Wrestling with the GARQ

The Great Amazon Review Quandary, that is

There are three facets to my confusion, a sort of Trinity of Interconnected Perplexities: the need to Market, blatant Review Inflation, and a reluctance to come off as ‘that guy’.

Of course I want to get my work in front of potential readers, but I’m just one special snowflake in a huge flipping blizzard, and I simply don’t have to the funds to hire a PR firm, or the time and inclination to incessantly pump the Social Media well.

Then, between sock puppets, paid-for-reviews, and shill-and-gush marketing, Amazon review numbers may have gone through the roof but their credibility has plummeted. I mean, how does John/Jane Doe’s 50 Shades of Western Zombie Romance Vampire Apocalypse get twice, thrice the reviews of masters like Gibson, King, Rothfuss, Tolkien, Peake, Cronin, et alia? It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that (authentic) swing.

(Side Note: I worry for western civilization when I hear people are cashing in on Dino Porn It’s rumored those two ladies paid their way through college with their writing. Good for them, I guess, but big ‘WTF?’.)

As an Indie author I get that marketing is in my hands, but the last thing I want is to be the turd in the pool in every room, chat, forum, thread, FB/Tumblr/Pintrest/Twitter feed always pimping my books.


Not everyone is interested in genre fiction. Buying or reading one of my books doesn’t then obligate the reader to be my Publicity Squirrel. I want to contribute to any community I’m a part of, be it physical or online, not just take. Sure, I ask folks to read and review my stuff, but it’s rude to presume or guilt them. I figure what I really need to do is write things worth reviewing.

So there it is. I’m open to feed back, recommendations and suggestions.

P.S. Book Announcement coming tomorrow.

Take Care,
Patrick T.

7 Replies to “Wrestling with the GARQ”

  1. Hey Patrick,

    Book marketing is one of the most terrible pieces of the puzzle of writing a book that you actually want people to read. I’ve struggled myself with the concept of even telling friends and family about my books, as that exact concept of being the turd in the pool (love the analogy, btw) is my precise fear in any conversation about my own writings.
    In the end, what I’ve found to be the best is to seek out the markets that would be interested in reading my books and integrating myself into them. Find Goodreads groups that are on similar subjects, but don’t go in there saying, “I’ve got these awesome books you need to read!” constantly. Instead, be a useful part of the crowd, causing people to want to read your books simply because you seem like a competent and intriguing writer.

    The other big one is finding writer review swaps. I’m a big proponent for ethical reviews, so this can be a dangerous one, but there are plenty of groups out there just with authors looking to get more reviews on their own books with the idea that they’ll return the favor. Seeking out these places can be a great boon toward getting more reviews…which, as they all say, will immediately sell more books 😉

    Have a good one!

    1. Hey Adam,

      First off, thanks for commenting.

      You’re right – It comes down to making an investment over time. Juggling work, family, church plus my own writing, participation in online communities tends to get the spare change. Only way I can genuinely contribute there is in the long term, and finding the right group can be difficult. I’ll keep at it though.

      Clicked through to your site, (nice one, btw) and saw your books. Very cool. Tell me more: what pushed you over the edge to write fiction? What’s your next project? I’m curious.


      1. It can definitely be difficult to juggle all those pieces in order to attempt to become one of those mythological ‘successful authors’. Before I did any marketing at all, I was able to easily write 5,000 words a day, you know, when the muses were with me. When you add up all those other pieces to the puzzle, specifically, just trying to build brand awareness, it really cuts into that time. I’m lucky if I get 1000 words written daily right now…of course, a new baby in the house probably isn’t helping things much either.

        Thanks for the compliment on the site. Been recently trying to make it look more ‘professional’ (whatever that means). I’ve actually be writing fiction for as long as I can remember. Of course, it was never anything I put too much focus in. i would write little things for my own amusement that were usually thrown in the trash quickly before anyone might possibly get a look at it. Wrote silly things for the school newspaper, you know, all those basics that I think every little aspiring writer does, except I generally did most of it in secret.

        It finally took me having kids to decide that I wanted to do something much more real, something that I could be proud of. I had always thought I had skill in the arena, and spent a lot of time writing, but never did anything with it. Always wanted to write a novel, but thought the effort put in would never be worth the reward (which is still true, if you consider only financial rewards). But I found it rather addictive…as well as mentally therapeutic. So, you know..I keep on writing.

        What about you? I’ll admit I didn’t take much time to read through book blurbs, but looking at your covers, it seems you’ve got some quite differing story types. What brought you into the crazed act of publishing your own books?

      2. Heh… I hear you about addictive and therapeutic.

        Writing-wise, I did the usual bits in school/college, then later skits/plays over the course of nearly 20 years of drama ministry in church.

        Fiction was a deep, long-time secret desire, however. Stepped over the line in my mid-forties during a summer creative writing class at the local community college. The first scenes of my novel ‘Running Black’ started spooling out. Then it became a ‘Put up or Shut up’ proposition. A year to write it, another to re-write it, and it was done.

        Scratched on the door of traditional publishing and garnered a nice collection of rejections, a few requests for full mss, that were later passed on. I won’t bore you with the details. In the end, I bought an ISBN, hired a cover artist and went through Lulu.

        At some point I suspect I’ll seek agent representation again, but for now my books sell, I keep writing and I’m OK with it.

        Started with cyberpunk/mil sci-fi but am moving in new directions lately. I think I’m finding my voice, writing whatever flavor spec-fiction feels right for the stories/characters that bang around in my head. Neil Gaiman said something about being a kid in a candy store wanting to snag something from every jar before the lights went out. That resonates with me.

        I’ll check out your titles on Amazon.

        patrick t.

      3. That’s a great quote from Gaiman. I’ve definitely been more interested in writing the stories that interest me at the moment than sticking to any specific genre…it actually took me a while to even confidently give my books any sort of classification, just because I had never really spent any time thinking about where they would fit (which is, of course, a major marketing no-no).

        Sounds like our stories are pretty similar (as are a few million other authors, I would hazard to guess)…writing gets in you and just needs to be done, I’ve found. ANd that’s alright by me. I’ve met some really great people over the years who just so happen to be authors. WOuldn’t have it any other way.

  2. First off, I struggle with this as well. I’ve witnessed that the best way to market yourself and your books is to follow Adam’s advice and integrate yourself into the groups that would be most likely to enjoy your work. Be natural, be helpful, and when people ask about your books, be honest.

    Second…Dino Porn? I checked out that link and read the book description on Amazon and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to un-know that. I can’t believe that book has 54 reviews after only being out a couple of years. And the Dino Porn…I have no more words.

    1. oooh yeah, Dino Porn. Sorry ’bout that. *passes Brain Bleach*

      It came up in a recent discussion in my local writer’s group and I couldn’t believe it. I had that car-wreck disgust/voyeurism thing. Killer is, those two young ladies supposedly cashed in, big time. What is the world coming to? *sigh*

      And like I mentioned above, I make an effort to contribute to the few online communities I’m a part of, but it tends to be last on the To-Do list, what with real-time, real life obligations. Like lots of things in my life at this stage, I’m taking the long view. Slow and steady wins the race. I really need to write and keep writing, then let the stories speak for themselves.

      Good hearing from you.

      Take Care
      – patrick t.

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