Literary douchebaggery is in the news again, and I'm in my blogging element!
For those of you strictly interested in my bullshit, I'll sum up.
1. Kayl Karadjian published a book called Dragonsoul last year, and no one gave a shit about it. Rather than go the conventional marketing route, he hired a clickfarm to boost the book's Amazon ranking from somewhere in the 300,000's to #1 in the space of an hour.
2. This is an example of a common (and growing) problem on the Amazon charts.
3. Amazon doesn't seem to give the least little fuck about it.
While I share some of Mr. Gaughran's concern, I don't quite share his dreary views of what this will all ultimately lead to. Unflinching optimism in the face of terrible odds is a large part of how I built my own self-publishing career, after all.
Before I share my rosier perspective, let's take a look at Kayl himself. Here is the beginning of an interview he gave two months ago.
"What tenets are at the core of this great thinker's philosophy?" you might be asking yourself.
As far as I can make out, it boils down to, "Fuck hard work and writing books people want to read. Clickfarms are where it's at, yo!"
If I'm honest, that seems a little shortsighted. Sure, he got his book to the #1 spot on Amazon for a time. But once that finished, there's no evidence that it ever happened outside of a screen shot. If you're going to fake your way to the top, Photoshop is a much cheaper alternative.
Not only is a quick photo edit a cheaper way to fail to impress women at bars, but it avoids other potentially negative repercussions as well.
Would you care to guess how Kayl "Socrates" Karadjian's reviews for Dragonsoul have been going since news of his efforts broke?
As it turns out, some people, be they customers looking for a good book to read or authors trying to make an honest living, don't appreciate getting fucked over by Confucius McShitbook. I can't see this having very long-running positive returns on his investment.
I know as well as anyone that getting eyes on your book cover is one of the hardest parts of being a self-published author. We're all tempted to take shortcuts, spam our book links, and bore the shit out of everyone we meet by droning on relentlessly about our books.
But what good is increased visibility if what's most commonly visible is how much of a giant douche you are? I predict that it won't be long before browser searches of Kayl Karadjian are going to turn up blog posts like this one before they turn up digital storefronts selling his "work".
There are a lot of non-sleazy ways to get yourself noticed, and a lot of genuine book promotion services to give your books a little boost every now and again. But if you're not constantly building your author platform, putting out more quality work, and attracting readers who are interested in it, the biggest boost in the world is likely to be followed by a sharp nosedive back into the Sea of Obscurity.
A similarly large boost which highlights the fact that you're lowlife piece of shit, on the other hand, is likely to be followed by a nosedive back into the Sea of Obscurity, then further followed by the Shark of Public Backlash swimming up and biting your dick off.
This is one reason I don't foresee this being all that huge an issue in the future. I think the consumers will continue to weigh down the frauds with the shitty reviews they deserve, and that the books which people enjoy will continue to rise to the top.
Naive as I may be, however, I'm not so naive as to base my wishful thinking solely on the ability of unregulated consumer ecosystems to sort themselves out. While it may currently seem like Amazon doesn't give a flaming pile of dog shit about this problem, I'm inclined to think that they're paying closer attention to it than they're letting on.
The whole reason these clickfarm scams can work right now are because of how the second manifestation of Kindle Unlimited (KU2) was set up for authors. And the whole reason KU2 was implemented was because scammers were putting out crazy-short books solely to game the KU1 system.
I have absolutely no evidence with which to back up this speculations except that Amazon has generally been known for wanting customers to have good shopping experiences. Based on that, I have three predictions.
1. Amazon is developing a system of identifying scammers and rooting them out, but they're taking their time so as to minimize the collateral damage for genuine non-scammy authors.
2. Amazon has a team of people working on KU3, which will attempt to address KU1 and KU2's issues, and try to make gaming the system more difficult than it's worth.
3. With these new measures in place, Amazon will tell Kayl Karadjian and others of his ilk to go eat a dick.
Then again, I don't claim to be a philosopher.