Tuesday, December 27, 2011

All's Fair in Love, War...and Publishing!

There's been a lot of bitching and moaning online about authors only giving reviews to their friends. Unprofessional? You might be surprised!

We as authors have far less time to read than we would like. Of every dozen books I'd like to read, I will actually get to read two or three--if I'm lucky. Whenever possible, I buy novels via Audible so I can enjoy a good book while doing other things--taking a walk, shopping, making dinner, doing laundry, having lunch...but be careful what you're listening to while eating. I've had more than one choking incident when listening to one of Janet Evanovich's books while having lunch, I've laughed so hard. And then there are the funny looks I get when doing it in a restaurant....

But I'm getting off topic here. The practice of endorsing books by friends--or as special favors--is quite common, even in conventional publishing. Especially in conventional publishing. Where did you think those blurbs on the front cover, back cover and inside front of the book came from?

Take a look at the cover of my novel Solitaire and you'll see endorsements from two bestselling authors, Sandra Brown and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. That's no coincidence. I've known both of them for many years. Sandra and I had the same agent. On the cover of Dance of the Gods, there's an endorsement by another bestselling author, Judith Gould. I don't know them personally (Judith Gould is actually two men, Nick Bienes and Rhea Gallaher), but at that time, we had the same agent, Maria Carvainis, who asked them to read and endorse the book. 

I had wanted, more than anything, an endorsement from Sidney Sheldon, so Maria approached his editor--who explained that he didn't have the time to read every book he had been asked to endorse, so he only endorsed books by personal friends. This is a common practice, not meant to offend anyone. It's just necessary.

We may not all have the demands on our time that Sidney Sheldon, Stephen King, Dan Brown or Janet Evanovich have had, but in order to write our own novels, we do find it necessary to restrict the number of books we review or endorse. I've done many endorsements myself, mostly for friends. For example, I reviewed Wall Street Wives by Ande-Ellen Winkler as a favor to my publisher, and Midnight in Marrakesh by Meryl Sawyer as a favor to my former editor, Damaris Rowland. I didn't know Meryl until then, but got to know her well afterward--it's because of Meryl that I later became "Mom" to my potbellied pig, Iggy--named for the potbellied pig in Meryl's novel!

So...I confess. I do review and endorse mostly books by friends. Am I more likely to review an author who's reviewed at least one of my books? Yes! Would I love to be able to do more? I would. I would love to write glowing reviews for every one of Janet Evanovich's books...but then, I don't think not having reviews from me is hurting her sales in any way. 

Come to think of it, I might be the one who would benefit from that! If you'll excuse me....


  1. Amen!

    I surely agree with you. Realistically speaking, time is such a premium that it's as though there's never enough.

  2. And I haven't heard of those last two books!

  3. They were both from the eighties. Meryl has written many books since and has been on the New York Times bestseller list. I don't think Winkler did any more books after that one.

  4. I noticed that - btw if anyone will review one of my books I would be happy to review one of their books. I also have done a lot of reviews, but never received the love or karma back *sigh.


  5. Cyn--at least you'll return the favor! You'd be surprised how many writers will ask for reviews, but don't give any. I'll be happy to give you a review!

  6. I agree with all three of you (William, Norma and Cyn)...Time is of the essence for a lot of us, and still, some of us find the time to read and review at least our friends books. I know that what one writes and what another writes is totally different, but sometimes it's good to try something new. Looking beyond small errors, because, lets face it, we're not all perfect, would be nice. However, some are not willing to look past such things or even willing to buy a friends book. I, too, will readily buy, read and review a friends book...It's nice when the favour is returned.

    Excellent blog, Norma!

  7. I've been just barely managing to read a book a month -- and now that I'm preparing to start a rough draft of my next novel, it'll be harder to keep up with even that slow pace. That makes me very sad ...

  8. Yup, yup, yup, and yup. I agree with everyone.

  9. As soon as I start reading again I'll go through all of your books. I wish I could get out of this reading funk! I'm just to stressed to concentrate. It's rediculous! It's very important to have a great network going on.

  10. Excuse my cliche, but that's what friends are for!
    I think you are very sweet to endorse your friend's books and I'm sure all of your friends will remember that in the future when they publish their own books! I know I would!

  11. Eve--you don't have to wait until you're published. You can post reviews anytime!

  12. Oh well said, you took a a topic that is contraversial and put a new light on it. I like that you took this risk, plus I loved see your book covers, very nice.

  13. Just wanted to pop over and say Happy New Year! Wish you all the success you can handle in 2012, Norma.

    I also think you're spot on with this post, btw. Friends and cohorts help each other out. Been that way a long time now.


  14. Great post Norma. I agree with you on almost everything. Except Janet Evanovich. I could never get into her style or voice or whatever. Your books -- much better.

  15. I'm reading Sandra Brown's latest book right now. Lethal. How funny. I don't see anything wrong with endorsing books for friends. Why wouldn't we??
    BTW love your older book covers!
    And happy new year!!


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