The Nameless Horror

It’s an accident that I’m alive. Every day since this was burned in my eye at age 13 has been, as they say where I come from, lagniappe:

Mrs. Reese’s First Period Reading class. Roll call. Settling noises. I’m drawing Aquaman’s new costume on the marble-textured inside flap of my green folder. I have drawn it four times, when a firecracker goes off behind me and my hair stands on end and my neck feels hot.

Book trailers are, as Chuck points out, mostly failures. This, the second one for his Miriam Black series (the first one at the link above is worth a chuckle-y watch too), is, IMO, very, very good. Completely the way to go. (His choice explained at the link above.)

Helps to have a friend with a gravelly voice, of course.

Again, Really?

I hate linking to him, but Joe Konrath shows just how good at research he is:

The NSPHP [the no-sock puppeting signatories] built a carefully constructed case showing how these writers [Leather, Ellory, Locke] damaged publishing.

Oh, wait. No they didn’t. They simply accused and denounced.

Oh wait. No they didn’t. Leather admitted what he did in public. The case against Ellory was amply demonstrated by Jeremy Duns. Locke was exposed by the man he bought reviews from in the NYT.

But at least they clearly defined “underhanded tactics” and explained in detail how they are illegal and immoral.

Oh, wait. What the trio did wasn’t illegal.

First point: nowhere in the open letter is the word “illegal” used. “Fraudulent and damaging to publishing at large” are the terms used, and fraudulent has a meaning beyond the law. Joe is attacking a straw man.

Second point: Locke I can’t speak for, since he’s American. What Ellory and Leather did is (probably; IANAL) illegal in the UK under the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. It is illegal for a business to act as though it is one of its own customers or to actively deceive customers in a way that is likely to affect their purchasing decisions.

And there was no posted debate, no public discussion whatsoever of their actions (in fact, discussion in the comments is discouraged and comments encouraging debate have been removed).

And there was. It was, in fact, hard to avoid it on Twitter at the time. And public discussion after the fact has been rife. Comments encouraging debate - specifically a YouTube clip from 1984 posted by Barry Eisler - were removed by David Hewson (who arranged the site’s hosting) because the sign up site thing wasn’t the place for it; there are plenty of other options.

But surely they have proof that many other authors are doing this as well. I mean, you don’t suddenly post a call to arms unless this is a deeply rooted, widespread problem, right?

Oh, wait. There is no proof. Only assumptions.

Since Locke’s paid-for review guy successfully sold several thousand reviews on Amazon, and since this is far from the first time a writer’s been caught, no, wait, there’s proof.

So the NSPHP judged three authors, convicted them without any trial or allowing the authors any defense…

Locke was exposed in the NYT. Leather exposed himself (fnar) - and was, lest we forget, banned from Amazon’s forums for this sort of business long before any of this came to light. Ellory had the opportunity to respond and did so by apologising. No one’s been locked in a gulag or had their internet access and right to reply revoked.

… and then took the moral high ground by shaming them publicly, denouncing their acts without any attempt to dissect or understand those acts…

No attempt to dissect or understand? I can only assume Joe doesn’t read, oh, any part of the internet. And let me say again, only Ellory was “shamed” on the internet by other writers.

… and then shamelessly begged readers for reviews.

Meaning the last paragraph in the letter? Which encourages people to put up their honest opinions because the more of those there are, the harder it’ll be for fake ones to have an impact? But making it sound like those involved in drafting it were begging for good reviews of their own work?

Class work.

I much prefer debate to name calling.


Open Letter On Author Behaviour

These days more and more books are bought, sold, and recommended on-line, and the health of this exciting new ecosystem depends entirely on free and honest conversation among readers. But some writers are misusing these new channels in ways that are fraudulent and damaging to publishing at large. British author Stephen Leather recently admitted that he used fake identities online to promote his work. The American bestseller John Locke has revealed he has paid for reviews of his books. The British author RJ Ellory has now confessed to posting flattering reviews of his own work and to using assumed names to attack other authors perceived to be his rivals.

These are just three cases of abuse we know about. Few in publishing believe they are unique. It is likely that other authors are pursuing these underhand tactics as well.

We the undersigned unreservedly condemn this behaviour, and commit never to use such tactics.

But the only lasting solution is for readers to take possession of the process. The internet belongs to us all. Your honest and heartfelt reviews, good or bad, enthusiastic or disapproving,­ can drown out the phoney voices, and the underhanded tactics will be marginalized to the point of irrelevance. No single author,­ however devious,­ can compete with the whole community. Will you use your voice to help us clean up this mess?

Signed: Linwood Barclay, Tom Bale, Mark Billingham, Declan Burke, Ramsey Campbell, Tania Carver, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, N.J. Cooper, David Corbett, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Stella Duffy, Jeremy Duns, Mark Edwards, Chris Ewan, Helen FitzGerald, Meg Gardiner, Adèle Geras, Joanne Harris, Mo Hayder, David Hewson, Charlie Higson, Peter James, Graham Joyce, Laura Lippman, Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid, Roger McGough, Denise Mina, Steve Mosby, Stuart Neville, Jo Nesbo, Ayo Onatade, SJ Parris, Tony Parsons, Sarah Pinborough, Ian Rankin, Shoo Rayner, John Rickards, Stav Sherez, Karin Slaughter, Andrew Taylor, Luca Veste, Louise Voss, Martyn Waites, Neil White, Laura Wilson.