The so-called author known as Graham Worthington is an insufferable spammer and scammer who has flooded Amazon.com with literally ONE HUNDRED deceptive Listmania lists shilling his books ?Wake of the Raven? and ?Zorn: A Legend of the Days to Come.?
His approach, like all professional spammers, is methodical, systematic and unrelenting. Basically, what Graham Worthington has done is take almost every literary award short-list ever conceived, manually re-entered each of them - one per day for the past four months! - onto Amazon?s Listmania lists, then inserted his own books ?Wake of the Raven? and ?Zorn? onto the lists.
The purpose: to trick unsuspecting readers into believing that his books were finalists for prestigious literary awards.
For example, one of Graham Worthington?s latest fraudulent lists dated December 21, 2011 is titled ?Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Finalist?, which amongst 12 other novels, also includes both of Graham Worthington?s books ?Wake of the Raven? and ?Zorn.? A cross-check on the Pulitzer website yields zero search results for Graham Worthington?s name nor his books.
Another of Graham Worthington?s 100+ lists is titled ?Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club Choices in 2001.? Coming in at number 2 is Graham Worthington?s book ?Wake of the Raven,? and at number 3, yet another edition of ?Wake of the Raven,? and then again at numbers 9 and 10, both editions of ?Zorn.? Cross-checking with Oprah?s Book Club website also yields no returns on ?Graham Worthington.?
Now, really, only a moron would actually fall for this scam. One of Graham Worthington?s novels was self-published on CreateSpace in 2010, and the other via Angry Orchid Publishing in 2011. The likelihood, then, that either of these books were ever short-listed for ANY prestigious literary awards, let alone awards dating back last decade, is nil.
(On the Man Booker web forum (another prize Graham purports to belong to), members have already identified Mr. Worthington?s fraudulent lists: ?Self-published writer Graham Worthington is trying to make people think that two of his novels were shortlisted for the 2010 Booker prize.?)
Why, then, would this fraudster be so brazen about his deceitful tactics? Simple: Graham Worthington is less interested in fooling potential readers with his spam lists than tricking Amazon.com?s algorithms.
You see, the more often a book appears in an Amazon Listmania list, the higher its ranking in Amazon?s search results. So, for example, when an Amazon customer searches a particular genre (in this case fantasy and science fiction) sorted by ?popularity?, Amazon?s algorithms calculate, in addition to sales and reviews, how often a book appears in other Amazon venues ? like Listmania. This is further perpetuated by Google, who pull up all 100+ of these lists in its search engine results when some searches for ?literary awards?.
In short, what Graham Worthington has committed is fraud by code, or, cyberfraud.
As a fellow self-published author, I sympathize with Graham Worthington. I presume his books were rejected by a number of traditional publishers before he went the POD path (in fact, he admits as much in this extensive interview: http://johnrlindensmith.blogspot.com/2011/03/graham-worthington-author-of-wake-of.html ).
Angry at the industry (hence the moniker of his self-publishing racket ?Angry Orchid?), he then became absorbed in self-promotion, which as any indie author knows will suck you dry and kill your soul. It is a plight all POD authors have experienced to some degree. But where Graham Worthington went bad is in his excessive shilling, which is now obviously an obsession.
A handful of lists and reviews could be overlooked ? all indie authors do it ? but 111 fake lists (literally one new list per day for the past 4 months) is taking it too far. Any psychologist would declare Graham Worthington?s utter lack of conscience about this wholesale attempt to defraud potential readers as borderline-sociopathic.
Graham Worthington?s Amazon Author Central profile picture reveals a dour-looking, middle-aged fellow with a mullet and comb-over who claims to be from Wuthering Heights, England, though his customer profile shows him as a resident of Toronto Canada.
However his Xanga profile pic shows an entirely different fellow.
A quick trace of this photo using Tineye.Com reveals that Graham Worthington?s profile pic on Xanga is in fact that of film actor William Zabka aka Johnny Lawrence, the bully from the original Karate Kid movie. Graham has no Facebook account to verify himself as a real person. One might presume, then, that the name ?Graham Worthington? is a pseudonym, all his profile photos fictitious, and his true identity unknown ? probably a preemptive move considering his fraudulent intentions.
(Note: I have not read any of Graham Worthington?s books, however there is also always the possibility that ?Wake of the Raven? and ?Zorn? are plagiarized from previously published copyrighted books and/or out-of-print works; he could have just given them a new title, thought up his alias, and then collects the royalties from CreateSpace. Why else would he go through so much trouble to conceal his true identity? Such scams are prevalent on Amazon?s ebook Kindle service these days due to a lack of copyright enforcement.)
Oddly enough, Graham Worthington?s 3rd self-published book, a short-story anthology by Xanga community members titled ?Xangans: Stories From the World’s Greatest Blogging Community,? does not appear on any lists.
I should add that the customer reviews for Graham Worthington?s books ?Wake of the Raven? and ?Zorn? are also obviously fakes, including 2 identical reviews by customer BarkisIsWilling for ?Zorn: A Legend of the Days to Come,? one dated February 14, 2011 and the other dated November 13, 2010. ?BarkisIsWilling? has not reviewed any other books on Amazon.
WHY WE SHOULD BE CONCERNED: Aside from the amoral, unethical and quite possibly criminal attempts to defraud potential Amazon customer who fell for his scam by believing that Graham Worthington was ever short-listed for the Man Booker Prize (as this list claims), etc., it is also a flagrant abuse of Amazon. As we all know, Amazon has been extremely generous about allowing indie authors to promote their books via Listmania, tagging, etc. But 111 lists? This kind of abuse needs to be punished lest it spoil the entire system for the rest of us authors who rely on Listmania to share our own books with the Amazon community.
HOW YOU CAN HELP: Easy. Just report Graham Worthington?s fraudulent activities to Amazon?s customer service. They are very diligent about removing fake customer reviews and spammy Listmania lists. But we need to make them aware of it first.
1) Go to Graham Worthington?s Amazon profile: http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A2QA0H1958YZH6/
2) Click on ALL of his lists, and in the top right corner of each list, click the link ?Report as Abuse? (in the About Author box).
3) On his profile page, scroll down to the very bottom of the page where it says ?Have feedback or suggestions about Amazon.com’s community features??
4) Click ?Share them with us now.? In the comments box, copy and paste this message:
Dear Amazon, I would like to report Graham Worthington, a CreateSpace author, for shilling, excessive spamming and other fraudulent activities on Amazon. He has created over 100 Listmania lists, each including his 2 books ?Wake of the Raven? and ?Zorn: A Legend of the Days to Come? in an attempt to trick customers by purporting himself to be the recipient of numerous prestigious literary prizes, including Man Book, Pulitzer and Oprah’s Book Club. I believe this is an abuse of Amazon?s community features and violates your terms of service. I urge you to remove all of these shill lists, delist his books, and ban Mr. Worthington from Amazon. His profile is:http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A2QA0H1958YZH6/Thank you.
5) If you are a member of CreateSpace, also send them the same message via their contact form: https://www.createspace.com/Contact.jsp and include Graham?s CreateSpace profile https://www.createspace.com/en/community/people/Darkoozeripple
6) Email Graham Worthington directly at email@example.com and let him know that his deceitful Listmania lists will not be tolerated by the Amazon community.
7) Visit Graham Worthington?s profile on GoodReads at http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5060884-graham-worthingtonand write a public post warning the GoodReads community about Graham Worthington?s excessive shilling and unethical self-promotion tactics.
8) Visit Graham Worthington?s blog at http://darkoozeripple.xanga.com/ and write a public post warning the Xanga community about Graham Worthington?s excessive shilling and unethical self-promotion tactics.
To conclude, Graham Worthington?s shameless, deceitful activities only serve to further tarnish the already-soured reputation of self-published authors. By reporting Graham to Amazon, we can help keep the indie book scene honest. Thank you.