Saturday 27 September 2014

A Competitor Asks You to Review His Painfully Bad Book

Signs of a problem: competitor starts sucking up to you; a book gets thrust into your hands.

The symptoms: despair; fear; embarrassment.

A pleasant but misguided fellow author has written a book called, Fast, Frightening, Ferocious and Fancy. It had a good cover, an exciting blurb and a selection of five star reviews. How were you to know that it would be a seventy-thousand-word, ill-disguised paean to his penis?

You agreed to read said book before you realised that it was the biggest load of tosh that your eyes would ever have the misfortune to look upon. This error of judgement means that its author knows that you’re reading his work and therefore is eagerly awaiting your feedback.

What can you do? You can’t tell him that his work is absolutely dire without causing offence but dishonesty can dig you a deeper hole. If, to be polite, you tell said author that you loved his work, the next thing you know, he could be asking for a review.

If you post a review online claiming that a typo-ridden, nonsensical celebration of a cock is a literary classic, you may as well take your career, punch it in the goolies and string it up to dry. If you post a review pointing out that the author has taken ‘vanity publishing’ to a whole new level, you will make a sworn enemy. It is important that a totally splendid hotshot author has no enemies – jealous seething competitors, yes; enraged nemeses, no.

There are a few solutions to this problem. You could claim that you have a strict ‘No reviews’ policy. Some online bookstores discourage authors reviewing other authors’ books anyway, as they could be considered ‘direct competition’ or part of dishonest review exchanges.

Another option is to pretend that you have RSI in your fingers and are saving your few remaining key presses for your masterpiece novels.

Finally, you could try the old favourite, ‘I don’t feel qualified to comment on something so different from my usual reading material.’

It is an overreaction to assassinate somebody for inadvertently compromising your integrity as a totally splendid hotshot author, but if he writes a sequel about the misadventures of his bollocks, anything goes.

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