If you’re a writer or an avid reader, perhaps you saw this recent article about author RJ Ellory creating positive fake reviews for his books as well as negative commentary for other authors in his genre. And maybe, like me, you were overcome with a gamut of emotions.

Self-righteous indignation: “What the hell?! How could he do that?”

Grudging admiration: “I would’ve never had the cajones to try something like that!”

Technological confusion: “How did he figure that scheme out?”

Bitter judgement: “What a jerk! I would never do that!”

And, with that last one, perhaps you also had a moment of shame when the little voice inside your head whispered, “Really? Are you sure about that?”

Those of us who have plunged headlong into this wild world of publishing understand how difficult it is to market our work. We love creating environments, characters, dialogue, and action. We want others to enjoy the people, places, and situations we’ve spent so much time crafting. We understand that in today’s publishing market, we as authors are responsible for a great deal of our own publicity, and so we research and diligently pursue avenues to get the word out about our work. It’s time consuming, sometimes confusing, and often frustrating. We may look at the success of other writers, either in our own genres or in others, and ask ourselves, “Why haven’t I achieved that same level of success? What am I doing wrong? Why can’t my book be a bestseller, too?” And these negative thoughts might lead us into darker territory, landscapes where we may begin to think that cheating–creating false reviews for our books on review sites, and perhaps even posting negative reviews for others out of spite or jealousy–is a good and justifiable option. We’ll increase our sales! We’ll attract more readers! We’ll help out our publishing company and thus aid the other authors in our stable! Soon enough, we’ve turned a shady practice into something admirable–at least in our own minds.

This post isn’t about judgement. Whatever RJ Ellory, and probably others, have done in the past is theirs to wrestle with. I believe in karma, so in my mind, the energy comes back around in some way, shape, or form, either in this world or the next. Hopefully, this author and any others who have gone down the same questionable path have learned whatever lessons they need to learn through these experiences.

Instead, I’d rather focus on integrity. I hear many authors talk about being honest in our writing. This usually means telling a story that truthfully reflects the characters and their experiences. But what could be more important as a human being than living in truth and integrity, which certainly means upholding those same ethical standards as authors? We are human beings, and we will make mistakes. This doesn’t mean, however, that we sacrifice integrity for sales or for good reviews.

For me, it’s easier not to get involved in what I call “the numbers game.” I diligently promote my work in many streams of social media, and I reach out to my readers and audience as much as time allows. I do read reviews of my work because I believe it makes me a better writer, and I try to see any negative comments as areas to improve. But I don’t check my statistics on the seller lists. I don’t have any idea how many copies of books I’ve sold until I receive my royalty statements. For me, this provides peace of mind and a more positive space to continue creating and developing my work. Some would argue that I’m living under a rock, trying to escape reality, or that I’m not using a resource that may help me to pinpoint how to make better sales. For me, however, seeing slow sales motivates me in the wrong way. I become depressed and question my talents. I prefer to continue working hard at both writing and marketing and perhaps someday be pleasantly surprised to see how successful my books have become.

Each writer is different, and we all must approach this publishing game in the ways that work best for us. I hope, though, that we can all remember to maintain our integrity. If you’re feeling alone or desperate, or if your book sales aren’t where you’d like them to be, do something positive for yourself. Reach out to a friend and talk about it. Read a positive review of your work that someone took the time to write. Work on another story that makes you feel excited and motivated. Promote yourself by being upbeat and happy. Remember that a positive attitude garners positive energy coming back to you.

May we all receive the blessing of success!!


About revrosevan

Rose Vanden Eynden has always believed in magic, which probably explains how she is able to be a writer as well as a wife, mother, medium, massage therapist, minister, and instructor. She resides in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, twin sons, and retired racing greyhound named Oliver. In her spare (!) time, she enjoys performing in live theatre, watching films, reading, and walking in the woods. An avid believer in a balanced life, she meditates and eats chocolate daily.
This entry was posted in Books, Marketing, Perserverance, Publishing, Ramblings From Rose!, Writing, Writing career and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Integrity

  1. Callie Hutton says:

    Hi Rose, Good post, and timely. I hadn’t read about that author who did that, but it seems pretty shallow. Like you, I’m a firm believer in karma and have lived long enough to see it work. My favorite way to push sales numbers to the back of my mind is write another story. I spent many years in sales, and the mantra was “work hard — every day — and it will come.” In any event, we do this because we love to tell stories. Sales and money are nice, but really icing on the cake.

  2. Isn’t it amazing how some people take such silly risks with their careers?
    I’m with Callie–sales are grand but writing, creating, trumps all.
    Rose, as your backlist grows, so will your sales. Just keep writing your heart and avoid eyeballing sales rank figures.

  3. revrosevan says:

    Thanks, Callie and Ann, for stopping by and leaving comments. I agree that working hard and putting your best out there will pay off in the end. And we all have our own processed for making that next story happen. Cheers to you both! 🙂

  4. mandicasey says:

    I didnt realize that was even possible and it’s terrible he would try to sabotage fellow writers especially knowing all the time it takes to produce a novel. I’ve read that people tend not to pay attention to reviews that are more than a sentence long. Hopefully he didnt sway too many readers …

  5. revrosevan says:

    Thanks, JJ and Mandi, for your comments. Mandi, one of my thoughts was, “Wow. Wasted a lot of time and energy thinking that deception up, huh?” I do read reviews sometimes before I purchase or read a book, so I value what they have to say. It does make you think twice, though, especially when you read a negative review. Is there an ulterior motivation? It bugs me that I have to think this way, too! Anyway–I appreciate your comments! 🙂

  6. Great post, Rose.

    It’s never occurred to me to fake reviews for myself. Like you, I think it’s a lot of time to waste on deception: I barely have the time to write reviews for books I enjoyed, let alone fake reviews for myself.

    I enjoyed the post. While all of us want more and better reviews, perhaps the best way to promote ourselves is to write the next book, and to become better writers in the process!

    • revrosevan says:

      I couldn’t agree more, Meggan! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! May we all write more and better as we go forward. 🙂

  7. Jamie Brazil says:

    I agree with Callie — timely post. Overall, I think this happens a lot more with indie-pub, but also in digital. Then again, legacy publishers have been stacking the deck in their favor with reviews for years. Buying advertising… and somehow the so-so sequel of a bestselling author stills gets five-star praise???? If nothing else, making light of these “reviews” will only strengthen genre-specific sites that engage directly with readers.

    • revrosevan says:

      I’m sure there’s more of this stuff that goes on, Jamie. It’s a bit disheartening to know about it, but wisdom is important in this business. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  8. jannashay says:

    It boggles my mind to hear that someone even thought up that scheme. I’ve always lived by the philosophy of by helping others, we help ourselves. I understand that as authors we hope to make money with our novels, but our main purpose should be our love of the written word not the love of money.

  9. Hey Rose~~ I very much enjoyed the article. Thanks so much for addressing the situation.

    It reminds me of a friend and writer who recently wrote a children’s book. She asked different educational institutions for reviews to be posted on amazon for her book. One institution passed her work to someone on staff, who researched the author’s background, and did not approve of her career (dealing with alternative healing) and wrote the most hurtful review ever, saying she was too stupid to write a book! Of course my friend was very emotional about it.

    Guess what we did? Many who knew her and read her sweet book went to amazon and we all posted sparkling reviews. There ended up being so many, that the hurtful one got pushed to the back, and no one reads it. Ha!

    As far as karma goes though, I have to say that if we expect Karma to take care of the situation, to me at least, that is a way of “getting back” without dirtying our hands. It is not of Love. So, I think the best scenario is to send Love to the offending person (because that is really what they are looking for) and know that All is Perfect!

    Blessings Rose, I love your work. Keep on writing ~ that is your passion and that is what you were meant to do…M

  10. revrosevan says:

    Hi Melissa! Thank you so much for your lovely comments! I am so glad to hear that your writer friend was supported by her community and that this uplifted her beyond the unloving comments that someone wrote about her work. As a writer (or anyone in the spotlight), you have to have a pretty thick skin. It is very hard sometimes not to take negative comments personally, especially when they criticize you in a personal way.

    As for karma, perhaps I did not express myself in the best possible way in my post. I certainly don’t advocate sending negative energy to anyone, and as you point out, thinking that karma will take care of everything may inadvertently create that type of energy. I do believe very strongly that All is in Divine Order, and each of us is learning whatever we need to learn from any given situation. It is very hard to judge what is going on in any situation, even if it looks negative to us, because we don’t know all the circumstances, motivations, etc. And should we be judging at all? Probably not! Thus, putting it in the hands of the Higher Power and the Universe is probably our best course, along with sending love to all in the situation.

    You are so sweet to compliment my work, Melissa. I truly appreciate it!! Hope to see you very soon! xo

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