Dark and, at times, amusing fiction from award-winning author Dave Zeltserman

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Putting John Locke's 300 paid reviews in perspective

Over the weekend the NY Times reported that mega-successful self-published author John Locke (over a million ebooks sold on Amazon) bought 300 reviews from a review mill run by Todd Rutherford who churned out 5-star reviews for money ($999 for 50 reviews). According to the article, Locke instructed Rutherford “If someone doesn’t like my book they should feel free to say so.” but this was an outfit that paid their freelancers full-price only for 5-star reviews, and pumped their fake reviews out as fast as they could (one of Rutherford's freelancers claimed in the NY Times piece that she spent no more than 15 minutes with any one book), so the odds are pretty high that Locke got only 5-star reviews from Rutherford and freelancers who spent little time looking at his books.

Why is this so significant, other than grossly misleading potential book buyers? Because Amazon's algorithms select books to promote through direct mail based on the number of reviews a book gets and their average rating. Locke further hid this by having Rutherford and his freelancers buy his ebooks directly from Amazon (as opposed to distributing them freely) so that the reviews would show up from verified customers, and also so the sales would help trigger Amazon's algorithms.

The article also has Locke stating: “My first marketing goal was to get five five-star reviews. that’s it. But you know what? It took me almost two months!” After he bought those 300 fake reviews, things changed quickly for him as Amazon quickly sold 15,000 ebooks, which kept Amazon's algorithms triggering all the way to over a million sales.

To put those 300 fake reviews in perspective, especially coming to a little known author in such a short time, I've had 10 books traditionally published, the first, Fast Lane, showing up on Amazon in 2004. I've also put out additionally as ebooks 3 collections of short fiction, two original novellas and two original novels. Since 2004, the total number of reviews these books have gotten on Amazon: 204. number of 5-star: 156.

This is why so many authors are so angry seeing that NY Times piece. 1000s of us have tried to act with integrity, and build up our readerships honestly, and seeing how Locke so successfully gamed Amazon with this deceptive and dishonest act is like a slap in the face. Make it an uppercut to the jaw.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MONSTER “Magnificently Horrific”

Dave Zeltserman’s Monster is a surprisingly profound reimagining of the Mary Shelley horror classic Frankenstein (1818). Narrated from the monster’s perspective, the abomination in this retelling is eloquent, compassionate, and nothing short of heroic.

Book critic Paul Goat Allen gives MONSTER a rave review over at B&N's SciFi and Fantasy Blog.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Interview + Monster dissected on MyBookishWays

Over on MyBookishWays, I talk about Monster, writing and other stuff, and Monster also gets a thorough dissection!

"Eloquently written (like a certain classic that comes to mind), Monster will take you on a journey of death, rebirth, and vengeance, and is about a man trying desperately not to sink to the depths of his tormenter. I fell in love with Hoffman, and his grief, not only at losing Johanna, but at his own condition, is palpable on every page. However, rays of light do shine through the darkness, and kindness comes from some of the most unexpected places. During his journey, he will encounter vampyres, satanic cults, and more, and it will take him to a crumbling castle, where all will be revealed. Or will it? Brace yourself when Friedrich reaches that castle. Frankenstein is a villain that will make your skin crawl, and is the ultimate embodiment of evil. He even outdoes the Marquis, and that says quite a lot. Monster weighs in at just over 200 pages, but manages to pack a huge punch. If you’re a fan of Frankenstein and the mythos that surrounds it, and love literary horror, this one’s for you."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bookreporter on MONSTER: "every page a joy to read"

BookReporter on MONSTER: "Zeltserman follows Shelley’s roadmap just enough to infuse the proceedings with a degree of familiarity, yet his point of view and unique deviations from the original story make every page a joy to read.... MONSTER is a book that horror fans and literature aficionados can read with equal gusto."

Read BookReporter's review here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Couple of Q&As and Bookgasm on MONSTER

Right now I'm over at Overlook's website and at Tony Black's Pulp Pusher talking about MONSTER, writing and other subjects.

Over at Bookgasm, Bruce Grossman has written a rave review for MONSTER, where among other things he calls MONSTER one of the best books of 2012.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Boston's public radio station WBUR takes a long and critical look at MONSTER:

Zeltserman keeps the action moving relentlessly forward with minimal padding, either in terms of plot or prose. The action is tight and there’s no shade of purple in his style, but there’s plenty going on thematically.

To read this thoughtful critique, click here

Newsday has also give MONSTER a short but nice writeup

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bollywood star puts FAST LANE in stellar company

I found this very cool. Bollywood star, Soha Ali Khan, was recently talking about John Grisham's The Confession and mentioned some of her other favorite books, including Silence of the Lambs, Crime and Punishment, and oh yeah, Fast Lane (formerly In His Shadow).

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Monster "ingenious"

Monster has received another rave view, this one from the Historical Novels Review , who writes in part:

"Dave Zeltserman’s Monster is an ingenious interpretation of Shelley’s tale...[his] highly readable style harmonizes beautifully with its 19th century European setting. Monster is a must-read for anyone who enjoys horror stories, and shivers when Boris Karloff’s pale fingers twitch back into life."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

More about my latest novel MONSTER

My latest novel, MONSTER, is available now as both a hardcover and ebook (Kindle, Nook, etc.). In Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN, Victor Frankenstein creates his monster out of a misguided youthful obsessions. In my book, Frankenstein has a far more sinister purpose for his creation, and everything he had told Captain Walton while dying aboard Walton's ship was a lie to protect his reputation. Now the monster finally gets to tell what really happened.

MONSTER is very much a horror novel, but it's also a story of good versus evil, and a very human story as the monster desperately tries to retain whatever remains of his humanity as he also seeks vengeance against a man who has horribly wronged him.

Here is what people are saying about MONSTER:

"Repudiating the 'outrageous fabrication' of Victor Frankenstein's story as told by Mary Shelley is the aim of this imaginative and grotesque novel from the revisionist perspective of the monster . . . Zeltserman's monster is every bit as eloquent as Shelley's, though his rage is more focused.This is juicy material for Franken-fans, and Zeltserman is just faithful enough to the original that his many fresh contributions feel entirely normal. Well, abnormal, to be accurate, but deliciously so." -Daniel Kraus, Booklist (*Starred Review*)

"This reworking of Frankenstein is chilling and captivating! A tale of justice, true love, and ultimate forgiveness, this gruesome novel is perfect for fans of Stephen King and similar horror stories." -ForeWord Magazine (*Pick of the Week*)

"A graphic, brutal story with heart and soul" - Crimespree Magazine

"A masterpiece of originality, beauty, ugliness, eloquence, wisdom and power" -Ed Gorman, author of Ticket to Ride

"When award season rolls around, this one's going to be a major contender" -Bill Crider, author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series

"Brilliant reimagining of Frankenstein: faithful enough to delight lovers of Mary Shelley's masterpiece, but wonderfully inventive as it takes the monster on a bloody quest for vengeance" -Roger Smith, author of Wake Up Dead

"Dave Zeltserman continues to expertly explore the depths of darkness with MONSTER" -Paul Tremblay, author of The Little Sleep

Thursday, August 2, 2012

MONSTER unleashed!

MONSTER has been unleashed and is available now in bookstores everywhere. Be afraid... be very afraid...