Courtesan or slapper?


Yesterday, we had the pleasure of Vivienne Tuffnell coming to visit and I mentioned that her blog is often very thought-provoking. Very much so in the case of “I would do anything for love but..” which covered the delicate subject of how much we authors have to sell our principles to sell our books.

I refuse to bombard my friends with “Buy my Book” messages because it isn’t polite. If they see my adverts coming up on FB and don’t want to read them, they can ignore them. Face it – I don’t even mention my own books very often on here. The links are there on the right, if you like my style and are interested you can go and have a nosey-about. Nobody is forcing you.

One thing I won’t do is review books which I haven’t read or do “review swaps” which is a form of organised debasing of the review system. Yes, it has come in for a lot of flack recently with authors inventing “sock puppet” reviewers (non existent folks who all give them 5* reviews) but it still means something to me. If I say I did or didn’t like a work it is because I have spent the time reading it.

I’m also a very trusting soul; as I’ve said before, we tend to judge others by our own standards. So when I was approached by a young man on Twitter offering to “swap reviews” I told him I would only review his book if I’d read it and he responded with “Great”. Silly me. I gave him the link to the first in one of my series and dutifully purchased the e-book he proposed.

You will imagine my chagrin (not to mention bad language) when the very next day a new five star review appeared for Alchemy that had obviously been cobbled together from snatches of other reviews. He had not had time to read it, I’m sure he didn’t buy it and I was furious – no I DIDN’T shrug and say “So what? Another few stars is another few stars!” I felt utterly cheated. So that young man will not be getting any kind of review from me.

Perhaps in future I will grow a thicker skin or maybe I was properly dragged up and won’t work the system, certainly not to take advantage of other writers.

Virtuous but feisty angel!
Virtuous but feisty angel!

18 thoughts on “Courtesan or slapper?

  1. You should know I am glad I didn’t have a mouthful of coffee when my eye caught the thumbnail of this post on FB, because all I read was my name followed by Courtesan or Slapper?
    I think the phrase is ROFLMAO.

  2. I had somebody offering to send me the review of a book I could post…Oh dear Lord. By the way, I’ve been collecting images of angels and I love your feisty one!

  3. I’ll review what I have chosen to read or what I have been given to read if I can. I won’t post a negative review and don’t expect a reciprocal one… except perhaps when I have been specifically asked to send hard copies after reviewing several books for one person, and still being nagged for more… and a year on no mention of any of my books. I wouldn’t mind if they said they didn’t like them so didn’t want to write a review… just no mention and still requests.Common politeness goes a long way.

  4. Ailsa, I couldn’t agree more! Once you tell someone you have a book out there, most folks will take that into advisement and buy, or not (sometimes finances are the issue, it isn’t always because they don’t like your work, speaking strictly here from our stance, not anyone else’s), and realize that pushing people to buy books, frankly rarely works.
    Something’s been lost with online publishing that I can’t quite fathom out: when did it become a matter of expecting those who buy books to become editors (for self publishers), or worse, to expect ONLY positive reviews, or heckle the reviewer to death on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, et al? And while I agree that being supportive is important to the author, so is honesty.

    1. Don’t review books you haven’t read.
    2. If you are the author wanting a review, be willing (and gracious) to take suggestions (not in your case, hon, but in cases where the writer is doing NON fiction, in a serious subject, but has literally no background of understanding of what they are writing about!) Or if fiction, is having technical problems (can’t keep tenses, spelling issues, grammar, or point of view voicing issues).

    What’s worse, is the fact that some of these works are simply going to Amazon and elsewhere as an “ebook” that are simply unintelligible writing, without research, editing or taking time to look for obvious plot holes, character development problems, or cliche patter that makes folks want to throw their pad, computer, e-reader across the room!

    Something that kind of “burns” my butt, is someone demanding me to review their work (there was this east Indian guy), who would literally sit in my IM chat area, waiting to ambush me as soon as I log in almost daily; “Will you read and review my book!” to the point of ad nauseam, so one night I downloaded his ‘ebook’, that was supposedly about “enlightenment” or maybe it should be said, how he rid himself of anxiety, (we’re still not sure what the point of this ebook was supposed to be, but frankly was an exercise in how NOT to write). Raymond and I spent 4 hours attempting to try to understand what his book was about (the whole 123 pages of garbled English, tense problems, voice issues, no feeling in the text towards the reader, etc).

    In the end, the encounter the next day online was to hijack me once again in instant messaging, as soon as I logged into Facebook, demanding my ‘glowing review’. His book had already been submitted to Amazon as a “finished ebook”, selling for $6.99, when it was nothing more than his journals about his thoughts on enlightenment (sort of), with questions at the end for someone to try to get an understanding of the spiritual space, they feel they lack. I was honest to him in a private instant messaging, telling him gently that he needed an editor, and classes in ESL, before he should have submitted this to Amazon. In the end, he of course took offense, got angry and defended the work he had done (all the people praise his “good English”, etc from India, and so forth). While I understand his defensiveness, from the standpoint that we all want other’s to love our ‘babies’ (creation), he needed to know that anyone outside of India would probably ask Amazon for their money back, if they can get it back.

    It’s truly rough. Authors are now suing reviewers if they don’t feel that the review is “nice enough” or giving enough ‘stars’. Highjacking people on Facebook, LinkIn and other social media, to demand reviews only leads to either false reviews, or worse. I really think we need filters put back in publishing, where someone who is completely neutral looks over the works, gives the appropriate advice, and is assistive in helping the author get across what they are intending.

    Sadly with this guy from India, he truly needed a ghost writer to sit down with him, helping the author figure out exactly what it was he wanted to convey, find a voice, stick with it, and write in present day English in a way that could convey to his audience what he was intending to discuss.

    1. Thank, Mary. I agree. So glad it isn’t just me and yes, I’ve been pestered to give advice. No more – I have only once ended up as unpaid editor to someone advertising himself as the “new Terry Pratchett” – he wasn’t and didn’t like it when I told him so!

      1. I am laughing long and hard. I am sorry you got “suckered” in to edit that mess! Even more so, I am sad, that you ended up getting hit by that PR person. They can be truly ruthless, only hoping to fleece other’s. Sort of the “piranha” of the entertainment industry (regardless if they are in books, music or any other part of the industry).

      2. No matter. Lessons learned hard are lessons learned well – I suppose when one explains that due to brain damage one can’t read at the moment and they continue to pester – message should have been received! 😀

  5. I used to post excerpts on a site called authonomy. It’s about reading and commenting on each other’s work but if you get enough people clicking the ‘read’ button and putting your book on their ‘shelf’ you might get a crit from a Harper Collins editor.

    However, the system was open to abuse. People could put a book on their shelf for 30 seconds to get your book the points and push it up the charts. The idea was that you would immediately do the same for them, whether, or not, you’d read any of their book. It got to the point when people would leave you a PM saying, “If I shelve your book and give it points, will you please do the same for me.”

    My answer was always, no, but I will read it and leave some thoughts in the comments if you want me to. I remember explaining this to one author who contacted me about swapping ‘shelves’. She wrote back saying yes, of course, she would review my book soon.

    Less than five minutes later, she shelved my book and left a comment that said, “great.”

    I didn’t read her book. I like to pay it forward but I believe that people up for review swaps are usually only in it for themselves. I want to write an honest review which will help readers find the books I love and I expect that in return not five stars and a load of rubbish.

    Well said.



  6. One standard I set for myself at the front was that I wouldn’t buy reviews and I wouldn’t swap for reviews. I only have reviews from two people who know me personally. All the rest are real gold: good reviews (one, one-star that I absolutely love) from readers I don’t know from Adam. I count those as my greatest joy, more dollar sales though I wish I had.

    1. Know what you mean. Under my other pen name, Cameron Lawton, I write gay fiction and the reviews I love best are the ones that start with “this isn’t normally my genre but…” solid gold!

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