Inkshares Community discussion

Sharing credit > Let's talk about pre-order swapping

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message 1: by John (new)

John Robin (john_robin) | 299 comments With the Goodwill Train being rebooted to try and stop the pre-order swapping that was going on here, I thought it would be beneficial to start a thread where anyone here and speak freely about this issue. I've heard privately from a few members of the community but I would like to also open this to discussion. I've voiced my opinion on this matter, and Joe, Cara, and Christine have also chimed in. Jeremy has also shared what he thinks about this on the forum (

What I'd like is for those who are engaging in pre-order swapping to have a chance to voice why they want to do it and why they don't think there's anything wrong with it. Or for those who have refrained because they feel it's wrong how they feel as they watch people in this current contest soar to the top as they aggressively trade pre-orders. There are two sides to this issue, so I'd like to make sure both sides get a chance to be heard.

I understand that a lot of people who are disturbed by this are sitting quietly and not speaking up because they don't want to create controversy. For those who are doing so, I want to reassure you that all the moderators are fully aware of what's happening and we are doing the best we can to maintain the integrity of this community. In fact, this has been an ongoing behind-the-scenes obsession for the last few weeks -- yes, we obsess about this place and how we can make sure it stays healthy.

We are not neutral on this matter, and will be treating posts that encourage pre-order swapping with credit the same way we treat spam posts. We cannot control what goes on behind the scenes, i.e. authors using the pitch feature to ask people to pre-order swap, but rest assured Inkshares staff are aware of what's happening and I am sure they will deal with it in a way that maintains their vision of fair play crowdfunding.

What we CAN control, though, is what goes on in this group, and as moderators we all want to ensure this group run according to its basic principles of open sharing, helpful community, and alignment with Inkshares' vision. We can't condone pre-order swapping because to us we feel this does not align with Inkshares' vision that we want to see living in the discussion on this group. "Hey, can you back my book?" is quite different from "Hey, back my book with your credit, and I'll back yours with my credit. Don't have credit? Here, I'll order a book with my credit and get you credit." This group's goal is for us all to support each other and work together to help every reach their readers all while following Inkshares' rules.

All right, now it's time to get more opinions. I do want to hear as much as possible -- we all do. Maybe we're missing something? Now's your chance to tell us.

message 2: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Huang (christopher_huang) | 73 comments I want my book to succeed. I want it to be published and marketed and distributed.

In order for that to happen, Inkshares must succeed.

Inkshares cannot succeed if they are losing money through credit abuse. Inkshares cannot succeed if some sort of internal "scratch my back" policy undermines their saleability assessment model.

Anything that hurts Inkshares, hurts us authors. Don't hurt Inkshares.

message 3: by Billy (last edited Feb 29, 2016 12:23PM) (new)

Billy O’Keefe (billyok) | 77 comments I think it all comes down to whether you feel obligated or not and how you go about doing it. I personally am happy to get multiple copies of a book I want to see make it, especially when I know it can make the difference (Lies and Deception, Children of the Forest) and I'm fortunate to be in a position where I can regularly do so without credits. I always hope for interest in return, because it's only natural that we want everyone to take an interest in what we're doing, but I try to make it as clear as I can that my support isn't conditional.

So as long as my interest is genuine and I'm investing some modest funds into Inkshares rather than abusing its credits system, my conscience is clear. Anything past that line starts to feel weird to me.

message 4: by Rick (last edited Feb 29, 2016 01:11PM) (new)

Rick Heinz (crankybolt) | 72 comments I will speak up for support of pre-order trading. I don't really care if people like it or not within the bubble that is Inkshares. But it's how the rest of the comic industry and general sales world works, and frankly, it's I feel it's completely naive to even attempt to lay down a "law" regarding it.

Abuse of the credit system is one thing, and that's also largely been removed. In two ways: You now also pay money upfront rather than later. Which makes a big deal.

Preorder trading is this: You want to draw attention to your book. So you find someone else in your genre. And hey, maybe you're in a contest. Maybe you're not. Out of the 300+ people in your genre, or more. What's the best way to get someone's attention?

I'll scratch your back and read your book, if you scratch my back and read mine.

Sorry, it's valid. Two parties enter an agreement, and they both get on with it. They discover each others work, and walla. Pitch worked, two people are happy, and they've helped each other out.

Who the hell has the right to determine a completely subjective matter of "For the love of writing" when frankly, maybe I happen to like most things within the fantasy genre spectrum. Maybe I don't. Maybe I'm interested in picking up your book, is because You are another author in my genre who just bought mine.

If you come to me selling a product asking me to buy yours, and aren't interested in looking at mine, particularly if they are in competition with each other. You can politely bugger-off to that corner.

And you know what: I'm not sure how many of you have actually worked conventions, trade shows, or anyones life experiences thus far. Mine has been filled with watching new, up and coming artists and novelists network, support, and help each other out.

The ones who get greedy and don't support the others get booted out pretty damn quickly. Don't walk up to my booth trying to peddle your self-published graphic novel, if you aren't going to bother buying one of mine.

So no. I know that within the commune of the Inkshares Author Groups, what I'm saying may make me a black sheep. But I feel VERY strongly about mutual support and if you scratch my back, I better scratch yours and vice versa.

Maybe it's because I'm from Chicago. Maybe it's because I've watched it work, been apart of it, and understand some trade etiquette. But I think swapping preorders is a fantastic way for two authors, particularly in competition with one another, to buddy up and get to know each other better and team up.

I'll even take it one further:

It's in Inkshares INTEREST to allow authors to swap reader bases. You have NO idea how many of my friends and family I've gotten to buy some other authors books. The authors that I've worked with closely, have in turn went out and sold my book to their friends.

Opening up authors from being these individual silos with 100-300 individual readers behind them, to a better melting pot is the fastest way to add more readers into the system.

If I have 300 loyal readers, and another has 300 readers. Then we might be able cross-platform each other.

Hell, this even works if you have two authors with only 10 good friends each. Inskhares even encourages it! "Buy 2 books for X dollars over the holidays!"

This is order trading. It's cross selling. But it's still order trading.

So unless your intent is that the ONLY people an author can sell to, are the readers he brings to the site. I'd be careful. Offering a "you read mine, I read yours" type thing is a valid tactic for two, or more, individuals.

It doesn't undermine anything, and it generates cross pollination of reader support among two or more people.

Abuse of Credit System. Yes, it was in play before. It's not now. So... well, that's solved, and I couldn't be happier about that. I've actually done what Billy above has done and bought outright the majority of the books.

I wasn't savvy enough in the last contest to figure out that I could spawn my own referral credits by sharing my link around until the very very end. By then, it didn't matter.

message 5: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Huang (christopher_huang) | 73 comments Swapping pre-orders and swapping reader bases are two very different things, I think. I fully support the latter; I'm more hesitant about the former.

message 6: by R.H. (new)

R.H. Webster (rh_webster) | 39 comments I would like to add my experience to this discussion, not as a pro or as a con, but as an explanation of my particular experience and actions:

I am a true introvert in real life. I work from home, I rarely go out and about, I avoid crowds. I have very few close friends and fewer relatives that I can turn to when trying to have a successful campaign or win a contest. For me, asking for assistance from fellow Inkshares authors has been one of the only ways I have been able to stay as competitive as I have in the contest I'm currently in. And the Inkshares community has been more than generous in helping me succeed thus far. In this vein, I've asked for extra referrals from other people if I needed/wanted extra copies of a novel that I supported. I was hoping that this wasn't a violation, but it seems to have sparked another round of controversy. For this, I apologize.

Like any of the other authors on this site, I am extremely passionate about this, not just as a hobby but hopefully as a full time career in the future. I want my novel to succeed as much as anyone does, but I have actively tried to be as fair as possible when using the credits.

Thanks for understanding and for opening this discussion.

PS: Am I to understand that now we only have a certain number of referrals that we can pass out? If this is the case, will the links on the "Recommend" bar still work? I don't want to be sharing links only for them to be broken. At any given point, I feel that I have one shot to get a sale and if I miss that sale because of a broken link, it could mean failure for my campaign.

message 7: by Joe (new)

Joe (jterzieva) | 178 comments Mod
Hi Rick,

Thank you for your thoughts. I want to clarify some of your comments for the other readers of this thread. There is nothing wrong with cross-promotion or sharing readers.

I originally set up this group to facilitate communication and cooperation between authors inside and outside of contests specifically because no such thing existed during the first S&L contest. Creating partnerships with authors and their bases is a fundamental pillar of self-promotion at our level, and it should be clear that the moderators of the group encourage these sorts of connections. The active moderators are authors, contests winners, quill, and hopefuls, and we all work hard to create a community where we can all reach our mutual goal.

message 8: by Jason (new)

Jason (atomicboywonder) | 44 comments I do think there's a misunderstanding about the difference between trading pre-orders and trading readers. I understand how networking works and I understand how it relies on the "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" principle. I don't think that's what we're getting at though.

I will say, I'm in the same boat as Webster as far as not being very good at being outgoing or social. I have to tell you guys, that promoting my book has been a challenge solely because of that, but I'm doing it. I've paid for advertising on social media, I'm constantly shouting out to everyone I can, I have sent press kits to local media and science fiction websites, I'm posting on forums left and right.

However, I have not done much pre-order swapping at all, because I wasn't sure how kosher the whole thing was. Frankly, the way I see some aggressively approaching it seems kind of like the system is being used in a way it may not have been intended to be used. Yet, here I am dangling around 20th place in the contest and then I think "should I be doing that? Should I be working the system like that in addition to all the 'traditional' avenues I'm pursuing?" It gets confusing, the waters get muddy.

I don't want anyone to think that's some admission of bitterness over my place in the contest and some accusation against the people ahead of me. Not at all. I've invested in a lot of the books ahead of mine because I believe in them and my glass-half-full point of view is feeling pretty peachy about being in 18th place out of 90 submissions. My eyes, however, are fixed on the "long game", getting into quill or hopefully the magic number 750. And in the long run if part of getting there is networking and scratching each other's backs, then OK, I get it. But, the contest seems like the wild west sometimes with some of this stuff.

Again, just my observations, not pointing fingers and just happy to be where I am. I'm all for supporting each other and I've done my best to do so, both on these forums and on the site buying books whenever I can afford to or when I get credits.

message 9: by A.C. (new)

A.C. Weston (acwestonwrites) | 191 comments Mod
I don't think anyone is against authors promoting each other. Swapping reader bases is great. That's cross-promotion. It's not pre-order swapping.

I often buy the books written by people who buy my book. No one is against that, either. It's the strategic blind trading - the expectation that someone owes you an order, or that you owe them an order, with no real interest in the content of the books involved - that is a problem. If that's not what you're doing, then this doesn't apply to you.

Inkshares wants to publish books that readers, separate from any obligation, are interested in supporting. Maybe they'll never get to the point where they can confidently say that that's what is happening, but it's up to them to try, and we moderators want to support the vision defined by the Inkshares staff.

I do think that pre-order swapping can undermine a person's fan base. With pre-order trading, your pre-order numbers don't reflect the number of people interested in your book. They reflect the number of other authors who want to get published really badly, and that number is very high. That number will be high no matter the content of your book. Inkshares wants our pre-order numbers to reflect interest in our books, not just our ability to obligate people or organize trades. It's a problem for their business model when the content of our books no longer matters.

Without pre-order trading, you have to painstakingly sell your book, order by order, on its merits. That is what builds a fan base. It's harder, yeah. It's also better for your book.

No, we can't stop pre-order trading completely, or even judge on an individual basis whether or not someone is sincerely interested in any given book. But we can delete blatant "swap pre-orders with me" posts, and doing that supports the overall mission of Inkshares.

@RH: The links won't break; it's just that you are only supposed to receive credits once for a referral link for a given book. So you'll be able to use the link, but it won't give you credits more than once. For a while there was a bug that gave credits every time someone used your referral link for your own book, but that bug has been fixed.

♠ TABI⁷ ♠  (tabi_card) Jumping in here with my limited understanding of this whole thing:

I strongly agree with the no blatant swapping requests. If there is mutual interest and it's a "hey you bought my book, neat, I'll buy yours" then that's all fine and peachy. I've found a lot of awesome books just through other author's interest in my own work, and if someone is a writer on Inkshares, I always check out their work because you never know what you'll stumble across.

*looks pointedly at Beyond the Code and The Revenant*

And trading reader bases, as in getting your readers to support the book you are supporting as well, again absolutely fine.

I'm honestly quite out of the loop when it comes to most Inkshare fine details, such as order bugs. Whenever credits happen to come my way, I either turn around (if interested) and get a copy from the person who gave me credits OR I use those credits to get the books I've been eyeing for a while but, due to a part-time paycheck, simply just can't get willy-nilly as I'd like to.

If I could buy 5 copies of the books I want to see published in one fell swoop, I would absolutely do it. Every time. But credits work for me because I can stay out of being broke... and still give support. While I do spend my own money at times to give other people credits (because if the links are there and I can use them once, why not, right?) so it's not like I rely on credits as my only way of buying Inkshares books.

Anyway, final note: I'm seeking clarification. Can your referral code work only once for a book (as in someone can't buy the same book with the same code over and over and still give credits with each purchase) OR does it work only once, as in once a single person uses it for a single item, that person will never be able to send credits your way?

message 11: by A.C. (new)

A.C. Weston (acwestonwrites) | 191 comments Mod
The links are only supposed to work once per link, not once per person.

So once any person uses your referral link for your book, or for my book, or for anyone's book, you'll get credits for that order. After that, anyone can use those links to buy those books or any books, but you won't get credits for it.

So you could post your personal referral code for your book, my book, and Jason's book. I could buy all three, and if they've never been used before, you'd get credits 3 times.

Then anyone, me or anyone, could use those links again, and you wouldn't get new credits. The credits only come the first time a link is used. It doesn't matter who is using them.

You could share another 3 book referral links, and if I used them to buy those books, you'd get another set of 3 credits. But only the first time they're used.

Does that make sense?

♠ TABI⁷ ♠  (tabi_card) Cara wrote: "The links are only supposed to work once per link, not once per person.

So once any person uses your referral link for your book, or for my book, or for anyone's book, you'll get credits for that..."

Thanks so much, Cara! This finally clears up the all the "what? I don't understand this..." sort of experiences I've had. Your explanation was absolutely clear and set everything straight =)

message 13: by Elayna (new)

Elayna (elaynamae) I'm actually really glad this thread popped up, cause I've been having an interesting time trying to articulate how I feel about it. So here's my thoughts.

I think the aspect of Inkshares that allows authors to connect and support one another is AWESOME. Writing can be isolating when people in your life don't get it, so to connect with so many of you has been rewarding beyond belief. I'm happy to check out projects and love getting to share mine with people.

However, that being said, I think part of why I'm not a fan of straight up cold-contact "Hey, let's swap pre-orders!" is because 1) It often reads like you don't really care what my book/story is about or who I am, you sorta just view me as another number and a way to benefit you. Which like I said, I love helping others, but I don't want to treat anyone/be treated like I'm an order rather than an author. Email me, tweet at me, talk about Harry Potter with me - make some sort of effort first to prove that you are reaching out because you want to connect, not because you're desperate for an order. Obviously we're all here cause we want our books to sell so we can make livings at what gives us life. But Inkshares doesn't feel like the kind of place where unwanted solicitation should have to exist.

2) This may be a more personal reason, but I feel the need to voice it anyway. Not everyone can afford to buy a bunch of strangers books that they know nothing about. I've seen SO MANY books on Inkshares I've wanted to get, but as someone who believes in the Inkshares model, I don't want to jip them by just using credits all the time, and tbh, I don't really have a lot of excess income. If I did, I'd be buying way more books than I am now. To get people just expecting me to order their book in exchange for mine ends up making me feel bad because I don't have the means to help someone out, and thats not a feeling I want to experience on such a positive site, ya know?

So yeah, that ended up way longer than planned, but in short - I think supporting other authors, swapping books once we've made contact, etc, is EXACTLY what this site should be for. I don't think it's for spammy notes to my inbox expecting me to support something I know literal nothing about beforehand. By all means, let's be buddies, but don't just treat people like an order number.

message 14: by John (last edited Feb 29, 2016 11:52PM) (new)

John Dennehy I do think the credit system is great and it's great that there is a community that can perhaps exchange/ share readers. There are two dangers to blindly trading pre-orders though, the first is that it could hurt the financial stability of Inkshares and the second is that it bypasses quality control. I agree with the mod policy to treat any blatant offers for blind swapping as spam, however, I think the solution should be--and probably has to be--technical. In a very competitive platform where most are very motivated and also most will not reach their goal, it's inevitable that people will try to exploit weaknesses to their advantage. I think there is good progress on the technical side though, fixing the bug that gave unlimited credits and also lowering the referral to $8 and thus eliminating a one on one exchange purely on credits, are steps towards this. I've only been on Inkshares for 2.5 months so I'm not sure what it was like previous but my impression is credits were abused even more before but technical changes have eliminated some of that.

TLDR: in a competitive environment such as Inkshares (and esp. within contests) some people will inevitably exploit any systemic weaknesses to their advantage so the solution is to learn from that and strengthen those easily exploitable points--and I think that's already happening.

message 15: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Arnold I've said before that I can't bring myself to judge those who preorder swap because campaigns are a stressful thing and its easy to see why someone would go that route to try to fund. With that said I will detail the reason why I didn't go that route during my own (admittedly unsuccessful campaign).

It really boils down to the fact that the goal I had in mind when I jumped into Inkshares: to finally get my work out in a public way and try to grow a fanbase. Preorder swapping muddies the waters too much for my taste, it would make it even harder to know just how many of those people who did support me truly enjoyed what I had offered up, truly wanted to read more of my weird little world, and would be there to do so again after my first attempt. Admittedly I have no way of knowing for sure just how many of my previous supporters will do so again when I'm ready to sally forth once more, but I do feel that I have more reason to hope they will then if I had gone the swapping route. And ultimately its just my nature to play the long game rather than the short one.

Ultimately though, do as you will.

message 16: by Joe (new)

Joe (jterzieva) | 178 comments Mod
Thomas wrote: "I've said before that I can't bring myself to judge those who preorder swap because campaigns are a stressful thing and its easy to see why someone would go that route to try to fund. With that sai..."

That's the issue I see with blind swaps. I think pre-order swapping based on mutual interest is not only a good thing but a natural behavior of getting to know other authors. Even if the book doesn't hit you right away, working with the author, getting to understand why they are writing, can invoke a pre-order from me, and if they like where I am going with my work, maybe they will reciprocate.

Blind swaps are, in my mind, a dead end or are least a speed bump on a writer's career. If you've sold to 250 people, but only 20 read the book if that, prospects are not good for the next one.

message 17: by Joe (new)

Joe (jterzieva) | 178 comments Mod
Elayna wrote: "I'm actually really glad this thread popped up, cause I've been having an interesting time trying to articulate how I feel about it. So here's my thoughts.

I think the aspect of Inkshares that all..."

Excellent comments. One thing I should point of to new members and something Jeremy from Inkshares has mentioned in another thread (when Quill was made,) is that no "funded" books are profitable out of the gate. This is by design to ensure the pre-order milestones are reachable by a wide enough audience. (Before Quill the pre-order goal was 750 for ebook and 1000 for full publishing, but pre-orders were $10.) A system that allows books to go through without any basis on merit can have detrimental effects on the overall health of the company. This is one of the reasons why we discourage blind-trading.

As I mentioned earlier, pitch-based or mutual (creative) interest trading, and cross promotion are all healthy ways to promote works and be successful.

message 18: by Michael (new)

Michael Haase (rodentwriter) | 10 comments Here's my experience:

I did not discover inkshares until the first day of this particular contest. I got out there and just started telling everybody I could but I had a book for sale. Only two days into the contest, I had no less than five authors offering to swap pre-orders. At the time, I didn't even know how to accrue credits; I thought they were suggesting that we trade actual sales. I actually bought a couple of the books that I found interesting, not knowing that they were using credits and might not be reading my book at all. It was only a couple of days later that my referral links started getting the credits, and authors were out right telling me how to accrue credits and trade books. I had no idea that this was frowned upon or illegal in a sense. I even asked someone to tell me if trading was wrong in a couple of my reader updates, and nobody said a word. Writing and promoting and being involved in the contest did not allow my brain processing power to judge the ethics of pre-order swapping. It was kind of shown to me as though it were just "something you do."

I'm admitting to doing some pre-order swapping. It actually seemed like part of the culture here inkshares. I have about 25 books on my bookshelf, and 18 of them perhaps were purchased with credit. I intend to read all of them...because of this, I feel no regret in swapping the pre-orders. I realize that there are some people who will blatantly swap pre-orders, there are many who abuse the system, and that perhaps a few of the people I swapped preorders with might not care about me or my book at all. So be it, I say. My bookshelf would not even be one eighth as full as it is if it weren't for some amount of pre-order swapping.

I believe that the offensive, massive pre-order swapping that concerns everyone will not actually result in a successful book. I really don't see how anybody could fill up an entire quill order based on readers who do not care about the material whatsoever. If the concern here is that books will be published that no one will read, then I must say that I don't share that concern. Poor material will remain poor no matter how many people buy that material for free.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, for those who are too introverted or shy (as most writers are) to successfully market their book and get it to at least quill might benefit from pre-order swapping. There's no way to actually say that 100% of the people who pre-order swap will not read the book they swapped for. Adding a reader is adding a reader, the method of achieving that reader should not be criticized so heavily, in my own opinion. I believe that good material placed in the hands of the right person or people will gain popularity and exposure. It's getting the exposure that is the trick. If your book isn't doing quite as well as you'd like, then try everything I say… It would be a nice, perfect world if only the good books were popular, but that is simply not the case where we live. You have to fight tooth and nail to get exposure and readership. If you get the readership based on pre-order swapping alone, and your book is terrible garbage, then all you have is a large amount of people knowing that your book is terrible garbage. In other words, this method is self-limiting to the authors who are unworthy.

But if you are fantastic writer, and don't really know anybody, and preorder swapping is part of how you can get to know people, then what is the big deal?

Are we afraid that the contests will be rigged? That is the impression I am getting, in which case I say remove the credits from people who participate in contests. I have connected with a lot of great authors on here, but I've also felt some backlash by having success during the month of February. I have had people suggest via direct email that it is only pre-order swapping that has earned me my place in the contest. As a talented writer who has drawn at least 75 new people to the inkshares website, many of whom have checked out other novels and enjoy the site, I resent the attitude that people are stealing success with the credit system. If credits are such a problem, then inkshares might consider eliminating them.

I don't mean to sound bitter, but I am personally not so naïve to think that my book and career as an author will be successful based on the material alone. Inkshares is a valuable place for connecting with other authors, and I plan on staying here; however, the "controversy" of pre-order swapping is far too prevalent of a topic.

Yes, there are some who are so far gone in the trading to realize that they requested a pre-order swap within this very feed, for example. These people tend to out themselves by their own blind behavior. This is perhaps not the most ethical way to go about promoting a novel, but is anyone on here really surprised when they are approached by a chronic swapper? Don't they eventually become known more for swapping and less for their novel? I insist that the behavior of those who abuse it is self-limiting.

But otherwise...

Push yourselves. Promote yourselves. Do what you can to get awareness out about your writing. Your writing will ultimately be judged by its quality no matter what you do. I've looked at the books of the previous contest winners, and they all look like quality to me. The books that are successful in this current contest thus far all deserve to win. Some at the very bottom of the list would deserve to win as well, and those authors might consider drumming up some pre-order trades themselves so they can get their quality work noticed. I don't have enough money or credits to buy all of the books I find to be quality on here; nobody does. But I'm much more likely to get one from an author who reaches out to me directly.

If there is a concern that inkshares will turn into an unprofitable trading floor, then I say remove credits altogether, or make them worth less than the cost of buying an ebook outright.

There are solutions out there. The only thing I can't tolerate is the claim that something is not fair. It's all fair. Ignore what bothers you, work your ass off, and let's talk about something else other than how unfair things might or might not be.

Sorry for the long rant, but I believe in all of the people on here. This thread alone is thick with amazing writers...I've bought some of your books, and I'm planning on buying others.

Let's keep THAT train moving.

message 19: by John (new)

John Robin (john_robin) | 299 comments Michael, you make several EXCELLENT points here, but this -- THIS -- is gold to me:

Michael wrote: "I believe that the offensive, massive pre-order swapping that concerns everyone will not actually result in a successful book."

message 20: by Jason (new)

Jason (atomicboywonder) | 44 comments I admit, that's the most comforting sentiment about the whole thing. Finishing the campaign is one thing, but making sure the book succeeds beyond that is another ball of wax. You can't get by using those tactics once your book is published and it needs to sell to everyone beyond Inkshares (ya know THE WORLD).

Rest assured I'm hitting every avenue I can, but I'm cognizant of the fact that whatever I learn and whatever tactics I employ to get the book successfully funded, I'm going to have to double once it's published so it can actually sell. That's the real trick, once it's out in the wild.

I'm very happy that we can all discuss things like this constructively, it reaffirms that I'm in the right community of like-minded folks.

message 21: by John (last edited Mar 02, 2016 01:50PM) (new)

John Robin (john_robin) | 299 comments @Jason, I think this is such an important thing and it is one aspect about the aggressive pre-order swapping that irks me (to be clear: the "I'll back your book if you back mine" variety that we're seeing various shades of grey-black in). Funding a book is just a fraction of the big picture of putting out a successful book. The purpose of Inkshares' funding platform is for us to get a glimpse of how many people would be interested in reading such a book if it existed.

My own book, Blood Dawn, currently has 375 pre-orders. I haven't asked anyone to order my book. I've told people about it, but I've never pushed anyone to order it, so for me personally, that vote of 375 is quite a mark of confidence -- 220 or so people are willing to buy a book that doesn't even exist yet. More than 30 people bought multiple copies because they want to share those with people. If this group of people are willing to do THAT, just think what will happen if it's in a bookstore. So I won't make 750 (not yet -- campaign still has time to go and there's one helluva funding event coming up soon that might change that), but I know I have lots of support.

This might be somewhat off topic, but it is in a way the inverse of this topic, so I'll add it here because the purpose of this thread is to share our sentiments openly on the matter: invest in your fans, not strangers. This will carry you much further than an obsession with pre-order goals. 60 fans who are your email buddies and who get to know you personally and connect with you personally around your work will engage with your book when it's in their hands in several more dimensions than fans who just bought a book from a stranger. If you adopt this philosophy, then that fan base will grow and grow, even if one at a time.

Who are you fans? Not necessarily people who have pre-ordered your book. I have many fans who haven't bought Blood Dawn. But I consider them fans because they gather around me for who I am and what I do, and my work is a component of that. They can choose to buy my book when they want, but as far as I'm concerned the relationship I have is authentic and meaningful in a way that's far deeper than simply what I'd get by making a sale.

This is totally, completely my opinion here, but I have come to see that many others in this great community share this idea so I feel it's worth saying. I don't want this thread to be just about condemning systematic pre-order swapping, but rather about reinforcing the WHY behind why the opposite behavior is wholly beneficial in the BIG PICTURE. So you'll get your funding goal, so you'll get your book out, but will you get to a successful second book? Will you build a sustainable author career?

In my opinion, the goal of this group is about transcending the contest or the funding period, or even the book. It's about coming together as Inkshares AUTHORS, united for a long journey.

message 22: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Huang (christopher_huang) | 73 comments Whether or not offensive, massive pre-order swapping can result in a successful book is a lot less important to me (because of course it can't) than whether or not it can lead to the unsuccessful book being published. This goes back to my point about the success of Inkshares. Inkshares cannot succeed if they are publishing unsuccessful books, and if Inkshares goes down, all of us go down with them.

The credits issue is a separate hole in the hull and should not be confused with this one.

Michael has said, in the same paragraph John quoted, that he does not believe that active, blind pre-order swapping can gain enough pre-orders to get a book into Quill. That should be a lot more reassuring than any statement about the quality of a book that gets by on pre-order swapping alone. And it may be true for now ... but will it still hold true in the future? If Inkshares garners more success and more authors, will there come a point when there are enough hungry authors to fill out a Quill order by swapping pre-orders?

My project currently has 186 followers. Of those, only about 4 come from friends and friends of friends outside of Inkshares: I've spoken casually about my project with friends, but have yet to actively campaign among them. Another 5 or so are friends who were already involved with Inkshares before I started. In short, I've managed to gather up 177 followers through pitching on Inkshares alone. Imagine if I were able to guarantee those followers (not all are authors, but I think most of them are) as readers by promising to pre-order their projects! And what about the active authors who never responded to my pitches? Imagine if I could get them with such a promise as well! I'd have maybe 200 guaranteed pre-orders, *before* even speaking to the people who'd back me out of familial solidarity or friendship!

Okay, if my book were rubbish, I wouldn't have the non-author followers. But I think those followers are a minority. I think I have more authors who ignored my pitch than I have followers who, not being authors themselves, are immune to any pre-order trading shenanigans.

We may not be there yet, but I think we're dangerously close to a point where a smart pre-order trader could potentially get rubbish published. The issue is not whether they are buying your book without reading it, but whether you are buying their book without evaluating it.

We can't police this. When two authors pre-order each other's books, we can't tell if it's mutual admiration or if it's mercenary self-interest; we can't tell if it's self-interest on one end and admiration on the other. Pre-order trading IS going to happen whether we like it or not; but it is only as long as we have an official stance saying, "this is frowned upon", that we can be assured that what Michael says is true: that blind pre-order swapping will not be sufficient to fill out a Quill order for a book without quality. We need that doubt to exist; we need pre-order trading to remain the exception rather than the rule.

As for the idea of pre-order trading being a means of a shy person getting themselves known ... I don't see how the words "I'll order yours if you'll order mine" are somehow easier to say than "I'll read yours if you'll read mine" (perhaps it's the time obligation) or any of the many other things you could say to another author.

To anyone who has made me an offer of trade: I don't hold it against you. Some of you have works that have indeed caught my interest, and I'm glad my attention was brought to them. When I see "let's trade pre-orders", my internal auto-correct is programmed to translate it to "I think your work is cool; do you think mine is cool too?"

message 23: by Joni (new)

Joni Dee | 49 comments Guys, at the end of the day Inkshares is a community. and every community has rules that can be enforced. With technology the beauty of it is that it's even quite easily enforced.

my take on things:
I got a few offers to swap pre-orders and before i knew this is an issue, having read through this post and messaged with Cara, i also suggested to a few guys that i'll gladly back their book if they back mine.
Personally i can't see why it's wrong, especially since it would amount to maybe 10% of the book readers, doubt you can succeed without bringing outside readers - just don't see it working.
My only point is - if Inkshares decided as a rule that something is forbidden, you can block it with the platform. i.e. authors cannot order with credit authors that already bought their book, or maybe a fairer solution where your referral code only would work to outside buyers...
As for the bug fixed, i still get credit when i refer family members, i reckon though if someone ordered 5 times, the credit is limited to one purchase which is more than fair. I personally think that credits are important, and if you are working hard to get money into inkshares, especially us no US based that struggle with the shipping charges, a compensation should be given. even as a symbolic way (5$ rather than 10$ or so).

I hope voicing my opinion doesn't hurt me with the brass, but since John said this is an open discussion, i thought i'd give my two cents.
BTW my heating is busted and i see flakes of snow from the window!! :-(

message 24: by Alexander (new)

Alexander | 26 comments I think its only realistic to be doing SOME Pre-order swapping. I've heard rumors of people almost literally only getting past Quill because of it but I personally haven't seen any Authors or Books that gave me the impression that that's how they crossed the line. It seems some people take it as a bit of an ethics issue, like if you're book doesn't "wow" people then clearly its not good enough and needs to continue to be worked on but frankly Inkshares isn't a community for people trying to find new and up coming books. Sure there's people on it that might have that idea but Inkshares is primarily a vehicle for Authors and with that there will need to be some "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine." because of the nature of the eco system.

That being said I'm in favor of Pre-order swapping and anyone whose interested should feel free to reach out to me via PM.

message 25: by Joni (new)

Joni Dee | 49 comments Alex i agree with u, the problem is when you get credits then the line becomes thin. as Cara said two authors can get their book published without putting more than 10$ in the system.
so in essence while i agree, this should be restrained to somewhat extant, which can be done technologically - this needn't be a subjective matter.

message 26: by Rick (last edited Mar 12, 2016 06:06AM) (new)

Rick Heinz (crankybolt) | 72 comments What Cara mentioned no longer really happens because of the credit system being fixed. Furthermore, there aren't enough authors currently on Inkshares to get a single person into quill.

Lastly: When there is a large enough community for that to happen, it would require everyone to be involved in a massive organization effort.

To which case... that is probably one hell of a book anyway and probably deserves to make it in if it wowed 250 other authors that to dive in.

message 27: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Huang (christopher_huang) | 73 comments If you're just obtaining pre-orders through obligation, and if the practice were standard enough that no-one questioned it, you wouldn't need to wow anyone. You'd only need to tell them, "I bought yours, now you must buy mine."

And it's no effort at all. It only takes one person with US$2500.

message 28: by Julian (new)

Julian Green | 20 comments Here's my take on credits and the current Inkshares model.


Credits should be for readers, not authors.
More cashed up readers = great
More cashed up desperate authors = ticket to crazy town.

As an Author I want access to genuine people who are going to be excited to read my work who have the funds to support it. Inkshares needs to make finding those readers easier.


message 29: by Joni (new)

Joni Dee | 49 comments Again, I don't think there's a right and wrong here, just what the system (Inkshares) dictates. would be great if Jeremy steps in and word his thoughts on the matter.

message 30: by Julian (new)

Julian Green | 20 comments I don't think there is a right and wrong here. People are just people. While you'll get some people who'll say 'this isn't the way I want to do things it feels icky' you'll have other people who'll say 'this is a competition. Outwit outlast outplay". The first beat their chests and cry foul, the second says, don't hate the player hate the game and the ticket to crazy town get's validated. People being people get emotive and then there is controversy and ill feeling.

My point is it's the credit system as it stands that has made this dilemma. (Every so often the rules keep changing and the goalposts move in an effort to curtail some behavior - so I can only surmise the management think it's a problem too).

Ergo the system needs fixing, not the people. From my perspective, it appears that since there is no distinction between Authors and Readers (even though they are two distinctly different groups with different goals and needs) that THIS is the problem.

When I first started this project months ago there was this nice pre-populated list in my dashboard of Inkshares users who I should pitch. Awesome. Audience - potential buyers!!!. How was this list created? I have no idea, garnered by some algorithm of doom no doubt. Diligently I went through, looked at everyone, and pitched them (wide-eyed unprepared child that I was).

How many purchases did I get for that considerable amount of time? Zip diddly, bingo, de nada. Since then, the expectation seems that I find my own readers and bring them to the site using social media (blech). Even though Inkshares "Readers" appears to have grown considerably, there are no new people showing up on the dashboard who might be interested in my project. Instead I must sift through members trying to find the people I want to pitch to, or walk the virtual corner wearing stiletto heels and a bad wig on social media doing a sexy wiggle and saying buy my book!!!

It's no wonder that Authors try the scattergun approach and think it's just a numbers game.

message 31: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Huang (christopher_huang) | 73 comments Joni, Jeremy HAS stepped in and given his thoughts. See this forum thread. Unless you're talking specifically about credits swapping? Because this thread was about pre-order swapping, which is a different thing.

Julian, I don't know if you read my last few posts on this subject. Pre-order swapping is still an issue even without the credit system in the picture; and it's not a question of fair or unfair: it's a question of whether you want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

message 32: by Rick (last edited Mar 15, 2016 01:04PM) (new)

Rick Heinz (crankybolt) | 72 comments Christopher wrote: "And it's no effort at all. It only takes one person with US$2500."

Except they can't: A single person can only buy at most 10 copies of a book. Even more, that would only land you into quill. Which is no where near the full published deal.

While in the future, it may be possible that there are over 250 authors, all with the financial capital to launch books into quill. Then all Inkshares has to do is generate profit off the community paying each other money. Because that's effectively what that would turn into.

Currently, no single author, or credit exploit exists that will allow one person with a boatload of cash, to automatically fund a book. The system is coded to prevent that. If you try to buy more than 10 copies of a book, it tells you that you've reached your maximum.

I know this because I tried to dump a few hundred dollars of credits myself. Instead I had to distribute it out among everyone, so I went on a giant book buying spree and bought basically everybodys book.

While in a perfect world I should of been discerning with those credits, they don't last forever and expire pretty quickly. So it was a use them or lose them scenario.

90% of the books I backed never even made it to their goal and fizzled away, taking their credits with them. (They aren't refunded as far as I can tell).

Regardless: The fear that one person with a rich aunt could just buy their way into publication with a full $15,000 investment just isn't going to happen anymore.

message 33: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Huang (christopher_huang) | 73 comments I don't think you get what I mean, Richard.

What I mean is this: an author with $2500 spends $10 each on 250 books, extracting a promise from each book's author that they will, in return, purchase his book. That's what pre-order trading leads to.

If it's not there yet, it's not only because we don't have that many writers funding at once--or do we? It's also because the official stance against pre-order trading leads many authors to think twice when faced with the offer.

Also, Inkshares points out that the money generated from the pre-order phase does not fully cover the cost of production. Having the community pay each other money would not generate a profit. The only way they can do that is if they publish a book that sells way beyond the pre-order goal.

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