Author ethics, or rather the lack of them, have been big news the last couple of weeks. First came the revelation that some bestselling self-published authors had paid for hundreds of favorable reviews on Amazon.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, we now have learned about authors who have engaged in sock puppetry. Let me say first that it would be hard to come up with a goofier name for a sin than sock puppetry. I suppose we should be grateful that it refers to authors who use pseudonyms to give themselves five-star reviews while stabbing their perceived rivals in the heart with scathing one-star smack downs rather than being a euphemism for an unnatural act of some kind. But still – sock puppetry? Puppets everywhere should be up in hands. Why don’t we call it what it is – dirty tricks.
There’s only so much bandwidth that we should use up condemning dirty tricks that no one with any sense would endorse. The better question is what authors can do about it. That’s right. Authors. We can’t just sit back, bitching and moaning, demanding that Amazon or the ubiquitous “somebody” do something about it. It’s our livelihoods that are threatened so it’s our responsibility to do whatever we can.
Happily, authors are stepping up through organizations like the Crime Writers Association, which issued a statement condemning sock puppetry. And, a group of prominent writers including Mark Billingham, Lee Child and others issued a joint statement on the BookSeller adding their voices to this growing chorus.
But writers can, should and are doing more by creating author collectives like Top Suspense Group – a place where thriller authors hang out (disclaimer – I’m a proud member) and Killer Thrillers. These groups were formed to provide readers with reliable sources of top-notch self-published books by award winning authors with distinguished track records. Readers who come to these websites and others like them won’t have to wonder whether they’re being given reliable information about the books and the authors.
Of course my Top Suspense crime author colleagues and I want to sell our books and our website is a great way to do that. But more than that, we want to hold up our end of the bargain we make with our readers every day. You give us the money and we’ll give you the goods -professionally produced books by professional writers. You can count on it.
Image source: haavoc