I self-published my first novel about a month ago, an eBook, now for sale on Amazon and Smashwords. My first buyers have been, of course, my friends and relatives.
Then the big hurdle arose—how to market it to the rest of the world. All of you authors out there will sympathize when I say, “It ain’t easy!”
Desperate, I even sunk low enough to do an exchange with another frantic author. That at least got me my first review. And in doing the exchange, I had to read and review a book entirely out of my usual genre. Me, a suspense reader had to tackle a vampire book. Having long ago become a maven of suspense, I haven’t read that kind of thing since Stephen King’s early novels, that I used to devour. No pun intended.
In the interest of fairness, and I expected my exchangee to do the same, I reviewed her book for her market audience—the vampire readers. I gave it a great review, honestly believing it was unique and readable in its genre. She did the same for me, and we both got an early, very good review. Please don’t ask what I would have done, had her book been poorly written. Luckily, it was not!
Then a few days later, I noticed I had two reviews on Goodreads. From friends who’d read my book. I was so excited! Do I need to tell you my dismay when I saw that one of my very good friends (and a fellow writer to boot) gave me a lowly three star review?
Now in the grand scheme of book publishing, I have no doubt we’ll all get a crummy review or two. Or more, because you cannot pique everyone’s interest with your story. But to get a three star in the early days is huge—what does that say to other potential readers?
When I reamed out my friend for his review, he said he believed in being honest and my book just wasn’t his thing. Then, I asked, why bother writing a review? I pointed out how difficult it made things for me on Goodreads when the second freaking review was so lukewarm. We never did resolve the issue. He defended his betrayal to the end!
Moral of this story is; If you can’t leave a good review for a friend, don’t leave one. And to go one step further I’d ask why leave a review for a book that’s outside of your genre, written by a friend or not?
So dear readers, tell me what you think. Do you agree that avoidance is the right strategy?