Two Crazy Self-Published Books I Found on Amazon, and What I Learned from Discovering Them

Troll: Special Edition, by Emma Clark

I first learned about this book courtesy of the YouTube algorithm, which one day randomly served up a video by popular nerd culture vlogger Jenny Nicholson. Jenny devotes over 23 minutes to discussing Troll in a vlog titled, “I Did it. I found the Worst Book.”

Now, call me an optimist, but if the supposedly “worst” book on Amazon can get someone talking about it for 23 minutes, then hey, there must be something special about it. It’s like what Jack Sparrow said when told he was the worst pirate anyone’s ever heard of. “Yeah, but you have heard of me.” 

Troll may very well be the worst book ever written if Jenny’s to be believed, but you (and many others, courtesy of her vlog) have heard of it. I mean, fifty percent of the struggle of being a writer is just getting read. There are tons of books on Amazon that don’t even have a single review, much less a sale. Emma Clark succeeded here, and not just due to the negative publicity from Jenny’s vlog. Even before Jenny’s video, Troll had reviews and some sales. Troll had fans who were fans before it was cool, baby.   

So, what’s Troll about anyway? From the author’s own book blurb:

Twenty-one-year-old Kyla Adkins frequents the Internet in search of her soul mate. While online, she meets hot and devilishly handsome Justin Brogan. Dangerous, arrogant and quite psychotic, Justin hacks into Kyla’s computer and soon he controls everything, including her heart and her life.

That’s not a bad concept, really. It’s topical, relevant, and hip for today’s internet savvy audiences. Who hasn’t secretly fantasized about a hot internet troll stalking them? Even though it was published in 2013, you could easily see Troll updated for the TikTok generation.   

Troll: Special Edition, is actually an omnibus containing three previously published novels in the, uh, Troll universe. There are four parts to the Troll saga, so you’ll want to buy each edition separately so that you don’t miss out on any in the series. 

The author has also written other erotic books, such as Boy Next Door, a sort of gritty Kmart version of 50 Shades of Grey, which contains “abusive themes such as captive scenarios and BDSM.” Hey, you could say the same thing about the Bible. 

According to the author’s website, her other books include Drawn to Darkness, a series, Sea Angels: An Erotic Short, and various other erotic/romance books. It seems the author’s productivity dropped off around 2016, as there isn’t anything listed after that year. Can we hope that Troll will return for a fifth installment this decade? I’d like to see Troll take on the Metaverse. People are getting groped in Zuckerberg’s digital Twilight Zone already. So, if you’re out there reading this, Ms./Mrs. Clark, you’ve got a lot of new material to work with for a new Troll book. Just saying. 

Most of Emma Clark’s books are short. Troll: Part I, for instance, is all of 18 pages, and boasts a respectable four out of five stars from six ratings. Troll: Special Edition, also known as Troll: First 3 Books, has 2.9 stars from 31 ratings. Though most of the reviews clearly derive from Jenny’s YouTube audience, many of whom sarcastically posted five-star and one-star reviews. Still, 2.9 is like a movie getting a 60% Rotten Tomatoes score. Sonic the Hedgehog got a 63% in its 2020 debut, and that movie did great at the box office, even after all that controversy about Sonic’s weird-ass creepy face

What I Learned from Discovering Troll: Put yourself out there, regardless of whether you think you’re talented, ready, or not. You never know what will connect with people. You also never know when some random vlogger may discover your stuff, and decide to post a review of your work. While Clark’s book obviously got roasted, there have been examples from the opposite extreme. Andy Weir and The Martian, for instance.  

Up next, I’d like to direct your eyes downward to:

Ass Culture: A Short History, by Martin Goldberg

This is another book I discovered via YouTube. Or rather, I discovered the author via YouTube. It goes to show that if you’re a writer trying to promote yourself and your books, YouTube is a great place to build a platform. TikTok, or more specifically, BookTok, is another good one, as I wrote about in this article

So, what’s Ass Culture about? Gee, I wonder. Actually, little is known about it, as Goldberg never posted a blurb or summary on the book’s Amazon page. However, it appears to be about, based on some preliminary reading in the Kindle sample, the portrayal of the female posterior down through history, and its questionable association with feminine value and fertility.

That, or just a celebration of the ass.  

The reason this is an important topic goes beyond the age-old debate of whether you are an “ass guy,” a “breast guy,” a “face guy,” or even a “legs guy.” It’s really about how you judge the opposite sex, and how by focusing on superficial physical qualities (such as a lady’s posterior) you can miss out on the qualities that do matter in a potential mate (character, values, etc.). Missing the forest for the ass, so to speak.

On an individual level, this may not be that important. We all have our kinks. On a culture-wide level, however, a preoccupation with ass can lead a whole civilization astray. Yeah, you thought Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 1992 hit “Baby Got Back” was just a fun pop hit? No, that was actually indicative of Western Civilization’s moral decay. And things aren’t getting any better, judging by Meghan Trainor’s 2014 hit “All About That Bass,” a decisively pro-booty song. Though if we’re going to point any fingers, let’s not forget Queen’s 1978 hit “Fat Bottomed Girls,” which may have gotten the party started. 

The message here is shocking: There is a clear conspiracy afoot to poison the minds of Western men with an ass fetish. The effects of this could be calamitous. Will men today, with so much of their precious mental real estate absorbed by “dat ass,” be able to match the feats of men from precious generations? Could the Greatest Generation have landed at Normandy if their minds were warped by visions of bouncing buttocks? Could the brilliant engineers at NASA put Armstrong on the moon, if the only “moon” they were concerned with was the kind stuffed inside bikini bottoms? I think not.

The author, Martin Goldberg, is a YouTuber with 48,000 subscribers, according to Social Blade. He sporadically updates his channel nowadays. In the past, he was much more active, and appeared on camera. He covers a wide variety of topics, ranging from politics, history, culture, the “red pill,” MGTOW (that’s Men Going Their Own Way, for those of you wondering), and book reviews. I first found his channel several years ago when he was updating more regularly. 

Goldberg has also written a bunch of other books, including Understanding and Overcoming the Black Pill, How to Suck at Business: A Case Study, and Total Invincibility: How to Crush Failure and Maximize Your Human Potential. Of note is that all of his books are, at minimum, rated four stars, with some five stars. And all with apparently little to no promotion, other than the small amount of notoriety from Goldberg’s YouTube channel.       

What I Learned from Discovering Ass Culture: A Short History: Don’t be afraid of exploring topics, however niche or weird they might seem, that are of interest to you. Look for ways to illustrate history from different, or unconventional ends.  And post a decent and intriguing blurb about your book on its Amazon page to get people interested. Even your biggest ass-enthusiasts are going to want to have at least some idea of what they’re in for in a book called Ass Culture.

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