In the past, this blog has described the steady incoming stream of Amazon review requests. Most are easy to dismiss with a reason that is not the only reason, but is a truthful reason:
- “I don’t review e-books.”
- “It’s outside my area of interest.”
- “I cannot spare the time to devote to such a large volume.”
I’m just being gentle.
I’m not helping them by doing so.
Truth: every time, if I thought the book would be interesting, I’d take a review copy and read and review it. Further truth: my work involves reading a great deal of horrible writing and being nice to its authors, and when I am not being paid real money, I have less mental energy to dance around the truth of “this writing is no good.” I have to save more detailed and tactful replies for paying clients. They are entitled to tactful constructive critique in detail, and review-seekers are not.
So we’re getting to:
- “The review would very likely be negative, which I’m sure was not your objective.”
- “You have interesting subject matter, but I cannot get past the choppy writing.”
- “The writing does not reflect competent editing and proofreading services. These are not optional.”
- “If the Amazon Look Inside feature is at all reflective of the published work, the typesetting is borderline unreadable.”
- “The writing does not even reach the fundamental baseline for adequacy in print, sorry to say.”
Or, in some odd cases:
- “I am not sure what about my body of work caused you to think a children’s book would interest me, but it does not.”
- “This is the second time you have contacted me to volunteer my time as your marketer. When you receive no reply to your first inquiry, a second is probably going to get you the type of attention you would not want. No, thank you; and let that please be the end of this, all right?”
Do I enjoy this? No. Do I wish people didn’t publish crappy writing? With all my heart. Is it my duty to tell them so? No, but if it will avert further solicitations, that’s all right with me. Do I get a kick out of disappointing writers? If I did, I would not be in the business of helping them succeed.
We’re just going to have to lay it out there.