This post, by K.W. Jeter, originally appeared on SteamWords on 8/27/12.
Here’s the background: Indie e-publishing phenom John Locke, famous for being the first indie writer to sell a million ebooks on Amazon.com, has been outed in the New York Times for having bought a large number, if not most, of the positive reviews that propelled his success:
If this were just a scandale that concerned John Locke alone, I wouldn’t care about it, and I doubt if very many other people in the indie e-publishing scene would, either. But the problem is that it casts indie ebooks in general, along with their writers, in a bad light.
You only have to scroll through the comments to the New York Times article to find a lot of people piling on, saying that incidents such as this demonstrate that indie ebooks are crap, that authors have to pay people to say nice things about, and that’s why they don’t buy them. But not just there; Salon.com chimed in with a painfully accurate assessment:
“…employing a service that dishonest and cynical demonstrates a bizarre contempt for the reader. It casts the writer as a producer of widgets and the reader as a sucker who probably won’t complain if the product doesn’t live up to the hype, because hey, at least it was cheap. Books, in this scenario, become flea market trash…”
And how’s the Twitterverse discussing the matter? Here’s a couple of typical comments:
John Locke paid for positive reviews, according to NY Times article. Now, my question is: How many other authors pay?
John Locke, self publishing success, paid for over 300 reviews. I have no doubts many huge self pubs use this service.