Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Secret To Making It Big

Stop that senseless querying. Don't bother finding an agent. The secret to making it big in publishing is hiding right under your nose. 

Just get a job in the publishing industry, jump on the NA bandwagon, and self-publish under a pen name. Heck—promote your alter ego as if you’re two separate people and write a review for your own book if you feel so inclined. Before you know it, you'll be raking in thousands!

I'm sure you've all heard that the author behind the pen name Cora Carmack (Losing It) is really literary agent Brittany Howard. You can read her confession here.

Well, guess what? It's happened again.



NA author Brooklyn Skye is really Nicole Steinhaus 
...assistant editor for Entangled publishing.



Here are some of her tweets...






  Here's the nice review she wrote for herself...



Here's another Twitter screen shot...




These ladies obviously have talent, and I'm not jealous of their success. But in just about any other industry, such behavior wouldn't fly. It would be considered, at the very least, a conflict of interest.

In healthcare, we're bound by corporate compliance regulations and ethics. Professional integrity is not just some abstract ideal. It's expected.  

It seems the publishing industry could use a good dose.




32 comments:

  1. I feel guilty just marking my own books as read on Goodreads!
    Guess I'm a lousy self-promoter. But I sleep good at night.

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    1. There's nothing wrong with self-promotion, as long as you do it as yourself. ;)

      Fwiw, I don't think it's strange for authors to mark their books as 'read' or 'to read' on GR. I do think it's a little odd when they review their own books, but (if they do it as themselves) Goodreads marks it as such.

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  2. I never thought of it that way, but you're right. This type of thing would not fly in most industries. Hmm...

    It's definitely something to ponder. If you're in the public eye, I can understand taking on a pen name to minimize (potential) professional damage. But to endorse yourself while you're masquerading as someone else? That puts an intentional spin on things.

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    1. I have no problem with pen names. I use one. But I do have a problem with this kind of deception.

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    2. Me neither. Most of my friends have them! :)

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  3. Melissa, this is a very bold post. Not bold in an 'OMG YOU'RE GOING TO GET BLACK-LABLED IN THE INDUSTRY!' way... I think those days are mostly over. Just meaning it is bold to say how you feel when you think a colleague has crossed an ethical line. And I do believe we're all colleagues here.

    Not many people are willing to do that publicly.

    At some point, we in the publishing/writing business need to be concerned with how we conduct our business. Mostly because we govern ourselves for the most part. That's a huge responsibility. I believe most readers probably do not care about this kind of stuff, which is why people do it. However, your colleagues care, your profession cares, therefore you should care.

    I wish Nicole the best of luck as an author going forward, because that's clearly where her heart lies. I've no doubt she has worked hard to get her writing out there, and readers clearly enjoy it. But if I'm being completely honest, this kind of thing troubles me, and I hope--for the sake of the integrity of our profession--it is an isolated incident.

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    1. I was always the kid who couldn't resist poking the anthill. :)

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    2. Well said, EJ! I wish Nicole the best of luck, too. :) I just hope other authors won't mimic that particular tactic, in hopes of finding similar success. I'm sure plenty of other factors went into that bestselling equation—you know, things that really define the industry. Writing, editing, etc.

      And Melissa, that doesn't surprise me. LOL

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    3. But seriously, her deception was very public. She MADE it public. Why should my response be any less so?

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  4. I had no idea! Interesting...

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  5. It seems like it if she "came out of the writing closet" as it were, she shouldn't have been so blatantly pumping her own work. This definitely crosses the line. I'm glad you pointed it out.

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  6. My first reaction from reading this was about the conflict of interest, but then that is me thinking in a corporate sense of things. In a sense, that's much like setting up multiple fake Amazon accounts and posting wonderful reviews for one's self and terrible reviews for the competition.

    Oh wait...that's already been done and frowned upon.

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  7. I have to thank you for this post because... I was one of the BETA-readers for Stripped-- I followed Nicole's twitter and had seen her say so many awesome things about the book, that I just had to read it. After I finished (and reviewed the book on Goodreads)-- I had a suspicion that she was the author. I couldn't get the idea out of my head. When it was announced, I was less than shocked. I felt it was unethical and... well, everything that you said. I was too afraid to say how I really felt, because I didn't want to be shunned by the community--- THANK YOU for validating my feelings and making me realize that I'm not a total nut job!

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    1. Thank you for you candor, Azia.

      I bite my tongue often because of the politics of this industry. But I couldn't keep quiet about this. It was worth risking a potential backlash.

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  8. Wow. That took guts.

    I don't agree with this tactic, but with so many writers clamoring to make some green, I'm not surprised. What won't some people do to be published? I'm telling you, ethics go out the window when people are fighting for agents and editors and money and fame. Deceit is inevitable, unfortunately.

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  9. I knew Brook did that (she admitted it a long time ago), but that with Nicole is just - Wow. I don't really have a problem with agents being authors too, but using your position for marketing - again, Wow.

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  10. Okay. This is dang brilliant. The thing I'm having the hardest time doing is selling my own book. I'm totally good with doing it for other authors. I can gush like crazy. I hate doing that for myself.

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  11. As an avid reader I find no problem with author's raving about their book, it is their book, if they don't love it why should I? But behavior like this disgusts me, if you want to rave about your book more power to you, but don't present yourself as an industry expert, and then suggest this amazing book by an author (when that author is you). The ethical breaches are so wrong an as someone who loves to discover new authors it turns me off from doing so, and from trusting review sites because it makes me lose faith that the author isn't the one running the site.

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    1. Good point. And I'm glad you brought the perspective of a reader into this. Someone else said readers don't care, but obviously they do. I know I would.

      Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is how Entangled feels about this. As an author, I wouldn't want to work with a publisher who allows such things to go on without reprimand. Granted, Nicole is only an assistant editor, but if her behavior is indicative of the integrity (or lack thereof) of the publisher she works for, I don't want to have anything to do with them.

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  12. I agree with the above poster. I don't have a problem with someone raving about his or her work, but it seems wrong to go under another name or one's own name with a pen name and rave about it.

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  13. Regardless of the field, there should be some ethics attached to it.

    What they're doing is unethical and deceitful, in my opinion.

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  14. I am an editor for a small publishing house (many people don't know this, but there you go). I am also a published author. I am also now an agented author, waiting for my Big 6 deal--a dream that may or may not come to fruition, as you all know.

    Recently, I made the decision that I want to self-publish something this year. My husband and I decided this would be the best thing for us, as I have yet to make any income off of my small press-published book, and the Big 6 deal is still just a dream until proven otherwise. Because I want to write outside my usual comfort area of YA Paranormal Romance, I decided I want to use a pen name. This is so that I can keep the two things separate: Jessa Russo, Author, will always be a romance-driven paranormal author, writing for teens (and the occasional teen at heart--or not so occasional). I like books with supernatural boys and lots of kissing. My pen name will write steamy, sexy books for adults, and the two entities will never cross.

    I am going to self-publish to make money. I'm not going to put un-edited work out into the world, or go at this half-ass. I'm not going to write something I wouldn't read or don't believe in. BUT, I am going to do it as a means to making income while I continue to follow my dreams. Because in case no one told you (no one told me) writing is not a full-time paying career--at least not at first. As a stay-at-home mom living on one income, we need the extra money. I want to make that money doing what I love, so I'm going to figure out a way to make that happen. Because, frankly, my family is more important than anything else in the world, negative opinions and naysayers very much included.

    Now, for the 'ethical' part. The part that has me shaking as I type.

    Am I going to promote that self-published book? ABSOLUTELY.

    Because I'd be an idiot not to. Will I rate it on Goodreads? Possibly. But possibly not. I haven't gotten there yet. But, I don't rate my own books anyway, so that's redundant.

    EITHER WAY, do you know what I want from my writing community? SUPPORT. Plain and simple. We have enough negativity from this chosen path: friends and family who don't 'get it' or take us seriously (I had one friend apologize to me after my book was published because he'd never thought I was "serious"), to multitudes of FORM rejections from agents (man, those hurt), to nasty, devastating reviews from complete strangers that can often feel like a personal attack (I relate this to someone attacking your child. Yes, it hurts that badly. Or close to it, at least).

    WHY then, can we not support each other? Why then, can we not be the arms to help each other rise when we fall? Why are we always attacking one another within the industry? Why do we question each other's motives or ethics?

    WHY???

    Support one another. That's all I ask. You support me, and I'll support you. It's so so simple.

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    1. I DO support other authors, and I have no problem with pen names, whether the author acknowledges them or not.

      What I DO have a problem with is authors who do something deceitful like pretending their alter ego is someone else and actively promoting 'her.'

      I'm sorry, but I don't see how anyone can call that ethical.

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  15. Um. Wow. I don't think there's anything wrong with using a pen name and having that alter ego and promoting it but for me personally, some things are just in bad taste. Some things I'd be way too embarrassed to do!

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    1. There are times I promote 'Melissa Maygrove' using my real name, but I do so to family members and friends who already know 'Melissa Maygrove' is me.

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  16. Well I'm obviously late to the party... are there any nuts left?

    First of all, Melissa, you rock for having the balls to post this. I'm sure you're finger hovered over the send button - I know mine would have.

    Two: As Nicole already outed herself about Brooklyn, I don't see why people can be upset with you.

    As far as I'm concerned, you pulled back the curtain a little and now I know that the Wizard isn't all powerful and knowing.

    Finally, there is enough room for us all here and we should support each other as much as we can.

    I do wish "Niclyn" the best, but stay in front of the curtain - or pull it back all the way.

    PS, and this goes for all of us... If our books are good enough - readers will find them.

    'Nuff said.

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    1. "Two: As Nicole already outed herself about Brooklyn, I don't see why people can be upset with you."

      Thank you for that. I know I cut loose with the sarcasm a bit, but sheesh. It's not like I betrayed a confidence to write this post. Mostly what I did was post screen shots as proof--screen shots SHE made public.

      "I do wish "Niclyn" the best, but stay in front of the curtain - or pull it back all the way."

      Yes. Agreed. Authors should either keep their pen name(s) separate and not acknowledge them, or be transparent from the beginning. Or at least from the very first time they promote their alter egos.

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  17. I jumped over to this post after reading your last one. One, I am glad you brought attention to this because I never heard it. Two, I find it deceptive at the very least. I would say more, but it seems a lot has already been said.

    But I do want to thank you again for bringing it to my attention so I can at least digest it and consider how I feel about it.

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  18. I agree that this is all unethical. I use a pen name, but I also have an FB and Twitter account for my real name which is for my separate professional work. It would be very tasteless and even silly to promote my pen name's work under my real name. My books are part of my author brand - let the brand promote my books!

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