David Louis Edelman David Louis Edelman

A Guide to Ethical Self-Promotion

Update 11/18/09: Thanks to Mainer 122’s comment below, I’ve just become aware of a blog post by Stanek containing what appears to be the original of the photo below. Looks like it might be authentic after all — or at least a Photoshopped version of an authentic photo of Stanek with Brian Jacques. In which case I owe Mr. Stanek an apology, at least about the photo. I’ll reserve judgment for now about the fake reviews and web postings. (And for the record, I’ve never questioned Mr. Stanek’s military service.)

I’ve recently become aware of a fantasy author named Robert Stanek. Many of you reading this have probably already heard of him, but I’m a little behind the curve.

Why might you have heard of Robert Stanek? Because he’s an unparalleled master of the fantasy genre? Well, I haven’t read any of Mr. Stanek’s work, so I’ll reserve judgment about his “Keeper Martin” series of novels. Go ahead, check ’em out for yourself. No, this sleazebucket author is known for his tireless deceptive acts of self-promotion. (Update 11/18/09: Okay, so I’ve had a change of heart about calling the guy a sleazebucket. Sue me.) He creates fan sites for his self-published work, writes hundreds of anonymous 5-star reviews for his books on Amazon, and invents online readers who compare his work favorably to that of J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling.

Brian Jacques and Photoshopped Robert StanekAnd if all that wasn’t bad enough, Stanek actually Photoshopped himself into a picture with renowned YA fantasy author Brian Jacques. Here it is, on the right. Take a careful look — hell, you don’t even have to take a careful look. Either Mr. Stanek is a contortionist, he’s a vampire from the waist down, or he forgot to Photoshop in a pair of legs underneath the table. Don’t take my word for it; the original is still up on the “#1 Robert Stanek fan site on the web.” Read more about this photo on CrapAuthors.com, including comments (supposedly) from Brian Jacques’ webmaster confirming it’s a fake. (Update 11/18/09: Looks like these links no longer exist.)

(Oh yes, in case you’re wondering, I did in fact post this photo without permission, despite a right-click warning from the site. Why would I do that? Well, I figure that it’s a fairly good bet that Stanek doesn’t have permission to post it either. If Stanek tries to sic a lawyer on me — or a fake lawyer, which he has done before — I could get some pretty good mileage out of posting all the correspondence. Besides, do you think anyone would actually threaten legal action over a doctored photo?)

In Stanek’s defense, I have to say that I understand the desperation that leads to these kinds of self-promotional measures. You walk into Megacorporate Bookstore hoping to find your book on the shelves… and you do! One copy! Meanwhile, there are piles and piles of Crappy Author X’s books in a fancy display at the front of the store, not necessarily because they’re better books, but because Megacorporate Publisher Y paid to put them on a fancy display at the front of the store.

And I say all this as a new author who’s been extremely fortunate to have gotten lots of attention from the SF world online, to have a large independent publisher that’s been gung-ho about the book since the beginning, and to have gotten nominated for a major SF award. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to try to make it in this business without those things.

So lots of us smaller-fish authors will contemplate innovative (read: shady) promotional techniques to get noticed. We remind our friends again and again over e-mail that Amazon is still accepting reader reviews, should the urge strike them. We try to oh-so-innocuously slip a mention of the title of our books in the comments of more established writers’ blogs. We post trackback links to bigger fish in hopes that they’ll notice us. We have friends who will routinely turn our books around on bookstore shelves so the cover faces out instead of the spine.

I think most of us want to play by the rules. But what are the rules? Where’s the line drawn between enthusiastic self-promotion and unethical self-promotion? Sometimes it’s hard to tell, and every author seems to draw that line in a different place.

Here are the guidelines I try to follow myself in my own self-promotional efforts. I’d be curious to know where both readers and writers stand, so feel free to add your two cents in the comments.

User car salesman holding 'Infoquake'1. Tell no lies. There are plenty of moral gray areas about what constitutes a lie and what constitutes a simple exaggeration. But some things we can all agree on. Don’t claim you’ve won an award if you haven’t. Don’t claim you’ve been nominated for an award if you haven’t. Don’t state your book has been translated into Japanese, Urdu, and Welsh if it hasn’t. Don’t Photoshop yourself into a snapshot of Brian Jacques in an attempt to convince people that you’re his buddy.

2. Make no patently misleading statements. Avoid the temptation to try to mislead through statements that are technically not lies, but might as well be. If your book gets a 5-star rating somewhere, but it’s a rating system that goes up to 10, don’t proclaim in bold type that your book was given 5 stars. If your book gets a rave review by William Gibson, but it’s William Gibson the plumber from Mississippi, don’t try to pretend otherwise.

3. Avoid glaring sins of omission. This is a difficult guideline to follow, because it’s very subjective. Don’t use ellipses to claim that your book is “an absolutely terrific… thriller” when the actual review states that your book is “an absolutely terrific example of what not to do when writing a thriller.” Don’t try to sell to a group of Vietnam vets by claiming that your book has a Vietnam vet in it, while conveniently forgetting to mention that said character gets run over by a truck on page 4.

4. You have no obligation to point out the negative. The converse of #3 is that you have no obligation to go out of your way to point out the bad stuff. There’s an understood bias present in all promotional efforts, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re paying for your promotional effort, so you get to focus on the parts that put you in a good light. (On the other hand, if you want to post your bad reviews as a nice little publicity stunt or a way to highlight the good reviews, there’s nothing wrong with that either.)

5. Don’t impose an unnecessary burden. Mailing postcards to strangers is an acceptable way of getting the message out about your book (though whether it’s effective is another question altogether). There’s very little burden to the recipient; they can tell within seconds if they’re interested, and it’s easy enough to recycle those suckers. Ambushing people in bookstores to try to sell them your book is crossing the line, because it puts the burden of refusal on the customer.

6. No means no. All of us males who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s are aware of that dating guideline which states that “no means no.” If you’re on second base and she’s simply not interested in exploring the wonders of third base, you don’t overpower her and steal that sucker anyway. It’s immoral, it’s illegal, and it’s just plain wrong. Likewise, you shouldn’t badger potential customers into buying your book. Once your potential reader actively says no to you — take me off your mailing list, stop sending me crap in the mail, please stop serenading my dorm room in the middle of the night with ditties about your novel — then you stop.

7. Respect the competition. Savaging another author’s book solely for the purpose of drawing attention to your book is a no-no. (I’ll make an exception for Mr. Stanek.) That doesn’t mean you can’t respectfully disagree with another author’s point of view. It means that self-promotion is not a winner-take-all game, and your promotional efforts shouldn’t be done at the expense of another author. The reader can buy that other guy’s book promoting the single-bullet theory of the JFK assassination and your book claiming that it was really Dwight D. Eisenhower who pulled the trigger. (Oh, you think Ike wasn’t bitter about his VP losing the election in 1960 to some Harvard pretty boy? Puh-leaze.)

8. Keep your promotional activities above board. Don’t post glowing reviews of your books on Amazon under assumed names. Don’t start up your own fan websites. Don’t go through the phone book and call bookstores anonymously asking if they stock this amazing new book you’ve just heard about. In fact, any time a marketing activity involves the use of pseudonyms, that should raise a red flag. You should be able to list your marketing activities in a public forum with your head held high.

9. When in doubt, abide by general community standards. That means both abiding by the standards of the audience and the medium. Hacking into people’s cell phones to send them promotional messages about your book might be a clever gimmick at the Black Hat hackers’ convention; it probably won’t fly when you try to do the same thing outside the local mall.

10. Don’t pretend your book is all-important. Yes, you should take your promotional activities seriously. But understand that you can’t take it too seriously. You can feel justified running red lights, parking in handicapped spots, and driving on the shoulder if your wife is in the back seat going into labor. But if you’re running 10 minutes late to a reading? Um, no. Have some perspective. No reason to compromise your ethics just to get ahead in the literary world.

Comments RSS Feed

  1. brian on August 18, 2007 at 11:40 am  Chain link

    At least he’s not holding a copy of his book in the fake photo – maybe there are limits.

  2. […] finally, David Louis Edelmn has some advice on how to self-promote with ethical integrity: “3. Avoid glaring sins of omission. This is a difficult guideline to follow, because it’s […]

  3. Todd Wheeler on August 19, 2007 at 12:01 am  Chain link

    Ambushing people in bookstores to try to sell them your book is crossing the line, because it puts the burden of refusal on the customer.

    A question on #5. I’ve read advice on booksignings which advocated being up and about, introducing oneself to customers, rather than being passive sitting at the table.

    Do you see an ethical issue with being active at a booksigning, or is the issue with just showing up unannounced and glad-handing customers? Or both? Or neither? :-)

  4. David Louis Edelman on August 19, 2007 at 2:44 am  Chain link

    Todd: I know there is some difference of opinion on #5. Some authors (particularly the legendary self-promoter JA Konrath) advocate doing what you’re suggesting. I suppose it all depends on how it’s done. There’s a happy medium between just sitting there passively and walking around cajoling people into checking out your book.

    Personally I would subscribe to the “eye contact” test. Hang around near the table and feel free to introduce yourself to people who appear to have some curiosity about what you’re doing. If the other person just waves you off or quickly breaks eye contact and moves away, I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable approaching them.

    Showing up unannounced and glad-handing customers strikes me as a bad idea all around, because it’s likely to piss off the bookstore management and the customers. But again, all depends how you do it.

    These are all just opinions… feel free to agree or disagree with them, or add principles of your own.

  5. Dave Hutchinson on August 19, 2007 at 6:16 pm  Chain link

    That really is the most…extraordinary thing. I’ve been living a sheltered life; I had no idea people did that kind of thing.

  6. John Self on August 22, 2007 at 2:58 am  Chain link

    Wise words indeed. How I laughed at the stuff about Stanek! (Do you think he made up the cancer on his blog for sympathy purposes? I wouldn’t put it past him.) You should look into his British equivalent Sean Wright sometime. He’s just ‘great’.

  7. Cori Richards on August 27, 2007 at 9:55 am  Chain link

    I bought some of Robert Stanek’s books on Amazon earlier this summer, due to all positive reviews and lists that include his books among books I like. They were for my children, but as soon as I took a quick look over the cover and some of the writing I knew they were vanity efforts.

    The books were so poorly written that I began to wonder about the reviews from the many “parents”, “teachers”, “librarians” that I read on Amazon (who oddly enough, seemed mainly to review books only by Stanek”).

    A quick search on Google for “Robert Stanek and fake reviews” turns up this page and many others that explore his scamming techniques.

    I’m surprised he is still allowed to sell books on Amazon.

  8. David Louis Edelman on August 27, 2007 at 11:39 am  Chain link

    I’m surprised he is still allowed to sell books on Amazon.

    I’m not sure I’d go so far as to ban Stanek from Amazon. Maybe it would help to have more community reputation features on the reviewers, kind of like eBay does for sellers. (Although of course eBay has plenty of problems with this kind of stuff too.)

  9. George Pedrosa on August 27, 2007 at 1:45 pm  Chain link

    “I’ve been living a sheltered life; I had no idea people did that kind of thing.”

    Indeed… I never thought someone would do this kind of thing.

  10. Mike Briggs on April 28, 2008 at 1:25 pm  Chain link

    I think your take on ethics in self-promotion is spot on, and I applaud you for it. In fact, I’ve linked this to my two bits on author promotion on Patricia Briggs’ home page hoping to direct a few more eyeballs to your excellent article.
    Warm Regards,
    Mike Briggs

  11. David Louis Edelman on April 28, 2008 at 1:34 pm  Chain link

    Mike: Thanks! More eyeballs are always appreciated, especially if they’re attached to more wallets. :-)

  12. Peter Durward Harris on April 28, 2008 at 6:01 pm  Chain link

    Your article makes particularly interesting reading reading in view of the scandal surronding a small publisher called Highland Press and one of its people in particular, Deborah MacGillivray.

    I’ve been an Amazon customer since 1999 and I’ve followed all the intrigue surrounding Amazon since October 2002, at which point I soon discovered MacGillivray and I wasn’t impressed even then. Somehow, your story escaped my attention at the time, but meanwhile it seems that MacGillivray was wreaking havoc elsewhere.

    In my “Amazon topics” blog, I set up a page about MacGillivray. As I write this, my page mainly comprises links to other pages, but I expect that eventually I’ll provide my own summary and analysis.

    MacGillivray prefers to use pictures showing her as a young woman, but somebody found a fairly recent picture taken at a book signing session. Notice that people aren’t exactly queueing up to see her.

  13. Sandy on May 12, 2008 at 12:19 pm  Chain link

    “If Stanek tries to sic a lawyer on me — or a fake lawyer, which he has done before — I could get some pretty good mileage out of posting all the correspondence. Besides, do you think anyone would actually threaten legal action over a doctored photo?)”

    True – but you run the risk of Stanek writing negative reviews of your books with his many Amazon accounts (which he primarily uses to write fake reviews of his own books).

  14. David Louis Edelman on May 12, 2008 at 1:11 pm  Chain link

    That’s a very good point, Sandy. Though these days I don’t seem to have trouble attracting 1-star Amazon reviews on my own. As far as I can tell, the folks who have given my book low ratings so far seem to be folks who legitimately read and disliked the book. But I’ll keep my eyes peeled…

  15. Casey on June 4, 2008 at 3:53 pm  Chain link

    You forgot to mention that Stanek is self published. You also forgot to mention that Stanek claims to have won the Distinguished Flying Cross even though the Distinguished Flying Cross Society has never heard of him.

  16. […] David Louis Edelman (A Guide to Ethical Self-Promotion) […]

  17. Margaret Garside on July 14, 2008 at 5:25 pm  Chain link

    Good advice. Mr. Edelman.

    I’m self-published, and I’ve had some small luck in getting people to read my work. Mr. Stanek’s shenanigans give all of us a bad name. First he writes lousy books, and then he stoops to dodginess or outright crime to promote them.

    I think that Mr. Stanek’s over-the-top efforts are indicative of a MASSIVE insecurity, if not out-right mental illness.

  18. Curiousity Kitty on September 17, 2008 at 9:12 pm  Chain link

    It would appear the military forgot about his Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross Honor, also.http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Category:Recipients_of_US_Distinguished_Flying_Cross&from=S

  19. Ducking Messenger on October 15, 2008 at 10:20 pm  Chain link

    I’ve been following this story around the net (yes, I’m late on the scene) and I can’t back up his claims, either. I’ve tried. Now I find he was starved as a child, forced to eat flour and water (otherwise called paste) for weeks at a time. And he keeps talking about his publisher as if it’s not him.

    But, please don’t shoot me when I say, that I have taken the photo into Photoshop and applied a few photo images tricks to it, basically reducing it to lines and color where the pixels overlap to create a blend of color, and I think he really is in that photo, on his knees, or perhaps on a child’s metal stool with his knees almost on the ground and his pants bagging down a bit, leaning slightly forward. I can see metal legs, but can’t tell if they’re to the table or a small stool. The only portion where the pixels looked questionable was where the two men’s arms touch, but if that was faked, then the entire right side of the image was faked and it’s not.

  20. David Louis Edelman on October 16, 2008 at 2:09 pm  Chain link

    Ducking Messenger: Well, if this is a bona fide photo, then I’ll be glad to offer the guy a public apology. There used to be a discussion up on that CrapAuthors site wherein Brian Jacques’ webmaster said the photo was doctored, but the whole CrapAuthors site seems to have vanished.

  21. J. Michael Kunkel on October 30, 2008 at 7:52 pm  Chain link

    Below is my review submitted today to Amazon. First and foremost I would have to agree with post number 5 above from Mr. Hutchison who states ” I’ve been living a sheltered life; I had no idea people did that kind of thing.” I just can’t seem to reach terminal velocity from the state of rebirth of ” there’s a sucker born every minute.” Live and learn.

    Pap that never should have been published, October 30, 2008
    By John M. Kunkel (Colorado, USA) – See all my reviews

    I am outraged! As a fantasy fan for over 40 years, I requested my local library locate Keeper Martin’s Tale through an inter-library loan based on the 4.7 out of 5 stars book review on Amazon .
    Unbeknownst to me, our kindly librarian ordered the first five Stanek novels, all brand new. After reading 30 pages, I couldn’t believe this material was allowed to be published. It’s rank junior high school prose at best. I don’t believe Stanek knows what a thesauras is.

    Kudos to the other 1 star reviews forewarning the second novel is trash too. The tragedy is our poor local library is short on funds, and spent a fair amount of money on such unworthy literature, based on my excitement of the Amazon 4.7 rating. I plan on emailing Stanek at his website and ask if he will refund our library’s money. At least Stanek compelled me to write my first literary review.

  22. B. Faubel on October 31, 2008 at 12:46 am  Chain link

    I followed this link from Patricia Brigg’s site–thank you!
    I’m with Dave Hutchinson on this…I had no idea, but now I am warned

  23. Dr. Robert Runte on November 5, 2008 at 1:41 am  Chain link

    Fascinating. But the thing is, it’s all doomed from the get go. Even if the glowing reviews on Amazon convinced me to buy a book from this guy (which is highly unlikely — I only take recommendations from literate reviews, and fake raves are unlikely to convince me; plus I always look up the publisher if I don’t already know them, and would spot a one author self-publisher pretty readily), once I got to page 6 and thrown the book across the room, he’d be off my list, so what’s the point? And I’d write a review in print as part of my regular column and he’s off 300 people’s list. In the long run, quality will out. (Though I guess if that were true, the shelves at my local bookstore would look quite different.)

  24. Margaret Tanner on November 9, 2008 at 5:05 am  Chain link

    Hi David,
    I just had to reply, I couldn’t help myself. I hail from Australia and I don’t know whether it is my Aussie sense of humour or not, but your article, and the comments sent me into such fits of laughter my husband rushed upstairs to check on me. He thought I had finally snapped and gone crazy.

    That man is so despicable and downright sneaky, it is scarey. People like that do tremendous damage to other writers. I wish there was something that could be done about charlatans like him. That man is seriously dangerous.
    Margaret Tanner
    Romance Author

  25. The Me Project: Day 3 « Life Begins at 41…or maybe 43 on November 18, 2008 at 8:08 pm  Chain link

    […] efforts I came across personally several years ago). David Louis Edelman offers a good post about ethical self-promotion for […]

  26. A. Turner on December 10, 2008 at 2:50 am  Chain link

    What Robert Stanek is doing should not be called self promotion. It should be called illegal marketing pratices. Surely there are laws that prohibit this sort of fraud?

  27. […] 33) http://www.davidlouisedelman.com/book-promotion/ethical-self-promotion/ […]

  28. Evil Fruit Lord on January 25, 2009 at 4:38 pm  Chain link

    Ducking Messenger–I’ve looked the thing over in Photoshop too. I agree that there may actually be some legs there, although they are definitely indistinct and don’t seem to me to totally match up correctly with the position an proportions of the upper body, in my opinion. That said, I’m pretty convinced that there is evidence of doctoring in two places. The first is, as you mention, where the two men’s shoulders meet. The other, the most obvious in my opinion, is the area of his shirt around his hands. The edge of the table is a bit fishy, too, actually, but it’s hard to say. I think what he did was take out some one else’s upper body, left the hands and legs, and slapped himself in there.

    The Archive.org copies of crapauthors.com seem to be missing the Stanek page…I was looking for the info from Brian Jacques webmaster.

  29. Margaret Tanner on January 25, 2009 at 5:44 pm  Chain link

    Hi David,
    Just dropping by from Australia.
    I have just scrolled through the previous messages to refresh my memory. I write historical fiction so I have a great imagination. Maybe your “friend” is a double amputee????? That would explain the lack of legs???


  30. C.W.Smoke on February 2, 2009 at 3:09 pm  Chain link

    Yes, I am an aspiring writer of fantasy & sf, and yes, I was in a hurry when I purchased Stanek’s first book, and yes, after reading three pages, immediately searched for and found the author’s bio and discovered that he is self published. I then looked more closely at his unsigned ‘testimonials’ leading me to do some internet research that corroborated the fact that the only plausible fantasies in his book are his credentials. I returned the book and got my money back (which I seldom, if ever, do)…

    Writers like Stanek convey a bad odor to the olfactory center in my brain, and do no service to serious writers which is why I am actually commenting on his work. I shall now go to Amazon and Barnes & Noble (where I purchased this deception) and write appropriate reviews.

  31. Margaret Tanner on February 2, 2009 at 5:11 pm  Chain link

    Hi C.W. Smoke.
    Greetings from Australia.
    Yes, it must have been disappointing for you to buy what you thought was a professionally published book, then have it turn out to be something entirely different. I don’t blame you for feeling ripped off. I didn’t realise that Barnes & Noble stocked self published books.


  32. Margaret Garside on February 3, 2009 at 3:34 pm  Chain link

    Let’s remember, not all self-published books are poorly-written garbage. Nor are all self-published authors egregious frauds when it comes to promotion. Stanek is in some twisted class all by himself.

  33. Laughing at stanek on March 18, 2009 at 4:00 am  Chain link

    I went to his sight and was reading the forum dialog, you can tell all the people posting the rave reviews on there are from one source, they all have he same grammatical peculiarities. I wonder how many aliases he uses on that forum LOL

  34. […]  http://www.davidlouisedelman.com/book-promotion/ethical-self-promotion/ […]

  35. Amy Duncan on May 4, 2009 at 9:19 am  Chain link

    In addition to the fake 5 star reviews, Stanek also gets negative reviews removed by claiming they violate the terms of use. I was deceived into buying his books and it took me no time to see how utterly bad they books are. I was so outraged and posted my first review at Amazon. Imagine my surprise and disgust when I was informed by Amazon that it had been removed. I begged Amazon to read it for themselves but, failing that, demanded and received a full refund, including shipping. What a fraud.

  36. Beth Brown on June 8, 2009 at 4:29 pm  Chain link

    From a small-fish author, THANK YOU for this excellent post.

    I’ve had the misfortune to witness some of this sort of behavior from several authors at book festivals and writing conferences. Why do the culprits never seem to notice everyone trying to make a fast getaway when they approach? I guess they’re too wrapped up in their self-importance.

  37. […] [2] http://www.davidlouisedelman.com/book-promotion/ethical-self-promotion/ […]

  38. Genrewonk » Publishing is not a Zero-Sum game on June 24, 2009 at 8:01 am  Chain link

    […] you, other than sell better?  I mean, at least I can understand the motive behind you going after David Louis Edelman, I mean he did let everyone know how you (badly) Photoshopped yourself into a book signing.   […]

  39. […]  http://www.davidlouisedelman.com/book-promotion/ethical-self-promotion/ […]

  40. Addendum To The Mystery Author Post « The Graveyard on August 27, 2009 at 2:03 pm  Chain link

    […] seeing as how I had to go hunting for information on the guy. David Louis Edelman’s excellent blog – has a great post with photographic evidence that Stanek is less than honorable in his […]

  41. Claudia Johnson on September 6, 2009 at 2:31 pm  Chain link

    Here is another interesting link —

    This shows that Robert Stanek owns and runs Reagent “Press” and that he publishes all of his fiction books.

    Thus – I would not put much faith in the claim that he is an “international best selling author” (which is printed boldly on the cover of all the newer versions of his self-published Reagent Press books).

    I also suspect that the 2-3 other authors (with very fake sounding names such as J.R. King or Jay Giles) who have a book or two on the reagent press website are just pseudonyms or friends of Robert Stanek. Probably just an effort to make Reagent Press appear to be an actual publisher instead of just a self-publishing vanity front.

  42. S.J.A.Turney on September 16, 2009 at 6:52 am  Chain link

    I’m pleased to see this. I looked very carefully down the list and am pretty sure I don’t fall foul of your suggestions. I’m actually published POD, but I’m trying to gain the exposure to secure an agent and traditional publisher. As such, I want my name to be clear. I believe in my works enough that I’ve no intention of writing fake reviews.

    I’ve specifically told friends, contacts and strangers alike that I want reviews, but I want real reviews, even if they’re bad. So far, one of my two books has been given stunning reviews, the other a little shakier, but I’m happy with that. At least they’re genuine. I’ve also tried to discourage my family from reviewing them, though one review had crept in.

    The one place I’ve found where the line is particularly blurred is in forum posting. Posting adverts, news and so on about your books on forums (fora in Latin I believe) is a great way to gain exposure. Some forums happily allow this, some grudgingly and some not at all. I’ve tried to avoid posting on anywhere where it’s forbidden, but I’ve accidentally done it a couple of times. If I’ve been notified, I immediately remove the post and apologise.

    It’s all a matter of courtesy, I think. I certainly hope I never get compared to Mr Stanek, who sounds like the most reprehensible type to me. I hope that some time an agent or publisher will consider taking me on based at least partially on the fact that I have been above board all the way.


  43. Peter Jones on October 5, 2009 at 8:07 am  Chain link

    This is a great list — and so far I’m innocent of all charges (but then I barely even count as POD, since I’m not trying to sell my own books at all… :-))

    However, regardless of any other tactics Mr Stanek may have employed, I really can’t see the problem with this photo. The text accompanying the photo on the “Stanek fan site” makes it clear that it was taken at a book signing where Stanek and his kids met Brian Jacques — and that it was taken by “H. Stanek”, presumably his wife; it makes no claim to lifelong friendships between Stanek and Jacques… (On the same page there is another link to a photo of Stanek with R A Salvatore — again, at a book signing where Stanek has gone up to have his photo taken with the guest author. Hardly a crime…) It looks a little odd, no doubt because Stanek is kneeling awkwardly so all his kids can fit into the frame…

    Is this image photoshopped? Undoubtedly. You can clearly see in the reflections on the table in front of Stanek that he was wearing a shirt with a big white logo (or word) on the front; if anything I’d guess that he (or whoever posted the image) felt the shirt’s message was inappropriate for public consumption and has filled it with the blue of the shirt…

  44. #9 on November 10, 2009 at 9:12 pm  Chain link

    Geez … don’t know why this author is still allowed to sell on Amazon. They must have received tons of complaints (I just sent one in becasue I bought one of his absurd books due to the false reviewing). And they should kick off all those Microsoft books by his alter-ego William R. Stanek, while they’re at it. They have obvious fake reviews too.

  45. Mainer 122 on November 18, 2009 at 6:05 pm  Chain link

    The photo is real – he actually was at that table with Brian Jacques.

    Where he screwed up is he used Photoshop to take out Jacques’ coffee cup and put his own book in front of him, which screwed up both the table and his arm, and made it look fake. And the reason his legs aren’t in the photo you posted above is he tried to take them out as well, with that grey blob, since they show he was crouching behind the table and not actually sitting in a chair, as an author at the signing.

    But you can tell he was really there by the lighting – flash from front, shadow to left on the kid’s shirt (same as Jacques on wall), tungsten fill from the right. You can also see the original, untouched photo here:


    For more proof, I opened his photo in Photoshop, checked the metadata, and it was taken on Oct. 22, 2005, at 3:14 pm. No clue what Jacques’ schedule was that year, but it was actually taken in 2005, just as Stanek states in that post.

    I can’t say anything else in defense of the guy, just that it’s ironic that he got slammed for not being there when he actually was there and simply tried to make it look like he was an author at the signing.

  46. Mainer 122 on November 18, 2009 at 6:07 pm  Chain link

    Whoops – you can see the original, untouched photos here.


  47. David Louis Edelman on November 18, 2009 at 9:29 pm  Chain link

    Hmm. Thanks for pointing that out, Mainer 122. The other photos posted on his blog of him and Brian Jacques do indeed look authentic to me. If Stanek really was there and just did a bad Photoshopping job of it, then I do indeed owe him an apology. I’ve updated this article with a note at the top.

  48. Mainer 122 on November 18, 2009 at 10:16 pm  Chain link

    Thanks, David. For more proof, I opened his photo in Photoshop, checked the metadata, and it was taken on Oct. 22, 2005, at 3:14 pm. No clue what Jacques’ schedule was that year, but the photo was taken in 2005, just as Stanek states in that post.

    So again, it’s a weird karmic payback he got – by trying to make it look like he was an author at the table, no one believed he was there at all.

    As for everything else about him, though, I’ll leave that to these guys:


  49. Mainer 122 on November 19, 2009 at 12:58 am  Chain link

    It’s a real photo, alright. I found Brian Jacques’ book tour of 2005 (http://redwall.wikia.com/wiki/Brian_Jacques_on_Tour), and sure enough, on October 22 he was at a Barnes & Noble in Olympia. From 2-4 PM.

    Too bad Stanek couldn’t have left it at that and so saved himself from becoming legend for something he never did – putting himself into a photo he was already in.

  50. Margaret Garside on November 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm  Chain link

    So, the picture is genuine. Well, you can see why we all thought it was fake-it’s the sort of thing he may have done.

    Now, what about all of those ‘film offers’ Mr. Stanek claims to get? He says he’s just waitng for the right one. . .

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