Authors: Tell the Truth and You will Gain Brownie Points

Guest Post by Irene Watson

Several weeks ago we received an order for a publicity/review package from an author.  I quickly responded with the name and address of a reviewer and asked him to send the book and let me know when it was sent so I could track it.  I didn’t get a response so a week later I followed up and this is what I received back:

I was put aback to hear that you use volunteers whom it seems are not as qualified as pros.

My response was:

I’m not understanding.  What do you mean by pros?

His response was:

Hi, what I would like is a reviewer with qualifiations. For examply, someone I paid $50 who said they knew the memoir genre, did not know what “musing” is. Then turned around and suggested I have more dialogue. There were other comments that in all led me to believe she (the reviewer), was not a pro (qualified) for my review and my $50.

I responded:

Well, it’s entirely up to you whether you use our service or not and who you feel is a pro. We’ve had many of the same reviewers for over 5 years and this may or may not qualify them as pros.  We review books for major authors like James Patterson and our endorsements/blurbs can be found in many of the books in brick and mortar stores like B & N.  We are syndicated and our reviews are used by USA Today, Chicago Sun Times and many other major outlets.  All this information is on our site. As well, all of our reviews are posted on the site for you to see the writing styles of the reviewers.  Pros?   This is something for you to decide for yourself.

I have canceled your submission.  I sincerely wish you much success with the sales of your book.

The response was:

Well sorry but when money is tight I sometimes hange my mind. But I will keep you in mind should I get back to work and want several reviews. I figure the more the merrier.

Scream.

So, why didn’t this author be honest and tell me that in the first place rather than turn it around and accuse us of not having professional reviewers?  And, why did he order a publicity package in the first place knowing he had no money to pay for it?  It’s obvious there was no thought that when an order is placed there are many aspects involved.  Not only did it take my time up but also put the reviewer in a holding pattern waiting for the book to arrive.  The reviewers are on a timeline and get only the number of books they can review during a period of time.  The reviewer was jeopardized by not being in line to receive another book to review.

Furthermore, if the author was honest and told me he changed his mind because money is tight I would have offered him a payment plan, or just canceled the order.  I know money is tight –  I happen to be effected by the economy as well.  My mission is to help authors and if all the author can pay is $25 per month so be it…it works for me.  But, what doesn’t work for me is being accused of something we are not.  This is not how an author gains Brownie Points nor is it a mind-set of a successful author.  Is this book going to be a best seller?  Or, even sell the average of 350 in its lifetime that is attached to self-published books?  Doubtful.  Upon checking Amazon.com I found the book was published in 2010, there are no reviews posted, and to date there have been no sales.  Need I say more?

Honesty does gain Brownie Points.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews  of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity  and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

Advertisements

Posted on March 13, 2011, in Book Reviews, Publicity & Writing, Writing & Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. "Professional" is a word that is much abused. I would be pretty leery of sending my books to someone who "reads for a living". I would much rather have them reviewed by someone who has a real career and who reads books assiduously on the side. Let's give it up for the volunteers who keep it real!

  2. Irene, part of what I think you collided with is the ongoing misbelief (my invented word) that it's easy to publish a book, get reviews and sell scads of books. Too many websites and too man "pros" sing the feasibility of this, enhanced by the internet (or so they say). As a result, a lot of new authors toddle onto the stage not having learned their lines, and then wonder why they flub up.After nearly four years in the market, I feel confident in saying is that what authors need to realize – if they don't know it already – is that writing and marketing their books is like any other job. It requires impeccable professionalism, a strong work ethic, dedication and a heckuva lot of sweat (and at times tears) as you slog your way through the process, determined to break through and standout. This individual clearly hadn't a clue about that.

  3. All new authors need and deserve a dose of reality. I agree that a great many writers hold fast to the fairy tale of instant success and endless royalty checks. They cite an article they read of an author who self-published an ebook, sold copies for $2 apiece and made a million dollars as if it were the norm. Like those "I lost 42 dress sizes in three months" diet ads, such stories should come with the disclaimer, "Results extraordinary. Your results will vary."What's more, any time you submit your work for a review, be it by an earnest lay-reader or a seasoned so-called "pro," you are vulnerable to the possibility of receiving a less-than-flattering review. Yes, opinions are subjective and a reviewer you're paired with could be prejudiced somehow or simply having a bad day when your manuscript crosses his or her desk, but often what is submitted has previously only been complimented by well-meaning friends and family members who couldn't offer objective criticism for fear of making you feel bad. Because you've only received accolades, you come crashing down when someone deigns to find any fault whatsoever with your work.Developing a thick skin and realizing this "biz" is relentless in its ability to devour egos are vital BEFORE one leaps into the fray. I am an an award-winning author (one of which was the 2010 Reviewers Choice award from Reader Views, thank you very much!—though, ironically, my non-contest-judging Reader Views reviewer gave me one of my only four-star reviews, among dozens of five-star reviews from other sources—not to whine at all, just to show how subjective the process is). I am also an editor with 20+ years' experience, and part of my job is to not waste authors' time and money by giving them false praise and/or hope. I encourage what I believe are their strengths but do not hesitate to point out weaknesses and make suggestions of how to improve those areas. Many times, I've had to turn away authors, pointing out that their books are just not at a level of quality at which it will pay to hire a professional for a final edit. (I cannot tell you the number of times I've received books from authors who demonstrated no awareness of what a complete, non-run-on sentence looks like or even how to spell CAT, and yet they're convinced they're ready for the New York Times Bestseller List.) Understanding how tight money can be—I'm a starving artist myself—I advise them that they'd be much better off going to a low- or no-cost option like a community ed writing group for lots of people's feedback as they rework their manuscript before shelling out hundreds of dollars to someone like me. I know I'm being cruel to be kind. I cannot in good conscience cash their checks until I know they have a fighting chance to compete in the marketplace. It's my reputation on the line as a "pro." (There's that word again.)

  4. I think a lot of authors expect a guarantee that they'll get a 100% perfect review and cheap. I have never been upset with a review in five years, except for one four months ago. I sent my memoir to Writer's Digest to enter their self-published book contest. Well, I was so shocked by the review from one of the judges. Let me expalin; I was upset for all the "incorrect" remarks that never happened in the memoir, which might have kept me out of being a runner.I expected an honest review from their magazine. In fact, I was excited to get one even if it wasn't good because I feel we learn from reviews good or bad.The judge didn't spell the character's names right, repeated the same word twice in one sentence, spelling was horrible, said I didn't talk at all about my husband's family with their drinking (I wrote a whole chapter on his family disease), mentioned my ex-husband had remarried in the story (never did up until his death) said I didn't mention my new husband in the memoir (I hadn't met him until the sequel) and said I left the reader hanging not knowning a sequel was coming (I wrote it in my bio on the back cover of the book). If she read the back, she would have noticed it. My, so call, certificate for entering the contest didn't have my name spelled right on it.. Now that to me was something to be upset about. Bad remarks I can handle but not remarks that had never happened in the story. Every remark was false making me feel they never even read the book. So, as an author, I have to forget and learn from this magazine and will never have faith in Writer's Digest Contest that the judges read the books.

  5. I think a lot of authors expect a guarantee that they'll get a 100% perfect review and cheap. I have never been upset with a review in five years, except for one four months ago. I sent my memoir to Writer's Digest to enter their self-published book contest. Well, I was so shocked by the review from one of the judges. Let me expalin; I was upset for all the "incorrect" remarks that never happened in the memoir, which might have kept me out of being a runner.I expected an honest review from their magazine. In fact, I was excited to get one even if it wasn't good because I feel we learn from reviews good or bad.The judge didn't spell the character's names right, repeated the same word twice in one sentence, spelling was horrible, said I didn't talk at all about my husband's family with their drinking (I wrote a whole chapter on his family disease), mentioned my ex-husband had remarried in the story (never did up until his death) said I didn't mention my new husband in the memoir (I hadn't met him until the sequel) and said I left the reader hanging not knowning a sequel was coming (I wrote it in my bio on the back cover of the book). If she read the back, she would have noticed it. My, so call, certificate for entering the contest didn't have my name spelled right on it.. Now that to me was something to be upset about. Bad remarks I can handle but not remarks that had never happened in the story. Every remark was false making me feel they never even read the book. So, as an author, I have to forget and learn from this magazine and will never have faith in Writer's Digest Contest that the judges read the books.

  6. Does the complaintive author described in the original post not realize that the reviewers who are not "pro" more closely mirror the book buying public's interests and attitudes – that their opinions on the many elements and overall enjoyment of the book are a more accurate reflection of the book's likely attraction for his/her future purchasers? We authors should be so grateful to all of the many reviewers who are interested enough to take the time to actually read our books and then to write a review for us!Alberta, I was distressed to hear of your WD review – it seems that was a very faulty and inaccurate review; it sounds like it was a horrible result and you are very gracious in your handling of it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: