Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gaming the Amazon System?

I'm a son-of-a-bitch. Of all that is holy and decent, I remember 

slaving and disparaging over a past blog post about how the 

self-publishers might be gaming the system to run their rank and 

sales numbers up into the stratosphere. I was dumbfounded, 

exploring every theory and method I could think of and coming up 

with zip--nada. Even my commentators explained that it was just 
too difficult to do, and that there were security measures in place. 

Forget about begging for likes to drive your popularity up. I kind of 

suspected that tactic but refused to believe that it had any effect on 

rank and sales. I'm sure I'm wrong again. 

Here's the original post, which made me look like a real horse's ass. At least I felt that way.

So John Locke buys 300 fraudulent reviews and has them posted on Amazon. Just fu...king great. And this is the guy who wrote the book on how he sold a million copies of his book in five months, but conveniently left out the part about how he really did it, or at least got the momentum up to accomplish the task.

First and foremost, friends, I'm a self-published author right now--a brand new one. I've got that new car smell all over me. I started off with nothing and pushed my promotion so hard I wore myself out in two weeks. Read my posts on THE ADVENTURES OF SELF-PUBLISHING PARTS 1, 2, AND 3. Then come back here. Back yet? Okay.

No one on this bloody earth is going to tell me that their book, sequels, series or collection of short stories just magically climbed the bestseller lists and started selling hundreds or thousands of copies in a day or week without lifting a finger. Oh, yeah. I've heard that one scores of times "But I didn't do anything in promotion or marketing!" And they were unknown. And they had no website or blog. And they had no large families or fan base. And this was their first book. And it only took six months or a year. And they can't explain the phenomenon because it took them by complete surprise. And on and on and on...

I've sold seven books in two weeks. That's reality, pard. And I have a fan base. And I have a blog. And I have a website. And I've been writing for 35 years, publishing for the last 24 years. And this is my 13th book in the last seven years. And I belong to over 45 venues, including free add sites, display sites, resume sites, and writing and fan groups. And I've had four major television appearances, over 40 radio shows, hundreds of book reviews and author interviews. And I've Twittered and FBed until my fingers are raw. get the picture. Seven books.

You want to tell me what's wrong with this picture, and how I think it's dangerous to be sending out this kind of signal to writers who are contemplating self-publishing, when the claims and declarations spotlight fame and fortune in self-publishing?  Now, does somebody want to tell me that setting up multiple accounts or persuading dozens of friends to buy your book, while you pay them back for doing so, isn't possible? I actually thought about experimenting with this--dropping my price to $.99 and then paying out $100 to friends to make purchases, simply to drive my rank into temporary bestseller status. I just couldn't do it. It's wrong. I didn't earn it.  

Systems are inherently designed to be gamed. If there's a will there's a way. Some of these gaming tactics are beginning to expose their ugly heads and we'll seeing and hearing a lot more about them in the future.
I just have one message: Don't do it. Don't even think about doing it. Do this: rely on the quality of your story. Insure that it's edited to hell and back. Pick your blurb carefully. Attract the public with the best eye-catching cover art you're capable of producing or buying. Seek out honest, non-bias reviews. Get yourself interviewed.

Then stay poor like the rest of us. Or at least, me.