Fraud Omnibus Edition (Book 4) Street Teams: The Fraudster-author’s Indie Publishing Secret Weapon

fraud-book-4

Fraud Book 4 (Omnibus Series) The Fraudster-author’s Secret Weapon – the thing they don’t tell you about is now revealed in this amazing, wonderful, awesome, best-selling book by Anne Observer. Read the rave reviews: “Wow! Just Wow! You gotta read this! Anne really out-did herself this time!”

A lot of these allegedly successful indie authors who talk about how they really want to “help other authors succeed,” seem to be leaving out a few important details – they have some secrets they always hold back – usually because these practices are unethical, against Amazon’s book review policies or, in some cases, even outright illegal.

This is a re-cap of the deceptive schemes we’re already aware of, some of which Amazon has systems in place to deter:

1) Fraudster-authors writing their own reviews

2) Fraudster-authors swapping reviews with each other or having them placed by friends and family.

3) Fraudster authors buying reviews from Fiverr and companies selling reviewing services.

4) Fraudster-authors actually buying  services to download thousands of books at a time, zoom up the rankings to the Top 100 and line their pockets. (This doesn’t garner a lot of reviews, but propels your book very quickly to the Amazon Top 100 Free Books lists and you make a wad of cash.)

5) Fraudster-authors using paid services to get reviews from pool of reviewers who are remunerated with gifts or sweepstakes entries for providing “honest” reviews. For example, “Story Cartel.”

We have, also, seen these same suspicious authors engage in all kinds of mutual-back scratching, having each others backs (“I gotcher back!”) whenever the heat is on one of them, mobbing behavior against anyone who questions the activities of one of the group, and generally obnoxious, nasty public behavior that makes you go, “Hmmm.”

Right now, I am going to tell you what a lot of these alleged overnight successes are up to. It will explain a lot of the shenanigans we’ve seen at Amazon, including the harassment of genuine of 1-star reviewers and removal of 1-star reviews, which is likely how they maintain their unnaturally high 5-star ratings.

It’s called: Street Teams.

What is a Street Team?

In the white hat world of legitimate marketing, a street team is a group of devoted fans who literally hit the streets passing out flyers for their favorite musical groups. The first instance of street teaming I can think of involved the band K.I.S.S. who got their mostly young, adolescent boy fan club members to spread the word about the band.  Members of the K.I.S.S. fan club, The K.I.S.S. Army, were given merchandise in return for their services, which was enough to induce them to do this street advertising for the band at a cost that was much less they would have spent on ordinary marketing. The K.I.S.S. Army literally hit the streets, placing flyers and asking stores to carry K.I.S.S. merchandise, sometimes making a nuisance of themselves. But, the merchandising campaign was very successful.

Street teams promoting bands can be a legitimate practice as long as the members of the team do not engage in illegal behavior and there is appropriate disclosure of the fact that the member has a relationship to and was in some way remunerated by the company he or she works for.

But, the latest evolution of this technique, the relatively new Author’s Street Team, presents a lot of problems to do with ethics and legality, especially since most of them don’t actually hit the “streets,” but rather Amazon and Goodreads where they talk up the book to other readers, while pretending to be fans of the author, and give the author’s books plenty of raving 5-star reviews without benefit of disclosure of remuneration or relationship.

As you can see from this article, “Using Street Teams to Launch Your Books,” which encourages authors to form Street Teams, the team members are comprised of friends, relatives, associates and remunerated actors who pretend to be fans of your book and run around Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Amazon, talking up your book, recommending other people to buy  it and leaving raving 5-star reviews (and sometimes leaving 1-stars on your competitors’ books, undoubtedly).

The following is a short quote from the above-referenced article regarding this relatively new trend of cyber “Street Teams” being used by upstart authors:

“There is a trend among authors and publishers to use their “street teams” to get reviews for books on sites such as Amazon or Goodreads. Here’s how it works. Prior to the book launch, you give away advanced copies to a group of your fans called your street team. These are relatives, friends, associates, and loyal followers of your work. They are folks who are likely to hit the “streets” of Amazon and Goodreads and talk up your book. You ask this hearty band of volunteers to read your book and post a short review on Amazon or Goodreads. And here’s a key component of the strategy: ask them to post their reviews on the day (or week) of publication. That builds buzz right away.”

Now, there are some big, glaring problems with this, which if you are familiar with Amazon review policies and FTC regulations in the U.S., you will see right away.

Amazon is – or, at least, it was at one time – believed to be a reliable source of legitimate reviews of books – unsolicited, unpaid reviews from parties who have no relationship to the author and who are not being induced to give reviews. Amazon used to be the place everybody went to get reviews – supposedly genuine reviews – of books and other products, even if they bought those products somewhere else. But, now the Amazon review system is seriously compromised and one of the major reasons this is so, according to my research, is the use of Street Teams.

black-hat-1

A schemer in a black hat.
Image Lic. Gnu, J.J., WikimediaCommons

Authors who sell their wares at Amazon using virtual  Street Teams to create artificial enthusiasm and buzz for their third-rate books, to garner raving 5-star reviews and harass anyone leaving a genuine 1-star review, are engaging in a black hat form of internet marketing. Street Teams are the apparent explanation for many of the biggest problems facing reviewers, readers looking for good books and honest authors.

The fraudster authors who do it know they are doing something unethical, violating the reviewing policies at Amazon and engaging in activity that is  possibly even illegal (if you or reviewers live in the U.S. or any other country that has disclosure laws or other anti-fraud measures in place regarding the reviews of products). They know they are defrauding the reading public and doing a dis-service to real authors who are not gaming the system, which is why it is such A BIG SECRET!

The Fraudster-author’s Biggest Secret Revealed!

Author Street Teaming is a “new marketing method” (this term is in quotes because I’ve seen it used a lot at Writer’s Cafe Kboards to describe whatever is the latest scam for gaming the Amazon system) to promote your book, albeit unethically and maybe even illegally, with very little money.  All the cool kids are doin’ it, apparently, because I’ve checked out numerous suspicious-looking characters (those who act strangely, those who engage in mobbing, nobodies who have a 95 to 99.99% 5-star reviews, and pretty much anyone whose bad behavior has caught my attention) and most of them use Street Teams. They advertise the teams openly, but they meet secretly online in private Facebook rooms or other protected online enclaves to do their dirty business.

(Note: You can check this out yourself by putting the suspicious author’s name in a search with the term Street Team, like so: [Author name] Street Team.)

This is another method of buying reviews. It is not as overt as going over to Fiverr and plunking down $5 for $5 worth of review services, but it is buying them just the same. And, it is a clever method – for the time being – of obtaining lots of fraudulent, but realistic-looking (to the untrained eye, maybe) reviews and sales of your book.

Reviews written by people who have  a relationship to the author or who have received some form of remuneration are against Amazon’s review policies. The authors know this and those who persistently engage in this kind of fraud ought to have their accounts permanently removed.

Failure to disclose such information as relationships between yourself and the author or remunerations received when writing reviews or doing any kind of promotions anywhere, including at Twitter, Facebook and on blogs, is not only unethical, it is a violation of Federal Law in the U.S.  Authors who persistently engage in fraudulent reviewing and who encourage their Street Teams to do it, should receive heavy fines!

It is fraud!

Let me show you what I’m talking about:

First, let’s look at both the clandestine nature of Author Street Teams and the remuneration provided to members for their services to the fraudster-authors.

Boss_Tweed,_Nast

Boss Tweed: “As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it?” – WikimediaCommons {pd}

In my previous post – I mean “Book”, yeah, BookI talked about a particular author who made a list of behaviors she considers to be bullying. One of the items on her list that I pointed out, which I called “defensive,” aroused my suspicions. She’s another one with a lot of suspicious-looking Amazon reviews – mostly rave, ratings over 95%, lots of disappointment expressed in the 1-star reviews often referencing the high number of 5-stars and puzzling how it’s possible. Whenever I see something like this at Amazon, I like to say that the reviews appear “stuffed,” in much the same way that old-fashioned ballot boxes were once literally stuffed with fraudulent ballots to rig the voting process.

According to her list, she considers what I’m doing right here to be bullying. I call it putting 2 and 2 together and coming up with 4.

This author, who has hit the New York Times Best Sellers List for Amazon Top Free and whose recent public antics caught my attention does, in fact, employ a Street Team.  Here you see the invitation to her “Inner Sanctum”: Inner Sanctum

If you scroll down through there, you’ll see what her Street Team members are to receive for their support. Here’s a screen shot that talks about the secret nature of the group and the kinds of gifts and remuneration they will receive for their loyalty:

street-team-gifts-duties

Let’s analyze the above screenshot for just a moment because there are a couple of important terms used in it that may be unfamiliar to you.

Some Street Team Terminology:

ARC:  Advanced Review Copy – this is a copy of the book, usually sent to reviewers before it is published. It is another form of remuneration whether the book is free or $3.99 – or whatever price (, therefore, requiring disclosure by a reviewer in the U.S.). A definition of the term, as it is used in traditional publishing, may be found here: http://www.ilab.org/eng/glossary/14-advance_review_copy.html

Swag: Refers to a “swag bag,” which is a bunch of goodies provided by a company as a gift. In this example, she is offering “free books, bookmarks, jewelry, t-shirts, mugs, trading cards and other cool stuff.”

There are, also, other yet un-named prizes promised, as well as the promise to be your “author buddy.”

Also, notice how involved Street Team members become in the production of the books – in this example, they have the privilege of possibly naming the characters.

She asks for an hour per week commitment of recommending her books online and announces that she is forming a secret members-only group on Facebook. We see nothing here instructing her secret Inner Sanctum in the legalities and ethics of disclosure of their relationship to her.

Let’s see how her recruitment effort went:

While we can’t really see into the Inner Sanctum Street Team, we can see her announcement in a short time that her team recruitment is going well, she has 30 people and the group includes her husband: Facebook for this author

It is not hard; it is no phenomenal feat to put together one of these Street Teams, who will undoubtedly leave you plenty of rave 5-star Amazon reviews  – and pretty much only raving 5-stars – on your books and do just about anything you tell them to do. You just have to be someone willing to break the rules and maybe break the law and encourage others to do the same thing.

These teams are something of a secret, though, not too often discussed openly by “the usual suspects.” Here’s one of those typical Kboards Writer’s Cafe Kboards threads where she is giving information including sales and income figures to supposedly help other authors. I see no mention of the use of secret Street Teams here: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,164086.0.html – or at any of her other author helping and supporting posts at Kboards.

Again, disclosure is a major issue in all of this – and the fact that Amazon reviews written by people who work for the author are against policy and are by their very nature dishonest.

Other terms for Author Street Teams: Influencers;  minions; posse; fangirls; fanboys.

Street Teams and Online Mobbing

When authors have command of a Street Team they can get them to do just about anything, it seems. If they want to get a blog or a Facebook page or some reviews they don’t like taken down, they send their team in and they go to work on command. I’ve even see instances where they were dispatched to go after a blogger, went on command and reported back to their commander like good little soldiers.

Street Teams are the probable explanation for some things I’ve witnessed online and explain how 1-star reviews get removed from some of these authors’ Amazon sales pages. They simply send their team in to ding the Amazon system and if enough people keep alerting to a 1-star review or comment the author doesn’t like, it can get removed in a matter of a few hours.

Other times, you’ll see the author’s apparent fan club going into to harass legitimate 1-star reviewers into removing their reviews. You won’t have to look far to find examples of this. It’s another tactic used by authors to harass and intimidate reviewers, but one in which they appear to be removed from the act – it’s their employees, posing as hardcore fans, who are doing it. So, they can pretend not to be involved.

By contrast, if you are an honest author, you don’t have the dubious benefit of a mob of friends, relatives and paid associates at your command, your 1-star review from a rival author’s team, regardless of how it violates Amazon’s review policy, usually does not get removed. You can send an alert. You can send e-mail after e-mail. Even flagrant violations, such as advertisements in the review section, are ignored by the Amazon system until they are alerted about it repeatedly. If you don’t have a mob to send in, your 1-star personal attack or advertisement placed at your sales page will remain there.

The employment of Street Teams is by far not the only dirty trick fraudster authors are engaged in, but it’s one of the lowest, dirtiest ones.

ARCs (Advanced Review Copies) and Unethical Amazon Reviews

A major problem with Street Teams is the gifting of ARCs. As defined above, this is a copy of the author’s book given to reviewers before it is published.  Such a gift is regarded by the FTC as remuneration and if a review is made of the book – in the U.S. (or other jurisdictions around the world that have similar anti-fraud laws in place) without disclosure, this an illegal act, which can result in fines.

Links to examples of the FTC dropping the hammer on fake reviewing:

http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/FTC_issues_250000_fine_for_fake_online_reviews_7713.aspx

http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2296366/Fake-Online-Reviews-Cost-19-Companies-350000

http://www.ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-agreement-19-companies-stop-writing-fake-online-reviews-and

http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2011/03/firm-pay-ftc-250000-settle-charges-it-used-misleading-online

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-10-11/business/ct-biz-1011-web-reviews–20101011_1_ftc-cracks-endorsements-mary-engle

According to Amazon’s present policies for book reviews, http://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-reviews-guidelines,  disclosure must be made if a copy of the book was gifted to you. Furthermore, the free book is the only acceptable payment for Amazon reviewers to receive.

ARCs are presenting a major problem at Amazon right now because almost no one discloses that they received one. Furthermore, many of the people receiving ARCs are, also, receiving other forms of payment or gifts from the author. Of course, the fraudster-authors say they can’t live without their ARC reviews – of course, they can’t. They’re frauds, charlatans and hacks – of course, the only way they can win at the authoring game is to cheat somehow.

But, other authors believe – and I am one – that requiring a verified purchase of the book or other product on Amazon before a review can be provided would reduce a lot of fraud (not all, of course, but a lot), both 5-star fraud on behalf of the charlatans and 1-star fraud against honest authors who are seen as direct competition.

What is an Honest Review?

I’ve seen the term “honest review” abused repeatedly. An honest review is one in which there is full disclosure of the reviewer’s relationship to the author. Was the reviewer given anything before they made the book review. Does the reviewer have a relationship with the author of any kinds, for instance, is he or a she a Street Team member, a relative, a co-worker, etc.

Also, there is no such thing as an honest review in which there is any relationship or compensation – including a free copy of the book or membership on a Street Team – that can be posted sans disclosure at Amazon alongside a rating and still be considered honest.

The authors who do this – whose Street Team members are posting reviews of their books at Amazon without disclosure and in violation of the reviewing policies – know they are doing wrong. But, they are making a lot of money. So, they don’t care who they run over in the process, including Street Team members, themselves, who sometimes don’t realize they are doing wrong, but think they’re just participating in a fun online activity and “supporting” an author.

Is There Such a Thing as an Ethical Author’s Street Team?

The only way a Street Team can be ethical and, in the U.S., obey the laws is to be very vigilant about disclosure when it is called for. Of course, disclosure when reviewing or recommending a book would defeat the actual purpose of an Author Street Team for reasons already discussed. After all, the main purpose of a Street Team is to market in a way that gives the appearance that the marketers are not connected with the author, that they are not a member of a team who is receiving gifts and whatever else.

Street Teams are a form of self-marketing, in which members of the team pose as the author’s legitimate fans, rave about the books and encourage their friends and acquaintances to buy them. The authors themselves are poseurs, who give the appearance of being naturally talented and successful based on word-of-mouth and try to pass themselves off as celebrity authors, when nothing could be further from the truth.

In essence, the Street Team is a company of “Influencers.” The Zonalert Report makes reference to a movie called “The Joneses,” which I watched for the first time and it really helped me to understand how the Street Teams work.

Once you have a core group of people spreading the word about your book, others will jump on board willingly. They will buy the hype that the author is successful and talented because often it is people they trust, who they regard as friends, who recommend the author’s books to them. In fact, I’ve seen that a certain oh-so-famous somebody’s 1-star page where a reviewer said he would never trust the friend who recommended the book, again. He realized he was duped – probably by a member of a Street Team.

Moreover, other authors who are trying to keep up with these author-Joneses, so to speak, feel sidelined. They can’t understand why their books aren’t selling. They are trying to mimic what these allegedly successful author-charlatans publicly say they’re doing, yet for some reason they don’t understand their white hat marketing isn’t working. But, they don’t know that these allegedly successful authors, who some of them genuinely look up to because they buy into their phoney success stories, too, really do have a secret that they’re not talking about.  One of those big secrets (among others) is the undoubtedly unethical and quite probably illegal employment of Street Teams.

The Fraudsters’ Excuses

I can already hear the protestations from “the usual suspects” almost ringing in my ears.  They will say that is just their “fan club,” for example. But, a fundamental difference between a fan club and a Street Team is that the former is usually organized by genuine fans of a celebrity of some kind. By contrast, author Street Teams are a scheme devised by the author him or herself to subvert the Amazon review system by getting a bunch of people who are mostly untraceable to you, but very loyal and receiving remunerations, to rave about your books, and create artificial buzz. These Street Team members leaving reviews is most likely the source of so many raving, highly suspicious reviews at so many of these authors’ Amazon sales pages.

The fraudster-authors will often try to spin Street Teaming as “word of mouth,” which is the last thing it is. It is an artifice, a contrivance, a devious scheme by the author to give him or herself the false appearance of success and celebrity, in order to game the system, sell books, zoom through the rankings, knock legitimate authors out of the way and get what they want at others’ expense. In short, it’s fraud.

The other thing the indie fraudster crowd will point to in defense of their own web of deception is the fact that similar fraud goes on all the time in traditional publishing. Yes, it does. And, it is wrong, too.

Here are some examples from the world of traditional publishing:

World, Unreal sales for Driscoll’s Real Marriage, by Warren Cole  Smith, March 5, 2014: http://www.worldmag.com/2014/03/unreal_sales_for_driscoll_s_real_marriage

The Wall Street Journal, The Mystery of the Book Sales Spike
How Are Some Authors Landing On Best-Seller Lists? They’re Buying Their Way, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg
Updated Feb. 22, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323864304578316143623600544

Politicus USA, America By Fraud: Sarah Palin Buys Her Way On To NYT Bestseller List, December 2, 2010: https://www.politicususa.com/2010/12/02/palin-bestseller-fraud.html

The excuses for this flim-flammery among those who take the traditional publishing route are the usual fare, almost word for word what we hear from indie fraudsters when they get caught: It’s standard practice (if it is, it shouldn’t be), it’s marketing (it isn’t) and everybody does it (no, they don’t). And, of course, anyone who points out that this kind of fraud is simply wrong, is bullying the poor fraudster-author.

The Top 100 Best Sellers List

Question: Is it really an accomplishment to hit the Amazon 100 Best Seller’s List and subsequently the New York Times “Free” Best Sellers List?

Answer: No,  especially when it is done by manipulation – and it looks like it usually is. In the traditional publishing world, we see authors and the marketing companies they employ buying up their own books. In indie publishing, they use Street Teams and download services, among other shady tricks I probably haven’t uncovered yet.

There are lots of scammers trying to get to the top of those lists. Here are some examples of discussions about such dodgy manipulations:

How to Hack the Amazon Best Seller List: http://outthinkgroup.com/tips/how-to-hack-the-amazon-com-bestseller-list

How Many Books Do You Need to Sell to Become a Best Seller: http://www.bookpromotionhub.com/6103/how-many-books-do-you-need-to-sell-to-become-a-bestseller/

What Does This Mean for Readers, Genuine Reviewers and Honest Authors?

Readers are getting stiffed.  They are being misled by these covert activities and by lots of glowing, inflated 5-star reviews.  They’re being duped and when they find out about all the fraud and fakery, they are naturally very upset about it. They certainly have a right to be. The authors set themselves up as celebrities, sometimes with fake awards and other fake achievements to defraud the reader into believing that they and their book are something they are not.  I have actually seen apparent reviewers of obviously Street Teamed books say, “Well, this must be a good book because it (or the author) is so popular,” when, in fact, the author is nobody and nothing but a fraud using cheaply paid employees to create the appearance of popularity and acclaim.

The Amazon reviewing and rating system is supposed to be an organic one, fueled by the honest opinions of the masses of people who buy their books and other products. It is not supposed to be manipulated by mobs of the author’s family, friends and paid actors.  More and more readers are catching on to the fact that the quality of these books (with their increasingly obvious “stuffed” reviews) is being misrepresented, but there’s not much to do about it until Amazon figures out how to take action against this particular scam.  I am confident that eventually they will, especially the more we all talk about it – and complain about it.

Because of the activities of so many of these fraudsters, readers are missing out on genuinely good, well-written books. I’ve seen such books by indie authors who are really good writers. But, if they’re not engaged in gaming the system somehow, then you’re not going to find their work.

This  situation is tough on genuine reviewers, too – especially when they leave a review and are mobbed and harassed by the author’s Street Team.  This is where a lot of the indirect bullying of readers by authors is coming from; it is being done by proxy, so the author appears innocent on the surface. But, you can bet they are directing their Street Team from behind the scenes. At any rate, they are responsible for the actions of their minions.

This whole thing is, also, very, very bad for honest authors – writers who are just writers and using legitimate advertising methods (ie. an advertisement, a blogpost, a video – all done with proper disclosure). We are all really being run over roughshod by these fraudsters, who are often not content just to game their way up through the rankings and stuff their reviews, but who perpetrate direct fraud against other authors by having their minions or other paid actors leave 1-star reviews on their competitors work, then give them a ridiculous number of upvotes, among their other tactics.

If you are trying to produce good books in particular genres, you are especially negatively impacted. For instance, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance and Erotica and their sub-genres are full of these author-fraudsters. An honest person doesn’t have a fighting chance.

Related Material:

Below are more examples of Street Team invitations. They talk about gifts and perks given to members and what obligations those members are expected to fulfill for the author.

This is a really widespread problem, especially in the romance and erotica genres, where these teams seem to have taken over the role that Tupperware and home sex toy parties used to fulfill.

Here’s another one I found at random just checking out this whole Author Street Team business: Angel Island Street Team

And, another – notice what the author asks her Street Team members to do.  A lot of these things are permitted, except at Amazon.com, as long as there is disclosure of the relationship, however, this author actually openly requests Amazon reviews from her team members: : Donna’s Street Team Also, she requests B&N reviews – I don’t know what their review policy is, but I doubt paid or otherwise biased reviews are permitted – and, again, there must be disclosure if there is a relationship or remunerations for it to be legal in the U.S. I see no instructions here or at any of these other author’s Street Team invitations regarding the necessity of disclosure

This is another one from a name on the ZonAlert Thumbs Down Author ListAuthor Street Team  This one grabbed my attention because it awards a very nice Sweepstakes prize to its members on the book’s release date – you don’t think this would induce them to be kindly disposed to leaving raving 5-star reviews for the book, do you?

Here’s another blogger discussing the subject of Street Teaming: http://jillelainehughes.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/book-promo-bait-and-switch-tactics-growing-bloggers-and-news-outlets-say/

Another blogger discussing a particularly disheartening case of Author Street Team fraud: http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/813448/sucker-punched

Another blogpost, this one from Just Another Pretty Farce, entitled “On Being a Whore,”: http://mycropht.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/on-being-a-whore/

Wired, “FTC Tells Amateur Bloggers to Disclose Freebies or be Fined” – this article, also, mentions Amazon reviewers: http://www.wired.com/business/2009/10/ftc-bloggers/

Dear Author blog, “Thursday New: Astroturfing or Reader Word of Mouth” – discusses the members receiving points for completed tasks (may explain why they are seen reporting back to their commanders like good little soldiers on some Facebook accounts): http://dearauthor.com/features/industry-news/thursday-news-astroturfing/

On the potential dangers of Street Teams to an author’s reputation: RR@H Novel Thoughts and Book Talk, “Street Teams and Why THey Make Me Want to Scream,” http://rrahnovelthoughts.com/2012/08/12/street-teams-and-why-they-make-me-want-to-scream/

Added 4/27-2014: Here is a new article On Street Teams and online Bullying of Bloggers at the blog, Reading, Drinking and Dancing with a Chaser of Snark, entitled “When Street Teams Go Rogue,” March 25, 2014

Final Word and a Call to Action

There is a famous quote by Friedrich Nietzche:  “When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.”

Staring at this whole abysmal nightmare of fraud is really beginning to take its toll on me personally. I have seen a lot of things in this past week or two that have made me feel deeply sad – mainly to do with the appalling lack of empathy and scruples on the part of these authors. The effort to reveal the real names of reviewers at Amazon is just one small example of this lack of concern and caring for others, for their safety and well-being, while in pursuit of the almighty dollar by whatever means.

But, I am hopeful because I see a lot more people talking at forums and at other blogs about these same subjects, sharing information and trying to understand what’s going on.

So, if you are reading this and you are concerned about the widespread fraud occurring at Amazon and elsewhere in the publishing world presently, I urge you to start your own blog about this subject. More people staring into the abyss together coming to their own conclusions about what they see, making their own judgements about what is right and ethical and talking about it – very carefully, of course – would be a very good thing.

Author Street Teams is an example of a subject I haven’t seen many people blog about in relation to author-fraud, mainly because it really is something of a secret, a clandestine affair carried out in private chat spaces.  Please, look into this subject a little more yourself and start blogging about it.

If you’re an Amazon Reviewer and you’re tired of being duped by apparent fangirls and fanboys of indie authors giving you the bum steer on a book or if you’re tired of writing an honest, unsolicited, unpaid Amazon review on a book and being flogged by the author’s minions, then start a free blog and talk about it.

If you are an honest author who is sick and tired of being these fraudsters’ collateral damage, start a blog – separate from your author blog, of course, and entirely anonymous.

WordPress is a good place to do it, but Blogger is okay, too. Do make it a “free” blog. Don’t purchase your own domain. It’s safer in terms of privacy and you can always abandon it anytime you need to and set up shop somewhere else.  Use strong passwords and stay anonymous. Staying anonymous doesn’t make you a coward – it makes you smart.  There are more horrible things going on in this world than the human mind can cope with the acknowledgement of and when you’re confronting it at your blog – and inevitably you will – you’ll be glad you’re 100% anonymous.

Talk about what you see going on. When you see talentless nobodies apparently making it big practically overnight, take a second look. It doesn’t hurt to look and see what is available to see in public places. It’s not spying. It’s certainly not bullying. It’s just being aware, so you’re not fooled by scammers pretending to be something they’re really not. And, of course, it’s helping other people to be aware so they’re not defrauded.

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2 Responses to “Fraud Omnibus Edition (Book 4) Street Teams: The Fraudster-author’s Indie Publishing Secret Weapon”

  1. […] you read my previous posts on Author Street Teams and Bully Authors and their Menacing Minions, you may have noticed that author-fraudsters are […]

  2. […] one time frequented Writer’s Cafe Kboards or who continue to do so. But, after learning about Street Teams and other tactics used by mostly indie authors, I’ve completely changed how I do what I do in […]

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