Sunday, August 19, 2012

Independence

Joe sez: Before I begin a major rant about why I'm quitting the legacy publishing industry, I'm handing the blog over to my friend, Melinda DuChamp, who has something interesting to say. Here's Melinda...

Melinda: I've written more than fifty novels in my career, most of them romances, and have been published by just about every major publisher. While I'm not a bestselling author, I have several million books in print, and I've had multi-book deals where I've gotten six figure advances.

Fifty Shades of Alice in Wonderland was the first erotic book I've written. While I've done graphic love scenes many times, they were always there to provide characterization and further the plot. In Fifty Shades of Alice, the love scenes were the plot. To be honest, I didn't know if I could pull it off. But, like many of my peers who have watched the sales of EL James with awe and more than a little envy, I thought I'd give it a try.

Joe suggested this guest blog when I told him how much I've earned on this book, because he thinks his readers might benefit from the knowledge. I've benefited often from the things Joe has disclosed on this blog (Joe is the reason I began self-publishing) so who am I to say no?

On July 23rd, I self-pubbed Alice on Amazon KDP, and enrolled it in the Select program. After two days, I'd only sold two copies, one to me (to check to see if it downloaded okay) and one to some stranger. Then I made it free for five days, from the 25th to the 30th of July.

The only promotion I did was the interview on Joe's blog. NYT bestseller Ruth Cardello was also kind enough to include Alice in a contest for her fans. Joe also was sweet enough to mention it on the Facebook page "What to Read After Fifty Shades of Grey" because I'm not on Facebook yet (I know! I know! I need to get on Facebook. I'm trying to become more like Joe and Ruth and get into social media, but I'm a Luddite and I was on a deadline for another book.)

Other than that, I didn't do anything to promote Alice. I figured it would sink or swim on its own merit.

So how did it do?

During the free period, I gave away 22,740 copies in the US and 10,255 in the UK and hit the Top 10 free list in each. That surprised me, because I'd done free promotions before but had never given away that many.

Did that translate to sales?

Alice has sold 3560 copies in the UK, and 2540 in the US (plus 1275 loans in the Kindle Owner's Lending Library) priced at $2.99.

Assuming the loans are $2 each, Alice has made close to $15,000 in the last 20 days. That's more than many of my advances. How did this happen? Was it Joe's blog? Ruth's contest? The Kindle Select free program? Carl Graves's amazing cover art? Piggybacking on EL James? All the good reviews it has gotten? All or some of the above?

Alice peaked at #194 in the US, and #56 in the UK. It is currently #643 and #208. At its peak, it was earning over $1,000 a day. Things have slowed down, but it is still outselling all of my other novels on Amazon.

So, naturally, I did what any smart writer would do. I wrote a sequel.

Fifty Shades of Alice Through the Looking Glass is now available in the US and the UK for $2.99.

At the height of Alice's sales, I was fantasizing about money. What if I had twenty ebooks doing well instead of just one? Making $20,000 a day is almost impossible to comprehend. But is it really impossible?

I'm working on the third book in the Alice trilogy. When finished, I'll release it as a stand alone, and also package the trilogy as a set. So I'll have four ebooks (each individual title, and the combined collection.)  If I did this four more times with four more trilogies, I'd have twenty ebooks for sale. With twenty for sale, I could have one ebook always free on KDP Select. Twenty ebooks at five days per free promo is one hundred days of free promo. KDP Select resets every three months, and then you can use the free promo again.

Writing twenty ebooks might seem like a daunting task. But remember, five of those are box sets, and each ebook is only around 30,000 words.

So in order to have 20 erotica ebooks, and one title always free, I only need to write 450,000 words. That's less than five full length-novels. Writing 2500 words per day, that's only six months of writing.

Half a year to write twenty ebooks? It sounds crazy, but it is entirely possible, even though I really believe $20k a day is a fantasy that can never happen. It's just too big a number. And who knows when the mommy porn bubble will burst?

Anyhoo, thank you everyone who has read the first Alice, and I hope you give the sequel a try! Also, thanks to Joe for the blog, and to Ruth Cardello for her unprecedented kindness to a complete stranger. BTW, Ruth is self-published, and recently hit the NYT Bestseller List with Bedding the Billionaire. Pick it up, it's fantastic!

Joe sez: First of all, congrats to Melinda on her success. I know how she's had some tough knocks during her long, legacy publishing career, and it's nice to see her make money.

(Also, congrats to Ruth Cardello, who just turned down a seven figure offer to stay indie. I'm sure that decision didn't come lightly. It took a lot of guts, and a lot of smarts, and Ruth has my highest respect. If my blog readers haven't bought her ebooks yet, they should.)

While I don't agree with Melinda that the mommy porn bubble will burst (because ebooks aren't a bubble) I do think it is unrealistic to plan on any ebook earning $1000 a day for an extended period of time. But I have made many times that amount per day, as has Ruth and many others, so I think Melinda might be onto something.

If she wrote 20 ebooks (15 titles and 5 collections) and each one earns only $150 a day, that's a million dollars a year. That's just 75 ebook sales and loans a day per title, and I've hit that number many times and for extended periods.

What I haven't done is hit that number on an ebook that is only 30k words long. My bestselling ebooks are full length novels. Readers don't buy my novellas nearly as frequently. But after studying erotica on Amazon (reviews, rankings, prices) for a few hours, I'm shocked by how many of these titles ebooks are doing well while still being short.

If I switched to erotica, I could put out four ebooks in the same time it would take me to write one thriller novel. I could do one 90k word thriller novel, priced at $2.99, which takes two months to write. Or in that same two months, I could write three 30k word erotica novellas, priced at $2.99 each, and price the collection at $7.99.

It seems like a no brainer, doesn't it? Same time to write, but I could more than quadruple my profits by writing mommy porn.

Now, I'm not suggesting everyone chase the erotica trend and start writing smut, especially since it isn't easy. I say this as a man who wrote sex scenes in many of my books, but those don't come close to what Melinda did. Chasing trends doesn't usually work, because readers can tell when the writer's heart isn't in it.

But if you think you can write erotica, now seems to be the time to give it a shot. I've written in many different genres, and each time I try something new it's a learning experience. It's always worthwhile to experiment, even if it is just to learn your limitations.

Something else seems to be happening in this business that I find interesting. In the recent past, no legacy publisher would ever touch a self-published book, claiming it had already burned through its audience. But more and more indie authors are getting legacy offers. In the past, writers would spend months querying agents and publishers, hoping to get a book picked up. These days, agents and publishers are trolling the bestseller lists, looking for indie books to buy.

While it is tempting to take a seven figure deal a legacy publisher might offer, think long and hard about what your goals are before taking the money and running. A million bucks seems nice, but if it is for three books, and your agent gets 15%, you're only taking home $283k per title. Sure, that's a lot of money. But then that legacy publisher owns those books forever, while only giving you 14.9% royalties. Instead you could own those books, forever, making 70%.

If you  average selling 57 copies of an ebook, per day, you'll make $250k in six years. In a global market, that's entirely possible. And if you somehow managed to get on the bestseller lists as an indie, a hot title can make $50k a month.

Let's break it down another way. To make $250k on your own, you need to sell 125k ebooks at $2.99. To make $250k as a legacy pubbed author, you need to sell 500k ebooks at $6.99 (that's making 14.9% royalties, or 17.5% of the list price minus agent's commission.) Guess which is easier to do?

But Joe! Legacy publishers also print books!

Yes, they do. But print sales continue to fall each year, while ebook sales rise. Legacy publishers have begun "ebook only" publishing lines. As more bookstores close, fewer and fewer print books will sell, both the number of titles and number of copies per title. If Barnes & Noble goes under in the next 5 years, do you want your book held hostage by a legacy deal that will never earn out?

For that nice advance, you're giving up control over your title, your cover, and your price, forever. And it will be much more difficult to earn out that advance when you're making 1/4 of what you would self-publishing, especially when your ebook is priced too high.

Know your goals, know the risks, and act appropriately. I've been turning down foreign deals because I realize I'll lose money in the long run. It makes more sense for me to translate those titles myself.

So would I ever take a legacy deal? Let me put it this way. If a legacy publisher made me a giant offer, it would only be because I had a huge hit self-pubbing. There is no way in hell I'd ever sign over the rights of a hit book to a publisher. I've worked with three legacy publishers. I'd rather get my teeth drilled out than work with those folks again, because that would be less painful, even with a million dollar check.

Bullshit Joe! You'd take the money and run!

No, I wouldn't. In fact, if I haven't burned all of those potential bridges already, allow me to do so right now:

When in the Course of publishing events, it becomes necessary for writers to sever their ties with the industry that is supposed to have "nurtured" them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that we should declare the causes which impel those writers to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all writers should have an equal chance to find readers. That their successes or failures should be dependent upon their own actions and their own choices. That they should be paid fairly for their work. That they should have control over the works they produce. That they should have immediate and accurate access to their sales data. That they should be paid promptly. That they should not be restricted from reaching those who may enjoy their work. That whenever a publisher becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of Authors to abolish all connections with the offending parties.

The history of the legacy publishing industry is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over writers. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

They have given us take-it-or-leave-it, one-sided, unconscionable contracts.
They have failed to adequately market works they have acquired.
They have artificially inflated the price of ebooks.
They have refused to negotiate better ebook royalties for authors.
They have forced unnecessary editing changes on authors.
They have forced unnecessary title changes on authors.
They have forced crappy covers on authors.
They have refused to exploit rights they own.
They have refused to return rights they aren't properly exploiting.
They take far too long to bring acquired works to market.
They take far too long to pay writers advances and royalties.
Their royalty statements are opaque, out-of-date, and inaccurate.
They orphan authors.
They orphan books.
They refuse to treat authors as equals, let alone with a reasonable measure of fairness.
They make mistakes and take no responsibility for those mistakes.
For every hope they nurture, they unnecessarily neglect and destroy countless others.
They have made accessories of the authors' ostensible representative organization, the quisling Authors Guild, and are served, too, by the misleadingly named Association of Authors' Representatives.
They have failed to honor promises made.
They have failed to honor their own onerous contract terms.
They've failed the vast majority of authors, period.

This blog has documented nearly every stage of these Oppressions, and in many cases offered solutions to publishers, and has been answered with only silence and derision.

But that's okay. Because now authors have a choice.

I don't need legacy publishing, and I will never be taken advantage of again. I declare myself independent of the entire archaic, broken, corrupt system.

And I won't be the last to do so.

271 comments:

«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 271 of 271
Anonymous said...

With all due respect, did you just pull this out of your ass or is there a source you can link to on this?

LOL. Here’s what this entire thread is about.

Suddenly selling 15,000 ebooks a month after buying 300 fake reviews isn't an observable cause and effect? Of course it is.

As I said before, maybe the authors using this service didn't know the reviews were phony. But they know now, and they should voluntarily have those reviews removed.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I've actually read Locke's "How I Sold a Million" book and I wouldn't give it much more than one star. It was largely a tease -- "Just hold on and I'll tell you my secret. But first, let me tell you what it did for me."

The actual meat is only a small fraction of the book, and anyone paying attention could have figured it out for themselves.

I do think it's bullshit giving one star to a book you haven't read, however, even if you DO object to Locke's methods.

Anonymous said...

I do think it's bullshit giving one star to a book you haven't read, however, even if you DO object to Locke's methods.

Absolutely.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Suddenly selling 15,000 ebooks a month after buying 300 fake reviews isn't an observable cause and effect? Of course it is.

But this doesn't address the Amazon algorithm claim, which is my point.

And there's no statistical proof that Locke's purchase of reviews led to the bump. That's merely an assumption being made. It could have been caused by a number of factors, including his Twitter activity and his pricing, or even word of mouth.

I haven't paid for a single review (and don't really have a lot of them), yet I've managed to sell over 35K books in about three months. Why?

The bottom line is that reviews are only a fraction of the equation.

Joe Konrath said...

Tainted success is an oxymoron.

Winners never cheat, and cheaters never win.


What color is the sky in your world? Seriously?

Joe Konrath said...

Suddenly selling 15,000 ebooks a month after buying 300 fake reviews isn't an observable cause and effect? Of course it is.

If that was all Locke did, then we might imply that correlation might equate with causation.

But, correct me if I'm wrong, Locke was doing a helluva lot more promotion than that at the time.

Stating that his reviews lead to his success is just plain ridiculous and impossible to prove. But it is possible to prove that books with a lot of 5 star reviews don't automatically sell well, and those with a lot of one star reviews sell in spite of that.

Your argument is just plain bad.

Renee said...

From the comments off the Forbes article:
Stephen Leather 6 hours ago
“Leather admitted to creating accounts on Amazon under assumed names in order to leave positive reviews of his own work. ” What? Are you insane? When did I say that? I said that I used pen names to chat on forums but unless you can find a quote from me saying that I write reviews of my own work using fake accounts then really you owe me an apology."
Her reply, I personally felt was a somewhat testy (I mean she had to know he would call her out on it but of course by then the damage is usually done):

You’re quite right, Stephen, and apologies. You’ve never publicly admitted to faking Amazon reviews, and I’ve updated the article to properly reflect that.

Alan Spade said...

Another comment on the Forbes article worth noticing :

Rob Kroese : Thanks for the mention! When I talk to people about this problem, someone inevitably says, “I don’t read reviews anyway” or “I never trust 5-star reviews.” Even if this is true (which I doubt), it’s beside the point: you can only evaluate products that you know about, and if a product has lousy reviews (or very few reviews), you are unlikely to ever see it, because Amazon places well-reviewed items higher up in the search results. Saying you aren’t affected by reviews on Amazon is like saying you aren’t affected by Google’s search algorithm. You may not be *aware* of how it affects you, but you can be damn sure it does.

Joe Konrath said...

because Amazon places well-reviewed items higher up in the search results.

I'd really love someone to corroborate this with facts. Until then it is speculation.

Alan Spade said...

"I'd really love someone to corroborate this with facts. Until then it is speculation."

Yes it is. But there is one thing that is not speculation. It is the important of stars on best-sellers list, where they are visible, and on the page of each book.

The space occupied by reviews on each book's page is not speculation either.

We do not know about algorithms. But we do know the whole reviewing system of Amazon take a lot of place in the website.

Anonymous said...

Just to test, I did a generic search for "thriller" on Amazon. I'm sure it's an imperfect method, but here are my results:

Kindle Store › Kindle eBooks ›
"thriller"
1.Hostile Witness: 439 reviews(4.2 stars)
2.The Found: 10 reviews (4 stars)
3.Sugar Daddy: 22 reviews (4 stars)
4.Thriller: 63 reviews (3.8 stars)

It looks to me like the way you categorize your book has more to do with it than the reviews and ratings. I guess that could be just because I searched by category, but if you're searching a title or author, you probably already know whether or not you're going to buy.

Christy said...

And now we've also got Stephen Leather doing hit jobs against fellow authors. Charming.

Stephen Leather denies this in the comments, and the writer of the article has updated the piece. Leather states that he only used pen names when writing in forums. Its possible that he's lying of course, but it's also possible that this is just really sloppy reporting.

Anonymous said...

Your argument is just plain bad.

Maybe so. For the sake of argument, let's say that having a bunch of five-star reviews has absolutely nothing to do with an increase in visibility on Amazon. That being the case in our little hypothetical fantasy world, is it okay then for authors to buy fake reviews saying how great their books are? Is it okay for them to pad their slots with hundreds of bullshit paid-for blurbs written by people who didn't even read the book?

Is it fair for Cheater Author X to have 300 five-star reviews while Honest Author Y has 20? If those two books are side-by-side, which is likely to garner more attention?

Your argument is just plain missing the point.

Cheating is cheating, whether it resulted in 15,000 extra sales or 15 extra sales.

What color is the sky in your world? Seriously?

Brown. Same as yours. Because we live in a world of shit, with ponzi schemes and identity thieves and three-card monte hustlers and every other kind of swindling criminal you can think of.

Do you really think it's okay to cheat as long as you come out ahead? Because that's exactly what tainted success amounts to.

Anonymous said...

Is it cheating if the authors are fighting back against obvious attacks though?

If the system won't help them (and it won't in the main)they can either sit back and wait to see if the hit team get's bored,or they can try to fight back.

Is passivity really the only option in this world? It seems like some people are saying it is.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Is it fair for Cheater Author X to have 300 five-star reviews while Honest Author Y has 20? If those two books are side-by-side, which is likely to garner more attention?

Let me put my reader cap on here for a moment. The one that's likely to catch my attention is the one that has the best designed, most compelling cover, a great title, and looks like something I'd be interested in reading. So it could be either one.

Then I'll click on the book and read the sample.

If I DO bother to read the reviews, then I'll click on a few and see if they seem genuine. But, honestly, I mostly read reviews AFTER I've read a book. Because I want to know if other people agreed with my assessment of it.

I do the same thing with movies.

Anonymous said...

Joe, your can't-prove-this, can't-prove-that high-school-debate-team schtick is all very well, but the entire thesis of your blog has long been that "the cream will rise to the top."

How?

Presumably by individual satisfaction spreading throughout the community by trustworthy cyber-word-of-mouth.

But now the trustworthiness of that word of mouth is questioned. Big names are gaming, and you're playing craven defense.

This was your Sister Souljah moment. Fail.

Joe Konrath said...

Cheating is cheating, whether it resulted in 15,000 extra sales or 15 extra sales.

First of all, you haven't established it is cheating.

Second, you haven't answered any of my questions regarding how you buy books. Do you automatically buy an ebook if it has 100+ positive reviews? I'd guess no, just like the rest of the world.

And if you ever did buy an ebook based on positive reviews, could you return it for full price and then rate it 1 star? Yes you can.

Because we live in a world of shit, with ponzi schemes and identity thieves and three-card monte hustlers and every other kind of swindling criminal you can think of.

So now you're equating buying reviews with criminal behavior, swindling, and thievery? You know that's nuts, right?

The sky in my world is blue, because after 20+ years of working my ass off, I got lucky. And I don't begrudge Locke his success even though he's outsold me, and done in much faster. I say good for him. I also say good for him for doing something rather than nothing, and thinking like a lion rather than a sheep.

It is a sad part of human nature to want to denigrate those who are successful. Part sour grapes, part envy, part schadenfreude.

Work your ass off. Write good books. If you've got a way to get those books noticed, give it a try. This isn't a zero sum game. Locke didn't prevent others from selling their books. For example, while he had books in the Top 100, so did I.

Get over it, and get back to working on your book. That's how you'll succeed, not by whining about other authors.

Joe Konrath said...

but the entire thesis of your blog has long been that "the cream will rise to the top."

My thesis has been "keep at it until you get lucky."

Cream finally does have a chance to rise to the top, because books no longer have a six month shelf life. Ebooks are forever. That's a long time to have a chance to rise.

No one deserves success. No one is owed a living.

and you're playing craven defense.

What Peter says about Paul reveals more about Peter than Paul.

Worry about your work, not Locke's. And if one day you become a huge success, and it turns out you did something that makes the world hate you, I'll probably be on your side as well.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Can I just say that Declaration of Independence is the hottest thing I've read in...

A really, really long time.

Wow. Need to go find a cold shower...

Joe Konrath said...

Is passivity really the only option in this world? It seems like some people are saying it is.

Fight fire with fire, I say.

Jeffery McClanahan said...

My experience has been similar to Melinda's with legacy publishing. I haven't written as many books as she has, but I'm in the process of getting my backlist online as self-published books

I don't think my books have ever been classified as erotica, but they are steamy and sexy.

I went through the gamut with legacy publishing that most authors go through. Editors with no real interest in the books, no marketing, yada, yada, yada. Just complaining if sales weren't good. And oh yeah, if you change your name, we can keep publishing you.

I'm soon going to be releasing a self-pubbed original novel, the first of a trilogy. If it does well, I will consider my destiny determined. I'm so happy self-publishing has opened new options for me.

Anna Jeffrey

Jeffery McClanahan said...

My experience has been similar to Melinda's, although I haven't written as many books and made as much money as she has. But I'm just getting started.

I don't think my books have been called "erotic," but they are steamy and sexy.

It took me forever to get my rights back from a legacy publisher. With the way things have evolved, sadly, I fear there are a few that I'll never get the rights back on.

I'm in the process of putting my legacy-published backlist up as self-pubbed books. I'm soon going to release an original self-published book. How that turns out will determine my writing future, but I feel positive about it.

Anna Jeffrey

Jeffery McClanahan said...

My experience has been similar to Melinda's, although I haven't written as many books and made as much money as she has. But I'm just getting started.

I don't think my books have been called "erotic," but they are steamy and sexy.

It took me forever to get my rights back from a legacy publisher. With the way things have evolved, sadly, I fear there are a few that I'll never get the rights back on.

I'm in the process of putting my legacy-published backlist up as self-pubbed books. I'm soon going to release an original self-published book. How that turns out will determine my writing future, but I feel positive about it.

Anna Jeffrey

Anonymous said...

New Anon with a question.

Why the heck would Mr. Locke spend thousands of dollars on fake reviews--dolled out over the course of many months--if these fake reviews had no impact on his sales?

Does Mr. Locke have some weird proclivity for pissing money into the breeze--or is he not one of the best book marketers in the business?

Mr. Locke made multiple orders from this Rutherford fellow. He even wrote to this now outed conman saying, “I will start with 50 for $1,000, and if it works and if you feel you have enough readers available, I would be glad to order many more. I’m ready to roll.”

I understand Mr. Locke might be your friend, Mr. Konrath, but how much more crystal does this have to be? You have proved to be very eloquent in your defense of Mr. Locke, but, as always, I prefer to follow the freakin' money.

Joe Konrath said...

Why the heck would Mr. Locke spend thousands of dollars on fake reviews--dolled out over the course of many months--if these fake reviews had no impact on his sales?

Half of all advertising doesn't work. But no one knows which half.

You have proved to be very eloquent in your defense of Mr. Locke, but, as always, I prefer to follow the freakin' money.

As does Locke. In his case, it's the huge amount of money he made on ebooks.

Anonymous said...

First of all, you haven't established it is cheating.

ROFLMAO. Breaking the rules=cheating. Ethics aside, what the company in the NYT article and its clients did was against FTC regulations and Amazon ToS. I mentioned this about ten comments ago.

Second, you haven't answered any of my questions regarding how you buy books. Do you automatically buy an ebook if it has 100+ positive reviews? I'd guess no, just like the rest of the world.

Reviews don't impress me, because I've known for a long time that a good percentage of them are junk. But I don't buy books that I never see, I can tell you that. Just like the rest of the world.

Here’s a blog post from Dave Zeltserman that, like a slew of others in the past few days, explains why the authors who paid for fake reviews were cheating, and why the fake reviews resulted in a sales increase.

Here's an excerpt (bold added by me):

"Why is this so significant, other than grossly misleading potential book buyers? Because Amazon's algorithms select books to promote through direct mail based on the number of reviews a book gets and their average rating."

So now you're equating buying reviews with criminal behavior, swindling, and thievery?

Buying FAKE reviews, I should add. I'm not equating it with anything. It is what it is. Fraud. I don't understand why anyone would think that's okay.

Locke didn't prevent others from selling their books.

If you've noticed, I haven't mentioned any names in any of my comments. From the outset I said it's unfair to single anyone out, when there were obviously scores of others feeding $28K a month into that company.

Get over it, and get back to working on your book. That's how you'll succeed, not by whining about other authors.

True, but when there's a scandal that affects an entire industry, it's probably a good thing for the people working in that industry to be discussing it.

Anonymous said...

Money Trail Anon: Why the heck would Mr. Locke spend thousands of dollars on fake reviews--dolled out over the course of many months--if these fake reviews had no impact on his sales?

Konrath: Half of all advertising doesn't work. But no one knows which half.

True.

Know what else is true?

Intent matters.

We can easily presume based on Mr. Locke's repeated purchases of this particular form of "advertising" that he could not exclude the possibility that purchasing these fake reviews was contributing to his success, and that wanting this success to continue, he continued to purchase fake reviews. That's intent to defraud, spelled out clear as day (presuming the day is not feces brown).

Money Trail Anon: You have proved to be very eloquent in your defense of Mr. Locke, but, as always, I prefer to follow the freakin' money.

Konrath: As does Locke. In his case, it's the huge amount of money he made on ebooks.

Can't argue with that, either. But perhaps now Mr. Locke can spend some of his newly acquired wealth to invest in a moral compass, dip into this vast booty, and refund the many bright-eyed authors he intentionally deceived with that self-publishing guide of his...or Mr. Locke could just keep it all and laugh. It's still a free country. Mr. Locke gets to do whatever he wants, and bear the fruits of every deed.

Either way, there is this great blog called "A Newbie's Guide to Self-publishing" that will be warning off all Mr. Locke's future victims...right?

Alan Spade said...

Perhaps there is just envy on my side. Perhaps all successfull authors deserve to be sanctuarized (and that would also include legacy published authors who beneficied of the power of the cartel ruling publishing and distribution - that was a zero sum game, because shelf space was limited).

But I cannot help feeling people like Locke AND people who use their relations to give bad reviews and make flame wars on others undermine the system.

Perhaps those problems would have less consequences if more people posted reviews, though.

Joe Konrath said...

ROFLMAO. Breaking the rules=cheating.

That made you roll and the floor and laugh your ass off? Really?

Should I call 911, see if they can help you find your ass? :)

If I count cards play Blackjack in Vegas, that isn't cheating. Playing with a marked deck is cheating. I see a difference.

If I steal a base and get tagged but the umpire calls it differently, am I cheating? Compare that to throwing a game. I see a difference.

I haven't checked Amazon's terms on paid for reviews, so I don't know if what Locke did was against them or not. But I break Amazon's terms every time I post my numbers on this blog. And I don't consider that cheating. I consider that helping my fellow authors.

Because Amazon's algorithms select books to promote through direct mail based on the number of reviews a book gets and their average rating.

Show me proof of this. Please.

True, but when there's a scandal that affects an entire industry, it's probably a good thing for the people working in that industry to be discussing it.

I agree. But I don't agree that this is a scandal. I'd say it's more like a lynch mob.

A scandal is what Harlequin did to its authors, or the AAR and Author's Guild supporting the DOJ.

An author gaming the system to sell ebooks? That's not a scandal. But I will admit it is interesting to discuss. It would be more interesting without all the finger pointing and emotion.

Joe Konrath said...

But I cannot help feeling people like Locke AND people who use their relations to give bad reviews and make flame wars on others undermine the system.

No system is fair.

Amazon didn't allow customer reviews to give every author an equal playing field. They allowed reviews because user aggregated content leads to more visitors and more sales.

Also, be careful arguing feelings in a debate. Logic always wins over feelings.

Qwantu Amaru said...

I propose that we do a survey asking readers to what degree positive and negative reviews affect their buying decisions to squash this whole issue. My hypothesis is that readers are smart people who don't like throwing money away on crap products and do a lot more diligence than taking someone else's word for it when buying books on Amazon. I'll set the survey up and post if you all will support. Let me know. QA

Conor McCreery said...

Thanks very much Joe, I appreciate the quick response.

All the best and I'll be name-checking you at the conference.

Conor

Anonymous said...

But I don't agree that this is a scandal. I'd say it's more like a lynch mob.

It is a scandal, but the lynch mob mentality it has generated isn't cool either.

Anonymous said...

One thing that seems to get lost in this is that Locke wanted the reviewers to buy the books so they would appear to be genuine consumer reviews. So we have have not just review buying, which is pretty ethically low but has no easily proved effect on algorithms/sales, and having hundreds of people buy his book using his money - essentially buying at least 300 of his own books, which DOES game the algorithms and place one higher on the lists - more sales equates to higher ranking, which equates to greater visibility, which equates to yet more sales.

I think it's interesting that nobody is discussing that aspect of it. I think many authors have thought, hey, how about buying my way onto the best seller list? That gets more visibility, etc.

What we have is a douchebag basically playing by the "as long as I get an unfair advantage, F everyone else" rules that defines the actions of most sociopaths and wall street swindlers. "As long as I win, who gives a shit whether it was right, or legal, or anything else? If it is effective, then who cares? Anyone playing by those rules is an idiot. They're rubes and suckers."

The only thing required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. By trying to defend this sort of obvious cheating (the buying of one's own books through hundreds of sock puppet - er, I mean "reviewer" accounts) with facile first year university debating tricks, you cheapen your currency, Joe. This comes from someone who respects you.

Have you ever bought reviews, Joe?

Simple, direct question.

I'll be very interested in the answer.

Joe Konrath said...

essentially buying at least 300 of his own books, which DOES game the algorithms and place one higher on the lists - more sales equates to higher ranking, which equates to greater visibility, which equates to yet more sales.

There are old stories of bestselling authors who have done this with paper books, buying thousands of copies of their own books to get on the NYT bestseller list.

Amazon allows people to give ebooks as gifts. I know many authors who do that, and some may be doing it to get higher rankings, or to get reviews.

Sorry, I just don't see that as unethical or cheating. Legacy publishers have been doing that for decades, giving away books for reviews. Lots of those books wind up on eBay.

"as long as I get an unfair advantage, F everyone else"

Stupid comment. Locke never prevented anyone else from doing the same thing. Apparently this guy selling reviews had a booming business, so lots of authors have done it.

The only thing required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing

That made me smile. Locke is evil? Please give me your definition of evil.

This comes from someone who respects you. Have you ever bought reviews, Joe? Simple, direct question. I'll be very interested in the answer.

Someone who respects me so much, he won't even sign his name to his comments. Why post anonymously? What are you afraid of?

I'm not afraid of stating my mind, and owning it.

No, I've never bought reviews. I've never even hired a publicist, whose job is to send out free review copies. But I have given away a lot of free books to get reviews. That's how the business has always been. Hate the game, not the playa.

Would I ever buy a review? Let my ask you this, and I expect an answer under your real name: If you could get a New York Times review for your book in exchange for buying an ad in the newspaper, would you do it?

I'd be very interested in your answer.

Then I'll ask you if you believe legacy publishers do that, get reviews in exchange for buying ads.

Then I'll ask you to look at the book ads in the NYT.

Joe Konrath said...

You're too sweet, Alex.

Still waiting for your guest post...

Anonymous said...

Joe.

I post anonymously for the same reason your friend didn't sign his name to the 300 bogus reviews, nor include his secret in his how to book.

Just cause.

Your defense of his actions seems to amount to the idea that because many cheats cheat, then cheating is somehow ok. Really? The 1 million flies must be right argument? That's the best you can do? What you are sensing from most of the comments is that most don't think the ends justify the means, nor are they so morally bankrupt that they can excuse virtually anything with the idea that plenty of other crooks have done so too.

What in your mind would be condemnable? If not review buying, and buying your own book to juice the algorithms, then what? Anything? Can you think of nothing?

Not being morally superior. Of course I would buy a NYT ad if I though it would make a difference. Who wouldn't? And everyone reading the review would make the connection.

Traditional publishing houses have long bought favorable reviews. Shit books have often been pushed as marvels. Of course the game is filled with liars and cheats trying to get an edge. I guess this just gives us all an opportunity to decide which side of the line we fall on, or whether there is any line at all.

To put it in more graphic terms, many people beat their wives. That doesn't mean wife beating is excusable. Just because it's prevalent or popular does not mean it is a justifiable action.

I think you need to decide whether you want to wear a white hat or a black on on this. My sense is that you're not going to get to straddle the fence.

Glad it's not me.

Anonymous said...

Buying FAKE reviews, I should add. I'm not equating it with anything. It is what it is. Fraud. I don't understand why anyone would think that's okay.

Seriously, Anon, chill the fuckout. John Locke didn't do anything unethical. He paid for advertising. That's it. He didn't poach other authors, and he didn't try to influence the reviews. That's more than I can say for most of the "bestsellers" out there.

And if you think that this hasn't been going on forever, then you are fucking delusional.

Google "Harriet Klausner" Amazon's Top "Hall of Fame" reviewer for 10 years in a row.

AMAZINGLY-- she reads 4-5 books PER DAY!! And has been posting like this for years. The publishing houses basically back their semi trucks into her driveway.

And all the "Top" Amazon reviewers do the same. The big six has courted them for years and years with all kinds of gifts, freebies, and perks. Including cash. So get off your moral high horse and take a spoonful of reality.

-Marie

Joe Konrath said...

I post anonymously for the same reason your friend didn't sign his name to the 300 bogus reviews, nor include his secret in his how to book

I call bullshit. Locke told a NYT reporter what he did, and used his name. Posting anonymously is the act of a coward, and that doesn't sit well with me.

Your defense of his actions seems to amount to the idea that because many cheats cheat, then cheating is somehow ok

You still haven't defined how this is cheating. Hint: repeating it over and over is not a definition.

You haven't defined morality, or how Locke's actions are immoral, let alone illegal.

What in your mind would be condemnable?

I don't trash other authors or their work. It would be VERY easy for me to blog about some author pinhead (lots to choose from on Twitter) and put his name in my blog title. Every time someone Googled that pinhead's name, my blog would come up as the #1 search, with me ripping him to shreds.

I have to power to do that, but I don't. And I don't leave 1 star reviews. And I don't troll. And I don't post anonymously.

Those are a few of the lines I don't cross.

Just because it's prevalent or popular does not mean it is a justifiable action.

Hate the game, not the playa. I think I could justify a lot to have 2 million book sales.

But you still haven't established that Locke's actions require justification.

I think you need to decide whether you want to wear a white hat or a black on on this.

My hat has always been gray. There is no such thing as universal morality. There are always exceptions. Good luck trying to come up with a counter example.

Anonymous said...

"Mommy? I'm sorry I got called into the principal's office for cheating on that test."

"Nonsense, my dear. There are lots of cheaters. If it helped you to get ahead of the class and get better placement for a scholarship, it's understandable."

"Yes, but everyone said it's bad to cheat."

"They're losers. Look at your father. He's rich. You think he got that way by being the smartest or the hardest working? Come on. He sells insurance. He figured out what people wanted to hear, then lied a lot. And he was successful doing it."

"But the principal said it's bad to cheat and lie."

"How much does a principal make? Nothing. That's what that idiocy is worth. Do you want to be one of those stupid poor idealists, or a success?"

"But how can you be a success, a real one, if you had to lie and cheat to get there?"

"Oh, son. Don't you know that winning is everything, even if you lied and cheated to get there? What world are you living in? People have been doing that, abusing each other for centuries to get ahead. Wise up. You father made lots of money by being flexible with the truth. You scored an A on a test everyone else struggled with, even though you didn't do the work. Who's the idiot? The ones that did all that studying, or the one that swooped in, saw an opportunity, and did what they had to in order to make the cut?"

"Thanks Mom. I guess if everyone is doing it, that makes it OK."

"Only if you win, honey. Only if you win."

Joe Konrath said...

"Mommy, what's a coward?"

"A coward is someone who posts anonymously on the Internet, because he doesn't have the stones to sign his name to his posts."

"Why do cowards do that?"

"Because they say things that they don't want to be held accountable for."

"That's pathetic."

"No shit."

Anonymous said...

Seriously, Anon, chill the fuckout. John Locke didn't do anything unethical. He paid for advertising. That's it.

I never mentioned any names in any of my posts. Let me say that up front. My comments are aimed at ALL the authors who paid for fake reviews, not just one.

Okay?

So...It's fine for an author to pay for advertising, as long as the author labels it as paid advertising, and as long as the reviewer acknowledges he or she was paid to create the review.

And, in this case, as long as the reviewer acknowledges he or she was paid to create the review without, you know, actually reading the book.

But, as we know, the authors who used that service didn't label the reviews as paid advertising, and the reviewers didn't acknowledge they were paid to create reviews without actually reading the books.

And, well, that's called fraud. There's no other word for it. It's unethical, and it's illegal. It doesn't matter how many people are doing it. It is what it is. And if anyone thinks otherwise, then, well, they're fucking delusional.

Boy, that word does look good in bold, doesn't it? Eh, Marie?

Oh, and by the way, fuck and out are two different words. Just for future reference.

Anonymous said...

"Why do those who are on the losing side of a debate attack the messengers rather than address the substance of the debate?"

"Well, honey, because they're losing. And if they can attack their adversary and make them somehow objectionable, then they hope nobody sees how vapid their position is."

"But does that work? Are people really that dumb?"

"Some people think so. They think nobody else is smart enough to call bullshit when they begin to go on. They figure if they can mount ad hominem arguments and move the discussion to something else, like why people post anonymously, they can avoid the actual topic."

"So they are that stupid?"

"Some people are. Or hope everyone else is."

Joe Konrath said...

Do you hear that, Anon?

That's the sound of me not caring.

You aren't debating. You're making accusations (immoral, illegal, cheating) without defending it.

That's not a debate. That's masturbation. Lonely, anonymous, masturbation.

Now here's another sound for you:

Plonk!

Joe Konrath said...

"Mommy! The mean man won't let cowards like me post anymore!"

"Maybe after repeated warnings, you should have begun using your real name."

"But I can't use my real name! That would mean standing behind the stupid stuff I said!"

"It's an unfair world. Maybe you should spend some time writing instead of vying for anonymous attention."

Joe Konrath said...

This is a good opportunity to bring up what an actual Internet debate is.

It is NOT repeating the same things over and over insisting you are right while ignoring your opponent's points.

Instead, it is defending your points with logic and evidence, and then taking your opponent's points one at a time and explaining why they are incorrect.

It is also about being man enough to stand behind your points with your name. Especially if you want to debate me and expect me to be completely upfront and honest. Quid pro quo.

I realize a lot of people feel like Locke did something wrong. But condemning him because it "feels" wrong is a damn poor argument.

If you can't properly articulate why you feel something, it's time for some serious introspection.

What Locke did doesn't fit the definition of "illegal" or "cheating".

I don't find the "morality" of the act interesting, because there is no universal morality, just a gray slippery slope that can be easily refuted.

Locke didn't have an unfair advantage. Anyone could have done what he did.

300 paid reviews were not the only contributing factor to 2 million sales, and they may not have been a factor at all. Correlation does not equal causation.

Locke didn't hide anything. He freely admitted this to a freaking NYT reporter.

Anyone posting a 1 star review of an ebook without having read it is a pinhead.

No reasonable person immediately buys something they don't want just because it gets good reviews.

Those readers who bought Locke's books and didn't like them could return them for a full refund and then post a 1 star review. Locke wasn't fooling readers.

Now can someone, please, try to refute any or all of these points I've made?

Anyone at all?

Anonymous said...

First, I don't think anyone should be tossing out illegal as an accusation.

The more interesting question is if this action (paying for reviews, with some expectation they would be positive) is in any way unethical or "cheating".

I think it's likely, though the authors paying for reviews may not have cared, they had a reasonable expectation that the reviews would be biased positive. Examples of the work would have shown this, plus that's the logical incentive of the revieing company as negative reviews push away business.

However, knowing that bias exists seems are far cry from engaging in ethically questionable activity.

Who was harmed by the action? Other authors? Not likely. Even if a thousand authors bought reviews, and they were all positive, and they all impacted the rankings and amazon promotion (which still isn't confirmed and evidence suggests it is a partial or weak factor) it still wouldn't reduce the audience for another author's books.

"But they would get better positioning and therefore unfair promotion," some say. If that is unethical, the purchasing of better positioning, well the crusade to stop that activity will be a long one. And an unwarranted one. Advertising, though annoying, isn't unethical.

"But he did it and didn't tell anyone." I go to bookstores often. I have no idea which books were selected by staff vs placed due to paid placement. No idea.

"Two wrongs don't make a right." True, but there's no wrong. Some authors paid for reviews. Big deal. Really. Some people paid for someone to say nice things about their product. Watch TV recently?

"Yeah, but we didn't know it was paid advertising." Pretty sure we already covered that.

Look, you don't like what he did. What they did. You think some of them got extra sales for doing it and it makes you mad. Okay. Be mad, but you being mad doens't make it wrong.

And no, I didn't forget about the whole "it hurts all indie authors because people will think all reviews of indie books are garbage."

The average person buying a book on amazon doesn't know who publishers are. Still a good sounding name on it and they have no idea. Put a bad cover on it, and they'll know it's not done by someone professional.

People don't know if it's indie if it's well done, and won't judge reviews as indie vs traditional. If this makes all reviews of questionable value and importance, well, they probably were anyway.

Jude Hardin said...

Locke didn't have an unfair advantage. Anyone could have done what he did.

And they did. In droves. The company was making $28K a month selling bogus reviews, so the issue goes a lot deeper than a single author. I don't understand the lynch mob mentality against Locke, when there were so many others doing the same thing.

"Yeah, but we didn't know it was paid advertising."

To me, that's the larger issue. The original NYT article states that financial relationships between authors and reviewers must be disclosed, per FTC guidelines.

A paid endorsement doesn't carry quite the same weight as one that was offered freely, IMO, so in that way readers were misled.

Qwantu Amaru said...

A blog I wrote on the issue: http://www.pantheoncollective.com/the-world-has-moved-on

J.A. you can use the full blog if you wish...it was inspired by you and this discussion anyway!

QA

Joe Konrath said...

Nicely done, Qwantu.

Anonymous said...

A paid endorsement doesn't carry quite the same weight as one that was offered freely, IMO, so in that way readers were misled.

You're also supposed to disclose if you received the book for free from the publisher or author, but that's not done very well either (except at the bottom of some blogs.)

In the end, if this is the extent of wrong-doing and duping of readers, I think that's a pretty small issue to be considered a scandal.

Qwantu Amaru said...

Thank you sir!

Joe Konrath said...

The original NYT article states that financial relationships between authors and reviewers must be disclosed, per FTC guidelines.

I'm pretty sure Locke wasn't in touch with the individual reviewers. He was in touch with the guy brokering the reviews.

Can someone explain how this is very different from hiring a publicist to send out free review copies?

Locke stated he wanted honest reviews. If it's true that the service paid more for 5 star reviews, that's a stickier issue.

As for reviewers being paid, that's been going on for hundreds of years. It's bad if an author pays, but not the author's publisher in the form of ads which support the paper that prints them? Or because that's one step removed, people think it's okay?

The whole industry gives away free books in order to get reviewed. Everyone is okay with that. Everyone is okay with pro reviewers getting paid. Everyone is okay with publishers buying ads in periodicals that review their books.

David L. Shutter said...

Qwantu

Very nice piece. I particularly liked the part where the Publishers "employed" agents.

Listening to the hundreds of published authors, who now speak openly about their past lives, that does seem to have been the case all along.

Qwantu Amaru said...

Thank you Mr. Shutter. You caught that wordplay huh? Every day it seems I'm reading an article about a traditionally published author jumping to the dark side. Crazy times we're living in...

M.Raoul Boyer said...

iInteresting article in today's Toronto Globe & Mail.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/brand-writer-is-a-brand-not-a-writer/article4508474/

Alan Spade said...

Joe said : "Can someone explain how this is very different from hiring a publicist to send out free review copies? "

I can. People posting reviews on Amazon are not professionals. That's a BIG difference.

People who read magazines and newspaper know there are ads on them. They can at least suspect a link between the critics and the guys if the same magazine who bought the ads.

Now, imagine, you are a guy who had a mitigated opinion on a book. You post your comment and rank it with 3 stars.

Then, your post is buried under 20 other posts, with 5 stars. If you happen to learn author X paid for these reviews, wouldn't you feel outraged ? Wouldn't you think it's treachery ? That it's power of money against power of the word of one sincere individual ?

The same treachery you will feel, as an author, if someone who didn't read your book gave it a one star.

I know what you will reply me. That is still feelings. But I think that's a big fallacy of yours to examine only facts with logic. There is truth of the heart.

I wonder, if we could make back 10 or perhaps 20 years back and ask a less cynical Joe. What would he reply ?

What do you think the majority of readers of that debate will think (apart from the thing that a debate of authors turn out to be a debate of egos and that you can't win against Joe Konrath) ?

I'll tell you. They will think, and rightly so, it is no use posting a review, because all of them are ads. And we will all loose. Because there will be no more sincerity in any review in the net.

A very cynical world indeed...

Joe Konrath said...

I can. People posting reviews on Amazon are not professionals. That's a BIG difference.

Actually, Alan, I know for a fact that publishers send review copies to Amazon's top reviewers.

But I think that's a big fallacy of yours to examine only facts with logic. There is truth of the heart.

That is why 2 + 2 = 7, because I really really really feel it in my heart.

I wonder, if we could make back 10 or perhaps 20 years back and ask a less cynical Joe. What would he reply ?

I like that question.

I began an idealist, like everyone else. But legacy publishing forced me to be pragmatic. After all the rejections, and all the stupid things my publishers did, despite the tremendous amount of hard work I put into my career (find someone else who signed at 1200 bookstores) I began to understand that there is no fairness in this industry.

Reviews are a tool, not an ideology. They don't exist to level the playing field or equally distribute happiness and fairness to all writers.

Don't get angry at someone who uses a tool more effectively than you do. There's no outcry against the dozens (hundreds?) or other writers who used that review service. The mob is after Locke, because he is more successful than they are and they want to attribute his success to cheating because that's an excuse for why they didn't have the same success.

Simple as that.

As for readers--my guess is they don't care. There are thousands of 1 star reviews by readers who say: "This book had a bunch of 5 star reviews so I tried it, but I hated it and got a refund. All those reviewers are nuts."

Readers can figure this out just fine.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

>>>The mob is after Locke, because he is more successful than they are and they want to attribute his success to cheating because that's an excuse for why they didn't have the same success.<<<

Joe, totally disagree. If Locke paid for 300 reviews and DIDN'T mention that in his book called "How I Sold A Million E Books", that's outright fraud. Authors >should< be calling him out for that - it's a total con job. He's taking advantage of vulnerable people by lying - and I think it's despicable.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

"The same treachery you will feel, as an author, if someone who didn't read your book gave it a one star."

This happens all the time. There's a review of one of my books on Goodreads Where the reviewer states in the review that she didn't even have to read the book to give it one star. Why? Seems she didn't like the title and cover (neither did I, but whatever). The review is followed by a couple dozen comments all agreeing with her. And that kind of thing is not all that unusual.

If you're in this business long enough, you see a lot of stuff like that. Joe is right. The only way to deal with publishing is to pay attention to your own writing. That's what it's all about.

And you'll last longer.

Karla Darcy said...

I'm one of the newbie's who really appreciated this column. I've been following Joe's take on the self-publishing world and owe him a great deal for giving me the courage to self publish. My first two books came out this week and I'm just waiting to see how the "kids" do. Thanks, Joe!

Alan Spade said...

"If you're in this business long enough, you see a lot of stuff like that. Joe is right. The only way to deal with publishing is to pay attention to your own writing. That's what it's all about."

I know, Ann. I had to suffer 1 star from people I suspect didn't read my books too (but without reviews, as I'm too much of a beginner to have a lot of them).

Joe says ebooks are not a zero sum game, and he's right, but not everyone else believe it. There are authors who see others as concurrence. And there are also publishers who feel that way.

Your advice is well taken.

I guess I'm gonna watch Mr Smith Goes to Washington with my kids, in order to tell them intelligence of the heart exist, and to differentiate cynical people from others.

Then I'll show them how this movie affected the whole career of James Steward. And I will tell them logic is a comfortable thing, but that sometimes, it is not sufficient to apprehend life.

Alan Spade said...

Sorry, James Stewart.

Joe Konrath said...

If Locke paid for 300 reviews and DIDN'T mention that in his book called "How I Sold A Million E Books", that's outright fraud

Ever hear the expression "I taught you everything you know, but not everything I know?"

There are reasons Locke could have omitted that info from his book that have nothing to do with fraud. For example, I have endorsed a lot of people on this blog (cover artists, formatters, proof readers, web designers) often leading to those folks having lucrative careers. The result? When I need work done, I have to wait in a long queue. :)

I could have kept quiet and kept these services to myself.

My point is, until we hear from Locke, we shouldn't speculate his intent. That's joining a mob without knowing why.

Anonymous said...

Joe said: 'Ebooks are the future. Publishers know this. They won't sign any book that doesn't give them erights.'

You may be surprised...a client of mine is negotiating a paperback-only contract for a book that he's already released as a hardcover special edition and as an ebook. It's still in negotiations...but they're definitely considering it.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

>>>There are reasons Locke could have omitted that info from his book that have nothing to do with fraud.<<<

I agree, there are, although that is ONE HELL of an omission that I cannot in a million years see you making, Joe. Seriously.

Since we HAVEN'T heard from Locke, I've phrased my concerns starting with the word IF.

But Locke has had a while to refute the charges of fraud and so far, nothing. If this were a charge against ME that were untrue, you'd better believe I'd be speaking up about it, or at the very least saying if an attorney had advised me to keep silent for the present.

I'm waiting, but it's not looking good.

Joe Konrath said...

But Locke has had a while to refute the charges of fraud and so far, nothing.

I've heard from him. :)

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Well, that's nice, Joe, but what about the people who bought his book thinking he was telling them the truth about how to sell books? You aren't the person he's MOST LIKELY duped, and you aren't the one he owes an explanation to.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

I have to add that this is an OLD, OLD issue for screenwriters and I know EXACTLY where Lee Goldberg is coming from and why he jumped to castigate Locke. And I agree with him. Lee has been a WGA (screenwriters' union) activist for years. Unscrupulous screenwriters are always hanging out shingles and hawking the secret to selling scripts in Hollywood, when the basic fact of the matter is, if you're not living in LA and ready to work full time as a screenwriter, no one's ever going to look at your script. Leaving that out of the equation is fraud.

It sure looks to me like Locke has done exactly the same thing, author version, and he DOES owe the people who bought his book an explanation. I love you to pieces, but your word isn't the one I need to hear, here. Those of us who are looked to for advice have a responsibility to be honest, to the best of our ability, and I am really, really angry at the way Locke appears to have exploited that trust.

This is a small community and we have a responsibility to ask other writers to do the right thing. Who else is going to do it?

Sorry, it's hard to stay off the union soapbox. I'll stop now. Happy Labor Day. (Which may explain this tirade...)

Maia said...

Melinda, thank you for making your second Alice book free over at Amazon; I've just dl'ed it. I'm loving the combo of sexy, silly, and funny Wonderland adventures. I've just recced it to friends.

Michelle Hughes said...

Joe,

I gave up on the big publishers when Harlequin refused my first book. Pfft, screw 'em. I've done reasonable well on my own and I answer to myself. On the one star reviews, no excuse for doing it. My favorites are the ones that said this book wasn't for me but it might be a great read for someone else. Really? Because you've just pretty much screwed up the the chance that the other people who might have enjoyed that book might find it.

Truly,
Michelle

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