The Book Trolls

There’s an entire new species of low life stalking the web. As you might know, more and more authors are self-publishing their books, especially because the few major publishers left are looking for “names” even if they might be celebrities who are not necessarily great writers. To make things worse, even if the publishers accept a novel, they put almost no marketing dollars behind it. So, there aren’t many advantages left to publishing with a major publisher except the glory of an author seeing his book at a Barnes and Noble. I did publish one book that wound up in Barnes and Noble. Guess what? The chain ordered one copy for each branch. If they sold the one copy, they would order one more. Such is modern book selling.

So, many authors are self publishing or publishing with a small press or hybrid press. I’ve tried all three types and understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. In all cases, though, there is no marketing clout except what the author can generate. That means trying to generate clout on what for most authors is a very limited budget.

Now the trolls enter the picture. These are people who can’t write themselves, but they impose themselves into the book publishing business by offering promotions for authors at a price. Want to see a book advertised on a website that promotes free or low-cost books, well then you need to pay. Of course when you reduce your book to 99 cents in order to qualify, Amazon is happy to offer the writer 33 cents for each copy sold. If you work with a small publisher, you might keep 15 cents while with a hybrid publisher you’re fortunate to keep 10 cents.

There are hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs out there today who offer marketing “secrets” for writers for a small charge. Buy their course or book, and you’ll learn how to outfox Google to generate key words. You’ll learn how to build Facebook fans and Twitter fans and create a social media hurricane. Or so they say.

I generated a press release not too long ago for a non-fiction book I published. I received voice mail from several trolls who promised they could generate more interest by re-writing my press release and then distributing it for a few hundred dollars. I’ve had other trolls contact me and advise me that they could sell my book in other companies if I’d only send them a PDF. I suspect the PDF would wind up on one of those download for free pirate sites. Trolls put up those sites and then grab email and other info from the fools who think they’re getting a bargain.

For a while Fivr offered Amazon book reviews for $5. Now Amazon has instituted a new policy to try to kill that business. I suppose Amazon would like to encourage people to buy books rather than receive free review copies since there’s no money for Amazon when the author trades a book for a free review.

So, after a writer emerges from months of relative solitude with a book that is ready for marketing, the response is not necessarily jubilation from a public that is not even aware. Instead, it is hunting season for the trolls to bombard the author with promises of riches and hundreds of books sold for the mere price of an advertisement. Better yet, an advertisement and another fee to post on the website’s Facebook page.

I shouldn’t complain. I’ve been fortune enough to sell more books than the average writer. Still, I resent having to deal with people who treat books (something I regard as almost sacred) as nothing more than toilet paper or other commodities that should be sold by offering the product for free or 99 cents. The only one who wins are the trolls since they collect their fees whether the author sells any books or not.

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