|Photo courtesy of Paul J Coles via Flickr|
One) A book blogger or review site advertises something like this: "Fill out the form, send us your book, and we will post a review."
Two) A book blogger or review site signs up for a tour, receives a free copy of your book with the understanding they are to read, review and post in their blog.
Outcome of Scenario One and Two: Nothing. No review. No further contact. Crickets chirping. Snow falling. The sound of breezes blowing through empty pages. You get it.
Most book bloggers and reviewers are quite upfront. Some will go ahead and post the review whether it's good or bad. Others won't review the book if they don't like it and email the author with an explanation. That's completely fair. I'm talking about the ones who take your book...and then fade into the woodwork. Yeah, they suck. It takes little effort to send out an email stating, "I'm sorry, I couldn't finish your book because I had to walk the dog. Because my house was destroyed in a fire. Because I had to boink the milkman. Because I'm a kleptomaniac and couldn't help myself." See how easy that was? No hurt feelings, no harm done. Both reviewer and author can move on.
What's an author to do? Too many authors are afraid to follow up for fear their books will be trashed via social media in retaliation. So they let it go. The "reviewers" get a free book and go on their merry way. Which makes them no better than the pirating sites authors rage against.
Let me just clarify what goes into "writing a book" for those who aren't authors:
In my case, writing a book takes a year of hard work. We're talking more than 40 hours a week with no pay. After I finish the book, it may take me up to nine months to query and be accepted by a publisher. After that, it may take up to another year for the publisher to edit and release the book on their schedule. I get paid when I sell the book--and even then, royalties (per book) are less than a $ cup of coffee. When someone steals my book, either by pirating or agreeing to read/review and then not doing so, quite honestly--it pisses me off. Do I go into their homes and steal from them? No, I don't. Maybe I should. "Dear, So-and-So, I thought your cat looked intriguing, so I decided to take him. I'm sure you won't mind." Oh wait. That would be leaving a note. Okay, strike that. No note. No explanation. I'll just steal your cat. I like cats and only have three so...
Recently, I searched for a blog or site where you can report book bloggers/reviewers who habitually steal books. You want to know what I found? Nothing. Authors are either too afraid to make a fuss or write it off and shrug their shoulders. We get screwed over by 'bad' publishers, why shouldn't we get screwed over by 'bad' book reviewers? We've come to expect it. But guess what? Authors talk. If you're one of these people, you will get a reputation. Authors can be devious. We spend half our time of the internet. We will find a way to destroy you. Okay, that may be overly dramatic.
But we will.