Case Study: Every Possible Way You Can Go Wrong As a Self-Published Author
If someone asked me to write a parody email said to be from a self-published author, I could not have done it this well.
Sad thing? This isn't a parody.
This email was posted to Twitter this morning, and the reviewer in question was kind enough to remove the identifying details. As a former pro reviewer and self-published author myself? I would never have been so kind.
I'm preaching to the choir in all likelihood, but if you have stumbled upon this post and are wondering what is so bad about this email, let me spell it out for you:
"You are on my list to receive..."
Where did this list come from? Have these books been solicited, or are you spamming people? Ordinarily, I'd give someone the benefit of the doubt, but in this case, once you continue on, I think we all know what's happening here.
NB: Never, ever, ever send unsolicited anything. And definitely not attachments. Never sign someone up for your newsletter or Facebook group or anything. Opt-in should be your default, not opt-out.
"in exchange for a positive review"
No. NONONONONONONO. Never. Never ever. Not in any instance. What you are trying to do here is buy reviews and that is NEVER OKAY. (Sorry, but I'll be using all caps a lot in this post, I fear.)
If you really consider yourself an author, that means accepting, and in fact, welcoming, criticism. You hope for constructive criticism, but you accept what you get. It's part of being a professional. If you want only positive reviews, keep it in your diary or give it to your mom only. Never tell people what to think. And you don't send them a book with an EXPECTATION of anything. You HOPE you will get an honest review. That is all. Shoot, I sent books OVERSEAS for a Goodreads giveaway. Ask me if any of those folks reviewed the book they entered to win? It's called promotion, not bribery.
"1-3 stars really hurt the indie author"
Stop this. Seriously. Stop it now. If I see a self-published book (and no, I will never accept the term "indie" as that is for independent presses) with nothing but 4- and 5-star reviews? I assume that each and every review is a family member or bought on Fiverr. THE CRITICAL REVIEWS ARE WHAT SMART PEOPLE LOOK FOR.
See, I don't trust hoi polloi reviewers. There. I said it. I trust people who HAVE THE SAME TASTE IN BOOKS THAT I DO. If I see a 1-star review that says "plot was good, but there was way too much filthy sex in it" then I AM CLICKING THAT BUY WITH 1-CLICK BUTTON like this:
I need to know what people didn't like. Sometimes what they don't like is what I DO like. I'm definitely not spending what little money I have on a book that has no negative reviews, because that tells me no one has actually read it outside friends and family. And probably has paid reviews. Don't want less than 4 stars? Again, keep it in your diary.
"Promotional sites will remove the author"
I assume you are talking about sites like Bookbub, etc. And this is false. Totally false. Do some research.
Sites like this are looking for an overall positive rating (which in the industry is 3+ stars, but again, RESEARCH), but what they are mostly looking for is that a fair number of genuine, bona fide human beings have bought the book and enjoyed it. You aren't getting that with this promo method you're using. Not even close.
"please DO NOT write things like 'I received this book...'"
This is the point where I completely lost my shit and started throwing things.
YOU ARE ASKING PEOPLE TO BE UNETHICAL AND IGNORE FTC REGULATIONS ABOUT TRUTH IN ADVERTISING.
Since this author is too damn lazy to even look up WHY reviewers make these statements, LET ME GOOGLE THAT FOR YOU.
To quote a former editor of mine: "You lazy, incurious fuck."
Having been a reviewer prior to these regs, and after as well, THEY ARE IMPORTANT. It's WHY Amazon notes Verified Purchase on reviews, as well. Just... I have no words for this level of stupid. NO WORDS.
Reviewers, if an "author" asks you to do this? You have one response. Delete the email and never acknowledge their presence on the planet again. This is absolutely the most asinine thing I've ever seen. It's like there's a competition for being wrong on the Internet this month, and this person is determined to win it.
I think, based on that statement, there's a trophy heading their way.
"your ebook will be attached in another file later today or tomorrow"
This... honestly. It's the cherry on this shit sundae. Now you are spamming people TWICE for ONE BOOK. OMG. HOW EVEN DO YOU MANAGE TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITHOUT CHOKING YOURSELF?
I am actually finishing up this post praying that this will later be revealed to be a hoax and I will have been played mightily, and at that point I will applaud and recommend this individual to any editor I know as a gifted satirist.
But the sad reality is that this level of complete and utter disregard for educating yourself on craft, on the industry, on pesky things like laws and how to operate in the marketplace is WHY so many reviewers refuse to review any self-published titles. This type of person is why *I* can't get people to review my books, even by reviewers I've worked with in a professional capacity.
And that makes me want to put my foot right up their asses.