Marketing, Hate, and Upholding a Higher Standard
Posted On: 2014-08-20
by: Katherine Sears

20, 2014
The internet is full of nasty comments, vicious (and probably not real) reviews, and all other sorts of unpleasantness. Even things as innocuous as kitten videos have people spewing fire!

Things get even more pernicious when competitors or marketers engage is ruthless mean tactics. Katherine Sears of Booktrope fame addresses the ugly side of marketing ebooks below.

I have probably said this so many times that I sound like a broken record (side note - will that phrase even mean anything in ten years?). You have probably never met a reader who says "That's it, I'm done. This is the last book I will ever choose - the last book I will ever read". So why do we in the book business feel so darn competitive? Why do we spend so much time tearing one another down, instead of supporting the efforts of our fellow book professionals?

Why do we debate the merits of book quality in self-publishing versus legacy; isn't a great book a great book no matter how it was produced? Do others do this as a way to market their own work - therefore effectively leveraging hate and bad feelings as marketing tools? I wish I knew!

In truth, I think the answer to why this happens is part of the legacy book-buying system, where there was a finite amount of shelf-space, and a finite amount of display space available and it was only awarded when a book was considered a "front list" title (the first 12 months). Not only did people pay heavily (and still do) for that space, but authors were forced to compete against one another for it.

In case no one has noticed, Amazon, and Kobo do not have limited shelf space. Most of the systems promote based on buyer patterns, it is true, but with 365 days a year, and an untold number of "lists" there is a HUGE capacity to reach your target reader. Not to mention, there is no longer such a thing as front or back list for ebooks - at least as far as a buyer's perspective is concerned.

Thanks for the philosophy lesson, Katherine, why is this worthy of conversation?

There has been some controversy as of late where certain authors have been accused of shady dealings in order to market their work. While I don't personally agree with the idea of buying reviews on places like Fiverr - I find myself thinking that what another author or marketer chooses to do, is out of my control, and not really any of my business. As long as they are not attacking me (or mine) personally, what does it matter to me how they choose to run their own show?

I will not link to the critical blogs in question, because the point of this post is to say that I hope more people will choose to focus on helping one another, and creating supportive communities. If you don't like what another author is doing, ignore them. Keep your eyes on your own paper (as my teachers used to say). If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Do unto others, as you would like them to do unto to you. Those who live in glass houses, shouldn't throw stones. There is a reason so many of these sayings essentially say the same thing! (This concludes my string of clichéd sayings.)

What I will link to, are some authors I respect who have written about this or related situations. Hugh Howey, who likens the situation to being bullied here. Also, Chuck Wendig who points out that "saying stuff doesn't make it magically true" posts here. The notorious J. Konrath has so far stayed quiet about this particular series of posts, however, a blog post he wrote almost exactly a year ago discusses his views on the topic (following the revelation that John Locke had purchased reviews). Or here, where he shows us the response he got from Amazon about some reviews he had written being deleted because he was an author.

At Booktrope, we are focused on creating a positive community that will bring about change. I hope we can all work together, rather than tearing one another down, on our path to that change.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Have you experienced these issues yet? Has a competitor tried to outfox you or cut you down? What is your opinion about buying reviews? Let us know on our website or on our Facebook page about how you feel!

Until Next Time,
Ashley Zee