Monday, August 27, 2012

The Choice to Keep Writing

It's hard enough to write these days when I'm exhausted all the time.  New Baby and his teeth have crippled my Terris comeback, but my word of the year is DETERMINATION, so never fear readers!  I will triumph and make my way past this hiccup.

When I hear about stories like this, however: Authors Buying Book Reviews, I'm both stunned and disheartened.  It's not the first time I've heard of such things.  No, indeed, the kindleboards bandy about such rumors of these sites with derision.  Today, however, I learned that author John Locke, arguably one of the best selling indie authors in the business, was one who purchased 300 reviews for his books.

Laughably, his bestselling book "How I sold 1 million ebooks" is supposedly a testament to his insane business prowess.  Indies everywhere touted his skill, his marketing, and his knowledge.  Low and behold, I could have had the same knowledge myself, for the price of $6,000.  Who knows?  Maybe MY novels would have been in the top 100.

Here is why this makes me bitter.  Locke (and many many others) are smart enough to realize how the Amazon system works.  It's a delicate balance of number of reviews, and novelrank.  The more reviews you have (good or bad) the more attention you get on amazon.  The more attention you get, the more books you sell, the higher your ranking is.  And of course, the higher your ranking, again, the more books you sell.

So essentially, what he did was gaming the system.  He bought a bunch of reviews, which got him noticed.  His books sold more and consequently got him more notice.  Could his writing be good?  Certainly.  But the way he chose to start his career sucks.

What sucks even more is that any attention he gets now will only benefit him.  People will read his book out of curiosity or downright anger and even if he gets THOUSANDS of one star reviews, it will only benefit his sales and make him more famous.  It just purely PISSES ME OFF that he and others like him will not only get away with this, but that they will benefit from it forever.

Sometimes, as an author, I want to go away to the world I create, where justice is stronger than any form of evil cunning that exists.  I want to be where someone gains success on the merits of their hard work, determination, and ethics.  I hate, purely HATE living in a world where I have to tell my children... "Yeah, you can work hard and enjoy some modest success.  But in the end, the people that pay or scheme or practice dishonesty to get ahead will do better than you."

As a reader, I want that list.  I want to know who has been paying for reviews so I can never give them money.  I want to tell my friends about them and warn them away.  I want to publish that list as a public shaming for every author in the world who would even think of paying for a review.

I want to cry because as an indie author I feel nothing but shame from this.  I feel so disheartened right now.  After this, no one is going to take us seriously any more.  Thanks to authors who can't keep their mouths shut over a bad review we are already a laughingstock.  After this, we may as well just hang up our hats and go legitimate.  Locke, in my opinion, has done traditional publishing a favor today.

In fact, I'm almost kicking myself for not taking the traditional publishing route when it was offered to me.  "No," I said.  "Thanks, but I really like doing this for myself.  Thank you for your offer."  I don't know how I feel anymore.

Be careful, readers, in what you read today.  That's all I can say.


Nadja Notariani said...

It is disheartening, but I don't think it will turn back the tide on Indie success stories. I'm beyond certain book publishers have been guilty of the same behaviors in the past (there are good and bad in every industry) - and there are always going to be those who 'game-the-system'. That sad reality pervades any business.

All we can do is write what we love - and work to produce the best pieces possible.

CASS said...

Don't get to disheartened, it will all work it's way out. And the people who really like Indie don't worry about guys that are buying reviews.