I swear, it’s stuff like this that just turns me all around. TheGirlWhoLovesBooks posted a screen shot of an e-mail blast she received from a noted author (who shall remain nameless) asking for something that beggars belief. Go take a look—it’ll open in a new window. I’ll wait.
You back? Good. So didja see that? The author asked for fifty “beta readers” (not really—she’s actually asking for reviewers) to write reviews of her next book, but—and this is the important part—only if they will be four- or five-star reviews. If you have any lesser opinion, contact her privately.
I swear. No, really. It’s real. You didn’t go look, did you? If you didn’t, go on now. I’ll be here when you get back. K? K.
Okay, let’s continue. Why am I even pointing this out? Because it blatantly spells out what most everyone knows is going on with reviews and ratings on an alarmingly regular basis: Namely, if a book has 3,528 five-star reviews and four one-star reviews, those thousands of five-stars probably have been obtained in a sketchy manner.
And we’ve all fallen for it, too, haven’t we? We hear about a book that’s supposed to be really good. We go to Amazon, check out the ratings, and see an overwhelming number of rave reviews by seemingly reputable sources, so we clickety-click the “buy” button and eagerly start reading, happy to find a guaranteed good ’un…only to come up for air several chapters (or maybe only one chapter) later, muttering to ourselves something along the lines of “Um…am I reading the same book those reviewers did?”
And it’s not a matter of personal taste, either. It’s not that 3,528 readers just happen to like something that doesn’t appeal to you. No, that book stinks worse than that piece of gas station sushi you dropped under your car seat a week ago. The writing is terrible, the storyline is lame, the dialogue is stilted, the plot points careen around drunkenly from chapter to chapter—you know the drill. When a book is bad, it’s just bad.
But not when the author rounds up a bunch of people (or *koff* fake e-mail addresses) to say otherwise. (I should emphasize here that I’m not saying that all authors who get an overwhelming number of good reviews have gotten them unethically. Not at all. Some authors are just mind-blowingly amazing. And more power to ’em.)
For those who “manage” their reader response…I guess the end justifies the means. First you’ve got to get people to buy your book, and then they’ll realize how great you are, and you’ll get the true accolades you deserve. So if you fudge a few reviews, it’s worth it in the long run.
You know, in a way, I kind of agree. Because I do the opposite, and I pay the price.
I have never engaged in duplicity. All my reviews and ratings are real. My career as an author is one hundred percent organic…and crappy.
So far I have published three books: By Design, Unscripted, and Down on Love. A fourth, Picture This, will be published in July. Pretty neat, right? Well, yes, but…as hard as I work to write the best books I’m capable of writing, despite having the support of an agent (Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Literary Agency) and a publisher (Kensington) and all the bennies that entails, I am totally…
I have been busting my hump to get noticed, and nothing’s working. I do every sort of promotional event I can—guest blogging, joining professional organizations, tweeting, Facebooking, blogging (as you can see), running contests, doing a blog tour. My friends talk me up. The few people who read my books like them, for the most part. I even have a few fans. And that’s what keeps me going.
Yet here I am, still invisible nearly a year later. And, as the nasty little “you suck” gnome whispers in my ear in my darkest hour (2 a.m. usually), quite possibly forever.
Naturally that makes me wonder if I went about this whole author thing the wrong way. Back in the mists of time, when my first book came out, I was a ridiculously naïve n00b and, as such, figured I’d let my books stand on their own, earn a following based on their own merit. Surely quality will out, right?
HA! Hahahahaaaaaaa OMG.
Well. Like I said: total n00b. Looks like I chose the long road. I chose the hard road. Uphill. Both ways. Oh wait—that’s walking to school. I mean no shortcuts. Play by the rules. Completely organic, like I said.
Did I make the right choice? I don’t know. All I do know is, I’m exhausted.
On the up side, I’m able to sleep at night. Under a ton of blankets, of course. Without royalties, I can’t afford the heating bills. But that’s another story… ;)