Yes, I am back from my long trip to Foreignia--Peru, specifically.
It was a great trip; we never had to go to the hospital or even see a doctor, which was a serious relief. And the place is fantastic. The high point was, of course, Machu Picchu, which really lives up to its billing--fascinating ruins in a truly awesome natural setting.
Anyway, tomorrow Foolscap starts, so I should have some posts on that soon, assuming all the stuff I have to catch up on doesn't kill me first.
Lindsay Buroker (whose books kept me mightily entertained on that 8-hour plane trip) did a post on offering subscriptions to short stories, but the main thing that intrigues me is that she's thinking about strategies to diversify writers' income streams away from Amazon. (I'm assuming that it's not a coincidence that she has another recent post about selling ARCs directly to readers.)
Obviously, if you're just getting started, Amazon appears to offer the most powerful tools for getting noticed. (And both Buroker and M. Louisa Locke have good posts on maximizing the impact of Amazon exclusivity.) But I do feel that it's important to diversify revenue sources (and marketing venues) when you can, even though it may take more effort and be less rewarding than occasionally scheduling free days on KDP Select. If diversifying was easy, fewer people would get caught in the trap of their own expectations.
And Joe Konrath says that since phony reviews don't kill anyone, there's nothing wrong with them. Right. This is pretty much what you can expect from an on-line fight. "I am becoming increasingly shrill defending something that I would never, ever do! Just because I would never do it in a million years, ever, doesn't mean that it's wrong!! You're an asshole!!! Fuck you!!!!"
The only reason I bring this up is because Konrath's moral relativism takes a different spin in the world of law enforcement. The Federal Trade Commission determined in 2009 that, yes, "paying for positive reviews without disclosing that the reviewer had been compensated equates to deceptive advertising and would be prosecuted as such."
Now, do paid reviews kill people? No. That's why you can rest assured that you won't go to death row for doing it. Will you get fined? Will you have to wear an orange jumpsuit and pick up trash along the highway? Will an ankle bracelet become your latest fashion accessory? That depends entirely on how annoyed the FTC gets about this issue. Remember how I said that ethical behavior helps you to not get sued? It also helps you avoid nasty letters sent by the district attorney's office. Something to think about.