The review swap

Now, it’s been a while since I’ve felt compelled to write something here and for that I apologize. In my own defense (and yes, this is an excuse) I’ve been busy writing Rebel Queen. The KickStarter went much better than anticipated for a book that doesn’t exist in physical form yet, so I’ll be sure to run another crowd sourcing campaign when I do have a physical book. As before, this is primarily to reach out to my readers and find new ones as well. I don’t want everyone’s hard earned bucks for my own personal gratification. I give away a lot of what I do not because I don’t want to make money, but because I appreciate the support I’ve been lucky enough to receive.

So keep your eyes open come October when I’ll put up another one with many of the same perks as the last, but with a finished novel ready to ship. So fill out that little form to the right there so I can send you an update when that’s ready to go or when Rebel Queen is released. I’m also still on the hunt for more beta readers, so if you like my work and want an advanced copy to give me feedback before it’s for sale, or you’re a reviewer looking for an advanced copy to review CLICK HERE.

This article is primarily about reviews and review swaps though. It’s something that’s been irking me for some time now and frankly, it drives me crazy.

The way Amazon and other online retailers work is by reviews and purchases. Apple, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and Amazon all give reviews more weight than purchases and for good reason; people will snap up a book on a whim, but if they never review it…we don’t know if it’s any good. The price of an ebook is low enough to encourage readers to take a chance on an unknown author no matter how they’re published.

Forgive me, but it’s time for a tangent. Self-Published authors are now combating the stigma of self-pub books by being their own publishing house. This is an incredibly good idea because so many people pass just because they see the authors name in the publishing house field. I do find it amusing when they give themselves a management position in that imaginary company, but that’s just my own twisted sense of humor kicking in.

As many of you likely know, authors swap reviews. By that I mean, two authors agree to read each others work and then give a review. The idea is to give an honest review, not pad someone’s review score. That isn’t what always happens, but that’s the intent. More often than not, of course, they’re swapping five star reviews. This shouldn’t scare readers away, but give them an idea of how a writer perceives another writers story. However, there’s an ugly side to these review swaps and that’s what I want to discuss today.

There is, as with any profession, a certain amount of professional jealousy that goes into writers reviewing other writers work. If, for instance, two writers are competing for a share of the same genre fiction market, it can sometimes rear it’s ugly head in review swaps. I always appreciate honesty, even if it stings and if it tweaks my nerves bad enough I usually take a couple of days before I reciprocate unless I’ve already left a review. The rationale I use is simple, if the book is good, I don’t want my irritation to negatively effect how I review it.

I’ve discussed before both here and on my GoodReads profile my annoyance with stars that don’t reflect the write-up and I won’t go into a long diatribe about it again. Suffice to say, if you wrote “like” in your heading, then that’s the star rating the book should get (4 stars). If it was “ok” then that’s 3 stars. If it blew your hair back then it’s 5.

This is where we get to the meat of my beef today.

I recently did some review swaps and for the most part enjoyed the experience. I got to read some books outside of my genre and even some poetry (which I rarely read). It’s unrealistic to expect that all of them were going to be positive experiences and I was cautiously prepared for that. If the review is a reflection of someone’s perception and taste then who am I to question it?

Ultimately, writers should be prepared to receive reviews no matter how good, bad or ugly they are and that has been an interesting learning experience for me. So if you are a writer and are jumping into the review swap arena, or even just a writer soliciting reviews, be prepared for all eventualities. You can’t please all of the people all of the time and you will certainly get reviews you find unfair or biased…and they probably are. But that’s the nature of the beast. Take the good with the bad. Crying about it afterwards is hardly productive. Learn something from the experience and move on.

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