I had heard the rumors, read the new Amazon Terms of Service and their policies regarding reviews, and knew eventually they’d come for my meager collection.
Well, today (or sometime last night) the stealth review nazis hit me, stripping at least one review from several of my titles. And those happened to be by book bloggers who’d participated in book tours for those titles. That made it easy to identify which reviews went missing and why.
Book blog tours are hosted by services for whom authors pay a small fee to organize dates, arrange for bloggers, disseminate interview questions, posts, links, etc. The participating bloggers can choose from a list of options, one of which might include a review of the book, which is offered free to the interested party. It is by no means mandatory and there’s no obligation—sometimes they say they will and they don’t—and there’s definitely no expectation of a sterling review. Book bloggers tend to be honest and fair, expressing their opinions without prejudice (other than their own preferences, likes, dislikes, what-have-you).
To paint the book tours and the bloggers with a single brush, calling them “paid reviews” or accusing them of having a “relationship” with the author, is ludicrous. And ultimately that will damage an author’s ability to be discovered because reviews and rankings are how we navigate the minefield that we know as Amazon.
I guess if I had 102 reviews for a title and lost one… no biggee. But I had 15 for a title that’s been favorably received and very favorably reviewed. Now it’s 14. And the ranking plummeted.
For a recent book, the first in a series, a book blogger issued an amazing review that will never make it to the Zon. There was no tour, no fees exchanged hands. She picked it up on her own. She loved it, she got it. It’s HERE.
I’ve charted a steady decline in sales as Amazon continues to gut my ability to find and keep an audience, and there’s fuck all I can do about it. If I dare to complain, at best I’m ignored, and at worst I can have my account deleted and my only viable sales venue gone with the wind.
I posted to Facebook a few days ago: “I used to be an author…”
It’s coming 4 months since I wrote anything other than reviews for GGR-Reviews and a few blog posts.
Write for yourself is the admonition.
Well, OK, but why?
I already have the stories in my head. I’ve already established a Voice, a Style, a Narrative Literary approach to storytelling. I’ve accepted I’m not for everyone. I’m content with the audience I’ve found… bless them all, the ones who get me. I adore you, you are my tribe.
But, I’ll admit… it’s depressing and I dunno what to do about it.
My reality is that writing is both a creative outlet AND a commercial venture. I invest in editors, book cover designers, stock images, advertising. The costs are substantial. The time investment—while difficult to document—is also substantial, involving sacrifices and a commitment of resources and energy for which the ROI is frequently of the “not worth it” kind.
And I’m not even going to rant about expectations I give it away for free or heavily discount because… special snowflakes, entitlement, it’s the internet and everything SHOULD BE FREE and it’s just a book after all and everybody’s got a book in them, and the market’s flooded…
Nope, not going there. There’s only so much this old broad can take in a day.
They were 5* reviews, but of course.
And it’s not so much… do I want or not want to write? No, it’s worse than that.
I’m not sure I care anymore.
To those of you fighting this fight… peace. I hope you find your answers and your Muse.