In the past I've complained about mutual ass-kissing in the publishing business, where authors write complimentary blurbs for each other.
I've also complained about a book that uses a blurb from an executive at its publishing company, and contains glowing reviews for authors who supplied blurbs.
And I criticized an author whose Amazon page includes a review from her editor.
But just when I thought I'd seen the lowest depth of literary corruption hell, I discovered something from even farther down. Not surprisingly, it involves dishonest and inept Outskirts Press.
Outskirts published the Highly Effective Habits of 5 Successful Authors (with no identified author). Its subtitle is: "How They Beat the Self-Publishing Odds, and How You Can, Too (and How to Publish a Book and Excel at Book Marketing)."
Depending on your outlook on such things, the title is either an homage to -- or a ripoff of -- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a self-help book by Stephen R. Covey.
The Outskirts book has a five star review on Amazon.com from Sally Shields.
Sally says, "This book is really inspiring for anyone that has a book in their heart! Although getting published may seem like an insurmountable obstacle at the beginning, this book profiles 5 people who overcame any objections and created a book and followed their dreams! Learn what these 5 authors did - all in their own styles, to get their messages out into the world. You will laugh and cry reading about how both having a passion for your topic and a sincere desire to help others can propel one towards your own dream of authorship. This book is a reminder that we can all do it - by simply doing the little seemingly insignificant things each day that can eventually bloom into a pond that is filled with beautiful water-lilies - that will eventually be your book, and more importantly, your message to the world, and even, your legacy! "
There are three problems with the review:
- Sally's writing sucks. Based on this abysmal sample, it is no surprise that her book was published by Outskirts, a pay-to-publish company with NO LITERARY STANDARDS. Sally wrote, " The biggest hurtle [sic] is not writing a book." For Sally, the biggest hurdle may be learning to write properly.
- Sally-the-reviewer is one of the five people profiled in the book she is trying to convince us to buy! She even "contributed to" the section about herself in the book.
- Sally was too stupid to use a fake name in her review so people would not realize that she was kissing her own ass.
UPDATE: Ronnie Lee, one of the other Outskirts authors included in the book, wrote an Amazon five-star review for a book he wrote. Is there a pattern here? Is the Outskirts sleaze infectious?
(Ass kiss photo from stanleyrumm.com. Thanks)