Saturday, June 15, 2013

Guest Post: Self Publishing Authors Are ‘Suspect’ and ‘Cheats’

Please help me welcome today's guest blogger, indie novelist Derek Haines:
Book PromotionIs paying for advertising, promotion or even reviews cheating? I read this press release and wondered what point it was trying to make. Yes, it of course refers to John Locke buying reviews, which I must admit is becoming very old news now, but it goes on with carefully chosen vocabulary referring to self-published authors being labeled as unethical, suspect, spamming, inferior and cheats if they pay for promotion.
Then Sean Platt, the author of the press release, admits to having bought thousands of Twitter followers. Talk about hypocritical in the extreme.
So it’s OK to buy Twitter followers, but it’s not OK to buy promotion, advertising or book reviews?
But it did start me thinking about this whole issue of paid promotion, and I’m beginning to wonder if this is not a carefully managed attack on self publishing as a whole. It’s no secret that self-published titles are doing very well, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this success has ruffled a few ‘established ‘ feathers.
In my mind the whole issue is boiling down to one basic point. That is, that it’s OK to spend a bucket-load of money on book promotion if you are a major publisher to ‘buy’ an audience, but if you’re an ‘Indie’, you’re expected to do everything on the cheap and free and wait around for your family and friends to buy your book. Then if you admit to spending money on book promotion, you get labeled as a cheat.
What’s wrong with the idea that self publishing is a business like any other and as such there are marketing expenses and without this investment, books struggle to sell? I think it’s up to every individual self-published author to decide how they operate their business, and from my own particular viewpoint, no one is going to tell me how I should run my own business.
And if you’re wondering. No, I have never bought Twitter followers. Yes, I have paid for advertising. Yes, I have paid for book promotion. There are always expenses in any business. Even self publishing.
Derek Haines lives in Switzerland, and is the author of Eyes That Could Kill and several other books.


  1. How on earth can an indie author get an audience if he/she doesn't pay for some kind of promotion? It may be hiring a blog tour promotion host, or buying a self-serve ad on Goodreads, or rolling the dice to pay for a Kirkus review (if it's a terrible review, you've still paid but you don't have to use it.) It takes hours and hours of time to self-promote, and it's either something you have to quit your day job and devote your life to, or you have to reach out for help. Usually, such help doesn't come free.
    To me, buying Twitter followers is less ethical than paying for an ad. An ad is transparently what it is - it's paid for, it's an ad. Buying Twitter followers, on the other hand, is tricking the world into thinking you have more influence than you do. Real influence is earned, oftentimes, painfully slowly.