Thursday, September 18, 2014

Portrait of a self-published author: Drac Von Stoller’s invisible literary empire

Portrait of a self-published author: Drac Von Stoller’s invisible literary empire

He has 155 e-books to his name and is at war with Amazon. But his is the kind of story the media never tells

Portrait of a self-published author: Drac Von Stoller's invisible literary empireDrac Von Stoller
I first stumbled across the work of Drac Von Stoller while browsing the new releases on Audible.com last year. Suddenly, the list had filled up with audiobooks bearing lurid titles like “Cannibal Lake,” “The Night It Rained Hell” and “Nazi Zombies,” all by the same guy and each emblazoned with a garish, inexpertly Photoshopped cover image featuring leering, demonic or half-eaten faces. None of these recordings was more than 10 minutes long or cost more than Audible’s rock-bottom price of $2.76; cheap, but with such short books, still a pretty small bang for the reader’s buck.
A search on Von Stoller’s name revealed dozens and dozens of these titles, all with professional narrators and many tagged with one- and two-star reader reviews. Over at Amazon, where the Stoller e-books on offer currently number 155, most clock in at no more that a handful of pages in length and quite a few are free. (In the iBooks bookstore, nearly all of Von Stoller’s works will cost you nothing.) Most of the reviews there are just as harsh. “This is probably the worst written short story that I have ever had the displeasure of reading,” one reader wrote of “Rise of the Zombies.” “I read this in under five minutes,” wrote another. “A child could have done it. In fact I think a child did do it.”
Here was a conundrum. Von Stoller’s 150-plus e-books can be obtained from at least 12 online retailers, each with its own particular and often demanding formatting and distribution arrangement, and the audiobook adaptations (most of which feature sound effects embellishing the narrator’s performance) must have been time-consuming and expensive to produce. Even a crude cover design — let alone 155 cover designs — takes some effort to create. The establishment of the self-publishing empire of Drac Von Stoller gives every appearance of having been a gargantuan effort. Yet the author himself couldn’t be making any money from it, not with so many of his titles priced at zip. As for public renown and recognition, the laurels have not been exactly forthcoming; although he has some fans, the vast majority of Von Stoller’s books bear an average Amazon rating of one and a half stars.

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