Attention Whoring and Other Underhanded Writing Gimmicks

Attention Whoring and Other Underhanded Writing Gimmicks

As a writer, I will openly tell you that some authors will do just about anything and stoop to just about any level if it means getting their stories/novels/books read.  I have already covered the widely used marketing ruse of labeling a story “true” just to get more reads, even if a good chunk of it, or even all of it, is actually fabricated.  In this article, I will explore, and you might even say “reveal,” some of the many dirty and underhanded tricks that authors have been known to do all for the sake of squeezing a few more reads out of their work or creating a buzz about a book/novel/story they are writing.

1.  Attention Whoring:  This little ploy takes all kinds of shapes and forms.  Basically it is the equivalent of over-advertising.  It is when a writer is constantly bringing up their work.  On a public forum, they will create thread after thread and make post after post giving “updates” about the work in question.  Some may even go so far as to create multiple user accounts and carry on a conversation with themselves with the alternate account (known as a “sock” account) asking all sorts of questions about the book/story/novel.  Attention whoring authors are usually easy to spot.  They often cannot seem to stop once they start posting either.  I’ve seen them dig up their own threads that had fallen into oblivion just to make a post on them with a sock account.  They usually post on a regular basis, even if it is months in between posts.  But, as I said, once they start posting, they just can’t seem to stop.  If you see a post suddenly pop up out of nowhere, chances are you are going to start seeing zombie threads suddenly being revived as well.

If they have a Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking site, they will start posting statuses that will tell, in great detail, all about what is going on with their work.  They are not content to just say, “Finishing up the final draft” or “Manuscript in final proofreading stage.”  What you will get is extensive, in-depth reviews of how many words the final work  is, how many words have been cut, how many chapters it has, how many words the synopsis is, what all genres it falls under, how many and which publishers are considering it, etc.   And if they should have a blog somewhere, the readers of the blog can expect to get a play-by-play of what is happening along with excerpts and eager replies to any and all comments.

2.  Talking with Myself:  This is an extension of the attention whoring author.  Whether it be on a public forum, a writing forum, in a writing group, or their own website, some authors will make endless sock accounts for the sole purpose of “chatting up” their own work.  They will post comments on their own threads with praise, leave comments on their own works from “fans” who will be very quick to tell the author how much he/she just loved the story and how the author is the best writer of all time.  They have even been known to create sock accounts and “review” their own work, being sure to leave lots and lots of praise, toss in a few comparisons to some of the world’s greatest literary writers, and, if the site allows any type of rating, they will consistently vote up their own works.

3.  Sabotaging the Competition:  in addition to “Talking with Myself,” some authors will use their countless sock accounts to systematically vote down other authors’ stories in an attempt to keep their own stories with a higher rating and subsequently a higher read count.  They will leave negative comments on other stories, give bad reviews, and tell other readers just how horrible so-and-so’s latest story/novel/book is.  They may or may not toss in something along the lines of, “Now if you want to read something really good, you should read such-and-such’s latest story.  It’s awesome!”

4.  Upstaging the Competition:  instead of, or even in addition to, using their countless sock accounts to vote down the competition, they will use their endless supply of sock accounts to vote positively on their own stories, giving their stories higher ratings than they normally receive and thus bumping up their own stories in the rankings.  Usually if you will start looking at the names of the accounts that have voted positive on the author’s stories, you will notice a lot of the same names appearing on their stories over and over again as having given a ‘positive’ vote.  It is usually very easy to tell who is doing this rather underhanded trick.  There are, unfortunately, a LOT of authors on the XNXX site who do this on a regular basis, giving their normally low ranking stories a very unethical advantage over those of us who actually earned our rankings by writing quality work that other readers actually wanted to read and enjoyed.

5.  Arguing with Myself:  a slight variation on the “Talkers,” some authors will create sock accounts with the sole intent of becoming their own arch nemesis on their stories.  They will leave hateful comments on their own stories.  They will post their stories on an open writing forum and then use their sock accounts to create an argument back and forth between the “members.”  One or two of the accounts will be used to leave insulting comments while several other sock accounts will come to the aid of the author in defense of how “awesome” the author is and how wrong they are for saying such horrible things.  It’s a way to create quite a buzz on a writing forum.  Soon people will go to the threads just to read what is going on and/or to find out “what all the fuss is about.”   People may discover themselves reading something that they would not normally care for just to see what is causing such a stir on the forum/site.

6.  The Blatant Thread Bump – in addition to carrying on conversations between sock accounts, authors have been known to blatantly bump up their own threads in open forums to keep the thread alive.  The difference between this and more subtle attention whoring is that the thread usually does not leave the front page of the forum in question.  Instead of allowing the thread to die out into obscurity only to be revived by a sock account a few months later (and usually from page 10), the Blatant Thread Bump authors will not let the thread drop off the front or second page in an effort to increase the exposure for the thread.  They will do anything to keep the thread alive, including, but not limited to, posting with sock accounts and under the primary account name in order to answer and thank every single post that has been made on the thread.  And, of course, there is always the pure Blatant Thread Bump where the author of the thread will go through and simply state ‘bump’ or ‘bumping this thread.’  Some authors make no pretenses at what they are doing. 

These are just a few of the devious little tricks that some writers have resorted to in order to keep interest in their stories/novels/books alive.  While these little tricks may create quite the buzz, once someone points out that the author is engaging in such activities, the once helpful buzz may very well become a buzz about how underhanded the author has become just to drive more traffic to their stories/novels/books.  Use at your own risk.  They say that even bad publicity is good publicity, but not when everyone is warning people to stay away from your work at all costs.


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