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Literary Scam, or Social Media Run Amok?

NY Literary Magazine has been shut down by social media negativity after an ill-timed contest notification was sent on Christmas Day.

Was such an attack warranted?

I don’t know the truth, but I do admit to looking askance at the “nomination”. I’d never heard of the publication, and was unsure of the contest’s legitimacy.

And the magazine sure seemed to cave easily to the accusations.

However, there is an endorsement from Writer’s Digest, and one from the NY Times, either of which could have been confirmed after a simply inquiry. Did any netizens investigate before crying “Fake!” to the world?

Below are the invitation and the response from the magazine. Judge for yourselves.


Merry Christmas and Congratulations!!!
Dear Keanan,
You were nominated for the NY Literary Magazine “Best Story Award”.

Click here to submit your entry:
https://NYLiteraryMagazine.com/Best-Story-Award

Submission period ENDS on December 31st, 2017.

Merry Christmas!

Best wishes,

The NY Literary Magazine

PS: You can now add to your bio and credentials
that you are a 2017 Best Story Award Nominee.

“The prestige of such literary awards is immense for an author…awards drive up sales” – The NY Times

“Can do wonders for your writing career… one of the best ways to get your writing noticed!” – Writer’s Digest


Re: NY Literary Magazine Scam

Dear Author,

This is an official email from the NY Literary Magazine (NYLiteraryMagazine.com) regarding the Best Story Award contest, the nomination emails, the scam complaints, and the cyberbullying attacks upon our authors and our magazine. (This is the last email you will ever receive from us.)

What is this about?
On Christmas, an email was sent from NYLiteraryMag.org telling authors they were nominated for the Best Story Award contest and inviting them to submit their book to our contest.
It appears these emails angered people and caused them to believe our contest is a scam.

We would like to apologize for any annoyance, confusion, disappointment, or aggravation which the marketing email you received on Christmas may have caused you.

Additionally, there have been many inaccurate accusations circling around and cyberbully attacks upon authors who were awarded our award.
This has ruined our business and caused us to permanently shut down our magazine and contests.
Everyone who purchased an entry into our contest has been refunded.

After years of work on this magazine, we have had to fire our entire team of loyal, hard-working, full-time employees.

Who are we?
The NY Literary Magazine was a print and digital magazine.
We published free-to-read digital poetry anthologies, ran free-to-enter short story contests and poetry contests, interviewed authors, and wrote helpful articles.

The scam allegations are regarding an email sent out from NYLiteraryMag.org about our “Best Story Award” contest.
This is indeed a book contest we started and were running on our website with an extremely affordable reading fee.

What happened?
Regretfully, we outsourced our marketing to an Asian company to help us spread the word about our Best Story Award contest.
We believed they were experts and could help us reach authors.
It was our terrible mistake to entrust the entire marketing campaign in their hands including the marketing methods, approach, and text.
They sent out a marketing email on our behalf, from an email at nyliterarymag.org, at an unexpected time for USA time zone on Christmas.

Unfortunately, it appears they chose the wrong approach and terminology when inviting authors to our contest by telling them they were nominated instead of simply informing them of our contest and inviting them to join it.
It was our terrible mistake not to closely supervise and monitor each marketing action they did and the text they used.

For other businesses such as VIP Entrepreneur clubs (with ~$1,000 annual membership fees), sending a nomination email instead of an invite to join their clubs worked very well. Our marketing agency, therefore, presumed this was a good way to approach authors as well. They even thought that authors who didn’t want to/couldn’t afford the $15 entry fee to our contest would still be happy to be nominated and be able to mention it in their bio.
They did not think there would be an issue with nominating multiple authors.
Nor did they think it would annoy authors to be nominated.

We apologize to all the authors who feel they were misled by being nominated.

In reply to the inaccurate accusations:

We are shocked at the number of inaccurate allegations which are circling on social media regarding us, our magazine, our anthologies, and contest. To make matters worse, some forum threads are locked and comments disabled on websites so we can’t even answer the accusations.

“The award seal is fake.”
The award seal is a PNG image. What exactly can be fake or “real” about a PNG image?
We never claimed winners would receive a physical, solid gold sticker for their book.

“You’re selling award seals for $15. Everyone is an award winner, you just have to buy the award to win.”
These accusations are completely false. We are not selling award seals. We never have and we never will.
Nowhere on the sales page does it say we’re selling award seals.
$14.95 was the initial entry fee (which was later raised to $19.95) for the contest. Award winners were to receive an award seal for free.
Stating “everyone is a winner” is also false. We have 1 winner per month per genre.
Obviously, those spreading these false accusations and outright lies didn’t even visit the website or the contest’s page.

“The nomination email came from a mailing list. Only scammers use mailing lists!”
It takes a lot of time to contact people one by one. Even authors use mailing services to contact all their readers in one go rather than sitting for days sending individual emails.

“The authors you say won an award don’t have it on their book covers. It’s a scam! They didn’t really win!”
It is up to the award-winners if and how they choose to use our award seal.
All we do is inform the winners. Whether or not they choose to use our award seal is up to them.
We showed 3 examples of how awards CAN be used on a book’s cover for illustration purposes.

“Their free contests prove they’re scammers. It’s a trick, a way to make you like their magazine.”
Interesting. So we’re a “scammer” if we charge entry fees and we’re a scammer if we don’t charge entry fees.
Hard to please everyone. At least our poetry contest winners were happy when they won our free-to-enter contests.

“They say you were nominated but have to pay to be nominated.”
Authors nominated were not required to pay anything to be nominated.
Some nominated authors posted the picture of our trophy statute they were nominated for and used it for their marketing without paying to enter our contest. They didn’t have to pay to be nominated.
If they did not want to enter our contest, they did not have to. No one was forced to enter.
Those who wished to have a chance to win the awards paid the low entry fee and entered their book.

“Your contest is a scam. You are stealing people’s money.”
Some authors think our contest and magazine is a scam due to the marketing email they received about being nominated.
Our contest was a normal book contest with a low entry fee.
Many contests have entry fees. Whether or not the marketing email was misleading or annoying is another matter but that does not turn our entire magazine and contest into a scam.

“There is no submission page! It’s a scam!”
Due to a PayPal IPN issue, clients who purchased an entry were not automatically redirected to the contest submission page. Moreover, after many people reported us as spammers, our confirmation emails no longer reached our clients’ inboxes.

We have been dealing for the past days with hundreds of support tickets.
Each of our clients has been given the URL to the submission page where they successfully managed to submit their work, while we worked on fixing the IPN and form issue. It was only today that we realized what the issue was after PayPal sent us the email you see us above.

There is a contest submission page. People have been using it to submit their work.
These allegations that there is no submission page are false.

“Your stealing money! People can enter the same contest for free on another page on your site.”
Someone claimed our Best Story Award contest (which is a full-length story/book contest) is the exact same contest as our free-to-enter short fiction story contest. These two contests are completely different. One is for books the other for short fiction stories up to 2,000 words. Seemingly, this person did not visit the contest page or bother verifying facts.

“Stop trying to pretend you’re a literary agency!”
This comment which was posted on our “List of 20 Top Literary Agents Representing Fiction Authors” really surprised us.
The article is a resource listing 20 top literary agents with contacts to them or links to their websites.
Nowhere on or off our site did we ever claim to be a literary agency in any form or manner. We are not a literary agency. We are a magazine.

“Scammers always put “NY” in their name. It’s a red alert flag.”
NY is one of the biggest publishing centers. We had no idea the city/state’s name has a reputation as a scammer. That person should perhaps inform the NY Times to change their name and branding as well.

“The reviews you quote from authors are fake! They didn’t enter your contest. You’re using them to bait others.”
The authors who were featured on our sales page were all indeed awarded the “Best Story Award” by our magazine.
Yes, they did not pay to enter this contest. They submitted their book for review to our magazine on their own accord at some point during 2017.
We awarded them this honor because we believe their book is great and they deserve the award.
We have a right to award an award to anyone we want to.
We quoted exactly what they said in reply to our email in which we told them they won our award.
We did not quote anything which they did not say. We did not invent, modify, or add anything to what they said.

“On the PayPal receipt, it says Goodwin Media Group not NY Literary Magazine! Scaaaaam!”
Yes, the magazine is run under the umbrella of Goodwin Media Group (GMG). Many websites are owned by companies which have different names than the actual website domain name. We informed our customers on the thank you page after payment that they would see GMG on their PayPal receipt.

“The quotes on your page are fake.”
We have a section talking in general about how winning an award can help an author.
We quoted what various reliable sources such as The Independent Publisher and others have to say about how winning an award or being placed in contests is helpful for an author’s career, for their credibility, and for getting more sales etc.
We quoted true facts about winning awards and contests in general. We did not lie and say this is what they said about our contest.

“Your anthologies are fake.”
There is nothing fake about our anthologies. They are filled with original art and with poems written by real people who submitted their work to our mag and were overjoyed about being published. We even offer the anthologies in a free-to-read digital format.

Since the founding of the NY Literary Magazine, we have worked long and hard to turn it into a beloved and respectable magazine. We worked hard to design each of our free-to-read anthologies, read through thousands of free poetry and short story submissions, write articles to help authors, provide useful resources, and grow our readership. We did all this work in the past years at our own cost.

“You hired an Asian provider. Ha! That proves you’re scammer.”
American marketing agencies charge extremely high fees.
Many companies outsource their marketing to Asia/India.
There are tens of thousands of Asian marketing companies on sites such as Upwork.com
It is very hard to know who is good or not.
Simply hiring an Asian marketing company does not make us a scammer.
If an author hires a Phillipino assistant for $300/mo to answer emails, this doesn’t make the author a scammer either.

“The poor Asians! All the scammers always blame them.”
We are not the only company who has had bad experiences with outsourced providers.
It’s a matter of luck.
Yes, we know we made a mistake by not monitoring all the marketing campaigns.
But that one wrongly worded email does not make us scammers.

A big apology to all the authors who are suffering due to the lies spread about them “buying” an award seal from us…

For two years, we’ve been running free-to-enter poetry and short story contests and publishing free-to-read digital magazines and print anthologies. We even spent time training and monitoring 20 interns who read through thousands of free poetry submissions this summer.

We made tens of writers around the world happy. Writers published by our magazine sent us heartwarming thank you notes. Some said being published is what gave them the strength to continue writing especially after receiving discouraging letters from agents and publishers they contacted.
Others from extremely poor countries (Nigeria, Botswana, India) were overjoyed to have an opportunity to submit their work for free to a magazine and to have their voices heard.
We featured writers of every nationality, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
Even our interns enjoyed working for us and were grateful for all the things they learned.

Since our anthologies are free, our poetry contests are free, and submissions to our magazine are free, we needed a way to sustain our magazine for the future, which is why we launched the Best Story Award contest.

We are completely devastated and shattered from the extent of hate mail, comments, messages, tweets, lies and false accusations that were posted online which have totally blackened our name and destroyed our magazine – all based on a single email with one wrongly-worded sentence.

It’s shocking how many people have posted blatant lies which weren’t based on any facts and how many more people have shared, retweeted, and quoted those lies without ever checking to see if it’s true or at least visiting our website.

Worse still, it is truly horrible to see how cruel some humans can be.
Some unsuccessful, jealous authors are spending days contacting the fans of authors who won an award from us or received a book review, telling their fans lies in an attempt to ruin the author’s reputation, turn their readers against them, destroy years of their hard work to build up their careers and readership, and ruin their lives for no reason and under the guise of “saving them from a scam”.

We love our authors and feel terrible to hear what some of them are going through thanks to these misguided people! This has been a heartbreaking Christmas.

We hope those people who spread the lies and worked so hard to destroy honest people’s lives are now satisfied.
We have closed our contest. Refunded everyone who entered.

There will be no more free-to-enter contests. No more free-to-read anthologies.
No more articles. No more anything.

We had the heartbreaking task of firing our team of loyal, hard-working employees. 10 people are now jobless after Christmas.

Please leave the poor authors alone. They did nothing wrong by receiving a book review from our magazine or receiving an award from us. Stop ruining their lives for no reason. Go work on your book instead.

To all the rest of you, we wish you all the best success in your career and a happy life!

Sincerely,

The NY Literary Magazine Team

Copyright © 2017 NY Literary Magazine, All rights reserved.
This is the last email you will ever receive from the NY Literary Magazine.
Our mailing address is:
NY Literary Magazine
Unit 31321 808 Commerce Park Drive
Ogdensburg, NY 13669
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Dragon’s Bane Update

Dragon’s Bane Update

First, a bit of housekeeping: The recent Goodreads giveaway was a success. Not quite as many participants as the 2015 giveaway, there were still a large number of entrants interested in Dragon’s Rook. The winners are Jessica from the Netherlands, and Sheila from New Mexico. Signed paperback copies have been mailed, and should arrive soon.

Second, questions have been asked by readers concerning the availability of Dragon’s Bane, the second half of The Lost Sword duology. They have served as prods to speed up the completion of the story:

1) I just finished Dragon’s Rook and loved it. Any news on when the sequel will be available for purchase? I can’t wait!

(T)hank you for the kind review! We writers pour pieces — minutes, hours, years — of our lives into our work, so when readers receive it well, we are encouraged to continue.

As for when Dragon’s Bane will be available, I had hoped it would be completed and published by January 2016, but life matters took me away from it for a long while. (I won’t bore you with the details.) However, I hope to have it ready soon.

Today’s revisions included (SPOILER ALERT) a reunion scene between two characters who each thought the other was dead. 🙂

2) I just finished Dragon’s Rook, really liked it. I was wondering when the sequel is coming?

First, thank you for reading the book!

Second, I’m pleased that you enjoyed it.

Third, I wanted the book completed and published this year. However, due to life circumstances, my writing has been quite slow. Dragon’s Bane is about one-third complete, and there are copious notes regarding unwritten scenes.

The ending scene was written about fifteen years ago — believe it or not! — but it may change. I’m exploring a couple of potential plot twists that never occurred to me during the writing of the first book, but which may deepen the story even further.

Below is a taste, a scene from the first third of the book, a confrontation between Lady Yanámari and her mother, Queen Una:

The eyes widened, the fury grew, and as it did, Queen Una fully materialized, her form solid, even the tiny creases around her eyes and mouth delineated. She released Yanámari and stepped back, lifting her arms from her sides and lowering her head, looking at Yanámari from beneath dark brows.

As the queen opened her mouth to speak, Yanámari laughed. The sight was too comical: flowing black garments, menacing stare, threatening posture. A bit too much like the Hôk Nar Brethren. In the past two days, she had seen more amazing things than this.

Beside, what true power resorted to manipulation and magic?

There was something external about magic, as if the one who practiced it and the one upon whom it was practiced were both tools of a capricious power that must be cajoled and lured with secret rites and careful spells. Is that where her mother had been all these years? Learning the dark arts? What an absurd expenditure of time.

Where was she when I was a child and longed for a mother? When I might have loved her?

But there was no hope of traveling that road—the cart had already passed.

(c2016, KB)

For more information or to read reviews, visit keananbrand.com.

 

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Step Right Up!

Step Right Up!

(rabid used-car-salesman gestures and wild-eyed look) “Step right up, folks! A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”

The lawyer clears his throat, and the salesman amends his pitch. “A once-in-a-year opportunity!”

The lawyer nods.

“Enter now to win one of two signed paperback copies of Dragon’s Rook!”

And, for those readers who don’t prefer the high-pressure sales pitch, here’s a graphic with an embedded link, which you may click or not, as you wish. 😉

2 Win a FREE Book!

 

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A Brief Word About Beta Readers

A Brief Word About Beta Readers

In a discussion on Facebook, someone asked the difference between a beta reader and an editor, and the cost one might expect to pay for the services of either. When I said that one should not pay for beta readers, there was disagreement. However, I still maintain that one need not pay for beta readers.

Consider them your product testers. They’re the focus group who tries out the new invention, samples a new product, gives feedback on an upcoming ad campaign, views an early cut of a movie, or tests a new video game to see if it plays as it should.

If you (or a close, trusted individual) are the alpha reader of your manuscript, then beta readers are the folks who see the final, pre-publication draft. That version can still be a manuscript, or it can take the form of a galley or proof copy of the book.*

In return for their effort on your behalf, give beta readers a signed copy of the published book, or offer to read or test something they’ve created.

But don’t hire beta readers as you would hire an editor. And while editors can provide a similar service in the form of a manuscript critique,** there’s nothing like getting feedback directly from readers — who are, of course, a writer’s intended audience.


UPDATE (8-7-16): The paragraphs below are from a reader’s comments in a Facebook discussion sparked by this blog post. They expand upon and better explain what I attempted above.

A beta tester for a video game or other piece of software enters into an agreement wherein he receives a free or discounted early release of the software to use, and in return, the tester will tell the company what he thinks about the software — what does or doesn’t work, what is or isn’t intuitive, what he would like to see changed or further developed, etc. The beta tester is not paid for his work. He is asked, as an average user, to give the company his average-user opinion of the product. At best, he gets a free copy of the software, but it is both understood and accepted (and generally stated in some Terms and Conditions document somewhere, for legal reasons) in the IT community that beta testers are not compensated.

Testers who are hired on for their services are not hired to come at the software from the average user’s perspective; they are hired to make sure that the software functions appropriately (e.g. program doesn’t crash on loading, save function actually functions, etc.). They are hired to seek out and fix problems with the software, not to provide the average user’s perspective. These testers are not referred to as beta testers, because that’s not the job they do.

A beta reader receives a free or discounted early release of a book to read, and in exchange, the reader will tell the author what he thinks of the book — what does or doesn’t seem to fit or flow well in the story, what does or doesn’t make sense, what he would like to see further explained or developed, etc. This makes a beta reader the exact literary equivalent to a software beta tester. Traditionally, beta readers are treated the same as beta testers — that is, they are not paid for their services. And there is nothing wrong with that.

For clarification, if any reader, compensated or otherwise, provides any services outside what I listed above (other services include but are not limited to any form of editing, proofreading, etc.), then he has ceased to be a beta reader and strayed into editor/manuscript critic territory.


* It’s best if beta readers are honest with you about what works or doesn’t, what they like or don’t like, and are willing to give specific feedback (not merely generic “I hate it” or “I like it” statements, but detailed responses).

Prepare a list of questions for them to answer, so they know what kind of feedback you need. Example: “In the scene where Tara is driving Sven to the airport and they encounter an overturned ambulance, is the dialogue and action believable? Why or why not?”

Keep the questions simple and straightforward, and keep the list short. Try not to make the readers feel they’re doing homework, but make it easy for them to help you.

Also provide readers with a simple way of reporting any typos or grammar issues they find. It’s handy when they provide you a page number, and maybe even a paragraph and a line number — “page 35, paragraph 3, line 7” — as well as a description of what’s wrong (“dipsolve” should be “dissolve”). 

** Manuscript critiques may cover such issues as continuity, characterization, worldbuilding, etc. Regular editing may also touch on those issues, but will also focus on the writing itself.

 

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Poetry Giveaway

poetry-anthology-coversalt-flats-and-moon

It’s a short volume — less than seventy pages — but it spans two or three decades’ worth of poems inspired by the author’s life, relationships, troubles, daydreams, and family.

And she’s giving away signed paperback copies to five winners of a Goodreads giveaway:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Laughing at the Moon by Elizabeth Easter

Laughing at the Moon

by Elizabeth Easter

Giveaway ends March 31, 2016.

 

 

UPDATE (April 5, 2016):
The giveaway is ended, and the winners are chosen! They are from Italy, Ireland, England, and the United States. Congratulations to all!

 

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The Shock of Night: The Darkwater Saga, Book 1, by Patrick Carr

The Shock of NightWelcome! Step inside for Day 2 of The Shock of Night blog tour. (My brief introduction to this month’s feature novel for the CSFF Blog Tour can be read here.)

Due to life-related factors, today’s entry will be equally brief. Others in the tour have delved into the writing itself and the spiritual and theological aspects of this fantasy-mystery tale, but I was struck by the inclusion of a PTSD-stricken protagonist (although such modern terminology was not used). In Carr’s previous series, the hero was an alcoholic young man who was abused since childhood — not typical fantasy fare.

In this series, the hero — Willet Dura — is a would-be priest who was sent to war, but his mind has shut out an important chunk of those experiences. Not only is part of his memory missing, he sleepwalks, and his job as one of the king’s reeves means he encounters death in many forms. In fact, he has a strange fascination with it, and he questions the dead about what they know now that they’re, well, dead.

I like that I can connect with Carr’s fictional folk. He knows that externals do not make up a man’s character, that not everything is what it seems, and that anything and anyone can change.

And they do.

Dura’s study of the dead takes a step toward the further-weird when he gains the ability to read the thoughts of the living.

I wrote yesterday that this is fantasy for grownups, but I think teens would like it, too.

And for readers who don’t want only mystery-solving or action scenes, there’s a quiet romance between Dura and Gael, a well-off young lady whose uncle is scheming up an advantageous marriage that doesn’t include Dura.

One thing that leans this story toward the grownup end of the readership is precisely that romance, and the other decisions and sacrifices that must be made. These characters aren’t teenagers in a coming-of-age tale, but are already adults who’ve been shaped by war and torment, hardship and abuse. Even allies can be at odds with one another, and pride and ignorance still cause folk to stumble, but — as a forty-something reader — it’s refreshing to encounter a fantasy yarn for readers older than sixteen. 😉

For other perspectives of The Shock of Night, visit these other stops on the blog tour:

Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
Carol Bruce Collett
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rani Grant
Rebekah Gyger
Bruce Hennigan
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jessica Thomas
Robert Treskillard
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Michelle R. Wood

 

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The Shock of Night

The Shock of NightThis month’s feature novel for the CSFF Blog Tour is fantasy for grownups, but without the “grit” / “edginess” (sex scenes, foul language, gratuitous violence) of some other, more famous series. It’s unnecessary here.

The Shock of Night, the first book in The Darkwater Saga by Patrick Carr, is fantasy-meets-murder mystery. Its protagonist is Willet Dura, one of the king’s reeves, who has a strange interest in the dead: He wants to know what they know, see what they see.

What he gains, though, is an ability to read the pasts and the thoughts of the living.

A gift he isn’t supposed to possess.

A gift that could unlock his own forgotten past.

A gift that could cost him his life.

———- * ———- * ———-

The novella By Divine Right is a prequel to the series and is free on Kindle, but all the necessary details can be picked up by readers in The Shock of Night.

Still, FREE. How can you pass that up? 😉

———- * ———- * ———-

I’ll be discussing the book over the next couple of days. Meantime, read more about it at these other stops along the tour:

Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
Carol Bruce Collett
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rani Grant
Rebekah Gyger
Bruce Hennigan
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jessica Thomas
Robert Treskillard
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Michelle R. Wood

 

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