Monday, January 12, 2009

Invisible ink

When my first book was e-published in 2005, I didn't have to wait more than a fortnight for a review. Within a month, I had at least half a dozen, often a lot more. I got so many I set up Google Alerts for them, and put them in a separate folder so my inbox wasn't clogged up. I used to get listed on the "Best books we've reviewed this year!" lists. Happy days.

In 2008, I had one e-book novel with Samhain, five e-book novellas with Changeling, and two Changeling paperback anthologies. That's eight titles. Which gathered a total of eighteen reviews (I just counted). My latest title, Spaceport: Courtesan (the one with the very pretty cover) came out in November, and still no one's read it yet.

What's going on with these review sites? Time was, it seemed like there was a new one every day. Are they folding as fast as epublishers? Or is it the number of books coming out? I thought that had gone down too.

I can't count all the terrible reviews I've read. And by terrible, I don't mean the ones where the book was slated. I mean the ones that are two paragraphs inaccurately rephrasing the blurb, and then one at the end which says, "I liked this book. Fans of Ms [insert author surname here] are sure to love it. If you like [insert subgenre here] you'll like this book. It was a great read and I can really recommend it." Well, thanks for taking the time to skim the blurb, love. By the way, that's not what my hero is called.

There again, there are the other kind of terrible reviews. The kind that compare your hard work to something a dog leaves on the pavement. The kind that are personally insulting. The kind that have you plotting to kidnap the reviewer's children and hold them to ransom until a retraction is printed. But at least that kind, so I'm told, boost sales. I know any number of authors who've been trashed by the Smart Bitches (or these days, Smart Bitch) or Mrs Giggles. Apparently it's great for sales. I wouldn't know: I've never been reviewed by them.

Recently, the "Best books" lists have started coming out. I haven't even glanced at most of them, because I know the sites in question haven't even read my book (although if they wanted to throw in a gratuitous nomination, I wouldn't complain. I'm really very shallow).

So what's going on? Are reviewers getting so selective?Are review sites closing down faster than branches of Woolworths? Or has someone painted me with invisible ink?

Hey, is this thing on?


  1. Well, if you ever want a werewolf book reviewed, I'm here for you...

    I know what you mean about the rephrased blurb reviews though. They're everywhere and they're so unhelpful. I've done some very snarky reviews of terrible books, but I like to think I at least give more information than just whatever description Amazon gives.

  2. Well, a snarky review is one thing, I actually wouldn't mind someone saying they didn't like the book if they said why. (Well, I mean clearly I'd *mind*, but I'd understand. Maybe. After I'd sent round a cooler full of wasps or something).