Things I Shouldn’t Say …

I am going to make enemies writing this post, but I have decided that I don’t care.  This topic has been on my mind lately, as there has been an excessive amount of drama going on between authors (mostly of the Indie variety) and reviewers (mostly of the book-loving, honest variety).

I’m usually the type to stay out of most of it (though if you know me in certain arenas, you know I’ll speak my piece about it). But there are some things that I just need to say sometimes, even if my life would be easier if I didn’t.

Today on Facebook, several of the writers I’ve liked or followed over time have been sharing a picture titled something about supporting your favorite author.

I’m fine with that up to a point.  I shared a picture a week or two ago with general suggestions on how to support indie authors if you’re so inclined. But the one today rubbed me the wrong way. And it was because, as these things often tend to do, it stepped over the line — going on and on about how being a writer is such a sacrifice, time away from family, having to market, not making any money, blah, blah, blah … and the least readers can do is press the like button, and leave *high* star ratings. Yes, it specifically clarified that star ratings should be high, even going on to make sure readers know that a single negative review can “tear an author down.”

And, dear readers, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry there are authors out there who feel entitled to demand something of you (especially when you’ve already given them your money — or even just your time, which is actually the more valuable of the two.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy as can be when someone presses the “like” button on Amazon on one of my books, and over the moon when someone takes the time to write a review. I’m appreciative and grateful. But I don’t expect it of you. It’s enough for me if you’re willing to sample my work.  If you enjoy it and drop me a note about it — you have no idea how much it makes my day, every single time, every single message.

Even if you didn’t enjoy my work, and you choose to leave a negative review — I do NOT begrudge you that. I still appreciate your taking the time to try, and even more your time to share that experience with other readers who might share your tastes. Period, end of story.


As for authors — please stop. Writing is something you chose to do. Putting it up for sale, whether you have a publisher or not, is a business decision.  I don’t care if it took you thirty years to write it while you ignored your children and your hair fell out from lack of washing it because you were glued to your computer screen. Readers don’t OWE you anything. Stop with the “give something back to me” routine.  Stop taking negative reviews as personal attacks (yes, even if the big meanie said that your book sounds like it was written by a third grader).

Stop playing games and defending other authors whose books you haven’t even read. Stop writing fake reviews for each other, and recruiting ten thousand people to click like on your book, and tagging your books with the names of famous people.

It’s insulting to readers, and it’s insulting to the rest of us authors who are trying to connect with readers instead of playing games.


I know this is a long diatribe, and I’m sorry. If you took the time to read it, thanks. I’m sure I’ll be attacked for it. I’ll probably even get negative reviews on my books from “anonymous” folks who want to make me put my money where my mouth is (though the sad part is, it’ll be from other authors, not from readers).

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to readers everywhere who want to be in love with stories, and not the people behind them, and thank you, too, to the (many, many) professional authors out there who also want to keep it real.

About breeanaputtroff

Writer, teacher, chatter, mom, indie, fun-loving, eclectic!

Posted on August 25, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I’m with you. I backed off very quickly when I realized that a group of writers was doing exactly that. I’m not going to promote books I haven’t read…and I’m not giving them great ratings if I didn’t think they were great even if I had read them. And I don’t expect anyone to do that for me. You might recall how offended I was over a review for one of my books because it clearly sounded as though the person had NOT read it. I’d rather have a lousy review from someone who did, than a 5-star from someone who didn’t.

    Based on marketing advice, I do put a line to the effect of, If you enjoyed reading _____(whatever book), and even if you didn’t, please take a moment to leave a review at I hope that’s not going too far…but that’s as far as I’d ever go.

    Boo to the authors who have to try to guilt readers, and who manipulate the system. I’d rather sell fewer books…and do it honestly…than to align myself with the likes of them.

    • I don’t have a problem with authors putting a message like that at the end of a book. It’s the guilt I have a problem with. The attitude of readers owing an author something. I don’t like it.

      And, I know … you and I were both around when some of that stuff started up big-time, and we both backed off of it very quickly. But I am in the process of un-“liking” and unfollowing a lot of authors who think marketing is some game where we win by duping and guilting readers. 😦

      • I should probably do the same thing, and have been doing some of it recently. I just don’t know how to find the whole list of people on who I ‘liked’ early on. I blocked a bunch of them last year (or hid them or something). I think a lot of others have done the same because I never see them. The only ones I have now (the ones whose posts I let show up on my wall) are people I’ve actually become friends with.

        It all boils down to being jaded already. I saw too much going into all of this that was discouraging. I think that’s why I’ve always found Twitter to be such a challenge. I don’t see guilt trips going on there…but I do see people constantly hawking their books. It gets really old. Ninety-nine percent of what I do on Twitter is sharing blogs written by people I respect and enjoy. LOL…of course my 99% is much different than someone else’s 99%…because I’m rarely on Twitter. 🙂

    • Well, I mostly unlike or unfollow them right when they post something that falls into the annoying category. Unless I like them otherwise, of course, I don’t have a one-strike and you’re out policy or anything.

      As for Twitter — I keep telling you you have to learn hashtags. I don’t “Twitter” mjuch, and I don’t hawk my books much there either, but I do spend lots of time with communities of people I’ve really grown to like — the awesome crews at #wordmongering and #FNTWP, for example.

      • I have gotten better with the hashtags…it’s just finding the time and enthusiasm to get more involved. I still am amazed at how fast you learned to navigate Twitter. I’m going to try to find a schedule that works for me, study your Techie Tuesdays posts…and dive in the shallow end of that pool one of these days. 🙂

    • I’ll help you start off slow. Don’t think of it as a social media or marketing tool. Use a few things you’ve learned to find some friends, and then just talk to them. That’s all. 🙂

      I’m personally done with “using” Twitter for anything, or really “using” anything. I like my Facebook page to actually talk to some of the people who have liked my books, and doing the little contests and things. But I don’t think of it as “using” anymore — I think of it as fun chatting, and if that’s all it ever is, great.

      It’s why I don’t post as much on the blog anymore, either. I’ll share big stuff, and interesting stuff, but I’m not “using” it.

  2. SECONDED. And sharing. Thanks for putting it better and more concisely than I can, because I just get all word-ragey over the whole mess.

  3. That would be great, thanks. I may get over my Twitter-phobia yet, lol. Just not sure when that’s going to happen.

    I love Facebook more than any social media, but I don’t use my fan page much. And I do love blogging, but other than book releases, it’s mostly just for fun, and to try to offer advice that might help others. Mostly I don’t mention my books at all…unless it was like this afternoon, when I got the email from a fan who grew up in the same city I did…about 2 miles away. That was just totally cool.

  4. Another author who’s stuff I enjoy liked that picture and when I commented on it, I got told to not take things out of context and it just turned into a heaping on for me after I dared to say I write 1 star and DNF reviews. i didn’t lose much respect for that author but for the other authors who commented on it

    • I think it starts out innocent most of the time. “Oh, that’s a good thing to share and try to get people to review my stuff.” But there are always a few who just don’t get it and want to escalate it. Maybe it’s because it’s the internet, maybe it’s because they get in groups on social media, I don’t know. But seriously — readers have the right to write whatever kind of review they want. It’s not personal for readers — they’re just books.

      Authors — if you take it that personally, choose a different way to make money.

      • admittedly it wasn’t the author who originally published it that commented but others…but it was enough to make me question him and others…

  5. Trying this again. I had tried to comment earlier, but my tablet did not like me and kept trying to make me log in with wordpress to post.

    First of all, thank you. Thank you from a reader, a reviewer and a writer who still feels that we should have dignity and integrity. Thank you for saying what I, and I am sure so many others, have been thinking since seeing all of the negativity of late.

    As a reviewer, I have had authors request that I not post a review if it was not at least a “4-star” review, but that I write a promo post instead. Well, let me be honest here and now. If I didn’t feel your book had enough merit to spend my own money on it, I am not going to be able to, in good conscience, tell other people to spend money on it.

    If I felt that there were things that could be improved upon in your writing, I am going to tell you. That should be viewed as a way to learn and grow.

    A negative review is not a personal attack on an author as an individual. It is someone’s honest feelings on what they read. Last time I checked, those of us with children encourage honesty in our offspring, and yet an author is okay to tell reviewers to lie about what they thought? Somehow, I see that as a double standard. It is just wrong.

    The slinging of negativity back and forth by a select handful of authors are ruining the integrity of this industry for those of us who truly care about what we are putting out there. While my own work is as yet not completed and not published, I would still never expect anyone to LIE about what they thought about my work. If it sucks, then I expect to be summarily told constructively so that I might improve in the future. It is about growing and learning, not one upping someone else.

    Let’s face it. The majority of us will never get rich from our writing. But it is about something so much bigger than that. We genuinely love what we are doing and really want to tell a story.

    Thank you for proving that there is still integrity in authorship.

  6. As a reader and a reviewer, I find authors using guilt tactics reprehensible. If I did not enjoy a book, I will not give it a high rating. I will take into consideration that my tastes in books may not appeal to everyone, so I do find something in each book that I enjoyed and mention that. But I refuse to give a book a rating it does not deserve.

    As to the tagging and so forth, I am noticing a trend lately of authors forming “street teams”. This is primarily indie authors that are not very widely known. From what I understand, atleast from the couple I’ve seen, they only ask readers to please take a moment to leave a short, but honest review if they have read the book. This helps the author’s books to come up on searches more often on sites such as Amazon and B&N. The street teams are also sent promo materials such as bookmarks or trading cards to distribute among friends, family or local bookstores. I think of it as using an already existing fan base to spread the word on a book they really enjoy. Something that most readers do anyway. For instance, Breeana, when I read Seeds, I loved it! I posted reviews on B&N, Amazon and Goodreads. I also shared it with my 15 yr old niece, who loved it, bought the rest of the series and shared it with her friends. That’s the primary purpose of a street team. To get the word out about an indie author that does not necessarily have the big marketing department of a publishing house backing them. However, to use a street team to in any way cheat, manipulate or lie to a reader is wrong and I applaud you for standing up and saying something about it.

    • Thank you, Iris. I appreciate it more than I could ever express when my readers take the time to do those things. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me if authors ask willing readers to do some of those things. Street teams made up of readers are a fantastic idea, and I would do something like that.

      Where it gets into sketchy territory, though, is when it’s roving groups of authors doing it for each other, sometimes (often?) when they haven’t even read the books. Voting each others’ books on lists on Goodreads without ever reading them, swapping five-star reviews, and guilting readers are all places where I draw the line.

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