Social Icons

Featured Posts

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Amazon Sues Facebook Group Moderators Over Fake Reviews


As many of you know, I was kicked out of many different groups for authors or told that I would never get the number of reviews I need for my books. I was told this by group members and the Facebook group moderators allowed this to happen. I even encountered racist moderators who were leading groups doing very suspicious things against authors of color with budding authors. At one point, I left a room where the new authors were being trained as bullies to routinely dox authors on Amazon by posting a 1-star review or bad reviews. The posters would purchase an ebook, write a fake review, and then return the book after a week. Many posted in the group that they had never even read 1-page of the book. This is why 99% of the books I review via Amazon are verified purchases. I don't do independent ARC reviews on the site and I don't trade reviews for money or gifts. I also do not post a review of a book that I have not read. Further, I never urge people to post reviews of books of mine that they don't own. I don't have hundreds of reviews on the site. However, the reviews I have are honest and they are by actual fans of my work. There are die hard companies that review for profit and they post 115 reviews of an authors work within 30-days as part of their marketing plans. I know so many independent companies that were taken down with this practice within 3-years. I stopped buying independent authors books and posting reviews after reaching Amazon Top 1000 reviewer status. The bullying on the site was ridiculous and there was literally no way to stop this from Amazons end. Consequently, this was around the time that Amazon took down all of the ARC reviews, lists, and recommendation lists after finding several reputable independent review companies making money off these features. I knew the site was headed for trouble when all of the African American book clubs like RAWSISTAZ stopped doing reviews after having thousands of real book reviews removed from Amazon. The book club was merely a casualty of a new policy that sought to put an end to fake reviews on the site. The reputable reviewers who reviewed on a variety of sites shifted over to about 15 different sites. Many opened up Youtube channels and monetized their blogs. However, the trolls remained on Amazon. As Amazon continues to crack down on this behavior on the site, they should be aware of other scams driving business away from their site:

Scam #1 - The reviewer with 1-5 reviews that are all negative on an account that is less than a year old. This is usually someone paid to set up an amazon account with a gift card (visa, american express, amazon). The user sets up the account to do a purchase of a competing authors work. A review is then posted within a week to dox the authors work. After the review is posted, the scam artist has 25 or more people from a Facebook group click that the review was helpful. This makes the authors work undesirable on the site and helps the competing author who hired the scam artist maintian their book ranking. 

Scam #2 - The competing authors hired to dox existing positive and verified purchases. This is where several competing authors get family members and friends to dox positive reviews by clicking not helpful and even writing 5-10 negative reviews of products they never purchased.

Scam #3 - The author groups on Facebook that discuss everything except buying, actually reading authors books, and posting a detailed review for book lovers on various sites. Many of the groups I have been a member of (40 in fact) on Facebook concentrate on book events, doxing, bullying, and putting books in the wrong categories to gain 'top rankings' on the site. I have literally witnessed authors going to war over rankings in groups.    

There are other scams going on as well on that site. That is why I rarely write reviews. When I do write reviews, I write about the books I purchased for myself that I enjoy. I received 3 requests per week about product reviews and I turn each one down.  

I have been book blogging for over 15 years. I also review for reputable companies, academic journals, and I started a vlog about books. I would never recommend someone posting a review of a book that they have not read or do not own on Amazon or any other site. I recommend that anyone buying my work post pictures, videos, etc. showing they actually own the book or that they are reading the work. If you are an author starting out and you need reviews, you should get reviewers to post reviews on the following sites:

1. Barnes and Noble

2. Books-a-million

3. Instagram

4. Twitter

5. Facebook Business Page

Also, you should do your research on which sites are the best review sites. Good luck on getting your work reviewed. I look forward to the comments. I will write a follow-up blog on this post based on the feedback.

Happy Posting!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Author Interview - Shante' J

Image result for finding solace in a rap king

Shante' J is an Amazon top 100 best selling author. At 36- years-old, Shante is a mother of two and a Memphis, Tennessee native. When she's not writing, Shante loves to sing, read, listen to music, do makeup, and spend quality time with her family. Shante's love for writing started at a young age. She started off by writing poems, songs, short stories, and eventually books. Being an avid reader, a hopeless romantic, and a lover of urban romance stories she instantly knew that urban fiction was the genre she wanted to write in. Her ultimate goal is to write amazing books, become a national best-selling author, and to inspire others to fulfill their dreams. To date, Shanté has penned 5 novels in which 3 were deemed as Amazon best sellers. Her debut novel "Something in my Heart" was released in March 2017. Shante is best known for her best selling stand-alone "Upgraded by The Connect," it debuted at #4 where it remained on Amazon's best-selling charts for 3 consecutive months. 

When did you decide writing was something you wanted to pursue as a career?
When I started reading urban fiction books.

Can you briefly explain your journey as a writer? 
My journey as an author hasn't been easy. In fact, it's been a struggle for me battling with depression/anxiety. However, I try and push through and please my readers.

Who are your favorite authors outside of your genre?  Alexandra Warren

Who are your favorite urban authors? 
Noire, Silk White, K'wan, Shvonne Latrice, K. L Hall, etc.

Can you name some titles you recommend to aspiring authors in your genre read?
My Baby Is A West Coast King 1-6 by Shvonne Latrice 
Animal by K'wan
The Hood Princess 1-3 by K.L Hall

Can you state and explain some of the writing aides you use when you write (e.g. Thesaurus, Dictionary, Grammarly)?
I use Grammarly, urban dictionary as well as the traditional dictionary 

What advice would you give to aspiring Urban Fiction authors?
1. Educate yourself on self-publishing. If you can't afford it and decide to go with a publisher, I strongly urge you to do your research on the publisher. 
2. Hone your craft 
3. Make sure your cover and title are good. Often times a reader will pass up a book if the title or book is trash. 
4. Proofread your work 
5. Do not indulge in any drama. It's not a good look! 
6. Edit your work or search for a reputable editor. If your book is filled with grammatical errors the reader's won't hesitate to inform you. 
7. Know your audience  
8. Don't allow everyone to test read your work (people steal) 
9. Engage with your readers,  post sneak peeks. 
10. Lastly, be consistent as possible 

Tell us about your latest book release.
My latest project is a book titled, "Finding Solace in A Rap King." This book reached the top 20's on Amazon. 
In this book, the main character, Lyriq, is a singer/songwriter who deals with heartbreak and abandonment issues that stem from her strained relationship with her mother. Upon meeting, fellow artist, Naz, she falls for Naz's charm and find solace in the fact that they both are motherless children. 

Ways to connect with Shanté J
Twitter: @author_ShanteJ
Instagram: authoress_shante_j

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Tweenie Girls Hygiene Guide

Years ago, I wrote a book for Tween girls about hygiene. At the time, I received a good deal of support for the book. The fact is that there just are not enough Tween books on the market which speak to their issues. I always wonder why so many people are invested in only writing children’s books? There are so many readers in the Tween market with few books to read. If you are a budding author thinking of writing for children, try the tween market. You will find children who can already read who are always looking for books.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Who is your audience?

As a writer, this is the most important question you need to ask yourself. This question is important, because it leads to other questions. How will my audience react to my writing? Will my audience relate to my writing? These questions are critical to ensuring that your writing is cohesive, inviting, and relatable. No writer should be saying that every person is their audience. That is a sign that they have little knowledge about writing, crafting for an audience, and creating work with an audience in mind. I doubt very seriously if book series like Captain Underpants were written by Dav Pilkey were written for everyone. After a few pages, it is clear that those books were written for mischievous little boys grades 2-5 that need books to read. The overall appeal and popularity of those books make the series inviting for other readers that want to step into the shoes of those boys in each adventure. Through the adventures, readers can become rebels, leaders, and heroes. Learning to write with an audience is key to being a successful writer.

Happy writing!  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

5 Reasons I write…

1)      I write in order to convey experiences in which children can relate to in books.
2)      I write to exercise my freedom of speech.
3)      I write in order for children to embrace the uniqueness that exists inside of them..
4)      I write in order to express my creativity.
5)      I write in order to provide experiences in print that children would not ordinarily see.

Don't forget to check out my Rooftop Club Book Series.

Happy Reading! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

YA Author Paige McKenzie is a Star

Paige is the teen star of the hit YouTube channel The Haunting of Sunshine Girl. What began as a simple “girl and her haunted house” story has grown to a multi-webisode network with stories of zombies, ghosts, Sasquatch and lots of Sunshine! Full of positivity, humor and plenty of scares, The Haunting of Sunshine Girl has allowed Paige to spread her unique brand of adorkableness to other teens (and many adults) all over the world! At the age of 16, Paige (along with her mother, actress Mercedes Rose and producing partner, Nick Hagen) co-founded the production company Coat Tale Productions. The Weinstein Company recently optioned The Haunting of Sunshine Girl for a multi-book and film deal. Paige lives in Portland, Oregon. 

1. Please share a little of your personal story so our readers can get to know you.

I'm a pretty typical teen, I think. Middle child, raised in a small town, did well in school even as I faced off against a Mean Girl. While still in high school, I started a YouTube channel along with my mom and a friend of ours that was a film director. We wanted to put something fresh and unique on the web. And we wanted to have a ton of fun! The Haunting of Sunshine Girl was the result of that wish. So many doors have been open to me now because of the show. As its popularity (and views) grew, so did the interest in taking Sunshine's story to other platforms...films, comics and, most recently, a series of YA books.  
2. How did you get started with the work you’re doing?

Last year (on Halloween, ironically!), an amazing literary agent contacted me asking if I was at all interested in having a book about my adventures. The answer was, of course, YES! I was especially interested in the fact that this book will be among the first to tell a story that originated on YouTube. Until now, books from Tubers have been nonfiction, biographies or how-to type of reads. The Haunting of Sunshine Girl will be a fun YA fiction that just happens to have a companion on YouTube for readers to explore further. It will also be very much in the Teen Horror world which is fun! 

3. Was this a dream that you always had, or did you discover this passion or gift after going through a personal experience?

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have a novel with my name (and photo!) on the cover! I like to write and my journal and tweets are eloquent, naturally, but a BOOK!? A whole book? Actually TWO whole books with likely more to come!? Crazy talk! Luckily, I have an amazing co-writer that makes my job that much easier!  

4. Where do you find that most of your inspiration comes from?

The basic story for this first book comes straight from the story already living on YouTube: a girl determined to prove her house is haunted that goes on an adventure leading to many huge discoveries and even more mysteries. There are many more details and some changes from the YouTube, of course, but fans of the show will recognize their beloved characters and new fans will feel right at home in this haunted house. As book two carries the story arc there will be many new adventures for Sunshine to explore. I care very much that this series be true to who I am (as I am Sunshine!) and so there is no swearing, drinking or even a love triangle. Sunshine chases ghosts, not boys! Not to say there isn't a great male counter-point for Sunshine. Nolan (a nerdy James Dean type) is her best friend and partner in adventure and as they learn the secrets of Sunshine's world, Nolan's place in it becomes vital!  

5. Where can fans purchase your work?

Book one hits stores on March 24th (book two in October just in time for Halloween) and is available for pre-order now from all the usual suspects:  
Barnes and Noble:
Indie Bound :

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What the best Indie bookstores do…

As an author, I support indie bookstores. Or should I say, I support indie bookstores that support me as an author. I have traveled across the country to do book signings at various bookstores and I have learned quite a bit. I learned not only which bookstores are worth investing in as an author and a reader and which ones will surely go out of business.

Lesson #1 - It doesn’t matter how long your bookstore has been in business. It matters that you make money.
I have personally witnessed bookstore owners with attitudes about their business. They only want a ‘certain’ genre of books. They refuse to keep new books in stock. The result is a bookstore filled with hundreds of books they can’t sell. This is the same philosophy that larger bookstores use. Therefore, why start an Indie bookstore to reproduce the social status quo in the book publishing industry.

Lesson #2 – It doesn’t matter where your bookstore is located. It matters whether you spend your time building a solid customer base.
I know five bookstore owners that exclusively sell their books online and at a local flea market. They have been in business for fifteen years without fail. It is the only thing they do and they make a great living. They understand that a nerd that buys books will get them from anywhere.

Lesson #3 – It doesn’t matter how you do book signings. It matters that you do them often.
The three most successful Indie bookstores schedule 3-6 book signings every week. They have authors come out and sell books on-site. The authors invite their friends, talk to customers, and bring in a new customer base to the store. This is a smart tactic that builds their business with very little effort on behalf of the owner.

Lesson #4 – It doesn’t matter whether you like social media. You need a Facebook page for your business, an Instagram handle, and a Twitter page to keep your customers updated on new books and book signings.
The best indie bookstores are constantly giving out bookmarks with discounts for returning customers. Also, they have their information at the counter. This allows people to follow them on social media on their smartphones.

Lesson #5 - Keeping your store organized is key to attracting readers.
The best indie bookstores have labels for their books. This helps readers to quickly scan and see what kind of books they want to read. Variety is a key component to attracting new customers. My personal favorite advertising are the bookstores that have a special shelf above the register. They put the books and the book signing dates of all the authors that will travel to their store to sign books. This helps the bookstore advertise in advance.   

Lesson #6 – Doing a large event at your bookstore with twenty or more authors present once per year, brings in new readers and builds your customer base.
Large book events are a great way to raise awareness for your bookstore. It also brings in new customers.

Lesson #7 – Using social media to promote your book store signings with authors helps build the reputation of your store.
The best Indie bookstores take lots of pictures. They put them on flickr, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the bookstore blog.

Lesson #8 – The best indie bookstores sell books online and never turn down international sales.
There are books in the U.S. that are just not available or that people may not be aware of in the U.K., Canada, and Europe. What better way to make those books available than to sell them online through a blog?

Lesson #9 – The best indie bookstore owners team up with the alternative press outlets in locally.
Many of these local papers are looking to sell papers and will trade advertising space with a bookstore for selling their papers each month in their store.

Lesson #10 – The best indie bookstores have a system for paying the authors regularly.
Most have written agreements, receipt books, and keep 3-5 titles of every book in stock. They even have two shelves that house the ‘new releases’.

The last tidbit of advice is not a lesson. It is a rule of common sense. Please get a mailing list to let your customers know about what is happening in your store.

I love indie bookstores. Many owners have supported my career for the past seven years and I love the free advertising my titles get each day. However, I understand that in order to keep those bookstores open that sharing best practices is key.

Happy Reading!

Blogs About Publishing

Independent Publisher Links