Fascinating story happening here with one of the UK's top-selling ebook authors, Stephen Leather, who admits to playing fast and loose with the Amazon ebook game.


It just goes to show how the business is constantly changing - and not always for the better. I had one reader tell me today that there's no way she would pay $7.99 for a Kindle EBook version of a novel. Does this mean readers are already seeing less value in an electronic book compared to a paperback? If so, is it any wonder Leather plays the game to sell a ton of cheap ebooks? Without the traditional gatekeepers is it all anarchy? And if so, how can anarchy have rules?

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Dirty tricks in self-promotion!  It's apparently very common.  I somehow ended up on a historical fiction web site (I agreed to membership before I realized the reason this existed), where all the author members post reviews for each other, tweet for each other, "like" each other's every book, blog, or announcement, and so forth.  It's getting utterly embarrassing, and I no longer post there.  These people, by the way, get into fights with anyone posting a negative review, and that ends in retaliation and trollism and mutual postings of one-star reviews on Amazon.


The whole business is disgusting.  But they do sell more books than I do.  There's you answer.

Interesting article.  I'd be willing to bet that a LOT of authors engage in these tactics--and while I don't think it excuses this kind of behavior, my sense is that they do so out of a sense of desperation.  Promotion is THE hardest part of the writing biz, now that publishers (if you have one) have basically eliminated promo for any book that isn't a sure-fire best-seller.  If your publisher decides your books are mid-list, you're on your own in terms of promo.  I love my editor and generally have a good relationship with my publisher, but I had to laugh when, in discussing promotion for my new book, they told me to post on goodreads.  Goodreads!  Meanwhile, their best-sellers are sent out on national tours, etc.  Meanwhile, the mid-list is on its own--and of course we mostly suck at promotion, and are complete amateurs at it, and those among us who are badly behaved will engage in bad behavior, at least partly because we've been pitted against one another. 

Goodreads is a very nasty place.  The posters are hostile to authors posting.  The same is true of Kindle boards.  The discussions are childish and promote crappy novels.  The posters are mostly women.  One shudders.

( I had, in fact, come to the conclusion that only women turn into trolls until I encountered a male troll on the Konrath site.)


Nobody can compete with a national promotion effort.  I don't think the book tour by itself does it.  It takes radio, TV, and newspaper coverage.  The book is immaterial.  It's the hype that counts.  We've seen that proven many times over.  And, by the way, that explains much about the readers who actually buy books.

Yeah, I sort of hate goodreads.  I posted a couple of times in the discussion groups (a lot of didactic bombast over there), but none of them seemed worth pursuing after a post or two.  And yeah--dumbest amateur reviewers ever, and a weirdly negative culture.  All you can say is "what the fucking fuck, fuckers?" and then move on.  Whoever invented the current state of the publishing biz is a total sadist.

I heard so much about Goodreads, I finally created an account a few months ago. I went in a few times the first week and decided I could live without it. I haven't been back.

I wouldn't pay that for a Kindle book, unless it was something more special than I've run into yet.

It doesn't mean "less value".  It means "lower price".

Anarchy?  I would think of words like "democracy" and "populist".  And, way more to the point,  "free market".  

Keynes saw the market as determining the price of goods.   Marx saw the need for somebody in charge to say what things should cost.

Guess who won?  :-)

Oh, and I have another word for the gatekeeping concept, too.  "Price-fixing"

I don't think people see less value in an ebook. It's just that if you know anything about the Internet or used bookstores, you can usually get a good copy of a paper book for less than $7.99. There's a lot of choice available out there.

I wasn't familiar with Leather, but when I ripped off Grant's link to post on some Linked In discussions about amazon review weirdness he was well known.  The next day I saw a list of indie writers who had sold over 500,000 books and he was up there with Hocking and Locke and Konrath.

I don't mind friends writing reviews but I think creating false identities to promote your own work is bound to fail - you'll get found out eventually. Everyone is so net-savvy these days that gush is instantly questioned, and rightly so.

It's not that everyone is so net-savvy.  It's that there is so much and such gross abuse.


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