Thursday, May 17, 2018

Sophie Stern Exclusive Interview (#NotMyClickFarm)

Today we’re talking with Sophie Stern about a subject that is causing a firestorm in the self-publishing industry. Sophie had all her book royalties from the Kindle Unlimited program revoked and her account on Amazon as an author was deleted. Tears of Crimson supports authors and we wanted to delve deeper into this travesty as well as share her work that was put on new publishing platforms after this debacle.

TOC:  Thank you for joining us today, Sophie. Can you tell us how long you’ve had your account with Amazon, and what made you decide to publish there?

SS:  Thank you so much for having me, Michelle. I really appreciate the chance to talk with you about this important issue. I have been publishing books with Amazon since 2011. During that time, I have sold books ranging from non-fiction educational guides to paranormal romance books. I began publishing with Amazon because I found the platform easy and simple to use. It seemed like a great place to reach a wide audience. Pretty much everyone I knew had an Amazon account and it was easy to do "free" days when I wanted to give away books.

TOC:  What response did Amazon give when they told you they were suspending your account?

SS:  They sent me a form letter letting me know my account had been flagged as being associated with people trying to manipulate the system. I received a warning in April and then a second email that notified me of a suspension in May. They suspended my account for two days before reinstating it. Then, a few days later, they deleted it completely. When my account suspension ended, I had completely unpublished all of my books from Amazon, so I have no idea what the violation was, nor did Amazon provide this information. I had also requested they remove my books from Kindle Unlimited. They did not reply to that email.

They simply sent me a letter letting me know that they were withholding all of my royalties and deleting my account entirely. Although I had explained several times that I was not marketing my books, nor was I paying anyone to read them, my account was still terminated. Throughout this ordeal, I only received form responses. Amazon did not reply to direct questions or concerns, nor would they speak with me via telephone about this issue. I was told the department that handles these issues does not have a phone line.

TOC:  I’ve never heard of “click farm” until last week, can you let our readers know what that is and why they believed you were involved with one?

SS:  A click farm, to my understanding, is when an author pays a company to read their Kindle Unlimited books. Because KU royalties are paid per-page read, this results in higher earnings for the author and artificially raises their page rank, resulting in more visibility on Amazon and other sites.

Unfortunately, Amazon did not tell me why they believed my books were associated with click farms. I have many books on the site ranging in topic and until this time, had not had trouble with Amazon.

TOC:  If Amazon had given you a chance to plead your case, what would you say to them?

SS:  When I emailed Amazon, I explained that over the last seven years of publishing with them, I have been careful to follow all regulations in regards to marketing and publishing. I've never tried to scam the system, so it's unfortunate that they find it necessary to punish an author who has played by the rules. If they gave me another chance to speak with them, I would ask to see the documentation that "proves" my account has been associated with click farms or illegal activities that violate the standards of the KDP contract. As it is, they have not provided any of this information.

TOC:  Do you feel that this was a personal attack by another author, or just a random act of book pirates?

SS:  I think that Amazon's hasty decision to delete my account entirely means there is more happening behind the scenes than I know about. To my knowledge, most other authors had their second warning and then their accounts were reinstated. Mine was not. It's hard to feel like this isn't personal, but I have no information on why my books were targeted. There is a lot of speculation in the author world right now as to whether these attacks were personal or random.

TOC:  Are you planning to take this matter to court?

SS:  Unfortunately, I cannot afford an attorney at this time. Amazon is withholding enough money from me that hiring a lawyer is not possible for me.

TOC:  Could you tell us, in your own words, what your thoughts are about what happened to you?

SS:  It's unfortunate and saddening and it breaks my heart a little bit. It's hard to feel like the world is crushing down on you. I've fought for success and I've written my heart out over these last seven years. Losing everything overnight has been incredibly painful emotionally and financially.

That said, it has been incredible to receive the emails and Facebook messages from readers who have offered their support and sympathy during this time. That truly means a lot to me. I appreciate each and every message.

TOC:  What are your plans now for your books?

SS:  My books will be available on other retailers. I still have a lot of stories to tell and I love my readers so much. The Fablestone Clan stories will continue, as will the Office Gentlemen series. These stories, along with my other books, will be available at iTunes, B&N, and KOBO.

TOC:  Where can readers go to learn more about you and your books?

SS:  The best place to stay updated on my stories is on my Facebook page: Readers can also reach me through my website at

TOC:  Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today, Sophie. We wish you success and you have our support.

SS:  Thank you so much, Michelle. It's been a pleasure. I wish you and your readers all the best.


A woman in danger…

A lost baby…

A long journey home…

Peggy is nothing special. As the night janitor at Westbridge High, she just wants to finish cleaning so she can hurry home and work on her art. For Peggy, nothing makes her feel more alive than when she's standing in front of a canvas. Then one night, everything changes…

A woman in trouble runs up to Peggy and gives her a child. She begs Peggy to take the child to Fablestone where the baby will be safe. From what? Peggy doesn't know. All she knows is that the two agents who show up on her doorstep the next day aren't with the FBI, and she'd bet anything they're scientists who want to get their hands on dragon's blood.

That's not going to happen.

Not on Peggy's watch.

Peggy doesn't have a choice. She has to get the baby to the Fablestone clan before the full moon ends. She has to reach Fablestone before it's too late.

The fate of the clan is resting on Peggy, and she swore a dragon's oath to return the child to its rightful home.

She'll do whatever it takes, even if it costs her everything.

Dragon's Oath (The Fablestone Clan Book 1):


My coronation day was supposed to be the most magical day of my life. After all, I've been waiting my entire life to become queen. There's no one better suited to rule over Draco Patriam - Dragon Country - than me.

If you talk to my twin sister, you'll hear a different story.

This time, Ruby has taken things too far. She's used magic to keep me out of the magical borders that surround our home.

And she's separated me from my mates: all four of them.

Hot, sexy, and completely enamored with me: my dragon-shifter mates are everything a girl could ever want, and I can't get to them because of my evil twin.

Now the clock is ticking.

I've got one year to find a way inside the magical borders that surround the castle and save my mates. Otherwise, we'll be separated for all eternity, Ruby will rule the dragon world, and me?

I'll be stuck in the human realm.

I can't let that happen.
The Royal Her (A Reverse Harem Paranormal Romance):


For Lindsey, things can't get much worse. She's unemployed, living in a crappy apartment, and in debt up to her ears. She can't see a way out of the mess she's living in until her former roommate, Victoria, offers up a strange idea.

A dragon man on the island is looking for a slave and he'll pay anything to get what he wants. The commitment is for one year. The payment: half a million dollars.

The only question is whether she's willing to give up a little bit of herself to get what she wants.

My Lord and Dragon (Dragon Isle Book 1):


Hope moves to Honeypot to escape a bad breakup. She gets a job as a ranch hand doing menial labor. It's hard work, but she doesn't mind. It gives her something to focus on besides her pain.

It takes her mind off her loser ex and focuses it on something useful, like gardening and feeding chickens.

But there's something strange about the Blair brothers. They're always whispering among themselves, sneaking off at night, and talking about things that don't make sense to her.

Before Hope can figure out what they're hiding, she finds herself falling for the oldest brother, Wyatt. He's tall, dark, handsome, and incredibly charming, but there's something more to the quirky cowboy.

Can Hope handle his secret?

Can he handle hers?

The Bear's Virgin Darling (Honeypot Darlings Book 1):

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