Read for Review – And Honesty?

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Recently, I’ve heard that certain reviews being posted on Amazon are being pulled. Curious as to why, I looked around a bit and found a whole discussion on it there in the Amazon forums. It detailed that it seemed as though certain Amazon reviews were being pulled because they were coming from readers who received ARC and RAR copies (which means Advanced Reader Copy and Read and Review copy). In other words, people who received free books in exchange for reviews. Namely, HONEST reviews. Like, you get the book and you leave a review, regardless of your opinion of the book, the publisher (or author or whoever gave you the book) wants the review. The real one.

At least, that’s the gist of it.

Here, apparently, is Amazon’s concern: books in exchange for reviews is the equivalent of paying for a review. Which, okay, I think that’s sort of a stretch, but fine. You’re giving someone an incentive for leaving a review. That incentive is, theoretically, something you (the reader/reviewer) wants, right? And that translates to some form of payment, right? That’s, like, giving money for a review!

(Did you know there are paid reviewers out there? Literally, it is their job to read a book, watch a movie, try out a restaurant – all of it gratis – and then proceed to post a review and get paid for it. No joke.)

Now, I understand where Amazon’s concern might lie.

Oh, what if being paid (in money, books, or free pizza…) might sway the opinion of the reviewer? And, oh, what if this means there will be NOTHING BUT FIVE STAR REVIEWS FOR TERRIBLE BOOKS?

Oh, wait, that already happens… Seriously, it makes me angry, and I’ll just tell you, those reviews weren’t the result of free copies. Nope. Just uninvolved, easily amused readers who will gobble up any cotton-brain-candy out there… Okay, and a *little* bit of a difference of opinion via genre and whatever else, but that’s like 2% of a star discrepancy.

But my mini-rant aside, I understand that you might be worried that these “paid” reviewers aren’t being fully honest. I mean, I like getting free books, don’t I? Why, of course I do! I love to read and I’m going to write a review anyway… Why not get a free book out of the deal? And I’ll be honest, I was really concerned when I first started asking for ARCs and RARs. I thought, “If I leave a bad review… will no one give me a free book again?”

But here’s the thing. I still get free books and I tend to leave poor reviews more often than not. Why? Because I’m not going to let a free book sway my opinion. And that’s for three reasons.

One.

I have some friggin’ integrity, thank you very much. My reputation is valuable to me, but more importantly, my own opinion of myself is important. I wouldn’t feel right giving a high review to someone that didn’t deserve it because it invalidates and cheapens all the high reviews I gave for people that honestly deserved them! And I’m just not okay with that. Better to get an angry author, publisher, or even fan, than to feel as though I’m offering a fake smile to the world while simultaneously spitting on those that deserve true, honest recognition.

Two.

Why would I want to encourage more bad boosk?!?! Seriously, leaving a good review for a bad book is just poor planning. Because it means the author is going to write another book, just like the first, not bothering to change anything because all the reviews said IT WAS SO AWESOMESAUCE! So now we have a Craptastic Book Two! And when we have to review that book the same way we reviewed the first one, now we have a whole Craptastic, The Series!

Why would I want to encourage more bad writing? From both a writer’s and a reader’s standpoint, this seems counterproductive to my end goal: To find more books to fall in love with.

Three.

Why would I want another bad book from an author I didn’t enjoy? Why would I want another free book if I just feel as though every free book I read I must lie about in order to get another free book? That I will ultimately hate?

So ultimately I’m left with the feeling that leaving anything other than an honest review is just… not right.

And I have to believe that I’m not the only person who feels this way. Don’t readers and reviewers take pride in themselves? Yes, they must. I believe that they must! And they want quality, too, right? Yes, of course they do. They have to!

I will make one more point: I get not wanting to hurt someone’s feelers about it. Authors are sensitive. Trust me, I totally know. My least favorite thing is having someone come in, read what I’ve written, then hand it back to me and tell me how I’ve just “gotten it all wrong”. Pfft. Like they could do it better. But at the same time, if I let myself step back for a minute and really look at the criticism constructively, sometimes the negative reviews teach us the most. And that means I can grow as an author.

And, yes, it still hurts.

I guess my point is not telling it like it is just to spare someone’s feelings isn’t doing anyone any good. I’m not saying you have to be a jerk or be mean or just rip their life’s work to shreds, but you should be honest and you should make an effort to lay out why you didn’t enjoy something. It could go so far as to make them better authors in the end, so that maybe you actually will enjoy the next book.

Really, just don’t leave a five and four star review for something that you hated. That’s just silly and doesn’t help you, the author, or other readers.

Which brings me back around to Amazon removing reviews.

The idea that saying “I got an ARC” means “I’m lying through my teeth about the quality of this book!” is utterly stupid. Yes, there will be some less than honest people out there, but they are not the majority. Instead, I think we should give the reviewer the benefit of the doubt and say that they are honest. Even if we don’t agree with their opinion – or even if they’ve left a good review for a bad book. Because sometimes, people just do that. I think that has to do with a little on the personal taste side and a lot of “I wasn’t really paying attention to this while I was reading” side.

It happens. That’s fine.

I just think that Amazon is being fairly ridiculous about this whole concept of ARCs and RARs. These are the things that can help break-out authors (and especially self-publishers) get their works out there. People might never even look at their books, not because they’re bad, but because they don’t get the same kind of publicity. And because Amazon gives more advertising, featuring, etc. for books with more reviews and more purchases – which go hand in hand. Which means that the more books that have been reviewed, the more they’ll be purchased, the more featuring they’ll get, the more reviews they’ll get…

But how do you break into that cycle if NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT YOUR BOOK? Yes, you have to advertise, but part of that is getting your book into the hands of people that might otherwise not read it – usually because they don’t have the money for it.

So I say that Amazon is being silly and the ARCs and RARs should continue.

What’s your opinion on this crazy Amazon policy? Do you agree with me that reviewers are mostly honest?

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

P.S. – The main reason I decided to do a post on this (and why it mostly focused on the honesty of ARC/RAR reviews) is that in the forum, there was a poster who didn’t trust “free book” reviews. Why? Because she felt they were all basically liars who were giving higher ratings because they were essentially “paid” for their services. And I was offended. Especially since she then proceeded to say that she automatically went to 3 star reviews – which mine are usually that or below – because she felt they were more “honest”. So, what, my review doesn’t count EVEN THOUGH I RATE LOWER THAN MOST DESPITE FREE COPIES, just because I put in the effort to get a free book? Wow, that makes that person a real jerk, a little judgy, and seriously misinformed.

Nano – Update

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Quick post!

I’m a little behind in my Nanoing, but I’m hanging in there! I’m finishing up a work-related project today (maybe into tomorrow), then I’ll have revisions which will hopefully leave me some time to work on my Nano project, too.

Until then, here’s my progress:

nano-update

For those of you participating, how goes your story? And feel free to add me if you feel like it!

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

The US Election

**This has absolutely nothing to do with books. The views expressed in this post are purely mine and, yes, they are political. They revolve around the US presidential election and my personal reactions to it. Feel free to ignore it and I apologize in advanced for those I might offend. But I mean what I say here and cannot deny what I feel. Please be respectful when commenting, agree or disagree.**

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Continue reading “The US Election”

Monthly Subscription Boxes – yay or nay?

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Recently I visited one of your lovely blogs (I can’t remember which one, but I’ll look for it!) and saw that it had a post about a monthly book subscription. And I was like, “what is this magic?!” So I started digging…

A monthly subscription box is just what it sounds like. Once a month, you receive a box. Within this box are magical contents having to do with literary genius… (Or whatever other monthly box you get – makeup, superhero paraphernalia, etc.)

Fascinated by these magical boxes, I went in search of one of my very own! I decided on two different subscriptions to try out and after this month (November), I’ll go ahead and pick one to stick with.

The first subscription that I signed up for was the one that started it all. It was the one received by the blog post I stumbled upon and I was so taken with it that, despite it’s rather steep price (I thought, anyway), I would give it a try. The second was a more affordable option that seems far more reasonable for my meager income and will likely be the one I stick with.

OwlCrate.

So the first subscription is OwlCrate. This is the one featured on the blog post and the reason I fell in love with it is that it contains so much stuff. The contents include the obligatory book (because, really, why else would I get it given my search parameters?), but additional items as well. Book marks, teas, nick-nacks, jewelry, post cards – you name it! Each box has a theme and, oh gosh, you don’t understand how much I love themes. All of the items within the box center around this theme.

This month is Wonderland and I’m pretty darn psyched for it. It hasn’t arrived yet as they tend to arrive towards the end of the month (from what I understand) while the other subscription arrives early on in the month (I’ve already received it and I’ll get to that in a moment). As soon as it gets here, I’ll do an additional post on that.

Until then, here’s a complete “contents” list for the items in the OwlCrate box:

  • Brand spankin’ new YA novel
  • 3-5 bookish items (jewelry, bookmarks, stickers, prints, toys, accessories, etc.)
  • Exclusive items from the author

All of this comes out to $29.99 + shipping (which came out to $6.99 for me).

Um, wow. That’s a lot. I know it’s not a lot, a lot, but it’s a lot, you know? Especially since you only get ONE BOOK.

Yes, true, you get all those nifty other things, too! And I love those other things. But that’s still a big chunk of change to be throwing down for something that… well, just might not have that much reading enjoyment. I mean, for that price, I could get two, maybe three books, and if I do it on Amazon, I’ll get free shipping, too.

And that’s if they’re all new.

So is it really worth it?

I don’t know yet. I haven’t received the box, so it’s hard to say whether or not I’ll find it worth the price. On some level, I hope that it is, because I want my money’s worth. On the other hand, I kind of hope not. Why? Because then I won’t be tempted to do it every month. Because I don’t have the sort of money to just spend on this monthly and it’ll sort of make me sad if I have to be a grown up and put this little whim aside when I like it so much.

So here’s hoping that I do like it – and that I don’t!

BookCase.Club.

The second, more affordable option that I decided to try is a little thing called BookCase.Club. They have no frills, but what they do have are TWO books. Every month. You can choose your genre to receive (obviously mine was Teenage Dream, so all YA books) and the box arrives around a week or so into the month. Pretty nifty.

The downside is this: You only get the books.

The upside is: It’s only $14.99 including shipping.

I mean, even if you purchased two used books, you’d probably be spending that PLUS five bucks in shipping (unless you’re lucky enough to have a bookstore near to you that carries anything other than nonfiction and adult romance…). So looking at it like that, it’s still a steal. Of course, you don’t get to pick the books (I’ll get to this in a moment) which can be a little scary, but it’s also a treat because you might end up with something you wouldn’t normally try on your own!

Additionally, for every subscription (and subscription renewal), a book is donated! That’s a charity I can definitely get behind – and it’s for something I’m going to do anyway. I’m all for that, so the price and the charity definitely make this one a great option. Yes, it sucks a little that you don’t get all the trinkets with it, but I don’t think they’re enough to make up the price difference – not when I’m as broke as I am. (Responsibility is calling; it wants your books back…)

As I mentioned, I already received my package from BookCase.Club. It arrived just the other day (the 6th, I think) and as promised contained two books. One was hardcover, the other soft.

Softcover:

reality-boy
I didn’t like the cover at first… but it grows on me every time I see it.

Reality Boy by A.S. King

Hardcover:

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This one may be more my speed…

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

I hadn’t heard of either of them before and to be honest I was a little… disappointed. There’s a really good chance that these are both awesome books, but they aren’t ones I would have picked out for myself. Like, ever. Or if I did, they would be *way* down on the list.

This makes me a little upset, because we go back to the “I paid money for this” and now I’ve got two books that maybe I won’t like at all.

HOWEVER.

I will say this: I will give these books a chance. If I don’t like them, I’ll give them away or sell them or donate them. Whatever. Someone else will very likely enjoy them, even if I don’t. And you know what? I’ll have branched out. I’ll have tried something new. And maybe next month I’ll get something more my speed. Because for fifteen dollars a month, two books delivered right to my doorstep isn’t so bad.

What do you guys think?

Yes, there are definitely more subscription boxes out there. I looked through a bunch of them and picked these two because they seemed to be the best of the quality options for the prices they were, but at opposing ends of the spectrum. But do you have a subscription that you prefer? Do you think maybe this is all a little silly, risky even to pay for books you may or may not like?

Let me know in the comments below!

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

Nanowrimo?

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Hey guys! I was just wondering if anyone else out there was doing Nano this year? For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Nanowrimo is National Novel Writing Month, or Nano for short ’cause that’s a mouthful. I’ve attempted it in the past and never managed to finish – which is ridiculous because my profession now has me writing twice that in a month… But that’s not the point.

The point is, that it has come once again! Nano takes place every November and it’s really just a personal challenge to see if you can write 50k words in a month. It’s harder to do than you might think, but it can be a lot of fun! And sometimes you just need that extra kick to get yourself down to business and writing your novel.

So I just wanted to see if anyone was taking the challenge? I’m doing it this year, though I know it’s going to turn out bad. It always does, but I’m determined to work at it! At least try, right?

If you want more info on it, here’s the link: Nanowrimo!

Feel free to comment on whether or not you’re doing it below or if you have questions, etc. I’ll do a real post later (I know, I totally bombed the Halloween Read-a-Thon… So much for plans. It was a super lame Halloween for me and it sort of breaks my heart, but such is life).

Thanks for checking in!

sincerely3

E.C. Orr