Earlier this year, I made myself a promise. Rather than just using social media to promote my own books, I was going to actively seek out new authors. I wanted to make sure I was doing my part to help my peers. If I want help, I have to give it in return right? In theory, that’s true, but I’ve discovered a few things that have left me with a bad taste in my mouth and they have to do with reviews.
There are a number of groups on Facebook dedicated to book promotion, authors, reviews and the like. Authors can post links to buy their book, solicit reviews and share news about upcoming releases, book tours, and so on. Most authors tend to post a copy of their book cover with a small blurb about the book and the links to buy. I started to notice that very few were responding to requests for reviews and review swaps. The review swap is just like it sounds. Authors trade copies of their books and review them for one another, making sure to post those reviews online.
My first venture into the review swap foray did not go well. The author asking to trade reviews was a non-fiction author whose latest release was a cookbook. The only valid way for me to review the book would be to test the recipes which I did not want to do. When I politely tried to back out for that reason, the author said she also had fiction novels that she would trade reviews for. I agreed and thought we were ready to proceed only to find out that the author wasn’t interested in reading my work because my books aren’t available through the Kindle store. Okay, then!
The second time I offered to review an author’s work, it was because she posted a request in the Facebook group that no one was responding to. I suspect no one responded because she wasn’t doing a review for review request. However, she was offering a free copy of the book. I accepted and thoroughly enjoyed the book, but I was dismayed when I logged into Amazon and Goodreads to post my reviews and found more than fifty 4 and 5 star reviews already existed for this work. Why would this author need to solicit reviews when the book was already being well reviewed?
A variation of this happened again this week. An author offered to swap reviews and said he would read any genre in return. I agreed to read his book and was even kind enough to explain that I write contemporary erotic romance so I would understand if he didn’t want to read my book in return though I’d appreciate it. Not only did he send me his book and thank me for letting him off the hook to read mine, but again I find that he has more than thirty reviews on Amazon. Only one was a 1 star review, the rest were 4 and 5 star reviews
People, why are you out there begging for more reviews? Okay, yes, I’m sure the number of reviews dictates how heavily the book is promoted, where it’s ranked, etc., but damn it, you should be lucky you’re getting the reviews you are. One year ago, the first Taking on Love book was released and it has four maybe five reviews on Goodreads. I have even fewer reviews on Barnes and Noble. My point? I would give anything to have thirty or more reviews and I would not be out there actively trolling for more without giving anything back in return.
So, I’ve come to a decision. From now on, I will not do a solicited review unless the author has fewer than ten reviews. I will happily continue to review all the books I purchase on my own as a thank you to the author. I want him or her to know how much I enjoyed his work.
I’m sure some of my peers will disagree with what I’ve said here and my decision not to review your work if your reviews are already rolling in. Maybe one day, I’ll see the other side of this coin. Until then, I keep asking myself, why are you people with double digit review numbers begging for reviews the rest of us with fewer could really use?