Brian Lindenmuth, my editor at Snubnose, posed a question on Facebook yesterday (and now at his blog) that I thought was interesting:
Devils advocate question[…]: If I (this is Brian) paid money for reviews and as a result your books were selling hundreds of thousands of copies would you care, and what would you do?
First of all, I’d be dumbfounded — I just have a hard time envisioning moving those kind of numbers, given what I write. But looking at the question a bit more seriously, I said:
I wouldn’t feel good about it. I want folks to like my work without being tricked into it. Of course, it’s probably that attitude that kept me a virgin until a remarkably advanced age as well.
Put another way, I’ve spent my whole life making next to nothing off of my creative work. I’m used to not making anything, but I trust I’m being ignored in good faith, as it were. I guess I don’t need the sales badly enough to gain them via shenanigans. But I have room to say that; I’m tenured and lead a genteel middle-class existence. If it were the difference between feeding my kid or not, I’d probably sing a different tune.
In a way, I think this also ties to the question of blurbs and forms of mutual backscratching that are part of the weird confluences of art and commerce. I guess I’m an oddball, and as I said, I’m not scrambling to keep the lights on any more, but I find I keep returning to a scene in the book Starship Troopers.
At one point, Johnny Rico’s History and Moral Philosophy teacher offers him a first-place trophy or ribbon for a race at the recent field day. Rico rejects it, as he in fact came in third. The point was that he (Rico) could be proud of the third-place prize he had earned in a way he could not be of a first-place trophy he hadn’t. Of course, in an age of “Stolen Valor” laws, I may just be hopelessly out of date, but I think a hired five-star review would make me feel like I had accepted Mr. Rico’s first-place award.
I know a number of my readers are also writers. What’s your take on this?