Thursday, 22 March 2012
Snobbery, Self-Promotion and Friendly Reviewing
I’m known as a soft reviewer, the writers friend if you will. However, I fell compelled, out of frustration, to write this blog article. I am first and foremost a lifelong reader, of various genres, and perhaps a writer second I am writing this because of my passion as a reader.
I have seen a lot of remarks of late against self-promotion. I have made a few myself. However, as a normal working class bloke, what I can’t abide and what I am seeing is snobbery from some quarters. There are a few, a mere handful, of folk some are lucky enough have a publisher who have been, to my mind, overly critical of the self-promoters. Think back to the time when you didn’t have your deal. Think back to when you had rejection letter after rejection letter and your voice felt lost in the wilderness. It felt lonely didn’t it? I am lucky to have a publisher I know, like and trust backing my own work. However, that has not changed my mentality or my ethos as a writer, reader and reviewer. When a number of us had problems with our previous publisher, who is not worthy of a mention here, again the snobs came out and took the chance to have a good old snipe and didn’t for one moment consider how those us who were “taken in” by that felt. A number of blog posts came up with condescending opinions. Everybody it seems knew better than we did and would not have made our mistake. The likes of Paul D. Brazill, Luca Veste, Col Bury and myself said our little piece on our walls or via blogs, kept our dignity and moved on.
Now I don’t know if Amazon levelling the playing field has frustrated some. Perhaps it has made it that little bit harder to shift your latest novel because of the competition out there? Despite the cosy knowledge that your publisher is behind you right? You don’t have to dirty your hands with promotion too much. Your publisher does that for you don’t they? It’s demeaning right? NO. It isn’t. It’s called selling and that is what our society is based upon. Capitalism. Your art although recognised by a business that is willing to put money behind is no more valid than the self-promoter you have just criticised.
Your job as a successful writer is first and foremost to feed your family right? You go about this by selling your books. What do you think the self-promoter is trying to do? They don’t have the benefit of resources and perhaps not of time either. So the best way you can help is to guide them. Remember when you too were the lost voice in the wilderness? Use your experience to help them. Take the time to give them sound advice, don’t snipe from the wings.
Many of you know me as a mild and mellow guy always on hand with a joke or a supportive comment. I’m in the top 1,000 Amazon reviewers and the top 100 Good Reads reviewers. People click “like” against my reviews. People click “yes” to the question was this review helpful? Why? Perhaps because my reviews are honest but uncritical. Of course I can be critical. I can give books one, two or three stars. Why don’t I? Am I compromised? Are my reviews being bought cheaply with a review copy? NO. It’s called support. I am not a critic. No one “pays” me for my reviews. In any fashion. In fact in many cases I’ve been given a review copy and I still buy a kindle copy to support the writer. I don’t make a fuss about this. There are many ways to approach a review: From a negative point where you can pick something to pieces because your ego tells you that you should. From a positive point of view – I have no vast readership. I have no responsibility to a boss or magazine publisher. I write reviews in my own time and out of love for reading, so why on earth should I be negative? If a book was so awful I could find nothing good to say about it then I won’t take the time to finish it. To expend the time and energy posting a load of bile and vitriol posting a very negative review? Why on earth should I do that? I see some successful writers out there receiving the support of readers and reviewers and some of them are giving very little in return. These readers and reviewers are ALSO writers.
I’ve done a few reviews myself for some writers who haven’t taken the time to review my own work. So does anyone have the right to snipe If I put up, in my case, the occasional self-promotional Facebook or Twitter post? If you find my own posts too much, overdone or in any way offensive there is always the “unfriend” button. I feel that my constant unwavering support of others has given me the right to air my views publically. I see this blog post as a chance to redress the balance a little. So to the snipers, naysayers and negative influences I say why not be positive and helpful today? To the self-promoters I say don’t overdo it and above all be thoughtful and supportive of others. To the one paranoid person reading this and thinking is this is about ME? It’s not. Have a wonderful day. The sun is shining.
P.S. This is not a debate post. Feel free to comment but don’t expect a rambling argument about the contents. We all known trolls love a good argument. This blogger doesn’t go in for pointless rows.