Thursday, May 31, 2012

Indie Authors Beware: Integrity Matters


Would you sell your soul to the devil to get your book published?

Would you sell your soul to the devil to make a bestseller list?

How far would you go?


I can't think of a group of people more vulnerable than writers with a dream. They are desperate to get published. They are desperate for success. They're easy prey for unscrupulous folks looking to make an easy buck.

The explosion of "indie" or "self-pubbed" writers has opened up a whole new sleazy world of self-professed "social media experts" and "promo consultants" who promise everything under the sun. For a buck. And unfortunately, newbie writers with little experience are very easy prey.

Indie Authors, let me tell you this....

.....Anyone who is offering to help you with your writing is a FRIEND.

.....Anyone who is offering to mentor you, in terms of craft and hands-on marketing experience, for FREE, is a FRIEND....

.....Anyone who gives you an HONEST critique, maybe one you don't want to hear, is a FRIEND....

.....Anyone who tells you it takes years of hard work and dedication and that you need to have patience is a FRIEND.....

.....Anyone who tells you that this isn't a numbers game---not about sales and bestseller lists----but about the QUALITY of your writing, is a FRIEND.....

....Anyone who tells you to get your friends and family to write glowing reviews on Amazon (without identifying themselves as F/F...aka "shills")....FRIEND? NOT SO MUCH.....

.....Anyone who tells you to make up fake identities at Amazon (sock-puppet) to give yourself glowing reviews....FRIEND? NOT SO MUCH....

....Anyone who tells you to down-vote bad ratings and reviews, and to encourage your friends to do the same....FRIEND? NOT SO MUCH....

....Anyone who tells you to put fake tags/labels on your book to crank your rank in a search engine....FRIEND? NOT SO MUCH....

....Anyone who tells you to offer a reciprocal service to other indie authors re: 5 star reviews (you give me a 5-star, and I'll give you a 5-star) without you actually reading the book....FRIEND? NOT SO MUCH.....

.....Anyone who tells you "I'll help you out if you promote me"....FRIEND? NOT SO MUCH.....

....Anyone who tells you to spam Facebook/Twitter/other social media all day with book announcements, tells you to do drive-by announcements, tells you to leave comments on other folks' blogs with your purchase link (even if it's not related to the blog post in any way), and generally encourages you to make an enormous nuisance of yourself in hopes of selling your book.....FRIEND? NOT SO MUCH.


Do you want to be a hard-working author interested in honing his craft and supporting his colleagues in an honest way? Or do you want to "game the system," and spend your time figuring out ways to lie and cheat your way to the top?

Bottom line: Do you think readers are dumb? We can't figure out that the 47 glowing 5-star reviews are all shills? Especially when we download a sample and it's filled with grammatical errors, piss-poor writing and typos? No matter how many fake reviews you get, the readers will sniff out the truth.

There are entire boards at Goodreads and Amazon which discuss "authors behaving badly"....the authors who have fake reviews, do spammy-style promo, and harass honest readers.

Since when did it become okay for authors to act like a bunch of sleazy used car-salesmen? Harassing folks, cheating, lying, and manipulating the system to get ahead?

To say that I am appalled by the so-called advice by some of these "experts" is an understatement.

Integrity matters.

To the indie authors who care about their writing, are honest and hard-working and have integrity, I say.....bravo. And thank you. We, the readers, appreciate your books, appreciate your honesty and integrity, and look forward to supporting you.

To the indie authors who are one small step above a used-car salesman, I say....Good luck. You're going to need it.


Penelope


43 comments:

Tom Andrews said...

Bravo, Ma'am! Well said...very well said.

Ella Drake said...

Excellent!
Add to that, paying for 5-star reviews. Gah. That just... Gah.

Penelope said...

Thanks, Tom! (I apologize for not including the word "bile" in today's post). ;^)

Penelope said...

Ella....Yes, paid 5-star reviews. I forgot to add that in there. How totally worthless is that? Sigh.

Steph from fangswandsandfairydust.com said...

Woo Hoo Ten Ten Ten across the board - even the French Judge (oh wait that's figure skating..)

And, someone will pay for good reviews??? No one has ever offered. And, I hate misspellings and typos in books. I am not perfect but no one pays to read me. Not proofing is disrespectful. My fave proof of non-proofing was "wonton" instead of "wanton" three times in one short book! THe mind boggles with possibility.

Penelope said...

Steph....WONTON! Oh my God! That is fabulous! heeeeeee! My personal fave error was the book that described the lady bits as "petals" on occasion, and as "pedals" on other occasions. And I was ready for the Tour de France!

Amber Skyze said...

Excellent post, Penny!

Callie said...

Very good post, Penny. I guess I'm a little bit behind the times because it would never occur to me to do some of the things you mentioned some authors are doing. Eek. Talk about sleazy.

Julia Barrett said...

Ah yes, I have heard all about this evil scheme to pay people to leave 5-star reviews. I think I shall 'pedal' my pink bike over there and whack someone with my 'wonton'.

Penelope said...

Thanks, Amber!

Penelope said...

Hi Callie! You're not behind the times....you're honest. Be proud. The few, the proud, the non-sleazy authors!

Penelope said...

Julia...LOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!

OK, now you just gave me another idea for a joke story. You really have to stop doing this. Seriously! *scribbles notes*

caseywyatt.com said...

Well said Penny. I hate it when anyone, anywhere tries to sell me stuff. The immediate answer is always no. And the idea of paying someone for 5 stars - seriously - so crass!Or should I say, no class...

Paula Altenburg said...

I'd be inclined to add to the list, the "friend" who offers to edit a manuscript (for a fee!) because writers sometimes can't see their own wontons, and yet the wontons continue to abound.

Barbara W. said...

Penny, you are the bomb. And a bombshell.

The first thing I think of when I see these author-to-author shills is that they'll gladly pay each other back in positive votes and pimps on Tuesday for good reviews given today. Go, Wimpy authors. :-\

Penelope said...

Hi Casey! What I'm concerned about is the fact that some newbie authors don't realize this practice--paying for a review--is unethical. They think it's normal for indie authors who are desperate for reviews. This really worries me. They need to get good, solid advice instead of listening to folks with an agenda (that usually involves making $$). Ugh!

Penelope said...

Hi Paula. Another good point, thank you. Indies need to hire "professional" editors, not use friends for that.

Penelope said...

Barbara....I find it absolutely astounding that the indie authors on the Amazon message boards do this IN PUBLIC! Ask for shills. And offer to shill in return. No shame!

Christine Warner said...

Applause to you...very well said Penelope and all so true :)

Jackie Braun said...

Thank you. You said it all.

Natasha Gdansk said...

Penny, This is brilliant!!! Three cheers for integrity!!!

Janna Shay said...

Well said. I would think writers would want honest reviews.

Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

The all day promotion on Twitter or Facebook is driving me CRAZY lately!

Wonton, lol! and petals/pedals!! That's too funny.

Penelope said...

Thanks, Christine!

@Natasha....Three million cheers!

@Janna...Authors need honest feedback, not a bunch of "yes-men"....It depends on what is more important to you---becoming a good writer, or just jumping up a best-seller list.

I hear you, HM/CW. My rule of thumb is one promo tweet for AM crowd, afternoon crowd, and evening crowd, if it's interspersed w/ some regular chat and non-promo talk. The folks who do ALL PROMO ALL THE TIME.....just say no.

Lindsay Kiernan said...

Hahaha, don't worry I put you in the friend category! You've been a huge help. But I can sympathize with those who seek the easy way out. Luckily I am too moral and too poor to fall into most of those pitfalls! I guess sometimes poverty can be good??

Penelope said...

Hi Lindsay....Friend not foe! That's my motto!

You're doing things the right way. :^)

Lindsay Kiernan said...

Happy to hear that you think so Penny. Some days I am positive that I've gone crazy, or am close to it!

Hannah Fielding said...

Great article - and I think it equally applies to traditionally published authors.

Hannah

jwmanus said...

Super post, Penny. Timely warning. Well done.

Penelope said...

Hi Hannah. Yes, it does. It applies to everyone, and I have seen some traditionally published authors doing the same sleazy stuff. And many of them have earned spots on the DO NOT BUY lists. Readers are watching, just like Big Brother.

Penelope said...

Thanks, Jaye! :^)

Donna J. Shepherd, Author of Love Under the Bubble Wrap said...

Excellent points with which I agree. ('Wonton' - I'm still laughing...) Thanks!

Donna

kassandralamb said...

"Wonton pedals" Snort!

Great post, Penelope. As an indie author it's tough sometimes trying to figure out how much self-promotion is acceptable. Thanks for the three times a day rule. I like that.

I have a Romance/suspense book about to launch and I'd love to have you read and review it. But I'll e-mail you about it so I don't come across as a sleaze by posting it here. :)

Penelope said...

Hi Donna! Thanks for stopping by!

@Kass....Truth is, for some folks 3x/day might be pushing it. I'm on twitter all day long, so it doesn't seem excessive to me. And there's a different crew on in the morning, afternoon and evening, so I think that's OK. Most important thing is to use twitter for social purposes, too, not just as a billboard, or you'll lose followers.

anny cook said...

Yay, yay, yay! And NOT just for Indie authors, unfortunately. I want to yell, "Be professional!"

My favorite is the ever popular shuttered...as in "She shuttered in ecstasy..." repeatedly through the entire book. Sigh...I have a vision of her flapping in the wind.

Thank you for a LOVELY post!

stanalei said...

Thanks for courageously posting this.

stanalei said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Iola said...

Well said!

Amazonian Winter said...

What a terrific post, Penelope.
I think you get at the heart of the problem; self-published authors are following other lemmings off a cliff. They are being led to believe only fools don't 'take advantage' of 'they system' and that 'everyone else is doing it so it's not wrong.'

Penelope said...

Thanks, Anny. I'm "shuttering".....hee hee!

Hi Stanalei! Not sure if I'm so courageous as much as fed up and wondering why folks don't have more common sense. Thanks for stopping by.

Hi Iola!....Thanks!

@Amazonian Winter...thank you. This is absolutely true. For every person who teaches "good manners" there is someone preaching "game the system." Just because everyone is doing it doesn't make it okay. Oy.

Thea Atkinson said...

Brava!!! Nuff said

seattlerobin said...

A link to this was posted on one of those badly behaving author threads. I think you did an excellent job of concisely listing the dos and don'ts. Every author would be doing themselves a big favor to bookmark this.

Penelope said...

Thanks, Thea!

Hi seattlerobin! Good to hear! I am always impressed w/ the investigative skills of the posters on that Ami thread. Those folks should seriously work for the FBI. :^)