The good, the bad and the ugly about Self-Publishing
When I first started writing back in 2009 I never even heard of self-publishing. I was all set and terrified to take my chances with a traditional publishing house, leaving my fate to someone that I had never met who would decide whether or not my books were “In” at the moment.
By the time that I was ready to start making inquiries into getting published I got scared, really scared. I found a hundred and one reasons not to even try so I didn’t. Instead I put my finished manuscript aside and started working on another book all while researching ways to get my books published without the added stress.
It was during one of my searches that I started to find articles about self-publishing. The more I read, the more I was intrigued. The idea of not only keeping control over my work, but not having to deal with rejection was worth the risk of never having a single person read my book, which back then was a real possibility. I know it was only a few years ago, but at the time self-publishing was looked down upon.
I ignored all the warnings about going the self-publishing route and took a chance and I’m glad I did. I honestly couldn’t imagine doing what I do any other way. I love being my own boss, setting my own deadlines and deciding what I write. Self-publishing has come a long way in the last few years and it’s because readers were willing to take a huge chance on us an for that they were forever have my heart and gratitude. They gave me an opportunity that I probably would never of had otherwise.
The other reason that self-publishing has become an acceptable and respected form of publishing is because of the authors. They work hard, put in the time to write great books and have them edited as well as took the time to earn the respect of their readers. Whether they have a huge following or only a few dedicated readers, they still earned it, honestly.
The unfortunate side of self-publishing is that not everyone is as honest. These people are the ones that give self-published authors a bad reputation and cause some readers to avoid self-published authors like the plague and for good reason and I honestly can’t say that I blame them.
I have absolutely no doubt that I am going to get hit with the backlash after writing this, but hey, that’s life. I’ll deal with it, keep writing and publishing and take that chance. I love what I do and take my job very seriously. I also worked very hard to get where I am and so have a lot of other authors who are now getting tainted by the new trends that are unfortunately going on. I am also posting this today, because I receive about three to four emails daily from aspiring writers seeking advice and I don’t want to see them do something that they are going to regret one day.
There are new trends in self-publishing, some good, but a lot of it is bad. Instead of relying on their work, we have new authors coming into the scene depending on gimmicks, deals and trickery. Quite a few of them are making deals with male models, who push their books in return for the author to push their merchandise, magazines, photos, posters, etc. They also are working together in groups and with some blogs to push fake reviews, five star reviews to get their ratings on Amazon.com, Apple, B&N up high enough to convince readers who normally wouldn’t have given their book a second look to buy it.
They have street teams whose sole purpose is to go around the web, open fake accounts and post over the top five star reviews. If the author gets an honest, one or two star review they will go and post five or six more five star reviews to push the honest review to the bottom and off the page so that the reader is less likely to see it.
Any authors that say anything against this practice receive a hit as I’m absolutely positive that I will after posting this and that’s fine. They are also going after other authors that they see as competition and I have to ask why? Seriously, I love the fact that readers who take a chance on me love to read. It’s good for all of us for so many reasons. One of the benefits is that a well read reader can give you their opinion based on reading experience and that is absolutely wonderful for authors like me who love to write a fun story.
Some of you are probably reading this post and wondering why all the drama. Well, I’m wondering the very same thing. Just like when I did my research when I first started out, I’m still researching. I follow about twenty different authors at any given time to see how they’re doing, learn from their mistakes and learn new trends in this business. I came across the deceptive practices a few months ago and since then I’ve made it a point to pay attention.
Another reason why I’m writing this is because this new trend is spreading over and some authors think this is the norm. It’s not, but that isn’t stopping them from sending me e-mails, offering me up deals to get my books five star reviews on book sites and blogger sites that I have no earned. I’m also getting e-mails from male models offering me up deals to have their followers buy my books if I push their stuff. So not interested. It’s getting old real damn fast.
There are a lot of honest authors and bloggers who are disgusted by this. We don’t like to see readers being manipulated out of their hard earned money. It’s not right and it is something that I promise here and now never to do. I will never ask someone to give me a 5 star review or an over the top fantastic review. Have there been people that have done this for me? Probably, but I never asked and it would upset me to see them. If it happens I would rather the review be taking down immediately and replaced with an honest review even if that meant a one star review.
Do I have a street team? Yes, I do, but I have nothing to do with it other than offering up prizes as thank yous to the leader of the group to give away. Do my friends review my books? Yes, they do and they normally give me three and four stars because they are my toughest critics. They enjoy my work, but they expect certain things from me and if they think that I could have done better, I hear about it and I am very thankful for that.
There are a lot of great books out there by self-publsihed authors that deserve an opportunity to share with you their wonderful stories and I am pleading with you to give them that chance. A lot of readers are sick of being played are taking a stand by not reading self-published authors and I completely understand. Nobody likes to get played or tricked out of their money and that’s exactly what a lot of new authors and a few established authors are doing.
Unfortunately there is nothing that we can do to stop them. That’s one of the bad things about self-published authors, there’s no one setting rules or taking action when someone crosses the line. What we can do is to know what to look for. Feel free to comment and add your own warnings, stories, etc, but please don’t name names. I am honestly not trying to wreck someone’s career, but giving readers and aspiring writers a little bit of knowledge. I’m also hoping that these practices stop.
Ways that MAY help to tell if a review is fake:
1. The purchase is not authenticated, especially at Amazon.com. (Sometimes bloggers and readers will post their reviews at multiple sites so you will see that is not authenticated.) What you want to look for is a large amount of reviews together that are not authenticated.
2. The person who wrote the review opened up the account that very day just to post a review about the book. I got a lot of feedback on this one as well, look for several reviews in a row that accounts were just opened for that review.
3. The reviewer only has a few books reviewed and all those books are by one author.
4. The review title is the same as about a dozen other ones.
5. The same review can be found posted on several sites, word for word, but the reviewer’s name is different on each one.
6. The review reads like a sales pitch.
7. For every bad review, four or more positive reviews always follow.
8. A fake negative review will come off as extremely personal.
9. Check the dates of the first reviews for the book, if they were posted mere minutes or hours after the book was published there is a very good chance that they are fake, especially if any of the previous warnings apply.
10. The reviewers’ review history all have something in common, reviewing the same exact books by different authors. This usually means that they are part of a group that trades positive reviews.
11. If the book is ranked very high and it’s brand new, check to see how the author categorized it. A lot of them are putting their books in categories that are not popular and don’t match the content of their book just so they can get the high ranking or reach the number one spot.
I hope this helps and again, if you have anything that you’d like to add please comment below.
This is an unfortunate trend that I hope doesn’t continue for much longer. If you are an author, I think it’s about time that you reassure your readers that you respect and appreciate them by vowing not to deceive them. To those of you who are not happy with this post, well, too bad. I don’t really care. If you want to retaliate and post negative reviews or trash me, have at it. If you would like to bitch and complain about this post, comment below, post on my FB page or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing and hope that this horrible trend ends soon.
For blogs, reviewers, etc, yes, they will post their reviews word for word at different sites. That’s their job, that’s what they do. The problems are the ones that are posting 5 star reviews just to post them. If you pay attention you can tell the difference between a real review and a review that is used to push a book.
Authors do have to promote their books. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The problem occurs when they promote for a guaranteed five start review.
********I think the safest way to find out if a book is worth reading is to download a free sample and judge for yourself. Fake reviewers get tricky and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to figure out what’s fake and what’s not so I think the best way to handle this is to have a peek at the book in question.********