Now the personal story behind my rant…
Hopefully I’m not the only writer compelled to click on the free book links on Facebook or Twitter, right? I, being the soft-hearted champion of all hard working authors I am, often click that link if the book looks even remotely like something I would enjoy because hey, it took a second of my time and cost me nothing, but it may have boosted that author’s status just a smidge and to me that’s worth it.
Most of the time I click the link, at some point read the book, and if I liked it I post a short review on Amazon or at least give it some stars on Goodreads. If I didn’t like it, no one will ever know.
On this particular occasion the book looked like something I’d really love to read, so I clicked the link and actually had to hold off on reading the first page until after I’d hit my word count for the day. It was torture, but it had to be done. By that evening I was primed for a great story and opened the file expecting to be sucked into the pages…Let’s just say I wasn’t and leave it at that.
No big deal. The book wasn’t my thing. It was free. I could have been my high expectations, or my snobby need to be incased in a story from page one. Or, maybe the fact that I know a little something-something about the world the book was written in and it didn’t ring true for me. I was willing to forget it ever happened and let that author have one more free sale because of me. But I’d forgotten that when I clicked the buy link I also commented to the author about loving the cover and buying the book. (I bought it under a different name, so no worries they’ll find me here. I don’t talk smack. Really I don’t. But this lesson needs to be shared.)
So, a few days ago Facebook made me switch to that annoying new messenger app and in-between messages about meeting up for writer’s club I got a ding from said author asking, of all the things, why I hadn’t returned her favor of a free book with a review. Umm… is there some unspoken rule that obligates a reader to review a book if said reader received it for free? If so, I’m hundreds of reviews behind, Y’all. Hundreds, and very sorry, but you’ll be waiting until after your print run runs out before you get one.
Stunned, I let the message marinate on that crappy messenger app for about a day while I formulated an answer that didn’t sound like “Because 1. I didn’t like it. 2. It wasn’t all the back blurb promised. 3. A little more research into XXX profession and you might have had me fooled. 4. If you have to ask for reviews in such an abrasive way it really makes me NOT want to be your friend…But, before I could formulate a polite return I received another ding. “I have over 50 reviews on Amazon and 60 on Goodreads. Most people who buy my book thank me with a review.” and some other non flattering stuff I’ll leave out. Sure enough her book is on Amazon with over 50 reviews ranging from 5 stars to 1. Some of them quite glowing and some echoing the same issues I found. Good for you, author. Looks like you don’t need me after all.
By that point I was channeling my mother who taught me the golden rule of “when a fool opens their mouth, or in this case Instant Messenger, politely back away before they suck you into their black-hole of stupidity.”
The equivalent of backing away in this case was deleting the message and unliking the author’s fan page. End of story. At least I hope it is.
Moral to my yammering tale of woe…
I’m an author, and I will go way the hell out of my way to support any fellow authors as long as I am allowed to support them on my terms and from my comfort zone. Yes, I’ve received books from fellow authors with the request to write a review for them and I make it very clear that I’d be happy too if I feel compelled after reading the book. Most of the time I do, but those few times when the book didn’t do it for me, I keep my mouth shut because I’m an author, not a book reviewer.
I really resent being hounded to pimp out an author I don’t know. An author who I did a solid for by buying their book (even if it was free) and by not writing a negative review. When did this practice of badgering readers to review your work become suitable author behavior? Not cool in Reagan’s world. Not. Cool.
So, has anything like this happened to you? Do you review every book you’ve read, good and bad? I’m I wrong for not post a review when I don’t like the book? Inquiring minds want to know.
Oh, and here’s a man chest. A man reading just does something to me…