Author and Reviewer Dos and Don’ts
I’ve learned a lot working with the Ginger Nuts team over the past year. I’ve learned that there are some truly caring people in the horror genre. Without the help of people like Jim Mcleod, Kit Power, Duncan Ralston, Paul M. Feeney and countless others, I wouldn’t have made it very far on this site. Jim took a chance on me, a lowly American writer, who wanted to be part of something bigger and far more important than anything I’d ever been part of before. To this day, I don’t consider myself anywhere near as good as the other reviewers on this site, nor will I ever be that good. Quite frankly, I’m not sure why Jim keeps me around sometimes, but I am forever thankful that he does.
Paul is always there with an encouraging word when I’m struggling with a review, and Kit is just an amazing writer who someday I hope to emulate, and therefore, I hang on his every word. Duncan can always make me laugh and reminds me that some things just aren’t worth worrying about. Again, there are many others who have helped me along my journey, and trying to name each one would undoubtedly result in leaving someone out, and I won’t let that happen. You all know who you are. And I love you to bits.
Another part of this “job” includes talking to some fantastic authors, narrators and publishers. I am not and have never been a “fangirl” over rock stars and I don’t get googly-eyed over movie stars. (Except Chris Hemsworth, but I’ll save that for another day) However, I would give my right arm to meet, in person, some of the amazing people I have come to know and love online, like Matt Shaw, Chris Barnes, Jim Mcleod, Iain Rob Wright, Graeme Reynolds, and far too many others to mention. Unfortunately, if I ever had that opportunity, I’m sure I’d be a blubbering idiot, so maybe it’s best that a meeting like that will probably never happen. $2,500 for a round-trip ticket is a bit steep for a skint freelance writer, after all.
Let me stop gushing for a moment and come to the real point of this piece. Although 99.9% of the people I deal with on a regular basis are absolutely the best, unfortunately, I have come across my share of…how should I put this…fuckwits as well. Self-entitled authors who think their work is better than everyone else’s, Indie publishers who shy away from promoting work that isn’t their own, narrators or authors who get bent out of shape over something as silly as a bad review.
We’re all in this together, folks.
We’re all here because of our love of the genre. That’s it. Plain and simple. When a newbie author comes along spouting that he is the next Stephen King or that she will be the next Queen of Horror, well it’s ridiculous. Not only are they stabbing other authors in the back, but they are cutting their own throats in the process. Nobody wants to read a book written by an author with a humongous ego. Not casual readers and certainly not reviewers. Nobody.
On another subject, recently, I came across an author who was asking for reviews for one of his audiobooks. Seems fair enough, right? He’s an author I love to read so I checked out the Facebook message. What I found was a bit shocking. He didn’t care if you listened to the book or not and begged for 5-star reviews. That’s not how you play this game.
Another author got people to join his exclusive reviewers’ group. After you BOUGHT the book, he would send you a free copy, a couple of weeks early. Then, on the release date, reviewers post their reviews and the “Verified Purchase” tag appears next to each review. If it doesn’t appear next to yours, guess what? You’re kicked out of the group. So essentially, you’re paying him to review his book.
I’m a nice person. Some may even call me too nice. But, no. Just no. This is wrong.
In my humble opinion, authors not only need honed talent, they also need humility. There are far too many authors with humble attitudes and a strong online presence that I would much rather read than anyone whose head is too big to fit through the door, and I won’t touch work by those who go through their careers thinking readers owe them something.
Authors, be kind. Be genuinely friendly. Get to know your readers. Accept bad reviews because they will happen. Suck it up and move on. Temper tantrums will get you nowhere. Readers won’t put up with them and reviewers such as myself and others on this site will sure as hell avoid you like the plague. Don’t think you’re anonymous when down voting other reviews. Eventually, most of us are smart enough to put the pieces together and figure out it was you. We may never confront you on it, but trust me, we know. And guess what? We will adamantly refuse to ever touch one of your books again. There are too many talented authors in the world for us to waste our time on petty, self-absorbed jerks.
Reviewers, this is not a competition. It’s just not. It doesn’t matter how much traffic you are trying to generate for your site. Don’t take an idea you’ve found on another site and try to turn it into your own. You’ll lose every time because it won’t take long for people to realise what you’ve done. You’ll come across as a copycat and a wannabe. Do your own thing. Make a name for yourself the right way and stop underestimating the intelligence of your readers. Write your reviews with integrity, stop kissing authors asses, and you’ve got nothing to worry about. Readers, and more importantly, horror lovers will find you.
New authors, take tips from people like Matt Shaw, Chris Barnes, Ian Woodhead and Iain Rob Wright. These guys know how to accept success without letting it go to their heads. They demonstrate, on a daily basis, how to interact with longtime fans and new readers/listeners. Go through your career with this kind of kindness, integrity, and humility, and you won’t go wrong.