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April 20, 2014

PR firm that buys authors spots on bestseller lists hit with controversy

For a fee, Result Source would allegedly buy enough copies of a new book to get the author onto all the most prominent bestseller lists. This service was specifically aimed at religious authors, to inflate their reputations, and to give them street cred they hadn't actually earned. But when you're a nonprofit using tax-exempt monies to inflate your own ego, the IRS sometimes gets curious. Firm That Helps Authors Buy Their Way Onto Bestseller Lists Goes Into Stealth Mode | The Passive Voice | A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing
For years, it was an open secret in the book publishing industry that any author willing to spend enough money could nab a spot on the major bestseller by engaging the services of a company called Result Source Inc. Now that secret is a little less open. A few weeks ago, the San Diego-based firm quietly scrubbed most evidence of its existence from the web. Its website, which previously contained numerous case studies describing the many campaigns it has executed for authors, has been reduced to a bare-bones landing page with a logo and a contact form. . . . . Curiously, all this comes more than a year after an expose in the Wall Street Journal revealed Result Source’s business model for what it is: Basically, the company requires authors to make bulk purchases of their own books, then breaks those orders up into small increments to make them look like organic retail sales. For this service, authors or their publishers pay tens of thousands of dollars, on top of the cost of the books whose purchases Result Source launders. The total price tag can approach $250,000. WSJ’s reporting prompted a strong response from Amazon, which declared that it would no longer do business with Result Source. Yet according to the Wayback Machine, which takes historical snapshots of websites, Result Source’s full website was still online as recently as Feb. 3, 2014. . . . . The timing suggests it has to do with a scandal that’s been unfolding in the evangelical community over the past six months. Result Source started out as a marketing firm catering to Christian authors, and they still make up a large part of its client roster. Several well-known pastors, including Steven Furtick, Mark Driscoll and Perry Noble, have recently been accused of using their congregations’ funds to pay for bestseller campaigns. . . . . Duncan and others have floated the idea that the IRS should get involved, arguing that the pastors in question have been exploiting their churches’ nonprofit status for personal enrichment. . . . . All of this seems to have led Result Source to the belated realization that everything it does makes everyone involved look pretty bad.

April 19, 2014

"'We Have Always Fought': Challenging the 'Women, Cattle and Slaves' Narrative" by Kameron Hurley

This is an incredible essay. It just got nominated for a Hugo award, so please read the whole damn thing. "'We Have Always Fought': Challenging the 'Women, Cattle and Slaves' Narrative" by Kameron Hurley - A Dribble of Ink
I’m going to tell you a story about llamas. It will be like every other story you’ve ever heard about llamas: how they are covered in fine scales; how they eat their young if not raised properly; and how, at the end of their lives, they hurl themselves – lemming-like- over cliffs to drown in the surging sea. They are, at heart, sea creatures, birthed from the sea, married to it like the fishing people who make their livelihood there. Every story you hear about llamas is the same. You see it in books: the poor doomed baby llama getting chomped up by its intemperate parent. On television: the massive tide of scaly llamas falling in a great, majestic herd into the sea below. In the movies: bad-ass llamas smoking cigars and painting their scales in jungle camouflage. Because you’ve seen this story so many times, because you already know the nature and history of llamas, it sometimes shocks you, of course, to see a llama outside of these media spaces. The llamas you see don’t have scales. So you doubt what you see, and you joke with your friends about “those scaly llamas” and they laugh and say, “Yes, llamas sure are scaly!” and you forget your actual experience. What you remember is the llama you saw who had mange, which sort of looked scaly, after a while, and that one llama who was sort of aggressive toward a baby llama, like maybe it was going to eat it. So you forget the llamas that don’t fit the narrative you saw in films, books, television – the ones you heard about in the stories – and you remember the ones that exhibited the behavior the stories talk about. Suddenly, all the llamas you remember fit the narrative you see and hear every day from those around you. You make jokes about it with your friends. You feel like you’ve won something. You’re not crazy. You think just like everyone else. And then there came a day when you started writing about your own llamas. Unsurprisingly, you didn’t choose to write about the soft, downy, non-cannibalistic ones you actually met, because you knew no one would find those “realistic.” You plucked out the llamas from the stories. You created cannibal llamas with a death wish, their scales matted in paint. It’s easier to tell the same stories everyone else does. There’s no particular shame in it. It’s just that it’s lazy, which is just about the worst possible thing a spec fic writer can be. Oh, and it’s not true. . . .