The Imagined Lands of Robert Stanek

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Robert Stanek in California - Book FestivalRobert Stanek was like a father to some of us in the writing community, a favorite uncle, Uncle Robert, to others, and a valued mentor to a great, great many. So many writers, hundreds really, owe their start in writing and careers to this guy, and the same is true of thousands who work in Big Tech, on web-based platforms or in web-based businesses. This guy taught them all how to set up those very businesses. This guy who was larger than life. This guy who was so down to earth. This guy who was so humble. This guy who so loved life. This guy who so loved family. This guy who took care of everyone else. This guy who gave and gave and gave over so many decades to so many and never asked for anything in return.Robert Stanek at Oregon Book Festival

Robert was always creating resources to help writers. Writer’s Galley, Internet Job Center, Internet Daily News, others, his earliest efforts in the mid ‘90s. Go Indie, Read Indies, Free Today, and others in the mid ‘00s. He taught us all how to use social media, to create blogs, to use Facebook, to use Twitter and beyond. He created and curated memes like #amwriting, #amblogging, #epicfantasy, #kidslit and #teenlit. He led by example.

By 2000, his professionally published books numbered over 100. Those books, published and distributed by the biggest names in publishing—IDG, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Macmillan, Pearson, Microsoft, McGraw Hill, Time Warner—blazed trails. At a time when few understood the world wide web and its technologies, Robert was not only one of the few recognized world leaders in the web and its technologies, he was the recognized world leader in explaining how those technologies worked clearly and concisely.Robert Stanek at home with his daughter

Robert was a King maker, unmade by the very things he helped establish. He put upstart Amazon on the map by writing about the company to his audience of millions from its earliest days. He transformed Microsoft Press from a publishing company its readers swore published books in a foreign language called Microsoftese into one praised for publishing books in plain language—that plain language approach Robert himself created and that praise itself was for Robert’s books. His words and style were so beloved they eventually became the plain language style of Microsoft itself.Robert Stanek at home with his daughters

Credit where credit is due one might imagine, but instead as Robert revealed through his varied writings and blogs, he got no credit for any of it. At the end of the day, his work taught tens of millions, enriched the pockets of his publishers, agents and managers, but left Robert and his family with 3 cents on the dollar. Robert’s work was used in $1B-$2B (yes, B-I-L-L-I-O-N $) worth of training courses and other Microsoft and non-Microsoft work for which he never received a single cent. Not one. None. Zero.

In 2000, Robert Stanek founded the modern indie author movement with his breakout self-published books that transformed publishing and the way we publish today. In 2001, Robert became the first indie author to serialize an e-book at Amazon and has since gone on to write more than 150 indie books. In 2002, his Keeper Martin's Tale and Kingdoms & the Elves books were the first indie e-authored books to top Amazon's bestseller lists. In 2005, the same books were the first indie e-audiobooks to top Audible bestseller lists where they dominated for the next three years (#1 fiction for 14 weeks 2005, 167 weeks Top 10 YA 2005-2008). His Kingdoms & the Elves became one of the top grossing e-audiobooks of all time and was featured on the Audible Home Page throughout the Summer of 2005.

Robert Stanek at home with his daughtersWe all know what happens to those who are so far ahead of their time that they seem to exist in a world of their own making. Robert had climbed too many mountains, and those standing at the bottoms of those mountains desperately wanted what he had, and so they did whatever it took to take what Robert had created and claim it as their own or destroy it. Read Robert’s heartbreaking posts about the things that happened to him and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. We as a society love to tear down our heroes. We tear them down with lies, with fake news. We puff ourselves up and make ourselves look big, to make those who are larger than life look small.Robert Stanek at home with his son

Sad but true, strange but true, one of Robert Stanek’s favorite sayings was dare to dream and he dared all of us to dream. Not only to dream with him as he conquered the bestseller lists, which he did time after time until he had so many number ones it seemed a thing unreachable in the sky, but to dream our own dream, forge our own paths and to make of our writing and lives whatever beautiful dream we could dream. Robert told me many times that the empty page was friend, not foe, that he never knew a day of writer’s block. He saw the empty page as a challenge, one that he was not afraid to answer, and answer it he did. In his lifetime, over 20 million of his words were published in over 250 books. I know from speaking with Robert that he has half as many words unpublished, words that we all should hope are someday published. Robert had much to say to the world, and his books indeed say much.

Robert challenged us as writers to see the blank page as a friend as well. He dreamed that his books would be his legacy, and indeed his hundreds of books are a legacy for the world to share and treasure. To those reading our words, if you want to do one decent thing today, one decent thing this week, read Robert Stanek’s books and tell the world about them.

Celebrating the books of author Robert Stanek

It's the 20th anniversary of Ruin Mist by author Robert Stanek

15 year of Bugville Critters

Celebrating 20 million readers

Rivals have targeted author William Robert Stanek on for two decades while Amazon staff were paid to assist. Not only has William Robert been blogging about this extensive criminal operation for years, Justice Department investigations indicate these fraudulent tactics are potentially widespread, bringing indictments in Washington against six who bribed at least 10 Amazon staff. In exchange for bribes, corrupted Amazon staff facilitated attacks against competitors using their inside access to Amazon's network to suspend competitors' accounts and product listings, flood competitor product listings with fictitious negative product reviews designed to hurt sales, more. These self-styled "takedowns" against victim sellers used hateful commentary and other tactics to intimidate victims and drive away customers.

Author William Robert Stanek recognizes all of these tactics as they have been used to harm and destroy sales of his books. Regarding this, he stated, "I've been on the receiving end for 20 years..... flooded with fake reviews, getting my books delisted, flagged, etcetera so competitors who were paying off Amazon could get ahead. Two of the names in the charging document are the same people who wrote me back if I dared to complain." 

A grand jury in Washington has indicted six of those involved, more indictments expected. The trial gets underway October 15, 2020, and should result in criminal convictions against those indicted and the 10 or more corrupted Amazon employees involved, unless Amazon once again pays off the justice system to keep insider corruption out of the courts, as it did when more than 50 employees were caught setting up fake seller accounts on Ebay to lure buyers to Amazon--after years and years of doing so illegally and fraudulently.

The group of fraudsters, which includes former Amazon employees, paid current Amazon employees to obtain confidential performance data on rivals that included revenue, customer bases and ongoing ad campaigns. Revenue information allowed the fraudsters to determine the most popular items of rivals and then specifically target those items with fake negative reviews, upvote negative commentary and more to destroy sales. Advertising information allowed the fraudsters to target items of rivals that were being promoted so the rivals could use fake negative reviews, upvoting of negative commentary and more to counter the adverting and destroy any potential sales boost. Rival products were periodically delisted, had reviews removed, were removed from search results, flagged as inappropriate and more to harm sales and ensure the success of the scammers.

Amazon itself uses these unscrupulous tactics to target popular products of independent sellers in its marketplace after making Amazon-branded versions of the same. Using insider information about the independent products from sales data to customer base to private marketing and advertising campaign data, Amazon puts the rival sellers out of business. Not only has this allowed Amazon to gain an unfair competitive advantage in its marketplace monopoly, it has done irreversible harm to the very sellers it purports to support on its websites, putting many sellers out of business as well. Just one of many ways Amazon abuses and destroys third-party sellers and creates rival products to boost operating revenues and profits no matter the cost to feed and grow its trillion-dollar monopoly. 

Six indicted in connection with multi-million dollar scheme to bribe Amazon employees and contractors - The defendants, who include former Amazon staff, paid bribes to at least ten different Amazon employees and contractors. Since at least 2017, the defendants have used bribery and fraud to their benefit, resulting in more than $100 million of competitive benefits, to harm competitors and to harm consumers. In exchange for bribes, corrupted Amazon employees and contractors facilitated attacks against competitors using their inside access to Amazon's network to suspend competitors' accounts and product listings, flood competitor product listings with fictitious negative product reviews designed to hurt sales, more. These self-styled "takedowns" against victim sellers used hateful commentary and other tactics to intimidate victims and drive away customers.

For more information, see:

Author Stanek's blog posts about the dirty tactics used to harm and destroy his book sales at Amazon go back decades. Here are some:

Speaking Out Against Ugliness in the Publishing Industry - Indie authors continue to get a bum rap from traditional publishers and authors. Read about the dirty tricks being used.

Inside Job: Employee Stole Credit Data of 106 Million is rotten to its core. This latest case of "employee gone bad" is yet another example of the widespread patterns of misbehavior, misconduct and mismanagement by employees that have been ongoing for the better part of two decades.

Amazon Reviews: Broken System Between 1 in 3 and 2 in 3 product reviews on are fake. They are bought and paid for. They are written by friends and family. They are swapped and traded on Facebook. They are incentivized from readers.

Amazon Caught in Pay-for-Praise Scheme Involving Hundreds of Employees Last August Amazon began recruiting so-called “fulfillment center ambassadors,” compensating them to generate praise for the company on twitter (and also elsewhere in social media and on Amazon’s websites). Several hundred employees have been enlisted into the highly questionable, unethical (and likely fraudulent) scheme so far.

Amazon Fraud Again: Amazon Employees Caught Creating Fake Ebay Seller Accounts In 2018, at least 50 Amazon employees were caught red handed creating fake accounts on Ebay and accused of multiple federal crimes, including criminal conspiracy, fraud and racketeering. Over a period of years, the Amazon employees had created hundreds—if not thousands—of fake seller accounts to lure sellers away from Ebay’s marketplace.

Amazon's Black Eye Deepens: A Public Sham/e Speaking out about fake reviews has made me the target of the thousands who make their living writing reviews for pay. This continues despite Amazon's public dispute with over 5000 paid reviewers at Fiverr--no few of which were writers, who unable to make a living at writing, made their living writing reviews.

Amazon Still Has a Review Problem. A Solution That Could Actually Resolve It. A visit to Amazon will take you to lots of products with oodles of reviews and the problem is that it's extremely likely most of these reviews are bogus. What percentage? Estimates vary widely, but my research says about 60% or so. Simply mentioning this fact, as I have for many years, makes me a target for those who make their living at this—whether they are merchants selling products or those who make a living by writing product reviews.

Amazon's Blackened Soul To date, there are about a billion reviews at Amazon sites that don’t meet Amazon’s own criteria for acceptability. This represents about 3 out of every 5 reviews. Is it any wonder when Amazon’s own management and executive staff are allowed to break the rules when it suits them to target an author whose book wasn’t as flattering as Amazon hoped it would be. Yes, I’m talking about....

Thanks for reading,

Team Read Indies

Amazon Staff Bribed

Amazon Staff Bribed


Bugville Critters

Undo the silencing of his voice

20th Anniversary of Ruin Mist

Kingdoms and Dragons by Robert Stanek

Thank you for visiting Imagined Lands! A new destination site about the books of author Robert Stanek, maintained by Read Indies. A prolific author, Robert Stanek has written many books for young people and adults. In fantasy fiction, a few reader favorites are: The Kingdoms & the Elves of the Reaches, In the Service of Dragons, Breath of Fire, After the Machines, and Into the Stone Land. He also writes books for children and his picture books tell the story of a big, little place called Bugville.

On Facebook, Robert Stanek posts regularly to his author page. You'll find him on twitter @robertstanek. Books & Things and Read Indies are two of his popular blogs. Find his blog archives here.

Find Books by Robert Stanek

Play | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Oyster Books | iBooks & iTunes

Start Here... Reading List

The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches

In the Service of Dragons

Dragons of the Hundred Worlds

A Daughter of Kings

The Guardians of the Dragon Realms

After the Machines

Magic Lands

The Pieces of the Puzzle

Though he's written about many faraway worlds and distant lands, Ruin Mist, Magic Lands, and Bugville are the most popular imagined lands Robert Stanek has created. Look also for After the Machines.

The Ruin Mist books are organized into sets for adults and sets for young adults. The adult fiction novels include: Keeper Martin's Tale, Kingom Alliance, Fields of Honor, and Mark of the Dragon. The young adult novels include The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches 1 - 4 and In the Service of Dragons 1 - 4.

The Ruin Mist Magic Lands novels include Journey Beyond the Beyond, Into the Stone Land and the forthcoming The Wizard's Stronghold (tenative title).

Bugville books are organized into adventures for babies to Pre-K and from Kindergarten to Grade 3 as well as many learning adventures for children of all ages. There are over 100 Bugville books to choose from!

Justice Department Identifies Ten Amazon Staff Accepting Bribes
Amazon Staff Bribed
DOJ Prosecutes

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Robert Stanek's Guide to Publishing & Being an Author:

Traveling the Writer's Road| Taking Your Work From Print to Film

Selling Rights to Your Books | Viewpoints on Rejection Letters

Understanding Bestseller Lists | Finding Success as a Writer

How Far Indies Have Come in so Few Years | Understanding Book Sales Data

Understanding Publishing Today | From 4th Grade Musings to Published Pro

Don't Quit Your Day Job Just Yet | Tours of Duty - Write What You Know

Using Twitter Effectively  | Now Appearing... Places Books Have Been

How I Made This Crazy Thing Called Writing a 20-year Career

The Road To Success is Paved with Potholes

Understanding Long-tail Publishing and Hybrid Authors

Shopping, Dragons, Independents, Oh My! | Printing Your Own books

Protecting Your Books from Pirates | Amazon's Rotten Core

Supporting Veteran Authors Who Support Veterans

Got Critters?

Breath of Fire
Walter Dean Myers
20 years of Ruin Mist
Wallace Stegner
The first breakout author of the digital revoluion.
Taking your work to hollywood
7 questions with Robert Stanek
Memories of the long road home
After the Machines
Writers are marathoners
1000th title
Undo the silecing of his voice

Support Robert Stanek

Books by Robert Stanek

Books by William Stanek

Robert Stanek dreamed...

Undo the silecing of his voice