An Unexpected Problem

So, it would seem there is an issue with The Road Out that I failed to foresee. It’s actually down to my own naivety, really. In this day and age, the internet has ensured that every way to scam and or exploit something is fully explored. Millions of less than honest people have access to avenues of distorting things, so that anything set up to assist people is exploited to the point that it becomes useless.

I was very pleased and proud to receive five of five-star reviews for The Road Out on Amazon.com in the first week, along with some awesome feedback to the effect that those reviews were both honest and well-deserved. That is the plain truth, with some who contacted me telling me it was the most fun read they had in ages, and asking when volume 2 will be ready. But, that in itself is useless, it seems. Anything I might say, or do, to promote my work will be seen as distorted. After all, I am trying to sell a book, therefore anything I say is both biased and dismissed as dishonest from the outset.

In the wider Kindle community, five star reviews are seen as having been planted by friends or family, and are regarded as such. Does this mean I should beg those reviewers to lower their score, if such an avenue exists? The situation sounds ludicrous, but it’s true. It is a sad reflection of what our world has become, in reality.We are a planet of untrustworthy liars and thieves, it would seem.

Policemen don’t rightfully fine people for speeding, they are just revenue raising for the government.

Politicians aren’t honestly trying to better something, they are rorting the system and stealing whatever isn’t nailed down, or stealing the nails if it is nailed down.

Real estate salesmen don’t have the right house for you, they have a dump that they’re trying to con you into buying.

The problem with this cynical view is that, all too often, it’s accurate. Marketing itself has become something so twisted and hateful that to market anything is to be dishonest by proxy.

My initial happiness at the reception of my book is still there. I know it’s done well. Others have assured me, and I have no reason to doubt them, that it is a quality read that will stand the test of time. I can’t help but feel somewhat downcast, though, that accomplishing something at this level first time out could actually hamper my success.

Amazon’s provision of an outlet for creative writers has certainly changed things. People who had no access to a readership are now able to get their work out there. The publishing industry is suffering just punishment for reaping huge rewards for throttling the production of creative works. However, the opening up of the marketplace has come at a cost. The fact that anyone can publish anything, in any condition, has led to suspicion and mistrust on an unprecedented level.

I was advised to put a decent price on The Road Out from the outset, as it was well worth the money. The difficulty with that policy is that its relative quality is unknown to the buyer. I am unsure what to do about this, it’s a quandary that requires some deep reflection.

I have been here before, you know. More than once. My engineering business, for example, suffered from this problem all the time. As we became established, and our capabilities grew, word spread rapidly and we were booked out for many months in advance nearly all the time.

Along with this, the workmanship demanded of us increased. We were reaching ever higher to achieve more. We started getting bigger projects, with our customer base going international, in the end. However, the fact that we were making unbelievable tooling was a problem in itself. The previous work was always under NDA contracts, so I couldn’t show prospective customers examples of my work very easily. They usually trusted me because they were referred to me by companies that used the tooling.

My biggest issue was that most of my competitors, while unable to replicate my work, were only too happy to tell people that they could, something which made my quotes look pretty dishonest. All too often I would lose the quote, only to then get the job of rectifying my competitors work to something approaching my own standard when they couldn’t finish it.

So, in the Amazon marketplace, it has become standard practice to make the first volume of a book series free, in the hope of drawing people in for the following volumes. This is actually counter-productive in the long-term. Any author producing something as a get-you-in is going to forsake quality and content for speed; get the first one done quick so you can move on to the paying work.

In this world, you don’t really get anything for nothing, so any satisfying conclusion is left for subsequent volumes which are worth writing, as they are paid for. Thus, a new level of mistrust is reached, and people are hesitant to read a free volume 1, as they soon learn it is just an avenue for getting them committed to paying up for the real story in subsequent volumes.

Time is the key to success with a quality product. Patience and persistence will eventually out. I learned this many years ago, as a musician. A band would advertise for a drummer and I would call the number. They would invariably ask, “How good are you?”. As stupid questions go, that one is pretty good, isn’t it? If I say I’m very good, they will think I’m an egotistical half-wit. If I undervalue myself, they would think I was honest and not worth the time. Caught in a conundrum from which there is no escape. So, I would usually respond with, “There’s only one way to find that out, mate. When can we audition?”

That’s the real answer to that question. Just let me put my money where my mouth is. In the end, I think that’s the way forward for me as a writer. Everyone who has read The Road Out has had nothing but praise for it. In prospective reader’s eyes, that could be because I’ve only sold the book to family and friends, but I know that’s not the case.

In the end, the truth will out. In the meantime, I ought to get on with volume 2.

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