Reviewing reviewers

I didn't get enough sleep last night, so I went to work on a B project--soliciting more reviews for Trang from review blogs.

Oh my God. I mean, I realize that in this brave new world, review blogs are necessarily run by amateurs, doing this in their spare time. But seriously:

1. It is unethical to ask for payment in return for a review. I don't give a fuck if you think you are super-special and would never be swayed by money--that just proves what a deluded idiot you are. If you feel you need to be compensated for your time, sell your reviews to a reputable publication (you know, the kind that fires you if you take money from the people whose work you are reviewing) or run ads on your blog, OK?

2. It is pathetic to ask for an ass-licking in return for a review. I'm all in favor for a zero-tolerance policy regarding abusive and pestering e-mails, but I would hope that your review of my work would depend on the quality of that work, not on the fact that (per your suggestion!) I told you in my e-mail soliciting a review that I thought you were super-duper and I loved you and followed you everywhere because you are just! so! awesome! and now we are best friends!!! Honestly, what are you thinking? Why not be even more open about what you're actually reviewing, and title your blog "How Well Do You Lie and Suck Up?" Instead of stars, you could use [redacted for obscene imagery].

Also, it's nice if people actually write, you know, reviews. I really don't get it when people post the publishing information and something vague like, "Writing: Used words." You do realize you can get books for free from the library, right? There's no need to go through this "I'm a book reviewer!" charade.

Not that they're all like that, of course, but I'm amazed to see people openly doing what I would have gotten fired and blacklisted for back when I was a reporter (and, yes, I did occasionally write book reviews).

Taking a deep breath (I am calm, I am calm) and looking at this from the perspective of a writer: Just having the publishing information (you know--the book length, the description, a picture of the cover) posted on a Web site was of no use to me. And I have to question the credibility of a review site where your money or your ability to [redacted for obscene imagery] is of paramount importance. People may fool themselves that they aren't affected by payment or a good [redacted for obscene imagery], but I doubt they fool a lot of readers.

Which brings me to the larger point of why I don't see the point of gaming the system. I've written a niche book. It appeals to a certain audience. Positioning it as something else was a mistake.

I can't see how doing something like paying/performing [redacted for obscene imagery] in exchange for a "totally unbiased, really!!!" review would help me reach my target audience. I feel the same way about gaming Amazon by having all your friends buy your book on a particular day--one of the reasons that site sells so many self-published books is because of its suggest-to-sell features (you know, "People who bought THIS also bought THAT" and the like). If, say, my sister, who does not like sci-fi and prefers a cozy mystery, bought Trang off Amazon because I asked her to, that would simply trick the algorithm into suggesting the book to lovers of cozy mysteries. I have no idea what they would do with it, but I doubt it would fall in the category of "bought it/loved it/told all my friends."