Author Topic: The danger of buying your own books/Mark Dawson buys 400 copies of his own book  (Read 14791 times)  

Offline IndieEuroAuthor

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Asking readers for reviews is unethical now? Really?

People are defending Mark because he's built goodwill over the years. Other people, myself included, are explaining that he did not cheat.

This is a game thing. The game had rules. He technically followed those rules. The rules are not fair or good but they are the rules. He was unsportsmanlike, but he did not cheat.

As a person who plays games, I will not stand by while people misuse these terms.

You can dislike the rules--I do--but that doesn't change them.

This is an argument people have had again and again, usually with the same people on the side of clarity and the same people on the side of I don't like it so it's cheating. (Remember bonus books?)

Apparently some people have problem understanding the term "cheating".

You should look up "spirit or intent of the law/rules". It's a real thing.

If bonus books were not cheating why did Amazon crack down on it?

If Mark Dawson was not cheating, why did Nielson kicked him off the list?

Asking for reviews is not cheating. But sending mass email blast to fans specifically asking them to drown out initial bad reviews is an unethical behavior. Just imagine, a well known trad pub author doing this. Yeah I can't. And then you wonder why many people still don't consider indie authors equal to trad pub authors.

This sort of shenanigans harms the reputation of all hard working indie authors. That's why authors are calling it out.

At the end of the day, if someone acts like a cheater he will be called a cheater. No amount of hand wringing and weird excuses is going to change it.

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    Offline Brian D. Anderson

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    Mark Dawson is free to do whatever he wants. But let's not pretend it was anything but manipulating the system. I know that those who are invested in his methods and taking his classes are prone to coming to his defense. That's nothing new. I've seen it before with book stuffers and content mills several times. Those involved with the perpetrator, directly or indirectly, turn a blind eye to the unethical behavior. If they don't, what does that say about them?
    The truth is he knew what he was doing - he's not stupid - and still decided to go through with it. It's unlikely he'll pay a heavy price, if any at all. Too many people look up to him and have tied their hopes for success to his methods. 
    Brian D. Anderson

    Offline VisitasKeat

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    Another thing I noticed is Mark's co-host, James, would do all the talking in Self Publishing Formula podcast. And he, if I recollect properly, was yet to publish a fiction book at that time. And Mark used to simply sit around while James interviewed all the big name authors on the show. I used to feel that Mark with all his expertise and experience should handle the whole show by himself. Somehow, I used to feel that his association with someone who hasn't demonstrated enough experience in writing and publishing was bad for his career. Even then, during those early days, I used to feel the premonition for Mark's career. And I also  felt that Mark took the subtle insults and flattery his co-host smeared on him in a very light-hearted and trustful manner. I thought it damaged his public image. I used to get angry and say to myself: "Gosh, why can't Mark do all the interviewing by himself?"

    Edit to add:

    Mark screwed the list but a question worth pondering is: WHO screwed Mark?
    « Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 04:27:11 am by VisitasKeat »

    Offline Triceratops

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    Another thing I noticed is Mark's co-host, James, would do all the talking in Self Publishing Formula podcast. And he, if I recollect properly, was yet to publish a fiction book at that time. And Mark used to simply sit around while James interviewed all the big name authors on the show.

    The more I think about it, the more I believe that Mark was trying to do pre-emptive damage control by volunteering on his podcast that he had bought the copies. I think that Nielsen was already on to him. I think that Nielsen had already called him, and Mark panicked and thought that any second a newspaper or tabloid would call the book shop in his town where he had bought the copies, and tell to the reporter what they, the book shop, had already told Nielsen. So Mark wanted to get out in front of the story.

    Think about it. Dawson volunteered so many details: 400 copies exactly, 3,700 pounds sterling, it was a children's book shop, the store was right in Salisbury where he lives, etc. He's not usually that forthcoming, not about things like that. All the details were the exact same information that the book shop would have told a reporter if, or when, the reporter called the store.

    So, Mark had calculated, "When this comes out, I can just say 'Yeah I already covered that, I admitted as much!' and the bad press will go away (fingers crossed)."

    Because by volunteer-copping to something, so to speak, one can sometimes inoculate oneself against future criticism.

    Mark's screw-up was in admitting that he wanted to bump his book up into the Top 10.

    Or... was it a screw-up? Could Mark actually have admitted his true motives to the book shop owner when he popped in to the shop that day? The proprietor surely would have wondered why Dawson wanted to buy that many hardbacks of his own book! And if Mark felt comfortable with the guy, sure Mark would have told him the truth, why not. Mark did not anticipate that Nielsen UK would have a red light flash on their console when on their bestseller list a book bumps into the Top 10 via 400 purchased copies from only one store.

    So, thanks to himself not thinking through the consequences of his actions, Dawson kept doubling down on defiance and denial. But he's in fact trapped by the bookstore owner. That guy knows how many books Dawson bought, and why.

    The "virtual book signing" thing, what Nielsen mentioned as a discounted possibility, that is the only part now that leaves me puzzled. What's that about?... Was that a story Mark told?

    Nielsen told the Bookseller that after initially believing that the sales had been part of a virtual book signing, it had concluded that they "did not meet its criteria".
    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 VisitasKeat

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    Hmm, lot's to ponder from your post!

    The podcast happens on a particular day of the week. I haven't been listening of late, but I remember Mark saying that the schedule is nested in such a way that listeners get him, Bryan, Joanna, and Lindsey in a particular order in a week. Nothing wrong with that but purchasing books for "advance disclaimer confession" on the show must be pre-planned then as part of a contingency plan. Before media spreads the news in case he gets caught.

    It's tough to believe that Mark wouldn't have suspected that a red light flash would go off at Neilsen. I mean, they must be having all those signals for "sudden abnormal suspicious sales", and that too from the same bookstore. However, yes, the bookstore proprietor could have been the whistleblower. Not like the gunshop owner in Terminator who said to Arnold, "Good, I can close my store early." The bookshop owner wouldn't have wanted to screw her store business unless she had a excellent rapport with Mark or had received a lumpsome to hush up. So, the proprietor could be a whistleblower or a co-conspirator. 

    Perhaps  accessing the security footage at the bookstore would provide more leads into the story?


    Offline Rick Gualtieri

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    Perhaps  accessing the security footage at the bookstore would provide more leads into the story?

    That sounds a wee bit extreme.  This isn't exactly a case for Unsolved Mysteries here. 


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    Offline VisitasKeat

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    That sounds a wee bit extreme.  This isn't exactly a case for Unsolved Mysteries here.
    It's not a mystery but a crime. A real-world crime.

    Offline markpauloleksiw

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    Maybe I am in the minority but I never bought into all these "entrepreneurs" and their podcasts telling you how to make it as an author.

    Been around long enough to remember the similar BS in the 80s with the guy from Hong Kong on a yacht claiming he could make you a millionaire in real estate. Same thing.

    Anyone with a ton of money and smarts can buy their way up lists/load of on reviews etc... That is why rules are important.

    That whole cast of characters are not "independent authors", they are brands and businesses first and who do they make money off of...is the independent author trying to make it.

    I wonder how many authors got suddenly very nervous when this all happened.

    Mark


    Offline Rick Gualtieri

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    It's not a mystery but a crime. A real-world crime.

    No it really isn't. Unethical? Probably. Gaming the system? Almost certainly.  An actual crime?  Um ... no.


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    Offline MMSN

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    You might want to look up the UK's (criminal) Fraud Act:

    "Section 1 creates a general offence of fraud and introduces three ways of committing it...

    In each case:

    the defendant's conduct must be dishonest;
    his/her intention must be to make a gain; or cause a loss or the risk of a loss to another.
    No gain or loss needs actually to have been made.
    The maximum sentence is 10 years' imprisonment.

    Fraud by false representation (Section 2)
    The defendant:

    made a false representation
    dishonestly
    knowing that the representation was or might be untrue or misleading
    with intent to make a gain for himself or another, to cause loss to another or to expose another to risk of loss."

    Offline AnnaBF

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    When this site's ownership changed, Bryan left the podcast show to Jazzy, to comment on revised t&c. Apparently he had gone fishing.


    Who is Bryan? (And how dare he go fishing?) And what do they have to do with Mark buying 400 books at a bookstore?

    Offline Indy Strange

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    It's not a mystery but a crime. A real-world crime.

    Stuff like this is going to give the more paranoid posters in the thread some ammo and derail this thread. Since this is a place where people feel comfortable talking about this situation without worrying about getting banned, it'd be nice to stick with what we've mostly already been discussing.
    Blood and Motive: 75%

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    Offline Maura

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    Well, this thread has definitely highlighted that anyone who wants to buy a bunch of their own books to manipulate a bestseller list had better buy only a few from each of many stores. I bet there are people willing to do that, although getting to say a hundred stores in one day might take a gang. Let's call them Street Team gangs.

    Offline isaacsweeney

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    We sure do place a lot of value on these lists. Consumers fail to realize that most "top sales" lists are products of back-end deals in many/most industries. They aren't necessarily good indicators of quality or hard work. I guess they lead to more sales. It's like Kim Kardashian who got famous for ... being famous ... which led to more fame. I'm not saying the guy's a good person or whatever - I don't know him or what his intentions were. But at least he's exposed that bestseller lists are sketchy. One more piece of media to be skeptical of.

    Offline Lydniz

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    It's not a mystery but a crime. A real-world crime.

    This is nonsense. Please keep a sense of proportion.

    Offline MMSN

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    I just Googled "Mark Dawson." First thing that came up was an ad for "Buy Books in Bulk."

    Somebody's got a sense of humor. :D

    Offline Redgum

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    You might want to look up the UK's (criminal) Fraud Act:

    "Section 1 creates a general offence of fraud and introduces three ways of committing it...

    In each case:

    the defendant's conduct must be dishonest;
    his/her intention must be to make a gain; or cause a loss or the risk of a loss to another.
    No gain or loss needs actually to have been made.
    The maximum sentence is 10 years' imprisonment.

    Fraud by false representation (Section 2)
    The defendant:

    made a false representation
    dishonestly
    knowing that the representation was or might be untrue or misleading
    with intent to make a gain for himself or another, to cause loss to another or to expose another to risk of loss."

    Interesting, and someone else on this thread and on another forum I read mentioned Mark is banning people from criticising him over this on his paid members only SPF Facebook page. They mentioned that access to that page is a core part of the course, so perhaps this is some sort of breach of contract, but then, being a lawyer he probably has this covered with a disclaimer. Bottom line is this - whether laws have been broken or not is just technical - the real punishment Mark will face is losing all credibility among indie writers. The problem here is that they are a massive chunk of his income via the SPF course.

    Offline VisitasKeat

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    Who is Bryan? (And how dare he go fishing?) And what do they have to do with Mark buying 400 books at a bookstore?
    Well, upthread it was asked if this case would be discussed in podcasts. That's all.  Well, Mr. Cohen runs the Sell More Books show. The show covers mainly indie author news than doing actual interviews with big name authors. So, why he behaved like an ostrich is puzzling. A new forum was created because of the new t&c, but Joanna replied arrogantly on Twitter. She said: "Never even heard about it!" But she talks about this forum on her show. She certainly was aware of the t&c controversy. So, puzzling that she was unaware of this new forum mostly comprising of senior kboards members. Their personal choices must be respected but their attitude certainly appeared hideous and dodgy. Why then do they consider themselves as propanents of the latest happenings in indie author circle when they are not raising awareness on pressing issues? Where is the intense analysis and objective discussion that hundreds and thousands of listeners crave for? Could it be that doing podcasts is just another means to do business and make money? What happened to ethical indie-journalism?

    This is what some posters pondered about upthread. Because I used to be a podcast junkie, I'm able to share some of what I listened to here. Will they discuss Mark? Well, let's wait and watch! These are radical times for the community. Hope a lot of positive changes happen.

    Offline jb1111

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    We sure do place a lot of value on these lists. Consumers fail to realize that most "top sales" lists are products of back-end deals in many/most industries. They aren't necessarily good indicators of quality or hard work. I guess they lead to more sales. It's like Kim Kardashian who got famous for ... being famous ... which led to more fame. I'm not saying the guy's a good person or whatever - I don't know him or what his intentions were. But at least he's exposed that bestseller lists are sketchy. One more piece of media to be skeptical of.

    Well, like some unnamed poster stated a few weeks ago (before he or she yanked the post), these lists can apparently be the result of a certain amount of padding through in-company purchases of books. Whether the statement in that post was actually true or not I have no idea.

    I'm sure some sort of shenanigans is possible -- I mean KU was gamed through click farms -- the possibilities for gaming any system are endless.

    Offline ShaneCarrow

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    You might want to look up the UK's (criminal) Fraud Act:

    "Section 1 creates a general offence of fraud and introduces three ways of committing it...

    In each case:

    the defendant's conduct must be dishonest;
    his/her intention must be to make a gain; or cause a loss or the risk of a loss to another.
    No gain or loss needs actually to have been made.
    The maximum sentence is 10 years' imprisonment.

    Fraud by false representation (Section 2)
    The defendant:

    made a false representation
    dishonestly
    knowing that the representation was or might be untrue or misleading
    with intent to make a gain for himself or another, to cause loss to another or to expose another to risk of loss."

    Criminal fraud is about direct financial deception. This absolutely does not count as fraud, and would not be remotely contestable in court. The point where it falls down is "cause a loss to another," because sales rankings are not a zero sum game.

    Shane Carrow

    Offline Redgum

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    The point where it falls down is "cause a loss to another," because sales rankings are not a zero sum game.

    Unless you're the writer who got dumped out the Top Ten that week and lost publicity and sales because of what happened.

    Offline Marian

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    For some perspective on book list manipulation, you might want to read about The New York Times bestseller list. It has had a long, questionable history.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times_Best_Seller_list

    I'm not saying that what Mark Dawson did was right, but as others have said, it's certainly nothing new. He probably thought that buying 400 books was no big deal.

    I suspect that a substantial portion of his income comes from his online courses, which have had good ratings. I wonder if they will  be impacted by what has happened. Until now he had a pristine reputation.

    Offline MMSN

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    Criminal fraud is about direct financial deception. This absolutely does not count as fraud, and would not be remotely contestable in court. The point where it falls down is "cause a loss to another," because sales rankings are not a zero sum game.
    No, criminal fraud can be non-financial. As the Code says, what must be lost is a 'thing of value.' (For example, the parents who paid Rick Singer to get their kids into college committed criminal fraud.) In Dawson's case (IMLO) it was Nielsen who lost a thing of value (their business reputation).

    See e.g. this article entitled "Non-Financial Frauds Growing Threat."

    https://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2013/may/15/non-financial-frauds-growing-threat/#:~:text=However%2C%20a%20type%20of%20fraud,the%20public%20or%20regulatory%20body.&text=Far%20from%20being%20victimless%20crimes,serious%20havoc%20throughout%20the%20economy.

    Offline VisitasKeat

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    I mentioned about accessing the video footage as even the store owner could be guilty of conspiracy. So, she cannot get away with the act if that's the case.



    Edited. Drop me a PM if you have any questions. - Becca
    « Last Edit: July 28, 2020, 02:42:03 pm by Becca Mills »

    Offline blubarry

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    Well, upthread it was asked if this case would be discussed in podcasts. That's all.  Well, Mr. Cohen runs the Sell More Books show. The show covers mainly indie author news than doing actual interviews with big name authors. So, why he behaved like an ostrich is puzzling. A new forum was created because of the new t&c, but Joanna replied arrogantly on Twitter. She said: "Never even heard about it!" But she talks about this forum on her show. She certainly was aware of the t&c controversy. So, puzzling that she was unaware of this new forum mostly comprising of senior kboards members. Their personal choices must be respected but their attitude certainly appeared hideous and dodgy. Why then do they consider themselves as propanents of the latest happenings in indie author circle when they are not raising awareness on pressing issues? Where is the intense analysis and objective discussion that hundreds and thousands of listeners crave for? Could it be that doing podcasts is just another means to do business and make money? What happened to ethical indie-journalism?

    This is what some posters pondered about upthread. Because I used to be a podcast junkie, I'm able to share some of what I listened to here. Will they discuss Mark? Well, let's wait and watch! These are radical times for the community. Hope a lot of positive changes happen.

    I think you'll be waiting a long time if you think Cohen will speak out against Mark considering his own even more shady past working with RH on boxset grifting... I mean gifting. There's a video that's still circulating from the lawsuit where he breaks down just how to do it. I've seen a certain amount of moral ambiguity from those who put themselves out as "experts", but I suppose that's to be expected when money is involved.

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