Home » Amazon, Self-Publishing » KU Scammers on Amazon – What’s Going On?

KU Scammers on Amazon – What’s Going On?

18 April 2016

From author TPV regular Ann Christy:

This is extremely long and probably only of interest to indie authors, but it does impact readers who shop Amazon, so I’m putting it here for anyone.

Not many readers (who aren’t also authors) know any details about this, though readers sure are noticing the impacts of the scams. I see threads or posts all over the place about the difficulty readers are having with simply browsing on Amazon to find their next good read.

Discoverability is an author’s word when it comes to books…it’s the holy grail of the indie. If you say it in the tones of a voice-over in a serious movie, you can almost hear the slight echo: What is the secret of the grail (discoverability)?

Now, it is also a reader problem. The scammers have made finding books too difficult. Readers are going back to older methods for finding books or even worse, simply writing off any new author out of hand unless the recommendation comes from an actual person on Goodreads or forum or the like.

. . . .

So, let’s say a reader checks out a book from KU, reads to page 100, decides they don’t like the book and returns it. The author gets paid for the 100 pages read. If it’s a page turner that the reader reads through to the end, the authors get paid for all 500 pages of wonderful and quality prose.

The pay per page is a small number and varies by a few thousandths of a penny each month, but it seems to be settling in at around $00.0045 per page. That equates to about $1.575 for a 350 page book.

One thing we were all assured by Amazon…many times…in writing…was that Amazon knew how much a reader was reading in each book and they would pay us for those pages.

Scammers being scammers, they realized Amazon was lying very early on. Amazon couldn’t tell what pages were read. They only knew the last place you were at in the book. And that’s what they were paying authors, the last place that the reader synced in the book.

So, a KU borrow on a device that didn’t sync until after the book was read and the reader flipped back to the front to check out what else you’d written? Yeah, no pages read.

But likewise, a reader who clicked a link on Page 1 offering them the opportunity to win a Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 and a $100 Amazon Gift Card….which then sent them to the back of a 3000 page book? Yep, you guessed it. They got paid for 3000 unread pages. (And no, there was no winner for those contests that  anyone knows off.)

Keep in mind, Amazon clearly knew this was happening, because the page limit for books in KU changed very recently (and abruptly) DOWN to 3000. There were 10,000 page books in KU doing this before that change. Even at $00.0041 per page (which is our lowest payout yet), that’s a big payout.

. . . .

Here’s the Scam:

1) Scammer acquires via advertisement (or sometimes actually writes) a bad book or part of it. Enough so that they can get past a quick look at the first few pages.

2) Scammer then puts 3000 pages of synonmizer garbage after that first portion.

3) Scammer creates 25 versions of that book with different nonsense after the first few pages to get past the automated checks.

4) Scammer creates a new KDP Account using a fresh EIN.

5) Scammer uploads each of the 25 versions under 25 author names, enters them into KDP Select and as soon as the books go live, they immediately use their 5 Days “free promo” allowed by being in select. This puts the book into KU and also makes it free to buy.

6) Scammer then either lets the KU Click-Farm or their Click Cooperative know that they’re books are live and gives the links.

7a) If Click-Farm (which might actually just be one guy sitting around in his underwear with 25 KU accounts), then the farmer clicks on every one of those newly published books, borrows each one, clicks to the *back* of the book. Rinse and repeat for every KU account the farmer has.

7b) If Click Cooperative, then the Scammer loads all his day’s book links into the cooperative’s page, and each person in the cooperative does what the Farmer did, but usually only with 2 or 3 KU accounts. (Each person in the cooperative does it for everyone else, possibly on a schedule).

8) Scammer has now made several thousand dollars.

Note: If Scammer is smart…and they are getting smarter…they will parse out those clicks over a three day period so that there is no possibility of an alert. Since the book is on the Free list, those savvy customers who report scam books aren’t likely to look. They look at the paid lists.

9) Scammer will often then hire a “free click farm” for a few bucks in some foreign country to have their farmers click the Buy For Free button to push up the rank of the book in the free ranks. This will get visibility for the book, enticing real KU browsers to click the scam book. (This works because with steady KU downloads and lots of free downloads, Amazon’s algorithms put the book into the recommendation engine.)

. . . .

With a 25 member Click Coop that requires 2 KU accounts per member, a minimal scammer will make 600 bucks for each book. With an easily managed 25 books, that total is now $15,000. For a few days time and minimal work. Outlay can be as low as $20 for their two KU accounts plus $125 for new covers.

Doing this once a week (since Click Coops likely work on a schedule or max), the scammer has earned $60,000 in that month.

. . . .

In essence, this is an unbeatable system of scam-age that KU fosters simply by it’s nature. And Amazon’s automated systems are so automated that there’s not a darn thing they can do to stop it *under their current system.*

Ah, their current system! What can they do? Scammers gonna’ scam, right? Well, up till now that’s been their attitude. Only us little guys are really harmed since we’re barely visible anyway. But the scammers have now started stepping on much more dainty and well-paid toes and hopefully, things will get action.

. . . .

Amazon has been ignoring all us mid-listers and prawns because, after all, we’re mid-listers and prawns. Our purpose is to make sure we put our books in so they can boast they have fourteen bagillion books in KU and then be happy with what we get. Now that it’s bigger names (the kind that have actual contacts in KDP Customer service), Amazon just might listen.

Link to the rest, including losts more detail, at Ann Christy and thanks to Patrice for the tip.

Here’s a link to Ann Christy’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Amazon, Self-Publishing

136 Comments to “KU Scammers on Amazon – What’s Going On?”

  1. There is a very simple way to make it so that these scammers are no longer taking money from legitimate authors:

    Pay a fixed rate. Abolish the KDP Select pot.

    The scammers are winning because the system was broken from the start. In Kindle Select, Amazon doesn’t tell you how much it’s going to pay you for your books until after they’re already sold. How screwed up is that? And yet authors lined up to be fleeced, just like they did when tradpub was fleecing them.

    With the way the incentives are structured, Amazon has no reason to do anything about this problem until readers and/or legitimate, non-scammy writers leave KU en masse. But by then, it will already be too late.

    • That won’t change anything much. Sure, maybe they’ll only get $3 per ‘read’ rather than $15 per ‘read’, but so long as you can pay $9.99 a month in order to make hundreds of dollars a month just by clicking on your own scam books, scammers will continue to do so.

      The only way to fix KU is to eliminate it.

      But, as we were discussing in the other thread a few days ago, and Ann mentions here, Amazon couldn’t care less so long as authors keep their books in KU.

      • You take it a step further than I did, but I can’t say you’re wrong.

        Truth is, the only system that’s damn near impossible to game (at least on a massive scale) is the one where readers pay for each book that they read, and authors get a fixed cut.

        • Aren’t services like Netflix and Spotify demonstrating that a lot of people prefer not to “pay for each” anything? For the monthly price of one album (which itself is often merely half what CDs used to cost), one can get access to everything available in Apple Music.

          Further, I’d argue the system you mentioned was actually the easiest to game on a massive scale, because that’s what corporate publishing is.

          Edward, I think really it’s that Amazon couldn’t care less so long as readers keep subscribing to KU.

          • Corporate publishing is not an outright scam, though.

            • Neither is KU. You may not like its terms or how it’s executed, but Amazon is transparent about them — including how payments are determined and when.

              • Never said it was, just that scammers are gaming it.

              • @Will

                With KU you’re being paid per page yet you don’t know what the words per page calculation is.

                Even if you knew the words per page calculation you still don’t know the pay rate per page.

                You’re being paid a share of a pot whose sum is constantly changing.

                The number of books enrolled in the program is also constantly changing.

                You’re told how many pages are being read but not how many books those pages were read from.

                How is that “Transparent”? I would say its just the opposite.

                • You’re told all those conditions up front, correct?

                  From what I understood, Amazon does tell you the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) for each book published. So at least there’s that.

                  And can’t you see how many books pages are being read from? You might see cumulative pages read on the main dashboard, but doesn’t the monthly report break out the number of pages read on a per book basis?

                • @Will

                  Yes, Amazon is totally up front about telling you nothing.

                • It’s not transparent. So what?

                  But move another step. Suppose we knew the things you highlight as unknowns. What actionable information does that provide? What can an author do with that information?

                  Amazon is under no obligation to provide a program authors like.

    • A subscription service won’t succeed under that plan.

      Many consumers like the subscription plans, so Amazon offers it. I doubt they will eliminate a popular plan because one set of authors doesn’t like it.

      There is another set of authors that is happy to participate even if it is flawed. Some of these may think Amazon will eventually fix the problem with a systems fix. Others don’t care about the problem.

      Authors have lots of options. Each will choose the ones he thinks are best for his specific situation. And some authors may disagree with what other authors choose for themselves.

    • Maybe make enrollment in Select/KU by approval only. Author clicks the “Enroll in Select” box, that triggers a real person *gasp* to take a look at the book and make sure it isn’t a scam before approving the enrollment.

      Of course, that assumes Amazon having real people looking at books and trained to know what separates the genuine books from the scams.

      (Disclaimer: I’m not in KU; my one experiment with it was underwhelming, and the ideas of reading subscriptions, exclusivity, and payment from a fixed pot all sit completely wrong with me. But this problem in messing up the Amazon ebook store for everyone, not just people in KU.)

  2. “…Amazon couldn’t care less so long as authors keep their books in KU.”

    I’ve never considered Amazon to be one of those “couldn’t care less” companies.

    However, if KU is evil then we should remove our books. And apply all our political charm to convince other writers to remove theirs, as well.

    Or, just move more quickly into the future and build our own platforms to bypass what we distrust. That’s where this publishing disruption is going, anyway. Why wait?


    • Not if your deathless blog prose attracts only 20 readers a day.

      Discoverability is the missing piece.

      I hope Amazon is working on this – it’s their reputation. They wouldn’t be as big as they are without some smarts.

      • ABE, from my marketing days…

        Every ordinary American (and, I assume, Briton) knows some 250 people they could address by first name. Add the people they can’t address by name – that girl in the grocery store, the pizza delivery guy – and you’re up to maybe 500. The first 250 we called “in the sphere of influence”. The friends in the sphere know a lot of other people as well, but now you’ll start to get crossover. Let’s say a hundred new people.

        So, using your 20 readers a day you’ve got over 7000 people to market to. And you get to use the world’s most powerful marketing tool. Social confirmation.

        Looks like you’re destined for fame and fortune before you know it.


        • Problem is ‘people to market to’ and ‘people who might actually buy, read, review, and recommend’ are not the same set of people.

          It’s the same as the advertising on Goodreads which tells you how many people put you on their shelves ‘To Be Read’ when you give away a few copies; you join the other 7000 books on their TBR shelf. They don’t read; they don’t review or recommend; and some author’s experience seems to imply those who win a book then sell it on ebay!

          And then every once in a while you hook one – and they send you a lovely note – and don’t necessarily go further.

          It’s a numbers game, but I’m not sure I want to annoy 7000 people so as to get a few to read!

          Those who do read have surprised me, and keep me writing. Got an unexpected one just this morning. Still smiling.

          I’ll figure it out one of these days.

    • I’m very much looking into direct sales.

      • Me too. Amazon used to be the best place for discoverability, but KU has destroyed that. If you’re not in KU, you’re essentially invisible to readers browsing (or attempting to browse) the Amazon bookstore. So why continue to give Amazon 30% of your earnings? Simply because they handle the credit card transaction, file delivery and customer service? Outfits like Gumroad will take care of all that in exchange for a 5% cut.

        So you can sell via Amazon and keep 70% (or less) of what you earn, or sell via your own website and keep 95% of what you earn. Yes, there are challenges in discoverability and promotion. But indie authors are smart, business-savvy and creative. And we’ve been growing our individual mailing lists for years now. We’ll figure it out.

        Direct sales would represent the ultimate in digital disruption: eliminate *all* the middlemen. No more publishers, no more agents…and no more booksellers. Whittle the transaction down to the only 2 essential parties: author and reader.

        • I’ve just begun a series on Direct2Consumer selling over in the International Indie Author Facebook Group.

          This linked post explores Shopify, which will let indies not just sell direct to consumers through their blogs, websites or through a dedicated store, but also let us sell direct on Facebook with a Facebook Shop, and sell direct on twitter and Pinterest using Buy Buttons and Buy Pins.

          Not all consumers will want to step outside the comfort zone of Amazon or another big retail name, but by promoting out D2C links alongside or Kindle links, etc, we can get the best of both worlds, and earn royalties substantially above 70%, let alone 35%.

          Shopify, for example, will pay 81% on a $1.99 sale price.


      • It can’t come soon enough.

  3. Thank you so much for posting this PV! My site is still crashing so I can’t approve comments or anything right now and I know there’s a backlog, so I’m happy to answer here if anyone wants to ask.

    (My site gets 50-200 visitors a day and is in no way up to hundreds per minute, so it bailed on me.)

    • You’re welcome, Ann. Thanks for writing a thoughtful and detailed post.

      Regarding your site problems, I feel your pain.

  4. This is incredible, but simple enough to pull it off. It may had influenced the legit free book downloading. When a reader associates ‘free’ with crap, they may not touch the free eBooks again.
    Worst yet, the scammers may undermine the entire Kindle program. It is simple and how long it will take before new scammers jump in for free money. If Amazon is smart they should take action, and not temporarily, but continuous effort toe keep Kindle’s name ‘clean.’

  5. I think the idea that KU can’t be fixed, and needs to be abolished is ludicrous. Amazon is a business, and they operate on a cost/benefit the way everyone else does. They have been making changes, probably trying to correct this problem with little changes. Why? Because as soon as they bring the hammer down everyone will scream an wine. You always make little changes first, and then give them some time to succeed. They didn’t get to where they were by ignoring problems. As Ann said so well, now that it’s a big dollar problem we’re likely to see more action on it. Give them some time, and I’m sure they will get it under control. Don’t blame Amazon for a group of scammers and hacker.

    • One of the very few constants in history is that every empire eventually collapses. This scandal may very well be KDP’s fall of Rome moment.

      • nobody is saying that Amazon will last forever, but to say that this scam is going to be the downfall of Amazon (or even KDP) is saying that Amazon is too stupid to react to the scammers.

        People have said that before and been wrong so far, so I don’t see why they would be correct now.

        The KU 1.0 payout scheme was deemed so broken that Amazon would have to shut it down because of 10 page nonsense. that didn’t mean that they had to shutdown KU.

        • I don’t think it will be the end of KDP or even KU. What I do think is that unless a lot of people know about it, they’ll continue to do nothing or do minor fixes that don’t actually fix it.

        • Hence the analogy with the Roman Empire. In some ways, Rome endured well into the middle ages and even the modern era. As with most collapses (including our own), it was long, slow, and painful, and some people didn’t even realize that it was happening until long after it had already happened.

          • They’ve already said they’re going to implement a more robust page recording. Once they know exactly how many pages have been read, this will render the scam mute. Unless the click farms are going to turn each of the 3000 pages.

            • Yeah, they can probably push a software update to take care of this.

              I assumed that’s what the “emergency update” that came through in late March was about. Maybe it was and they just haven’t told us. 🙂

              • That’s what I also thought. When it was pushed through the hard way (and I did see a few people caught in it) I knew there had to be a compelling reason for that update.

                I’m fairly sure they’ll implement a better page count very soon.

    • “I think the idea that KU can’t be fixed, and needs to be abolished is ludicrous.”

      I see three main options for KU right now:

      1. Shut it down. Amazon won’t do that while it encourages readers to buy more toilet paper when they come to borrow a book.

      2. Amazon can ruthlessly police it to keep the scammers out. LOL. Yeah, right.

      3. Amazon can change KU every few months to force the scammers to find new scams.

      Since #3 is the only viable option, I’m expecting KU 3.0 pretty soon.

  6. Well, that’s depressing. And yet another reason for me to stay out of KU.

  7. > So, a KU borrow on a device that didn’t sync until after the book was read and the reader flipped back to the front to check out what else you’d written? Yeah, no pages read.

    I don’t believe this one. Amazon has “furthest page read” as well as “current place in the book”

    • It’s been tested. Furthest page read across all devices is guided by sync’ing the device. So, if you read in airplane mode or only turn on the wifi when you sync (strangely, a lot of folks do that and it does conserve battery power), then that information isn’t shared until you sync.

      It’s been tested, over and over. It’s true. It’s not a huge deal because most people don’t click back to the front before they sync. It would be minimal impact. That said, it’s a huge flaw in the system that speaks to how flawed the page reads system is.

      • I believe the info is only shared when you sync. I don’t believe that ‘furthest page read’ is lost if you go back in a book.

        I don’t do a lot of syncing between different kindle instances, but I don’t think it’s worked that way.

        If it does, then I would expect Amazon to fix it in a software release before too long.

        • Once you sync it’s not lost, but it can be overwritten if you click “no” when it asks if you want to go to the furthest page read.

          Before syncing, it will simply accept your going back to a spot again.

          • What happens to readers who don’t use wifi at all? I transfer all my books via computer, so would that mean my reading contribution is never ‘read’?

            • Yes. If you borrow books through KU and never sync, the author never gets paid.

              • Correct.

              • Is there citation or evidence of this?

                Also, how can you borrow if you never sync? Don’t you have to connect to download the books in the first place, and when you do wouldn’t it send info recorded?

                • If you downloaded onto a Kindle, then copied from the Kindle to your computer and read it on the computer, the Kindle would have no record of reading it (no end location recorded). I’ve always wondered if the Kindle keeps track of being connected to a computer and files being copied, but that would be another issue…

  8. Well, Amazon is creative. I hope they figure out a way to get rid of the scammers. Maybe have something that checks TOC links and not allow any other links but TOC links that link to the chapters. Is that possible? I imagine it’s not impossible that when a book is being uploaded, they check that only the TOC-links linking properly are allowed. Nothing else linky.

    • That would be a new problem, however. A lot of authors include links to the next book in the series, to their mailing list and website. Disallowing those links would open a new can of howling worms.

  9. Barbara Morgenroth

    The search engine is essentially broken/useless now. Fortunately so few people seem to know it exists or how to use it, they’re not upset about it.

    My new release sold far and away enough to easily be ranked into the 4000s this week and is languishing in the 8000s. Ranking and discoverability no longer exist in any meaningful way.

    • Yes, this.^ The discoverability of each book I release has been worse than the one previous. I can see this as a reader– the categories are horrible now.

      It started with contemporary fantasy (which AMZ rolled into paranormal fantasy), and has since expanded into pretty much every category of romance and lord knows what else– I’ve only noticed the categories I read (and write) in. Nothing but Six-Pack-Ab Land, not to mention straight-up erotica, which is even *labelled* as such. Maybe I’m old-fashioned or naive, but I don’t expect to find “hot” romance in Romantic Comedy. Or page after page of it in Paranormal Fantasy. If one doesn’t want to read steamy vampire/ shifter/ billionaire sexcapades, good luck finding anything else.

      I hope Amazon gets serious about this. They might be willing to ignore how it affects writers, but between the scam books and the abuse of the category system, it’s really become a reader issue. When I can’t find what I like to read, that means I’m not buying books.

      The sad thing is, the categorization, at least, is an easy issue to fix: in romance, just let people filter by heat level. Or a “not” filter– in other words, let me filter results by, say, “no vampires.”

      • This.

      • Funny. I was trying out a search today, on ‘Scifi aliens’ and half of what showed up had covers from Six-Pack-Ab Land (which I hadn’t realized existed). I had no search term or context for romances, so I don’t know why the results were flooded with that detritus.

        • You get the Six-Pack-Ab books because of category and keyword abuse. These people are putting their “books” into every category they can, regardless of whether or not it’s appropriate. Yours is a perfect example of why the categories and search function are broken.

        • I did notice that if I follow the kindle books subject tree down to SF, under “Genre” one of the search options is “Non-Romantic”. Kind of nice to have that! (Now if they would have a “non-military” as well….)

      • Filtering is easy. But how do the variables targeted by the filter get set?

        • Keywords.

          • And who sets them? What ensures their accuracy?

            • WE set them every time we publish a book. They appear in our titles and subtitles. They appear in our categories and keyword lists.

              Of course, you’re right that keywords can be (and are being) abused. This goes hand-in-hand with the KENP scamming. But I think it would make abuse more difficult.

              The scammers seem to feel that sex sells (and it likely does), so they release dozens of Six-Pack-Ab books. OK, if you’re a hot romance reader, this may or may not be a problem– depends on what you find when you open the book. But for people like, say, me or Robert above, you set your filter to “no hot romance.” Boom. No more Six-Pack-Ab books. You’re back to seeing what what you SHOULD find in that category.

              Now that’s not to say that the scammers won’t find a new way to infiltrate their books into inappropriate categories (absent Amazon putting the eyeballs of real humans on them). But the ability to do a simple Boolean search would, I believe, fix the problem that’s been plaguing the categories for at least the last couple of years.

              I’d love to see William Ockham chime in on this subject. My search experience is limited to my time as a librarian. He’d have much deeper insights.

              • What you are asking for is reasonable, and not that hard to program. But it would mean Amazon would have to offer lots of categories, and insist each book select yes or no.

                If a consumer didn’t want Vampires, then each book would have to have the vanpire tag set to on or off. That would be necessary so people didn’t get vampires when they didn’t want them.

                The same would have to be done for all search categories people might want to use. Given all the consumers on Amazon, that list could be quite long to satisfy the demand.

                So, while the programming isn’t difficult, it is a major task to get enough on/off tags in every book to keep 80% of the searchers happy. And authors? They could set whatever categories they wanted.

  10. The scam of having a circle of people all ‘read’ each other’s books to generate more income for each of them than they spend in KU subscriptions is a tough one to beat, but if it stays small enough, Amazon may not try to stop it.

    Those books aren’t the real problem (at least, not until the dollar figure involved gets too high)

    The real problem are the books that trick legitimate readers, and those are less a problem due to the money that Amazon pays, and more a problem due to the impact it has of the reputation of Amazon as being a good place to find new books.

    That type of scam is what Amazon will really bring down the hammer on.

    The ‘ToC must be at the beginning’ enforcement was due to the inflated page counts generating too much money for books that were otherwise not read.

    If links to the end of the book end up being enough of a problem, I expect that Amazon will either eliminate such back-matter and require all links to be to material at the beginning of the book, or change the software to not count reading of back matter (which is a tricky thing to define, so I’m not surprised that they are reluctant to define it)

    None of this says that KU is fundamentally flawed, and having a fixed payout for things rather than a pool would not prevent the scams. In the short term it could prevent the scams from hurting the income of other writers, but at the cost of threatening the viability of the entire platform (if you think it’s unfair to say that KU won’t tell you how much they will pay ahead of time, why do you think it’s fair for Amazon to have to have a blank check?)

    • Too small?

      Here is the payout for one ring of just 10 Click Coop members with just one book each and 2 KU accounts each:

      3000 pages @ .0045 = 13.50

      10 books clicked by 20 accounts = 2700

      Now consider that by using text search, I generally find 10 identical books at least. That means:

      10 Coop members with 10 books each and 2 KU accounts…that makes it 100 times more money.

      And there are many such groups of varying size and scale. All told, as shown by Phoenix’s example, there were 22 squating in the top 22 spots of a single category all at once. The one I used was the first hit on a generic search and there were pages of them.

      It’s a big problem. At this point, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they were taking 25% or more of the pot under their various EINs.

      As for the scams getting busted by getting All Star bonuses…yes, and that’s why they’ve shifted to this one.

      By putting each book up only for a few days and putting only one book per author name (and having a fresh EIN for every round), they avoid that radar.

      And get their cash.

      • Nice numbers, but how much of it is guessing and pure speculation?

        And short of Amazon putting a warm body checking each and every book before it’s allowed, what would you expect Amazon to do? (Never mind checking all the ones already up.)

        You wouldn’t mind if it took a week or more for your book to go up as you wait for one of Amazon’s paid ‘readers’ to get to it — would you?

        And even if they could get the purely ‘trash’ books removed, it wouldn’t stop a scammer from posting ‘war and peace’ and having their friends/bots each click through it.

        KU2 cleaned up some of the scamming tricks from KU, KU3 most likely will kill off more of their tricks — and boy will the writers howl when they see it hit their tricks too — just like they did with KU2 …

        YMMV as they say.

        • Erotica authors and steamy romance authors will tell you that there’s a warm body checking certain books.

          They don’t need to check all. But certainly a TRAINED team could look at new accounts.

          Any account that’s uploading more than a book a day should be examined.

          Large tomes should have a person double checking.

          The recent list of books were easy to tell. The pitches didn’t even make any sense. Gibberish.

          It’s really NOT that hard to spot a scammy book.

          And once a scammy book is spotted, Amazon should check that person’s entire catalog.

          Then bring down the ban hammer.

  11. Well, after all the talk of “go wide because Amazon MIGHT someday turn nasty” (which I have ignored while cashing awesome pageread paychecks), this finally has me thinking seriously about taking my books out of KDP Select.

    If this sort of thing isn’t quickly cleaned up, then it’s a sign that Amazon isn’t invested enough in the program to make it successful long-term, and an admission that KDP Select is merely a ploy to keep the other players out of the game. I’m not interested in being a part of that. I give them one month to squash this stuff, and then if I’m still hearing about it, I’m out.

  12. This is such a big problem and very disheartening for those of us that went with KU for visibility. Back in February, I wrote to Amazon and on my blog, and I did my part to be vocal about it. Then I had Amazon pull all my books from KU. I basically told Amazon that if they are not paying me by pages-read, which was a part of the contract, then they were not abiding by the contract, and I wanted out. It worked. If anyone else wants to follow in my footsteps, be sure to go straight to the top!

  13. Amazon is currently advertising for staff (a Program Manager) to solve this problem. It also makes sense for Amazon to let the scammers run their scam for a period of time so as to gather the back-end metrics of their behavior, because that’s how Amazon is going to catch them — not solely by screening content.

    I’m surprised that Amazon was caught unprepared. Human operated click farms and software bots have been a problem for video games, search engines, and the online casino business for thirty years. Fake sales to game best seller lists for even longer — since the release of that classic bestseller, “Dianetics”.

  14. I’m surprised no one’s mentioned this yet – Amazon could fix the problem by changing the synchronisation algorithm to report which pages the reader read, not just the highest-numbered one. I suppose it would be a privacy nightmare waiting to blow up in their faces.

    The scammers could use a program to generate fake “pages read” data, but if that was easy, they’d be doing it already instead of paying someone a few dollars a day to do it by hand. Then again, pushing up the scammers’ labour costs gives them an incentive to figure out how to automate the “reading” part of the scam, which might open a bigger can of worms than Amazon are already dealing with.

    • We don’t know if they are hiring people or using programs. It’s been assumed that they are using click farms, and there are services who advertise a guaranteed number of downloads, but we don’t know how they are doing it.

    • We’re ‘assuming’ how Amazon does its checks. If it’s the ‘last page read’ then nothing’s stopping you from checking out a book, putting your reader in airplane mode, skipping to the end and linking back up. If it checks which pages are viewed then you just hold down the page down key for a bit.

      There’s more back there than we know about, the question is how much and how much Amazon is really letting the scammers get away with. After all, Amazon has until they mail a check to notice and block/kill an account for scamming — why wouldn’t they let the scammers think they’re getting away with it right up until that big payday doesn’t come?

  15. I will share what I posted over on Ann’ original post:

    It seems to me Amazon could at least limit this activity by making Kindle Unlimited less unlimited. If there was a reasonable limit on how many ebooks you could borrow in a day or week, then the whole system would break down, or at least be a lot harder to pull off. If each KU account could only download say 10 books a day maximum, then it costs more to run a click farm as you would need many more KU accounts.

    Also even without setting a specific limit on the number of borrows per day, Amazon could crack down by simply identifying KU accounts where someone downloads and returns large numbers of books that are obviously not actually being read. If someone is downloading 25 books in a day and then returning them and downloading 25 other books the next day, they are obviously not reading them. So Amazon could just shut down these KU subscriber accounts as they appeared and short circuit the whole scam from that end. Amazon recently has shut down some Amazon accounts where someone returned too many general merchandise purchases, so this is something they could easily do, and also they could do it with a robot instead of a human.

    It also seems they could catch people who are downloading lots of free ebooks everyday and close their accounts also to shut down the click farms for free downloads in the same way.

    • from the numbers posted above, 10 scams a day would still result in serious money.

      And I’m not sure that limiting the reader to 10 books a day is fair either. What if I look at them and then find I don’t like them, do they count?

      What if I find I love them, read 4-5 books in a series and want to download the next 10 to read the next day on the airplane? (and yes, people really do read that fast)

      I don’t think you can purely rate limit your way to success.

      on the other hand, if it’s a small pool of people working together, that should be detectable and be something that they can flag and investigate.

      • Good points. It could be a little more complex, where Amazon only kicks someone off if they are downloading more than 10 books day after day after day. That would seem to be very suspicious behavior if it continued for more than a day or two.

      • There’s a very simple fix to this problem, though it would require more data be saved by Amazon. Award all Kindle Unlimited payments directly from the reader to the authors they read each month. If a reader reads ten thousand KENP, then each page read by them is worth approximately $0.001, paid proportionally to the authors of the books they read that month. If they read one page, then that page is worth $10.00. Further, all of the non-readers’ KU payments would go to Amazon or be thrown into a pot to increase the total value of each reader, split evenly among the readers rather than pages read. Likewise, a split can be taken out of each reader’s kitty to pay Amazon if their cut ends up being too low. This adjustment would obviously need to be altered on a monthly basis.

        The result of such a system would be that writers would be getting paid based upon how much actual revenue they are bringing into the system rather than how quickly their book can be read. It would also make it very difficult to steal KU money through a click scam, since payouts due to a customer’s activity would be proportional to what they’re paying each month.

  16. Does anyone know if the scammers have actually been paid? What percentage of the pot?

    • I’ve been wondering about that myself. If these scams actually work that well and are at all widespread, there should be a major effect on everyone’s payouts. The total number of pages read will balloon, and the payment per page should drop dramatically. The payment last month was around $0.0047 per page. That’s down by about 20% from the KU 2.0 launch, but up from $0.0041 in January 2016. If the scams were that big a problem, I’d expect to see a much bigger drop.

    • I doubt very much that Amazon is going to give up EINs for us to examine, but the scams have been going on for months. Lately, they’ve been getting caught so this new one sprung up that relies on a quick up and pulldown, before Amazon can.

      And yes, if they actually got on the list of those who were awarded All Star Bonuses…and then the lists got retracted because of hue and cry…then someone has been getting paid.

      And there are a lot of them. Consider…our payout has gone down, but the amount that Amazon has been pumping in to even get us what we are getting is high.

      So yes, a lot is going to them. That’s obvious.

    • If they weren’t getting paid, they wouldn’t be doing it. Read David Gaughran’s original post about the KU scammers, where he talks about them getting millions of page reads and All Star bonuses:

      • I would agree some scammer is probably getting paid. But how much is being paid to scammers? Is Amazon intercepting any payments in the 60 day delay? Do we know?

        Has Amazon told anyone what they are doing? Have they told anyone they intend to do nothing? Who have they told?

        Unless we have an idea of the magnitude of a problem, it’s difficult to deal with solutions. Magnitude is the first question an Amazon manager would ask if informed of the problem. Is 50% of the KU pot going to scammers, or is 1% all they are getting?

        In terms of the KU pot, is it a material problem today, or a potential problem for tomorrow?

      • I would agree some scammer is probably getting paid. But how much is being paid to scammers? Is Amazon intercepting any payments in the 60 day delay? Do we know?

        Has Amazon told anyone what they are doing? Have they told anyone they intend to do nothing? Who have they told?

        Unless we have an idea of the magnitude of a problem, it’s difficult to deal with solutions. Magnitude is the first question an Amazon manager would ask if informed of the problem. Is 50% of the KU pot going to scammers, or is 1% all they are getting?

        In terms of the KU pot, is it a material problem today, or a potential problem for tomorrow?

        David’s post tells us about the scamming model, but not about the magnitude or extent of its operation.

        But I disagreee with his statement that KU books are competing for a share of a fixed pot. A pot that is determined at the end of the period, after all revenue and borrows have been recorded, is not a fixed pot. It’s whatever Amazon wants it to be. Announce the pot at the beginning of the month, and it’s a fixed pot.

        So, I don’t know the magnitude of the problem. I’d be interested in any figures.

        • But I disagreee with his statement that KU books are competing for a share of a fixed pot. A pot that is determined at the end of the period, after all revenue and borrows have been recorded, is not a fixed pot. It’s whatever Amazon wants it to be.

          Agreed. Amazon seems to decide the amount so that each page read generates a payout in the range of $0.004 to $0.005. I figure they already know that’s the target and announce the “pot” so as to hit that target.

          Which means that, aside from the all-star bonuses, the scammed money is coming out of Amazon’s pocket, not authors’ pockets.

          The poor experience for browsing readers and the hiding of real books by scammer “books” seem like the most serious parts of the problem. Although I would think that Amazon would prefer to plug the money drain.

          • I know what the KU pot will for for April. I’ll reveal it May 16.

          • But if this is the case the scam is not taking money directly from Authors pockets but from Amazons. If Amazon is indeed setting the rate per page to be between .004 and .005 then the pool is being inflated to pay the scammers. Something I do expect Amazon will fix.

            Of course, real damage is being done to discoverability. Reviewing books that win bonuses and books in, say, the Top 200 before payment is made would go a long way towards solving that part of the problem.

  17. If this is the problem it appears to be, vigilantism could be a solution. KU authors could band together, vet the books for scam characteristics, identify the bad ones, and inform Amazon. I have no idea how viable this is. My guess is that Amazon would cooperate because they want the KU experience for their customers to be good. But they won’t do it themselves because their entire strategy is to lower prices by eliminating expensive meatware. Maybe authors would not do it for the same reason. Just idle speculation.

  18. Big thanks to Ann for putting together such a great post! Now everyone go and buy a bunch of her books and tweet/share how awesome they are. They are awesome books, BTW.

  19. Apple and Kobo hire people to review books before they allow publication on their ebookstore.

    Amazon should too.

    Also, create an exempt list for known authors to cut down on the work load. For example, if Hugh Howey publish a book, Amazon ebook reviewers don’t need to check that since he’s on the exempt list.

  20. http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,234514.0.html

    Should Amazon hire 10 people to review ebooks for KU enrollment?

    Apple and Kobo have employees who review the ebook before publication on their platform.

    It’s time that Amazon does the same thing.

    On average, about 1000 ebooks are added to KU every day. 10 people will mean each person will be responsible for 100 ebooks each day.
    That’s about 5 minutes to review each book.

    If 10 people are not enough, Amazon can hire more people.

    To cut down on the workload, Amazon should also create an exempt list for known authors who have a good and long history of ebook sales (scammers focus on KU reads not sales). When these authors who have good ebook sales history submit a book, it get accepted automatically because they are on the exempt list.

    Also, for ebooks that were accepted into KU but now the author made changes, it will need to be review again in order to prevent scammers from changing an KU accepted ebooks with no “click bait links” into ones that now have “click bait links.” Authors who are on the “exempt list” due to their good ebook sales history are exempted from this when they make changes to their ebooks.

    10 people at $40,000 a year = $400,000 a year.
    $400,000 is nothing when KU is paying out $400,000,000 a year.

    1/1000 ratio

    • $400,000 is nothing when KU is paying out $400,000,000 a year.

      That kind of cost control leads to bankruptcy. How many $400,000 programs should be added? Each one is just $400,000.

  21. Years ago, I was driving on a toll road and there were signs as you got on that you’d be automatically fined if you exceeded the speed limit. And the way they’d know that was they knew the exact time you got on the toll road, knew the exact time you exited the toll road, knew the exact distance between those two points, and voila! – simple math. If you traveled 10 miles in 3.23 minutes, you’re going too fast for a 60 mph road.

    It seems to me that Amazon could implement something similar. If you’re synced, they know when you open the book and they know when you close it. They may not know anyone’s personal reading speed, but it’s got to be obvious that no one can read 278 pages in a minute and a half. And if you’re not synced, surely that open/close time information could be saved and transmitted when you *are* synced, which the scammers have to do at some point if they want to be paid.

    Or am I missing something? I’m not a programmer, so that wouldn’t surprise me.

    • Your analogy reminds me of an Armenian roommate I had once who went from Orem to the Salt Lake airport in fifteen minutes, a distance of 43 miles. On the way back, he slowed down to 90 mph and got a $500 ticket.

  22. Ann, you did a great job explaining all this, step by step. Thanks for that. It was pretty foggy about exactly HOW people set up the scam, before I read what you wrote.

    Im odd man out, I have never liked the idea of authors being paid by the page, too few make real money on it. I know AMZ biz model I believe, which is a cascading one, meaning draw consumer in at item y and try to sell them unit z and q which may be unrelated. Book, Shirt, washclothes, food item.

    But the author is not in a diversified biz usually. They have books, maybe audios, but the content is only one class; narrative , story or whatever one might call it.

    I frankly have read more bs about how amz works by people who have NO idea how immense and deep are its many aspects. Some claim ‘big business ‘ does x or y, and they havent a set of quotes and facts to prove their thesis.

    To me, that leaves the authors to fend for themselves, to use best instincts, to follow or not the latest advice of ‘best sellers’ who claim they know the way [very few do in terms of measured outcome for other authors] who have led others to do what does or does not serve the other authors… and to look at amazon or any business with a squint rather than daisy eye, by the bite swallowed at a restaurant, based on the consumer, to invest in whatever each author thinks best.

    To me, the most damaging view for any up and coming is that ANY corp can do no wrong, that what any corp does ‘right’ ought outweigh how it may misuse/ lie to/ distort to its ‘suppliers,’ that giving opportunity with the left hand, and taking away/ strangling income to suppliers with the right hand at the same time, is ‘just business.’

    There are big business models that understand fair trade/ fair wage/ incentive.

    I personally dont see incentive to enter KU ever. KDP, possibly in controlled doses every blue moon, maybe, depending. Capitalism is built on incentive. Doling out in percentages and quotas is a different system entirely. When being put before the audience is touted as the incentive, rather than maximizing income AND discoverability, the supplier is going to lose.

    Those who, as Ann noted, just putting it in AG terms, who wad up cardboard to put in the bottoms of the berry baskets to make them appear full so that vendors are paying ‘full agreed on pool price’ for each basket, just as in many e.eu countries before the fall, were able to scam the system. Why? Just to make money? No. That too, but also because they were being treated and paid unfairly to begin with.

    I’ve watched with interest the squeeze of most authors’ incomes on amz platforms over the years, unless certain authors might have a healthy dose of trad publishing in their resume, or are one of the lucky 100.

    The decreasing audio percentage, the absurdist ‘pay by the bite’ out of a common pot folly, the creating of sub sub sub sub categories so a person seeking can find NOTHING in a logical place in books, the larding of the bestseller lists with coloring books in many categories instead of coloring bks being their own cat, the weirdly highly priced new tablet, the oddities of constantly flogging consumers with amz credit card offers which offer only a one time reduction in basket total, the often scratched/bent covers of the new books ordered… the sucking out of certain reviews for reasons no one can defiitively understand other than ‘because x or y might maybe could have happened’ … the removal of the x of y like this button, …I could list two dozen more that make Alibaba a real contender who is gaining ground daily with eyes on the US, Eu, Canada and the Americas.

    Im hopeless on this. I dont care anymore to hear but but but amz is a biz, and/or it is wonderful, and/or it is cutting edge. Or other. Im no longer moved. I see it cutting its own suppliers’ veins.

    Is anyone watching overall at amz? I would bet on no, no one has the direct daily overview.

    Disclosure, I’m a large amz investor from years ago. In terms of stock value, it’s rich. In terms of the ways it treats its suppliers as of right now, it treats them poorly.

    • To me, the most damaging view for any up and coming is that ANY corp can do no wrong, that what any corp does ‘right’ ought outweigh how it may misuse/ lie to/ distort to its ‘suppliers,’

      How did Volkswagon do with their recent emissions scam?

    • Yep.

      In the old days, it was tradpub that fleeced writers, and we lined up for the opportunity to be fleeced. A whole culture evolved around the process, with very rigid norms (this is how you query an agent, this is how you approach a publisher). Those who broke from those norms were treated as outcasts.

      The same thing is happening right now, except that it’s coming together around Amazon. For many so-called “indies,” Amazon can do no wrong, even when it’s obviously fleecing us. A new set of norms are beginning to evolve, and those who challenge these norms are cast out of certain writing groups and communities.

      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      • How exactly is Amazon fleecing you? The trad pubs fleeced you because they were the only market. The only one. Now you have tons of other markets besides tradpub and Amazon. They can’t fleece you because you don’t have to work with them. If getting 70% of your royalties doesn’t work for you, go to apple, or smashwords. But don’t blame Amazon because criminals are gaming the system. Criminals are criminals, that is what they do. Your argument makes ZERO sense.

        • sure Jeff. Amazon’s lack of quickness to guard their own house, is of concern to many of the shareholders also. The shareholders are far far more critical than ‘the suppliers’ will ever be lol. The latter hope to earn money from amz. The former are different: they have invested money in the plant [take a look at what a share is today, just one, it’s substantial] and hope to see increased value. Stockholders tremor when there is trouble/disturbance to supply or demand, to money or management… whatever variances that impede and are not taken care of in timely manner.

          The issues re AMZ are not only far larger than just this, the lack of factual material coming from AMZ is near zero for the average person. I read my AMZ precis sent out for stockholders meetings. I learn alot at the stockholders meetings, mainly that many investors are far more saavy than the average duck, and not based on mba’s or whatever, but cold experience and often crazy wise insight.

          Others ought read shareholders docs, it’s very enlightening. And gives a completely different picture of many aspects of AMZ that frankly, I’ve rarely seen discussed across the internet.

      • Those who challenge the norms are free to do so. Nothing stops them.

        But the challengers are not free from challenge. They aren’t special.

  23. Thanks Joe V. Youre right imo, esp about the indecent culture of trad pub with its lifelong contract tourniquettes [sp] and pitiful payout, and only twice a year, etc etc. And that people were trained to be grateful for such absurd contract, and diminishing support after a short amount of time passed post pub. I know how deeply the carrots were waved about, and cant blame any hopeful soul from jumping at them– until they took them away completely leaving many authors ‘carrotless’ for life.

    I was talking to my grands who are business majors and they said in macro and micro econ that when a co grows so big, it runs more like a government with the people at the top barely knowing what’s going on elsewhere, having to appoint mini-heads to run the dozens of departments and subjectively ‘report back’, and at some point left and right hands not knowing clearly what the other is doing, and the outcomes of the hundreds of actions– and reactions. In other words ‘unexpected consequences’ increase the larger the company becomes. I think we can see that clearly in local let alone fed govt. Probably even in a large family as well. I suspect even the most observant /vigilant parents of 5-10 children still only really know about 80% of what is REALLY going on with each family member.

    I dont begrudge those who adore amz, or like it, or use it exclusively. I truly wish all authors well, no matter their path. Life is hard enough as it is. Nor do I think anyone should be outcast if they disagree agreeably. There’s an old saying about horses. Choose not the first barn staller nor the fastest out of the corral, but the one fastest to catch on to all things, environs, human and creatural. That horse will carry you all the way. It’s not called ‘horse sense’ for nothing. Heh.

  24. There is so much negativity and useless whinging in this thread. If you don’t like KU get out of it. It’s the only model for a subscription service that has proved to be half-way viable. It is also a work in progress. Under its previous incarnation it encouraged short works, and not just scammers but legitimate authors quite rightly took advantage of this, despite its unfairness. When Amazon changed it to page per read the whinging from those affected was deafening, despite the fact that the old model was clearly operating unfairly to both authors and readers.

    Yes, Amazon is taking longer then many would like to fix this scam. It is also not wonderful that they they apparently did not act when the Easter scam books were pointed out to them. They do need systems to do this. Also, Amazon is not very forthcoming with information in many areas, though they are not alone in this.

    As we do not know how Amazon sets the Pool it is not possible to say with certainty or even a high degree of likelihood that Authors payments from the pool are affected directly. A post above indicated that Amazon is likely to be setting the pool so the payout is between .004 and .005, in which case the pool is being inflated to pay the scammers. A cost Amazon is itself bearing. The discoverability effects are of course also an issue, but one more easily addressed.

    Try to remember that Amazon is not the perpetrator of these scams but a victim. They are a large company though a unique one. We are so accustomed to them acting quickly and decisively in some areas that we expect it everywhere. I expect that Amazon is working on the problem and we will see counter-measures soon, though not as quickly as we would like. This particular scam seems to have been relatively low priority. However, the threat has become clear over Easter. 60 days not having passed, if I was one of the Easter scammers I would not be spending the money just yet.

    Finally, when a fix does come out, I predict a further wave of whinging if anyone is negatively affected. Actually, even if no one is negatively affected, such is the level of hate for Amazon by some people there will be whinging anyway. I also expect new scams will arise from time to time whatever the system

    • What you call whinging others call whistleblowing. Ann is bringing public attention to a problem that impacts *all* indie authors selling at Amazon, not just those in KU. So brushing it off by saying “get out of KU” doesn’t solve the problem.

      Authors who criticize KU are no more motivated by “hate” than authors who criticize traditional publishing. When we see business practices that harm authors, we point them out. Sharing information in a public forum like TPV empowers all authors to make informed business decisions.

      • Ann did exactly the right thing. The problem needs attention. What I am talking about is the over the top whinging on this thread.

    • This is exactly the kind of crap that USAF and I were talking about.

    • THere’s a big difference between ‘[sic] whinging’ and whistleblowing Darryl. If there weren’t your long comment could be said to sound like ‘counterwhining’ about what you perceive as ‘whiners.’ lol. We can discuss and we are. I’d just say we are on different lenses about this matter. Ann’s article is important for it breaks the glossy eyed acceptance some have touted re business practices that are not great/good for the authors, esp those just starting. It points up the lack of communication between distrib and suppliers. It points up a strangely sluggish will to clear the detritus from the site. And more.

  25. If you want a sense of how widespread this is, take a few minutes and scroll through the KU new release (30 days) list on Amazon for Fantasy, as an example. Maybe 10% of the books on the first 20 pages are legit.

  26. For those asking upthread about whether Amazon has paid any of the scammers: There have been a few of the black hatters who have claimed amounts of over $50K per month and provided screenshots of their Payments reports. Of course, those screenshots can be easily faked.

    I DID see an author/publisher of NF titles (study guides misrepresenting the books in such a way to make the customer believe they were buying the real books and not “guides”) who was on the January All-Stars list but who was removed from the list before it was updated. The blurbs for those guides have also *mostly* been updated to include warnings to the consumer that the titles are not the books.

    I also see that another author/publisher of box sets that were skirting the scammy side has had most of her multi-author boxes excluded from the list of books associated with the All-Star titles under her name.

    The current All-Star list looks pretty clean. There are some titles in it that have keyword-stuffed titles, but big, scammy stuff does not appear to be present.

    That’s not to say the scammers are all being caught and not paid. But they don’t appear to wholesale be getting bonuses these days.

    • Phoenix,

      If a book is an All-Star for Month-1, when does it appear in the All-Star List, and when does it get paid the bonus?

      • All-Stars are announced within a couple of days of when the payout is announced. The money is paid the next cycle. So, a book that gets enough borrows+sales in January would be displayed in the All-Star list Feb 16 or so and the money would be paid April 1.

        That gives Amazon 60-90 days to uncover scammy behavior from the time it originates (in the example above, from Jan 1 – April 1), and up to 45 days to deny bonuses to any authors/publishers it determines are not entitled to the bonuses after the books have been publicly listed.

  27. I’d be curious to see Data Guy from Author Earnings chime in on this. I wonder if their system can actually determine how many scam books are out there, and if so what percentage of payout they may have received. Perhaps they can look at ASINs appearing/disappearing to get some kind of gauge.

    • Contact him. I bet he can.

      • Just sent an email to Data Guy via the Author Earnings website, so we’ll see if they can bring in any more details to this, or truly give a sense of how big of a scope this issue is.

  28. Thank you for your article. I noticed this scam some time ago because one of their ‘tricks’ is to exploit keywords so you see titles like – “REGENCY ROMANCE: Victorian Romance: Trusting A Scandalous Duke (Historical Duke Military Secret Baby Romance) (Scandalous Nobility Medieval Aristocracy Short Stories)” which of course pushes them up the discoverability and a title like this appears on the first page of any search for Regency Romance.
    More concerning is I suspect some scammers of lifting enough material from real authors and real books to make the sample look convincing. There is no recourse because the ‘authors’ are just bots.

    • Oh my word…what a treasure that one is. I flipped through the Look Inside and almost snorted coffee out of my nose.

      That one looks like a switcher, meaning published once as a stand alone short (maybe during KU 1.0?) where it collected reviews as such. Then redone using the same ASIN and turned into a mega-bundle of…whatever that was.

      If you take a gander at the 38 “bonus stories” inside to create that giant book full of page reads, you’ll see that they are also bundled in other volumes, each taking the headline (and luring in a reader with a specific want). It massively opens the playing field and catches more readers in the net.

  29. It’s not just blatant garbage scammers.

    Minecraft Comics: Flash and Bones and the Magic Golden Apple: The Ultimate Minecraft Comics Adventure Series (Real Comics in Minecraft – Flash and Bones Book 11)


    This series has added tons of filler with clicks all over to get huge page numbers read. A series of legit short comics that suddenly bloated.

  30. Very interesting article. Makes me mad, especially when I look at my royalty reports, which are not in 4 figures yet.
    Carolyn Rae Williamson, writing as Carolyn Rae, author of Royal Wedding Cake

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