September 6, 2012


It gets busy at Costco during the lunch hour on any given day because they give out samples of various food products. Samples help me decide whether to purchase a product. Oftentimes, if I like the sample, I’ll try the product.

But what if I got the opportunity to sample something and chose not to because it came highly recommended?

Or I didn’t want to take the time to sample it, and only purchased it because it was on sale?

Would I be justified in feeling duped if this product I didn’t bother to sample fell short of my expectations?

Books and ebooks are one of the few products a consumer can sample beforehand. In a bookstore, you can stand there and read as much as you’d like. Online, you can generally read a percentage of an ebook, up to as much as the first 20%, to help you make your decision.

There’s been a lot of media coverage recently about book reviews. Any given review on any given book, whether the book was written by a traditionally published author or an indie, can be faked. A fake review will generally either sing the book’s praises or trash it. That’s not to say all five-star and one-star ratings are not to be trusted, but who has the time to investigate their veracity?

Further, even if you know a recommendation or condemnation is honest, you still have to take into consideration that it is one person’s opinion. Opinions are subjective. Even an honest appraisal of a product can be biased - or I should say will be biased based on that person’s likes and dislikes, which may be the polar opposite of yours whether you admire that person, hate them with a passion, or don’t know them at all. And sometimes an honest appraisal comes from someone who had the opportunity to sample, but didn’t, often because they got the ebook for free. The opinion is perfectly valid, but would that person have even chosen the book if it weren’t free?

My time is precious. I’d rather use it reading the sample, and let the product convince me whether or not to buy. Then if it doesn’t live up to my expectations, I’ll feel perfectly justified in giving my opinion.

Read the sample.

September 3, 2012


Sung to the tune of
"The Devil Went Down To Georgia"

The Devil went online to Amazon. He was lookin’ for a book to read.
He was in a funk ‘cause all he found was junk. There was nothin’ but chicken feed.
When he came across an indie author, writin’ ebooks and sellin’ ‘em - not,
And the Devil posted on the Internet, and said, “Scribe, you ain’t makin’ squat.”

"I bet you didn't know it, but I'm a published author, too.
And if you’d care to be aware, I’ll share trade secrets with you.
Now you spin a pretty good yarn there, Scribe, but give the system its due.
I’ll bet a book deal of gold against your soul I can sell more books than you.”

The indie said, "I’m an Author, and it might be a sin,
But I’ll take that bet; ‘cause I don’t want to regret that I’d do anything to win.”

Author, sharpen up your pen and write that novel hard,
‘Cause the trolls are loose on Amazon, and reviewers deal the cards,
And if you win you get this shiny book deal from trad-pub,
But if you lose - welcome to the club!

The Devil conjured up his fakes and he said, "Five-star reviews."
And lies spewed from his sock-puppets as his readership grew.
And he bought a thousand paid raves and smiled in entrepreneurial bliss.
And a band of wannabes joined in and didn’t sense anything amiss.

When the Devil wrapped up, Author said, "Well, you're pretty corrupt ol' son,
But sit down in that forum right there and let me message you how it's done."

"Fraud in the book world." Run, boys, run!
Devil's in the publishing house of the rising sun;
Public found out and he’s eatin’ crow.
Author, does your book suck? No, reader, no.

The Devil bowed his head because he knew that he'd been beat.
And he sent that golden book deal to the box on Author’s street.
Author said, "Devil, just come on back if you can’t stop bein’ a crook,
'Cause I've told you once--you son of a hack--it’s the sample that sells the book."

And he wrote:

"Fraud in the book world." Run, boys, run!
Devil's in the publishing house of the rising sun;
Public found out and he’s eatin’ crow.
Author, does your book suck? No, reader, no.