Please Trash My Book

search-2The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”                                                – Oscar Wilde

Blood Diva – the pomo erotic Marie Duplessis vampire novel, now with more opera – is going to be released in mid-August. Meantime, it’s up on Net Galley available to “professional readers.” I’m not the one making the decisions on those requests, but if you have a blog or zine or are a vine reviewer or some other special personage and were turned down by Net Galley, write me and I’ll see what I can do.

I’ve been writing and researching ezines and blogs, reaching out directly to ask for reviews. One big problem I’ve run into – a lot of places won’t even consider self-published books. imgresMany of them used to review “indies” but stopped. The reasons were somewhat variable, ranging from no reason to lengthy explanations that usually hit on a few of the same issues – lack of quality control, overwhelming number of submissions and oh yeah – batshite crazy authors who go into stalker mode when they get less than stellar reviews.

imgres-1I can’t do anything about the hordes of people publishing “books” so sucky they really shouldn’t be called books at all. I would only ask that reviewers check out the description, maybe the excerpt I have up on this blog, and see for themselves. One thing I can assure you is that you are perfectly free to trash the novel. You can pummel me (with words) as much as you’d like. I promise not to go all Greek Seaman in your face because who wants Greek Seaman in their face?

The way I figure, if you write a bad review on Amazon, no one will see it unless they’re already on the book page, and there’ll be a few good reviews to balance things out. With so many people convinced that too many positive reviews are suspect, your negative one may lend credibility. It may even be a positive review in disguise. How does that work? Easy. Let’s say you were expecting Blood Diva to be “conventional” paranormal romance and it blew up the usual romantic tropes. That might be terrible for you, but it might be exactly what another reader is looking for. Maybe you thought it would be a light comedy mash-up like Jane Bites Back, only to find there’s death and lots of sexy times that sometimes lead to death. You might be appalled, but someone else might say, “Bring it!”

Then there’s Goodreads. On Goodreads your reviews are shared with your friends. But maybe you will be so enraged you’ll write something really snarky and funny, and they’ll buy the book just to see how terrible it is. Hell, that may be the secret to the success of 50 Shades.

imgres-3But my real hope is that you’ll love it or trash it on your blog or e-zine. (I won’t even hope for a print review. I stand a better chance of finding a rent-stabilized apartment in Wiilliamsburg.) Would I prefer you love it? Sure. I’d prefer you not only think it’s the bestest novel ever, but that you get all my references (including the ones I don’t even know are there). I’d like you to laugh at my jokes too. I’d prefer a comparison to Jean Rhys over one to Anne Rice, but either would be a thrill. But getting a good or even a great review is less about selling books than it is about the feeling it would give me, or as my protagonist might put it – the sentiment. Also as she might put it “sentiment doesn’t pay the rent.”

From the research I’ve done (this one article I read somewhere on the internet) bad reviews don’t hurt books. At least they don’t hurt books by obscure authors like me. According to a study written up in the Harvard Business Review, if an author is relatively unknown, even a bad review can boost sales. The theory is that the reader will remember there was a review, but not necessarily the actual content. Name recognition trumps evaluation. Of course, the study was done a few years ago and publishing changes fast, but I’m going to guess this still applies. My personal opinion (not scientific, just a hunch) is that people don’t 100% buy into the reviewer’s take. Almost any review is going to provoke curiosity, and getting the reader to even look at the book is half the battle.

imgres-4Don’t worry. I am not some attention-whore planning to provoke a fight with you to milk a bad review. That’s crazy. Author explosions don’t sell books. In fact, it seems to be the absolutely best way to turn readers off altogether. People react and wind up writing parody reviews, but they’re likely to boycott the author forever. Could help boost your blog rating if it goes viral…

So here’s your takeaway: Your quiet little mention of my book, even in the context of warning readers of its suckiness will gain my undying gratitude, but I won’t thank you because even that would feel like a horrid invasion. I will totally leave you alone.

So, now that you know that I won’t break in to your home and boil your bunny, will you consider reviewing my novel?

(Thanks for stopping by. I’m not asking you to spend any of your hard-earned cash, but could you member hit the twitter and facebook icons on the upper right hand side? Following and liking would be awesome. Also feel free to comment on this or any other post.)

(Update: If you enjoyed this post, you might like this one too:


6 thoughts on “Please Trash My Book

  1. VM Post author

    Just updating. Two ratings on book so far. One review. The review was mostly negative. “Too much sex.” Per my post — I welcome this. The review was not snarky. It was an honest opinion and a serious, well-written review. I need more reviews. I’m sure some of them will be positive, but this won’t be the last negative one. The more reviews — especially on a site like Goodreads where reviews (good or bad) get attention — the better. So BRING IT.

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  5. Iain Manson

    Ah, VM, you have written a terrific novel, but I’m afraid you’re up against it. There’s so much noise out there now that it must be just about impossible for an unknown writer, however good, to attract worthwhile attention. The crucial year, I think, was 2010, when the Kindle was taking off, but the big publishers were still resisting digital publication. If you’d published Blood Diva in 2010, then I’m pretty sure it would have taken off.

    I’m not surprised that your efforts to solicit reviews in relevant places have had only patchy success. You’re right to ask that people should at least be prepared to read the description and the excerpt before pressing the ZAP button. But they don’t, because they don’t need to. They are inundated with quality-controlled books, so they won’t spare the time to see if a self-published book might be any good.

    Still, I note that you’ve had some terrific reviews, and it might still happen. Keep your fangs crossed.

    And here’s a thought. I wonder if an Italian translation might go places? Opera is for the people in Italy, so you’d have a much bigger target audience. Of course, you’d have to pay a ton of money for the translation, with no guarantee of getting it back, so… Well, just a thought.

    1. VM Post author

      Funny, I was thinking of writing a post called, “Is Self-Publishing Over” and I agree with much you are saying, but….

      The thing is, there are still self-published books taking off — just not mine. I agree, however, that it was MUCH easier a few years ago for a self-published book to get attention. However, even then, if it wasn’t strictly a genre novel, it wasn’t likely to actually sell all that many copies. Look at the career of Dan Holloway for example. He’s gotten press because of his “serious” novels, but his “thriller” was a bonafide best seller. Larry Harrison gets an interview on the Guardian blog, but sales of his fine book, don’t exactly skyrocket. Nor, for that matter, do the sales of any of the Guardian’s “self-published books of the month” take off.

      Yet, I’m seeing writers I knew from way back who are beginning to get traditional publishing contracts — not quite sure how this happens, what work they’ve been doing on the sides to make it happen. But it’s happening now. Danny Gillan just signed a book deal, for instance. Others have been picked up by various Amazon imprints. These aren’t necessarily people who’ve been selling tons of books through SP, but maybe they are doing something “right.”

      As for what sells in SP — there I may have miscalculated due to past results. There’s a surplus of fantasy-creature porn that’s at least half-put on. These books just keep coming (no pun intended) quickly, and the public’s appetite has not abated. Big publishing isn’t putting out its own line, yet. It’s not just big-foot anymore, but now includes gay m/m billionaire dinosaurs. But I’ve also made the virtual acquaintance of several “new” light romance writers who manage to sell a few thousand books a month (verified by their rankings on Amazon) in careers that have been entirely outside traditional publishing.

      Regarding your suggestion of a translation, I would think French might do better than Italian, as the French would know, at least, that I didn’t make up Marie Duplessis. But sure, my “plan” all along has been an audible book and translations as soon as some money comes in. Without the money, I might have to wait till a foreign publisher “discovers” the book (never). While two of the most enthusiastic fans — the reviewers at Opera Candy and Persephone were well aware of the real Marie and her artistic legacy, other readers enjoyed the book without knowing anything about her in advance.

      What does the future hold? I will keep plugging. There is an event in a couple of months in a New York venue where the audience will include at least a few classically trained singers and musicians, some opera buffs,and many struggling artists of various kinds with whom the story might resonant. And yes, I’ll have to do that gig under my “true” identity. That may be the real problem right there. A few years ago I published a novel that was inspired by true events. I knew then there was a curse on whomever tried to tell the story. Perhaps, I am still living under its shadow.

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