Monthly Archives: March 2014

Adventures in Writing…paid reviews? NO THANKS!

One of the biggest struggles about being a writer isn’t so much the writing. That’s the cool part. Imagination, the spinning together of all the various threads: character, scenarios, plots, etc, etc…wow, wouldn’t it be so great to simply sit and write…whimsical thoughts, probably. Because, as we all know, we now have to sell ourselves. And that is such a pain.

Well, okay, so you’ve told the world. The world being Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, websites, newspapers, magazines, friends, family, the neighbour’s dog. You may even have placed an ad in Goodreads, like me. Wow, Goodreads. 40,000 people viewed my ad. 30 have clicked on it. Mm…30 clicks. And sales…hold your breath…nil.

So, friends. We persuade our publisher to reduce the price, get some interest moving. They moan and groan. ‘I’ll make no money’. Oh, so you’ll make more by NOT selling it for $13 dollars? Sure, if someone bought it, but they don’t! When we try and give away our books, what happens? Nobody picks them up. They’re free. Nobody is interested.

And then, one fine day, somebody does take hold of your book and they love it. They write a review. It is fantastic. You rub your hands with glee, because now you have not one, but FIVE stunning reviews.

This truly is the turning point.

It isn’t.

So, by this time you’re really up against it. What to do. Your book is reduced in price, it is on promotion, you are telling the whole world, reviews are great and we all know that reviews help sell so… you need more reviews.

I went on Amazon and I looked up some reviews for books similar to mine. I got in touch with those people who had given these reviewed books only one star. They seemed honest. Honest enough to reply to my question, ‘Why haven’t you read my book, as it is much better than this one?’ Well, okay, I didn’t say it quite like that, but you know what I mean. One of them told me something very interesting. He told me to be wary of 5-star reviews, that many of them are paid reviewers. He gave me some names and I began to look them up. Sure enough, they churn out these things by the lorry load. 5-stars reviews like they are falling around us like snow in the Alps. And there are HUNDREDS of these guys. Furthermore, authors are PAYING them!

Is that honest? Is that cheating?

I think so. They must have money to burn too, as these reviews don’t come cheap. Imagine, paying out 10 dollars for each review, receiving 50 5-star reviews. Five hundred dollars. Not much I hear you say, and the sales – whoa, the sales! They are fantastic. Pretty soon you are climbing up the ladder. You are 10,000, 5,000, TWO HUNDRED in the pop chart of sales!!!

But then you come to write your second book. If you can write a second book that is. If you’re interested, if you have the will, the desire, let alone the talent. You write it, and despite all the reviews in all the world, you don’t sell any.

Why not? Because it’s crud, that’s why. Just like the first one. The only difference is, now everyone knows it. The bluff can’t work twice.

You might even be tempted to go and buy some advertising on one of those book promotion sites which are all the rage. Sure, brilliant. The free ones…well, your book will get lost amongst all the others, so BUY an ad. It’ll only cost you around 1200 dollars. WHAT? Am I mad? Somebody must be, to actually buy this stuff.

I’m so tired of it all. I am. The whole bandwagon. Buy this, do that. Bootcamps and snowflakes. Three part novels and five part novels. Pulses and beats.

Why in the name of sanity can’t people write because they can? Because they NEED to?

I’m a lonely voice, lost in the corporate, self gratifying bilge of world that is called publishing.

But do I care? Well, I’m just completing an 80,000 word thriller, and about to edit my sequel to Varangian. So, I don’t care. Two-fingers, is what I say. I’ll write and if I sell, cool.

Stick with it.

My books Varangian, Roadkill and Burnt Offerings are all on promotion until the end of the month. Be quick and buy your Kindle version soon. You won’t regret it, I promise. Just read the reviews…and none of them paid for!




Filed under fiction writing