Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Exuberant . . . wait, Sigh

Yesterday proved to be very interesting. I went from the thrill of victory to the agony of--not exactly defeat--maybe more like deflation.

I'd submitted my short novel, Bitnapped, to Grub Street Reads. The owners, Leslie and Jessica, run a great-looking website and a helpful service. For an extremely reasonable fee, they will review an independently published book and rate it according to their criteria. If the book passes, they give it a seal of approval and help the author out with a kit of marketing materials. They accept less than half of the books submitted. For independent authors, it is a way of showing potential readers that the book is worthy of their consideration.

It can take up to five weeks before you hear whether your book was accepted. I've been waiting on pins and needles since I submitted Bitnapped on August 17. Imagine my pleasant surprise to receive an e-mail from Grub Street Reads yesterday. They accepted it! And, they wrote a nice description of what they liked.

I quote:

Hi J.T.,
Thank you for submitting this book to us. I loved how we got tossed right into the action,
and how we learned about the status quo through Kelly’s thoughts. I also loved that she
was a total MacGyver and used her background knowledge to get herself and Rupert
out of the warehouse. Great job on making Nonno a three-dimensional character. It can
be very challenging for writers to balance the good with the bad, but Nonno was spot on.
We could trust him but would never dream of crossing him. Great work!

-- end quote

That was the exuberant part. On the very same day, Yahoo highlighted a NY Times article about a guy, basically a con artist, who was getting paid by authors to post reviews on their books. His reviewers often didn't even read the books, and it appears as though they frequently gave five star ratings.

Arrgh. I'm sure this will cause a loss of credibility for services like Grub Street Reads, and by proxy, my book's seal of approval. However, it's not just book reviews, product reviews have the same problem. The article cites a data mining expert who estimates that one-third of all internet reviews are fakes--written by parties who have an interest in the item's success.

I'm a consumer as well as an author. I rely heavily on reviews for everything from internet purchases to selecting a hotel or restaurant. I expect books, hotels, and restaurants to have some negative reviews. Even best-selling authors like Grisham, Baldacci, and Child have many readers who speak out about something they didn't like. And, I read both the extremely positive and the negative reviews carefully. Many times a purchaser is disgruntled because they didn't read the description carefully enough and were expecting something different. So, in a very unscientific way, I average the feedback out and it figures into my purchasing decision.

What about you, would a Grub Street Reads seal of approval mean anything to you?

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