Thursday, July 7, 2016

Tricks of the Trade

Windsong Lake Series, Vol. 1

by Kathryn Flatt

   Artist Stefanie Durant never expected trouble on her return to Windsong Lake after her Uncle Hank was killed by lightning, making his house in the small town hers. As soon as she arrives, clues indicate that Hank had feared for his life and he had developed an interest in weather and mysticism. She also learns two of her old friends have adopted a pagan religion and dabble in magic. The connection is impossible to ignore, especially in light of the "Ken," the psychic ability Stefanie had suppressed for more than twenty years and kept secret from everyone. 

Bad Tip on how to Get a Better Sales Ranking

The scheme May Work,
but is NOT Recommended!

Many authors' groups and newsletter sites are currently recommending that authors who want to upgrade their sales standing on, or other book sales sites, should get their friends to all buy a copy of their book on a certain date. On that special day, their sales ranking will then go WAY  UP. That is ABSOLUTELY TRUE!

The friends may then return the copies for a full refund the next day. (ALSO TRUE!) I can see this is sometimes happening, because of the high number of sales of one copy at, with the books returned the next day, producing income sales data on day 1 and a deduction for a negative sale on the following day.

The author's book rises in the sales standings (a little or a lot, depending on how many friends follow the procedure on the given day).

After spending several days entering sales data for sales that eventually produced no income, I can tell you that it's happening, and fairly often, to books published on our site.

We're not saying that our authors are following this scheme. Their friends and relations may have heard about it and decided to do it for them. I'm only saying that above being a great waste of my time, when a title is returned in large numbers for no particular reason,'s computers may tag it as a "problem title."

Such books get no free auto-generated e-mail promotion. For instance I once wrote a book on Harriet Tubman. When her photo was chosen for the $20 bill several of my friends forwarded e-mail they got from promoting my title. I'm not sure if it generated any sales, but if my title had been tagged as a problem, it would NOT have happened.

Last quarter, one hapless author did contact me and ask about sales on her birthday, mentioning that some of her friends had decided to buy the book that day as a "birthday present" for her. She wanted to know why there were no royalties for sales on that day. I tried to explain that "returned" books generate no real income, but I don't think she believed me.

Yes, going down the data records of sales I had recorded the sales and the income -- then a little further down the list I also recorded the returns and the negative income, leaving us with a big fat $0.00.
An author never gets royalties 
on copies that have been returned!

Yet, like my author and her "birthday presents" an author may get e-mail from friends, saying, "I bought your book on Aug. 7," or whatever date the Sales Ploy was scheduled for and, being quite unaware of the "sales game" and not realizing the books had been returned -- They naturally Believe there were Actual Sales that day.

Certainly none of this is the Author's Fault!

Advice to do this has been all over Facebook, Good Reads, 
and has been passed around a number 
of other authors' groups and sites. 
Several of you contacted me last quarter, wondering why the sales figures were so low, when they knew from friends that their books had been purchased on such and such a date. Having just completed data entry for this quarter and then removing from the spreadsheet all the data for negative gains, I surely have a feeling this question might come up again.
Otherwise I'd never bother to explain all this.
Things are Progressing!


  1. It's a difficult pill to swallow, but everybody who seems to know from their own bitter experiences, after having dumped lots of money into all sorts of advertising and publicity schemes, that in the end, it was a waste of money. Like a train starting to move, it seems in the end to be a matter of a very slow start and only very gradually gaining momentum until through word-of-mouth turns us into money-making AUTHORS. I figure that maybe in fifty, sixty years, the money will start rolling in for my great-great-great grandchildren.
    Meanwhile, if I had a day job, I'd hang onto it.

  2. One of the reasons I seldom pay attention to GR is b/c of tactics, like this, that's promoted in author groups on GR.