An Author Calls Bullsh** on Book Reviews
In the past three years I have:
- Wrote, proofed, designed, published and marketed a full length novel.
- Lost 40 pounds.
- Learned how to salsa well.
- And bachata barely.
- Finished 6 rounds of Brazil Butt Lift. (Yup. I'd pass the quarter test.)
- Completely changed my diet to include yummies like black bean brownies.
- Went to the Super Bowl.
- Traveled to the Dominican Republic.
- Survived a carbon monoxide scare. And all the firefighters that went along with it.
- Survived an attempted break-in. Three days in a row.
- Ran a successful eBay operation.
- Found a stylist who finally got my hair game In check. (I love him. And my hair.)
- Geared up to move to a new city, funded by the mad real estate desirability of our 'hood.
- Nurtured the hell out of my marriage, so my husband and I can slay as individuals. And more importantly, as a team.
And that my friend, is just the highlight reel.
Then what the hell is the problem?
Two words: Book Blogger.
Ah, okay, not completely.
Maybe: Book Self-Promotion.
Whatever it is, it's just a symbol of my frustrations, uncovered by Josi Denise. She jumpstarted my mojo with her epic rant, which is required reading (although she keeps breaking the internet). Which is ironic, because the bottom line is the internet has done a mad disservice to writers, just starting with the fact that it has christened everyone with a keyboard AS a writer.
(And if you're not a writer, you probably don't give a shit.)
Add to that hot mess, a promotional machine -- you pick the subset: From mommy blogs, to books, to reviews of basically anything, all simply caught up in the advertising's supremely smart business model of getting the most bang for the least amount of money. Hello, Yelp.
And where you are in the process, determines how you feel (or don't) about it--or the fact that journalistic objectivity can't live there.
Before I launched Settling Down, book bloggers were shouted out as the saviors of the self-publishing set. The yellow brick path to finding readers. Along with reviews. Because: "You need reviews. Plenty of them. Amazon will only start taking you seriously at 50 reviews."
Now how hard could that possibly be? I mean, I had twice as many people at my wedding. So I researched the hell out of it. Made rounds of blogger lists. Sent out my very professional (and well written) media kit. And, outside of this gem from the generous folks at Chick Lit Central, crickets.
Please don't think I'm picking on the book bloggers of the world. I understand for many dedicated souls, this is strictly a passion project. And there's only so much time to read in our busy lives. Never mind post, design and promote for free. You lovelies who got into the business to share your love of book, and ferret out the reads that no one knows about--much appreciation.
I guess, I'm actually calling out the publishing industry, maybe for nothing else other than your marketing brilliance. You've taken this seemingly indy blogging platform, put your cash-ola into the rock stars, but yet made it continue to look like everyone is rolling independently.
But in actuality, everyone is reading the same book.
At the same time.
Author or not, that bores the hell out of me.
Whatever. I get it. You gotta do you. And you should do you. And the rest of us have to do us. While at the same time remembering what makes us, us in the first place.
And that's where I went completely off the rails.
My epic fail? During my non-stop squealing of: 'Please give me a review. Any review. Amazon says I need reviews. I NEED A REVIEW!!!! GIMMMMMMMMMEEEEEE REVIEW!', like some sort of addict josin' for a fix, I lost myself. Worse, instead of looking objectively at my overall accomplishments, I started to judge my entire reason for existing on this planet based on my perceived failures of not getting a review.
Yeah. Don't go there.
But even bigger than that, I started to disregard the very fact that I'm a writer damn it, and the incredible power that wields all by itself. The one thing always at my disposal ARE my words. Yet, instead of using MY words, I banked my success on continuing to beg and beg and beg complete strangers for validation with theirs.
No mas. 'Cause, I'm not some sort of needy bitch who needs your love.
I am a survivor. A thriver. A do-er. A WRITER! (See above.)
The irony of this whole situation? Not only do I vehemently not believe in book reviews, but I've never written one, outside of my Trixie Belden shoutout for Goodreads. I know, right? To me, reviews are like that dress that looks fantastic on you, but is five inches too short for me. Books, like skirts, all comes down to individual tastes. And style. And how much leg you wanna show in the first place.
So how do I pick my reads? Simple. By cracking open the spine (virtual or otherwise) and start reading. Foolproof? Nope. But it definitely gives you an idea for someone's writing style. And storytelling ability. And how their words affect you.
And as a writer, isn't that the only marketing you ever really need?