Thursday, March 24, 2022

First Fast Guy Slows Down Review!


The first review of Fast Guy Slows Down, my new novel, has appeared! It's by Rose Smith of Twenty-two Twenty-eight, and you can read it at  Thank you, Rose!  Reviews are tough to come by these days, so it's always a delight to get one, and especially a thoughtful one such as Rose's.  I do not know Rose and I didn't pay Rose (she got a review copy of the book as is typical for reviewers), so it is awesome that she was willing to read and review a new novel.  We could use more thoughtful readers to write reviews!

Getting reviews is definitely harder than it used to be.  Many newspapers have shuttered their book review sections or they just reprint stuff from The New York Times or The Washington Post.  Most times, newspaper review sections just carried reviews of books from the major corporate publishers, but with a local reviewer there was at least always the odd chance that an independent or underground book might get a review.  Today, even well-known authors have trouble getting reviews.  I noted a couple of months ago how Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s book got ignored.  And he's had a #1 bestseller with his book about Fauci. 

It seems that it's gotten so bad out there in LitLand that we now have authors paying for reviews (I would hope that if they pay, they at least get a good one).  Here's Publishers Weekly wanting to charge folks $399 for a review.  Here's Kirkus charging $425 (I guess letting people actually use the prestigious publication name is worth $26 more; Publishers Weekly holds its nose and runs the paid reviews under a subsidiary called BookLife).  If you want to save money, IndieReader will charge you $275.  For the budget-minded vanity press author, you could score a paid review for as low as $99 from these guys whomever they are.  I am sure the price will keep dropping if you run a Craigslist ad or hire someone from a gig economy website, though Bidenflation might keep it not far below the $99 described in this New York Times article from ten years ago.  Or you could just do some sweat equity and write the review yourself (might I suggest you create a swaggy fake reviewer name such as Brandon Crestlingstone III or something--might as well have some fun while you are that desperate that you're faking reviews).  Why not throw a vanity award in?  Even RFK Jr. seems to have done so.  If it's family friendly, perhaps the Family Choice Award RFK Jr. went for  If not, perhaps another one.  I am sure someone out there will be willing to bilk you.

Uh, as a reader, this makes me want to not trust reviews much.  As an author, I would never do this.  I write for myself.  If someone else out there digs it as well, cool!  If not, I don't care, beyond hoping vaguely they do find something out there to dig.  As a publisher, I would consider it--basically, it's a form of advertising, just an ethically-challenged one--but I couldn't imagine that paying hundreds of dollars for a review would be worth it.  Most books, even the ones from major publishers don't sell well.  From what I hear, most are lucky to do about a thousand copies.  The blockbusters and bestsellers all underwrite the many failures.  So if you're paying $425 for a Kirkus review, then you had better be selling enough books from it to be worth it.  While looking at these books that had paid reviews, I am struck by the fact that even the corporate publishers are doing this now.  And based on the Amazon rankings, it doesn't appear to be worth it.  They don't seem to be selling much better than mine, and I'm not paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for reviews (generally, I just send out review copies by email and get ignored--maybe I even end up in the spam folder and the person never even sees it).  It reminds me of the old Roger Manning line:  "People work hard and end up with nothing. I ain't got nothing either, but at least I didn't work hard for it"  I'd expect the vanity guys who want the prestige (snicker) of being an author to get swindled, but Harper and other companies should really know better.  They must be that desperate to drum up business.  I'd suggest publishing better books.  I've heard rumors that some literary agents don't even try to sell fiction anymore or they don't take straight white males as clients because publishers want to have diverse authors, but all that stems from the same issue:  not enough people buying books.  Which itself stems from not enough people reading books.  I mean if you can't even get some people to read a book for free to review it, then that's pretty sad.  I guess people would prefer to stream crappy tv instead or something.  Still, people line up to be authors.  These folks in Cleveland, Ohio USA have a real press, and they apparently have to run a vanity press to survive (their fees seem to start at $3,000, and that doesn't include the printing bill):  That's a lot of money to pay to end up #4,713,812 in Kindle Store.

By Crom!  Just do a blog or zine or Substack, folks!  It isn't even hard to do a book.  Just get Sigil and start coding.  If that's too complex, then just export a pdf out of a word processing program.  Amazon's print on demand program is easy to use.  If these folks have that much money to spare, then that's great, but I feel bad for them getting basically swindled so they can think of themselves as authors.  I write books because no one writes the type of books I want to read.  But I like reading books by others as well, which is why I write about them, like I did yesterday about The Emeryville War.  More people should do that.  Maybe if there were more real reviewers such as Rose Smith around, literature would be in better shape.  So thanks again to Rose, and if you want to review Fast Guy Slows Down, then get in touch by the end of the month, as the publicity campaign, such as it is, will be wrapping up then.

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