Wednesday, 1 October 2014

You Stumble Upon an Indie Who Claims to Have Sold a Million Books to African Penguins

The situation: author makes incredible claim; lack of verifiable evidence.

Your feel: anger; frustration; the desire to crush.

During your totally splendid hotshot author pursuit, you will come into contact with a lot of authors who make claims that you’d give an arm and a leg to be able to compete with. Sometimes, however, those claims seem somewhat dubious.

Doubtful claims are often so woolly that you can neither prove nor disprove them. But once in a while, you will encounter a claim so wildly unlikely, that even a blindfolded baby could detect the falsehood. But a blindfolded baby wouldn’t expose the fraudster. Should you?

On the one hand, a totally splendid hotshot author must maintain a pleasant, friendly façade. On the other hand, you’ve worked hard to get where you are today. Why should some imposter come along and start making bogus claims to fame?

Firstly, consider how easy it will be to get public opinion on your side. Look for facts that contradict the fraudster. For example, if he says he’s sold over one million copies to African penguins, check the penguin population of Africa.

If you don’t have enough evidence to sway public opinion, keep your trap shut, or you could come across as spiteful and cruel. Knowing in your heart that somebody is lying is not good enough.

If you do find yourself armed with statistics with which to rebuke his preposterous claims, pick the right place for your exposé. A public internet forum is a good option because other people will be able to look at the facts presented to them on neutral territory. It’s best not to kick up a storm on your own website, as it could mess with your carefully managed brand.

Now direct the author to the forum in which his or her integrity has been challenged. With a bit of luck, the author in question will re-evaluate his dishonest strategies and come back with a more honest marketing campaign. It has been known to happen.

However, it is much more likely that the author will continue to lie until he’s blue in the face, at which point, he will delete all his contributions to the conversation and recommence bullshitting in another corner of the internet.

Sorry, there’s no (legal) foolproof cure for lying pillocks. I’ve heard that ridiculing characters based on them in fiction can be cathartic. So let’s just say that once upon a time, a chap came along claiming to have sold millions of photocopies of his book on street corners. He was book-busking in the street when suddenly, his trousers fell down. Instead of a penis, he had a single daffodil, lying limp between the biggest load of bollocks I have ever seen. The End.

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