Thursday, August 30, 2012

Not All Publicity is Good Publicity: Why You Can't Save a Sinking Ship

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, publicity is defined as "an act or device designed to attract public interest; specifically : information with news value issued as a means of gaining public attention or support." In the case of Todd Rutherford, the saying "there is no such thing as bad publicity" is a misnomer.

If you didn't catch the New York Times article this week, Rutherford is the fake book reviewer who was outed by a disgruntled customer and was caught by Amazon for posting fake five-star book reviews. His clients paid him a pretty penny to write the fake reviews, and those pennies added up to a whopping $28,000 per month. I wrote about Rutherford a few days ago and warned authors/writers to steer clear of  paid book review scammers.

The reviews are mixed about the "ethics and morals" behind Rutherford's actions. The general consensus in the book/publishing industry is that he is a swindling con-artist. Unfortunately, self-published authors are taking the heat as a result of the article's whistle-blowing; it's just bad publicity all the way around. He has literally bit (OFF) the hands that fed him at one time, and he has pissed off legitimate, ethical self-published authors in the process. And I don't blame them for being mad.

After digging around to see what I could find on Rutherford, I stumbled upon an interesting revelation via a Publisher's Weekly blog post, Paid Reviewer Goes Down Honest Path (thanks Gabe Habash for sharing this interesting tidbit). I had a sneaking suspicion that Rutherford pulled his own publicity stunt - trying to save face after he completely obliterated his business. He emailed Publisher's Weekly a press release a few days before the  New York Times article was published. In his press release, Rutherford announced the article would make a "big splash" and he was making a career comeback..wait for "book publicity".

Habash sums up exactly how I feel about Rutherford's attempt to save face with his press release. It backfired on him.
The email, meant to drum up more interest in Rutherford and his “comeback,” is a clear sign that he doesn’t think he’s committed any fault and further reinforces the image of an individual who’s only aware of his enterprises, not of his enterprises’ context or their consequences. In other words, he’s out of touch with reality (in a way that’s reminiscent of “publisher” PublishAmerica). Rutherford’s email is evidence that he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with manipulating the system if it allows him to manipulate it. The only problem is that he doesn’t seem aware that he’s been caught.

In Rutherford's case, sometimes you just can't save a sinking ship.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Writers Beware: Why You Shouldn't Pay For Book Reviews

I came across a very interesting article in the New York Times that talks about a hot debate in the publishing industry: paid book reviews. While reading the article, I recognized a familiar name - Todd Rutherford. A former author client hired (and then quickly fired) Mr. Rutherford due to his "questionable" ethics concerning marketing his book. My radar went up instantly and I dug around to find out more about Mr. Rutherford and his background. I quickly learned about the complaints against him, and told my client to steer clear of him. I always tell my clients never to buy book reviews.

For Mr. Rutherford, his once booming $28,000-per-month "fake book review" company took a nose dive,  which led him to close up shop and is now currently selling RVs.
"When Ms. Lorenzana found, $99 seemed reasonable. But the review did not show up as quickly as she expected. She posted a long, angry accusation against Mr. Rutherford and his service on several consumer sites, saying she had received better treatment from a reviewer whom she had hired for $5. (“You could tell that the person had really spent a few minutes checking out the information about my book and getting a feel for it before just diving into writing a meaningless review.”) 
Mr. Rutherford refunded her fee, but his problems were just beginning. Google suspended his advertising account, saying it did not approve of ads for favorable reviews. At about the same time, Amazon took down some, though not all, of his reviews. Mr. Rutherford dropped his first name in favor of his middle name, Jason, so that people who searched for him through Google would not automatically see Ms. Lorenzana’s complaints." (Source: New York Times) 
What's the moral of Mr. Rutherford's demise? Scammers don't last long, and fake paid reviews are NOT considered ethical book marketing. If you want to be taken seriously as a writer and don't want to damage your reputation and credibility, do not pay someone to write fake "five-star" reviews for your book. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Content Writing Tips: 4 Common Grammatical Mistakes

When writing content, don't rely on spell and grammar check. Even simple grammatical mistakes on your website and social media can make you look amateurish and unprofessional.

Here are common writing mistakes to avoid:

#1 Their, There, They're

Their is a plural possessive. There can be used as a pronoun or in reference to a place. They're is a contraction (they are).  

The students have their books.
There is an old house.
The kids want to go there.
They're going to school today. 

#2 It's, Its

It's is a contraction for it is or it has. Its is a possessive pronoun.

It's my birthday. 
It's been a warm day. 
A cat is possessive of its territory.

#3 You're, Your

You're is the contraction for you are. Your is a possessive pronoun.

You're my best friend.
Your article is fascinating. 

#4 Affect, Effect

Affect is a verb ("to influence") and effect is a noun ("result"). 

The heat will affect my garden. 
The medication has a negative side effect. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Why Every Writer Needs a Good Editor

Happy August! I just wanted to share my latest article that is featured on Women on Writing. I tackle the subject of book editing and writing for their DIY Self-Publishing Guide this month. I had the privilege of interviewing seasoned editors, Susan Malone and Karen Elliott. 

My article gives an in-the-trenches look at book editing, and the ladies share great advice on everything from how to choose an editor to how to beat writer's block. 

If you need more information about editing and writing, check out their helpful tips and resources detailed on their websites: 

A huge thanks to Karen and Susan for their interviews. Check out the other fantastic articles featured on WoW this month. Lots of great information for women about writing, self-publishing, how to market your self-published book, etc. 

Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

Content Writing & Marketing Tips ** Online Buzz Branding

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