a book page, which will take you to the author’s personal page, then click on the big button below the author photo) and even if you don’t buy the books from Amazon, they’ll send you a new release alert email. I think pre-order announcements, as well. I was missing a lot of my favorite authors’ new books before I found that button.
Hi JoAnn! Thanks for the many happy hours of reading you have given us as well.
And thanks for the tip!
In a society that demands products be bigger, faster, cheaper, my version of a cheap book is finding a good story by an established author at a second-hand bookstore. Keep fighting for fairness and integrity. You have my support.
I’ve been reading the posts of the past several days with a sense of horror. I recently started writing some stories that I just wanted to put on paper, stories written in my head motivated by places I’ve been and people I’ve met. I had never heard of KU nor do I subscribe to anything but Audible. I have been told by friends to “self-publish” or to join writing groups to share my writing. And I have refused. These are my stories. I entered a short story contest once. I didn’t win, which is okay by me, but I have worried what happened to the manuscript. It was read by someone. Was it used by someone? How will I ever know since my work is unpublished? I might publish some day, but this whole plagiarism/ ghost writing posts make me nervous. I think I’d rather die with my stories than see someone else use them.
Nora Roberts, I feel for you. As a former English teacher, I gave out zeroes every year to plagiarists, thinking that I’d stop it there. I knew there were some cases of plagiarism professionally, but I never thought it was that rampant until I read your posts. Ghost writers, plagiarists, pirated movies and music, all of it makes you wonder if creativity and true artists are doomed. I have read all the Eve Dallas books and have watched with interest as you developed Eve and all the other characters into well-rounded, believable people. You’ve made your own settings, going into the future to make a world not constrained by today. (Although, I believe when you started writing, some of the technology Eve uses was not available, but is today, ie. Alexa, turn on the lights. )
I hope you and other true writers fight this however you can. I have former students who became writers, and I would hate to see their efforts ripped away from them. As for me, I will eventually have to decide if trying to publish is worth the risk.
Never did the free or reduced price online. Many told me since “I’m such a big reader, I can save money doing this”. None of the authors or books interested me. Sure, I saw some backlists for that price, and never was interested. Now to find that it was feeding a scam, glad I didn’t. I’ve been told “Nora’s rich enough, you can wait until the book is on sale, etc”. Nope, prefer to buy it hot off the press. Then the Amazon reviews—-have to write a review to support an author. Ok, write a book report in addition to buying a book. Good grief. Then to hear of the scams of buying tons of books to inflate sales. What is this world coming to? Fortunately, those were caught and stopped. A couple of big names went down. (This was a pastor and his biography). Who gets shafted at the end? The legitimate reader, who just wants to read a good book. I’ve seen a few authors who have had to go to epublshing because the bookstores and publishers can’t support her books anymore. Why? Decreased sales. Thanks to scams like these. Its so discouraging.
Here, here Nora.
First let me thank you, Nora, for not automatically sneering at indie authors. So many other traditionally published authors think this is the only “true” way to be considered an “author.” Those of us who publish as indies do so for many different reasons.
Second, I admit it. I’m a book hoarder… at least paperback ones. 🙂 I took them all for free from a person who was going to BURN them! Sacrilegious! I hope to one day (retirement) get to read more of them. At least my brother has had the opportunity to read through many.
I do download plenty of free books, mainly from other authors I know because it helps them with their rankings–and the ask us to share the news so more readers can become aware of their books.
Just this week I had to break down and set one of my children’s stories permafree in the hopes of attracting new readers. I hated to do it, because each book is a work of love and dear to me and my writing partner. But this is the world we live in.
Many, many authors got their start by offering a book free, either for a limited time or permanently. There is NOTHING illegitimate or rule-breaking about offering a free first in series, and many bestselling, completely legitimate indie authors do this. Will everybody go on to buy? No, but then, when I used to get most of my books at the library, I went on to buy only a tiny handful of authors’ later books. A percentage will go on to buy. It’s *on the book.* If the book is good enough, they’ll buy the later ones.
That’s how I built my career, almost seven years ago. My first week, I gave away 14,000 copies of my first book in three days, and sold 2,000 copies my first month. My fifth month in publishing, I gave away 93,000 copies (thanks to the magic of a site called BookBub, which, in its infancy, picked up selected books and promoted them for free), and sold 20,000 books that month.
There’s a bigger sea of books and authors out there now, and, yes, scammers to contend with, but free books (and having books in KU) do still expose an author to a great many potential readers. Whether she gets anywhere will depend on how good the book is.
To correct another misconception I’ve seen in some comments–BookBub is not a scammy site. They are extraordinarily difficult to get a promotion with, rejecting about 95% of books submitted to them, even by NYT bestsellers. They vet the books they offer pretty thoroughly, checking out reviews on Goodreads and Audible, for example, which are much harder to game. (Amazon, to its credit, has cracked down on the review-gaming as well.)
Write books that appeal to lots of readers, and you can get sales, however you are published. (For the record: I am hybrid, and my books are priced from 99 cents (1 book) to $5.99 (most books). It takes me three months to write and publish a long book, though many legit romance authors publish faster (as does Nora Roberts, of course). I have ebooks, audio, and translations both through traditional publishers and as an indie. Many of the authors targeted by this plagiarist are hybrid as well.)
(Reading that over, it came off as lecture-y. Ugh. I’m very grateful for the stand you’ve taken on plagiarism, both on your own behalf and on behalf of others. I was just trying to correct a pretty common misapprehension that permafree books aren’t legit. Early on, Amazon said that they technically violated terms of service, but price-matched to free anyway. Now, they no longer violate terms of service–Amazon changed the rules. I don’t have any permafrees, but they’re not against the rules.)
I do see a lot of bashing of low/free intro pricing from many corners, but my publisher frequently discounts my books to 99 cents for up to a month (on which I make…less than I’d earn on that sale as an indie), and publishers buy at least half the slots on BookBub and discount authors’ books to $0.99-$2.99. It’s just market segmentation, as some readers are much more price-conscious than others, and only a certain percentage of any author’s readers will be avid fans who snap up new books at full price. It’s also a way to reach readers who won’t take a chance on a new author unless the book has a lot of word of mouth or paid advertising, or the reader gets a deal.
And I like everybody else sincerely wish Amazon would step up and slap plagiarists and scammers down faster and harder. It’s especially frustrating for new authors to have to compete with the black hat marketers.
Nora, I applaud you for the work you are doing on this plagiarism issue. *claps*
I also applaud you for educating yourself about self-published authors, like me. 🙂
I’ve been a full-time self-published since 2013 and have made six figures a year ever since. Over the past six years, I’ve earned over $1M as an indie so it can be a very well-earning business, if you can find your audience.
One concern I have is with the issue of 99c and permafree series starters. I use both those methods because I write in series. I have three, four and eight book series and I usually put the first book free, either permanently or temporarily as a promo. Think of it as a loss leader. I price the rest at either $3.99 pr $4.99 a pop and make my money through sales of the second – eighth books. I figure if readers like the first book enough, they will buy more from me. I have good sell through, so that suggests that my books are pleasing my readers.
I do not scam, I am not a content mill, I do not plagiarize. I do use those free series starters the way a trad publisher would fork out thousands of dollars for the launch of a new book. I don’t spend thousands on the launch of my new books. I might spend $200 on a Facebook ad announcing its release, plus I use my Mailchimp mailing list to get the word out to my established audience. The success of my book will be whether the Amazon algorithms notice sales and help sell my book to potential readers. I also rely on new release notices from Bookbub and Draft 2 Digital. Indies have to find other ways of getting visibility that trad publishers use because most of us don’t have the deep pockets they do.
For us indies, the free series starter is a way to get visibility once we get a few books out in the series. I always price my standalone books at $3.99 – $4.99, but use the free series starter as a marketing method.
Anyway, keep up the good fight!
These posts of yours have been incredibly educational. I had no idea the situation is so bad. Other favorite authors have complained briefly, without relating the details. Thank YOU for the details! I will be even more careful about free and 99 cent books. Most of those I purchase are clearly loss-leaders to an author’s properly priced books, and I have found some great new authors this way. I do always buy your books when Laura posts about a deal. I have most of them in the flesh, but it’s convenient to add them to my Kindle, since I re-read a lot of them!
I blame Amazon for most of this disaster. It really throws it’s weight around in the book world – in a negative way. They should be checking for plagiarisms before they ever publish an e-book. It’s not like the software needed to do this is rocket science! They are a disastrously irresponsible marketer/publisher. It appears to be company policy to cheat the author at every turn.
Keep on holding the cheater’s feet to the fire! Sue the dirty authors and publishers who engage in these practices!
I am a fan of right and wrong. What these bottom feeders do is reprehensible. I love books. Have lost myself into the worlds created in them since the age of 4. Never would I think to lie or steal. This is theft, plain and simple. Anothers words, their hard work, their heart.
Thank you for saying this so eloquently and speaking for those authors who do not have the financial ability to follow this fight through to the end.
You tell them, Nora. In your corner, always
I am a huge Nora Roberts fan. I have A huge collection of signed books and I was part of the online group on AOL when the Dailey plagerism was first discovered. I remember the events as I witnessed them unfold but we were only told parts of the story.
I have always wanted to write a book but never had the guts or the right story. Then in 2014 I had Inspiration to right a different type of book. I wrote a self help book in fictionalized form. My audience was very specific (the unorganized that live in chaos) . It was not a masterpiece but it was a work from my heart. I used CreateSpace (an Amazon company) to self publish. I paid out of pocket to have it edited and chose the cover through a stock image from Getty images that I then Had them make adjustments to. The editing and cover was provided though Create Space as part of the purchase. I spent at least $5k on this process. In November of 2014, my book was released. It could be bought as a paperback or the kindle version. I had it listed at a fair price. I made a small portion of every sale. I did sell a some books but never thousands. And never enough to cover what I put Into having it published. In mid 2015 I decided for personal reasons to cut my loses and lowered the paperback version to as low as possible. I now get about .30 cents if it sells and I lowered The Kindle version to .99 cents. The company has now switched over to KU and I get paid every month around .20 cents based on the pages read and not sure what else determines the amount. I would love to write another book but I don’t gave 5k to just toss out there. The book I wrote was my story but fictionalized. In telling my story, it helped a lot of people that struggled like I did and for me it was worth it to be able to help someone else. I didnt write my book to get rich quick. Create Space helped to get my story out there and I have no regrets about self publishing.
Thank you Nora for standing up for yourself and for all of us. You will always be my number one favorite author.
I like a bargain as well as the next person. However, I am an avid reader but I want to read books that fulfill my soul. I don’t buy books just because they are cheap, I buy books that I like to read. I’m very selective in my book purchases. I would rather pay more for a good book that buy lots of poorly written books. I have a list of authors I like and I pre-order their books. I’ve tried a few of the cheap books and most times I’m disappointed and end up not even finishing them. I’m sure it is hard work to write a book and I’m willing to pay for those books.
I have been reading your books since I was maybe 13, yea mom gave me hers! I fell in love with reading, with the romance genre. You are why I read!! And hearing your opinions makes me love you even more. Yep fuck them and the haters can hate but you are one talented lady. I have never regretted spending money on your books.
You know what enrages me? The fact that I am reading many posts in which author bystanders say, Oh, Nora will handle this. She’s got the money; she’s got the resources.
Bite me, indeed.
This isn’t your fight alone, although you certainly have been stolen from and plagiarized on a grander scale than any of us will ever know.
You may be the most well known and one of the most damaged (AGAIN). But every honest author who has ever had work plagiarized, pirated, seen the bots remove legitimate reviews, or seen their numbers tank while these chicken shits game–as you said, “an absurdly weak system” needs to step up and lend support.
I don’t care how much money you have. You’ve earned every penny. So thank you for standing up for us. But what can we do to help you?
Very good point. Is there anything we can do?
As a Boonsboro native, I know what you have done with your hard earned money to support our community. I also know how you support those interested in a writing career in our high school and local college. So what if you have made a lot of money… last time I checked YOU were the one spending hours and hours writing . That’s your chosen career. You excel at it and so kudos to you for working hard and being successful . And thank you for supporting our little town. I have read everything you have written and will continue to do so. I’ve stayed at your Inn. You support us, I’m supporting you . You have a gift. No one has a right to steal from you or anyone else. Shame on them!!!
I really appreciate it, neighbor!
As an indie-author I can say it means the world to have you standing with us. Not everyone would have cared enough to do the research and then to share it with the reading world. Thank you so very, very much!
I’ve not always understood pricing e-books close to the same as a paper book. But I do have a couple of authors that I will absolutely always buy regardless of price. Their talent is just worth it. And you are one of those Ms. Roberts.
Thank you for standing up and supporting indie authors. Thank you for validating our work and demanding fair pay for fair work. It means more than you will ever know.
I have some favorite authors that I buy the new releases asap and each has a very distinct writing voice. I also follow those authors in social media. I have never been shy about letting an author know when I have found their work copied by someone else, it’s part of the reason I stopped reading Ms Dailey. Several of my authors self-publish & I buy full price on purpose. Thank you Nora for standing up for all true authors.
I am so proud to be a fan of yours. I have been real your books for a very long time. I not only buy your books in hardcover, electronic and audible versions as well. Keep up the fight for those authors that do not have a chance or the funds to fight for what is right. As a fan I want well crafted books and honest writers not scammers.
Thank you for the education you are providing for us. I feel I owe you an apology for asking if you would publish the third installment of the Chronicles of the One early instead of waiting until December. I meant my request as no reflection on the quality of your writing, but as a reflection of my desire to read the book. I believe that you had told us the book was finished when I made my request.
You are my heroine for fighting this battle against unfair practices.
No apology necessary. To use that trilogy as an example, I’m talking about the readers like the ones who blasted me for making them wait a year between books. Who said I was unfair, or that I should have waited and published all three together.
As an indie and #ownvoices author, it makes me stand taller to know that there are trad publishers who care about indies. I’ve always been an avid reader, and you have been one of the people who’s writing pushed me into wanting to create something that others would enjoy. Thank you for being in our corner.
My full-length novels have always been $3.99 in ebook, paperback a lot more expensive (I use Lulu). I was with a small publisher and had 18 books with them before deciding that if I had to do all the publicity myself, then why not get more than the 35% royalties? So I went indie with a different sub genre. Back then I earned enough with indie publishing that I could have quit my job and written for a living, as so many did in those early days. We had the corner of the market, offered books not available elsewhere (plus-size romances was the sub genre I chose). We were big fish in a small pond. But as more writers came on board and indie published, the pond grew into an ocean and now I’m a little guppy swimming frantically alongside all the other guppies and fish of different sizes in an ocean. Thank God I never quit my job, listened to my Mum (bless you!) and kept working the day job. Now I make enough to pay a few bills, but yeah, I’m lost amongst the tide and could never live on the royalties I get now. I’ve given up the dream of writing for a living. It happens *shrug*. I’ve heard of indie authors having to go back to working a day job. But pricing is competitive. I wont’ sell my books for less, I work hard on them. I don’t believe $3.99 is too much to ask for a novel that is 70,000 – 120,000 words. Yes, I am guilty of offering novellas for $1.99. That’s my fault. I should price my books higher, but like so many of us (and I don’t include all of us), I am fearful of losing potential readers. Call me a coward, it’s something I’m battling with internally.
Yes, I’ve read free books if they’ve been offered in newsletters and other promo groups. I’ve never asked for them – I think that’s disrespecting an author and his/her hard work. I’ve bought backlists of these authors if I’ve liked the first book. But also, to be truthful, I have a lot of free ebooks on my kindle that I’ll never get around to reading (probably) because I still buy other books that interest me. I’m happy to pay $18 for a kindle ebook because it’s a book I want to read. Sometimes I have no idea of the author or what the book is like, but I read the excerpt and decide on that. I don’t’ believe that just because it’s an ebook it should be cheaper, and nothing annoys me more in the world of reading and writing than people saying authors are greedy because ebooks are cheaper to produce than paperbacks. No, the writing is still the same, the time taken out of our lives in-between working and families and life in general. We still write, agonise over our characters, edit, do book covers (ourselves or hiring artists), learning new technology to do what we can, running a small business. THAT doesn’t change.
I think we live in an age of expectancy now. With so much for free, it’s become an expectation. Man, I think I just depressed myself!!
But Nora, you had an excellent post, thank you! And thank you to everyone for sharing your expereinces as a writer or reader, or both. It means a lot.
Angela, truth. Every word.
If everyone who posted on this blog wrote an email to Amazon, pointing out specifically, how many books you buy at Amazon per month/year, and how you want to know your money is going to honest writers, it would have a huge impact. Marketing and public relations use formulas that show each complaint actually represents a problem with X number of customers who didn’t bother to write. When I was doing PR, the number was 35 to 200 people affected for every person who actually complained, depending on the product type.
After all, readers are customers who deserved to have some kind of confidence in what they are buying. Then Nora and the other authors would not be fighting alone.
Thank you so much for speaking out. This small niche indie writer is very, very grateful for the big fishes like you who are calling attention to the issues with the scammers. We’ve been talking about the problems for a long time (scamming, not plagiarism), especially as the market demands a faster turnaround.
Some of us just can’t produce that fast. Nor should we.
Thank you once again from this niche indie spec fic writer. Maybe now something will get done about it!
If someone has already mentioned this, I’m sorry–I’ve read a lot of the comments but not all as I have a dial-up connection in my rural area and things load slowly!!! I’m not sure how many readers and other authors are aware of the huge review scam that plagued Amazon a few years ago and probably still is going on under other auspices. People started companies that posted fake reviews on Amazon–many of these reviews were fake 5 star reviews, purchased for a particular title. However, from what I remember, some were also fake 1 star reviews, posted on perceived competitors’ titles. Amazon supposedly cracked down on this practice, but they couldn’t adequately police the millions of reviews on their site. They ended up not catching all the fake reviews and deleting some legitimate reviews. They also added the verified purchase sticker to reviews, which is meaningless as the click farms have found a way around that. Besides, if you post a legitimate review of a book that you checked out of the library, say, it’s not going to show up as a verified purchase.
Anyway, while all this was going on, I noticed one book that had 500 five-star reviews and 2 one-star reviews. Nothing else. Some books on Amazon have legitimate high ratings. However, if you see one with a suspiciously high number of 5-star reviews and nothing else, it’s probably too good to be true. It really upset me at the time. I had worked hard to solicit legitimate reviews from top reviewers on Amazon and review sites, and it burned me up that these dishonest fools were gaming the system. As it turns out, they were only just beginning.
Thank you, Nora, for your posts about this issue. I’ve enjoyed all of your books that I’ve read over the years (our library has a lot of your titles as audio books–the In Death series has especially entertained me while I walk. Eve Dallas has a way of energizing my exercise routine. 🙂 Your creative style has soul and heart and inspires others, and that can never be plagiarized. Shame on anyone who tries.
I’ve been struggling with the pricing of my work for awhile now. I’ve wanted to raise them to something sustainable but was afraid with all the others out there.
Your argument is giving me something to think about, hearing it from someone I admire as a quality author really moved the contemplation of pricing of ebooks into the “I need to raise the price” side. Thank you for writing it.
<3 <3 <3
Nora, I just want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for advocating for others. I cannot tell you how much it means to see you using your status and wealth to lift others up and crush injustice. What people don’t always understand is that it takes someone with your status to get others to listen when it comes to fighting injustice. You could have easily called up your lawyer and gone back to your comfortable world and let things settle out, but you didn’t. You’re fighting back, not just for you, but for all authors. I’ve always said you were one of the classiest ladies in the business, and I stand by that statement.
I totally support and understand what you are saying. I to have gotten the free book and then purchased the rest in the series if it was worth it. I am wondering now if there is a way to figure out if those free books are attached to the scammers, just a thought. On another note, I read the post you put up on Facebook about Janet Dailey and the serial plagiarism she committed on your work. I had not heard about this previously and frankly I was so stunned my husband had to actually tough my shoulder to catch my attention. As a reader she was the writer for me, and I felt so betrayed by what she had done to you. One thing I did figure out though, She was not the writer for me, you were and you introduced me to worlds beyond count with your wonderful ability with words. I just read your work in her books. I still feel betrayed by such an Icon in the field but I am going to let it go and quietly delete her works from my library. Love you and love your work Thank you so much for persevering and making so many peoples dreams possible.
I only buy real, hold it in your hand books!! Some free, hold it in your hand books, I get are from the library! How do I know I’m buying non plagiarized books? I know of the authors. Big names, yours Nora is at the top. Trying new authors, expanding my horizons? Only through the library. Bravo Nora for fighting for all legit authors.
And thank you. I’m with you.
As a low vision reader I now can only read ebooks as I can set my font size. I also have purchased low cost books as my income is now a fouth of what I made when I worked. But, 90+ % of those books are backlisted from the authors I love to read, such as Nora. And, as it gets more difficult to read I’m choosing to just read my favorite authors. You Nora, I always make sure to budget for. I thank you for bringing this issue to my attention, I will now take the time to check the authors of the few cheap books I do buy. Also, please never should anyone ever make a hard working, selfmade, person apologize for the money they have EARNED. I gain great pleasure out of your hard work and would never begrudge you a dime. I will honestly say that it is a treat for me to fill in my ebook Library with some of your older books when they go on sale. Although I bought every book you wrote I had to give those away when my sight started to fade. Fight the good fight. Keep us informed so that we may do our little bit. And please let us know if we can help in any other way than just author checking, letters somewhere, etc. Again thank you for taking me into so many worlds filled with love, friendship, community, and hope.
Keeping fighting the fight, Nora! You work too hard for your readers not too. We appreciate your efforts, both fighting this fight and keeping us filled with great stories year in and year out.
Thank you, Nora, for speaking for the rest of us hard-working authors. You’re not elitist but an icon of the publishing industry. The system is broken but if we all band together, readers will change their minds and pay the artist.
Lol at your last line. You’re rich because you write awesome books and have worked your ass off for years!!!
I just have to put it out there that I’m so glad that La Nora is working this case. If any one person in this world has the ability to make this nonsense change, it is you. I’m a little nervous thinking that I may have bought books from scammers, but I promise to take your advice and double check an author’s credentials before I buy another one. And as an aspiring writer, I promise to write my own damn books. Thank you for standing up for readers and writers alike.
As a reader, I quit Kindle Unlimited when I tired of crawling through ebooks by authors who think that second draft is final draft (like with flawless spelling and no typos, but in chapters that should have been deleted to tighten the story). Now that scam books of an even lower quality come up when you browse the KU top lists, I wouldn’t be surprised if more subscriptions get canceled. What happens to KU when it’s nothing but Kindle spam read by clickfarms?
Well said. I’ve felt with all the free book giveaways we’ve been cannablizing our business…and the scammers just increase the damage to the nth degree.
As you say, not all free or 99¢ books are horrible or scams. I think it’s a great way to be introduced to a new author. Also, as you have pointed out, there are ones that have plagiarized. By and large, I buy books that are not cheaply priced. They are the ones I can get lost in and forget the rest of the world for a while.
Well said. For those who demand free books, especially while waiting for a writer’s new stories to be released, there is a place where books are kept and loaned for free. They often have books from writers who might not be familiar, and who can become new favorites. This place is called a “library” and most towns, cities, etc. have them. They are – sadly – often the first to feel the pinch when state money gets tight, and often have teams of devotees who help find money when that happens. They are among the biggest supporters of writers. They buy physical books and then loan them to anyone with a library card.
Thank you! Whenever I see YouTube “How to “videos on how to make tons of cash selling books with their name as the author-and they don’t have to write a word of it, I feel scammed. And powerless. Thank you for throwing one more starfish back into the sea.
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