Self-published authors are making gains. Ebooks are now a solid 20% of book sales on Amazon. Money is being made hand over fist and, let’s face it, it’s no longer flying by default into the pockets of Legacy Publishing.
And the Big 6 are now officially running scared.
How do I know?
Check out this article in today’s NY Times.
It’s about a company, now defunct, that sold glowing reviews to self-published authors including John Locke. And about how these glowing reviews drove sales even though the reviews were bought and paid for and written by people who admitted to having never read the book. And it’s sorta about how this is a common practice with self-published authors.
But it’s actually more than that. A lot more.
It’s really about the veracity of online reviews in general. And, more specifically, online reviews for self-published books.
So, that 5-star review your new release just got? The one from someone you don’t know and have never heard of? The one that, like, totally, completely made your week and lifted you out of your funk and drove you to write five more chapters for your next book?
The NY Times — which refuses to review self-published work, by the way — claims it was bought and paid for and not to be trusted. And so now potential readers will doubt it. And they should (says the Times).
How devastating could this be for self-pubbed authors like me? For people who DON’T use services like that — ’cause they do exist — because, frankly, self-pubbed authors like me don’t sell enough books to afford it?
It could be cataclysmic.
Needless to say there was no mention of the cozy relationship between Big Publishing and the NY Times. No doubting the veracity of the Times reviews for Big Name Author’s latest work. No questioning at all the quiet need for a publication like the Times to kneecap self-publishing by throwing doubt over one of the industry’s — not just self-publishing, but the INDUSTRY’S — most powerful marketing tools.
Nope, we self-pubbers evidently can’t get an honest review. They need to be purchased with cold, hard cash.
Well, fuck ‘em.
My Martuk has 14 reviews on Amazon, many of them 5-stars, that I treasure. A couple are from friends, a couple more are from beta readers, and a few more are from fellow authors. The rest are strangers. And ALL of them have read the book. If it’s someone I know, I refuse to let them offer anything unless they’ve read it cover-to-virtual-cover. Why? Because it’s a damn good book. I’m confident about that.
Wounded King has three reviews. One fellow author, one beta reader, one reviewer I don’t know. All read the book.
The Elder. No reviews. Not yet. It’s new.
That the NY Times now wants potential readers to look at that feedback and those thoughts with suspicion just sickens and infuriates me.
But it also tells me the Big 6 are scared. Really scared. And if all they’ve got are cheap tactics like this, they should be.
Now I’m off to work on the sequel to Martuk. Seems like the best way to piss ‘em off is to keep writing and self-publishing.
And to keep getting honest reviews from grateful Readers who will never be bought and paid for.