I found a site intended to connect novels with readers, book clubs, reviewers, etc. and it sounded like a great idea. I listed my first novel, Give the Lady a Ride, with it, and sat back to wait. Not that I was holding my breath–sites like this one don’t tend to be highly active.
But, surprise, surprise, I got a note from a young lady who wanted to read and review the book for her blog.
For some reason, I was leery and asked for a link. Sure enough, most of the novels she read and reviewed were mainstream, and readers of mainstream Romance aren’t particularly fond of Christian fiction.
I tried to get out of it by making sure she realized this is a Christian Romance, which means (though I didn’t tell her this), it does not come with steamy scenes, innuendo, and cussing. She insisted she was aware of its genre and still wanted to read it.
Her site had only three previous reviews on it, complete with author interviews, and none of the reviews had reader comments. She must’ve been just starting out.
Well, okay, I thought. I’d send her an electronic version of the book and be done with it, but oh, no, she wanted the print version. I don’t remember the excuse, I just remember it sounding feeble at the time.
Because I was on the site, I thought I was obligated to send her one. So I did, grumbling about it the entire time. While she got a free book mailed to her at my expense, I would get nothing out of this–certainly not exposure. There’s nothing on her site that indicates anyone would see this but her.
All this happened last month or the month before, I don’t remember. But I went to her site today, and sure enough, there my book was, complete with my interview and a three-star review.
I don’t mind that it was three-star. That doesn’t bother me. Reviews are entirely subjective, and no author can please everyone. Her write-up actually was a good one. Her complaint was that she didn’t “feel” the suspense that goes with bull riding. “Great effort was made to make it that way. I just didn’t feel it,” she wrote. This is the first time anyone has ever said that about the book, so, like I said, her review didn’t bother me.
What bothers me is that I got myself suckered in to a racket. Yes, I got a review–and I admit, it really does seem like she read the book. But now, she’s going to turn around and sell it, probably on Amazon, and I won’t see a penny of the proceeds. I found on the website I joined a page where readers can join and learn how to make money on this.
Is it dishonest? I don’t really know. She really read it, really reviewed it–never contacted me about the review, and never promoted it that I can see. But the deal was square as far as I can tell. She fulfilled her end of the bargain. She even ended her review with this:
It’s not a bad book at all. If you enjoy a good classic Christian western novel this book is a keeper. I enjoyed the basis on the ranching and inspiration! This author did her research!
But here’s the warning: these deals aren’t always “square.” I’ve heard of authors–particularly Christian authors–getting brow-beaten and harassed into sending print versions of their books to reviewers who have no intention of reading them. They’re “book sellers,” and we authors are providing their inventory for free.
After kicking myself black and blue, I asked one of my Facebook groups what they would have done, and not a single one of them would’ve fallen for this. They’d offer an electronic version, and if the reader refused (red flag!!!), then they would bow out. “It’s my policy,” they’d say, “to provide only an electronic version.”
Frankly, I don’t know how to feel about my experience with this young lady. Like I said, I didn’t get a thing out of this. Her review wasn’t even posted to Amazon. I’m tempted to get an embosser and press “Not For Resale!” on several pages throughout the book. But things could get ugly, and I’m not that big a fan of conflict these days.
This may not be a big deal–I mean, if she sells the book, that’s more exposure for me, right? And there are several people reselling my book on Amazon. Folks I’ve never heard of have it on the market for up to hundreds of dollars, like that makes good sense. And I’ve seen where the pdf of my book is being given away through some sites that have warnings against suing them written in legalese.
So this isn’t really that big of a deal, I guess. I’ll mark it up to lesson learned, and hope my lesson helps you. Don’t send the print version.