Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A thing or two about reviews, reviewers and uncouth practices

I have two things to talk about today and both are related to reviews.  I know how hard it is to be judged especially for something that is near and dear to your heart as your book.  Publishing your book comes with limitations and one of them is accepting what others think about it.  You may not agree with what they say - that's okay - but they have a right to their opinion.  The one thing that you do not want to do is blast the reviewer no matter what.  It just goes without saying.  You must be some kind of a moron to go on someone's blog where they have posted a review that you didn't agree with and cuss them up and down.  It certainly does happen and it happened recently and I was appalled to see it along with the many bloggers who were floored to think that someone would have that kind of mentality.  Here's the thing.  You have your online reputation to consider.  While you may think that you're giving your side of the story and it feels damn good to let them have it, it doesn't look that way to whoever sees it.  It looks childish and no one will ever buy a book by you because of it.

The second thing I want to talk about is plagiarism.  Suddenly bloggers are bombarded with review requests from authors, publicists and publishers in the last few years and it's because authors, publicists and publishers have figured out an easy way to get reviews - just email a book blogger and if it's a genre they like (and I'm hoping the author, publicist and publisher did their homework to determine that beforehand), voila you have a free review just for sending them a book and if you can talk them into an ebook, it's an even better deal.  The thing is - looking at the reviewer's respective - free books look very enticing.  No more having to buy books anymore.  All they have to do is open up their email and there are dozens of inquiries.  They don't even have to go to the library anymore - they are building their library kingdom right at home.  It's all good though because reviews are priceless and if a blogger wants to read my book and write a review, I have chalked up another review for the price of a book and again reviews are priceless.  But here's the thing.  It's so easy to say yes and hard to say no to a book you just have to have.  No matter if you never heard of it before, the author, publicist or publisher has given you enough to go on that you just have to have it.  After all, you don't have to have it read for maybe a month and some don't even put limitations on when you have to have it reviewed.  But then there are some people who do have limitations.  They are blog tour companies.

Depending on how many tours a blog tour company has going on that month and it depends on how many reviews they have to get for each author, they can sometimes rake up to almost 20 reviews per author per month.  Usually unless it's a strictly review tour, you don't have to have that many, but for the sake of this blog post, let's say you need maybe five to ten reviews per author per month.  I personally have well over 10 blog tours each month to coordinate.  Sometimes it's an insane amount but for the sake of this blog post, let's just say I have to have 50 reviews total in one month.  That's fifty bloggers I must find for that author in order to fill my quota.  And let's say other authors, publicists and publishers and on top of that other blog tour companies besides my own need reviews.  That's an awful lot of reviews needed per month.  Thank goodness there's a lot of book bloggers out there and if you'll notice the really popular ones with all the followers fill up rather fast.  Some of these blogs review lots of books each month - an insane amount.  How do they do it?  I barely can fulfill my own obligation of one or two a month.  How can they possibly review upwards of twenty a month, you ask?

Well.  Recently I had the unfortunate experience of finding out one of the reviewers who reviews for me sometimes plagiarized her review for the sake of scrambling to get it done in time.  I understand book bloggers are like the rest of us - we aren't robots and we do have lives - but they tend to take on too many and then they resort to copying snippets of reviews other reviewers have written about this book and using it to make their own review.  Instead of emailing me and telling me something came up and they couldn't post on a particular day, they "borrowed" snippets of someone else's review and the author caught it.  I didn't catch it myself because I hadn't read the book, but the author knows their reviews like it's the back of their hand.

Let me tell you something.  Plagiarizing for the sake of getting something done is not the answer and creates bad relations if you are found out.  Of course a blogger feels no one will be the wiser but here's where the reviewer went wrong.  In her haste to get the review written that night, she copied snippets from another book the author had wrote and that was the tip off that alerted the author.

Oh this has been going on for years.  It's nothing new.  But it's wrong.  Dead wrong. The author didn't want to have anything to do with a company who writes fake reviews and she was outta there.  Even as much as I tried explaining I didn't write the review, it didn't matter to this author so it's bad relations all the way around when this happens.  I would have been livid myself.

The problem is that in order to catch these people in the very act, you have to take time out to study the review and the reviews before it and not everyone has time for that.  But usually the author has some kind of censor built in and can recognize it right off the bat.  I would suggest authors go back over their reviews and make sure this hasn't happened to them.  On the other hand, some authors won't mention it for the sake of a five star review if that's what the blogger gave them.  It's crazy, simply crazy and sometimes it makes you wonder about the world today.  The country is lacking morals; why wouldn't it pertain to books?