Sunday, August 26, 2012

Please, please buy my book…. Because I have paid reviewers to say you should

There is a fascinating article in New York Times this weekend on the growing business of self-published books. And how self-publishing has created an "industry" of hired reviewers who produce favorable reviews.  (The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy)

The article features Mr. Rutherford and the Web site, GettingBookReviews.com (interestingly the URL is now for sale!). A few interesting takeaways from the article
"One of Mr. Rutherford’s clients, who confidently commissioned hundreds of reviews and didn’t even require them to be favorable, subsequently became a best seller. This is proof, Mr. Rutherford said, and that his notion was correct. Attention, despite being contrived, draws more attention.  
In 2006, before Amazon supercharged electronic publishing with the Kindle, 51,237 self-published titles appeared as physical books, according to the data company Bowker. Last year, Bowker estimates that more than 300,000 self-published titles were issued in either print or digital form.  
“I don’t know how many people have a book in them trying to get out, but if they do, all the barriers are being removed,” said Kelly Gallagher, vice president of Bowker Market Research. “This is a golden age of being able to make yourself more widely known.”
With the barriers to entry on self-publishing being minimal, hundreds of thousands of writers have jumped the bandwagon. And to get noticed, many are willing to pay-for-reviews!

When my book Offshoring IT Services was first published by McGraw Hill, India, it was a big deal for me. The book was not self published and  McGraw Hill dedicated resources for editing, publishing and to some extent "marketing" the book. Though the book did fairly well – sold off the first and second print run – I didn't get rich from the royalty. I also got my share of egoboo. The corporate marketing team from my then employer, Infosys, bought a lot of copies to distribute to clients. In hindsight, it was not written to be a "bestseller": the genera – offshoring  and technology management – is not one the masses are interested in. 

Now, there are over a million practitioners of the craft of offshoring but I guess the market for offshoring books hasn't grown. Most of those in the industry are happy learning on-the-job rather through formal means. For instance, there are still not many formal, university level courses in Offshoring Management though there are some MBA courses that focus on aspects of globalization or international business.

If I were to self publish Offshoring IT Services, would I be willing to spend hundreds of dollars like Mr. Rutherford’s customers to get favorable reviews on Amazon.com and elsewhere?