Friday, September 7, 2012

Sock Puppet Thoughts

The past week has been filled with posts around the 'net about sock puppets, but what amazes me about the posts I've seen is that everyone seems shocked that authors are actually doing this.  Don't get me wrong, I know what they're doing is reprehensible, but it doesn't surprise me.

Writers don't just write anymore.  They're expected to be marketing geniuses.  If you get a book deal the first thing your agent and publisher tells you is to set up a website, a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and oh yeah, when you've got a minute dash off a few short stories and get them in some of the online zines.  And don't forget to squeeze in that second book.  Well, CRAP.

With everyone screaming at you to brand yourself, build a platform, and prostitute yourself in order to build a giant wave of word of mouth publicity, it's no wonder writers are taking short cuts.  What happened to writers writing and the people purchasing the work actually doing their job and promoting the product they've purchased?

Is it any wonder that more and more writers are publishing their own work?  If you have to do all the publicity and selling yourself, what's the point of having an agent or a publishing company?  It's no wonder writers are going crazy mad and buying reviews and using other identities to promote their work.  It's exactly what publishers do and it's pretty much reached the point that all writers, even those with a book contract from a major publisher, are on their own.  They're desperate to hang on to what few crumbs the publishers are throwing their way, because they have bills to pay, just like everyone else.

Do I like what they're doing?  No.  But I can understand why they're doing it.


Charles Gramlich said...

Well said. It's a no win scenario for writers so often these days.

sandra seamans said...

You've got that right, Charles. Writers are caught in the middle of trying to make a living and keep everyone happy. It's a hard place to be these days.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I can understand posting a good review for your own book on amazon but posting a bad one on another's site is lousy.
Amazon is a real menace and they have to find a way to monitor it. I see so many nasty reviews on there, it makes me sick. Reviews with fake names, reviewers that have no other review so the account has been set up just to trash someone. With the dearth of newspaper reviews, everyone is desperate and it shows.

sandra seamans said...

And even worse, Patti, is the author who so resents a poor review that she sicks her followers on to the reviewer like a pack of angry dogs.

The whole review system seems to be in as much turmoil as the publishing business.

It's turning into a desperate frightening world for writers.

Anonymous said...

"And even worse... is the author who so resents a poor review that she sicks her followers on to the reviewer like a pack of angry dogs."

Or like the chickens who'd rather peck one of their own to death than stand up to Colonel Sanders.

If we don't respect ourselves and one another, we'll be in no shape to demand respect from the publishers. We'll wind up breaded, deep-fried, and indistinguishable from rats.

Fred Zackel said...

I wrote a horror story last Feb. I put it up on Amazon. Within 24 hrs some troll said it was horrifying and I was disgusting and (worse) and yada yada yada ... Shocked that someone could be horrified by a horror story (go figure) I took it down. Six months later ... I still debate putting it back up. The 35 cents I got from the troll buying the book? Not worth it.

sandra seamans said...

The problem with respecting others online, Anonymous, is that we don't know who that person is. We have only their words and actions on a screen. We can't look them in the eye and know if they're lying to us or not. In the end the only one we can truly trust is ourself.

The anonymous nature of the Internet makes it far too easy for people to start flame wars and create situations that hurt other people without fear of reprisal. In the end we can only be responsible for who we are online.

And yes, writers need to respect one another but that still isn't going to make the publishing community trust or respect us. They've more than proven that over the years. And it's the farmers you should have chosen as an example, not the chickens. Because there's no one who gets less respect than farmers.

Horror is a tough genre, Fred. I love horror stories but hate the blood and gore horror stories that reflect movies like "Saw". You could put up your story and add a warning in the description.

Anonymous said...


I'm a writer, and I like putting my words to the test. If you don't know who I am, maybe you'll judge what I have to say on its own merits.

The internet presents huge challenges, and I think it boils down to our needing to choose between skepticism and censorship. The problem is older than Voltaire and Swift.

If writers are gullible and divided and squabbling, it's easier for publishers to exploit us. Besides, if we're disrespectful, we aren't communicating very well, and we are in the communication business.

--Country Mouse