The news has been full of stories recently about misbehavior by authors.
In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site, GettingBookReviews.com. At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.
Says one of these paid reviewers: “‘There were books I wished I could have gone back and actually read,’ she said. ‘But I had to produce 70 pieces of content a week to pay my bills.'”
Some authors want to make themselves look popular. They’ll buy 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 followers to give themselves the appearance of public heft. These “followers” are generally fake. They’re artificially generated profiles for people who don’t exist. Granted, authors aren’t the only ones who do this. Recently it was reported that Cisco Systems’ Chief Technology Officer, Padmasree Warrior, had more than half a million fake followers. Some executives are, effectively, creating armies of imaginary acolytes to bolster their résumés. A huge Twitter following is touted as a measure of respect, influence and clout. Of course, if all the followers are fake, nobody’s actually listening to what these people have to say. It’s as if they’ve lined up hundreds of thousands of Peeps to stare blankly while they declaim to numb air.
Stephen Leather, who churns outs ebook and paperback thrillers, boasted at last month’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival: “As soon as my book is out I’m on Facebook and Twitter several times a day talking about it. I’ll go on to several forums, the well-known forums, and post there under my name and under various other names and various other characters. You build up this whole network of characters who talk about your books and sometimes have conversations with yourself.”
Sock-puppetgate has mutated into something darker and nastier since then (you can read about it from Jeremy Duns and Steve Mosby). But the basic point is: authors pretending to be other people, giving themselves great reviews — and sometimes giving other authors terrible reviews — is dishonest.
They call it marketing. It’s not. It’s lying to readers.
And I promise: I don’t do any of these things. And I won’t.