Zombies Versus Comicon 99 Cents Through Sunday 1/22

 [Cover of Zombies Versus Comicon: A Novel by T.F. Torrey] Here we go. I’ve committed to a massive action to kick off my 2017, beginning with completing Vampires Versus Comicon quickly and now. That book references the action in Zombies Versus Comicon quite a bit, so if you’re not into spoilers, and you haven’t read Zombies yet, you should get to it.

And right now is the perfect time, because it’s on sale this week at Amazon for the amazing price of only 99 cents. Wow. Time to fight off those zombies!

Buy from Amazon Kindle

Also, if you’ve read and enjoyed Zombies Versus Comicon, please leave a review of it at Amazon, to make it easier for others to find, read, and enjoy. Thanks!

WIP: Heeding Warnings

I’ve decided on significant changes to cope with Friday’s revelations about Amazon. Will they be enough?


I can’t say enough good about the Miracle Morning routine. The day started out with some lounging, then a trip to my parents’ place to say “Happy Father’s Day!”. In the evening, I went to run a poker tournament. In and around all that, I considered my options about Friday’s revelations about Amazon, and I came up with a plan.

Coping With Amazon’s Terminator Bots

To recap briefly what I noted on Friday, Amazon allows people to publish e-books through their KDP operation, then encourages them to enroll their books in the KDP Select program for periods of 90 days. While books are in the program, they earn higher royalties in several markets, they gain the ability to use the Free Days and Countdown Deals promotions, and they are available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers to borrow and read. This last one is where the trouble is. Scammers have started uploading junk books, then having dummy Kindle Unlimited subscribers (on the free trial period) “borrow” and “read” (click through the pages) of those books, to fraudulently get paid by Amazon. To combat the fraud, Amazon has created algorithms to analyze the borrowing data of the books in KDP Select, and if their algorithms come to the conclusion that the borrows and reads were fake, they terminate your publishing account. With no warning and virtually no recourse. Forever.

And, either the algorithms are frequently wrong or the scammers are also targeting innocent books to try to hide their true activities, so that innocent authors are finding themselves permanently banned from the biggest bookstore in the world, through absolutely no fault of their own.

Given that any author with books enrolled in KDP Select can be a victim of this, and that most of my books are in KDP Select, and that the marketing I was planning on doing just might set off the terminator bots, I was in a quandary about what to do. What I have decided, so far, is this:

  • I’ve changed the status of all my books so they will not auto-renew in KDP Select.
  • I’ve changed my new books to not be in KDP Select by default.
  • I’m holding off on my promotions until I know more about the problem and potential solutions.
  • I will check my stats on KDP every day to try to make sure I detect scammer activity before Amazon does.
  • I’m developing a new plan to “go wide” with production, meaning having my books available at all retailers instead of just Amazon. I can still do 99-cent promotions, and though it’s more manual work and the royalties are half those for the same sale using Countdown Deals, the security seems worth it.
  • I’m re-examining plans to sell books off my site directly, so that I can continue to write and sell books regardless of what crazy things retailers do.
  • I also ended my own subscription to Kindle Unlimited. On the whole, I think it would be better to spend the $10/month on books I can keep forever (kind of), rather than simply borrowing them. Also, I’m hoping that other people are doing the same thing, so that Amazon will get the message that their customers, as well as their suppliers, are unhappy with the way they are treating some of their suppliers.

People I respect, like Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, David Wight, and many others, have for a long time been strongly and strenuously arguing against being exclusive with Amazon (which enables participating in the KDP Select program). I feel foolish for not heeding their advice earlier.

Only about 60 days to be clear of this hazard.

WIP: Still At A Loss

It was a typical Saturday, except for all the worrying about Amazon.


The Miracle Morning routine still feels like a great thing. I went to run a poker tournament in the afternoon, and that was a fun distraction. In the evening, I turned my attention back to my work. I accomplished nothing significant, however. Yesterday’s information about Amazon and the KDP Select program is still game-changing, and I don’t know if it is safe for me to do what I planned to do, and I don’t yet know what to do about all that yet.

Tomorrow is another day.

WIP: Sudden Second Thoughts

I was supposed to be relaunching Facebook ads. Then I saw something that scared the hell out of me.


Another late start, another Miracle Morning. Good stuff. Then I actually spent most of the day reexamining my tools and process decisions from three months ago, because I noticed a few things:

  1. I don’t actually use the tools the way I thought I would, and I probably won’t ever, and
  2. when I have a good schedule, as I do with my Miracle Morning routine, my new tools are not optimal, and
  3. my old tools, are, in fact, much better, because
  4. solutions I was hoping for never materialized, and
  5. all the tools I know of are simply not good enough.

Ultimately, it may mean I switch my work format from my custom format back to Org Mode. It’s too soon to do it after only a day, but fast production requires good planning and tracking tools, and right now I don’t have any.

Late in the evening, again, I turned my attention to back to executing my current plan. And that’s when I found the terrifying thing: A pair of posts at The Passive Voice describe lots of authors losing their Amazon KDP e-book publishing accounts through no fault of their own.

In a nutshell, scammers are publishing books in KDP and signing them up for KDP Select, which lets the books be available through Kindle Unlimited and get paid per page when someone reads them. Then the scammers are paying a “click farm” to pretend to read their books (using dummy accounts signed up for the 30-day free Kindle Unlimited trial period). Of course, it looks fishy for the scammers to flood only their own books with the fake page reads, so the new tactic to avoid discovery is to also flood random books in KDP Select with fake page reads. Recently, Amazon deployed automatic algorithms to detect sudden surges in page reads, and any author with a book experiencing a sudden burst of massive page reads is being declared a scammer, at which point Amazon instantly cancels all the author’s pending royalties, removes the author’s books from its store, and terminates the author’s account, and bars the author from ever selling on Amazon again, forever—by form letter.

So, scammer activity is causing Amazon’s terminator bots to destroy random authors in KDP Select.


Sure, authors can appeal the decision, but I haven’t heard of anyone being successful in that. And, given that Amazon accounts for about 70% of all e-book sales (and more for me), that’s a big problem.

The killer is that an author with one or more books in KDP Select has no way to defend against the problem. The scammers may well select books from Kindle Unlimited at random, and if they pick one of yours, that’s it.

And most of my books are in KDP Select.

And no, you can’t sue Amazon for violating your First Amendment rights, because those rights only apply to actions of the government, not private companies. (That’s one of the reasons for the constant push to privatize everything, so corporations get to decide what your rights are, not a government by the people, for the people. And I forget: Who owns corporations again? Is it poor people?)

The one thing authors can do to avoid the problem, for now, is to remove their books from KDP Select. And the only way to do that is to simply not renew the KDP Select agreement when it expires. And all my books recently renewed.

So, I have a lot to think about. KDP Select is a cornerstone of my long-term marketing plan (“weekly promotions and frequent new releases”), but I can’t do that if it risks everything. In the meantime, I need to make sure I’m protected against accidentally setting off Amazon’s terminator bots. Somehow.

What a terrible development.

Zombies Versus Comicon 99 Cents Friday Through Thursday

 [Cover of Zombies Versus Comicon: A Novel by T.F. Torrey] It’s that time again! Comicon is here! And to celebrate, Zombies Versus Comicon, my absurd horror story of brain-hungry zombies attacking a bunch of nerds at Phoenix Comicon, is 99 cents Friday through next Thursday, only at Amazon. Learn the truth! Learn how celebrities are treated! Learn how cash is handled! Find out what happens on the mezzanine level!. (Note: Zombies Versus Comicon is still not about the real Phoenix Comicon.)

Buy from Amazon Kindle

Also, if you’ve read and enjoyed Zombies Versus Comicon, please leave a review of it at Amazon, to make it easier for others to find, read, and enjoy. Thanks!

Zombies Versus Comicon 99 Cents Today Through December 29th

 [Cover of Zombies Versus Comicon: A Novel by T.F. Torrey] If you need a break from the holiday stress, or if you got a new Kindle and you need something good to read, or if you just want to take a fun little break, you’ll be happy to know that Zombies Versus Comicon, my rollicking story of brain-hungry zombies attacking a bunch of nerds at Phoenix Comicon, is 99 cents today through December 29th, only at Amazon. Get it before your brain is gone!.

Bibliomania 99 Cents Today and Tomorrow

 [Cover of Bibliomania: A Novelette by T.F. Torrey] Bibliomania, my novelette about a dystopian future where paper books are outlawed and DRM is mandatory, is 99 cents today and tomorrow at Amazon. It’s nearing the end of its term in KDP Select, and it may not be available at this sale price again for a long time, if ever, so make sure you get your copy today.

And as always, tell your friends.

Larry Harrison’s Night Shift Free August 3-7

 [Cover of Larry Harrison's Night Shift: An Empire Hotel Short Story by T.F. Torrey] My short story “Larry Harrison’s Night Shift” is free August 3rd through August 7th at Amazon. The action follows the night auditor at the hotel as he works to overcome difficult guests, unhappy staff, and his own mis-steps to get through another typical night at a job he loves. It’s a quick read, and it’s a lot of fun. Free this week only. Tell your friends!

All Jack Trexlor E-Books On Sale Through August 4th

 [Cover of The Crazy Jack: A Jack Trexlor Novel by T.F. Torrey]  [Cover of The Desert King: A Jack Trexlor Novel by T.F. Torrey]  [Cover of The Dancing Queen: A Jack Trexlor Novel by T.F. Torrey]

I’ve been so busy with my new challenge (and sciatica) that I forgot to mention that the three Jack Trexlor novels are currently on sale for 99 cents. I will be taking them out of the KDP Select program in a few weeks, so this is likely the last time they will be available at this price, so get them now and tell your friends!