Don’t Do This! Pt 1 – Self Publishing Company Shill

I hope there’s not wailing and gnashing of teeth at this announcement, but I’m not posting tomorrow. You’ll have to wait ‘til next week (Monday unless a more urgent post presents itself) for Don’t Do This! Pt 2 – The Single Worst Line I’ve Read This Year in a Published Novel.

Try to contain your disappointment. Man up. Rub some dirt on it.

I have three reasons for writing this blog:

First, and don’t ever think that this isn’t my first priority, to help me sell books (when I actually, you know, have books to sell).

Second, to organize my thoughts and make me a better writer.

Third, and this is the one that I’m concentrating on with this post, is to help make you a better writer.

I make no ethical or moral judgments about what you write. If you’re creating the great American novel, I want you to create a greater American novel. If you want to get across a political point, I don’t care whether that point is conservative, moderate, or liberal; I just want to help you get that point across better through a good story. If you want to arouse your reader with erotica, I want you to pen the most titillating prose you can. And, if you want to shill for a self publishing company, I want you to write the best darn shill post you can.

When I encountered this post yesterday, it bothered me. Again, not because it’s a total shill for a particular self publishing company, but because it’s so obviously a shill for a self publishing company.

C’mon man! If you’re going to do such a thing, can you try not to make it quite so obvious? For one thing, the author mentions the name of the company 8 times in a short post. The author also goes far beyond just linking to that company’s website; she (if the author is, indeed, female) also links to their FB page, twitter account, LinkedIn account, Myspace page (news to me that Myspace still exists), and gives a phone number.

If you’re going to do it, do it well.

That’s still not the worst thing, though. My biggest issue is that the shill didn’t get inside the head of the character they created to tell their “story.”

Let’s think about this “person,” Sherry Smithen, for a moment. We’re supposed to picture a lady who is new enough to writing to not have any books out (I searched for an Amazon author page) but who is far enough along to have “partnered” with a self publishing company. Intuitively, this means she probably has a book in the advanced stages of completion.

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I did after I finished an advanced draft of my book was to start a blog in which I don’t mention the title, genre, or, even in passing, the subject of my book but instead sing the praises of the wonderful service someone provided me.


Get inside the head of this shill. Make her a character. Give her a background story. What book did she write? Why did she write it? What’s her journey and character arc?

It takes an intelligent man to learn for his mistakes. It takes a wise man to learn from the mistakes of others.

Let’s all be wise and learn a valuable lesson even from this transparent shill attempt — Get inside the head of your character.


4 thoughts on “Don’t Do This! Pt 1 – Self Publishing Company Shill

    • Truthfully, I’m kinda wondering the point. It’s so poorly done, that it’s hard to see the value. Then again, creating an account is free, and they spent very little time on it…

      • Not only do people fall for this, but there is an entire “economy” developing over this type of thing. If you ever try to find online work for writers, then a large majority of it is writing shill reviews, blogs and even articles. The pay is frequently miserable, to a few cents per review to 5-10 dollars per blog or article. As much as I want to write professionally (and have had article writing for $10/article recommended to me by a few people), I can’t justify selling out to that level.

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