Being an author is a rat race. We do the same thing over and over again, and while it can be fun and the tracks may change, the process can become monotonous. But what I’ve grown exceedingly tired of is the doublespeak (sorry, I’m currently reading 1984) that exists in the review-procurement sector. I’ve thought long and hard about this. I’ve been sitting on this post for almost a month. In the end, I feel it needs to be said, if only for my own work’s protection. More on that at the end of this post.
Publishers won’t work with you unless you job yourself out for reviews. Simple enough and understandable, right? They want your book to sell so they can make back the money they crammed into their prize turkey and earn a profit. I do not hold that against them. They don’t want their turkey to sit around and go rotten. No one likes rancid stuffing. But what if no one’s in the mood for turkey? Therein lies the dilemma. You still gotta sell books or both you and the publisher lose.
Ze prollem iz ziss: You get vague comments like “You’re not KNOWN for seeking reviews” or “You’re free to submit if you SHOW AN INTEREST in seeking reviews”. So I jump through hoops and ask people for reviews and play this game legitimately without doing shady shit, but that’s not enough. I’m still “not interested in getting reviews.” I’ve literally been told this twice in the same day by two different publishers, even though, just last week, I posted here (Booklikes) and several other places that review copies are available. I got one response. One. I have almost fifteen hundred followers here, and 800 hundred plus followers on WordPress, and 600 followers on Twitter and 100+ on my Facebook Author Page, and I haven’t a clue how many friends and followers on Goodreads, and I got one review request for the books I offered. In truth, I got three other review requests, but they were for my indie released work and not my published material. Still can’t figure out why one is more popular than the others. I like to think that this is because everyone who likes my stuff has read all my stuff. I know that’s not the case, but it helps me sleep at night. I told one publisher, I would do more, but I refuse to do unethical things to procure reviews and sales. I will ALWAYS refuse to do so.
But then I’m surprised to hear that they are surprised to hear that some of their writers are doing review swaps and paying for reviews. Hell, I thought they knew because more than half of their authors are doing this. Time to slap some wrists and save some face!
You built this monster. Honestly, what did you expect? If you constantly demand a certain unattainable and vague level of something from your underlings, it’s some human’s nature to break the rules to make their superiors happy. You’ve created an ecosystem where authors feel like they’re a failure if they do not have ALL THE REVIEWS! As if that’s even something that’s attainable. They will always want MORE REVIEWS! You feed and breed the idea that someone isn’t doing everything they can if they aren’t out there every day doing SOMETHING! But don’t spam people, because that’s not what you said!
Look at me. I do my best. Everyone who knows me knows that I do everything BUT the shady shit. I deny at least two review-swap requests a week. I work mainly with word of mouth through my social media presences. If readers like my stuff, they will talk about it, they will share it. If they don’t, then I have to change what I’m writing, because it’s not good enough to talk about. You used to understand this. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I trusted you with my work. But when you tell me that going through the motions like I’ve BEEN DOING, like I have the proof that I’ve BEEN DOING, I gotta ask, “What else you want from me?” What are you asking of me by telling me I don’t do enough when I’m over here emailing bloggers and posting everywhere I have a presence? You’re telling me I should DO MORE. And then when I ask what more I can do, you point to the people who do shady shit. BUT DON’T DO SHADY SHIT BECUASE I SAID SO!
I write under different names and have used a dozen publishers over the course of the past three years, and each and every one of them are like this. Do EVERYTHING you possibly can to get reviews, but don’t let me find out you’re doing ANYTHING shady. The rules are simple:
#1. If you don’t get reviews, we won’t work with you in the future.
#2. If you only do what you can do with the audience you have, we won’t work with you in the future.
#3. If you do shady shit, we won’t work with you in the future.
Doublespeak. The lot of it. Be as vague as possible so no one can hold YOU accountable. And then when one of your authors does shady shit, throw them under the bus and say, “I didn’t ask them to do this!” Not really, but you kinda did. You’re still innocent here, but you kinda aren’t.
This post is not aimed at any one publisher. Three of you have said much the same thing to me over the course of the past month. I literally got back-to-back emails from one publisher and then another, both saying I wasn’t doing enough to procure reviews.
And then there’s the book community saying, “It seems like every other post from Edward Lorn is about needing reviews. What a bastard. I thought he was cool! What happened to him!”
Yeah. What the fuck happened to me?
Publishers don’t want to work with me if I don’t do more to get reviews? Fine. The feeling’s mutual. You may now follow through with your threats.
Many thanks to everyone who’s ever taken a chance on my work. But I’m not bending my ethics to suit anyone’s needs. Not even my own.
*hugs and high fives*
(Author’s note: I’m bound to be inundated with emails from people trying to explain themselves and offer excuses and blah, blah, blah. But I do not want to hear from you. I made this public and unprofessional for the following reason. Just in case my books disappear, my readers will know why and where to point their fingers. Those few of you who know the other names I write under, keep an eye on those, too.)