Confessions of a Kindle Store Content Farmer, Pt Two: It’s Harder Than It Looks

1353350976_b49bd57610_oWhen The Hustle published an editorial by a Kindle Store content farmer last Friday, they promised to follow up that post with one that details just how easy it is to game the Kindle Store.

That follow up was published yesterday, and I’m not sure it’s worth reading.

While the first (and possibly fake) post focused on an author who was using a ghostwriter to pump out low-quality books, The Hustle’s second post went in a different and much lazier direction. Rather than hire a ghost writer to crank out a few books, The Hustle instead decided to pirate an existing romance novel, plagiarise author bios, and then try to pass it off as a necessary part of the investigation.

Naturally this has authors pissed off. BookThingo has a good take on the author view, which is good because that lets me focus on the fact that the piracy was unnecessary and was also pointless because it did not actually prove the point that they were trying to make.

There was no need to pirate a book; ghost writers can be found cheap online if you know where to look. All it would have cost was a couple hundred dollars and a little extra time. Instead, they took the quick and lazy approach.

And while we’re on the topic, you should also know that The Hustle later rewrote the piece to de-emphasize their piracy. (Dear Author also reports that when they pointed out the piracy on Twitter, The Hustle blocked them. ) Here’s a webcache of the original piece, should you want to test your blood pressure medication. (Thanks, Lea!)

More importantly, they failed to prove the original point, that one can make money with crappy ebooks. The Hustle put a week into promoting their pirated ebook, and the best they could do was hit #897 on the free best seller list.

They only sold 9 copies.

In all honesty, I’m not sure that one could prove the original premise without investing more time and money than it is worth. But even if you could successfully game the Kindle Store, it would be wrong to extrapolate from one example to the entire store.

The Hustle ends their piece with an erroneous conclusion:

Call me a skeptic now, but until Amazon fixes the process and standards, I won’t be buying any self-published books (other than for entertainment purposes, of course). My life’s too short to waste reading content from busch-league “experts” so New York Times and Reddit, you have my attention. That said, stay tuned for Amber Ward’s highly anticipated next novel. Critics are already raving.

Way to smear an entire group based on your own actions, dude.


image  by Ted Drake


Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Bridget McKenna21 July, 2015

    Yep, sloppy. And tacky. And more than a bit icky.

    1. azteclady21 July, 2015

      Sloppy, tacky, icky–and illegal. Leave aside the utter lack of ethics, the lack of brains on doing something illegal–copyright violation, anyone? and for profit, no less?–is breathtaking.

      I’m dearly wishing the morons get the attention they are craving–and lazily strove to get–from Harlequin and its parent company.

  2. Mackay Bell21 July, 2015

    So, let me get this straight. If you plagiarize a book, format it, create a cover, put it on Amazon, create a fake biography with pictures, write 50 reviews, send 50 reviews to 50 friends and ask them to download a free copy (from registered Amazon accounts) and (joining you in committing fraud) post fake reviews, you can sell 9 copies of a book.

    Wow. Seems like if you have 50 friends who will happily join you in committing petty crime, there might be some more profitable scams you can pull off.

    It all reeks of a calculated Amazon smear job. Especially the link to the NY Times best seller list. As if that isn’t always being gamed too.

    1. Nate Hoffelder21 July, 2015

      That’s a good point. I don’t know that you’re right, but I do wonder.

  3. Lumen222221 July, 2015

    This entire website raises a lot of red flags. It appears to be running on fumes and boasts. It materialized recently, appears to have very few writers (all the of the very few articles are by the same small group of founders, none of whom appear to have a background in writing), and their claim to fame seems to be that they sold tickets to a series of lectures and then acquired 500K in funding that they used to launch the website.

    I’m wondering if the “The Hustle” itself might actually be a con. Aside from a slick website there isn’t much there.

    1. Kaetrin21 July, 2015

      Given that the book they ripped was a Harlequin, and given that Newscorp (aka Rupert Murdoch), maybe they won’t even have a slick website soon. I sincerely hope Hqn sue.

      1. Kaetrin21 July, 2015

        *sigh* hit send too soon. That was supposed to say:

        Given that the book they ripped was a Harlequin, and given that Newscorp (aka Rupert Murdoch) OWNS Harlequin, maybe they won’t even have a slick website soon.

  4. […] at The Digital Reader, Nate argues that not only was Havel’s plagiarism unnecessary, it didn’t even support […]

  5. Greg Strandberg22 July, 2015

    People will always look for shortcuts. That doesn’t mean they exist.

  6. […] Nat at the Digital Reader commented on this, here. […]

  7. […] Havel failed to prove his thesis. As Nate from the Digital Reader notes, not only was the plagiarism flagged pretty damned quick, but the best the assholes could do […]

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