Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ineffective book promotion

This book promotion email is being shared around the internet.






Here's the text:

Congrats! You are on my list to receive an ebook version of my latest novel (Title) for free, in exchange for a positive review.

After reading (Title) please help me spread the word by posting positive reviews about it on all social media sites. This includes positive review on Amazon, Goodreads, and any other social media that you use. If you have a blog, vlog, instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Google or any other social media site, please mention it BEFORE and AFTER reading it, including links to Amazon or Barnes and Noble (if possible).

IF for some reason you really don't like the novel and don't think it's worth a 4 or 5 star review, please DON'T leave a review on places like Amazon, as 1-3 star reviews REALLY HURT the INDIE AUTHOR.  In fact, promotional sites will remove the author if you don't have at least a four star average.

If you aren't a fan, feel free to write me and share with me why.

Oh, and one last thing: As a huge favor, in your review, please DO NOT write things like "I received a free copy from author for an honest review.."  That's an automatic turn off in review world and discredits your review from those who need to read it, so please don't do that. Pretty please :)

(Remainder left out, but the "May you never grow up" line I'm praying relates to the book and is not her actual wish for us.)


Those of us posting this on Facebook were of course rolling our eyes, but it dawned on me that a new author or even an author inexperienced in doing her own publicity might not understand why this is a textbook illustration of what NOT to do.

Here are some things to remember:

1. Asking for a review, even when you give someone the book for free, is not a quid pro quo. The reader/reviewer is not obligated to review the book at all, let alone only in a positive light.

2. Telling the reader/reviewer where and how to post a review implies an obligation to follow her instructions.  That is the actual reverse of the situation.  A reviewer can post when/where s/he wants to. Or not at all. The writer not only has no control over it, it's a terrible breach of etiquette to even ask, let alone issue instructions like they are orders to be followed.

A writer CAN ask that if the reader/reviewer elects to read and review the book, a link to any post is much appreciated.  (See the difference?)


3. Telling a reviewer to lie is flat out wrong. If you hand out books in exchange for "a positive review" (see line 2) not even  just an  "honest review" (see line 13) you can't tell people not to say that.  We all howled with laughter when the FTC handed down rulings on what bloggers must say about getting free copies, but holy hell, apparently some people really do need to be told.


By way of contrast,  here's what my cover letter asking for blurbs for  Lee Goodman's INDEFENSIBLE looked like:

 

I'm writing to ask for your help with my client Lee Goodman. His debut novel INDEFENSIBLE is being published in June by Emily Bestler Books (a division of Simon and Schuster) and we are eager to build buzz for him.

I first met Lee after I was thwarted (twice!) from attending the Alaska Writing Guild conference back in 2009. [Weather over the Alleghenies kept us on the tarmac for four hours each of two days.]  The next year I left a week early just to make sure I'd get there, and wow am I glad I did.

I still remember that frisson of 'holy moly, this guy can really write' when I read his sample pages in the hotel room in Anchorage.  By the time I'd finished the novel I knew I had something special.  One of the best things about the impending publication is hearing from other people, writers I respect, that I was right about Lee. Reading ahead of the curve can be a daunting test of self-confidence even on the best days.

William Kent Krueger offered this blurb: "Lee Goodman has created characters we care about deeply; when he puts them through the wringer, we feel their pain. Add to this a compelling insider's look at prosecution and law enforcement, language that sings, a stunning series of plot twists, and the result may well prove to be the outstanding debut novel of the year."

John Lescroart offered this: "Lee Goodman's INDEFENSIBLE is the very essence of what the crime thriller is all about.  Complex and intelligent, fantastically well-plotted, stylishly written, and populated with real, flawed, beautifully rendered characters, INDEFENSIBLE is most of all an intensely and immensely human story of love, betrayal, friendship, duty, and family.  Unputdownable, powerful, heart-wrenching, completely satisfying, INDEFENSIBLE is as good as it gets."

I hope INDEFENSIBLE will resonate with you as it did with me. I know you have many demands on your time and many people asking for your rare reading time. Thank you very much for any help you can provide.



A couple of points to notice:

1. Ask the reader/reviewers help: upfront and as plainly as possible.

2. Talk about the book.

3. Mention other people who love the book (which helps readers have confidence they're not getting the bag o'crap someone else sent them last week.)

4. Acknowledge that they might NOT be able to help (for any of a million reasons.) It's important to let reader/reviewers know that it's ok to say no.

5. Personalize the letter (I deleted that from this example) in some way.  Using "you're on my list" says the reader/reviewer is just one of many, not special or individual at all.



Publicity and promotion increasingly fall to the author, indie pubbed or not.  It's critical to learn these skills so you're not the one being mocked on the interewebz for clueless book promotion.

Any questions?


44 comments:

Sam Hawke said...

Yeah, I saw this one doing the rounds. Janet was much kinder than I was when I read it. The sense of ENTITLEMENT is what gets me - this idea that you wrote a thing and now people are obliged to help you market it.

I see authors posting often, too, about how people ask them for blurbs with such courteous openings as 'I haven't read your books and I don't think they'd be my cup of tea' and I just wonder whether it's horrendous manners, wild entitlement, or just a complete lack of understanding of social and professional interactions, or a combination of all...

W.R. Gingell said...

Haha, I saw this on my Booklikes circle...

Some people, eh?

Bad news for me is that it makes ALL Indies look like galahs. It only takes one indie going around acting like an idiot to tar the rest with the same brush.

Ah well. Que sera sera?

Kitty said...

Even to someone who is 'justa reader,' that approach is crass.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

for your Internet slang edification, a trendy term for raccoons right now is "Trash pandas" (and thanks blogger spellcheck for making me think I didn't know how to spell "raccoon", you're a peach)


I haven't received requests like this via my writing blog, but on my dog blog, people are like "We will send you this thing that you will review by this date." Now, I like free stuff. I really like free stuff, especially free dog stuff, so I frequently say yes, use the FTC disclaimer thinger, review honestly. I've never been told "if you don't like it don't say that", thank goodness. That's what would trigger a "no" from me for sure (I've also said "no" to companies who pretty much only sold electronic collars and didn't seem to sell any educational material on them, or suggest that one might work with a legit trainer. But I can go on about this far too long for this space).

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...


Great example of what to do compared to what not to do.

That sad writer. I feel sorry for them.

MB Owen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Good grief, no. No, no, no.

The thing is, I know a few people like this--they pepper these requests and other bad advice into their marketing/promotions (with a lot of enthusiasm and personability) under the guise that this is how it works in the indie world.

Janet's letter is fantastic. I love that agents are helping us "peek behind the curtain" to gain insights into publishing because it's advice everyone should use. Even though you're doing more of the legwork as an indie (and sales can--and do--rely heavily on reviews), traditional publishing should provide the framework for self-publishing. In the end, they're both businesses and need to be conducted as such.

Susan said...

MB: I took this letter to be a request for reader-posted reviews on sites like Amazon or GoodReads as opposed to back-of-book promotional blurbs. For the latter, I can understand using only positive reviews, as it's a marketing tool (which can be deceptive in its own right), but then that's why there are honest reader reviews, both negative and positive. As much as an author would love only positive reviews, asking for only positive reader reviews is where there's a problem.

I read the negative reviews first if I'm on the fence about a book because I want to know if there are problems/what others experienced. In your example, your review would have helped me for exactly what you stated: they help me figure out what to expect.

french sojourn said...


I have made friends with a few authors on Facebook. There are two that not only did I love their books, but they have the same detached sense of humor. There was one however,,,,comma,,,that got right under my skin. Real nice guy, but a hardcore promoter. I finally de-friended him, and it sucked as I really loved his work. But the non-stop messengering about joining a monthly fee-ed club was killing me. I wish him well, but it's a social networking, not business networking. oooof!

Theresa said...

Um, no. No questions at all.

furrykef said...

If I knew what book that e-mail was about, I would rush to its page right now and give it one star. Hey, somebody's gotta restore the natural balance.

french sojourn said...


it's most likely messaging...not messengering...proofreading 101

MB Owen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

MB: Gotcha--sorry, I'd misunderstood. But I agree with you. In some ways, that's been my experience and exactly why I read the negative reviews--I'm less inclined to believe the hype now.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

First clue--"Congrats! You are on my list..."

Yes, as Sam wrote, a sense of entitlement. Could this person possibly be a furry woodland creature? It doesn't seem like s/he could be.

It's great to see an alternative letter. What a HUGE difference.

Elissa M said...

I can't help but think that if the author is this clueless about promotion, how could they know any more about writing? Yes, I know one can be a great writer and poor promoter, but this letter is so far off the mark that I truly can't believe the book is any better.

The saddest part is with all the internet backlash, I don't know how the author could repair the damage to their career. Or maybe they don't care? I don't know.

Colin Smith said...

I've probably mentioned it before, but I've read INDEFENSIBLE and Janet is correct (and she feels better now for me telling her that, I'm sure--you know how Sharks need affirmation and positive reinforcement from Woodland Creatures...). Seriously, though, it's an excellent book, and worthy of your time and attention.

I agree with all that's been said--no writer has the right to demand a positive review. If someone thinks your book sucks, hopefully you've had enough rejections and beta critiques where you can handle the fact that not everyone's going to like your work. No-one likes a negative review, and I'm sure you never get used to them. But you can't hand out copies of your books and tell the reviewers what to think about it. It don't work that way.

Dena Pawling said...


Well, let's see. I've only just begun reviewing books, and only on my blog, not on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever. So consequently, no one has ever approached me about providing a review, positive or otherwise.

When I first started, I tried to learn the “rules” or what was generally expected in a review. I read a lot of reviews, on Amazon, Goodreads, Colin's blog [I even sent Colin an email asking for info, thanks Colin!]

http://www.colindsmith.com/blog/reviews/book-reviews/

I don't have space or budget to buy all the books I want to read, so I get most of my books for free, from my local library. Even tho not required by the FTC, I disclose that on my reviews. I did review two books both before and after reading them, that page is here:

http://denapawling.blogspot.com/p/fun-with-books.html

I also have a page for all my book reviews, which I call recommendations instead of reviews because I just started and don't know what I'm doing:

http://denapawling.blogspot.com/p/book-recommendations.html

Right now that review page is short because I haven't yet posted all the reviews I've written. They're currently sitting in a Word file, waiting for their day of glory. Which reminds me, I have two more I need to write. I'm trying to post one every 2-3 weeks on Fridays.

Once I do have a book published, I'll treat people who review books the same way I want to be treated if/when I review books. They have no obligation to write a review, or even read the book, but if they do choose to read it and write a review, they can write whatever they want and post it wherever they want. The only thing I ask is that it be honest, otherwise it falls into the "discredits the review" problem that this writer mentions. Those are my “rules” and expectations for myself, so why would I expect anyone else to be different?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

If the stew stinks I will let the world know no matter how much you serve me for free. I'd hate to be complicent regarding food poisoning. If it's simply a flavor I do care for, not a problem, I'll compliment the chef, but if it's rotten...that's another thing.

Megan V said...


In a sense, promotion is about degrees. The first message is a whack with a gauntlet. The second is a Clinton handshake. Both leave a lasting impression, but it's the second one that makes the reader feel valued.

I'm glad that french sojourn mentioned the Facebook promoter because I've seen many letters like this floating around the Twitterverse in Direct Messages.

In Twitterverse:

The first letter=an un-follow or a block.

QOTKU's letter: gets a message back saying, "can't wait to read."


Mark Ellis said...

Megan, You're talking Bill Clinton, right?

Tony Clavelli said...

I'm so happy to see this post. I'm bookmarking the link and just waiting for the followup e-mail--"Hey Tony, where's my review?"--and this post does all the work for me.

I received an email recently almost exactly like this. What's weird though, it was after being contacted by the author in a friendly, gentle way, which made the offending e-mail that came later so surprising. From one person, I got a similar "Here's what to do" and "here's what not to do" all in the same day! The exchange started on Goodreads with something to the effect of:

"Hey, I've noticed a few of your reviews on some books I've enjoyed recently and I really enjoyed them. I saw you recently posted a review of (Title), and I think my new book might appeal to you. If you'd be interested in a free copy, please let me know. I'm seeking honest reviews so if you'd like to help, that'd be great, too."

So aside from the "honest reviews" part, I liked the message. It flattered me (my reviews are usually rambling and over-excited--mostly just for me to remember how I felt in that first post-book moment, but hey, nice to see someone read one), and offered me a thing for free. Not so bad. I think for someone without an agent to help push the book--this was a decent enough approach.

Then after a short exchange, I gave him my e-mail address to receive the ebook. Then I got an email that was nearly this post verbatim. Only it may have been even worse: it even instructed me the date that my review should "go live."

I think maybe instead of sending him the link to this blogpost, he might just get the angry raccoon pic. I think it says how I feel quite clearly. (Incidentally the book in question--a short story collection--was almost unreadable. It is a small miracle that I got through the two clunky stories that I did.)

Elena said...

"Oh, and one last thing: As a huge favor, in your review, please DO NOT write things like "I received a free copy from author for an honest review.." That's an automatic turn off in review world and discredits your review from those who need to read it, so please don't do that. Pretty please :)"

Is that...actually true? I'm curious, if anybody's willing to share--if you're checking out a review for a book, and the reviewer discloses that they received a free copy in exchange for a review, are you going to think less of the reviewer/author/book itself?

Like others here I'm "justa reader" but I appreciate it when a reviewer notes that they received the book for free (or as Dena mentioned, that she got her copy from the library). I'm not necessarily going to give more or less weight to what the reviewer writes after that, but I appreciate knowing all the same.

"Review World" is apparently a planet with a counter-intuitive bartering system and social mores, lol.

Megan V said...

Mark- yes I'm talking Bill Clinton.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

I know we're all chasing that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Chad Prather says so. It's hard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxTcR4ZJk74

This reminds me of the guy who had the melt down on Goodreads because a woman didn't give him a glowing review.

I got asked in a roundabout way to do a review of a new self-pubbed book recently. I like the person. I liked the premise of their story when they told me about it. I gave them some advice about horses in it. That seems to be my claim to fame.

I started reading it on Amazon to see if I wanted to commit. I didn't. Don't drop me in the middle of a bunch of action with a group of people I know nothing about. My pea brain can't sort them out until we've been introduced.

The person was very kind, so I won't do anything. If I received a request like the one posted I might have to respond with a discussion about etiquette. Bless their heart.

Janet Reid said...

Elena, all books sent for review are free.

There's actually a clause in publishing contracts that covers this.

One of the reasons indie authors get snared here is that it's expensive to send books out for review so they started attaching riders like "in exchange for a fair review" so they didn't send books that didn't get reviewed.

Most reviewers for big sites/newspapers get thousands of book for every one book they review. (I've seen the storage rooms at newspapers back in my PR days. It was daunting)

Colin Smith said...

Here's Dena's links linkified. And I don't mind linking to Dena's blog (as long as She-With-The-Teeth doesn't object):

http://denapawling.blogspot.com/p/fun-with-books.html
http://denapawling.blogspot.com/p/book-recommendations.html

I'm not linkifying the link to my own blog, though I appreciate the shout-out. Thanks, Dena! :) Not that I know much more about reviewing books; I just talk about what I would want to know and try not to be spoilery.

Oh, and here's Julie's link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxTcR4ZJk74

Elena: That line "please DO NOT write things like 'I received a free copy from author for an honest review..'" would be a turn off for me. Noting such things is called "integrity" in my book. If I'm reviewing an ARC that I won, I will mention the fact (at least I'm pretty sure I have in the past--if not, I promise I will from now on). If I'm a friend of the author, I'll mention that too. If I'm reading a novel that contains anti-Christian sentiment, I'll make sure you are aware of my theological persuasion. The point is that you, the reader, should be able to account for any biases on my part in assessing whether this is a book you want to read. I will do my best in the review to be balanced, but I'm a frail person and likely to fail at doing this perfectly.

On the one hand, I can't imagine having a Shark in PR... but then when you see how fervently she advocates her clients, and supports all us woodland creatures, it doesn't seem so strange after all. :) Although she can be a bit testy with idiots... ;)

bjmuntain said...

I saw when you posted that on Facebook. The first thing that came to mind was: what about the FTC rules about saying you got the book for free?

Reviews - while useful for marketing (if they're good) - are NOT primarily marketing tools. They are *buying* tools. They are tools for the READER, not the author, to decide what to buy.

Did you get a good review? Then hell yeah, use that in your marketing. But the author - or the manufacturer or the corporation who owns the product to be sold - has no say in what a review says. If they do have a say, then it's not a review. It's an advertisement. And advertisements are paid for. An e-book is pretty poor payment for an advertisement. Great value for the author, of course, but not for the reviewer.

Elena said...

@Janet Reid--Thank you! And I think I have the dots connected now: So if an indie book reviewer (who's not affiliated with a news site or radio, as then it would be implied that they got a free book) writes a review on Amazon or their personal blog or wherever saying "I won an ARC of this book" or "the author sent me a free ebook," that's fine.

The letter-writer's concern is that someone will disclose the exact nature of his or her insidious request: that the "free ebook" isn't really free, but essentially payment for a positive review.

Am I close? Apologies in advance if I'm still not getting it. (Haha, some woodland creatures are denser than others.)

And holy cow, yes--years ago a friend of mine worked in radio, and showed me a picture of the office where all the book review hopefuls were sent. You could barely make out a desk among the stacks and stacks of books.

@Colin--Integrity! Exactly, that is the word for it (haha, good on you, writer =) Thanks!

Like I said, if I'm on Amazon or wherever browsing indie titles I appreciate it if a reviewer gives potential readers a heads up that they were specifically sought out for their opinion (as opposed to someone who randomly bought a book and felt compelled to write a review). Because just as you say, most people who are asked to review books do their best to be balanced, but we all have biases and it's always better for potential readers to be informed rather than not.

nightsmusic said...

At the risk of getting myself in trouble here, I'm wondering how old the author of the letter is. It almost reads early teen in which case, I could cut the author a slight bit of slack, but still.

John Frain said...

As a point of reference to a similar industry, I've placed four apps in the App store for iPhones. When they approve an app, they give you codes for 50 free downloads. Used to be that anyone, including someone with a free download code, could review your app. Later, they amended it so only those paying customers were allowed to give a review. (I don't know how free apps work, mine all cost .99)

One observation, not a question, for the friendly raccoon. The cover letter asking for blurbs for the Lee Goodman book runs well over 300 words. Prior to the personalization. Sounds like one can safely assume the 250-word rule for queries is no longer in effect come time for promotional work.

I'm sure glad there's not much to learn in becoming a writer. Med school is starting to look elementary.

Leah B said...

Elena - My entertainment budget for the year is incredibly small, so I want a book/game/movie that is going to be beyond awesome. The average joe who gets a book/game/movie for free is not going to have the same dollar value assigned to the product that I do. So whenever I read reviews starting with "I got my copy for free", I do give them far less credence than reviews from people who spent money on the product. Typically means I pick up very, very few books/games/movies on their release date, but I'd rather be late to the party than wishing I had my money back. But I'm on the very stingy/frugal/cheap end of the buyer spectrum.

The letter itself just strikes me as very ... weird. The author takes the time to list all forms of social media, but won't call out the promo sites who take down three star authors? I'm a clueless chipmunk, but that sounds like a scare tactic. "Give me a good review or you're hurting my career!" It puts the responsibility for the book's success on the reviewer rather than the author. It makes me feel icky.

The caps is also aggravating. Basic nettiquette, come on.

bjmuntain said...

nightsmusic: I don't know. I don't see any 'teen' in that letter, unless you mean the use of an emoticon. Everyone uses emoticons in non-formal language these days, and it looks like someone was actually trying to write a friendly (yet business) non-formal (yet form) letter.

John Frain: I think the difference in letters is this: A query letter is a business letter between people who don't currently have a relationship, while Janet's letter looks like it was sent to people she knew in the industry. Janet's letter is far less formal, and people who know her would recognize her voice - and her enthusiasm.

Craig said...

At least there isn't some fine print that says you would be charged for shipping and handling if you gave a bad review.

Pharosian said...

When I'm trying to decide whether to download an e-book, I look at the reviews fairly closely. I'm not put off by the wording that the reviewer received a free copy, but I am put off when the "review" is basically a blurb and gives me no indication that the reviewer actually read the book--especially if it's a 5-star review. This seems to be the modus operandi for some "professional" reviewers.

I find that I often get the most help from 3-star reviews. They tend to point out both the good and the bad for that reader. Sometimes what they say on the negative side would also bother me (confusing plot; TSTL characters), but other times not so much (profanity, "too much detail"). Five-star reviews often seem to be unwarranted, and I take them with a grain of salt unless the reviewer can articulate what made the book so awesome.

I rarely give 5-star reviews unless the book blows me away, like Patrick Lee's Runner. Looks like I'll have to read Indefensible now, too!

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Thank you, Colin.

The picture of that raccoon reminds me of a letter written about the JEB Stuart camp. They had a pet coon who was very mean. They kept the vicious little b@stahd chained to the cannon where he would run up and down the brass barrel daring anyone to get close to him.

Why anyone keeps pet coons for pets is beyond me. They do not play well with others in most cases.

LynnRodz said...

Late to comment, but I think everything has been said. What was this person thinking is what I want to know? I don't review books unless I really like them. Freebies make no difference whatsoever.

We're off to the Côte d'Azur to visit friends until the end of the month for a little R&R, so I won't be commenting much. I know, I know, I'm going to miss the Annual Autumn Carkoon Cookout put on each year by the Buttonweezers. Betty with 2Ts is known as the hostess with the mostess and her kale quiche always takes 1st prize. Besides, we all know Felix only brings out his best wines for this occasion. It was a real toss-up, AACC or the Cd'A. The Côte d'Azur won out.

bibliotropic.net said...

It took me a little while to figure out just WHY that author might not want someone to say they received a review copy. Finally my brain twisted into just the right shape to understand it: the implication is that the reviewer happened upon this book randomly and thought it sounded so good they had to read it. And then if all those reviews are positive ones, it looks like the whole package is just blow-you-away awesome! It has nothing to do with "reviewer credibility" (which is a ridiculous statement to make to anyone who's been reviewing for a decent length of time) and everything to do with wanting it to seem like the author and their books are appealing. Covered in an, "I'm doing you a favour by giving you this advice" wrapper. Ugh.

I always think it's crass to only ask for positive reviews. I can get why an author would want positive reviews for their work (who wouldn't?), but the guilt-trip of, "If you don't like it, please don't say so, because you and you alone might be utterly ruining my career," is just tacky. Thankfully, as a reviewer, I've had to deal with relatively little of this. Not sure why; maybe I just got lucky. Pretty thankful, though!

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I don't know if this comment will make it before the next post as it is Sunday 2pm local time.

Someone mentioned Bill Clinton. Well, let's talk Berlusconi. When he was running for reelection some time ago, he printed a full color, photo packed, magazine of his life and sent one to every single address in the entire country. A no do dirt, all gloss spam attack. He got reelected that time.

Valentina Hepburn said...

The plea from this author for reviews was an unwise move in the extreme, but as a self-published author I feel uncomfortably close to it. I only know about self-publishing, yet reading it was like reading every thought I've ever had about how to get readers interested in my work. Last year I published three novels. I published them in the same year because I wanted to hit the ground running. The first draft of one was written twenty-five years ago when there was no self-publishing option...I know many famous authors have in the past but it wasn't an option for me. If you didn't get an agent or a traditional deal, there was nothing. The second novel I wrote two years ago, the third last year. I'm currently writing my fourth. After a few attempts to get an agent for the first book, and a very near miss, I gave up, (slap on the wrist)and decided that I wanted to self-publish before I hit magical sixty. Well, that's next month, and I'm still trying to work out how to work it out. Self-publishing is I guess like all publishing; a long and difficult road.Everything is on your shoulders; editing, covers, distribution (which I'm fortunate to have.) All the decisions are yours.No team effort.Freebies are useless.You can't expect a review because you sent someone a free book, let alone a good review. And it's all subjective, unless you're a shark. Look, I dislike the email as much as anyone because it smacks of desperation and a lack of judgement, but marketing your own work is very very hard.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Valentina,

Thanks for weighing in.

"but marketing your own work is very very hard."

Yes, it is. That's the main reason I've resisted it. I'm too lazy to take all that on.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

This is such a pet peeve of mine. If there's one thing I wish I could drill into every author's head it's that negative reviews are vital for your book. Sure, my heart breaks a little when I get a particularly hurtful bad review. But I'd much rather have a bad review than none at all. And, honestly, they're usually not that hurtful if you can get over your pride. They're usually pretty helpful, actually, for a myriad of reasons. In a technical sense, negative reviews are important for Amazon's algorithm to get your book on "also read" lists and the like.

When you have solely positive reviews it's pretty obvious to everybody involved that only Mom, Dad, and beloved family friend Aunt Tinkles have read your work. (And the Amazon algorithmistas know that.) If you get any actual traction at all, you will eventually get your work in front of the eyeballs of people who don't like it.

And in a philosophical sense, if you never receive any criticism, how will you ever be able to improve at your craft? Yeah, sure, consider the source, and some crackpot on the interwebz complaining your work on the life and times of FDR didn't have enough talking cows is not helpful feedback. But if ten, fifteen, twenty reasonable-sounding strangers complain that your characters were flat or your action scenes were soggy (or whatever) hey, now you know what to work on in the future!

Carolyn Hunt said...

I went to a book-signing party for an indie author who was passing himself off as having the imprimatur of a traditionally published author. After reading his jacket blurb aloud (where he described himself as a "true Renaissance man," he asked everyone to get their phones out and give him a great review on Amazon right then and there without even reading it. I guess we were supposed to assume that a "true Renaissance man" was only capable of writing great prose. I flipped to the front pages to find out who his publisher was and, Surprise! the page was blank. Making it even better, he used a picture of himself for the cover art. The book was pure trash. It was obviously self published at the first draft stage. He also promoted his previous book as the number one seller in its category. When I looked it up, I found it was "selling" for $0.00, and I'm guessing it was overpriced. I would frankly be hesitant to spend any of my precious time on any more Indie authors, especially after this experience. Somehow, y'all need to start policing yourselves.

Ernesto Oporto said...

One problem with the request for review, besides the sense of Entitlement is that she/he is also using capitals before she tells the reviewer what to do, which in the InT is the equivalent of shouting.
I have accounts in Facebook, Twitter, Google+, but I wouldn't ever use capitals.
However, using capitals to write the tittle of a book when preparing a query letter is required.
Thanks Query Shark, I have learned a lot from you.