Forgive me please, Gentle Reader. I’ve just had an attack of writerly irritation that I must disgorge before it sours my whole day. Now that you’ve been forewarned, feel free to ignore this rant if you prefer.
I write fiction, as most of you already know and the rest of you can see from the sidebar. I’ve already released ten novels and a host of lesser works. They haven’t received much attention from reviewers. As I publish my own work rather than beg for crumbs from the barons of Pub World, I’ve never expected much. Besides, low expectations are generally a good policy. As Benjamin Franklin has told us, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” However, those who’ve read my books have largely been complimentary about them, for which I’m grateful.
There’s a new trend afoot: indie writers much like myself have been cruising Amazon’s review sections, looking for reviewers whose email addresses are available, whom they can solicit to review their books. I have no idea what sort of response such solicitation email campaigns get; it’s an approach I haven’t tried and don’t intend to try.
I’ve received a number of such solicitations over the course of 2016. I’ve made a point of replying to them by proposing a reciprocal exchange of reviews: “You do one of mine and I’ll do yours.” I’ve usually offered free copies of whatever my correspondent might be interested in reading. Yet not one of those writers has agreed to an exchange of reviews. Most don’t even reply to my offer.
Over the past few weeks I’ve received several such solicitations and have responded as I indicated above. Two of my correspondents did deign to reply. They shouldn’t have:
- The first one wrote that “I don’t want to feel pressured to reciprocate a five-star review.”
- The second one said that given my “bona fides,” it wouldn’t be a “fair exchange.”
So we have one imputation of dishonesty – that is, that I would write an insincerely glowing review of her book in exchange for a similar one from her – and one who thinks a one-for-one exchange of reviews somehow wouldn’t be “fair.” I shrugged off the first one; after all, she was effectively accusing herself of insincerity and dishonesty. With the second one, I felt my blood pressure rise dangerously high, for that fellow’s book – his first – has already received more reviews than any one of mine.
Indie writers need one another’s support. I buy quite a lot of indie-published works, and write quite a lot of book reviews, out of the desire to help others who’ve taken this course, as I know it to be a difficult and frustrating one. But how could one who solicits a review imagine that he should be exempt from reciprocating the courtesy?
A great deal has been written about the plague of “entitlement syndrome” at work in these United States. This is close kindred to it. I’ve had quite enough of it. Having to cope with it threatens my generally good disposition. I will tolerate no more. Accordingly:
If you write to ask me to support you with my time, money, and attention, you had better offer to support me in a similar fashion. No excuse for not doing so will be accepted. If you have the time to ferret out the email addresses of Amazon reviewers and blast out solicitation emails imploring us to read and review your works of imagination, you have the time for a little pleasure reading of your own. You have been warned.