Suzan’s Top 21 List of Things You Must Do While Visiting Scotland

Lots of people have asked me “What do you recommend doing when in Scotland?” Oh, that list is endless, but I’ve narrowed it down to my personal top 21 favorite things.

Suzan Tisdale’s “Must Do When In Scotland” List:

  1. Edinburgh. Every inch of the Royal Mile. We were there for several days and still didn’t see it all.
  2. You must have lunch at Edinburgh Castle and try their tortellini! Out of this world delicious.
  3. Have dinner at the Witchery by the Castle Restaurant, in Old Town Edinburgh. Have the Cranachan for dessert and you’ll get to experience a wee bit of heaven on earth.
  4. Old town Edinburgh and New town Edinburgh… both have lots to offer. Visit the museums, the shops, and restaurants. You just can’t go wrong. 
  5. Blackwell’s Bookstore. That’s all you need to know.
  6. Have dinner at the Scotsman Hotel in Oldtown, Edinburgh. The food is amazing. 
  7. Dunnotar Castle. I recommend standing on the cliffs and looking out at the sea while the wind whips all around you. Yes, I cried. 
  8. Culloden Battlefield. Take Kleenex because you’ll need them. 
  9. Eilean Donan Castle, for all the obvious reasons!
  10. Applecross is lovely.
  11.  Stay at the West Highland Hotel in Mallaig. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1800’s. Try the venison. 
  12. Take a long walk around Mallaig. Visit the shore. I think this was my most favorite village out of all the small villages we visited and I wish we could have stayed longer. 
  13. Go to the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore. Plan on spending a few hours there. 
  14.  Aberdeen was wonderful! We highly recommend the Carmelite Hotel. The food is out of this world. 
  15. We loved Inverness. When we go back, I plan on spending a few days there. 
  16. St. Andrews: Amazing little town! We loved the castle ruins, loved walking around the town. Yes, it’s a bit ‘touristy’ but the history there is amazing. 
  17. Inchmahome Priory… OMG. I’ve never felt so connected to any ‘place’ in my life as I did this island. The book ideas… the history … If I could have camped there with my laptop, I would have stayed for weeks. 
  18.  Inverary Castle was BEAUTIFUL! 
  19. The Clachan in Drymen. Lovely little pub with great food.
  20. Foods you MUST try: Cullen Skink, meat pies, Scotch pies, Cranachan, Fish and chips, tablet, Irn Bru, salmon – I’m not a salmon eater. HOWEVER, the salmon you get in Scotland is unlike any salmon you will have anywhere else. Try any of the seafood; seriously delicious. The potato scones are soooo good. Splurge and have a real ‘tea’. You won’t regret it. 
  21. Loch Lomond. Plan on spending a few hours in this sweet little village.

Things to keep in mind: There are LOTS of hills in Scotland. We did find a bit of flat land: it was a 4 foot by 4 foot square out in the middle of nowhere. (LOL) Whilst in Edinburgh, we took an Uber UP the Royal Mile and walked down. I cannot begin to tell you how important comfortable shoes are. Forget style. You’re going to do a lot of walking. 

Hire a Private Driver

You must hire a private driver to take you into the Highlands. Why not drive it? The roads are one lane in the Highlands and if you have zero experience driving on ‘the wrong side of the road’ you can cause traffic jams or worse yet, accidents. It is worth the money because you won’t be worried about driving and you’ll get to SEE everything. It is worth the money because the driver is used to those one lane roads and they know what in the hell they’re doing. 😉 You just have to trust me on this. Use Ross Shand with Your Scotland Tour. Seriously, he takes care of everything from booking hotels or B&B’s to putting together a unique tour just for you. Just tell him where you want to go, your budget, and he’ll take care of the rest. Worth every penny. This is not one of those ‘big bus tours’ type things. This is a private driver in a car who has personalized everything to fit your needs. Bonus: He wears a kilt every day. 😀

Don’t be afraid to rent an apartment. Unless it is during the summer months, then I recommend a hotel. They don’t have AC in 99.9999% of the apartments. Most buildings do NOT have elevators. Be prepared to do a lot of stairs. We ended up having to check into the Hilton Hotel (VERY NICE hotel) because the apartment was a kiln. 

Scotland’s ‘first floor’ is our ‘second floor. 

Apartment vs. Hotel

If you do rent an apartment, keep in mind the electricity and how you use it is totally different. In the first apartment, we had to flip a switch OUTSIDE the bathroom, near the floor, in order to get the shower to come on. They don’t do ‘water heaters’ like we do; it’s all tankless water heaters. 

Wait until you get to Scotland to do your money exchange, or at the very least, only exchange $50 here until you get there. Scotland’s money is beautiful, it really is! Be prepared to keep some back for souvenirs. 

Do not, under any circumstance go into any of the red telephone booths in Edinburgh. These are often used for public toilets by the drunks and STINK.

Take your time. Enjoy every moment. Don’t be afraid to visit the smaller diners and restaurants. We didn’t have one bad meal the entire time we were there. 

Pack lightly! Most of the hotels have laundry service. Or, if you rent and apartment you can do laundry there. When we go back, I’ll do one small carryon and one very small suitcase. 

Please, be respectful and don’t litter. 

A Thousand Shades of Green

There is nothing more beautiful than Scotland’s Highlands. A thousand shades of green that will at times, leave you breathless. I cannot wait to go back.

Somewhere in the Highlands…

Be kind and gracious because you will not find anyone nicer than the people of Scotland, no matter where you go. 

Inverary Castle
CRANACHAN… Proof there is a God. A good, kind, gracious God.

Kiss of The Red Scorpion

Fall in Love.

Save the World.

No Big Deal.

Most good books and anthologies start with someone saying, “Hey, I have this idea …” which often leads to their friends saying, “What if we …” which in turn leads to, “What about …”

More than two years ago, my friend, author TM Cromer and I were sitting at my dining room talking about archaeology and heaven only knows what else, when TM said, “You know, I have this idea for a book.” We sat there for an hour, lobbing ideas back and forth like tennis balls at Wimbledon. Our excitement soon grew, and before we knew it, we were making plans to turn this tiny idea into an anthology. We invited our dearest friends, authors Genevieve Jack, KC Bateman, Kathryn Lynn Davis, and Sara Whitney to join us in writing Kiss of the Red Scorpion.

These last two years have been fun, exciting, and at times, a bit nerve wracking (but man, has it been worth the frayed nerves!)

I have never dipped my toe into the paranormal world. “It will be fun,” they said. “You can do whatever you want,” they said.

You would have sworn I’d never written a book before, the way I fretted and worried over my contribution to this anthology. It had more rewrites than a presidential speech on climate control. But in the end, they were right. It was fun!

It was the support and love of these amazing authors that saw me through. Each of these awesome women have contributed amazing, compelling, and intriguing stories! I am so proud to be a part of this group of awesome, kick-ass women!

The Kiss of the Red Scorpion begins with a story of unrequited love, a necklace, and a curse. From there we visit ancient Egypt, Ancient Ireland, Medieval Scotland, Regency London, current days, and end up in the not too distant future.

My contribution, In The Echo of a Kiss, takes place in ancient Ireland, with Rory and Lasair (pronounced Loh-seer.) When the cursed necklace is discovered, it brings pain and black magic to their clan, and turns one little boy’s pure heart to something dark and terrifying.

This may have been the longest book journey of my life, but I am very happy to be part of it.

Kiss of the Red Scorpion is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple Books. For a very limited time, you can purchase your copy for only 99cents. After the first week, the price will go to $5.99.

You Might Be On An Illegal Book Downloading Site if…

“How do I know if I’m on a legitimate book site?”

You’d be surprised the number of times I get asked that question. As in at least five times a day. I get asked lots of questions every day as it pertains to books and audiobooks. So, I decided to put together this handy guide for those individuals who are ‘uncertain’ if they’re on a legitimate book site or not.

Q: How can I tell if I’m on a book pirating site?

A: You might be on an illegal ebook downloading site (AKA book pirating site) if all the books are free. That is your first give away. No legitimate book vendor has 100% free books. The only exception is your local library’s website. Other than that, if every book is FREE then you’re not in the right place. You’re in the wrong place. As in ‘you’re on an illegal book downloading site’. As in please report to your local author.

Q. I belong to a private FB group where they share ‘free books’. Is this legit?

A. The answer to this one can be tricky. If none of the people are sharing links to legitimate book sites, ie: Amazon, Kobo, Nook, AppleBooks, or GooglePlay, or the author’s own website, then no, this is not legitimate. Legitimate book clubs will share links to BOOK STORES where you can grab a free copy. Again, to places like Amazon, Kobo, Nook, AppleBooks, or GooglePlay, or the author’s own website.

NON-Legitimate groups will have all the book files located somewhere outside of the group, using file sharing sites such as Drop Box or One Drive.

If there are no authors in the group who are sharing LEGITIMATE store links, then you’re probably in an illegal file sharing group. Run far, run fast.

NON-Legitimate groups will have all the book files located somewhere outside of the group, using file sharing sites such as Drop Box or One Drive.

If the administrators of that group are asking for ‘monetary donations to help offset the cost of Drop Box or One Drive’ then you are in an illegal book downloading/book piracy group. This is NOT LEGITIMATE. This is ILLEGAL on so many levels. And yes, YOU can be held criminally liable for participating in these kinds of groups.

Q. My sister and I share books with each other all the time. Is that wrong?

A. No! That is perfectly acceptable because you purchased the books first. The piracy sites never purchase the books (they’ll purchase, make a copy, then return. The author is never paid.) I used to share ebooks and paperbacks with my mom all the time. Perfectly legit.

Q. I just want to support my favorite authors. What can I do?

A. You can purchase books from legitimate sites, such as Amazon, Nook, Kobo, AppleBooks, and GooglePlay. A lot of authors these days also allow purchasing directly from their websites. Try following your favorite authors on Facebook or BookBub. Most authors I know have monthly newsletters with information on upcoming releases, pre-orders, sales, etc. They will almost always have links in those newsletters to the vendor of your choice.

Q. What about audiobooks?

The rules are the same regardless of format. Yes, audiobook piracy is a thing and yes, we’re working on trying to solve the issue. Yes, I’m aware that all of my audiobooks have been stolen.

My tips for readers are as follows: “Follow” your favorite author at Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram. Sign up for your favorite author’s newsletters.

My tips for readers are as follows: “Follow” your favorite author at Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram. Sign up for your favorite author’s newsletters. Stick to those places you KNOW are legitimate book purchasing sites. Avoid everything else.

Ignore any ‘invitations’ or links you might see on social media that say things like: ‘Thousands of FREE ebooks from Thousands of authors!’ or ‘Download All The Free eBooks You want!’ Chances are those are scams, phishing sites filled with malware, and/or book piracy sites.

When in doubt, DON’T! If you’re still not sure the site you’re on is a piracy site or not, reach out and ask. Most authors love hearing from readers and are happy to answer any questions you might have.


Book Thieves Suck

I just can’t call them pirates. Pirate, in my mind, conjures up an image of a tall, handsome devil with long hair and a swashbuckling personality sailing the seven seas.

We’re talking about thieves. Individuals or groups of individuals who openly steal copies of books and upload them to websites where anyone who is a member can read it. They like to claim they’re offering a service to the public. They like to claim what they’re doing is no more different than a public library.

You’re NOT a Library. You are a thief.

There are a few succinct differences between libraries and book thieves. Libraries, you see, actually pay for books. Most libraries have a limited number of members. Yes, some libraries are bigger than others, but that isn’t the point here. The books were first purchased before they were loaned out to anyone.

The pirates will argue that someone originally did buy the book and they’re simply sharing it with the rest of their friends. Again, no, no you’re not. First of all, nobody has that many friends. Secondly, these thieves might actually buy the book, only to return it an hour or two later after they’ve stripped out everything they need to upload to these disgusting sites.

Some of these sites like to say they’re doing us a favor. One guy likes to argue that it is no different than offering a free sample. If the reader likes that book, they’ll go on to buy the others.

Again, that is a bunch of BS. Why would anyone who has access to literally hundreds of thousands of stolen books actually buy one?

That old argument of you should feel honored we stole from you; think of it as free publicity is also a bunch of BS. If I called a plumber, had him fix my leaky faucet or install a completely new bathroom, and then told him “I’m not going to pay you, but I’ll tell everyone what a wonderful job you did” I’d probably end up with a black eye and a law suit.

DMCA’S? WHY BOTHER?

Every day, hundreds if not thousands of authors spend countless hours sending out DMCA’s or ‘take down notices.’ Some of us either have to hire a personal assistant to do that or use programs like Blasty. It isn’t cheap keeping up with these idiots.

Where the hell is my book?!? If you find that the book you’ve been assured is there, in fact isn’t, chances are it’s been DMCA’d into oblivion. Simply request the book again. These things happen, heck, that’s life.

from a book pirating website.

So why even bother with DMCA’s? These sites will take the book down for maybe an hour or two. But as soon as they believe the coast is clear, they upload that book again.

This is a never ending game of whack-a-mole. Even if we manage to get a site taken down, they reopen under a new name in just a few short hours. And the entire process starts up all over again.

Additionally, a lot of authors use the KU program at Amazon. This requires their books be exclusive to Amazon. Amazon does check to make certain these books are not available anywhere else. When a book that is in the KU program comes up as available at these pirate sites, the authors get into trouble. They’re accused of violating the rules and are often threatened with losing their accounts altogether. Imagine losing your livelihood because of these idiots.

But the thieves simply don’t care. There are plenty of books to choose from.

George RR Martin, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Courtney Milan, even Michelle Obama are all victims of book piracy.

It isn’t just indie authors they steal from. At most of these sites, they have stolen from the likes of George RR Martin, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Courtney Milan. Hell, they’ve even stolen from Michelle Obama. No book, it seems, is left ‘un-stolen’. No author is out of bounds. Nothing is off limits.

Want a new release? Go to one of these sites and request it. You can have your copy within an hour of it going live.

If DMCA’s are time consuming and expensive, why bother sending them? The answer is simple: it’s the principal of the thing.

Imagine you have worked hard all week long. Pay day rolls around and your boss says, “Sorry, Bernice. I think you’ve already made too much money this month, so I’m not going to pay you.”

Or imagine you own a bakery. Someone comes in and demands free bear claws. Because it’s just a bear claw and you bakers are all filthy rich and live in mansions. They don’t care that you work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. They don’t care that you have a mortgage, a kid that needs braces, car payments, student loans, utility bills, or anything else. Damn it, you have earned enough money. Or, you make enough money off those people who did buy your donuts and cupcakes.

Their arguments are idiotic at best. We work really hard to bring our readers good, quality books. We have editors, cover artists, final proofers, and other business expenses. It isn’t up to these thieves to decide if we’ve earned ‘too much money’ or not. It isn’t up to them to decide if we will offer a sale on one of our books, or even make it free for a few days. It is our decision to make. It is our book, not theirs.

It is our book, not theirs.

If these asshats want to write books and give them away for free, let them have at it. But I shouldn’t have to be forced to fight these idiots because no one either has the financial wherewithal or the political clout to tackle this issue.

I’m getting a little tired of having to explain to the ‘readers’ who use these sites and argue ‘there is nothing wrong with what they’re doing’ that is in fact against the law. They are violating numerous copyright laws.

Enough is enough already. I do believe it is time we take action as a collective to combat these low life, scum sucking, arrogant thieves and put a stop to this nonsense.

Just think about the Napster lawsuit and you’ll see where I’m going with this.

Book Thieves Suck.

An Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:

While we can appreciate your need to ‘protect’ the public from ne’er-do-wells, political deception, covert Russian spies, things that could potentially be found ‘obscene or offensive’, round-earthers, and aliens from planet Zenon, I do believe you’ve gone a bit too far with some of the inane rules you’ve set forth on Facebook. (I’m beginning to believe that the same people who handle Amazon’s customer complaints are the same people who run Facebook’s customer complaint department. Because nothing either company does makes a damned bit of sense.) 

I know what I am about to say will sound a bit ‘cliche’, but here goes: This is America. And in America, people are considered innocent until proven guilty. But that message apparently has not yet reached you or those individuals working for you.

I’m not even certain you are aware of some of the things that happen on Facebook. I’ll give you a run down on one item in particular: reporting profiles.

  1. It takes absolutely ZERO evidence to ‘report’ an individual on Facebook for ‘impersonation, violent behavior, objectionable content, etc.’ All I need to is report it using your ‘community guidelines’. 
  2. But once an account has been reported it can be frozen and suspended without any form of due process. When that happens, your requirements to get a profile reinstated are, to say the least, ridiculous. 

This business of ‘reporting’ someone is getting way out of hand. All that need happen is for someone on FB to ‘offend’ me, and with one click of my mouse, I can ‘report’ them to the FB police. That is all I need to do. One. Little. Click. But this scenario ONLY works for individuals on FB, not the thousands and thousands of ‘group pages’. ONLY the individual profiles.

Currently, there is an individual on Facebook who has numerous profiles. He’s pretty smart and knows how to manipulate his IP address. Apparently, this person, let’s call him Dylan C, has got a bee in his bonnet and is very upset over something that happened three years ago. He can’t seem to let go of this innocuous comment made on some post that no one can even find now. So, he has targeted the individual who made that innocuous comment. Let’s call her Samantha. Samantha is an author.

In the past six months, Dylan C has ‘reported’ Samantha’s profile no less than six times. Twice now, he has been successful in getting her profile suspended for ‘impersonating’ herself. Each time, Samantha has had to provide as much information as she’d need if she were trying to get a job with the FBI. Such as documentation from: the IRS, US Copyright office, the RWA and NINC – both internationally recognized organizations. She must also provide her birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, banking information, and a photo of herself HOLDING that information, and anything else that proves she is who she says she is. At this point, the only thing that hasn’t been requested from her is a urine sample and DNA swab.

The images Samantha sent to the Facebook police per their request were rejected because they couldn’t “read the information” that was clearly visible on the documents. Then, after being told three times to take an even clearer picture, which was virtually impossible, Samantha voiced her frustration and asked specifically what they couldn’t read in the image. At that point, FB stopped ALL communication with her.   

Now here is where is gets reallycrazy: DylanC has begun to report other authors who have similar names as the original Samantha. He’s also begun to report profile pages of some individuals who have commented on the original Samantha’s FB posts. 

Enter Samantha B., an author. Samantha B. has no idea who DylanC is. She’s never heard of him and as far as she knows, she’s never had any kind of interaction with this person on Facebook. But DylanC, in his kindergarten-esque tirade, has reported Samantha B. for impersonating the original Samantha.

Now, Samantha B. has to provide all the same information as original Samantha just to prove she is who she says she is.

Samantha and Samantha B., are authors. They have author profiles as well as their personal profiles, a practice quite common amongst authors. Both women are, to say the least, quite upset, as is the rest of the author community.

In America, the burden of proof lies with the state. The state (the accuser) must prove the defendant’s (the accused’s) guilt. The defendant does not have to prove his or her innocence. 

Yet, in the world of Facebook, it is the exact opposite. I do not have to ‘prove’ anything in order to report someone. All I need do is make the claim. This is very reminiscent of Nazi Germany back in the day. (Yes, I said it.) But the person I’m ‘reporting’ has to jump through more hoops than a circus lion in order to prove their innocence. It can take days, if not weeks, to get it all sorted out.

There is something inherently wrong with this picture and your rules.

Perhaps the next time you’re getting a seaweed-wrap and massage while you sip a non-fat soy, two-pump, caramel mocha latte with sugar free whip, you could take a moment to read the Constitution and perhaps a few letters from authors who are quite angry with all the nonsense we have to put up with at Facebook and idiots like Dylan C.

I’ll save my thoughts on the dozens of “Download Free PDF’s and ebooks” groups on Facebook who share thousands upon thousands of stolen/pirated ebooks with each other or the hoops we authors have to go through to get an ad approved, for another time.

Offendedly yours,

Suzan Tisdale – Author

As The Scams Continue to Turn

I just learned about a ‘technique’ our scammers are using regarding audio books.But not just any audiobooks. No, these involve audiobooks that are in the Audible Romance Package. 

‘LEAVE YOUR AUDIOBOOK ON ALL NIGHT’

Amazon/Audible implemented this new ‘subscription’ service last summer. With it, readers/listeners can listen to an unlimited number of audiobooks per month for a fee. Much like Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, you only get to listen to those books that are in the romance package program.

The author of that audiobook is paid for each minutea reader listens to your book(s). There is no limit to the number of times you can listen to the same book. Once, twice, thirty times, it doesn’t matter. We are paid for each of those minutes. Absolutely no checks and balances on this.

So the scammers, who find ways of scamming crap faster than a kid can find mom’s hidden chocolate, are taking over the Audible Romance Package Program. Seriously, this is a whole new level of scamming.

So what are they doing? They’re asking their ‘readers’ to play the book a few times. They don’t even have to listen to the book. Just play it. Leave it on loop. Leave it on all night, on loop. Leave it on all day, on loop.

I could not figure out why my audible royalties took a nose dive over the last few months. I’m talking a 75% drop. Now I know: the scammers are taking over Audible. 

They’re not really listening to the book; they’re just playing the books over and over and over again. 

I’m sure there is probably a new audiobook click farm in some dark basement somewhere, listening to audiobooks 24/7. But they’re not really listening, they’re just playing the books.Over and over and over again. And according to Audible, that is not against the rules. 

Dozens upon dozens of audiobooks in all sorts of genres by known scammers, have been flooding the system since Audible launched the RP.

And yes, Audible has a ‘bonus’ for those audiobooks that had high ‘minutes listened to.’ Sort of like Amazon’s All Star Bonus for their KU program.

We are paid next to nothing for each minute listened. We get as little as 0.00095 of a cent per minute listened. Let us do some math. Let’s use a 5 hour book as an example. A five hour book equals 300 minutes. 300 x 0.00095 means we get 0.285 of a cent for that book. If the book had been purchased outright, I would get $4.42 cents. That is a remarkable difference.

So let’s take a 24 hour day. There are 1440 minutes in a day, multiply that by 0.00095 and you get $1.38. Doesn’t sound like much, because it isn’t. But if you have say 10 audiobooks in the package and you have dozens of people playing it on loop, the money does eventually begin to increase. However, the scammers don’t really care about that part of the equation. What they want is the Audible Romance Package bonus. That bonus is calculated doing math I doubt Sheldon Cooper could figure out. The bonus is given to the ‘authors’ who had the ‘most listens’ for the quarter. We’re talking thousands of dollars.

I did earn that bonus the first two quarters. However, my royalties started taking a drastic dive after the first quarter. At first, I wasn’t concerned because I thought it was this new program finding its way. I was also getting a nice bonus that made up for the loss in royalties.

But over the past few months, the royalties have dropped so significantly and so dramatically that the ‘bonus’ doesn’t even begin to make up for the loss in royalties.

Audiobooks are expensive to make. Especially if you write really big books like I do. It can me cost over $4,000 to create an audiobook for one of my bigger books. In the past, I usually made the money within a month or two of release. I would continue to make good money on it for years after. That, however, is no longer the case.

So we have a whole new battle to fight. I can’t wrap my head around this right now. Not only is Amazon allowing their KU system to be gamed, Audible allows it as well.

It boggles the mind. Not only do we have to deal with pirated copies of our audiobooks at Youtube, now this.

I told you this would get much worse before it got better. I don’t know if this is the worst of it yet. I’m afraid to think about it. 

I hate scammers.

As The Scheme Turns

I’ve just finished reading Nora Robert’s blog post Whisky Tango Foxtrot.

I’ve learned a few things over the past few days. Things that make me shake my head. Things that make me want to throw things and scream. It’s enough to make a grown woman want to drink.

Yesterday morning someone brought to my attention another ‘scheme’ the scammers are pulling. And they’ve been pulling it for quite some time. For years in fact. Here is how it works:

Author A has had a ghostwriter write Book A. Author A has published it, made a few bucks off of it, but now the book isn’t making him any money. So he then offers that book for sale within a private group of fellow scammers. For anywhere from $50 to $1,000. Sometimes they auction these previously published works off to the highest bidder.

Author B buys the book, changes the title, the cover, and the pronouns. She might take this book that was originally, let’s say a Navy Seal book, and turns it into a MM romance. Then Author B publishes it into the KU program.

Real writers don’t do this.

Author B didn’t write on word of this ‘new’ book. Not one word. All she did was change the title, the pronouns, and the cover. And chances are, she had her ghostwriter or a VA do those changes for her.

And what do her friends in this secret group do? They send out newsletters to all the readers on their newsletter subscriber list. “My friend, author B, has just released a new book! Go download your copy today!” Or her friends will write some pretty awesome, “OMG! I loved this book!” reviews.

This is a scam. These are people (I cannot and will never call them authors) who are nothing more than scam publishers. They hire ghostwriters for next to nothing, slap the book into KU, and using either click farms or unsuspecting readers, they game the system. They’ve taught their readers to flip to the end of the book so they can be sure to get paid. They publish anywhere from 2 to 10 books a month under one pen name.

I will NEVER call these people authors.

For the scammers, it in not, nor has it ever been, about the writing. It’s all about the money. It is ONLY about the money.

This scheme of buying another publisher’s (still can’t call them authors) work, repackaging them and selling them is beyond deplorable. What is worse is the fact that these people don’t see the harm in it.

This is from Nora’s blog:

In reply to Nora Roberts.
The link you posted above is suggesting that authors cannot sell their intellectual property (their books) to other authors and publishers. It’s literally calling someone a “scammer” for selling the rights to some books they wrote.
How on Earth is that a scam?
By that measure, every single traditional publisher that has ever bought rights to a book (and subsequently published that title with their own cover and marketing spin) would be a “scammer”.
That’s silly.
Do you genuinely think it’s a scam for someone to sell the publishing rights/copyright for their original work to another person? If that person then packages and sells that book to the masses, is that a scam?
I’m genuinely open to talk if you want to have a quick dialogue about this stuff. That link you posted is just an honest author trying to sell the books THEY wrote, and some random silliness besides.

From Nora Roberts Blog

I would sincerely love to talk to this person about this very topic. Your argument is ridiculous. You’re trying to equate traditional publishing with the bullshit you’re pulling. You’re NOT publishing original works. You’re selling ghostwritten work. You’re selling previously published works. Works written by a ghostwriter. Works you are ‘repackaging.’

Traditional publishers don’t do this.

Real writers don’t do this.

If these were stories YOU had written but had never published, then I’d probably not have a problem with it. However, that is NOT what is happening here. Yes, I genuinely think this is a scam. You are a scammer. You are a liar and a cheat. I have no problem with calling you that. And if you would ‘genuinely’ like to talk about it, please, feel free to reach out to me. You know where to find me. I don’t hide under an avatar or pen name.

I’m Suzan Tisdale. I write every word of every sentence of every paragraph of every chapter of every one of my books. I don’t hire ghostwriters to ‘clean it up’. I will gladly put any of my books up against one of your books any day of the week.

We know who you are.



The Problem With Amazon Is…

There are a lot of problems facing the indie publishing industry right now. Each vendor—Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, and Google Play—has their own unique problems. But those problems pale in comparison to the problems plaguing Amazon. 

You might want to grab a cup of coffee and settle in. This could take a while.

Pick any day of the week and invariably someone is posting a question to a board or a group that begins with “Is anyone else having issues at Amazon involving [insert problem here]?” Someone will usually reply with “Yes, I’m having same issue. When I called, they said there was a ‘glitch’ in the system.”

For a multi billion dollar corporation, they certainly seem to have a lot of ‘glitches’. I don’t mean one or two glitches spread across the timespan of a year. I’m talking near daily ‘glitches’. Issues ranging from files not uploading, can’t get new covers to take, sales ranks frozen for days after a new release, reviews disappearing, non existent quality control issues, accounts frozen for no reason; the list is endless.

For a multi billion dollar corporation, they certainly seem to have a lot of ‘glitches’.

One of my personal favorites are the ever-increasing preorder fiascos, whereby on released day Amazon sends out the placeholder file instead of the actual book.

Don’t even get me started on the KDP Print issues.

But the biggest problem Amazon has is they don’t care. They. Do. Not. Care. David Gaughran said it best on twitter this morning.

They. Do. Not. Care.

Why would they? They’re making money hand over fist. Billions every year. The problems aren’t just limited to the indie authors. They treat all their ‘vendors’ the same way: with repugnant indifference.

The current hot topic issue is plagiarism (#CopyPasteCris). This is nothing new on the Amazon front. It’s been going on for years. Years. David Gaughran talks about his own experience on this front that dates back to 2012. Read his twitter from this morning. If that doesn’t make your blood boil, I don’t know what will.

The issues that we have at Amazon are never replicated with the other vendors. Kobo checks each and every one of its books for plagiarism before they allow it to be published. Amazon is a hell of a lot bigger than Kobo, makes God-only-knows-how-much more money than Kobo, yet they can’t seem to get any kind of system to check for plagiarism. 

iTunes and Nook allow us to set up asset-less preorders. For those non-authors reading this, it simply means we can put up a book for a preorder without having to have any kind of file attached to it. Then a week before the book is set to go live, we upload the final book files. Easy peasy and never an issue.

Amazon requires a placeholder file. Doesn’t matter what is in that file just so long as you have one. Which doesn’t sound too bad until you’ve had the lovely experience of Amazon sending out the placeholder file instead of the actual book. This happens about every other week. So, Author Jane uploads the final book file weeks before said book is to go live, but instead of sending out her beautifully written book, Amazon sends out the placeholder file.

They never ever take responsibility for this. So, when a reader calls to complain, Amazon will always tell them the author is at fault. Even though she isn’t at fault, she is according to Amazon. And why would the reader believe anything else? Customer support is telling them the fault is with the author. 

They never ever take responsibility

Meanwhile, Author Jane is sitting at home pissed, hurt, angry, and stunned because people are leaving 1 star reviews that read: “I didn’t get the book! What a scam! I called Amazon and they said Author Jane is at fault. I will never read another book by this author again.”

But author Jane did everything she was supposed to. She uploaded the book weeks before it was set to go live. She played by the rules. Did her part. Yet… she’s at fault. Now she has to spend days scrambling to get Amazon to send out the right file while she’s doing damage control with her readers.

The problems aren’to just with plagiarism and preorders. The list of problems at Amazon are endless. But its biggest problem is the KU (Kindle Unlimited) Program.

While I do love the idea of a subscription service, Amazon can’t seem to get its head out of its proverbial ass long enough to fix the problems. KU is rife with scammers, stuffers, ne’er-do-wells, thieves, cheaters, and yes, even plagiarizers. Legitimate authors — those authors who plant their butts in a chair and write every word of every book — can’t compete with these thieves. We just can’t.

Kobo has a wonderful subscription service called Kobo Plus. I participate in it. Lots of authors do. But we don’t have to have exclusivity and we definitely don’t have to fight page stuffers, scammers, and thieves at Kobo.

Let us take a trip down memory lane. Picture it; the midwest, 2013. I have three books out. THREE. I am a KDP select princess. I’m making an average of $30,000+ a month off of three books. THREE. LEGITIMATELY. And I wrote every single word.

Then Amazon launches KU 1.0 (that was where the reader had to read at least 10% of a book before the author got paid. Enter the ten-page Dino porn books.) In one month, I went from making $30k+ to $3450. In. One. Month. I suck at math, but even I can tell that is a 90% decrease in income.

I could have stayed in KU to see if the numbers picked up. But I took that huge plunge in income as a sign: it was going to get worse. Way worse before it got better.

It has been an uphill struggle ever since. I’ve got more than 20 books out now and I can’t get anywhere near the numbers I was making before KU 1.0 hit. Just a fraction. I do not participate in KU. My books are wide. I’m still making a great living. I’m still able to write full time. However, the playing field is not even.

First world problems, right? I’m not asking for sympathy. I’m simply stating cold, hard facts.

Enter KU 2.0 (where the author is paid for each page that is read) and with it, the real scammers; the infamous book stuffers. These thieves were creating books that were thousands of pages long. Thousands. Then they were teaching their readers how to ‘flip to the end of the book’. The reader didn’t have to read it, they could just flip to the end and voila! The author has just earned $10-$13. For one book. One. Book. Multiply that by say 500 loyal readers who use want to help an author out, because hey, the poor guy has to eat. That is $6500 off one book. Now multiply that by 10 books and you begin to see why we’re pissed.

Then they teach the reader to return that book that is in KU and purchase it. “I’ll send you a give card so you can buy the book.”

And these weren’t books they’d actually written. No, they’d hired a bunch of ghostwriters (I have nothing against ghostwriters when used legitimately). The books were not edited and the story line didn’t matter. The writing was horrendous. But it didn’t matter to these ‘authors’. It was all about the almighty dollar. It is always about the almighty dollar with these people.

To set the record straight: I have lots of wonderful author friends, legitimate authors who write their own books, and they are killing it in Amazon. I’m not talking about the legitimate authors. I’m talking about the scammers. Had I chosen to stay and were I making $75-100k a month in KU, I would STILL be bitching, just like my fellow authors are. It’s a daily struggle fighting this beast.

So we started standing up and fighting

So they put 10 – 30 stories inside one book. The problem was, neither the book description nor the blurb would indicate there was ‘bonus content’, which was a huge violation of Amazon’s terms of service. And apparently, Amazon wasn’t smart enough to detect that a 25,000 page book was a bit ‘large’. Amazon simply didn’t care.

So we started standing up and fighting and explaining to the readers all that was wrong with the Chance Carters and RR Banks and Cassandra Dees that were out there.

Some of these so-called-authors actually had Amazon reps. For the non-authors, a rep is a coveted thing to have. A KDP rep has to be earned. Not everyone has them. (Yes, I have a rep.) These reps who were assigned to the thieves actually worked to help the thieves game the system. They’d give them little tips and pointers on what to do or what not to do. Then the reps would turn a blind eye to what was happening.

It wasn’t until we raised a stink and Amazon’s reputation with readers began to slide that they finally did something. Well, sort of.

Amazon did take down several of the well known book stuffers in the contemporary romance genre. But to date, they have done absolutely nothing about the other genres.

Another problem Amazon has is banning legitimate authors for no reason. They give them no recourse to fight. “We saw an unexplained increase in your pages read last month.” Seriously? Did Amazon even stop to ask if that author had run an ad or a BookBub deal? No, they didn’t.

Amazon tends to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It needs to stop.

Historical Romance is plagued with these so-called-authors. But what people don’t know is it is the same scam. A publishing company — let’s pretend one is located in Greece and the other is in Taiwan. They hire ghostwriters for next to nothing, slap a cover on a book, make up a fake author, complete with fake picture and profile. (Note, these are almost always the same profile for each of their fake authors.)

They screw around with the formatting of the book. Their damned table of contents are sometimes 12 pages long because of the triple spacing. They screw around and have each paragraph of each page triple spaced. These little nuances now make what should be a 50 page book a 400+ page book.

Amazon swears they have programs in place that catch the screwy formatting. Yet, they continue to allow it. They do nothing. Not one damned thing.

Because, you guessed it, they do not care.

Because these foreign publishing houses are able to put out books rapidly, and use click farms (that is a group of people who are paid to do nothing but sit around on 10 different smartphones, iPads, tablets, and flip to the end of each book without reading it), they take upwards of 80% of hot new releases. Their rankings are high, very high. And that means the rest of us, the legitimate authors who are playing by the rules, can’t get seen.

But go to FB or Twitter and ask any reader of Historical romance if they’ve heard of any of these authors? You’ll get a resounding No, who are they?

Some of these so-called-authors are in the top 10 bestselling authors on Amazon.

But go to FB or Twitter and ask any reader of Historical romance if they’ve heard of any of these people? You’ll get a resounding No, who are they?

How can anyone who is #8 at Amazon, who has hundreds of reviews for each book, who launches a book a month (or sometimes more), who is always in the top 50 in their genre — usually in the top 5 — NOT BE KNOWN? How can they rank so high and yet not anyone who reads legitimate authors have ever heard of them?

They have zero relationship with their readers. Zero relationship with fellow authors in their genre. Boggles the mind.

We’ve reported, we bitched, we’ve complained. We’ve sent Amazon screen shots. We’ve reported one violation after another. But Amazon does nothing.

Life isn’t fair, but it should be equitable. And there is nothing equitable about any of this.

I’m done playing by the rules of decorum.

I’m not going to remain quiet any longer.

I’m going to start naming names.

To the scammers and thieves: You know who you are. WE know who you are.

AND WE’RE COMING FOR YOU.

I for one am quite thankful that author Nora Roberts is standing up, not only against the plagiarist Cristiane Serruya, but against the stuffers, scammers, and thieves.
She has a new blog post up this morning explaining her position on 99 cent books. I could not agree with her more.

Nora Roberts is my hero.


Book Thieves SUCK

I just can’t call them pirates. Pirate, in my mind, conjures up an image of a tall, handsome devil with long hair and a swashbuckling personality sailing the seven seas.

We’re talking about thieves. Individuals or groups of individuals who openly steal copies of books and upload them to websites where anyone who is a member can read it. They like to claim they’re offering a service to the public. They like to claim what they’re doing is no more different than a public library.

You’re NOT a Library. You are a thief.

There are a few succinct differences between libraries and book thieves. Libraries, you see, actually pay for books. Most libraries have a limited number of members. Yes, some libraries are bigger than others, but that isn’t the point here. The books were first purchased before they were loaned out to anyone.

The pirates will argue that someone originally did buy the book and they’re simply sharing it with the rest of their friends. Again, no, no you’re not. First of all, nobody has that many friends. Secondly, these thieves might actually buy the book, only to return it an hour or two later after they’ve stripped out everything they need to upload to these disgusting sites.

Some of these sites like to say they’re doing us a favor. One guy likes to argue that it is no different than offering a free sample. If the reader likes that book, they’ll go on to buy the others.

Again, that is a bunch of BS. Why would anyone who has access to literally hundreds of thousands of stolen books actually buy one?

That old argument of you should feel honored we stole from you; think of it as free publicity is also a bunch of BS. If I called a plumber, had him fix my leaky faucet or install a completely new bathroom, and then told him “I’m not going to pay you, but I’ll tell everyone what a wonderful job you did” I’d probably end up with a black eye and a law suit.

DMCA’S? WHY BOTHER?

Every day, hundreds if not thousands of authors spend countless hours sending out DMCA’s or ‘take down notices.’ Some of us either have to hire a personal assistant to do that or use programs like Blasty. It isn’t cheap keeping up with these idiots.

Where the hell is my book?!? If you find that the book you’ve been assured is there, in fact isn’t, chances are it’s been DMCA’d into oblivion. Simply request the book again. These things happen, heck, that’s life.

from a book pirating website.

So why even bother with DMCA’s? These sites will take the book down for maybe an hour or two. But as soon as they believe the coast is clear, they upload that book again.

This is a never ending game of whack-a-mole. Even if we manage to get a site taken down, they reopen under a new name in just a few short hours. And the entire process starts up all over again.

Additionally, a lot of authors use the KU program at Amazon. This requires their books be exclusive to Amazon. Amazon does check to make certain these books are not available anywhere else. When a book that is in the KU program comes up as available at these pirate sites, the authors get into trouble. They’re accused of violating the rules and are often threatened with losing their accounts altogether. Imagine losing your livelihood because of these idiots.

But the thieves simply don’t care. There are plenty of books to choose from.

George RR Martin, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Courtney Milan, even Michelle Obama are all victims of book piracy.

It isn’t just indie authors they steal from. At most of these sites, they have stolen from the likes of George RR Martin, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, JK Rowling, and Courtney Milan. Hell, they’ve even stolen from Michelle Obama. No book, it seems, is left ‘un-stolen’. No author is out of bounds. Nothing is off limits.

Want a new release? Go to one of these sites and request it. You can have your copy within an hour of it going live.

If DMCA’s are time consuming and expensive, why bother sending them? The answer is simple: it’s the principal of the thing.

Imagine you have worked hard all week long. Pay day rolls around and your boss says, “Sorry, Bernice. I think you’ve already made too much money this month, so I’m not going to pay you.”

Or imagine you own a bakery. Someone comes in and demands free bear claws. Because it’s just a bear claw and you bakers are all filthy rich and live in mansions. They don’t care that you work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. They don’t care that you have a mortgage, a kid that needs braces, car payments, student loans, utility bills, or anything else. Damn it, you have earned enough money. Or, you make enough money off those people who did buy your donuts and cupcakes.

Their arguments are idiotic at best. We work really hard to bring our readers good, quality books. We have editors, cover artists, final proofers, and other business expenses. It isn’t up to these thieves to decide if we’ve earned ‘too much money’ or not. It isn’t up to them to decide if we will offer a sale on one of our books, or even make it free for a few days. It is our decision to make. It is our book, not theirs.

It is our book, not theirs.

If these asshats want to write books and give them away for free, let them have at it. But I shouldn’t have to be forced to fight these idiots because no one either has the financial wherewithal or the political clout to tackle this issue.

I’m getting a little tired of having to explain to the ‘readers’ who use these sites and argue ‘there is nothing wrong with what they’re doing’ that is in fact against the law. They are violating numerous copyright laws.

Enough is enough already. I do believe it is time we take action as a collective to combat these low life, scum sucking, arrogant thieves and put a stop to this nonsense.

Just think about the Napster lawsuit and you’ll see where I’m going with this.