Home > Uncategorized > QJ’s letter to the Telegraph

QJ’s letter to the Telegraph

Sir

 While sharing my fellow writers’ distaste for recent revelations of abuse of on-line reviewing facilities, I do not agree with the proposition that the only lasting solution is ‘for readers to take possession of the process’. Sounds great, won’t work, because that process has no serious in-built quality control, and no means of judging whether a ‘reviewer’ has actually read the book in question, or is merely an egotist with a keyboard.
However there is an option open to a concerned society. What these named and shamed authors stand accused of doing is plain deception, by adopting bogus identities to promote their own work and to increase their own sales, for financial gain. It may be that is simply advertising, under current law. If so, it should be changed to criminalise the practice. A football manager in England has just been fined £20,000 by the FA for giving a linesman a very small shove. The prospect of court proceedings and a similar sanction would surely make sock puppeteering a thing of the past. If liability was extended to include the proprietors of the sites which have allowed such abuses, then the responsible oversight and quality control that are currently lacking would be forced upon them.
Yours
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 7, 2012 at 12:16 am

    I see what you mean about the sub-editing of your letter. The letter in full makes much more sense. At least it was published even if adulterated. Try writing to the SUN with a view they don’t appreciate – it won’t see the light of day.

    BTW there were too many Ws in the WWWW part of the URL link you supplied, but the search engine soon re-directs one to the correct site.

    Anyway, even if you don’t rate its chances as high, sometimes it’s best to sign up with an initiative just to get the publicity bandwagon rolling. More chance the powers-that-be will take notice of the need for an investigation if they can hear the mob baying outside the windows 🙂

    • September 7, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Thanks Philip. Writing to the Sun is not on my agenda; everything about it is a bit of an oxymoron, a newspaper without news, readers who can’t and only buy it for the pictures. No, definitely not. As for signing up to get the bandwagon going, I can’t do that either, as it would mean putting my name to something I don’t agree with.

      In any event, the powers that be will do nothing at all, because there will be no mob. The truth is that publishing as we know it has changed irrevocably with the arrival of e-books, and to an extent, digital downloadable audio. There is nobody who can say with any certainty how the paperback market will look in ten years time. This has been coming for a while: I have contracts going back twenty years that refer to electronic publication. Yet as far as I can see, until very recently nobody in traditional publishing has planned for new media, or anticipated how they would be exploited by on-line retailers. Now, inevitably, they are running around like headless chickens. This has been compounded by Amazon’s development of the Kindle Desktop Platform, which allows anyone anywhere to upload their work, with none of the editorial process that is a safeguard to the public in that it applies quality control, and put it on sale directly, at royalty rates of 35% or 70% depending on pricing. I have a couple of things out there myself, books outside my usual genre.

      Thus, authors are in a completely new situation, and the likes of Roger Ellory and Leather are simply reacting to it. As you say what they are doing may well be illegal already, but that regulation will never be used against them, not a prayer. In any event, it is Amazon that is the cancer destroying the High Street book trade and crippling its publisher suppliers; sock puppets are metastases, no more. Most worrying of all, it’s growing under the protection of the US Department of Justice, as a recent case demonstrated.

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