The things that especially stand out in this article are: that it is estimated that about 30% of all reviews online are fake and that one of the first successful self-published authors - John Locke - essentially owes his success to the positive reviews purchased from Mr. Rutherford's company. This is why self-publishing keeps fascinating us. All this success, and it is often due to such unsavory promotional activities - fake reviews, cashing in on reusing stolen characters and recycled fanfiction, extensive outrageous online behavior. Of course, not every self-publishing success in marred in controversy, but it is obvious why posts like Salon's Can self-publishing buy respect? exist. It's hard to disagree with this point by Salon - "employing a service that dishonest and cynical demonstrates a bizarre contempt for the reader." Add to it constant battles between authors (self-published and traditional too) and reviewers, on Amazon and especially Goodreads, and the picture is very dire.
What is the most ironic about the whole story though is the tale of Mr. Rutherford's demise, brought by, you guessed it, a disgruntled self-published author. Gives you a flashback to the recent incident when self-published authors took down a completely legitimate ebook lending site, after misunderstanding its purpose and their own contracts with Amazon. Truly, self-publishing is a world full of wonders.
So, what are we readers to do when evidently so many of the reviews online are fake and misleading? Regardless of all the bad press Goodreads has been getting, the way we see it, it is still the best way to get honest book recommendations. Your online friends found on this site are far less likely to let you down and fool you with fraudulent reviews.
Or, alternatively, you can try using this handy chart to decipher Amazon review graphs.
A couple of agents posted some things recently that are not exactly new, but still sort of sad. There are indeed "dead genres," genres which no agent wants to touch any more. Sarah LaPolla and Suzie Townsend are petty certain dystopias as a genre are no longer sellable. Which is not in itself is so tragic, because we all are definitely sick of the same stories, but it's how this genre craze unfolds is what is disheartening. A runaway bestseller is born, and every agent, editor and publisher is in a rush to replicate the success by buying everything similar, despite its often poor quality. Once the craze is over, you can have an outstanding novel, but nobody will be interested in it any more, the market is simply over-saturated with garbage.
Which brings the whole topic back to self-publishing, of course. Phoebe North brought to our attention an article a few days ago titled The New Vanity Publishing: Traditional Publishing, which basically states that there are legitimate situations when seeking traditional publishers is just not worth it. Publishing is a business after all, and there always will be works unsuitable for the traditional road, be that because the subject matter is too niche, the book belongs to a "dead genre," or any number of reasons. In the end, as we said before, every author has his/her own route to take, and there are bumps and rewards on whichever road they choose.
Ugh, time to wrap up this rambly post, too heavy on self-pub vs. traditional arguments. For something more cheery check out this post on BuzzFeed, where reviewers exercise their creativity making fun of a new, slightly sexist, product - Bic pen, a special edition for women, because as we all know, only having a pink pen can make us, girls, want to write something.