Favorite Things: Blog Highlights 2011-2018

I thought I’d get the new blog rolling with two posts in one day. Why not, I’m the captain of this ship, dammit. You may have missed the monster post on Marketing in 2018 as it went out in the wee hours this morning — I’m still stress testing traffic levels gradually on this new site. Anyway, that post is a lot more useful than this indulgent one of blog highlights! And yet we persist…

I’m not one for anniversaries or the like, as my long-suffering partner will attest. And I generally save sentimentality for the saloon. Look forwards, not backwards, and all that palaver. But I did indulge myself a little when closing down my old blog and dove into those 2,000,000 views you guys generated since I started in 2011. Some interesting things jumped out!

Hitler: Chart Topper?

The most popular post was not one I expected at all. “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on,” is often incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain — somewhat appropriately. But it’s a cracking insight for our Fake News era, best manifested in a 2014 post with the title of Fake Controversy Alert: Hitler’s Mein Kampf Was Not A Digital Bestseller which generated a record-breaking, site-melting 75,029 views.

Looking back, I can see now it had all the ingredients to go viral: a conspiracy theory, a massive media mistake about our industry, and some guy called Adolf. More serious is the thought of how many millions heard the lie and how few media outlets bothered putting their boots on and issuing a correction.

The journalist who wrote the original, botched piece even turned up in the comments to defend his (quite clearly debunked) article. More telling perhaps is the original publisher — Vocativ — quietly pulled it down, but not until after those sweet, sweet clicks abated. By which time that popular lie had already done some hard travelin’. I even saw it on Czech TV! As someone who tries to engineer viral stories all the time to advocate for authors’ rights, this had me choking on the lolcrys. Particularly when it all become a self-fulfilling prophecy and this global media attention actually did catapult Hitler into the charts…

Clickfarmers at #1

Hot on its heels was another post about someone who hit the charts, this time using nefarious means in the summer of 2017. Scammers Break The Kindle Store was the culmination of a lot of sleuthing. Some of which I couldn’t publish, or I’d be handing scammers a blueprint, which led to some accusations I had been sloppy and was pointing fingers on flimsy evidence.

Aside from the fact that — I hope at least — I should have some track record at this point, the clickfarm-deploying author eventually fessed up. All your sharing, propelling the story to a crazy 74,767 views helped put the pressure on Amazon to act. (For once!)

Officially Stephen Fry-proof

A bit further down the list was the article which generate the most traffic in one madcap hour. Stephen Fry tweeted a link to my post Amazon v Hachette: Don’t Believe The Spin and it almost broke WordPress with over 35,000 people clicking on it at the same time. WordPress even gave me a badge saying I was officially Stephen Fry-proof, which I felt should have really gone to that poor overworked server.

Ah, the days when I was an “Amazon shill” rather than an “Amazon hater.” It was a simpler time.

Author Solutions

Despite my persistent focus on the topic, Author Solutions was never as popular subject with my audience as people assumed. It definitely wasn’t a career move! But I felt drawn to it again and again — there was so much of that stinky onion to unravel, and I was getting leaked a ton of info that mightn’t be published anywhere else if I didn’t do it.

The two-parter The Case Against Author Solutions and Author Solutions and Friends: The Inside Story finally broke down the whole shady operation in all its mad complexity in a way that a dozen or more previous posts failed to do, quite frankly. Kind of funny that all this was playing out while the large publishers were claiming Good Guy status in their Literature Saving battles with Amazon.


But it’s not all about the bulging trousers of impressive site traffic. The posts I’m proudest of, the ones I enjoyed writing most of all, weren’t anywhere close to bringing in the biggest numbers.

Easily my favorite was the post which took the longest time to write (and wasn’t in the Top 100!). Usually I’ll get a post finished in anything from an hour or so, to maybe a day — including fiddling with bits on and off, or sleeping on something that might be controversial or under-sourced. This post, however, took weeks. The structure was a real bear. And I was also intimidated because it was about a classic article, one which was written by a hero of mine — a giant of investigative journalism, Jessica Mitford.

It was kind of the story behind the story. She broke the news of the biggest writing scam of the 1960s, one with eerie parallels to today, right down to the sales tactics and the participation of central figures in the American literary establishment, such as the founder of Random House (and host of What’s My Line?) Bennett Cerf. But what was really stunning was how he tried to kill the story… and almost succeeded too. How Jessica Mitford Exposed A $48m Scam From America’s Literary Establishment.

Oh and just for pure fun — because this was 100% satire! — was a much more recent one called NaNoWriMo Writing Prompts — Bad Boy Romance Edition. The quickest post I’ve ever written, funnily enough.

Finders Keepers

But I’m not sad to shut down the old blog. We had far outgrown it. Yes, there was a lot of good info there but it was buried and search didn’t work properly and nobody could find anything once it was five posts old.

That all changes now.

Aside from search being great (and all the old posts and comments moved across successfully), all the blog topics are broken down into six useful categories, so you can dive into the archives of your chosen flavor, or ignore the things you hate, I guess.

If you just want to read Marketing posts you can do that. Need to rummage through the Bewares posts to check up on some PSAs or doers of dodginess? You can do that too. Or if you want to avoid all the scammers for a while and binge read instead the will-they-won’t-they romance that is indies and Amazon, well, I get you, my crazy compadre.

David Gaughran

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

14 Replies to “Favorite Things: Blog Highlights 2011-2018”

  1. I just read the Jessica Mitford post and loved it. Well written and informative–a good piece of journalism about a good piece of journalism! Thanks!

    1. She had a mad life too. Such an interesting character. I recommend Poison Penmanship if you haven’t read it.

  2. The new site is wonderful, and I’m very glad you were able to bring in the old. I’ve lost entire days in your posts. They’re a treasure and so are you. Thanks for all you do, David.

    1. I remember! One of the first big KDP Select ones when we were all like Whaaaaaaaaaaat is happening?

  3. I’m not surprised that the Author Solutions posts – yours and others – don’t get more attention. So many have been either taken in by them and are too embarrassed to admit it, or, and this is more likely, they simply don’t believe it. They are customers there, have a book in their hands and believe they have been treated well. I have seen that response many times. It’s in the same camp as telling a Trump fan that he is a liar.

    1. No politics please! However tempting it maybe in these crazy-ass times…

      Nice to have one little corner of the internet without it IMO.

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