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Gaming the System

February 22, 2012

Authors know that creating sockpuppets and rating your own books higher on any site is just silly. It’s quite ridiculous, as most readers will say that they pay no attention to the overall rating or any rating without a review attached. Unless you plan to write up a dozen reviews—all saying something different and meaningful about the book—doing this is just a waste of time. Instead, write your next book, make it better than the last, and learn from your mistakes.

Then there is trolling. Now, I’ve seen authors apply this to anyone leaving a less than a 4-star rating for their book or their friends’ books. In reality, trolling is when someone goes through and rates all of one type of book or one author’s book a 1-star. There’s nothing behind it but jealousy, pettiness, and bitterness. Someone rating a book a 1-star does NOT immediately mean they’re a troll. It’s usually other authors who have sockpuppet accounts who go around downrating other authors’ books. That’s trolling. Remember that, okay?

Something else I’ve noticed that I’m finding disturbing. Authors reviewing their friends. Now, this isn’t to say that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it’s becoming a trend I’ve noticed. A couple 1-star reviews show up on an author’s account somewhere, and then there’s a call to arms! Friends are asked to review the book, uprating it. This, to me, is just as bad as author sockpuppets. Your friends, honestly, aren’t going to give your book a 1-star review. They just aren’t. Again, a rating is being artificially inflated because an author’s ego has been bruised, and they’ve no qualms about enlisting their buddies to just positively rate the hell out of their book.

Finally, there’s those blog posts, forum posts, and Tweets of ‘For a review, I’ll give you my book free!’ Don’t try to buy reviews. I wince every time I see it. I don’t ask anyone to review my books personally. Storm Moon Press sends out my books when they’re ready to a list of reviewers they work with. I don’t approach a reader and ask them to review my book in exchange for anything. A bought review usually isn’t an honest review.

Authors need to let go. Once your book is written, move on to the next one and let your previous baby grow up. It’s part of publishing your work. Not everyone will like your book. Be big kids and understand this. NOT EVERYONE WILL LIKE YOUR BOOK. Let that hit your ego now. People have varying tastes, opinions, and expectations and no one author can meet them all flawlessly. Swallow it down. It’s a bitter pill because authors have big egos. We want to be loved, want our work to be sought after and praised, but that isn’t the reality. Gaming the system isn’t cool, and it makes me—the reader—less likely to engage with an author or buy their book when I see them bashing reviewers on Twitter or begging their friends for reviews or exposed for their sockpuppetry.

Let go. Love the whole process from the absolute high of being accepted to the cheek-flushing embarrassment of a snarky, thorough negative breakdown of your book. Negative reviews sell books, too. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, count to ten, and let it wash over you.

And then go back to writing your next great book.

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