After getting my second private message on Facebook last night about doing a “review exchange” from an author I don’t know, I got rather pissy. Not with anyone in particular, but with this overall competition for book reviews us Indies have and how getting lost in that haze to be better than the next turns us into mindless drones.
I admit, I like positive reviews myself, but I’ve never paid for one, or bugged a stranger via their inbox for one. I wait patiently (or impatiently, depending on whether or not I have chocolate in the house) for reviews to come in organically. I ask for them after book releases – yes. I want my readers to know I appreciate their thoughts. And I expect honest reviews – which means they aren’t all favorable. But I don’t ‘trade’ reviews with strangers to boost the numbers. I mean, why? Are we so desperate to reach that magic review number, that we forget how to be polite to people we don’t know online? Where’s the tact? The respect for the craft? Pffft.
Let me point something interesting out: the two messages I got last night were from people I’m not ‘friends’ with online who saw one of the freebie posts I put up in about 20+ free book promotion sites on FB. I had no clue who these two people were, let alone know anything about their books when they reached out to me. There was no, ‘Hey! Nice to meet you! I’m an Indie Author, too! We should talk books sometime!’ It was straight on – I saw your free book. Take mine and let’s spit out reviews ASAP. Ugh. This is a turn-off, I won’t lie. I’ve heard about scammers claiming they will buy your book IF you buy theirs, then of course they don’t. I’ve heard of similar stories with review exchanges. I know that shiz happens. I’m not into shady, y’all. I want REAL reviews from people who REALLY read my book and ENJOYED it. Or, hated it. There are those out there too. lol
So, what is there to do about those who think a good way to promote their books is to seek out authors they don’t know and offer up the highly suspect ‘exchange’ to boost their sales or number of reviews as quickly as possible? I mean, surely, eventually, they’ll learn, right? Probably not. Instead, let’s stop competing. Let’s keep writing. Publishing. Marketing and promoting the hard way, and making REAL friends. Let’s not waste our time on the ones who could care less about us as people, or about our writing. It’s an annoyance most writers I know don’t have time for. Facebook has this nifty BLOCK button for these very reasons.
And for those who don’t know HOW to get real reviews, in the back of your book, kindly ask for one! A simple reminder online every so often works too! “Hey, did you enjoy (insert book title)? Please leave an honest and spoiler-free review when you have time!” Some readers simply don’t THINK about doing this. Some don’t want to. And that’s totally okay. Because if the book is worth reading, the readers will want to tell others about it.
Unless you have a ginormous die-hard following when you release a new book, chances are your reviews will take time to come in. And this is TOTALLY okay. Just write the best book you can, get the best cover you can, and put that baby out there. Make friends with other authors so you can both learn, share books, reviews, etc…with people you trust. This is much better than pissing off potential writer-friends by filling up their inbox’s with ‘I’ll share yours, if you share mine’ requests. Use your manners online, friends, use your manners.
Happy Reading, Everyone!