Every six months, I pull together all my pen names and do an average ranking based on the reviews. I’m going to be honest with you all here; I don’t actually read the majority of my reviews. I really only look at my average ranking on Amazon when I’m trying to make business decisions.
Give me a break people, I write under three different pen names and Essa Alroc isn’t nearly close to being the most popular. I blog under Essa because she is the closest to being who I really am. I write other books in more popular genres and let those other two identities spend most of the money on bullshit. Between the three of us, our budget for candy apples and leather pants is ridiculous.
Under all those pen names, nearly 200 people have given me opinions on my books, everywhere from 1 to 5 stars and I really don’t have time to read them all. I’m too busy actually writing books.
Here’s the thing…I don’t mind bad reviews. They roll right off my back. I don’t even mind reviews that trash me as a human being. I only get concerned when a rating dips below three stars, because that has the potential to impact my sales. When that happens I take a look at the reviews to see if there is a glaringly obvious problem with formatting or grammar. If so, I fix it. If not, I move on with my day. You can’t please everyone and to be honest, I’m not really the kind of person who worries too much about pleasing anyone.
But you know what annoys me? When someone posts an opinion that in any way, demands I do something. Let me give you a very generic example, rather than embarrassing the asshole by posting the review here.
“The author had a good book to start, but then decided to (insert complaint here – .i.e. mistook ‘woman’ for ‘women’/was insulting to religious people/talked about alpacas in an unflattering way). Because of that, I can’t endorse this writer’s novels until she (insert demand that I do something here).”
Here’s the thing reviewers; you can pan my writing. You can call me an idiot and say any number of unflattering things about me. Hell, you can set up a page that claims that I sexually molest dwarf hamsters for all I care.
What you don’t get to do is tell me what the fuck to do. No, I won’t revise my writing because you find it offensive. I won’t fix my novels to remove all the profanity and then send you a free copy to re-review. I certainly won’t apologize for anything I wrote, nor will I offer you any explanation for why I wrote it the way I did.
The indie publishing age has given birth to two very annoying things; authors that think they are better than they are and reviewers that think they are more powerful than they are.
The authors that think they’re better are kind of obvious. I’m talking about authors who write a 2400 word story rife with spelling errors, slap it up on Amazon, and expect to become millionaires. I don’t need to discuss those people because they know who they are and they will fail without the assistance of anyone else.
No, I think we need to talk about reviewers that have an over-developed sense of self-importance. Over the past few months, I have had reviewers from book blogs email me on a regular basis, requesting review copies.
I write a series and I once made the mistake of giving a part of that series away for free. As a result, I now have people who have book review blogs emailing me and demanding more copies for free.
Jesus fucking Christ people, not ONE of my books is priced at more than $2.99! If you like my writing, is it really asking that much for you to break a $5 to get the rest of the series? If you hate my writing, why the hell are you emailing me for more in the first place?
I get that you want to save money, but you need to understand that this is a lose/lose situation for me. If you like me and I give you a free copy of my book, I just lost an actual sale. If you hate me and I give you a free copy of my book, I just paid you to say shitty things about me.
Let me put it in a way everyone can understand.
There is a guy who just opened a business in town. If you give him $4, he will do one of three things;
- Smile at you briefly
- Ignore you entirely
- Punch you in the nuts as hard as he can
You have no say over which one of those three things he will do. He might smile and tell all his friends about how you made him smile. Or he might punch you in the nuts, and then encourage all of his friends to punch you in the nuts as well.
Does that sound like a viable business model to you?
Indie publishing has given rise to that very business model. As a result, because I write indie (no real publisher in their right mind would pick me up) I regularly get emails from people who seem to think I owe them something. Some of these people have left me horrible reviews on the first two books in my series, and then expect me to give them a free copy of the third.
Now, I have an MBA that I earned through showing up in classes drunk, stoned or disinterested, but even I know that’s a terrible business plan.
When these people email me, I try to be cool. I give them a Smashwords discount code and thank them for their interest. Then, I go on about my day.
I have NEVER received a thank you for the books I’ve given away. In fact, I’ve had some people come back to me with the audacity to demand I send one of my books to them in a different format. You know what fuckers?
Beggars can’t be choosers.
To date, not one single review I’ve gotten (and I’ve gotten reviews from the biggies) has changed my sales in any significant way. Hell, I have 28 excellent reviews on Strangely Sober and I barely sell four copies a week.
On the flip side, I have one book under a different pen name and it has one 1 star review. I average about 20 copies a day.
I don’t solicit reviews because I don’t even read reviews. I fell out of that habit in the first year of being an author, after garnering 4 of my absolute worst reviews on a free giveaway day. Trust me, I learned my lesson.
Yes, you are free to say whatever you want about me, but in no way am I required to pay you to say shitty things about me. If you want to insult me, I’m going to need you to pay for the pleasure.
I am sick to death of reviewers acting like they’re doing me the biggest favor in the world by considering reviewing my books when they can’t even be bothered to say thanks for the free fucking copy.
You know what? I don’t owe you shit. I write my books the way I want to because THEY ARE MY STORIES. They are not yours. Those are my characters that I created and I get to do whatever I want with them. You don’t get a say.
I will not apologize to you for the fact that you think I don’t like Christians, men, women, gays, Gary Busey, alpaca farmers or anything else. I’m not going to change my main character in a major novel because she doesn’t fit your personal tastes…because as far as I’m concerned, your personal tastes are shit anyway.
I’m not required to do anything for you and I don’t owe you shit.
As for free books, from here on out, I offer one. It’s called The Apology. I give it away because it’s a short novella that fully displays my writing style. If you can’t figure out if you like the way I write in 27,000 free words, there is absolutely no point in reading anything else I wrote, because you clearly don’t like me. That’s cool. We can move on from that. Leave your terrible review and let it go. Don’t email me for more of my books so you can insult me again.
I’m only a masochist in the bedroom people.
Reviewers, you are one single person. Your opinion is subjective, and judging from my sales, it does not make or break me. You do not have the power to make me change my writing style, my plotlines or my endings. You are one damn person running a blog that barely any paying customers read.
Let’s be honest. I’m pretty sure the majority of these people who write book blogs have not actually paid for a copy of a book in years, and are being read by people who don’t actually pay for books, because they are book bloggers as well.
If I really wanted to make money, I’d move into pirating instead. I always thought I made a kickass pirate.
Reviewers, you have an over-inflated sense of self importance. You seem to think that threats to one star me will make me do something for you. It won’t. Maybe other indies will kiss your ass but I won’t. If you want to leave a scathing review of one of my novels, you can go ahead and open your wallets to do it. I’m not going to be some dumb fuck who hands you the money to buy ammunition to shoot me with. Buy your own damn bullets.
I don’t read my reviews anymore because I don’t care about my reviews. Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.
And I have no intention of paying you money to see yours.