NaNoWriMo Writing Prompts – Bad Boy Romance Edition

Lots of people will be diving into NaNoWriMo in a few days, and lots more are sitting on the fence. I’ve been on that fence, it’s made of excuses!

Today, I’m going to do you a solid by taking one of those excuses away. You’re getting some Writing Prompts. And not just any Writing Prompts, but Bad Boy Romance Prompts.

(Please note that no actual romance writers were harmed in the making of these prompts.)

Prompt #1: You are foreign. Maybe Australian! Your scammy non-fiction books aren’t selling too well, but you spot the latest trend: bad boy romance, and decided to write under a woman’s name – no, screw that, several women’s names! You eagerly stuff several books into one, artificially inflating your page count and stealing from your fellow authors. You do this across all your books – who cares anyway, they are all ghostwritten.

Prompt #2: You’re from DC but you moved to Seattle a few years ago, where you decided that you were sick of being a failed non-fiction writer of boring books about iPhones, and have decided to dive headlong into the hot world of bad boy romance! Of course, you pretend you are a woman and write under several different names. This way you can finally unleash your inner bad boy, and use all sorts of tricks to cheat the system – especially as your day job is a data scientist. The only problem is you can’t write.

Prompt #3: You are an English guy who has decided to spice up his life by writing under several different female names. Well, when I say writing, I mean packaging someone else’s words and passing them off as your own. The ghost is on a tight NDA anyway, so they can’t even complain about their crappy pay. Everything should be fine, right? Pretty sure no one will ever find out…

Prompt #4: You made a name for yourself when you hit #1 in the Kindle Store and everyone is asking you how you did it – which is fun the first couple of times, but then you think, “Hey, I could make some real money out of this.” You start a $2,000 mastermind class and turn the current crop of scammy internet marketers into the next generation of bad boy romance authors.

Prompt #5: You’re a bestselling bad boy romance author pulling in $200,000 a month but some no good kids are sniffing around your business. Amazon is breathing down your neck too, just when you have invested big in turning your ghostwritten books into German-language ghostwritten books. Then you get an idea: hey, what if I point my clickfarm at them pesky kids?

Prompt #6: Your string of hits comes to an abrupt end when Amazon rank-strips your books, after finding out that you clickfarmed them into the charts. But it’s okay! Amazon’s fraud detection systems are way out of date, and it doesn’t make any serious effort to block you from opening a new account. So you just start a new name, like you did before. Amazon won’t even try and make the link.

Prompt #7: Your ghostwriter quit abruptly after finding a minimum wage job which pays better, leaving you in the lurch. The book is only half done, the pre-order goes live in ten days, you have 278 newsletter swaps arranged, and have already spent $750 on gift cards for your Amazon “reviewers.” Oh noes! But don’t be alarmed, you can just take someone else’s work, file off the serial numbers, and present it as your own.

Prompt #8: Your antennae are twitching. Something is in the air. Maybe the market is shifting, maybe you created too much competition for your own books. Maybe you have peed so much in the romance pool that it’s time to find fresh ground. So you start a marketing service, looking to harvest names and email addresses from everyone, in every genre. But some people are asking awkward questions about your past…

Prompt #9: You are in trouble – those pesky kids figured out you pointed your clickfarm at them because their Also Boughts turned into all of the books from your bad boy circle jerk. Now those troublesome kids are onto you and have a whole army of people turning the internet upside down, finding out your real names, where you are from, and everything you have been up to.

What happens next?

About David Gaughran

David is Irish and lives in Dublin, where it rains every day and conversation is a sport. He writes historical adventures and has helped thousands of authors to self-publish through his workshops, books, and this here blog.
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76 Responses to NaNoWriMo Writing Prompts – Bad Boy Romance Edition

  1. trinityta says:

    made me scream with laughter!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Please tell me the ending is actually happening! Please!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. GW says:

    You can laugh – except every word of this is a fact and happening right now! Romance authors are sick of that $2k (it’s now $3k to buy in) group of “MasterMinds’ that has destroyed the market. Sick of male internet marketers pretending to be both female and authors, sending newsletters about their new lingerie or how to love yourself (not in THAT way)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Laura says:

    What’s with the cliffhanger ending? Come on… What happens next? 😉

    Like

  5. Sheri Fredricks says:

    When I can nod at each bullet point presented, I want to cover my eyes and turn away. It’s all true, and when it happens to an author, it’s about as funny as stubbing your toe on razor blades.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Laurie Turner says:

    WOW! David I cannot say I am impressed! Some of us romance authors do this in secret because we have husbands or families who would leave us if they know what we do! I myself have a very conservative (Muslim) family, and write under a pen name because that’s the only way I can guarantee staying safe!! Whatever your feelings about these scams, it’s NEVER appropriate to advocate sharing people’s identities on the Internet. You never know what might happen to them!!! Laurie.

    Like

    • Not sure where I shared anyone’s identity on the internet, or advocated same.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Laurie Turner says:

        !! “Now those troublesome kids are onto you and have a whole army of people turning the internet upside down, finding out your real names, where you are from, and everything you have been up to.

        What happens next?”

        That seems to absolutely advocate BOTH finding someone’s identity AND sharing. I have read this blog for a long time but this strikes close to home. Laurie.

        Like

      • Two things might help clear up any misunderstandings:

        1. “What happens next?” related to all the writing prompts. Our hypothetical writer is being invited to write the rest of the story, as one would with any prompt.

        2. In Writing Prompt #9, we are talking about a hypothetical situation where a group of scammers have moved into the romance genre and are stealing from their fellow authors and using clickfarms against them to try and destroy their careers, and those authors are responding by trying to find out information about who these people are – to protect themselves. In this purely hypotetical situation, nobody has disclosed anyone’s identity publicly, nor is that being advocated.

        I hope that sets your mind at ease somewhat.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Jane says:

        Yes you did. Your article right here clearly advocates doxxing people, as does someone’s comment above. Shame on you. This article and the comments plus those you and others have posted on Twitter have been screenshot and preserved for legal purposes. I write under a pen name and if anyone comes after me due to your encouragement you will be hearing from my lawyer; you are on notice.

        Have fun ruining peoples’ lives just because you disagree with the way these authors make money. Just remember that karma is a real B and people like you and others here commenting who advocate doxxing fellow authors writing under pen names are way worse than the people you’re going after for your own perceived faults. Everyone sees who all of you truly are now, so thanks for putting it out there like that and making it easy for everyone to read with our own eyes. I will no longer be supporting Kboards or your blog or anything by people who think doxxing is okay or that condones it.

        Like

      • Oh, please. No one is doxxing anyone.

        Liked by 4 people

      • LotusSwan says:

        Jane, you mentioned legal action three times in your post, another false doxxing accusation, a Twitter ban and encouraged foreign scammers to sue David over nothing. That’s a lot of tough guy internet talk for an anonymous author who swears up and down he’s not a scammer.

        So, which scammer romance pen name are you? And how scared are you?

        I know it must sting. You and your scammer friends are terrified real authors will find the ghostwriters next and cut you off at the source if the ghosts learn how much you’re earning off their slave labor. Or maybe someone will invest in education teaching romance readers how to recognize ghostwritten scam trash. Your clickfarms are ten times riskier than they were just six months ago. Maybe you were rank stripped once and you remember the night you spent soaked in sweat after a nasty email from Amazon warned you to never ever do it again. More of your books are being reported to Amazon. Your scam blurbs are getting extra cheesy and pornographic because you’re desperate with so many new scammers cluttering the market. It’s getting you stuck in erotica where you earn far less than you’re used to. The Scam-Master who taught you everything for $2000 in his MasterMind scammer school never prepared you for this backlash. He promised everybody they’d be millionaires if they could just keep spamming email lists and rush pubbing new crappy books every month and stuffing them to the KENPC limit and dammit it’s not working!

        It’s okay, scammer. Take a deep breath. Let it out.

        You’ve made a huge wad of money. It was supposed to keep snowballing without anybody getting this angry, this curious, this motivated to expose what you’re doing to the light of day. It isn’t fair. Are you starting to feel…well, scammed?

        Good. Now you know what it’s like for every real author you’ve robbed in KU, every ghostwriter you’ve cheated, every reviewer you’ve bullied. You said it yourself, “Karma is a real B.” Time to ask yourself which side you are on.

        Liked by 3 people

    • Whitney Winters says:

      Why is everyone freaking out? No one is Doxxing anyone. This isn’t about revealing who people are, it’s about knowing who people are so you can stay the hell away from them. No one wants to ruin anyone’s lives, but there ARE authors who are doing scammy things that do not care at ALL about the livelihood of any other author so I think this is either THOSE authors posting comments hoping to somehow justify their own unethical behavior and/or people who are not understanding what this post is about… which is letting the scammers posing as professionals and authors know that it has not gone unnoticed what they have done. And that people no longer want to work with these people or have anything to do with them. Many of us know EXACTLY who David is talking to in this post, for instance. We don’t have to say their names. Nor are we interested in doxxing. We ARE interested in karma though. At least… I am. So TL;DR Calm down, Laurie and “Jane.”

      Liked by 5 people

    • LotusSwan says:

      David nailed it. Every romance author who knows what they’re doing has seen the MasterMind blackhat group in action. They’ve watched the same ghostwritten crap spammed to the top all year and know how damaging it is.

      Why does it seem like Jane in the comments is one of the scammers? I’ve seen the same angry defensive comments on bad reviews for the ghostwritten romance books before. Tough talk like the lawyer threat here. Don’t worry, there’s never any action. Most of the scammers aren’t in the US anyway. Real reviews always start trickling in telling the truth about their crappy books. This is when the scammers create fake Amazon accounts to leave angry comments trying to bully these reviewers into silence. It’s not enough to have 300 glowing reviews they’ve paid for and manipulated to the top using upvotes. No, the scammers attack innocent reviewers scratching their heads over why unedited erotica bundles written at a seventh grade reading level have perfect 4.8 averages and bestseller flags on their books.

      The scammer bullies love to make up stories. They say the reviewer is lying about their books and tells the reviewer they’ve been reported to Amazon. Jane, David isn’t doxxing anybody. These authors take two or three clicks to find on Kindle. Go to the top 100 romance chart any day and just look for the books. You’ll find the scammers fast. Better yet, go to the top 100 romance authors list. The scammers stick out like sore thumbs when they’re wedged between veteran authors who have real fans. Their books have choppy line by line blurbs. 2000 page counts thanks to the five books stuffed inside. They’re always published by pen names releasing a new book every two weeks. These scammers are robbing real romance authors to death. They’re cheating readers too. That’s the real crime here. Nothing else.

      Honest indie romance authors are done being victims. This great article by David is the opening shot against the scammers. We’re taking this to Amazon. We won’t stop until the scamming does.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Sheri Fredricks says:

        Anne R. Allen wrote a blog about review trolls, mentioning David’s blog here to site scammers. [http://annerallen.com/2017/10/amazon-crackdowns-amazon-review-trolls/] And wouldn’t you know it, one day later the trolls came after her! Anne updated her post to read “One of the Goodreads Bullies has given The Queen of Staves  (as well as all my books) a one star rating this morning (no review.) This “reviewer” which calls itself “Annette” joined Goodreads yesterday and today gave 120 one-star reviews to 120 books.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Whitney Winters says:

        ALL OF THIS.

        Like

      • Jane says:

        LotusSwan, I don’t think you or David understand the definition of doxxing, so let me help you out.

        DOXXING: Search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.

        Compare with David’s blog post:

        Prompt #9: You are in trouble – those pesky kids figured out you pointed your clickfarm at them because their Also Boughts turned into all of the books from your bad boy circle jerk. Now those troublesome kids are onto you and have a whole army of people turning the internet upside down, finding out your real names, where you are from, and everything you have been up to.

        Therefore, David’s post does celebrate and applaud doxxing or at least the threat of it or else why else would have written it with such evil glee. It is a prohibited practice that can get people kicked off Twitter. See: Milo Y.

        PS David – As a reader who religious follow Freebooksy, most of Phoenix’s Also Boughts had been Freebooksies. Instead of jumping to the incredibly ridiculous and inflammatory conclusion that anyone in her Also Bought must have been a scammer who turned clickbot farms to her book, perhaps consider the very rational explanation that many people sweep up every book on Freebooksy and therefore the also boughts reflect this.

        Now, back to LotusSwan. I wasn’t saying we can’t figure out the pen names of successful authors by looking at the top 100. That much is self evident. I was saying that his talk of finding out their real names and where they are from is the kind of thing that is way worse for authors to do to each other than use bonus books. Please use logic when talking to me, thank you.

        Go ahead and call me a scammer because you disagree with my opinion, I don’t care. I’m American and live in the US. But why are you so against indie self publishers who live in other countries? Anyone from any country can publish on Amazon. Get out of here with your discriminatory rhetoric. Also, here’s some more logic for you, LotusSwan: People in other countries can still sue Americans for slander or libel and other things. In fact, in many cases, filing abroad is the better option for plaintiffs, because the United States has the most defendant-friendly defamation laws in the world but other countries are much more plaintiff-friendly. Therefore, it’s not a bad idea for these authors in other countries that David is harming to sue him.

        David is spreading libel and slander against authors based on an incorrect opinion (“wish it were true-ism”) that bonus books are not allowed per Amazon’s TOS, screenshotting books on Twitter that are perfectly within Amazon’s TOS and trying to say they are not in an attempt to harm the reputation of other authors, and advocating for doxxing. All with absolutely no proof that any of these “very easy to find” authors have engaged in any kind of botting or clickfarming. This is very much libel, slander and encouraging doxxing and so my warning to David stands.

        I will not be posting here again not only because I have better things to do but also because it is clear he is making inflammatory and false statements against other authors/businesses for his own selfish gain, to drive traffic to his blog and promote his marketing books, which also happens to be a violation of KDP terms of service. So, ironically but not surprisingly he is the one doing something wrong while trying to act like some knight in shining armor calling out the perceived wrongs of others.

        But I just wanted to give my warning, which still stands. I certainly do have the ability to bring legal action but damages are an element and so far David has not mentioned my book but he could turn his pitchfork like mob mentality on anyone using any bonus books or doing anything else he personally finds acceptable so I am warning him to stop this because if it affects me I most certainly will sue.

        David, LotusSwan, and others, have fun with your witch hunt to try to take down authors you deem as scammy based on your own opinions. Meanwhile I will be preparing to take any necessary legal action based on logic. Funny how that works.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There is no identifying information in these writing prompts! If you recognize some of these archetypes, you must be hanging with a bad crowd…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Unless there is an actual bad boy romance author with the name “Secretly A. Dude” – in which case I profusely apologize to Mr. Dude.

        Liked by 3 people

      • trinityta says:

        only David’s ‘article’ isn’t really an “opening shot against the scammers”. it’s a satirical post.

        Like

    • Do you steal the works of other writers and then publish under your pen name? If not, then he isn’t talking about you or advocating that anyone should be looking for you.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Bill Peschel says:

    I’m not sure why it’s bad for a male writer to disguise themselves with female pen names. Women have been doing it for generations.

    Now, if they’re doing it to scam readers by stealing content, that’s different …

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s nothing wrong with a male writer using a female pen name, or vice versa.

      Like

    • Nobody said it was bad for a male writer to use a female pen name. What was being skewered here is the moron author that uses a pen name, steals other writer’s works and then passes it off as their own. It’s happening way too much. Take a look in the Legal Thrillers category and look specifically in the Top 100 New Releases. You will find at least half the list is scammy garbage. Some don’t even try to hide it. I found at least a dozen that were nothing more than copy and paste jobs of Frank Baum’s The Tin Woodman of Oz.

      If you want to write under a female pen name, knock yourself out and good luck to you. But, if you want to writer under an assumed pen name and steal other people’s work and pass it off as your own, I hope you get caught and roast in the fires of Hell.

      Like

  8. Colleen Sheehan says:

    SO glad someone isn’t scared of these people and their shit. I am so tired of the fear that holds so many Indies down for no good reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Erin Chartworth says:

    This is the best thing I’ve seen all day.

    And yet… I don’t see anything changing. 😦 That’s what sucks. I hope I’m wrong. I want the HEA!

    Thank you for continuing to call out the BS. It’s refreshing and needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. acflory says:

    lmao! Glad to see you’re into diversity. -cheers from DownUnder-

    Like

  11. trinityta says:

    ok, people, this is HUMOUR, ok?! it’s not real; it’s not serious, and it’s not advocating doing bad things, not even to bad people. it’s fictional.

    Like

  12. Genuine authors have nothing to fear and they are not the people anyone would want to expose. I don’t like the word ‘doxxing’ – it sounds like an STD – and we should all be aiming to bring down scammers. If someone thinks they’ll be outcast by their closest for what they write, I’m glad I live alone.

    Like

  13. Giselle T. says:

    David, you may be interested to know there was recent drama about ghost writing in a few m/m facebook groups. A member posted about these scammers making a public call for ghost writers to work for them for slave wages. $10 per thousand words!! The only people who supported this scam were ghost writers who admitted themselves the pay sucked but wanted whatever money they could get upfront. Everyone else, readers and authors, wanted transparency regarding the problem so ghost writers are treated better and readers have honesty about the books they buy. It’s sad these ghost writers think the good ratings on their bought, repackaged books are real. They’re bought by these scammers to drive their books to the top and keep ghost writers working for them for slave wages.

    Like

    • I made the original post about the Ghostwriters. What I found most troubling from the drama that unfolded was not only that are their ghostwriters in the m/m community- some of whom are probably my FB friends, but that one female writer admitted to being a ghostwriter for a ‘Big name M/M Writer’ and she was ‘proud’ of the fact that her books hit best seller lists. I really do believe these scammers target writers with really low self esteem and tell them they should be grateful for making any money from writing at all. And I feel for the readers who have invested in this ‘Big Name M/M writer’ and will discover one day that this person is a fake and never wrote a word.

      Like

      • Tonya says:

        People don’t “invest in” writers. They buy books to read and enjoy. Ghostwriting is a normal part of the industry. This hysteria is ridiculous.

        Like

      • Kevin says:

        And which M/M writer featured in the prompts are you ghost writing for, Tonya?

        Like

      • W. says:

        Sort of like how Sierra Riley made an astronomical climb up the M/M charts until it was revealed that “she” was a group pen name made up of one or two talented authors and a handful of writers who could barely string a story together outside of erotica scenes.

        Readers always find out, and your career is usually over when they do.

        You mentioned low self esteem, but to me the saddest part is that the black-hat types target the smaller authors who’ve given up on their own pen names because they cannot compete in the environment the black-hat types have created. What a cruel cycle.

        These smaller authors had a chance at a career a year or two ago, but now their releases get buried under the deluge of scammy nonsense or the stuffed-to-the-gills ghosted books. I have friends who’ve ended up ghosting for these types just to pay the bills. And even then, they’re paid $100-300 for 50k novels. “Their” books soar to the tops of the charts, fall when the next ghosted book is released two weeks later, and then end up as fresh pulp for stuffing into every subsequent release. How demoralising!

        In many cases, the books are also (poorly) converted to M/M or M/F, depending on how the story was originally written. You’ll find lingering evidence of the conversions (the wrong pronouns, names, and body parts). It’s utterly absurd.

        Secretly A. Dude and his ilk made it their mission to siphon all the money from the romance genre, and they’ve pretty much succeeded. They’ve also destroyed the market and a storefront along the way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Tonya, readers *DO* invest in authors. This is a business after all. If readers did not invest and ‘fangirl’ over authors there would be no market for the scammers to exploit. Author’s monetize their fanbases, some more than others. Some of it is subtle, other times, not so much! How many M/M authors do you know who set up Pateron pages? How many do you know who have merchandise for sale on their websites? How many readers *believe* they are friends on social media with an author, when the person on the other computer may not have even written the book?
        The only people who speak of ‘hysteria’ are those who are getting wound up because we are discussing a subject that makes them deeply uncomfortable. Scammer’s will be found out and the readers can decide who deserves their hard earned cash.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Selena Kitt says:

        Wait… what’s wrong with Patreon now? As far as I’m concerned, as many revenue streams author can have that don’t involve Amazon… the better.

        Like

      • Z says:

        The thing to bear in mind, Selena, is that Isobel is one of M/M’s greatest drama llamas. She loves to scream “scammer!” at any author who outsells her, or has revenue streams outside of books. She views Patreon as unethical, squeezing money from your fans, because she thinks writing should be a hobby and not a job you get paid for (but it’s OK for other artists to be on Patreon – just not writers). She’s determined to drag down any writers who make a decent living income for their work, and assumes clearly all best-sellers must be “ghostwritten” (but can’t explain why ghostwriters wouldn’t just publish their work themselves, or how ghostwriters are able to write much better books than “real authors”).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Isobel Starling says:

        Gosh, Z, I’m touched. I seem to have gotten a reputation (with you alone) for calling out bullshit. It obviously makes you uncomfortable that authors want to earn money honestly and won’t tolerate scammers they see in their midst.
        You don’t know me *AT ALL* and you have never seen my sales data, so unless you have FACTS then your assertion that: “She loves to scream “scammer!” at any author who outsells her, or has revenue streams outside of books”, is all in your head, sweetie.
        I’m guessing you are either an author, or an apologist for certain authors who use unethical means to make money. If you are such a sheep that you are happy to follow, then that is your choice. I have no idea how you benefit, but turning into a troll to cover criminal behaviour is just not a good way to spend your time.
        The authors who are kicking up a fuss about scamming just want a level playing field, transparency, and honesty. If the thought of those things threatens you, then you have the problem, not us!

        Like

  14. trinityta says:

    the sheer insanity and hysteria in some of these comments in not to be believed. apparently satire and sarcasm goes right over some people’s heads.

    Like

  15. Sam Torode says:

    David, you deserve a Pulitzer prize for your investigations. I just send feedback to KDP support complaining about the book packing, which I wasn’t aware of before your blogs. Everyone needs to write them to add to the chorus. The miscategorization of these romance books also drives me nuts. They have taken over the bestseller charts of every category, far outside the bounds of romance. And there’s no one policing categories…

    Liked by 2 people

  16. NetwriterM says:

    The sad thing is I know a guy writing bad boy romance who was charging $2k for his mastermind group. I don’t know how the mastermind thing works though. I found him to be kind of skeevy.

    Like

  17. Rachel Leigh Smith says:

    Exposing criminals isn’t doxxing. It’s a longstanding American journalistic tradition, and I applaud everyone who’s attempting to find out who these criminals are.

    The scammers ARE criminals in the KDP ecosystem. They blatantly violate the TOS, and do all sorts of things they’ve agreed not to do. There’s one scammer on the SFR list, Daniella Wright, who uses all her free days, waits a couple weeks, unpublishes the books, retitles the covers, publishes them again, and uses her free days. I’ve been watching her do it since June. Amazon doesn’t seem to give a shit about it. I even showed her to KDP reps, in person, back in July, and was promised action. Nothing’s been done.

    This scammer routinely hits the Amazon Top 100 Free. That’s almost impossible to do organically with an SFR title.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Brilliant David!! I was just educated.

    Like

  19. E.R. says:

    I’m not a writer. Just a reader who’s fed up with bad books floating at the top of the charts in the romance genre. I read a lot of e-rom books to alleviate stress and take my mind off of work.
    Everything that was described in this post is true. Some of it I figured out by myself, the rest makes perfect sense. It’s only logical to assume that when the quality of writing and content is different from book to book by the same author, that author employed ghostwriters. And it’s also logical to assume that when a badly written, poorly edited fantasy of a 15-year-old hits top 100, that there’s fraud involved.
    When some of my favorite authors began to publish every couple of weeks and their books are nothing more than badly written juvenile fantasy, I felt insulted as a reader and made my opinion known in my reviews. I was kicked out from one of the “street teams” and waiting to be expelled from another. Not that it bothers me – life’s too short to read bad books and I don’t want to stay on any team of reviewers that condone this kind of deceit.

    This fraudulent gang on Amazon isn’t only ruining lives of other authors. Those people ruin readers’ trust in ALL authors. They disrespect and insult ALL readers.

    Hope, you forgive my bad writing. English is my second language.

    Liked by 3 people

    • NetwriterM says:

      Please tell Amazon! They won’t care until the readers do.

      Like

      • E.R. says:

        Oh, I did! On two occasions so far and received no response. Of course, I was complaining about particular authors and not this huge problem that is a lot bigger than any one person. I will write to Amazon again and this time it will be about this recent phenomenon with crappy books rising to the top overnight and I will talk again about inconsistent book quality from NR to NR. Not that one reader’s opinion matters to Amazon. It would be more effective if a group of readers wrote a petition of sorts. Unfortunately, readers aren’t organized, and to my knowledge, we don’t have ways to communicate on Amazon any longer. There used to be a readers’ forum until Amazon implemented format changes earlier this year. If I’m mistaken and forum still exists, I’d appreciate it if someone told me how to find it.

        About the scammers’ list… I have it saved although I’m personally not a fan of anyone on the list except for one name on the very top. I used to admire her as a gifted, skillful and passionate writer. Read many of her books, sang praises to her in my reviews, even asked to be on her “street team”. That was before her newsletter frequency changed from once a week to 2-3 times a day, she began to publish a new book every 2 weeks and the quality/content of her books became inconsistent. I did email her privately expressing my disappointment and telling her how it makes me feel as a reader. No response. Now I’m not only sad and disappointed, I’m angry. And to see her name on that list only confirmed my suspicions. My first impulse was to leave her reviewer’s team and unsubscribe from newsletters but then I decided to stay and let her and others know what I think via reviews. Funny how people are afraid to say what they think. It seems, I’m not the only one judging by ‘likes’ and ‘helpful votes’, but there’s rarely more than one bad review besides mine. Of course, the majority of e-rom readers don’t care for anything but sex scenes. Sometimes they complain about poor editing but never about inconsistencies in the quality of writing.

        Like

  20. Jane's Evil Twin Sister says:

    Instead of being pissed that David exposed it, why not be pissed at the masterminds for DOING it, because it IS happening. I was “invited” to pay a $2K fee to be “part of the group” but when I learned I need a grand a day for FB ads (not kidding, Mister Mastermind himself told me $10K to launch a book) and had to write and release whatever the rest of the group was writing and releasing (this is how they “set the trend” to make themselves look more popular), I declined. The fact is, this IS happening regardless if we go on a witch hunt to name them or not (and why not? They’re on a witch hunt for me because I tell people who they are and what they’re up to, I was invited after all.) and the fact still remains that they ARE stealing page reads from us/the pot. Hell, some of them even stuff their stuffed books with copy/paste jobs of old newsletters they’ve sent out, most of which contain private conversations that the “author” never sought permission to publish from the party they were speaking with. Don’t believe me? Go borrow a book and flip to the back to see, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the pennies.

    There are about 20 Masterminds in total, and they’re doubling and tripling (or more!) their pen names. They often co-write with the “new” pen name to lend it credibility. Anyone who believes a brand new author (co-writing or not) could earn an orange bestseller tag is nuts. And there’s no need to go on a witch hunt for names, check out their dangerously hot box set. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • trinityta says:

      waiting for the names…

      Like

    • howtoloseweights1 says:

      You mean this box set? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075RSB8S8/

      Like

      • pickletavy101 says:

        Yes this boxed set is a good roundup of mastermind scammers. So is the 69th St Bad Boys series.

        David will probably delete this and who can blame him??? The scammers are aggressive. They’ll sue for being exposed. They think romance is a joke and they’re entitled to it more than those stupid slow selfwriting authors they’ve stolen everything from. Anyone who ever met them in their Ryver group knows how pushy, underhanded and disgusting they are.

        It’s hilarious how they don’t know their group is leaking. And the drip, drip drip has only started.

        Spread their names far and wide. Do it secretly. Authors who don’t know them yet need to be warned. Readers don’t realize these smug little bullies who have never written a word in their life are putting their favorite authors out of business by destroying K.U. Educate them.

        Fight.

        Join their newsletters and report them to SpamCop and the Federal Trade Commission. Report them to their ISPs. They’re breaking laws. Violating terms of service spamming and trading lists like baseball cards. They can’t scam K.U. without their newsletters.

        Fight back. Don’t go quietly.

        Like

  21. Lisa says:

    There is no need to name names.

    All you need to do to get the full list of “Mastermind” scammers is follow this simple 3-step protocol:

    1. Open the Top 100 in Contemporary Romance: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-Contemporary-Romance/zgbs/digital-text/158568011
    2. Discard the two or three books priced above 99 cents
    3. Discard the two or three wide books

    What remains is pretty much exclusively 99c stuffed bundles by “Mastermind” pen names.

    And that is the sad truth of what scammers have done to my genre… and to the real authors writing in it.

    Anyone with a plan on how to decontaminate Romance (and sue these people) can count on my generous contribution. Just holler.

    Like

    • Miriam Shaw says:

      We need to name names so innocent authors aren’t confused with scammers. It’s [[time.

      [[[List of names deleted – see my comment below (Dave)]]]

      Here you go. These are the mastermind scammers ruining contemporary romance and their close friends.

      Dig in. They use the same strategy. E-mail spam, 1000 member ARC lists, two week publishing schedule, huge bundles with three or more books. They never waste time editing. Books are pushed to Amazon the second their ghostwriters finish and they have covers. They have new books every ten days thanks to the ghosts slaving away. No real KU author who writes their own stuff can keep up. They’re all getting crushed or driven out of KU.

      The scammers laugh at real authors in their secret Ryver groups and call them word monkeys and dinosaurs (so dumb and slow compared to scammers right?). Most have never written a single word of romance in their lives. They gladly copy honest authors’ book descriptions, cover styles and themes to make their own crappy books look readable. They think they will own Kindle Unlimited in a year or two.

      Worst part is they could be right. Indie publishing in KU dies if the masterminds keep growing. It’s the end of romance readers being able to reward their favorite authors for quality books. The scammers now rack up millions of page reads and land the best Amazon bonuses. Their books rule the romance categories. KU has become a trap for any author who isn’t paying ghostwriters minimum wage to produce new books constantly. They’ll have a monopoly soon with new ghostwriters and new pen names. The same scammers already own two or three of the names on the list.

      Liked by 1 person

    • trinityta says:

      oh please! let’s make everyone go on a scavenger hunt. sheesh! stop talking.

      Like

    • trinityta says:

      oh please!
      let’s make everyone go on a scavenger hunt. sheesh!
      stop talking, Lisa, you’re not helping, just whining.

      Like

      • Lisa says:

        I must whine just a little more, trinityta. Please bear with me.

        There’s a bigger problem with those books than killing the genre and stealing from other authors. It’s their message.

        How many people outside of the indie author community know about click farms, stuffing, newsletter abuse, and similar tricks used to propel a book no one would normally buy to the top?

        Not many.

        The average person infers that since those books are at the top of Amazon romance lists, then that’s what women are “buying”, that’s what they “prefer” to read, and, ultimately, that’s what they want in life.

        The heroine in those books is typically submissive and very young (often a virgin). The hero is typically an older, dominant, rich and arrogant jerk in a position of power (think Weinstein only prettier). Two of the current Top 20 books have BDSM in their title for crying out loud!

        The plot goes like this: The woman says no. The man says I’ll f— you anyway. And then he does, BDSM-style. And while he’s getting on with it, she falls in love with him. HEA.

        I’m not a prude, but this stuff is toxic.

        Like

      • trinityta says:

        “I must whine just a little more, trinityta.” – ok, i liked this line a lot. heh!

        i don’t get this ‘stuffed books’ thing. don’t readers complain? from what you’re saying, it’s not even bad writing, literally filler stuff. was it you who said old emails, and someone else said lorem ipsum?

        Like

      • Selena Kitt says:

        Can we not dis what readers want to read? There were plenty of people who said 50 Shades of Grey sucked. But it sold millions of copies – so it must have had SOMETHING that readers wanted. I don’t think we should be putting readers down for wanting to read a fantasy about a young virgin and an older, dominating billionaire. “Toxic” is a pretty harsh. Reading a fantasy doesn’t equate with what someone wants in real life. If I read Silence of the Lambs… that doesn’t mean I want to be a serial killer.

        Romance is the biggest-selling genre market out there. Those readers number in the millions. If they want to read bad boy dubcon BDSM romances? Let them read! I think that’s an entirely separate thing from click-farms, stuffing and newsletter abuse, which is the main topic here.

        That said – it isn’t just romance that’s broken. ALL of the Amazon top 100 lists are being scammed. Things are miscategorized insanely all over the place. It’s frustrating for readers, to say the least. It’s no wonder they’re looking to indie author newsletters for recommendations on what to read. They certainly can’t find what they’re looking for by browsing on Amazon anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

      • pipsqueakssquee says:

        Lisa is completely right: those “romances” are toxic.

        Of course we can call out problematic narratives. Racist romances: TOXIC. Romances that give Nazi SS officers happily ever afters: TOXIC. And romances that reinforce institutionalized sexism and internalized misogyny: yeah, they’re TOXIC, too.

        I love the romance genre, and have been a fan and advocate of it since I was a teenager. But being a fan and an advocate of the genre does not mean putting up with the poisonous sexism that can creep in. On the contrary. Romance can and has done much, much better.

        Just because readers buy these toxic narratives – and might be so inured to the sexism and misogyny in our culture that they don’t see how these narratives are harmful – doesn’t mean the toxicity can’t be acknowledged. This isn’t to say that all BDSM romances are misogynist, because they aren’t. But in an era when big name men are finally being made to answer for their decades of abuse and harrassment, there is an imperative to stand up and say, “This powerful man forcing himself on a powerless woman s#!t: it’s not right.” Hiding behind the buyer does not change that imperative.

        The fact these scammers are destroying the Amazon ecosystem on the back of toxic misogynist narratives makes this even more nauseating.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Selena Kitt says:

        Oof. Should we protect those poor readers from themselves? 😡

        It’s not up to me – or you – to decide what should or shouldn’t be written or read. Freedom of speech means there will be things written that you don’t like. You can call them toxic all you want. That’s your right. But there are obviously way more readers out there who disagree with you – and vote with their dollars.

        Fiction is not the same as action. Those two things cannot and should not ever be equated. Men acting badly in the real world is a real problem. The fantasy of a dominant male and submissive female is just that. A fantasy. And correlation does not equal causation.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Tj Knight says:

    The problem I have with posts like this is they quickly devolve into genre bashing. Bad boy style romances have existed since pen could be put paper. In my grandma’s day it was ‘/Kidnapped by the Sheikh’ style stories. Today its bikers and billionaires.

    OTOH I agree that ghost written schlock and stuffed books are a problem. But this is the toxic environment created by KU. Authors have been reduced to fighting over a limited amount of money in a pool. That’s the real problem. As long as Amazon maintains its stranglehold on indie publishing and forces us into this artificially created gladiatorial arena, it will remain so.

    Liked by 1 person

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