An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos

This is the letter that I have sent to Jeff Bezos regarding the problems with KU Book Stuffers, Scammers, and thieves. Take from it what you will.

Dear Mr. Bezos,

I am Suzan Tisdale. I began my self-publishing career in December of 2011. Within a year of releasing my first three novels, I was able to give up my day job.  As a self-published, indie author, I made in one month what would have taken me a year to earn at my regular, 9-5 day job. I was a KDP Select Princess and constantly extolled the virtues of the KDP Select Program. Nothing and no one could get me out of it.  
Then you launched KU 1.0, and my income dropped 90% in the first month of its inception. With that inception came the scammers. And those scammers have only become more brazen and prevalent, as time has passed. Due to the blatant scamming, the loss of income, I had to pull all of my titles from the KU Program. I had to do that in order to survive this ever changing business. 

I am quite certain you are aware of the current state of the Kindle Unlimited Program. It is fraught with what we in the industry call ”book stuffers,” ”book scammers,” and other names I won’t repeat in front of polite company.

The scammers are employing a tactic that, again, I’m quite certain you are familiar with. It is called surround and suffocate. They are flooding the sponsored ads and inundating their newsletters subscribers with a bare minimum of ten emails per day, all in an effort to push the legitimate, honest, hardworking authors off the also-boughts and the best-sellers lists. Their end goal, I am certain, is to get rid of any and all legitimate authors and books.

They get their subscribers to download KU books written by legitimate authors, instruct them to flip to the end of the book, just so that their ‘compilations” will show up in the also-boughts of those legitimate authors’ books. 

In turn, these innocent authors, who have no idea what is going on, see an unexpected and unexplained spike in their pages read. Your KDP bots see it too. And this leads to your employees sending out those lovely little letters that accuse these innocent people of wrongdoing. The authors are not given the opportunity to investigate or debate the matter. The Amazon bots and those people youemploy will withhold all funds for pages read for that month. And in some cases, accounts are being shut down, all because someone the author doesn’t know and never hired used their book to scam the system for someone else.

Meanwhile, the scammers and stuffers, the thieves who feast off the KU pot like parasites, continue to thrive and flourish. They are allowed to continue to have 3,000 page books – and I use that term lightly – flooding the KU lists. They are allowed to rake in a bare minimum of $100,000 per month — though I suspect that number is much higher — feeding off the KU pot and the all-star bonuses.

Time and time again, we have proven to our reps and others at Amazon, that these books are breaking Amazon’s TOS. The scammers slap together a 3,000-page book, stuffed to the gills with 10 to 20 other stories they’ve written or bought from ghostwriters on Fiverr. Then they recycle and rearrange those same 10 to 20 stories and shove them into another book with a different cover and title. So in effect, they have 10 to 20 books all with the same 10 to 20 stories stuffed inside, thus the 3,000 page compilations with such titillating titles as Pregnant By My Boss or My Friend’s Dirty Uncle.

With their parasitic approach, they also feed on the kind hearts of their readers. These stuffers are notorious for instructing their readers to download the book using their (the reader’s) KU Subscription and “flip to the end of the book” without reading it. After doing that, they then instruct and sometimes demand their readers also purchase the book. That 3,000 page book is worth $13-$14. Far more than the 30 cents they make off any sales at the $.99 listing price.

There are other tactics these parasitic stuffers use to game the KU system. Instead of giving away 4,000 ARCs, as they used to do, now they have their Virtual Assistants and dedicated fans purchase anywhere from 150 to 300 copies of a book and gift those to the ARC team so that their required 4 to 5 star reviews show up as verified purchases.
In effect, these scammers have turned their devoted readers into click farms.

The list of violations, tricks, and ways to game the system is endless, and some of the bolder and more successful offenders are actually teaching others how to do all of them.

Legitimate authors do not employ any of the tricks I’ve mentioned above. We continue to write novels with heart and substance. We do not ask our readers to do the ‘flip,” nor do we demand they leave a five-star review. We don’t offer prizes such as Tiffany shopping trips for five star reviews. With the current state of KU we couldn’t afford to even if we wanted to and it wasn’t against Amazon’s TOS. Many authors are just barely making a living at this, this career we used to love and enjoy and get excited about. 

While we have presented the evidence to our reps and other Amazon employees for over three years now, these scammers are still allowed to feast like kings at the KU table. The rest of us, the legitimate authors, are left like starving urchins to feed off naught more than scraps and crumbs they toss on the floor.

 For these scammers and stuffers it’s all about visibility. Because visibility = money. And they are raking it in hand over fist.

Yes, we have vast amounts of proof that these things are going on and have sent them to our reps and your employees on numerous occasions. Our voices aren’t heard. Our concerns, it appears, fall on deaf ears. The people you’ve hired to work for you ignore us at every turn. They’re even beginning to ignore the readers who have started to register complaints on these matters. Many readers have publicly stated on social media that they left the KU program because of the scammers. Many authors have too.

If nothing is done to fix the KU program, and soon, you will have nothing left to offer your readers other than books such as, Claiming His Virgin In the Pool, Triple Daddies, and 6 Mountain Men for Christmas. How do you think your readers will react when that happens?

Mr. Bezos, I implore you to take a good, long, hard look at what is happening in the Kindle Unlimited and KDP program. It breaks my heart to see this company that I used to love, brag about, and could say with much pride that I was one of your KDP Select Authors, has turned into this unrecognizable place where scammers flourish and legitimate authors fade away each and every day.

Ever hopeful,

Suzan Tisdale

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romance Writers Breaking Stereotypes

A few days ago, I met with my author friends, Kate Bateman, Tara “TM” Cromer, and GP Ching. We were interviewed by Pam Adams, journalist with The Peoria Journal Star. I firmly believe Pam deserved combat duty pay for trying to keep up with the minds of four authors!

We discussed many things, from our writing process to publishing, balancing home and family, and everything in between. You can’t possibly squeeze a three hour interview into a page and a half, but Pam did an awesome job catching the ‘vibe’ of our meeting.

You can read the article here.

Even though 34% of books published today fall into the romance genre (historical, contemporary, paranormal, Amish, SEALs, Hockey, etc.) and 80% of those books are written by women, there are still people who look down on us. Even though the romance genre is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Screen Shot 2018-05-24 at 7.41.39 AM
LTR: Kate Bateman, Me, GP Ching, Tara Cromer. Photography by David Zalaznik/Journal Star 

Some statistics from Romance Writers of America:

Romance Fiction Statistics
These statistics offer insights to help you understand this billion-dollar-a-year industry.

Estimated annual total sales value of romance in 2013: $1.08 billion (source: BookStats)
Romance novel share of the U. S. fiction market: 34% (source: Nielsen BookScan/PubTrack Digital 2015)
Who is the romance reader? (source: NPD Romance Book Buyer 2017)
Female: 82%
Male: 18%
Average age of the romance reader: 35–39 years old (source: NPD Romance Book Buyer 2017)
Formats read (source: NPD Romance Book Buyer 2017):
Print readers: 92%
E-book readers: 64%
Audiobook users: 35%

a $1.08 BILLION dollar industry and we still get a bad rap?

Here is another article on the subject. 

Sometimes our books are referred to as bodice rippers or mommy porn. Nothing could be further from the truth. There seems to be an elitist attitude from some non-romance writers and even journalists about what we do and why we do it. Thankfully, not everyone has that attitude, as evidenced by Pam Adam’s awesome article. 

Kate Bateman said it best: 

“I have a degree in English, I’ve read fantastically good literature, but they’re all so depressing. Everybody dies. The “happily-ever after” is part of the appeal of romance novels.”

Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 8.24.54 AM
Kate Bateman. Photography: David Zalaznik/Journal Star

We read to learn, to escape, to hope, to dream. There is not a damned thing wrong with that. We want to believe that happily ever afters do exist. We want to believe that the good guy will prevail. Romance novels not only allow us to escape, they give us hope.

So to those who look down their noses at us, I give to you a big old ‘PLLLLTTT!” (Insert raspberry noise here.) You can scoff at what we do. You can laugh all you want. We simply Do. Not. Care.

We — romance writers — are building businesses and, dare I say it, empires. This is especially true with Indie Authors. We’re forging paths, building dreams, and setting trends. So to you nay-sayers and elitists, I say: BITE ME.

While you’re looking down your pinched noses at us, we’re laughing all the way to the bank, baby. And we’re not looking back at you. We’re looking forward. That’s what separates us from the rest of the pack. We’re not afraid to take chances, to learn, or to grow.

Screen Shot 2018-05-28 at 8.25.13 AM
LtR: GP Ching, Tara Cromer, Me.  Photography by David Zalaznik/Journal Star

Most of us write really good books. Books our readers love and clamor for. We give our readers a means of escape and hope.

When you make fun of romance authors, you’re also making fun and light of readers. I wouldn’t do that if I were you. No one has more power in this entire business than our readers. (NOTE: I happen to believe I have the BEST readers ever!) None of us, regardless of the genre you write, would be where we are today if it weren’t for readers. Who in the hell do you think is buying all these books?

GP Ching

Kate Bateman

Tara “TM” Cromer

Lauri Larsen (A CIA Member who was basking in the warm, sunny beaches out east during our interview)

My New Reader App!

Are you frustrated with missing important announcements on sales, new releases, or preorders? Don’t worry! I have an app for that!

suzan kilt man

I’m proud to introduce you to my new app for readers! It’s FREE and easy to use and navigate! It’s available for Android/Smartphones and all IOS devices! Tap the links below to download your FREE app today. 😀

Android/Smartphones

IOS Devices

Rodrick the Bold!

I am very happy to announce that Rodrick the Bold is now available for preorder!

You might notice that this book is listed as book three of The Mackintoshes and McLarens Series. No, it isn’t a typo. 😉 

Rodrick the Bold begins right after The Bowie Bride. If you read that book, you will remember we had a nefarious traitor. You will also remember the reasons behind that person’s traitorous acts. (I am trying not to give away any spoilers for those who haven’t yet read The Bowie Bride.)

Brogan’s Promise is listed as book four in order to squeeze Rodrick in where he belongs. 😀 

Continue reading Rodrick the Bold!

Merry Christmas Wishes and A Special Announcement!

Untitled design-53

 

It has been a long while since I have had any of my books in the Kindle Unlimited program. In the spirit of giving this holiday season, Kindle Unlimited Subscribers can now read the entire Clan MacDougall Series for FREE! 

You may find the entire series by clicking here.

May your Christmas be warm and bright and may 2018 bless you and keep you safe!

With warmest regards,

 

Suzan Tisdale (Your Cheeky Wench)

 

Issues with Brogan’s Promise

I have sent out two newsletter emails regarding what happened with the files for Brogan’s Promise. For those of you who might have missed those, this is the information:

I’m going to try to make a very long story as short as possible. 

Brogan’s Promise was set to go live on June 27, 2017. While the final files were uploaded without incident at all other vendors (iBooks, Nook, Kobo, and even Google Play) there were issues with the final files at Amazon. 

I was under the belief that at Amazon we had three days (72 hours) from the date of release in which to upload the final files. That would have been midnight on the 23rd. 

My husband had a heart attack a couple of weeks ago. He is fine, doing great, and all is well on that front. But it did add a delay of a week to what was the normal time I take to finalize a book. 

On the 23rd, I went to upload my final files at Amazon only to find out I had been locked out from doing so.  Apparently, the final file needs to be uploaded 72 hours prior to the release date in the first time zone it will go available. I’m told that the first time zone is Australia, not the US where I live. Yes, I’m just as baffled as anyone. Long story short, not even my Amazon rep can help me.

The book went live with the placeholder file Amazon requires we put up during the preorder phase. This has caused a good many people to be frustrated and even angry. I can’t say that I blame you. It hasn’t been any more fun on my end, trust me. 

I take full ownership of this mistake. I should have uploaded it a week before it went live just to be safe. But again, it’s been a rough few weeks here and I didn’t do what I should have. I am sorry.

In addition to Kevin’s heart attack, I lost my cousin Mike two weeks ago, to a massive heart attack. He was taking a walk with his girlfriend and her granddaughter when it happened. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one. He was only 3 years older than me.

Then a couple of days ago, I lost a very dear friend unexpectedly. She was a beautiful soul, with a beautiful voice, and she will be missed by so many people. Dawn made the world a better place. She was just a wonderful, beautiful person and it breaks my heart to know that she is gone.

From the bottom of my heart, I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused all of you. You should have received an email from Amazon letting you know the final and correct files are ready for your Kindle. If you haven’t received that email, please contact Amazon’s customer service at: 1-888-280-4331. 

Again, I am truly sorry. I am not making excuses. This is completely on me and I take full ownership and responsibility. Please know that I appreciate your patience as well as the outpouring of love and support all of you, my dedicated readers, have shown me. I love and adore each and every one of you. Please know that I would never intentionally cause you such distress and frustration. 

With much love and appreciation,

Suzan 

 

Romancing the Smokies 2017!

I’m taking my daughter and my best friend to the Romancing The Smokies Author & Reader Con! We leave this Thursday, March 16th and I’m 100% positive this is going to be on fun road trip!

We’re taking the long way to Knoxville, TN. We’re going to stop in Kentucky to see my dear friend and fellow author, Hallee Bridgeman. Yes, it’s a few hours out of the way, but I haven’t seen Hallee in ages, so I figured, what the heck, let’s do it! 

According to Google Maps, it should only take us 5 hours and 32 minutes to get to Hallee’s home.  Google Maps, however, never takes into consideration the more ‘mature’ bladders. 😉 If my readers know me at all, they know this trip will take considerably longer than five and a half hours. I’m sure you all have pool going to see how long it takes! 

Hallee, Me, and my bestie, from last year!

 

I will give everyone updates via here on my blog as well as my Facebook pages. Look for LIVE videos too!  

And if you’re in the KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE area this Saturday, March 18, stop on by the Knoxville Airport Hilton and say hi! I’m there for the Romancing The Smokies Event. They will have a HUGE book signing Saturday afternoon. You can bring your books for me to sign, or pick some up at the event. 

www.romancingthesmokies.com for more details! I hope to see you there!!

 

 

THE ROMANCING THE SMOKIES AUTHOR & READER EVENT! AIRPORT HILTON, KNOXVILLE, TN! March 17 – 18, 2017!