I got into writing for one main reason: a girl I know did it and I wanted to prove I could do it too. OK, so she wrote chick lit and got a book deal while I wrote fantasy and…didn’t, but the point is still there: I wrote and published my book because someone I knew did it and I wanted to prove to myself that I could write too. I enjoyed it, I really did, and while I’ve published the book myself, she has finally, just a few weeks ago, had her book released for sale.
Ever since then I’ve silently suffered through the gushing torrent of self-promotion on facebook, witnessed every single positive review and generally gotten sick of the whole thing, considering quietly cutting her out from my friend list in a vain attempt to save myself the pain of seeing such mind-boggling success, but I saw something today that actually made me smile:
“Dear Friends, I’m sorry I’m just banging on about myself and my book so much at the moment – I hate it. But I need help. Amazon have finally opened up the review page on my novel and I need some good reviews – everyone’s just complaining about the swearing! For fuck’s sake! (!) So if you’ve read it already and liked it please please please write me a review. Thanks so very much. Promise to leave you all alone soon. X”
Apparently even published authors try to pad their reviews. Since that post went up she’s had most of her good reviews appear, and I’m pretty sure more are to follow.
It’s something I’ve considered, a sleight of hand move to increase the star rating of my book and hopefully bump sales, but I’ve actually managed to hold back. I have never asked anyone to write a positive review for my book because somewhat naively I believe in honesty in all things. A review isn’t just a sales pitch for my book, it’s feedback for me, the writer. I am planning more books, and every honest review has something I can learn from, be it good or bad.
This is not to say that a friend hasn’t written a review for me – indeed one has (but only one, and I asked her not to) – only that I have never asked someone to give me a false review in an attempt to improve sales.
Giving false reviews is rather like an adolescent girl stuffing her bra with paper towels: it detracts from the real beauty beneath and draws the attention of the wrong kind of people. Worse still it sets itself up for a fall at the end of the evening, when the finale doesn’t quite live up to the hype.
Sadly enough, I’m pretty sure I’m about the only writer out there that hasn’t become involved in padding my ratings. It could be one of many reasons why I sell so few books (refusal to involve myself in Kindle Select being another, but I can’t bring myself to get involved in Amazon’s naked grab for market share by forcing people like me to remove books from all other vendors, and anyway, I sell as many through B&N as I do through Amazon these days), but to me it doesn’t matter. These reviews are important to me, the good and the bad, because each and every one teaches me something.
Someone famous (and smarter than me) once wrote of evolution: “We are each of us running as fast as we can, simply to keep up”. Every review I get is another step towards catching up with the competition, towards pushing myself a little further ahead until one day the finish line hoves into sight.