A Serious Case of Sour Grapes or How Not to Do Book PR
The post you are about to read might inflame some. It is also written from the perspective of a PR professional who is also a writer and wants to be an indie all the way. I also happen to have studied journalism and to know a little about multiple sources, research, and fact checking. Also, be warned, I am a huge Kindle Alexander fan, so there is some bias.
No matter, some things need to be pointed out and educating people about ethics in PR is something any pro in the field should do once in a while.
The story that led to this post:
Two authors – won’t name them cause it’s easy to find out – pointed fingers in a poorly masked manner to a very successful and much loved indie author (Ms. Kindle Alexander), accusing said writer of having paid for reviews. The reason? This gay fiction author had way too many reviews on a few of her releases. Kindle did nothing more than explain how she got them (even gave other authors tips on how to get as many reviews) in the most gracious way possible. Said nasty comments were made on Facebook and Ms. Alexander was never really given a possibility to defend herself. The posts are also unavailable at this time.
Friends of Kindle (other people refer to them as fans) were of course furious and took a stand. There is talk of boycotts, books deleted from kindle devices, and other such things. I was going to let this go and say nothing about it, but then another author and blogger posted on this matter, commenting on how fishy things seemed after his so-called “research.” The reason this pissed me off? Kindle Alexander had already publicly explained what’s what, gave numbers and facts, but those were never included in the article. I suggest you check comments to see how she continued to graciously respond to these accusations.
Now, the facts!
Well, everyone, stay tuned, this is the PR part you should learn from, not the “sour grapes, bash the successful indies” strategy!
For Double Full, Twinsie Talk Book Review ran an incredible blog tour with about 70 stops. if you don’t know what a blog tour is, imagine a band on tour. They go to different venues and let their music shine. In the case of blog tours for books, bloggers that review books host a blog hop and talk about the new release (reviews, interviews, excerpts are all part of it).
Double Full has been reviewed by about 90 blogs. I know, I was part of that tour. Kindle has a group for her fans on Facebook. Yes, we were reminded there to post our reviews to Amazon. A lot of people gladly did it. We were not paid, we were just given review copies. Which is more than fair game in the book industry. Even those pointing the fingers admitted to this much. Also, this book has been in the Amazon Kindle Top 100 for quite a bit. Which means a lot of paying customers, some of them reviewing the book…
This whole deal, other than upsetting Kindle, actually generated more sales for her and I am so happy that happened!
Now, making fun, bashing, accusing famous people to get famous yourself is not something new. Just look at all the hits at Charlie Sheen and Miley riding that damned ball. The thing is doing drugs and other such activities are bad and should be pointed out as examples of “kids, don’t do this at home or anywhere else.”
Paid reviews are a big problem in all industries, as a PR pro I know of enough scandals concerning such practices. It’s unethical, it’s bad, it’s better not to do it. If however you have people who bought your product or got a free one to test drive, asking them to share their honest opinion is more than okay.
I can tell you that once people buy and love one of Kindle’s books, they will buy more. Yes, all three big hits were released this year, big thank you for that! My first book by this author was Texas Pride. I read the sample and then bought it. I then proceeded to buy The Current Between Us soon after that. I joined the Double Full tour because that meant I will get my hands on it before release date. Otherwise I would have bought the book on release day. I have personally seen new fans starting with one book of Kindle’s and then buying more.
So, people, do not accuse when there is no base for your accusations! Weak evidence, like the content of the review, is even worse. I for one don’t go into the plot of a book when I review. I share feelings and opinions, what I liked, etc. Reading is personal and I never know what makes a spoiler, so I better stay safe. Not giving inside details from the book does not mean I haven’t read it. In fact, I have quite a few books that I took over sleeping. Double Full and In Liam’s Wake are two of those.
Also, if you choose to ride the wave of such a conflict and you say you’ve done your research, make sure you do not ignore a clear, open, explanation of what really happened from the person being accused. If that is not enough, please ask those involved in the tour about it. They can tell you all the reviews are real and the result of long hours of hard work.
Oh, and in case it wasn’t clear by now, messing up with people who are deeply loved because they are poor awesomeness will result in more headache then you’ve initially anticipated.
Before we part, I would like to tell you that writers make a great community. I am part of many lively, friendly, and helpful group. I hope this incident is an isolated one, I don’t want a few exceptions to ruin this awesome community!