Monday, October 26, 2020

A cautionary tale

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gfp-caution-sign.jpg
On September 20, 2020, OA's senior member J Lenni Dorner embarked on a journey into a promotion for a self-published book that has resulted in this blog post.

OA: How were you approached by Kindle Books Promo / Kindle Market LLC? Or did you approach them?
J: They followed me on Twitter. Because they followed me, I clicked on their profile to decide if I would follow back. I saw the pinned tweet with the promo special. At first, I ignored it. But then I thought it could make an interesting blog post either way, so I contacted them in a DM to learn more.
OA: Do you know which name is the correct name of the entity?
J: I did a Google search on Kindle Market LLC. I don't know if they're actually a limited liability company. I assume this is the name they're currently using on Twitter. The search did not provide any information to make me feel like this was a legit company. If not for doing an article, I would have blocked them on Twitter and walked away at that point.

OA: Do you know why they selected you to follow on Twitter?
J: I don't know why they followed me. But I interact with a lot of writers. I'm not difficult to run into for anyone who follows the popular writer hashtags on Twitter.

OA: What was the offer they made to you?
J: As per the screenshot, I pay them $25 (via Amazon gift card) and they would promote my book and guarantee 200+ sales during the one-week promo, or my money back.

OA: Did you do any research on this entity before deciding whether to take them up on their offer?  Please describe.
J: The research was the Google search I just mentioned. 

OA: What made you decide to give it a try?
J: I was willing to gamble $25 for an interesting OA article. I would not have risked $50.  They even agreed to answer some OA questions.

OA: What book did you submit for the offer?
J: On September 27, I submitted Fractions of Existence.

On September 29, OA member Dena Pawling sent an email to Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware which included the following request:
I did a search on Writer Beware to see if you had ever written on this entity, but I didn't find anything. Do you have any insight on this entity that you can share?

Her response, which she gave OA permission to include in this blog post:
I am _really_ skeptical. What actually is the promo, anyway? They don't have a website and their Twitter feed is all ads for their service; I see no promotional tweets at all. If that's all the information they provide, it makes no sense to pay for a service when you don't even know what the service will be. I would frankly be amazed if anyone gets 200 sales out of this, and I'm guessing it will be very tough to get them to honor the money-back guarantee. They won't answer the questions, either.

On October 5, Dena emailed the following to @KindlemarketLLC's email address:

Thank you for allowing J Lenni Dorner and Operation Awesome to ask you some questions regarding your services. As per your instructions, below are our questions. We'd like to include your responses in our planned blog post later this month. May we please have your responses by October 16? Thanks

Do you have a website or other social media besides Twitter? If so, please provide links.
How long have you been doing Kindle book promotions?
How many authors have you helped?
What's the average number of sales your authors report after taking advantage of this deal?
Exactly what are you doing to drive up the author's sales?
How do you encourage interested people to buy the books?
How do you encourage interested people to write a review?
Can readers sign up to be on your email list (or whatever you're using)?
Do readers get a book discount?
Are the readers (book buyers) from all over the world, or mostly one country?
Do books need to be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited?
Do you offer a similar service for books sold on Smashwords, B&N, etc? If not, are there plans to do so in the future?
How do you find authors on Twitter to follow?
Are most of the authors who use your services indie-published?
Do any of the "big 5" houses use your service for their clients? If so, which ones?
Who is the most notable or famous author that has used your service?
How would someone get their money back if fewer than 200 books are sold within a week after the 3 day processing period?
Have you had to give many refunds, or are most people genuinely satisfied?
Are there any satisfied customer reviews we could reference?
Is there any other information about your company or your services that you'd like us to share with our blog readers?


OA: Do you know what they did to promote your book?
J: I don't know. I asked if they followed Amazon's TOS, they said yes. They confirmed my order. I don't believe they actually did anything at all.

OA: Did you see any promo for your book in any online forum? 
J: I have a Google Alert set up for Fractions of Existence. Nothing has come up.

OA: During the promo period, how many books did you sell? Do you know how many of those sales are attributable to the promotion?
J: I sold one paperback copy of this book during the promo period. It was bought by my local NaNoWriMo ML, who ordered copies of several books published by local wrimos as some kind of prize pack thing she got for someone. I know because she told me she did this.

OA: Since you didn't have 200 sales, did you ask for your money back?  What was the response?
J: I have asked for my refund. I have not heard back yet this weekend [as of October 11].

OA: On a scale of 1-10 [1 being low], please rate your experience with  Kindle Books Promo / Kindle Market LLC.  Why did you give that rating?
J: I'll give a 2, because they did get back to me initially and were polite. However, they did not do what they guaranteed. This rating might go up or down a point, depending on if I get a refund.

On October 12, I tweeted this:
https://twitter.com/JLenniDorner/status/1315819382061314052
Supervisor at @KindleMarketLLC , I require you to answer my direct message. It is suspicious that you have stopped responding. I require you to hold up the MONEY BACK GUARANTEE, as we discussed. The order was placed on Sept 27 and verified. It is now Oct 12. There were no sales.

They blocked my Twitter account


(They also blocked OA member Amren Ortega's Twitter account, probably because Amren retweeted the above tweet.)

On October 13, I tweeted this:
https://twitter.com/JLenniDorner/status/1316129542210236419
How odd.
@KindleMarketLLC gave me a money-back guarantee. When they did not come through, and I asked for my refund, they blocked me instead of replying. That's rude and unprofessional. (And about what I expected.)

On October 13, I sent this email:
I have waited for the promised number of days.
My order was processed.
The $25 Amazon gift card was given.
For some reason, your account has blocked me on Twitter.
I am owed a refund.
I require the reply of a supervisor.
I have screenshots of the entire conversation if you'd like to see them.


On October 17, Dena began writing this blog post.  OA had not yet received emailed responses to our questions, so Dena sent a follow up email:
We haven't heard from you by our October 16 requested response date. Would you like to respond to our questions so we can include your responses in our blog post? If so, please respond by Wednesday, October 21 at the very latest. Thank you.

Dena went to @KindlemarketLLC to determine if she was also blocked.  She discovered that @KindlemarketLLC no longer exists on Twitter.  
https://twitter.com/KindleMarketLLC

Further research uncovered that this entity simply renamed its Twitter account.  Everything else about the account, including previous tweets, is the same.
https://twitter.com/SuperBookPromos


Here's how to find Twitter previous user names:
https://twirpz.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/how-to-find-twitter-users-previous-usernames/ 

Here's what other writers are saying:
https://twitter.com/search?q=%40superbookpromos&src=typed_query 

OA reached out on Twitter and two writers responded with their experiences:

Writer #1: They took my money then blocked me. As you know they keep changing names - who knows what they have come back as now.  [Another writer I know] has had an email telling him to f*ck off.

Writer #2: My experience was that I messaged and asked what they offered, they explained to me that they promote their book in closed groups of readers. They explained this all and, despite having a few reservations, I thought I would go ahead with it. They promised a refund if nothing happened so I assume, why not give it a try. They continued to reply to any and all queries I had even after having sent them the payment. I asked them again, during their 'promotion' and they told me that yes, if I hadn't had any sales, they would give me a refund. It came to the end and I messaged them asking for the refund. They were unusually slow to reply but told me to email the email address provided, asking for the refund. I did this and never heard back. I messaged three separate times over a ten day period, asking if I needed to do anything else. They never replied. So then I sent one telling them I knew they were a scam and that I had reported them to twitter and they blocked me. Luckily for them, I still had their email address so I sent them a few emails asking for the refund and got an extremely colourful response.

As of October 22, OA has not received emailed responses to our questions.

On October 24, Dena finished this blog post and checked Twitter one more time for this entity.  Not surprisingly, @SuperBookPromos no longer exists 


As of October 24, it's apparently @KindleClubPromo

OA: Is your rating still a 2?
J: As they haven't replied to anything and have now full-on ghosted....  about a zero or negative number.

OA: Do you have any advice for other writers who are looking to promote their books?
J: My advice is that there isn't an easy promotion gift out there, so be at least a bit skeptical when someone offers to sell you magic beans. I didn't go into this with high hopes that it would actually sell 200 books (or even 20 books). I went into this knowing that Operation Awesome would get a good blog post from the experience no matter how it turned out. If I also sold books, cool, then we could help authors with a new promotion. If it didn't, which I had a strong feeling it wouldn't, then we could help authors avoid the mistake of trusting this wolf in sheep's clothing.

By the time this post publishes, this entity will probably have a different name entirely.  Writer Beware!

Click here for an update!



2 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience and highlighting the ways you approached this. Scammers are awful and we need to be aware.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Scammers are such creeps! Thanks for sharing this!

    ReplyDelete

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