Category Archives: Guide to Self Publishing

The Resurgence of Sock Puppetry and How History Repeats itself.

I honestly didn’t realize how long I’d been in the world of self-publishing until recently. I hadn’t realized exactly how much craziness I’ve witnessed, or what I thought I’d missed during my absence the last few years. But, here we are again. The fight against sock puppets, book stuffing, and scams has come flooding back. It’s the same old game, just with better graphics.

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When I first joined the community towards the end of 2012, all of this craziness seemed so new and intense. I worked with authors and bloggers, and posted about everything from piracy, to bullying, and everything else that felt so immediate at the time.

In February of 2013, I have my first exposure to an author that took bad reviews as bullying and I blogged about it here. That author went on to create 2 sock puppet accounts using the exact same email username just on different platforms (Gmail and Yahoo) and proceeded to accuse me of making fun of the author in question. You can read the whole thing in the comments section of that post. Long story short, she ended up emailing me on my personal, private email rather than my author email and it was a whole thing.

At the end of March of that same year, I talked about people signing up to beta read an author’s book, only to come back to the author and tell them that the book was unreadable. However, if the author was willing to pay the beta reader to edit the book, the beta reader would leave a 5 star review on Amazon. That post is here. Because I spoke out, the beta reader in question (who read my book but hadn’t yet propositioned me) gave me a 1 star review and the author friend that was approached a 3 star review, but the text of said review made no sense. I can show you those reviews if you ask, but it’s 5 year old news at this point. Of course, I did make a follow up post in 2014 about how to handle scammers in those situation.

I’ve seen authors get upset about the success of people like J.K. Rowlingauthors stalking actual bully reviewers, authors telling readers the “correct” way to review books (and the backlash that typically ensues in that situation), the book stuffing scam that caused the KU changes that are the center of the current problem, and the list goes on and on.

The reason I’m posting my “credits” is because the sad fact of the matter is that I’ve seen it all. People get riled up over a situation only to let it die away when it’s no longer interesting, or progressing. Accusations of sock puppetry fly around (and I’m not innocent from pointing at people that are very obviously operating those accounts), but ultimately they die.

dsppntmnt

Enter into the ring Suzan Tisdale. She is the self-publishing author who writes Scottish historical romance novels, along with a pen name that publishes romance novels of the more erotic variety. Through her charismatic coverage of #cockygate, Suzan has garnered a following of fellow authors and readers who are tired of the system gaming, review scamming, and reader trickery. And just like in many situations before, because Suzan has garnered such an audience, there are people that are trying to “prove” that she is scamming, herself.

nw

(insert sarcastic tone)

While I don’t necessarily agree with absolutely everything Suzan says, and I think that there are some times that she doesn’t gather all of the information she needs before she makes a post or does a live video, she has a charm that continues to bring focus to the problems that we as self-published authors face and will readily correct herself if she does share information that isn’t correct in the moment. I think one thing that we haven’t had before in these situations is someone like Suzan that can hold an audience’s attention, approach things from a stern yet understanding place, and knows how to capitalize on her platform.

Suzan first gained attention due to her coverage of #cockygate. Her audience appreciated the even handed way she spoke directly to Faleena. Of course, Faleena spiraled, #cockygate blew up, but Suzan has not stopped leading the charge against the wrongs that have plagued the self-publishing community.

Because there are people standing up for what’s right, the people that are being called out decided to strike back. Since the theme of this post is history repeating itself, wouldn’t you know that Suzan and other authors standing up for these scammers are being “called out” as it were. Twitter sock accounts are springing up all over the place, attempting to call these authors “scammers” themselves, and accusing them of starting witch hunts.

Can I just point out that I absolutely despise use of the phrase “witch hunt” in situations like this. It’s not a witch hunt. No one is going to die. The people getting called out for scamming are losing their scam accounts. As far as I’m aware there has been no doxing of anyone’s information, no one has been crushed to death, hung, drowned, burned or any other form of torture that the victims of the actual witch hunts had to go through.

Anyway, I do hope that there is change for the better, and history does not repeat itself. I hope that we see the changes that are so desperately needed in the self-publishing world, and I hope that we continue to see the voices of those people fighting for us getting louder.

Keep on fighting!

 

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Copyright vs. Trademark- Why this sh** matters

The internet and beyond is still in a flurry over #cockygate and the chaos that has come from it. Authors are scrambling to protect themselves in case their series titles get stolen out from under them. Faleena Hopkins has argued that she is doing this to pave the way for new authors to stand up for their work.

Image may contain: text– From a Facebook post by Faleena Hopkins to her fan group “Cocky Readers- Cocker Bros. of ATL.”

Authors are confused about how to protect themselves in the best way and for good reason. The words “copyright” and “trademark” are being thrown around and are being swapped for one another in the midst of this discussion. I want to be clear that copyright and trademark are two separate things.

According to legalzoom.com:

“[…] Copyrights protect creative or intellectual works, and trademarks apply to commercial names, phrases, and logos. Copyrights primarily protect the rights of people who create literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works (like history tests, and software code.) Trademarks protect the use of a company name and its product names, its brand identity {like logos) and its slogan.

So basically, Faleena would be in the right to copyright her series because it is her intellectual property. Whatever series name she’s using now, that would be completely legally protected by filing and enforcing the trademark. If she were truly to trademark anything it would be her production company “Hop Hop Productions” as that is her company name. She has every right to protect her company. But by filing trademark on her series rather than just a copyright, she’s creating a huge mess, as we’ve all seen.

When you file a copyright or trademark, they both must be enforced to hold any legal sway, which is why Faleena sent out the cease and desist letters. She was trying to enforce her trademark, which I’m certain her lawyer told her to do, but there is still so much wrong with the situation

I saw a post recently about the author of the “Shifter World” series, Nancy Corrigan, trademarking the phrase “Shifter World” because that’s the universe she writes in. However, she went on to say that she wouldn’t be enforcing use of the words “shifter” or “world” because she just wanted to protect “Shifter World” as a whole. The problem here is, she should’ve just filed a copyright. She creates an issue for herself that won’t exactly stand up in court because she said:

“Keyword: Shifter World

As this has been brought up in a couple of posts, I just wanted people to know that i filed a trademark application for Shifter World as it’s the identifying phrase of my brand of inter-related spinoff series, namely Shifter World: Royal-Kagan, Shifter World: Shifter Affairs, and Shifter World: Generations (coming soon). I never intended and still have no intentions of limiting Shifter or World in anyone’s books, titles, series, etc. My intention is that I don’t want anyone to name a series Shifter World: xxx. Please continue to write your own shifter stories. Readers love them. I would never think to limit them.

As I said in my profile post, I am in touch with my attorney to see the best way to proceed with this application to reflect my intention and I will implement her recommendations”- Nancy Corrigan, as posted in the Author Support Network group on Facebook

She is stating that she isn’t going to enforce the trademark in that sense. By copyrighting “Shifter World” and each subsequent series under her name and wording, she would be able to protect her series and not own those words. She would be able to protect her series and prevent others from using the series name “Shifter World” without creating a situation where she is not enforcing a trademark because she doesn’t want to force people to follow it.

Please let me be clear, in case I haven’t been: You have every right to copyright your book series. There is a reason why the websites are different. By trademarking a word or phrase, you are removing the ability for others to use it in whole or in part, for the specific purposes that you are stating in your trademark application. By stating that you’re not going to enforce part of your trademark, you are essentially voiding it. If you copyright your series, you protect yourself from exactly what Faleena, Nancy, and every other author that’s a part of this thing is afraid of.

There is a big gap in education for authors. And I understand how that sounds, but hear me out. While there are big trad publishing festivals and events with workshops and assistance for trad authors, there isn’t much in the way of assistance for self-publishing authors. Of course, traditionally published authors have an entire publishing house behind them to help with all of the really detailed work. There are few events for self-publish authors, or would be authors, that help educate and guide them through the industry. I mean, we have to do all of this ourselves and it can get overwhelming AF. Starting with editing, and working through publishing and copyright, something like this geared toward self-published authors would be incredibly beneficial. Because I can guarantee that a lot of authors that self-publish went into this blind. Hell, I was one of them. I didn’t know a lot about how the industry worked. It wasn’t until I worked for an attorney and he explained to me the differences between copyright, trademark, and what the importance was for me to copyright my books, that I even knew about this! (By the way if there is someone out there willing to organize something like this, please let me know.)

People are continuing to run into the fair-use issue, as well as parody laws. Changing covers is a ton of work on its own, let alone all the work it takes for branding, merchandise, and everything else that goes into publishing a book. There has to be a streamlined solution for these issues, but people are running all over each other to get ahead of the game.

Anyway, I hope these ramblings helped, even a little. Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment down below telling me what you think. 🙂

Guide to Self Publishing- Wednesday

So I am officially tired of fighting my software. I will go back and film these typed sections but I am tired of making you guys wait. Here it is!

Today we are going to be talking about what to do after you have completed your first draft.

 

A huge mistake that a lot of self published authors make is that they publish after they’ve completed the first draft of their book. That’s a no no. Because self published novels have the stigma of being poorly edited and formated, we have a responsibility to our readers and ourselves to put even more effort into polishing our work before it’s released.

When you first decide to enter the self publishing world, it can be kind of overwhelming. Perhaps you don’t know anyone that self publishes so you’re left to navigate the world all on your own. I mean, where do you go to get to know people and make connections? Where do you go to find unbiased opinions of your book before it’s released? And most importantly, where do you go to publish?

Let’s start with that last question. Almost everyone in the self publishing community go through Amazon to publish. Their Kindle Direct Publishing set up is incredibly easy to use. It’s so popular that there is actually a forum site set up for the authors that are active with publishing to go and share ideas, plots, covers, and all sorts of stuff. I will warn you by saying that there are a lot of trolls and rude people on there, but I think that’s kind of with any forum website. If you plan on visiting that forum, just be warned.

Another big site pretty common is Absolute Write. This is another fantastic forum site for selfpublishing and I think it’s a little more active than the Kindle Publishing Forum. A lot of authors use Absolute Write to hash out story ideas, discuss frustrations, share expirences and branch out. This along with SFWA (also known as Writer Beware) is a great resource for any would be or expirenced self publishing author.

I also bring up the forum sites because they are a great place to not only network, but to find beta readers, editors, cover artists, and more to help you refine your novel. Pretty sweet, right?

When you’ve completed your first draft, you inevitably will have to find people to read your book, and that’s where Beta Readers come in.

Beta Readers are important because they should be your right hand people. They’re the people you rely on to read your book before anyone else to help you make sure that it’s good and point out any flaws. Once you’ve written two or three novels, you get a little more expirence with who you enjoy working with and who you know will give you honest feed back. I suggest you take a look at my recent Vlog where I talk about scam beta readers, plus take a look at my blog posts Reviews Truths and Extortion and Self-pub Authors Beware! There are Scammers Afoot. I’m very outspoken about self published authors getting scammed, and I want to make sure I can help you start out on the right foot. If you’re worried about getting scammed, then talk to your friends and relatives, those you trust to be honest with you, to see who would be willing to read your book. Of course, I will be doing a more in depth video with the section, talking about the main types of scammers that you might come across, so please look out for that.

Now, you do want to ensure that you can trust your Betas. If you recruit someone you don’t know, you run the risk of having your work stolen, or even having it spoiled before it’s released. After having spoken with a lawyer, I was told that it is definitely a good idea to shell out a couple hundred dollars for a standard non disclosure/ non compete agreement to protect your work. I’ve been told that that idea is stupid and narcissistic, but let me ask you this. Is it better to shell out $300 for an NDA/NCA or spend thousands taking someone to court because they stole your work? Let me spell this out for some of the comments I know I’ll get for this. It does not mean that you are preventing someone for honestly reviewing your book. Once a book is released, the non disclosure part of that contract goes out the window because the work has been disclosed to the public. You protecting yourself from plagiarism and spoilers by having a lawyer write up a contract like that. But of course, if you don’t think your work is good enough to protect, why are you trying to publish in the first place?

I hope this part wasn’t too rambly, but I think I made a good bit of sense. If you have any questions, please be sure to leave a comment. Once I have my editing stuff back in working order, I will do a Q&A video. If you think I missed something, please be sure to let me know. Hope you guys enjoy it.

Guide to Self Publishing- Technical delay

I’m sorry that these have been so inconsistent. I think I am going to have to wipe my current editing software and reinstall it. If it comes down to that, I will be doing written posts until further notice. Same goes for the book reviews. Tomorrow will be a written post. Thank you all for your understanding.

Guide to Self Publishing Episode 3 is delayed

I had a busy day at work, so I did not have time to film. I hope that you guys understand. Love you all ❤

Guide to Self Publishing Episode Two: What to Expect from this New Section- GtSP Wednesday

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