You Are What You Read

You Are What You Read

True Confession: I am a very disloyal reader. I tend to go through spurts, binging on different types of books: biographies, inspiration, women’s fiction, Amish romances, historical romances, Jane Austen Fan Fiction, classics. I am an author’s worst nightmare because I stray from my favorites. After two or three books, I get tired of the genre and float to another genre.

Sorry, Jodi Picoult.

As an author and an avid reader, I love the Kindle Unlimited program. Truly, Amazon is my best friend. Without Amazon, I might not have my two publishers right now.

[Full disclosure: One of my publishers is an Amazon imprint]

I love shopping on Amazon. I love my Amazon Prime. And I love Kindle Unlimited…one of the best programs for readers that is out there…besides the library, I guess. Finally, I love that not only do I get to try out a book, I don’t have to “KEEP” the book, even if I like it. I have three libraries in my house. THREE! I don’t have room for many more books and, as a book hoarder, it’s just better for me and my house if I read them on my Kindle.

There is, however, a dark side. As usual, yucky people have found a way to ruin a good thing. I truly believe that the love of money is a thing of the devil. And these yucky people are, in my opinion, evil.

These people pretend to be authors, self-publish dozens of books in the same month (sometimes even the same day!), and incorporate gimmicks in the book to target unknowing people with their .99 cent or free book. As soon as you open the book, they get money. YOUR money as well as money from legitimate authors.

Most of the time, the books are written by ghost writers (something else of the devil, in my opinion) and/or one or two things might be changed in the book so that they can publish it multiple times with a different cover. In the Regency collection, several “authors” publish the exact same book…word for word!…but with different titles. The only difference is that they change the order of the chapters/stories inside. Unknowingly, people will read these books and the “author” gets paid just for you opening the book!

Here’s a sample of one “book”:

Book Example


Now here is the table of contents other books:

Book Example TwoSame author, different cover and title, published on the same day.


Book Example Three


Different author, different cover, different title…all the same except for the “first” chapter and published on the same day. There is NO disclaimer or published association with the other authors. One thing they do have in common is that they all have the same “publisher.” Personally, I have never heard of a publisher dropping THIRTY books in one day, most of them with the EXACT.SAME.CONTENT.

I could post DOZENS of these examples. Oh, and this happens in other genres, too. In the Amish genre, it’s just as yucky as in Regency. I bet lots of authors from different genres could tell similar horror stories.

So why am I sharing this with you?

First, it makes me really angry. Here is a fantastic program for writers AND readers. These scam artists are taking advantage of it and, frankly, ruining a good thing. This program was meant to reward the real authors who have a passion for writing and delivering great books to their readers. As always, a few bad apples spoil the barrel. When I see someone cheating the system (and fooling unsuspecting readers), it makes me mad.

Second, it mocks the process of writing. So many people aspire to be published and taken seriously in their craft. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a little girl. It has taken years to get to where I am today. Like most honest authors, I spend HOURS…DAYS…WEEKS…MONTHS working on my novels. Many days, I spend upward of ten hours writing, editing, brainstorming, writing some more. To think that a book can be outsourced, thrown together, or copied is offensive to those of us who strive to deliver amazing stories that we have poured our hearts into writing. I believe it is safe to say that most authors do this because they love writing…not for the money.

Finally, Buyer Beware! If you are ever in doubt, check the number of reviews and click on SEE INSIDE. Click on the author’s name to see if they have an Amazon Author page with links to social media. If they don’t have a page…with a photo, bio, and links to social media…chances are they are not a legitimate author.

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Sandra Chapman
June 24, 2016 12:41 PM

I remember your talking about this,but just read the blog. Thank you for your honesty and guidance ! We, your readers,appreciate it !

May 31, 2016 10:41 AM

I usually bought all the books in the genre that I love, but then read one and just couldn’t continue it was hard to read, the spelling and the grammar were so bad. I am not the best at spelling and grammar, but thought if I bought a book on Amazon it would have gone through a publisher and editor. Now I hold back and only buy books after a few reviews, unless I know it is a true author that I follow.

Sophia Rose
May 28, 2016 7:34 PM

Thanks for sharing about this, Sarah! I was suspicious about a pile of books that looked similar and released the same day a little while ago. Glad I walked around that landmine.

Rose Fairbanks
April 29, 2016 8:50 PM

This is so sad and sickening. The day all these got loaded into the JAFF genre was a day after my last release. I’d go to look up my book and there THEY were. I felt dirty having my book near them. Just gross and the people that really suffer are the readers.

April 28, 2016 11:35 AM

Luckily, KU authors do get paid now for total pages read and not your simply opening the book. In addition, they don’t get paid on your reading the first 10% anymore, so authors who write engaging, high quality, well-edited, original books should have an edge. If you notice one of these books in KU, stop reading so the scammer doesn’t get paid very much (.005) per page does not add up to a lot. Let’s not make it worth their while to bother with these con jobs! You can also now report these scam books and they will get taken down if enough reports occur. So, if we are diligent and activist about reporting these when we see them, our genre should have some protection. By the same token, if you suspect plagiarism report it immediately. It’s never fun to get scammed, it has happened to me, too. I’m not sure how to get refunded when you purchase these books, so as others have said, look inside, download a sample and read reviews.

Jennifer Redlarczyk
Jennifer Redlarczyk
April 27, 2016 9:24 PM

I was recently made aware of the scam and feel bad for authors and readers alike, as you say,”it ruins a good thing.” We just have to keep getting the word out and hope that Amazon will take some ACTION!!! Thanks for our post. Jen Red

Zoe Burton
April 27, 2016 8:48 PM

I bought one of those once, not realizing such a thing existed. It has made me more cautious in trying new authors, which is a shame, because I might be missing out on something good. I generally buy in a hurry and then read later, because until June 15th, I’m still tied to a teaching job and have little free time in which to read. So by the time I figured out that the one I bought was a scam, it was too late to return it. But it has become such a widespread problem now that I think we all need to be vigilant and report them to Amazon as soon as we can. 🙂

April 27, 2016 3:02 PM

Thank you for shining a light on this evil!

Diana J Oaks
April 27, 2016 2:08 PM

Yikes! Hopefully Amazon will adjust their algorithms to catch this sort of thing and shut the perpetrators down.

Debbie Fortin
Debbie Fortin
April 27, 2016 1:55 PM

Thank you for sharing this information. I saw Brenda’s post last week as well, on Fb. It s disgusting that people do this as well as pirate legitimate works. I usaly only buy from authors I know or check reviews. On my end, I do not want to give my hard earned money to a scam artisr, I want it to go to a legiimate author. I do not use kindle unlimited ever.

Sharon Lathan
April 27, 2016 1:10 PM

Thank you for shining the light on this travesty. First the bootlegging of content and selling on torrent sites, and now this. I totally agree with you, Sarah, that this is EVIL in the purest definition of the word. Sickening.

April 27, 2016 1:03 PM

Sarah thank you for the warning and how to tell if a book is fake. I don’t want to waste my time reading trash! I recognize most of the authors but now there are so many out there I am glad I can check them out first.

April 27, 2016 12:45 PM

I don’t use Kindle Unlimited. I do buy my books from Amazon but I usually buy authors I know or books that have been reviewed on one of the official sites and I always use the ‘see inside’ option. It is shocking to think that the genuine authors who take the time and trouble to come up with such lovely stories are being ripped off like this. It is theft and they should be punished.

April 27, 2016 12:05 PM

Thank you for sharing this information, Sarah. I have tried to “sound the alarm” too in hopes that if enough people are aware of these scams, the scammers won’t make as much off their efforts and perhaps, just perhaps, Amazon will do something. It takes all writers to report these kind of problems in order to get action.

Linda A.
Linda A.
April 27, 2016 11:47 AM

How sad. I am honest to a fault so my mind doesn’t even consider doing something like that so it surprises me when others do. Awareness is the first step. I just joined Book Bub and have been getting Free books from there. Will keep an eye on it in the future. Thank you for the information.

April 27, 2016 9:12 AM

What dreadful people!

Although we have KU here in the UK, I haven’t joined as I do prefer to buy and keep my books, even if it’s a Kindle copy rather than a physical copy. I also only buy books from authors I know (such as you good people on AuAu) or who have been recommended to me by friends.

I really hope Amazon will do something about this.

April 27, 2016 9:04 AM

I don’t tend to buy a JAFF book unless I see a review on a blog site or have read one of their books before, but I do wish that people who write fan fiction would use their correct name so we know them when they publish

Jeanne Garrett
Jeanne Garrett
April 27, 2016 9:03 AM

OMG!!! I am shocked and horrified at what “yucky” people do and have done. I am such a naïve person and assume everyone wants to do what is best and good. It hurts me, hurts my soul to learn I may have been scammed or tricked into a scheme for money. I want to help authors and have bought several from the Austen Authors group because I wanted to promote them and further their writing careers. I learned of them through this website and now see that was the right path. In the future I will be more cautious when considering a book by an unknown author. Thank you for your heartfelt post and the caveat.

April 27, 2016 12:54 AM

Sarah, I never knew such revolting behavior existed! I’ll keep on the lookout for this sort of thing.

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