You can buy twitter followers? The dark side of modern publishing.

What?

Call me naive and extremely behind the curve, but what? Is? That?

I need to pause and think for a minute.

Hmmm. You mean by this afternoon I could be followed by tens of thousands of twitter-heads?

Okay. I’ve thought. Here’s my conclusion: if that’s what it takes to succeed in this world, then I am all right living in obscurity.

I mean, really. What is this all about?

In a word: image. If you have oodles of followers I would assume that people think you have something important to say. Is value and importance now subject to popularity tests?

I can imagine that quite a few people in history would not have done well on Twitter if they were living in this day and age.

What this all says to me is the supremacy of image and perception is creating a fallacious cloud around the publishing industry. (Though this could certainly apply to many other fields as well.) Let’s take a look at how publishing today creates image through falsity:

  • An author can buy twitter followers.
  • An author can buy ready-made book outlines. (I have a post on this coming up.)
  • An author can post fake reviews on all the popular sites.
  • An author can have a business buy oodles of their books up front just so it hit the best selling list.
  • A (fake) author can hire a ghostwriter and proudly slap their name on the cover.
  • An author can sign up at different websites where authors buy each other’s books as a “I’ll scratch your back, you’ll scratch my back” way to improve their Amazon sales rank.

I’m sure I’m missing some here, but you get the picture.

The temptation to do some of these tactics is no doubt real because the benefits of a book finally breaking through can be the difference between an author languishing in the realm of making a few hundred dollars a year to being able to finally build a career with one’s writing.

And if I can just say, some literary agents aren’t making the problem any better. One agent, answering the question of what they look for in writers in terms of on-line presence before they would agree to represent him or her, said that he would like to see someone who has tens of thousands of twitter followers. Hmmm … now we know it’s not that difficult. But what have we created? This false monster of image which looks good on the outside but may not have any tangible correlation to the talent or story-telling ability of the writer.

As for me, I won’t participate in this racket. If I have a follower on Facebook, it’s because someone of their own volition decided to click the “like” button.

I’m of the naive and old-fashioned persuasion that a writer speaks first and foremost through his or her writing.

I’m of the naive and old-fashioned persuasion that a reader cares first and foremost about a good story.

If that means others pass me by, so be it.

I’m going to live honesty, write honestly, and tell my story. Whoever wants to come along for the ride is more than welcome to join me, but, sorry, I’m not going to pay you to follow me.

Have you been misled by positive reviews?

From a new review of my novel, The Recluse Storyteller: “This is one time the 4 and 5 star reviews were right on. I loved this book.”

That made me laugh. And smile. And laugh some more. And then it made me ponder the Amazon rating system.

First off, I’m thrilled that the reviewer loved my book. He obviously has been burnt before by misleading reviews, and when I looked over some of his other reviews that was the case. I saw several poor reviews that he given books in the past, indicating that he had downloaded them for free, based upon the positive reviews. When he got into the book, however, the reviews didn’t seem to line up with his expectations.

This is an issue with Amazon reviews. It’s not always easy to know the source of those reviews. Perhaps the author is just using a pseudonym or maybe someone’s mother is showing her hometown pride.

As an author, I am dedicated to real reviews by real people. Sure, some people I know have reviewed my books. It’s certainly their right. I appreciate any review that is honest, and that’s the truth. The last thing I ever want to do is bring in a reader through an insincere review. I’m in this authorship thing for the long haul, and I want to find readers who like my stories and who will stick with me as well. Gimmicks and insincerity just isn’t going to do it.

That’s why I loved this short review. He acknowledged that the positive reviews given were indeed backed up by the writing. What else could a writer want?

Not everyone will like my stories or enjoy my writing style, and that’s fine. But when I find people who do, it’s pretty special and makes all the hours of writing well worth it.

I promise real stories. I promise real reviews. Nothing more. Nothing less.