Monday, October 20, 2014

There *is* such a thing as bad publicity

I mentioned, in places too numerous to link to, that I originally went the "traditional" route and queried agents. Although I wanted to go indie for a while, I was cognizant of the benefits of traditional, most of which were in the areas of editorial and marketing services. One of the things that convinced me to finally take the plunge was that there is almost no marketing support these days unless you're already really big or unless, for whatever reason, your publishing house takes a shine to you. Because the category I write in doesn't command a lot of shelf space in bookstores (that would be New Adult Romance, FYI), I realized I would not be one of those authors who would get a lot of support, if I got picked up at all.

I am happy with my decision, but we indies are very aware of how much work we have to do to generate our own publicity. I love writing for other blogs, but I realize that those don't have the same reach as a print magazine or newspaper. I am not the only indie who fantasizes about having a big platform to shout from so I could convince people that they should buy my book.

It's just that I always figured if I did, I'd be giving you good reasons to buy from me, not telling you all of the reasons why someone who doesn't like my stuff is so deficient. In fact, if I had a really big platform, I wouldn't want to tell ANYONE about the people who didn't like me. So the actions of two authors last week leave me not only disgusted, but puzzled.

I am not going to write out the name of the first author in question, nor am I going to put her name in the tags. Here's a link to some of Dear Author's coverage of the story. I am not going to give this woman anymore publicity because what this author did falls under the definition of stalking. I don't mean online stalking- I mean real-life stalking. I don't understand why the blogger she stalked hasn't brought criminal charges against her, because I would. And how did this start? Because the author could not handle that this blogger and reviewer didn't like her book.

People are crazy; what else is new? But what has been making me blink for the last few days is that the Guardian, a respected news outlet, published the story the author told about her obviously criminal behavior. It also astounds me that her publishing company, Harper Teen, has said nothing in response to what their author did. Until they do, I can only assume that their silence is cover for their approval.

Slightly less disturbing is the tantrum author Margo Howard wrote for the New Republic. Her book was given to Amazon's Vine Program for early review. She seems to find the idea of pre-publication reviews in and of themselves offensive, never mind that most authors (traditional and indie) long for such pre-publicity. Apparently, the Vine Reviews she received were unflattering, and she in turns feels that these unprofessional reviewers are uneducated mouth-breathers who are only reviewing so they can get free stuff and don't understand that books are different from "pots and creams".

Ah, that again. As a long-time reviewer and a member of the Vine Program, I would like to point out that it is extremely difficult to review the product if we don't have it. And since we are being asked to review it, it just doesn't make sense to charge us for what we review. Hence, what we get is free.

I'd also like to add that I'd been reviewing on Amazon by choice for about six or seven years before I was selected to be in the Vine Program. I have a decent rank, but I wasn't in the Top 1000. To this day, I'm not entirely sure why I was tapped, but obviously Amazon felt I offered something that they wanted for their program. This would, therefore, be the case with all of the other reviewers in the program. In other words: we were asked.

I'm an author; I get how much a bad review can sting. But if we're serious about not just writing but publishing our work, I fail to understand why we would not act like professionals and not narcissists. I also don't understand why the Guardian and the New Republic want to perpetuate the idea that reviews, which are really opinions, and perhaps books in general should only be available to those who are qualified.

Here is my list of qualifications: literacy. Yep- done. All those who qualify are invited to read books and share their opinions.