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.