Authors Break Laws Without Knowing It

3 marketing mondayThat’s right, there are authors out there breaking laws without knowing it, and you might just be one of them. I’ve been seeing a lot of advertisements by indie authors lately, which is great–but I came to the abrupt realization that some of these authors may be breaking the laws of trademark without knowing it. The reason? I’m seeing more and more authors utilizing the trademark logos of those vendors that currently sell their novels. This struck me because many of these vendors hold strict trademark laws over their logos, and they are even more strict on letting people use these logos. While I am sure some of these authors may have received permission from the companies, I highly doubt many of them have (the advertisements lack the disclosure materially required by the vendors). The process of approval of using a trademark involves a tedious process that just wouldn’t be worth the effort for a two day sale when you can simply use the name of the company. Now, you may be wondering, why do they care so much that I use their logo? They sell my books after all! Yes, they do sell your books, but their logo represents dollar symbols for them, and not only that, it represents an implied endorsement of that trademark. Trademark can be tricky, while you can mention a name of a company in your novel (see THIS article for the specifics) as long as it’s not in a disparaging way, using it in an advertisement is a completely different animal. This is especially true if you have your name next to it. Here are the specific requirements of book vendors you may be using:

AMAZON-

Amazon used to completely forbid the usage of their trademarked logos for Kindle and the Amazon.com website, but they have became a tad bit more lenient. When I say a “tad bit”, I mean it. They allow it, but they sure as hell won’t make it easy. They are “excited” to offer you the ability to do it if you jump through hoops. Now, let me preface this with the fact that I have not personally attempted to do this, as I don’t run sales for long enough that the time involved would be beneficial.  If you’re an author who has contacted Amazon and received permission, please be sure to leave a comment below about the process and the ease or difficulty of it. Amazon’s very specific guidelines are listed below and you can view the entire article by clicking any where within it:

These Guidelines apply to your use of trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. and/or its affiliates (“Amazon“), including AMAZON, KINDLE, KINDLE FIRE, the AMAZON KINDLE logo and the KINDLE FIRE logo (each a “Trademark” and collectively the “Trademarks“). Strict compliance with these Guidelines is required at all times, and any use of a Trademark in violation of these Guidelines will automatically terminate any license related to your use of the Trademarks.

1. You may use the Trademark solely for the purpose expressly authorized by Amazon and your use must: (i) comply with the most up-to-date version of all agreement(s) with Amazon regarding your use of the Trademarks (collectively “Agreements“); (ii) comply with the most up-to-date version of these Guidelines; and (iii) comply with any other terms, conditions, or policies that Amazon may issue from time to time that apply to the use of the Trademark.
2. We will supply an approved Trademark image for you to use. You may not alter the Trademark in any manner, including but not limited to, changing the proportion, color, or font of the Trademark, or adding or removing any element(s) from the Trademark.
3. You may only use the Trademark as specifically authorized under the Agreements.
4. You may not use the Trademark in any manner that implies sponsorship or endorsement by Amazon.
5. You may not use the Trademark to disparage Amazon, its products or services, or in a manner which, in Amazon’s sole discretion, may diminish or otherwise damage or tarnish Amazon’s goodwill in the Trademark.
6. The Trademark must appear by itself, with reasonable spacing between each side of the Trademark and other visual, graphic or textual elements. Under no circumstance should the Trademark be placed on any background which interferes with the readability or display of the Trademark.
7. You must include the following statement in any materials that display the Trademark: “Amazon, Kindle, Kindle Fire, the Amazon Kindle logo and the Kindle Fire logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.”
8. You acknowledge that all rights to the Trademark are the exclusive property of Amazon, and all goodwill generated through your use of the Trademark will inure to the sole benefit of Amazon. You will not take any action that is in conflict with Amazon’s rights in, or ownership of, the Trademark.

 

Amazon reserves the right, exercisable at its sole discretion, to modify these Guidelines and/or the approved Trademarks at any time and to take appropriate action against any use without permission or any use that does not conform to these Guidelines.

If you have questions about these Guidelines, please contact trademarks@amazon.com for assistance, or write to us at: Amazon.com, Inc., Attention: Trademarks, PO Box 81226 Seattle, WA 98108-1226.

Now, number four is where this all becomes very tricky for the author. You want to put their logo on your advertisement and in any way you shake that, it pretty much amounts to an endorsement. Then there’s number five–another key to the fact many of these authors are breaking trademark law–you have to give ample space between other symbols. The fact is, Amazon doesn’t play nice with Barnes & Noble, and for that matter, Kobo, or anyone else. The final nail in the trademark infringement coffin? Number Seven! Each book vendor requires the same disclosure for each of their trademarks with their names disclosed–in a small advertisement where you want to give your novel presence, you would be giving more presence to disclosure for trademark usage. Furthermore, upon more research there are logo guidelines that also must be adhered to and give size, colors, etc that can be used (see HERE). The good news is, as an author selling through their digital media, you become exempt to the written authorization requirement as long as you use their approved logos (see HERE) and use the words Available For or Available From while still adhering to the above quoted usage regulations.

BARNES & NOBLE-

I wasn’t able to find any information relating specifically to advertisements that was outside of their normal terms and conditions. These Terms and Conditions are agreed upon when you sign up for Nook Press. Below is the portion on Trademark (for the full Terms and Condtions see HERE)

II. TRADEMARKS
Barnes & Noble.com, Barnes & Noble, Inc., or their respective parents, subsidiaries, or affiliates, or third parties from whom Barnes & Noble.com has permission, own the trademarks or service marks that are used on the Barnes & Noble.com Site. All rights are reserved. These and other graphics, logos, service marks, trademarks and trade dress of Barnes & Noble.com and its licensors may not be used without prior written consent of Barnes & Noble.com or its licensor, as the case may be. Without limiting the foregoing, no Barnes & Noble.com trademark or trade dress may be used in connection with any product or service that is not Barnes & Noble.com’s, in any manner that is likely to cause confusion among Users, or in any manner that disparages or discredits Barnes & Noble.com.

It’s safe to assume that Barnes and Noble operates it’s logo and trademark usage much like that of Amazon, with the exception that it may be even harder to receive permission to use the logo. It appears that there is no exemptions as is allowed on Amazon on the written agreement requirement.

KOBO-

Unfortunately, the most guidance I found was to look at the Kobo Brand Guidelines, which I found on the ABA, but wasn’t able to open without joining and paying a fee. Again, it’s safe to assume that their business operates under the same guidelines of other major booksellers.

Head spinning yet? Now, if you’ve violated this– you may just get a cease and desist order, or you may never hear anything at all (a lawsuit could occur, but it’s cost-prohibitive, so the most you will probably get is the order). What you do risk is readers, agents or publishers that do know these laws seeing you as being less professional, when you were only attempting to appear more professional. In the end sticking with the simple usage of the company that your books are sold at is easier, and leaves less room for reputation risk for your brand as an author. You can still create a killer advertisement without those logos, and in all honesty, if you sell at more than two retailers, the logos just clutter the advertisement and take away from your goal– intriguing the reader and getting them to “One-Click” your novel.

 

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My Author Ethics

DisclosuresAs a published author it is important to acknowledge that certain ethics come with the job. I pride myself in being professional with a high level of honestly, integrity and passion. I write many of my blog posts from my experience in the publishing and sales world. My publishing background has evolved from my original journey as a self-published author in 2012 to an Indie Amazon Bestseller as of today. My sales background includes ten years in sales, seven of which have been spent in the financial industry, including six years experience as a supervisor and top selling agent for the institution I worked for. I am currently a Retail Banking Operations Manager and Project Manager who develops Sales Campaigns, Initiatives and Training programs for the bank, along with numerous duties involving maintenance of 220+ procedures (writing, editing, creating and monitoring) and marketing projects. I am also studying to receive my degree in Marketing and plan on pursuing a second degree in Graphic Design.

BLOG reviewsAs a published author, my reading has taken a significant hit because of time restrictions, but also ethical issues. It’s much easier to write a review when you aren’t an author. When you are, any criticism is not taken kindly. That being said I would like to disclose the following as my strict policies for reviewing:

  1. I never accept review copies from other authors. If asked I will politely decline and advise that I will look at the book description, and if interested, I will purchase the book and review it in my own time.
  2. I will no longer post reviews of Self-Published or Independent Authors that are three stars and under. I will rate the novel as is such on Goodreads, and post that the author may contact me for a full review if they are interested. I will not rate novels under three stars of authors I personally know or have an acquaintance with. This creates a blackmail situation in which I do not wish to be involved.
  3. I will follow the following format when reviewing novels:
  • Star Ratings can and may have 1/2 Stars
  • Each Review will include an Overall Star Rating
  • Each Review will be broken down into the following individual Star Ratings with explanations for the ratings:

-Book Description: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Cover: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Plot: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Creativity: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Grammar: 1-5 Stars; 5 being error free (this will NEVER happen, not even with major pubbed books)

-Simile Use: 1-5 Stars; 5 stars being the best, meaning no similes were used. 1 meaning similes were used in excess and pulled me out of the novel.

-Description: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best

-Show Not Tell: 1-5 Stars; 5 being the best- dialogue driven without excessive and obtrusive description

Additionally, please keep the following in mind for reviews of my novels:

  1. I do not respond to negative reviews of my own novels, but I may, at my discretion, respond to positive reviews.
  2. I never pay for reviews.
  3. I do directly contact bloggers to request reviews.
  4. I will never ask a reviewer to not post a review because it doesn’t show my novel in the best light. That is their right. If they are a part of the blog tour for the release of the novel that is hosted by myself and or my publisher, I will state that I prefer the review not be posted as a part of the tour–but I do not require/condemn it.
  5. You can contact me if you would like to review any of my novels via Goodreads messaging.
  6. I may share good reviews on Social Media, but will not concentrate on them.
  7. I hold the right to not read each and every review that is written for my novels.
  8. I disclose that I do not read reviews of my novel that are personal attacks (yes, these do happen).
  9. I disclose that I do not tend to read reviews that are 2 stars or under.
  10. I respect a reviewers opinion. I acknowledge that my writing style is not for everyone.
  11. Don’t be surprised if I like a JPEG you created for your review and ask if I can use it in marketing materials, but I will always ask permission and give credit on the materials to your blog or you.
  12. I save all fan art to my Pintrest board.

ARCAny reviews posted before the release date of my novels will be of UNEDITED Advance Reader Copies (hence referred to as ARCs). An ARC is an unedited Galley that is distributed by myself and my publisher before the publication date to solicit early reviewers; this includes both electronic and paperback additions. The novel is disclosed as an ARC with with words “Unedited Advance Reader Copy” on the electronic or paperback cover. The following disclosure is issued to each receiver of the ARC from myself and my publisher:

This is an UNEDITED Advance Reader Copy that will contain grammar and syntax errors. The final version of this novel may appear slightly different in content, but plot and characters will remain the same.

E-ARCS will additionally have the following disclosure:

This novel is a review copy for your use and your use only. This file is not to be shared, forwarded, or otherwise misused under copyright law.

The paperback versions will be used for promotional purposes and will also include the word “PROOF” on the back page. This will never be sold for a profit. Additional information and format changes may occur before the final version is released.

In addition to being used to solicit early reviewers, the electronic version will be utilized as a gift to those that participate in Promotional Events before the release date of the novel, including, but not limited to, cover reveals. If you participate in a Promotional Event and are given an E-ARC, reviews are welcome, but not required.

Reviewers are asked to take into account that any copies (ARCs) given before the publishing date contain such errors.

Feature FridayI do cross promote other authors on my blog. This doesn’t necessarily mean I have read their work, but I do believe in assisting other authors in their goals. I reserve Fridays as promotional days for other authors, but may participate in tours on other days if they cannot or do not fall on a Friday. My release dates (including cover reveals) do fall on Fridays, and I will promote my own novel on Feature Fridays. Feature Friday is open to authors to approach myself for interviews, cover reveals, or other promotional items with the exception of reviews (see the above review policy).

BLOG ratingPG-18

While I have published Young Adult novels, and write/illustrate Children’s Novels, this blog will be utilized to promote my New Adult novel and other novels in the genre. Thus, the rating is PG-18 due to slight to moderate sexual content and language that may be contained in Excerpts or Teasers.

WIP: Flawed Perfection Book Trailer

2 wip wednesdayI must say I am super proud of myself this week. It’s my vacation, by which I mean, it’s my time to just concentrate on getting this new book done right! So after seeing a post Ruth Silver did on Animoto, I got my butt over to their website to check out how I could make a book trailer for Flawed Perfection. I did trailers for In Between Seasons and Walking in the Shadows, but when it came to Love Exactly I’d run out of music options from my husband, and the amount of work times the amount of people who viewed the trailer didn’t seem to add up. I’ve seen some book trailers that were just…well…scary. They were either too short to peak my interest, or too long that I got bored. When I saw Ruth’s post on Book Trailers, I thought it might be time to take a second look, especially after she said it was as simple as getting your pictures together and dropping them in. Then she said it was free! I looked over Animoto and opted to go for their monthly version which costs $5.00 so that I could have enough time to really get the reader hooked, but not too long that they got bored. Animoto is great because it instantly customizes a video to your specifications and selects music for you. Now, you have a choice of thousands of prebuilt templates and music, but the music that came with the template I fell in love with matched perfectly so I didn’t have to do much searching there. I also liked how Animoto has some free photographs you can use, along with free motion videos to add in. I opted to use my own photographs and ones from public domain, and one motion video. This took me about 20 minutes to do all together, and I love it! I’m hoping the readers will too! Without further ado, here is the book trailer for Flawed Perfection (Beautifully Flawed, #1)

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon Book Valentines!

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The 3rd annual Blogger Love-a-Thon has officially began!

The Mini-Challenge I will be participating in today is the Mash Up Challenge! This is where we talk about some combined loves–like, for me, music and books! I’m going to share my go to writing playlist and favorite music videos of all time!

Now, you are all pretty aware that I’m a metal-screamo-heavy screamin-hot rockers kind of girl. This mix-up has everything from the heavy stuff that made my dad buy earplugs to the slightly squeaky squeals that make my husband’s heavy metal heart turn over (in agony–hey, we can’t agree on everything!)

  1. Sleeping with Sirens – Congratulations
  2. Bring Me the Horizon – Can You Feel My Heart
  3. Bring Me the Horizon – Shadow Moses
  4. Of Mice & Men – The Depths
  5. Sleeping with Sirens – Alone
  6. Of Mice & Men – Blame It
  7. Asking Alexandria – Right Now (Na Na Na)
  8. Sleeping with Sirens – If You Can’t Hold On
  9. Crown the Empire – Payphone
  10. Issues – Boyfriend
  11. Tyler Carter- Mirrors (Cover)
  12. Bring Me the Horizon – Go To Hell, for Heaven’s Sake
  13. 10 Years- Minus the Machine
  14. Woe is Me – Vengence
  15. Blessthefall – What’s Left of Me
  16. 32 Leaves – All is Numb
  17. Sting – Fortress Around Your Heart
  18. Maroon 5 – Payphone
  19. Choidos – Notes in Constellations
  20. Issues – Love Sex Riot

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon Twitter Party!

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The 3rd annual Blogger Love-a-Thon has officially began! Don’t forget to take part in the awesome Twitter party! #Loveathon

8-9 P.M. EST

Twitter chat/party: Come help us say farewell to the 2014 Love-A-Thon with a blogging, bookish, awesomesauce Twitter Chat with our moderator of the evening, Katelyn (@KatelynTorrey), co-host Alexa (@alexalovesbooks), and all the #LoveAThon-ers! For our last Twitter chat of the event we will be reflecting on the Love-A-Thon, what we liked, what we didn’t, what we had the most fun doing, etc.! And who are we kidding, there will be a few giveaways involved too! Be sure to follow and use the #LoveAThon hashtag to participate!

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon Awards!

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The 3rd annual Blogger Love-a-Thon has officially began!

Are you ready for the #LoveAthon Awards?

Best of the best of Bloggers! Here are my nominations:

Best Blog Design: The Book Bellas

Best Weekly Feature: That’s What He Said Thursday @chapterbreak

Best Discussion Posts: Closed The Cover

Friendliest Blogger: Danielle Young from Consuming Worlds

Most Helpful Reviews: Breathe in Books

Favorite Author Twitter Feed: @NikGodwin

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon!

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The 3rd annual Blogger Love-a-Thon has officially began!

Our first event of the day is an interview! Be sure to check out all the blogs involved and tweet us using hastag #LoveAThon! Through out the two days there will be great giveaways and fun posts–stay tuned!

1. How did you come up with your blog name?

It’s not really all that creative…It’s my name with author attached!

2. What genre/subject matter do you read and review most on your blog?

I read a lot of Young Adult and a little bit of New Adult. Other than that it’s a real mix, but I love anything with a bit of romance to it!

3. Name the 3 books you’re excited for in 2014!

Promise Me Forever by Sarah Ashley Jones

Everlasting by Candace Knoebel

Casted–Book 2 By Sonya Loveday

4. Where in the world are you blogging from?

Connecticut!

5. Tell us — how did you get into blogging in the first place?

As a writer it was imperative that I start a website and a blog, but then it’s also good as an author to support other authors. A blog is the perfect way to do that!

6. Apart from reading, what other hobbies/interests do you have?

I’m a photographer, graphic designer, sewer, knitter, painter, jewelry maker…among author things!

7. If you were stuck on a deserted island, which books would you bring with you?

Everything by Jane Austen

8. If you were stuck in some dangerous situation (like a fire, a sinking ship, a warzone), which book boy or girl would you want to come and save you?

Hunter from In Between Seasons…he kills people with his bare hands!

9. You’re attending a party with your friends. Suddenly, the DJ changes the song and it’s YOUR song – what song would that be?

Right now? Boyfriend (cover) by Issues

10. What 3 movies would you love to have your favorite author write into books, or vice versa?

I’m not a real fan of any of the movies out there right now, and it seems like most of them are from books anyways. All my favorite books are already movies, but I’d love to see any of my fellow Indies have their novels made into movies!

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon Twitter Party!

Displaying Book Blogger Love-A-Thon 2014.jpg

The 3rd annual Blogger Love-a-Thon has officially began! Don’t forget to take part in the awesome Twitter party! #Loveathon

8-9 P.M. EST

Twitter chat/party:Come hang out with our moderator of the night, Alexa (@alexalovesbooks), co-host, Katelyn (@KatelynTorrey), and all of the #LoveAThon-ers for a party on Twitter! For our first Twitter chat of the event we will be discussing blogging, books, all-things-nerdish, and everything else in between! There is also a good chance a giveaway (or a few!) will be involved so be sure to follow and use the #LoveAThon hashtag to participate!

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon Mad Libs!

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The 3rd annual Blogger Love-a-Thon has officially began!

The Second Mini-Challenge I will be participating in today is the Mad Libs Challenge! #Loveathon

One day, I was wandering with Hunter. Out of the blue, a bird came out of nowhere! It was so cute, cuddly and agressive. At first, we were afraid, we were petrified, but we survived. We hopped on train to make our getaway. 

 

As we escaped, we turned up the radio because Love, Sex, Riot came on and made me giggle. Everything was extremely smooth sailing until an octopus appeared in the middle of the road. We swerved to avoid it, but while Hunter stayed on train, I got thrown onto my side in the woods.

 

I couldn’t get up, and felt sickly as I lay there staring up at the trees. What was I going to do? I heard a growl among the leaves, and felt sad. Surely, this was going to be my end. As my eyes fluttered shut, the last thing I saw was a head of purple hair and ivory eyes.

 

When I woke up again, I was on a coffee table. My body hurt a whole lot less, and I could sit up. There was a camera and penguin in the room, along with burgers and vodka. The door suddenly opened to reveal Adam, a concerned look on his face. I blushed and averted my gaze, but he kneeled and said, “Don’t be shy. It’s okay.”

 

He came over to sit by me, and we started talking after I told him my name. We chatted about photography,knitting and pole dancing and realized we had a ton in common! I thought he was jackass and couldn’t help feeling a little swoony. 

 

Just as he reached out for my hand, the door crashed open and in came Evan Levesque. “Don’t let him charm you away, my love!” He yelled, running at Adam. They each had blender in their hands and began to fight. “Stop!”, I yelled, feeling so overjoyed. They didn’t listen to me. Before I could intervene, Adam fell to the floor and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

 

“What was that?” I asked, staring at the empty space. Evan Levesque dropped his weapon, and came over to me. “Magic, but you are safe now, Duckie.” He hugged me close, and I suddenly knew that this was the real deal and not just a dream.

 

Just as Mirrors started playing in my head, I woke up. I cursed my nasty luck. Why had it only been just a dream?

 

Book Blogger Love-a-Thon Book Valentines!

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The 3rd annual Blogger Love-a-Thon has officially began!

The Mini-Challenge I will be participating in today is the Book Valentine challenge. Now, for this challenge I’m supposed to write a love letter to my book boyfriend–but (sorry hostesses) I’m thinking it wouldn’t be fair because, well, I write my book boyfriends. So this is my spin on it–I’m going to write a valentine to YOU–my readers, fans and those fabulous bloggers out there!

love letter