For authors who do not sport household names, life's eternal quest is for ways to get your work in front of readers who enjoy the genre you write in but who may not have ever heard of you. I'm no exception, and for months I read and heard that spending time on Kindle Boards was potentially valuable in terms of building exposure.
The practice is distasteful and dishonest and pretty much universally decried by both authors and readers alike, and for good reason.
The thing I find interesting, however, and which I've wondered about in the back of my mind as the reviews have come in for my newest thriller, THE LONELY MILE, is the fact that many posters on Kindle Boards feel they have a sharp eye and are quite skilled at picking out "sock puppet reviews." It's easy, they say. Find a book with universally good reviews and there's a decent chance many, if not all, are sock puppet reviews.
Here's why I've wondered about that: The reviews for THE LONELY MILE have been universally good. On Amazon, to this point, the book has received nine five-star reviews, with four four-star reviews mixed in, and no threes, twos or ones.
And I can't help wondering, is that fact costing me sales with people who have never heard of me? Has anyone checked out THE LONELY MILE's Amazon page because he was considering buying it and then shaken his head, clucking and smug, and passed on trying it out because the reviews are simply too good?
I hope not, and not just because I would like to sell as many copies of my books as I can. I believe in doing things the right way, and I hope you won't think I'm hopelessly naive when I tell you it would never have occurred to me to open multiple Amazon accounts for the purpose of reviewing my own book. My mind doesn't work that way.
In fact, I've expressly discouraged my family and close friends from reviewing my work precisely because I wanted to avoid any hint of dishonesty. I believe in my work and I'm confident that most people who try it, assuming they enjoy a good thriller, will feel they've gotten their money's worth when they reach the end.
Now, this is not to say THE LONELY MILE hasn't received reviews from people who have been introduced to my work either through FINAL VECTOR or POSTCARDS FROM THE APOCALYPSE, my short story collection, and enjoyed them so much they went on to read my other work and then review it.
Also, I'm nearing the end of my second blog tour hosted by Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tours, and many of the reviewers of THE LONELY MILE are the same book bloggers who reviewed FINAL VECTOR when I toured for that book. They enjoyed my first book so much they were anxious to review my second, and I'm not about to apologize for that; just the opposite, in fact. I'm proud that my work prompted people who read books all the time to want to read more of my work!
But sock puppetry? Not here. I wouldn't even wear socks except it gets darned cold here in New Hampshire.