Monday, May 20, 2013
Authors “Writing” Their Own Reviews
I’ve been silent on the topic of authors “writing” their own reviews for far too long. Partly because I’ve been tracking the activities of certain architects of hate and identifying the tactics they were using to simultaneously trash my public image while promoting themselves. What I found were networks of authors, which included many of these same unethical competitors, who were:
a) Writing their own reviews and other commentary
b) Having friends and family write their reviews and other commentary
c) Swapping reviews and other praise like bubble gum with other authors
or d) All of the above.
Digging deeper, I found authors who were buying reviews in bulk either from paid review sites or through enticements/promises of possible remuneration to readers and others. Not to mention, the countless authors and publishers who were paying marketers to get reviews for their books, either through direct solicitations or indirectly through promotional activities designed to garner reviews.
The worst of these employ companies like SoulKool. Soulkool for those who don’t know is one of the pioneers of underground Internet promotion—and one of many similar companies that helped make some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Soulkool and the related “Sons of Soulkool” are where authors and publishers look to make Harry Potters, Twilights and Percy Jacksons.
Sometimes though stealth marketing isn’t so stealth. Like when certain companies use their book fairs and related programs in schools as promotional rocket ships. Not only that, while there, they offer free books and other perks to teachers in exchange for favors, like say getting 20 students to write reviews of certain popular books online. Multiply that one example across all the schools in North America and you start to see the enormity of the problem. Disguise such bias as a literacy program and no one dares say a thing about it.
When these authors and publishers put enough of these unfair/unethical review and commentary practices together, it’s how an author whose first book was published yesterday can appear to be a rock star on Day 1. And let me tell you, there are plenty of Day 1 rock stars out there.
In the real world, very few readers will write a review of a book they read (without some incentive). How few? Generally, only about 1/10th of 1% to about 5/10ths of 1% of readers will write a review of a book they read. Or put another way, a book 50000 people have read will likely garner at the most 200 reader reviews ever.
I've been writing for 30 years, and have over 150 books to my credit. My own books have very few reader reviews relative to the 7.5 million people who have read them (and not including those reviews due to certain tactics of unethical competitors). And that's because in the real world, it's a rare reader who writes a review of any book.