It’s been quite a season for bookish brouhahas. First Lauren Conrad cut up some perfectly good kids’ books and hot-glued them to a box … for decoration. This got more than a few folks hot under the collar.
Meanwhile, at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival best-selling author Stephen Leather admitted using “sockpuppets” (that is, accounts he created with false identities) to review his own books online—at Amazon, Goodreads, and so on. And also, apparently, to say bad things about any author he had a beef with. Golly. Call me naïve, but I find this a bit shocking. I’m not the only one. And Jeremy Duns, a journalist/novelist, has taken it upon himself to investigate and document, which you can read here and here. Honestly, the whole thing depresses me. *
And this just in: John Locke has been buying Amazon book reviews. Buying them! Porter Anderson, for one, is fed up.
I love Anderson, whom I discovered because I subscribe to Jane Friedman’s wonderful blog. He writes a weekly recap on the publishing biz—what he only somewhat facetiously calls the industry! the industry!—that is timely, thoughtful, and often funny. He does not hesitate to skewer sacred cows. (I liked him even more the week he quoted me, but that’s another thing altogether.)
The “democratizing” of content on the Internet, as it’s touted by some, suddenly looks less attractive when users realize they’re the victims of ruthless, orchestrated, profiteering liars.
Good stuff. Now tell us what you really think, Porter.
The Times quotes Locke: “‘Reviews are the smallest piece of being successful,’ he said. ‘But it’s a lot easier to buy them than cultivating an audience.’” Now there’s some respect for your audience!
And Salon tells us, “when Locke’s initial strategy of building relationships with readers, one blog post and tweet at a time, didn’t move his sales ranking fast enough (he complains it took him ‘almost two months’ to garner five five-star Amazon reviews … he bought 300 reviews to make his fan base look larger than it was.”
Frankly, I think everybody needs to slow down. Good things come to those who wait, right? Didn’t your mother always tell you that having a thing you worked for yourself made it much more valuable? Or maybe the mom-phrase I’m looking for is cheaters never prosper.
In relation to a similar situation, thriller writer Harlan Coben tweeted this a couple mornings ago: “Today’s writing advice is also life advice: No one has to fail so I can succeed.” I couldn’t have said that better myself.
*Update: Duns also outed best-selling author RJ Ellory, who has now admitted posting fake book reviews. Here’s the Independent’s coverage of the story.
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