Reviewing and book promotion have become a bit like a game of whack-a-mole these days. As soon as you find something that works, it changes.
I’m not just talking about markets, either: I’m talking about platforms. Facebook allows people to create groups with the prime purpose of authors promoting their book and then deletes posts from authors who promote too heavily (whatever that means). Amazon, in a well-intentioned but heavy-handed attempt to crack down on the (real) problem of fake reviews, is taking down reviews from people who know each other.
I get where Amazon, at least, is coming from, but it doesn’t address a key problem for a lot of authors. We tend to be friends with a lot of other authors and read their books. Our author friends read our books because they are part of a shared interest. We have shared interests because that’s what friends do. And we review each other’s books because there’s a value to reviews. This is not the same as paid-for reviews or, indeed, review swaps.
I keep intending to write reviews and one of the excuses I make to myself is that I don’t want the ones I write deleted because I’ve overstepped an invisible -- and constantly-shifting -- line. I say excuse because it could be that I’m just lazy. So I’ve come up with a solution - I’ll review books here, on my blog. Maybe deep down I always thought I would — the clue’s in the name of the blog!
It’s not a book review blog. It’s a blog where I might occasionally discuss books (and talk about them in the same breath as my own, because it’s my blog and I can). I won’t do review swaps. I’ll only review books I buy, and like. I won’t be tied down by a star rating. And if I want to review books by my friends and fellow authors, because they’re my friends and fellow authors, then that’s what I’ll do.
There are no obligations and nothing in it for me. I don’t even have ads on my blog. If anyone wants to read it, share it, link to it, it’s up to them. But I’m tired of endlessly chasing my social media tail. I just want to read and discuss books, from time to time.