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Authors promoting other authors

A place to debate issues or to rant about what's on your mind. In addition to discussions about historical fiction, books, the publishing industry, and history, discussions about current political, social, and religious issues and other topics are allowed, so those who are easily offended by certain topics may want to avoid such threads. Members are expected to keep the discussions friendly and polite and to avoid personal attacks on other members. The moderators reserve the right to shut down a thread without warning if they believe it necessary.
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Lisa
Bibliophile
Favorite HF book: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
Preferred HF: Any time period/location. Timeslip, usually prefer female POV. Also love Gothic melodrama.
Location: Northeast Scotland

Postby Lisa » Sat February 23rd, 2013, 5:39 pm

I agree, the "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" thing is cheating, it does not mean the work is of good quality, and it in many cases it won't encourage writers to try to improve their quality in order to gain genuine good reviews.

It's why I have avoided the whole LinkedIn thing at work - the situation is the same. Colleagues and ex-colleagues in my company have a system where they write each other recommendations on LinkedIn in exchange for the other person writing one in return. It doesn't matter if they've never worked together on a project, or have never even met in person (it's a big international company). So these endorsements are not genuine, just people trying to make themselves look better.

I suppose some would argue that it's just the way the world works, you advance in life not through hard work but by building up good contacts and promoting yourself. But it's just so wrong! With writers especially, it should be about skill and quality of work, and although some marketing/promotion is obviously required to get stuff 'out there', it shouldn't be the core reason that readers buy your work.

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EC2
Bibliomaniac
Location: Nottingham UK
Contact:

Postby EC2 » Sat February 23rd, 2013, 7:12 pm

I have stated loud and clear that I will not give a blurb for a book unless I have bought it and read it myself and would give it 5 stars. That's my 'pact' with other readers. I see way too much back scratching going on in the industry. Well and good to support and promote fellow authors, but the readers are the front line and they deserve a fair opinion. I took the decision after I began receiving a constant stream of puff requests.
As a reader I like to choose my own books and read at my whim, not to the deadline dictates of a publisher, who will also expect a rave quote. Trouble was, some of the books weren't to my taste and it was very awkward saying to someone 'actually I don't feel I can give you a quote.' However, say it I did. I know several big name authors who haven't at all liked books they've been asked to quote for, but they'll do it all the same. One admitted to me in an e-mail that she thought a certain book was pretty dire all told, but she'd given a quote about an aspect of it she liked. To me that's not being totally honest - although I do understand the pressures. She's done it more than once too. I know someone else who didn't even read the book but he still gave it a rave review.
Readers aren't daft, and those around online are savvy. They know who will give a quote just to please and big up their editor/writer-friend/publisher/fellow society member and the quote just becomes marketing garbage and the author quoting loses respect in the community. I try to keep it real. From my own POV as a reader, I'll roll my eyes when I see certain names on the quotes and ignore them. They're only valuable if you know the person giving the quote genuinely means it.
Edited to say I always say if I know the author or their editor, or have some kind of connection.
Last edited by EC2 on Sat February 23rd, 2013, 7:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Helen_Davis
Compulsive Reader

Postby Helen_Davis » Sun February 24th, 2013, 5:17 am

"Lady of Bennachie" wrote:
I suppose some would argue that it's just the way the world works, you advance in life not through hard work but by building up good contacts and promoting yourself. But it's just so wrong! With writers especially, it should be about skill and quality of work, and although some marketing/promotion is obviously required to get stuff 'out there', it shouldn't be the core reason that readers buy your work.


Agreed, Lady. It's not what you know it's who you know.
http://evaperonnovel.wordpress.com


"The first time a book has gotten us close to Evita, in all her misery and all her splendor."
Excerpt from the Spanish summary of my novel

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Justin Swanton
Reader
Location: Durban, South Africa
Contact:

Postby Justin Swanton » Sun February 24th, 2013, 4:30 pm

Reviews seem to be more and more like commercials: the more you are exposed to them, the more you disbelieve them - unless you see the same ad again and again.

My impression is that reviews only work for the writer who can get a lot of them as part of a big publicity campaign that puts his book before people's eyes often enough for them to think there might be something in it. But if the book is bad it still won't make it.

Then there is the grapevine approach: a book that is really good and is given a moderate and decent exposure eventually makes its way among people who can appreciate its merits and tell others about them. When the book gets a groundswell of support then people start reviewing it because they are genuinely interested in it, not because they are indulging in mutual backscratching.

This approach can take years, but at least it is real.

Or have I got it completely wrong?
Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus.

Author of Centurion's Daughter

Come visit my blog

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Justin Swanton
Reader
Location: Durban, South Africa
Contact:

Postby Justin Swanton » Sun February 24th, 2013, 4:35 pm

"Lady of Bennachie" wrote:I suppose some would argue that it's just the way the world works, you advance in life not through hard work but by building up good contacts and promoting yourself. But it's just so wrong! With writers especially, it should be about skill and quality of work, and although some marketing/promotion is obviously required to get stuff 'out there', it shouldn't be the core reason that readers buy your work.


Look at the movie industry. How else could Movie 43 have been made?
Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus.



Author of Centurion's Daughter



Come visit my blog

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EC2
Bibliomaniac
Location: Nottingham UK
Contact:

Postby EC2 » Sun February 24th, 2013, 4:50 pm

[QUOTE=J
Then there is the grapevine approach: a book that is really good and is given a moderate and decent exposure eventually makes its way among people who can appreciate its merits and tell others about them. When the book gets a groundswell of support then people start reviewing it because they are genuinely interested in it, not because they are indulging in mutual backscratching.

This approach can take years, but at least it is real.

Or have I got it completely wrong?[/QUOTE]

They are a separate entity because they've been around awhile and developed that all important word of mouth cachet. Game of Thrones anyone? :) Cross-Stitch Outlander? I read both of those when they were just word of mouth books and raved about them. I think problems of credibility arise when you see books that haven't been out for 2 minutes and you recognise all the names of those giving puff quotes as being people in that author's clique.
Les proz e les vassals

Souvent entre piez de chevals

Kar ja li coard n’I chasront



'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'


Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal



www.elizabethchadwick.com

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sun February 24th, 2013, 5:06 pm

Yep, there are definitely some familiar names that keep recirculating in this way, especially in the British HF market (though Steven Pressfield also turns up here there and everywhere as a puff piece writer). I suppose this has always happened to a degree. For example, back in the '50s and '60s when Rosemary Sutcliff and Elizabeth Goudge had the same publisher they wrote puff pieces for each other's work. I think it's often been an expectation by publishers that their star turns will do their bit for other authors in the same stable. However it has become particularly noticeable in recent years, and although you always take front cover quotes with a grain of salt, you definitely roll your eyes now when certain names appear.
Last edited by annis on Mon February 25th, 2013, 4:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Ludmilla
Bibliophile
Location: Georgia USA

Postby Ludmilla » Mon February 25th, 2013, 3:41 pm

"EC2" wrote: They're only valuable if you know the person giving the quote genuinely means it.


That pretty much sums it up. I know how the business world works, though, so I can at least understand the motivation for quid pro quo amongst authors, or the push for it by their publishers and marketers. I find the blurred lines between authors and readers more problematic. However, the worst of all of them aren't even motivated by the authors... it's fandom itself which is outside the author's control.

I find precious few independent reviews these days. Go to any social media site for books and you'll find it's mostly the same groups and people doing the reviews (and many of them are author wannabes). Even the ones who are genuinely doing it for the love of books without financial motivations are often so caught up in group rivalries to be a "top reviewer" or be the first to review a book, or other competitive forces, I think they lose sight of the books they are reviewing. Their review becomes not about the book anymore. It's about earning a place in the social hierarchy of their group which undermines the legitimacy of their review.

For that reason, I've begun filtering out reviewers who review mainly pre-releases. They are a huge part of the hype problem in the industry right now. I don't require an expert opinion on books I read; I do require honest to god genuine feedback from one individual to another. I still think most readers have no voice at all.
Last edited by Ludmilla on Mon February 25th, 2013, 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Mon February 25th, 2013, 4:48 pm

Posted by Ludmilla
it's fandom itself which is outside the author's control


This is very noticeable on Amazon. Fans seem to have no sense of discrimination at all and will routinely give 5 star reviews to books by their favourite authors even when they're patently poorly written or just plain average. Sometimes I wonder if we've all been reading the same book. Even good authors have off writing days- but God forbid you should point that out!

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Ariadne
Bibliophile
Location: At the foothills of Mt. Level

Postby Ariadne » Mon February 25th, 2013, 5:38 pm

"Ludmilla" wrote:Even the ones who are genuinely doing it for the love of books without financial motivations are often so caught up in group rivalries to be a "top reviewer" or be the first to review a book, or other competitive forces, I think they lose sight of the books they are reviewing. Their review becomes not about the book anymore. It's about earning a place in the social hierarchy of their group which undermines the legitimacy of their review.


I've seen a lot of this on various forums, and it bothers me. Some reviewers are confusing actual, honest reviews with book promotion and marketing, or with simply getting their own sites noticed and read. While a positive review may have the effect of encouraging readers to buy a book, reviews and promotion aren't the same thing.

Also, I see a good number of advance reading copies with associated promo materials coming my way, and very often, there are close connections to be found between the author and the blurber. If you look around, you'll often find they're both with the same publishing house, or the same agency, or they're friends. The market is tough, and authors are under pressure to get the word out however they can. Many have told me so. But all the puff quotes can leave the reader not knowing what to believe. I tend to look askance at blurbs unless they're surprising or significant. For example, I recently came across a novel by a new author with glowing blurbs from many famous names, people I doubt would put their name on just anything when asked. I admit it got me curious.


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