Episode 100 – Samhain, Advertorials, and Data Guy

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Question of the Week: Do you think the Bookseller stepped over the line of journalism with their Author Solutions interview or can they publish whatever they want?

We’ve hit triple digits! Bryan and Jim celebrated how they always do: by tackling the top news and tips of the week. After thanking their patron Jeff Adams (and his Hat Trick Series http://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B00YVWBRYQ/ ) they chatted Facebook, a killer editing combo, and a time-tested promotional strategy. News stories included scamming the bestseller list, Kobo’s POD service, what financially successful authors have in common, the closure of Samhain Publishing, the Bookseller/Author Solutions controversy, and DBW’s interview with Data Guy. This week’s Question of the Week: Do you think the Bookseller stepped over the line of journalism with their Author Solutions interview or can they publish whatever they want?
What You’ll Learn: 
What the best Facebook posts have in common
How to combine two grammar tools into an editing powerhouse
What Mars Dorian did to increase his book sales
Why bestseller lists no longer matter
What financially successful authors do to succeed
Why Samhain Publishing is closing its doors
Both sides of the Bookseller Author Solutions interview controversy
More about the mysterious Data Guy
Question of the Week: Do you think the Bookseller stepped over the line of journalism with their Author Solutions interview or can they publish whatever they want?

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  • Chris Syme

    Agree with Jim–I’m not sure that this is a journalism question, but it is poor form. Being a former crisis pr professional, I have two thoughts about this piece. First, it is very poor PR to try and overcome a bad reputation or crisis with a piece like this. The public has a highly sophisticated bullshit detector when it comes to this stuff, but it makes the people in the C-Suite feel better. Most people will dump this into the “who cares” category and move on. Transparency and honesty are much better paths, but they are also the road less traveled by those who think they can ignore the rules. Second, it is a wonderful opportunity for people like Nate Hoffelder to alert us all to what is actually going on here. Without people like Nate sounding the bell authors may continue to buy into the Author Solutions BS.

    • Bryan

      Nate tells it like it is. So happy to have his site as a resource.

  • Congrats on your 100th episode! Love the podcast! I can relate to what you guys said a few episodes ago – I don’t even look at the news anymore, your show is more than sufficient. Also, nice to see a fellow Ohioan/Clevelander in the self-publishing arena.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, David! Jim should definitely let you know when he’s doing his next local chat :).

  • Hey, I just thought the foot book bestseller was funny because he took it to the extreme. I also think it’s important to share so authors don’t get suckered in and believe that this bs is legit.

    • Bryan

      Can’t you just be happy that I mentioned you like 3 times in the episode? 😉
      Thanks for the share, man.

  • Cassandra Webb-Writer

    Hi guys, Cas here from http://www.SparklePublications.com.au – I get really annoyed with journalistic pieces not being written from a journalistic perspective. Our local paper often gets the facts wrong when a little research would go a long way and it drives me nuts.

    • Bryan

      Thanks for commenting, Cas. Agreed. Either say that it’s sponsored or go to town on the research.

  • While I understand Jim’s “buyer beware” take and agree that in a perfect world, all media consumers would be sophisticated enough to view their sources with a critical eye, we don’t live in that world. It’s true that it’s ultimately up to the readers to protect themselves with a healthy sense of skepticism, but I think that any publication hoping to stay in business needs to live up to the expectations it sets. If The Bookseller presents itself as a balanced, authoritative voice, then it needs to acknowledge the kind of controversy surrounding a company such as AS. If nothing else, that’s for its own good. Once a news source loses credibility, it’s very difficult to earn it back. And if your audience stops trusting you, they stop reading you and don’t bother attending your events anymore. Eventually, your subscription and ad bases will suffer.

    That said, another enjoyable and informative show. Happy 100th!

    • Bryan

      I agree. Far from a perfect world with skepticism goggles :). Thanks, Michael!

  • Frankly, the question is irrelevant, because the Bookseller is irrelevant to the future of modern publishing, and the fact that they’d do this sort of thing just proves how desperate they are becoming.
    The people who read the Bookseller don’t care about AS, and self-published authors don’t read the Bookseller. Problem solved.

    • Bryan

      Hehe, great point, Patty! And that’s why it wasn’t #1 ;). Thanks for stopping by.

    • It’s true from that angle, but when a AS prospect googles them and finds articles saying they are basically ok, then the prospect might go with AS. The dude did a disservice to authors by not doing a better interview.

  • Jason Riou

    I’m a new listener. In the last three days I burned through the first 20 episodes and just started listening to this one. Love the show; reaping as much info and advice as possible. Congrats on the century.

    I thought I’d chime in for the first time on any podcast in a year on Kobo entering the POD arena. CreateSpace is barely a feasible option for Canadians. The headache of international book shipping and the cost of the exchange rate make it a horrible business decision. Amazon just doesn’t have any printing partners up here. You should see the pages and pages of posts on KBoards on this subject. Kobo is going to do very well with this service.Great news for Canucks.

    • Bryan

      Welcome, Jason! Really glad to have you on board.

      That’s an awesome point about Canadian paperbacks. Hadn’t even thought of that. Glad you guys get to have a new (and likely cheaper) option!

  • Connie B. Dowell

    Congrats on the 100th show, guys! Good one as always.

    I agree with Bryan in that sponsored content is one thing, but you have to disclose it. Writing such a piece without disclosing that this is sponsored, passing off advertisements as articles, is just sleazy. Yes, readers have a responsibility to question what they read, but writers and publications have a responsibility to their readers as well.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Connie! Definitely responsibility on both sides. Good point.

  • Crissy Moss

    Of course they can publish whatever they want. BUT, that doesn’t mean the audience is going to like it.

    Jim is right, the younger, more tech savvy people, know that CNN, MSNBC, and Fox are all bias, and slant everything to their personal beliefs. That’s why younger people are more likely to get their news online through less bias sources than through people who are proven to…well…lie.

    Another consideration, there are actually laws about writing articles for advertising without actually saying it’s advertising, or paid promotion. If they were paid in any way and did not disclose that fact then he could be held liable for that. It’s illegal. The FCC has been coming down harder on youtubers and other pundants who put themselves out there as news sources and accept advertising without disclaiming it. It won’t be long till they start looking at journalists like that as well.

    • Bryan

      Good point on the legal ramifications, Crissy. Thanks!

  • Robert Scanlon

    Go the 100!

    I had heard that the Internet is now a place where anyone could share their opinion? (Is this comment system QED?)

    Which is why any so-called reporting “should” be critically appraised, now more than ever. So thank goodness there are those crusaders (often not paid journalists!) who are prepared to question and investigate. And for Bryan and Jim, who bring these things to our attention. I would have had no idea that the bookseller thing was all over the Internet and that people were angry and emotional if I hadn’t heard it on your news show!

    Which goes to show there are those of us out there just busy working and ignoring so-called “news”.

    In my opinion all media is by definition biased (since it is only “reporting”), and with so much misinformation online, it s hard to know what to pay attention to.

    (Except Jim. I always pay attention to Jim. And Bryan’s a friend, so anything he says is definitely true.)

    Parting comment: one thing the Internet does allow us to do very easily now is to quickly become an expert in your own revenue-generation initiative of choice, therefore it pays to soak up all the information available to indie authors and publishers, then use that to make your own business decisions. If someone was talked into spending 10k on a podcast interview promo package, then likelihood is, that would have happened regardless of any one article. There are always those who are more gullible and their predators who don’t care about how they profit from it – way before the Internet. At least now we can easily verify or discover more about such deals.

    Next episode: Room 101, where both Bryan and Jim get to face their deepest fears.

    • Bryan

      Thanks, Robert. Can’t wait for Room 101 ;).

  • Happy 1-0-0!!

    Can I just say I’m getting tired of hearing about AS? How is it that they even still exist? They’ve been passed around like a hot potato for so long, and received so much bad press, it’s hard to believe they’re still in business.

    That said, the very fact that this “interview” was so incredibly biased, leads me to believe that it was sponsored on some level. Since that was not disclosed (at least, not anywhere I saw on my cursory glance at the article) I would say the Bookseller definitely stepped over the line. If by law my little website needs to have disclosure that I get a teency commission from Amazon if someone clicks my link, then by God, the Bookseller needs to disclose any and all financial ties to AS.

    • I don’t think they have ties, I just think they don’t want to ask tough questions. Maybe they’re buddies or something.

  • I think there’s an easy way to divide opinion and news. That’s with protecting the word news. Some words are protected by law and can only be used in certain contexts. For example, you can’t call an apple organic if it’s been sprayed with chemicals. That word has a public expectation behind it. So some countries protect the word organic and say only foods that are chemical free can use that word.

    The word news should have the same protection. If you want to use the word news, then you should have to pass a certain boundary of factual information. If your articles can be proven to be factually incorrect, then you shouldn’t be allowed to use the word news on your site.

    It would mean Fox, MSNBC and others wouldn’t be allowed to call themselves news organisations any longer. Those that did call themselves news organisations would be subject to rigorous fact checking. So people would know what they were getting: fact or opinion.

    • Robert Scanlon

      However impractical it might be to implement, that is a brilliant idea, Simon! In Australia we do have a news site that has a fact checker for some of the “factual claims” politicians try to pull on us. http://www.abc.net.au/news/factcheck/

      Maybe we can persuade Hugh Howey and David Gaughran to collaborate and make a “self publishing fact checker website” haha!

      • Bryan

        I like that idea too :).