Author Topic: The danger of buying your own books/Mark Dawson buys 400 copies of his own book  (Read 14762 times)  

Offline markpauloleksiw

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An eye opening read.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jul/22/author-loses-spot-in-top-10-bought-400-copies-of-his-own-book-mark-dawson-the-cleaner




Edited to update thread title after a merge. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
« Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 09:19:48 am by Becca Mills »

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    Offline Moe D

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #1 on: July 22, 2020, 07:03:29 pm »
    I'm surprised how many people on Facebook and Twitter are giving Mark Dawson a pass on this. Sure, he did nothing illegal, but the whole thing seems highly unethical.

    In my opinion, he gamed the system and when you sell courses on how to be successful and then you game the system, in my eyes you lose all your credibility.

    Offline markpauloleksiw

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #2 on: July 22, 2020, 07:42:23 pm »
    My original subject line was going to be a lot more "harsh".

    The article lets him off the hook. But, the excuse is extremely shaky. It was all about getting a ranking for a launch of a book. Think about the excuse given...it makes little sense.

    What irks me is so many authors who are gaming the system and get a free pass WHEN they are taking money from their fellow authors.

    Mark

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #3 on: July 22, 2020, 08:08:17 pm »

    Offline blubarry

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #4 on: July 22, 2020, 09:06:52 pm »
    I've been disappointed in the indie community on this issue. Were this a trad pubbed author who did the same thing, others (including MD) would be leading the ethics complaints about it. When a high profile indie does it, suddenly the comments are "that's what the trad publishers do". Worse, other high profile indies have vigorously defended it. Granted, he has been transparent about what he did and why, but I feel very disingenuous and defensive about a very gray area that just feels unethical and gives no thought to the authors he had bumped from the list through his questionable tactics.

    Offline TSDwrites

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #5 on: July 22, 2020, 09:48:31 pm »
    Wont be listening to his show anymore. This is just as bad as self-reviewing!

    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #6 on: July 22, 2020, 10:02:50 pm »
    I've been disappointed in the indie community on this issue. Were this a trad pubbed author who did the same thing, others (including MD) would be leading the ethics complaints about it. When a high profile indie does it, suddenly the comments are "that's what the trad publishers do". Worse, other high profile indies have vigorously defended it. Granted, he has been transparent about what he did and why, but I feel very disingenuous and defensive about a very gray area that just feels unethical and gives no thought to the authors he had bumped from the list through his questionable tactics.

    There is not enough "like" in the world for this.

    I generally respect him and his honesty, but I think he made two mis-steps:

    First, doing this in this way, because it wasn't necessary at all in order to make this list. He could have remained "clean", ordered the books wholesale and made the list anyway.

    Secondly, thinking this was not going to blow up after mentioning it on the podcast. Seriously, when I heard that, I cringed so hard (several people on my walk might have given me funny looks) and was like: Mark, mate, how did you ever think *that* was going to go down well, especially after all the box set rubbish that went on a few years ago.

    He is a big boy. He doesn't need defending. He made a miscalculation, I'm sure he knows it.

    Offline Trioxin 245

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #7 on: July 23, 2020, 01:03:26 am »
    Some opinions on this.

    When I heard this I was outraged. I tore up my manuscript and screamed "why!" I then went to twitter and found others like me. Then I  found the more I complained about life being unfair, the more likes my post received!

    Now that the sarcasm is out of the way, lets look at a few things.

    He was open and forthright in what he did.

    The books were pre- purchased by overseas fans. They were not bought to collect dust on  shelf.

    Instead of going to corporate store he went and put money in the pocket of an independent bookstore.

    What he did was not illegal. I do think it was dumb to announce it though knowing how their are millions of people ready to strike on any infraction they deem immoral according to  their own standards.



    Offline IndieEuroAuthor

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #8 on: July 23, 2020, 01:42:26 am »
    Some opinions on this.

    When I heard this I was outraged. I tore up my manuscript and screamed "why!" I then went to twitter and found others like me. Then I  found the more I complained about life being unfair, the more likes my post received!

    Now that the sarcasm is out of the way, lets look at a few things.

    He was open and forthright in what he did.

    The books were pre- purchased by overseas fans. They were not bought to collect dust on  shelf.

    Instead of going to corporate store he went and put money in the pocket of an independent bookstore.

    What he did was not illegal. I do think it was dumb to announce it though knowing how their are millions of people ready to strike on any infraction they deem immoral according to  their own standards.

    There is nothing about implementing "own standards" here.

    He knew very well that it will significantly influence ranking. In fact that was the entire point of doing it. What he did was in fact grossly immoral and unethical. It is not our own opinion. It is an objective fact. And that is why he was kicked off that list. You can't buy a ton of retail copies of your own book to hit the best seller lists. If an author buys 5000 retail copies of his own book on the launch day, hits the NYT list and then goes around saying "Ya I did it just to help out a poor indie bookstore. Those copies are now being bought by my fans anyway, it's not collecting dust. Nothing to see here, move along please." he won't be let off the hook at all. He will lose his NYT ranking. The same sort of thing happened here.

    I have noticed that there are 2 sets of rules for indie authors. One for uber successful authors and another set for the plebs. Whether it's review gaming, content guidelines violation (cough...Alexa Riley...cough) or manipulating ranking by buying a ton of copies your own book, the moment a successful author is implicated lots of indie authors fall over each other to defend them.

    Now I will forever wonder why he actually mentioned it in his podcast. Rule 1 of committing a crime...Don't go around boasting about it!  :P

    Offline Trioxin 245

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #9 on: July 23, 2020, 02:36:41 am »
    Edited-save for another thread.
    « Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 02:42:55 am by Trioxin 245 »

    Offline Jeff Hughes

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #10 on: July 23, 2020, 03:02:58 am »
    The singular tragedy of human behavior is our propensity to rationalize any behavior.  Indie authors are no exception.

    The good news is that such shenanigans give one all the information one needs regarding whether an author is worth reading or not. 

    Jeff Hughes

    Offline NikOK

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #11 on: July 23, 2020, 04:36:54 am »
    I feel that when you are doing something and you think, "I wonder if this is shady", then yeah, yeah it's probably shady.  He might ask people overseas if they will buy his book, and they might say yes, but when it comes down to it how many actually will buy it?  Opinions change in the check out line.
     And really, this is an old sales trick.  Like, when you are buying a washing machine and the salesperson tells you "it's our most popular model".  The one that they tell you is their most popular model is the one that sells the most because it's the one they tell people is the most popular.  It's all a big circle of them selling the one that they get the best deal on.  Moving your rank, advertising your placement and trying to drum up new sales based on that is the same idea.  They are trying to influence the popularity of something, then sell it based on that popularity, then advertise it's popularity to a wider audience.

    Also, is it just me or does "The Cleaner" sound like a bad Steven Seagal movie?

    « Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 04:56:24 am by NikOK »

    Offline VisitasKeat

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #12 on: July 23, 2020, 05:05:39 am »
    An eye opening read.

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jul/22/author-loses-spot-in-top-10-bought-400-copies-of-his-own-book-mark-dawson-the-cleaner
    From the article:

    On Twitter, Dawson wrote: If I was intent on gaming the system I would have bought 10k copies, sat on them forever and been number one. (I wouldnt have discussed it on a popular podcast, either.)

    Offline MorrowWriter

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #13 on: July 23, 2020, 05:17:47 am »
    Thanks for posting the link. I'm going to have to check out that episode of the podcast!

    Francis Morrow

    Offline VisitasKeat

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #14 on: July 23, 2020, 05:33:44 am »
    So buying 400 copies doesn't qualify as gaming the system?

    Jeez, we need to forgive celebrity indie authors for their "little eccentricities"!

    Or, possibly he couldn't afford to buy 10k copies? Perhaps the very idea appeared too scary? The difference between a bus pickpock and a bank robber!

    I used to listen religiously to his podcast, but, shame, shame, for projecting the indie community in poor light.

    Offline Highbodycount

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #15 on: July 23, 2020, 05:38:28 am »
    I'm glad I saw this thread because I thought I was losing my marbles - the silence about it on the self-publishing subreddit has been deafening. Mark Dawson seems to be a great marketeer who's helped a lot of indie authors out, but what the evangelists don't get (and especially the ones who write thrillers, crime fiction or mysteries) is that they're competing against him, so they're competing against someone who's bought his own books. And who did he knock out of the top-ten rankings? Was it another indie author who had a superb book and deserved to be there? I came into the indie world thinking that it was a fairly level playing field :-X

    Offline J. A. Wallace

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #16 on: July 23, 2020, 05:42:53 am »
    This is very disheartening for authors who play by the rules. I can't see how this helps his career long term. His reputation seems to be built on helping fellow authors. These actions hurt authors. 

    Offline notjohn

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #17 on: July 23, 2020, 06:48:50 am »
    >Now I will forever wonder why he actually mentioned it in his podcast. Rule 1 of committing a crime...Don't go around boasting about it!

    It ranks right up there with Pedro Bravo, the University of Florida student who asked Siri where he should bury the body of his roommate, whom Mr Bravo had just murdered in a romantic squabble.
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    Offline jvin248

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #18 on: July 23, 2020, 07:10:19 am »
    .

    Getting to the top of the list is "only" 400 copies away? ... Actually looks like 1,700 copies, organic sales plus the little game. He found actual readers who would buy the books from him, so there is a bit of grayness involved. Appears that real readers, fans of his who would buy the book anyway, are getting those books from him so it's not just a pile rotting in his garage. It's not that far removed from an author email blasting fans with a desperate plea "help me reach the lists, if you are thinking of buying the book then please get it today!"

    The author was testing the system. He had an outrageous idea and experimented. Then told about his experiment. Almost like a journalist uncovering a dirty political secret to report on. A sad comedy of a system the author exposed with that loophole.
    Traditional publishers are less likely to play that game now, at least for a while, so the lists are safer for organic sales again.

    The solution is that readers need to stop chasing "number one best seller" books just because they show up on such sales charts -- because those sales charts are more Marketing devices than rankings of Quality. Which is what readers seem to largely assume the list provides. 

    .
           

    Offline blubarry

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #19 on: July 23, 2020, 07:30:46 am »
    .

    Getting to the top of the list is "only" 400 copies away? ... Actually looks like 1,700 copies, organic sales plus the little game. He found actual readers who would buy the books from him, so there is a bit of grayness involved. Appears that real readers, fans of his who would buy the book anyway, are getting those books from him so it's not just a pile rotting in his garage. It's not that far removed from an author email blasting fans with a desperate plea "help me reach the lists, if you are thinking of buying the book then please get it today!"

    The author was testing the system. He had an outrageous idea and experimented. Then told about his experiment. Almost like a journalist uncovering a dirty political secret to report on. A sad comedy of a system the author exposed with that loophole.
    Traditional publishers are less likely to play that game now, at least for a while, so the lists are safer for organic sales again.

    The solution is that readers need to stop chasing "number one best seller" books just because they show up on such sales charts -- because those sales charts are more Marketing devices than rankings of Quality. Which is what readers seem to largely assume the list provides. 

    .

    No one denies he had the readership to get on the list, but I think we have to stop making his excuses for him. He was not "testing the system". He knew the system, knew how to game it, and did so. When called on it, used the excuse that he was selling to his fans who couldn't order the book. Then when the list said only UK sales permitted, it suddenly became an innocent mistake and other such rationale. It's a gray area, absolutely, but that doesn't mean it's right. The fact that so many piped up and said the same refrain around how the trad publishers do it all the time is disheartening. How many times have indies gotten in a rage about what "everyone is doing" when it fit into a gray area? I've been indie publishing since 2012 and I've seen many instances. Let's call this one out as well, not defend it because it's MD.

    Online Doglover

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #20 on: July 23, 2020, 07:32:52 am »
    I'm glad I saw this thread because I thought I was losing my marbles - the silence about it on the self-publishing subreddit has been deafening. Mark Dawson seems to be a great marketeer who's helped a lot of indie authors out, but what the evangelists don't get (and especially the ones who write thrillers, crime fiction or mysteries) is that they're competing against him, so they're competing against someone who's bought his own books. And who did he knock out of the top-ten rankings? Was it another indie author who had a superb book and deserved to be there? I came into the indie world thinking that it was a fairly level playing field :-X
    There's lots about it on Mark's self publishing facebook groups, all of them. If only it took just 400 sales to get on that best seller list, we'd all be doing it. What did he do? Bought in his own name for overseas readers who had pre-ordered? So what? Mountains out of molehills.


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    Offline Highbodycount

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #21 on: July 23, 2020, 08:12:30 am »
    There's lots about it on Mark's self publishing facebook groups, all of them. If only it took just 400 sales to get on that best seller list, we'd all be doing it. What did he do? Bought in his own name for overseas readers who had pre-ordered? So what? Mountains out of molehills.
    Did it say on those Facebook groups why he didn't buy author copies from the publisher, at author-copy prices? Or why the publisher itself didn't handle those sales? And what kind of reader just has to have hardbacks of what seems to be simply a regular thriller? By the reviews I've seen, it's not Blood Meridian.

    Offline markpauloleksiw

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #22 on: July 23, 2020, 08:17:34 am »
    Take a step back.

    This is someone who makes a living off his knowledge of how the maximize author earnings.

    There is no credible way he could argue it was a mistake! BTW. The reason he did not buy 10,000 books and tuck them away is because it would have likely triggered red flags in the system.

    As an independent, I am in awe of authors who make their way to best seller lists with integrity. Like the vast majority, I grind it out every day. 

    THis guy is leaping ahead of the line of someone who is likely grinding their way like everyone else.

    One of the big misconceptions is that the Big 5 publishers out there are the only  threat to honest independents. The other are the "big brand" independents who behave exactly like the Big 5 and BUY their way onto lists and game the system.

    After I read the articles...I asked myself, what else did this guy do before that maybe was not caught. This type of behaviour is usually not a one-off.

    Mark

    Offline Triceratops

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    Hat tip to Nate Hoffelder's The Digital Reader.

    Author loses spot in Top 10 after buying 400 copies of his own book
    Mark Dawsons purchase pushed his thriller The Cleaner up the Sunday Times chart, but the sales monitor Nielsen has now revised its figures


    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jul/22/author-loses-spot-in-top-10-bought-400-copies-of-his-own-book-mark-dawson-the-cleaner

    Offline IndieEuroAuthor

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    Re: The danger of buying your own books.
    « Reply #24 on: July 23, 2020, 08:29:45 am »
    There's lots about it on Mark's self publishing facebook groups, all of them. If only it took just 400 sales to get on that best seller list, we'd all be doing it. What did he do? Bought in his own name for overseas readers who had pre-ordered? So what? Mountains out of molehills.

    Did you read? He was 13th on that list. He did it so that he could get bumped into the Top 10 list (while pushing another legitimate author out of that list). So no, it was not a "slight" mistake. It was well calculated move and the results were very very tangible.

    People also need to stop going around saying the books were eventually bought by readers anyway. Yeah no, that's not how it works. If you want to sell directly to your readers then you need to buy wholesale copies. That way, those copies won't be counted in the rankings. Let us keep in mind that Mark Dawson is not some newbie indie author who inadvertently made a mistake. That man knows inside and out of book publishing, book marketing and rankings. I am sure that he knew the difference between wholesale copies and retail copies. If he just wanted to help out his overseas readers, pray tell me, why didn't he just buy wholesale copies in a legit way?

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