The Mail I Get – Cringe-Inducing Edition

I got an email today from an author who wanted to convince me that her POD novel was terrific and that I should read it. She wrote:

My book XYZ won a Reviewers Choice in Affaire de
Coeur, five wonderful reviews on Amazon and I’ve
developed a smallish but loyal following who want my next books as soon
as it comes out.

I cringed when I read that. It’s bad enough when an aspiring writer makes the mistake of going to a POD vanity press or having their book published by an amateur POD pseudo-press run by a barely literate, self-published author. But when you promote your book by touting your “five wonderful reviews on Amazon” you only make yourself look like a fool. Those reviews are meaningless.

Don’t get me wrong, they are nice to have, flattering to you personally, and might sway a browsing customer to buy your book. I am grateful for every positive review that I get from readers on Amazon and other online bookselling sites.

But never, ever, EVER use those reader reviews as a selling point to an agent, editor, or reviewer or they will run screaming away from you and write you off forever as a wanna-be.
Nobody in the publishing business cares about five positive reviews on Amazon. Nobody. Getting a 150 positive reviews might attract some attention but even then what really counts are actual sales.

And what, exactly, is a “smallish but loyal following?” Ten people? Fifty? A hundred? Your Mom and her friends around the pool at the retirement home? Again, it’s sales that count, and moving a few dozen books still isn’t going to attract much attention. Nor will a couple of hundred. But a thousand sales will get you noticed. That’s something you can tout…if you can back up the claim.

UPDATE 7-29-08: The author of the email is published by Light Sword Publishing, which is co-owned by the advertising director of Affaire De Coeur. So if all this author has to tout her book is a review from the magazine and “five wonderful reviews” on Amazon (one of which was from *another* Light Sword author), she’d be better off letting her book speak for itself.

3 thoughts on “The Mail I Get – Cringe-Inducing Edition”

  1. Thanks for your post. As always, it is very helpful.
    At the same time, I feel bad for the beginner who doesn’t know the industry. I imagine that a portion of the people who contact you have worked up their courage and are taking a chance. I wonder how many of these people realize how busy authors and agents really are?

  2. I am always skeptical of reviews on, or anywhere else, for that matter. It’s not just about books; product reviews can be equally biased, based on poor or limited evidence, or simply false (posted by the author or friends). I like to think most reviews *are* posted by sincere persons, but I know there are plenty of people who aren’t honest.
    Worse are those popularity polls on the Net, for which authors and others beg you to vote. What really makes most of these polls worthless is, you can vote more than once, and if your friends don’t have the time or (like me) simply don’t want to spend their time clicking and voting a hundred times, no matter how much they like you and/or your book, then you won’t win. Authors often post that they won these worthless awards, but that doesn’t mean anything to me.

  3. I’m a true Monk fan, and, as such, I had to let your fan who was concerned that he/she could only see three buttons on Monk’s jacket know that not everything is in plain view. Monk’s jacket would, of course, have the extra replacement button stitched into an inside seam, and with that button he would be comfortable wearing the jacket. It has always been enough for Monk to know that he is in tune with his universe, whether anyone else can see it or not.


Leave a Comment