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An Update: The New Focus For Lynda Belle

sexywritingI’ve been having quite a strange year. If you might have noticed, I haven’t written a lot with this pen name for about a year since I’ve been focusing on other work. But that work now has come to a close. I’ve finished projects and gotten far enough in others that I can now return to writing as Lynda Belle for awhile. All writers go through ebbs and flow in the creativity. I’ve found that the ups and downs of this year have hit a lot of my creative juice hard. But I’ve picked myself up. It took a lot of thinking and a complete rethink of my business model, but I think I’ve come up with a plan.

I’m returning to writing my erotic shorts again and you get to reap the benefits. And there is more. I have been slowly releasing my back catalog wide. My titles are becoming available on Barnes and Noble.com, Kobo.com and iBooks. This will enable me to lower the prices on my titles to $0.99 for all shorts. You will start to see the prices coming down on all retailers for my past titles soon. Just bare with me since I am doing everything myself. I have no staff since I self-publish everything. So, it takes time to ready my stories, release them, and reset prices.

But I also know I have a following with Kindle Unlimited readers. So, after much thought, I’ve decided that I will be releasing my new stories into KU first so those that have followed me through the years can take advantage of my new stories. They will be available for sale, of course, through Amazon for the first three months after release. Then after three months, I’ll release them wide. This will be an experiment at first, just to see how it goes.

So to all my followers, I would love any feedback on my plans. Let me know if you enjoy have the stories in KU for a limited time and than wide, or would rather just purchase them from the retailer of your choice. It will help me get my stories out to the people that read them.

Please keep in mind I try to make some of a living off of my writing. So, I do have to charge for my stories. It all can’t be free all of the time. But I will continue to do my erotica/erotic romance promo deals each month as well. Though, I may be having less FREE deals and more $0.99 deals for my titles.

So, that is about it. That is a complete update of the road ahead of me for writing. I’ll end with some of the stories I’m working on to be released soon. I am currently writing the next installment in the “For The Women Of Rome” series. That should be out in a couple weeks. Plus, I have an idea for a sequel for the “Bordello of Vampire Pleasure”. I will be delving into the world of the vampire bordello and into the world of the vampire in the story “Death or Eternity” which was a limited time free story with newsletter sign-ups.

So, take care, follow my blog for more updates, and please look for my first new story in the upcoming weeks.

-Lynda

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CockyGate Update: It’s Over! Settlement Reached in Lawsuit!

roostercockygateToday, it was just announced on Twitter that the lawsuit between Faleena Hopkins and the Cocktales Anthology group of authors (Cocky Collective), Jennifer Watson, Tara Crescent, and Kevin Kneupper have been dropped and the trademark enforcement surrendered. Yes, all of this fight ended up in court, with Faleena Hopkins suing a large group of defendants, and it was announced today it is over!

View the tweet announcement here!

But why let this get this out of hand? I’ve read a lot on both sides of the issue. Everyone was fighting for what they thought was right. Faleena Hopkins was fighting to preserve her brand and the group of other Indie authors, were fighting to preserve their right to use the word “Cocky”. I’m not surprised it all ended up in the courts, because that’s how things can get when you’re doing business. I guess, that is something to keep in mind while being an Indie or self-published author. Research what you are doing. Believe in yourself, and fight for what you believe in.

Whether this is a good win or bad loss? I think it really deserves a look at the overall picture. I’ve seen this written up as a lot of “romance writers” having a cat fight. I’ve seen it demeaned into something of silly importance. But as it has been going on, it was pretty obvious how it could be applied to all genres, copywriting of words and series names to the benefit of the trademark holder. I think looking at the big picture was the best way to approach it, and belittling the significance has been the work of people that don’t understand the romance industry or how Indie publishing works. It was an easy way to take a blow at both.

Now that it is settled and dying down, I’m taking away that self-publishing has to be looked at as a business. Things can get ugly and real fast. Caution and research is always the best road to take in my opinion. Maybe people will look back at this time of history as the early days of the internet and how things were establishing. We’ll be able to say, we were there making history.

-Lynda

#Cockygate: The Internet has Gone Crazy Over an Author Trying to TM a Word

roostercockygateAfter watching the hoopla over “Cockygate” the last few days, I have decided to blog about it, mostly for posterity sake. After all, I think this is the pioneer age of self-publishing, and there are some weird, crazy things happening that can get the global hive mind of the internet into a frenzy. Whether you’re a romance author or not, many people in publishing, authors, self-publishers(Indies) and writing groups have gotten involved. All behind the back drop of one author deciding to trademark her series name and protect her brand, most likely because of the making of an upcoming movie. What has happened is probably beyond what she or anyone else could imagine. Mass craziness in social media and writing message boards.

What Happened:
So, basically an author named Faleena Hopkins has registered the word “Cocky” because it relates to a family of characters she’s created and the name of her book series. She registered it with a trademark in a certain font, and now is going around threatening to sue all the authors that have the word “Cocky” appear in their title and telling them to change their titles. She sends a letter to the authors saying she can sue and take the money they’ve earned from their book.

Here’s a link to the letter she has been sending out in Tech Dirt’s Article:

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20180507/11303539791/romance-novelist-secures-trademark-word-cocky-begins-beating-other-novelists-over-head-with-it.shtml
So, authors with the word “cocky” had their books pulled from Amazon, because she reported their books as a violation of her TM. So, several authors either changed their titles and their covers to comply with her demands, or stood up to her and called on the RWA organization to help. To let you know, RWA or Romantic Writers of America is a writers group that helps romance writers with the business of doing writing. I am a member of my local chapter, and can’t say enough praises and help this organization does for writers. You must be a member if you write romance. But, I digress.

Here are tags to look on Twitter to follow along with the current scuttle on what is going on too: #cockygate #cocky #byefaleena #freecocky

Here’s an article about this from a few days ago in regards to the trademark legalese: http://legalinspiration.com/?p=503

I’ve also noticed RWA has tweeted that they are aware and asking for other authors to report to them that are affected. They have since helped the authors that have reported it to get their books back on Amazon.
Tweet from RWA: https://twitter.com/romancewriters/status/993883786931777536

The implications are clear. If authors start trademarking words and suing other authors for their use, it could be VERY messy. Imagine an author trademarking “aliens” or “starship” and suing sci-fi authors. I also do know one of the authors that got this email and lost two of her books, Tara Crescent. She’s been a part of some of my erotica/erotic romance deals that I do monthly. She lost two books entitled “Cocky Doctors” and “Cocky Firefighters”. They have since been reinstated on Amazon.

So, it’s hard for me to understand why someone would want to go out and hurt other authors like this. Especially, since it was amazing to see how wonderful the Romance and Indie community have really helped the authors that have been sent these emails and asked to change their titles or get sued. RWA helped reinstate the books that were taken down by Amazon. Many of the books were just pulled down and that is part of the reason why the panic happened, because the Zon tends to just pull or close accounts and then review each case individually. So, that is possibly why there was such a mass panic among the authors.

Cockygate is spilling into the other areas of the media now too. I’m guessing because the title is catchy and the implication on trying to copyright a word as a Trademark. Maybe Faleena Hopkins didn’t intend this to happen, and I know there have been huge amounts of negativity swung at her. She’s taken down her Facebook page and maybe soon her Twitter account may come down. It will definitely affect her career and who she can do business with in the future probably all due to trying to protect her perceived brand. She seems to still be saying she was just trying to help her readers buy the proper books. We’ll have to see how this all goes. There is already a filing against the Trademark patent by Kevin Kneupper that happens to be a lawyer and author.

This can all be a lesson for future self-publishing authors. You need to really look into something before you do it, because actions can have far reaching consequences in this day and age.

UPDATE: 5/23/18

As of 5/14/18, it is noted on the TM website in the application for “Cocky” has a “Cancelation pending” notice.

So, there seems to be a trend for copycat TM’ing authors trying to get a hold of “Revolution” and “forever”. I’m not sure if this is for the publicity now, since Faleena Hopkins has gotten so much attention for what she did. But the author that TM’ed the word “forever”, Heidi McLaughlin, is claiming it was her agent or someone impersonating her, and is retracting the application.

Plus, an app has now been programed to help authors keep tabs on what words are being copyrighted and trademarked. It’s called CockyBot, and can help an author stay on top of things before receiving a take down notice.

So, the drama continues to unfold. I’ll keep adding more information as it happens. 😉

-Lynda

Update: June 7, 2018

Lawyers have gotten involved now. According to a letter and post on RWA’s website blog, 

**(You may have to be a RWA member to get onto the site)

May 16 was the date that RWA sent a DEMAND LETTER to Faleena Hopkins to retract trademark infringement claims and future claims on behalf of RWA and Tara Crescent. Also, the letter asked to send documents to Amazon to retract the infringement, and to send proof of these actions of retraction,  and to apologize. They are also filing to challenge the trademark.

May 25, Faleena Hopkins fired back with a Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining order against Tara Crescent, Kevin Kneupper, and Jennifer Watson in regards to publishing, selling, promoting and distributing, “Cocktales, the Cockiest Anthology”. Lawyers from RWA had to defend Tara Crescent at the TRO hearing to defend her right to keep her books published. The Temp. Restraining Order was denied.

RWA is funding Tara Crescent’s fees to fight in court! On June 1, Preliminary Injunction was denied in the New York court. But the fight continues on!

Stay tuned for updates. This can affect all authors in all genres. There is a run of people going to the trademark office now to file for different words and series names. On Twitter, you can follow the bot at: @cockybot.

UPDATE July 3, 2018: It looks like #CockyGate is over. Tara Crescent and Faleena Hopkins have settled in New York court. Faleena agreed to back down and Tara is changing the word “Cocky” into a different font. It seems both sides are backing down and compromising and that has to be at least something of a good outcome. Here is a Daily Mail article that explains the recent events taking mostly Faleena’s side. 

I’m still looking for more on this. However, it looks like Faleena is trying to spin this in her favor, and calling others bullies. It just seems to me she didn’t understand the laws of trademark usage and tried to enforce something she really didn’t understand well. But that is just my opinion.

Lesson from all of this and what Cocky Gate might be remembered for: if you are an author, really talk to a lawyer or some professional that might know what they are doing. Because the repercussions can be real and costly. Saying you didn’t know isn’t an excuse. But it is possible, this just all blew up with out her meaning to. But then, on the other side, she could have handled it better in her letters in the first place.

Like I said, hopefully the entire author community will take this as a grain of salt in the learning process. Let’s just all try to keep it professional in the end.

 

 

More Strange Activity on Amazon Affecting Authors and Customers

So, the last week of March, there was an activity that happened to a lot of erotica and erotic romance authors having their books shadow-banned on Amazon. This was the action of putting titles into different categories and not having them show up in a general search or the store. Eventually, some answers came out that it was a “mistake” and that the titles were being put back.

Now, more is coming out in regards to reviews. People, regular Amazon customers, are having their accounts removed from Amazon for having violated “Terms of Service (TOS)” that they received a free product or gift card to do a positive review. Secret groups have formed on Facebook and Twitter to discuss what happened. Many former customers on Amazon are using the tag #amazonclosed to discuss how many don’t know why their accounts were closed or how maybe writing positive reviews for a free gift or gift card might have backfired on them. There is even speculation that it is Russia hacking Amazon and closing accounts.

Then, this last week starting in the beginning of April, authors have noticed hundreds to thousands of pages reads being taken out of their March Kindle Unlimited reports. According to a Kboards.com thread,  many of the authors have noticed a drop over the last week. The speculation is that it could be from the shadow-banning of the erotica, that made many other titles much more noticeable the last week of March. Or it could be because of the recently closed accounts, and they are deleting the reads for all of the accounts.

Who can say what it truly is, but Amazon itself. What has been disclosed by Amazon are new law suits filed this week a UK book stuffer on April 5. Book stuffers make up bogus books using previously published book material or sometimes just gibberish, to get clicks and reads. But often, they use “bots” and click farms to manipulate KU page reads and rob Amazon and legitimate authors of hard earned cash from the program. They also tend to rank high and get reads from unsuspecting readers that think they are a legitimate book.

Many authors and I’m sure readers will be happy to see these scammers finally going down. I know there has been a calling to clean up KU for years, and it seems to finally be happening. But there is a lot of fall out, of legitimate customers and authors, losing accounts or pages. This always seems to happen. It’s hard to know who has been playing by the rules and who has not. And to make it more difficult, scammers sometimes have picked legitimate authors to focus their bots on and buy reads to make them look more legitimate. There have been reports of some authors having this happen to them.

So, it might be that finally Amazon is going after the book stuffing scammers that have plagued Kindle Unlimited for years. And it might be also some back lash of still going after reviewers that still receive gift cards and free products to do positive reviews on Amazon. Of course, it’s a private website and all reviews belong to Amazon when you write them. But because of this backlash, I have noticed a real fall out of people wanting to review for Amazon anymore.

Most people have been leaving reviews on Goodreads these days for my books, and just not bothering with Amazon anymore. Plus, Kindles tend to direct you to the Goodreads site to review when you finish a book. I know, I’ve started reviewing more when I’m done with a book on my Kindle on Goodreads, and not even bothering to review on Amazon. Though, the email prompts will get me to motivate these days and write a quick review of a book I’ve read on Amazon these days.

So, it was surprising to me to hear there were still people leaving reviews for gift cards and free products still. The Zon also has the right to regulate its own website, which in some cases, is welcomed to get rid of the scammers. But in true Zon fashion, the nuclear option does sweep up some innocent bystanders. Reading tweets about how people will not be able to buy things for Easter or other means just shows how much power Amazon has over our lives now.

Lynda Belle Pulling Her Titles From Kindle Unlimited

sexywritingI am announcing that all of my titles will be pulled from the Kindle Unlimited program on Amazon starting on April 1. Over the next two months, titles will be slowly leaving the program, but will be available to read through their last term in the KU program. My followers/readers are welcome to borrow my titles from the KU program until they are no longer available. They will still be available to buy on Amazon, and will soon start to be appearing on other retailers in other ereader formats.

This will be the last weekend my catalog will fully be in KU! Grab them now while you can! I wanted to give my readers time to have a last hurrah! before they are removed slowly from the program. So, enjoy!

Link to a list of Lynda Belle’s Titles here on the blog!

Link to Lynda Belle’s Author Page on Amazon!

How Long Will This Take?

I’ve unclicked the renewal box in KU. So, some titles will start becoming unavailable from KU by April 1. Many more will have about a month until they are not available in KU, and the full catalog will be out of KU by end of May. So, this gives some time for any of my followers/readers to pick up titles over the weekend before they start to become unavailable. Keep in mind, they will still be for sale on Amazon, just not in the Kindle Unlimited program.

What Will This Do To Bimonthly Discount and Freebie Deals?

They will still continue! The freebie titles will now be through Instafreebie and different selected $0.99 deals will be on more retailers. So, it will be a win-win for readers. The only real change will be that titles won’t be available as KU reads.

Why Is This Happening?

I guess this has been brewing with me for awhile, and the episode of shadowbanning erotica and erotic romance this last week on Amazon has just been the last straw. KU is not worth it anymore to me, and I can just use Instafreebie and list titles I want at $0.99 to use in promos. SO, that KU draw is totally dead. After almost 3 years in KU, I’m pulling out. I’ve also seen a real slow down for KU reads in the last 6 months, and I’m not sure if this is due to Amazon promoting erotica and spicy romance less or not.

But I need to think about my bottom line, and reach new readers to help stay in business. So, this is an option that will help me do so. It seems to me to be the right time to leave the Kindle Unlimited program.

Thank You To Everyone That Has Been A KU Reader In The Past

I do want to thank everyone that has enjoyed my stories and have read through my titles in the KU program. I am glad that you have stuck with me, and I promise to write more outstanding titles for your pleasure. This restructure is going to allow me to move full speed ahead, and still be able to write great erotica and erotic romances for you.

***AGAIN TO NOTE: Lynda Belle’s titles are going to be leaving the KU program starting on April 1. It will take a full two months for all titles to be fully out of the program. So, feel free to read and enjoy her titles as they remain in the KU program. This will be your last chance to read them in KU over the next two months.

-Lynda

Erotica and Erotic Romance Getting Shadow-Banned on Amazon

sexywriting So, being the Indie erotica and erotic romance writer, I’ve been on top of a development that started on March 22, just before the weekend. I went to a steampunk conference over the weekend, and missed the first initial hoopla and worry from what was going on. And then it all hit me in the face on Monday, March 26–Amazon was changing the rankings on erotica and re-categorizing some spicy and erotic romances into erotica.

When ever the Zon starts messing with things like this, it means something drastic is about to happen. Last time, it was KU2. That sucked to no end for people that wrote short stories, me included, where everyone started to get paid by the page instead of by single unit download. Now, they are starting to “shadow-ban” titles, spicy romance and erotic romance too, that has an “adult theme”.

The Low Down of What is Going On

There are a lot of rumors and speculation about why this is happening. In clearly the Zon’s fashion, there are no real answers when sending emails or messages to the powers that be at Amazon. Just answers to the point that titles are being reassigned to the erotica category because your book has “adult themes”. This is not only affecting regular erotica, but a lot of the steamy and erotic romance that clearly follow a romance plot line and isn’t all about the sex. Is it censorship?

Well, you have to look at why it might be happening. There is apparently a law that passed in US congress on March 21 that is supposed to help stop online sex trafficking. FOSTA or the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act is supposed to help stop online sex trafficking, but it is having a much wider affect because it holds the websites accountable, retroactively. So, many websites, including Craigslist’s personal ads, are shutting down and purging of sexual explicit content. In essence, the new administration is cracking down on sexually charged content, and it’s leading to a purge on many sites like Apple, Reddit, and Amazon.

What Does This Mean To You As A Reader?

What does it mean to romance readers of adult romances (formerly new adult), spicy romance, erotic romances and erotica? It means you are going to have a harder time finding what you like to read. You can still find erotic romances and erotica on Amazon, but not in a general search. And since the general store ranking is gone, there will be less “customer also bought” suggestions for titles.

There are still erotica categories, but they are harder to find. I’m sure other websites may follow suit. I haven’t heard anything from Kobo yet, but they are in Canada. So, that might be the saving grace for them. ANY US COMPANIES will most likely be reacting to this law. But then, I expected something like this from this administration. I knew the suppression would begin, but wasn’t sure how.

So, what could be next? Well, it’s come to the time where I will need to, and many other authors, will have to consider KU2 a mute point now. The promos haven’t been as productive lately for me, and going WIDE, which means taking my titles to other retailers, will be the only way to get new readers and help me meet my bottom line. So, in all likely hood, as an erotic romance or erotica reader, you may not find titles you want to read in KU anymore. They will still be on Amazon, but harder to find, and you’ll have to pay more for them since it won’t be profitable for them to stay in KU any longer.

Plus, I am going to try to continue my promotional bimonthly lists. It will still be a way for you to find fabulous erotica and erotic romances from good authors. But as far as the deals, there might be less freebies and more just $0.99 discounted titles.

So, yes, bottom line, you will most likely start paying more for these erotic romances and it will be harder to find them. But looks like I’ll keep up my promotions as long as I can. I’m also going to check with the other authors to see if they are planning to stay in KU. Not sure how this will all turn out, but like with most changes like this, adaptation is sometimes the only option. And to stay in business, sometimes, it’s the only choice for an author.

What Next?

Through all the things I go through as a self-published author,  I’m going to keep writing. I have some ideas for stories I haven’t finished yet, and will keep going. I’ve had to recently go back to work, and not write full time. That has been a set back too. But whatever happens, I hope you stick with me as I wade through yet another obstacle in the road for an erotica and erotic romance writer.

I hope you understand also, because not only do I write it, I read this genre too. So, I’m going to feel your pain. I am considering maybe ending my KU membership too. If enough writers and readers pull out, maybe Amazon will get a hint that this kind of censorship is just not what the customers want. But then, I’m just one little author in a much larger pond. But then, it’s all I have.

UPDATE: 

The ranking for the erotica titles for both indie and traditional published titles have come back on Amazon. It is possible that things either have been reworked and categorized, or more likely, it was some cliche that went on for more than a week.

An email from a Kboarder, Nate Hoffelder, is quoted as saying:

“A recent Kindle Store change inadvertently affected the display of sales rank for some titles. We have corrected this issue.”

Whether all the erotica being given new categories was due to a cliche, or something else, it is unclear. Some people still have had their titles recategorized, but the sales ranking has been added back on to many erotica titles that were missing them. So, I’ll keep updating as more happens with this.

 

Other blog posts about this subject:

The Digital Reader:

https://the-digital-reader.com/2018/03/29/amazon-has-shadow-banned-romance-titles-from-the-kindle-store/

The Motherboard:

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/bjpjn4/amazon-erotica-best-seller-rankings-removed

The Tech Crunch:

https://techcrunch.com/2018/03/29/new-federal-rules-blamed-in-disappearance-of-kindle-erotica-titles/

Kboards Thread on subject:

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,261904.msg3642901.html

Forbes Media Article:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamrowe1/2018/03/31/amazon-deranked-romance-titles-week-restoring

I Am Working Hard For Your Reading Pleasure. I promise!

sexywritingGreetings everyone! I’ve noticed some feedback about where my new releases might be lately. I have slowed down in my writing lately, and I wanted to explain why.

I started this pen name to start writing erotica and erotic romance when I was very ill and wanted to live my dream, to write full time. I have been doing that for almost 2 years now.

But sadly, bills must be paid. So, I’ve had to start working again, now that I can, part time. So, it has slowed down my writing process, but I still have writing projects in the works. In fact, I’m trying to finish some of my other series before releasing new stories. I finished my “On Call series” and have created an Omnibus of the whole series available on Amazon. The last book in the series is called “The Perfect Fling”. For those that didn’t get a chance to look it over, here’s the link:

 

I’m also in the middle of finishing my exhibitionist series with the last installment. It will be a last couple finding their way to the exhibitionist club. Hopefully, this will be ready for release by the end of summer. I’m also working on a sci-fi erotic romance that may be out by next year. Plus, I have a steampunk series that I’ve been working on.

So, basically, I’ve been working on new, exciting fantasies for you to get involved in, but they are tending to be MUCH longer than previous stories. This makes the writing process longer since it involves more editing and writing time. This is due to some of my natural writing development and A LOT to do with Amazon switching to page reads for their Kindle Unlimited program. So, in order to make money, I have to write longer stories. This, of course, takes longer. So a lot of things have created a snowball effect making my process of getting a story out to you longer as well.

So, please hang with me. I promise more sensual and erotic stories to come your way. If you’d like to support me, please consider writing a review for any of the books you’ve read on Goodreads or Amazon. That is probably the best way to support and help your favorite author. Spreading the word about what you read and think about an author is probably the best way to help. I do make my living writing and pay my bills with what I make. So, any support is appreciated. Thank you!

To all my followers and fans, thank you for your continued support. Have a fabulous summer! Keep checking back for updates and more monthly erotic deals. If you want to stay on top of all of my releases, please join my mailing list/newsletter.

Salut!

-Lynda