Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tinker's Daughter price change, update on Tinker's War, and a word to the puppeteers:

As of today, the price on The Tinkerer's Daughter has dropped to $2.99. It's all part of my nefarious plan to seduce more readers into the series, of course. Today the Kindle, tomorrow the world! Only kidding. I've got enough problems without making the whole world my responsibility.

In related news, I'm submitting the final approval on the paperback of Tinker's War today, and the Kindle version is zipping through the cloud already. I'll post again when they're finally listed for sale. It won't be long now! 

And on to current events:

I have something else I've been wanting to say. I have been trying to keep it to myself. I thought the whole thing would blow over, but it just won't seem to go away. And frankly, the more I think about it, the more irritated I get. Here's what I'm talking about:

The whole world probably knows by now that certain authors, both Indie and legacy-published, have been "cooking the books" on their reviews. How did they do this? Well, there are multiple ways. The first is to pay people for reviews. The second is to make fake "sock-puppet" accounts at places like Amazon and Goodreads and use those fake accounts to give yourself fake five-star reviews. The third is to use those same sock-puppet accounts and try to destroy other authors you consider competition.

Yeah, I know. But here's the thing: A lot of people are defending some of these actions. And in a way, I agree. I had a conversation with Karen Woodward a while back, where I pointed out that even The Beatles and The Beach Boys have used similar tactics. Corporations spend millions of dollars on commercials using fake reviews, and big publishers and famous writers and musicians have been caught promoting their own work with fake reviews. It's almost a tradition.

The problem is, where do you draw the line? Personally, I think it's okay to "pay" for reviews, assuming that those reviews are guaranteed to be fair and truthful. It takes years to build up reviews, and it takes hundreds or even thousands of free copies of books. That's the way the system works. That's how it has always worked, and it always will. You give books away for free, based on the hope that those readers will give you a review. In my experience, you give away about 1,000 free books to get ONE review. Yeah, and I'm not the only one. Most legitimate, honest authors will tell you the same thing.*

*Here's your first clue on whether an author is a puppeteer: I've sold thousands of copies of The Tinkerer's Daughter, and given away thousands more, and I have 22 reviews on Amazon. I can show you examples of this all day long. New and midlist authors don't have hundreds of reviews, no matter how good they are. If they do, you should be suspicious!*

Also, there are services out there like Book Rooster that charge a small fee to distribute a novel to readers who have committed to review that book. As long as those reviews are honest, I don't see a problem with this. You're not paying for a review, you're paying for a commitment. To me, this sounds like paying a promotion company to do the same thing. It is the same thing. 

But some people took it a step farther. This is where things turn gray for me. They made sock-puppet accounts and gave themselves dozens or even hundreds of fake reviews. They used these fake accounts to have fake conversations with themselves, talking about how great their own work was. Okay, this isn't far removed from what the Beach Boys or a thousand other successful examples have done. Personally, I haven't. I think it's dishonest and unethical, but I do see the gray-matter argument and I'm trying not to judge these people. After all, they haven't hurt anyone. The buyers who were deceived can just as easily return the book for a refund, and now they're a bit wiser from the experience. They'll never buy anything from that author again. Unless of course they actually liked the book, in which case everybody wins. 

Now let's move on to category three. These are the lowest of the low. These are the universally hated slanderers who wrote fake reviews in an effort to besmirch and destroy the writers they considered competition. Where do I begin? No author is competition to another author. The market will never be too full of good books. Readers can't get enough as it is, and the damage these "writers" have done in some cases may be irreversible. A new writer filled with potential might just give up the craft after a few of these reviews, and the world would miss out on something that might have been great.

If you've done this, you're not an author and you are NOT writing good books. If you were, you wouldn't have to stoop to this level. You're a scumbag. Your books are garbage, and there's a special place for you in Hell right next to the pedophiles and serial killers. And do you know what else? EVERYONE HATES YOU. Even the people who posted fake five star reviews on their own books think you're a piece of garbage, and they're right. You're a morally bankrupt, unconscionable sociopath and you shouldn't be writing books, you should be seeking professional help, because it's one thing to boost your own rating and ego with fake reviews, but when you set out to destroy another author's career, you crossed a line.

Oh, and by the way, this practice is illegal and against Amazon's terms of service. Amazon and others are developing algorithms to analyze and identify these reviews at this very moment, and those of you who still have them posted should be losing sleep or hitting the delete key as fast as you can. In the meanwhile, lose sleep over this: when you made that fake account and posted those fake reviews, your I.P. was recorded. It doesn't matter what name you chose or how you tried to conceal your identity. They will identify you. And not just on Amazon, either. Recording your I.P. address is standard practice, so you might want to take another look at Goodreads and all those other places you've been trying to game the system.

My recommendation to you is that you start cleaning your nest now, before the Feds take an interest in what's been going on.You might just get out under the wire.


  1. First visit to your blog. Found your expose most important to myself as a reader. Always try to give my honest opinion of books I have read & apparently there are others trying to influence my selections. Will now try to be more aware of reviewers. Thanks for this heads up article.

  2. Thanks for visiting, Jake. Some of the stories I've read about this have left me quite disappointed. I suppose as always, it's up to the consumer to keep themselves informed.