When Crap is Crème Brûlée

Creme_BruleeWARNING!  I’m going to vent. In fact, you can file this under Marketing Sucks or Twitter Twitter Little Star! or I Like You, Will You Like Me?

I hate selling stuff. I just do. Oh, I’m passionate about my books and I know I’m the best person to sell them, but I’m an artist through and through and prefer being creative over sharing my elevator speech to another soccer mom.

I know I’m not alone in this quandary. Check out SC Harrison’s Blog  for her tongue-in-cheek insights.

Before you post witty, pithy comments to try and encourage me to sell or to remind me that it’s a necessary part of the job, let me say that I learned as much when I was a musician here in Nashville. More on that later.

So what has me shaking my fist at the Marketing Monster this morning?

Purchased Reviews!

I befriended a new Twitter author and checked out their book. 4 stars. Impressive. I scrolled through the gushing reviews to learn that many had given the book only 1 star. Curious, I read their comments.

Harsh! One even quipped that they purchased the book based upon the 4 stars but found the book to be poorly written with a weak storyline. They pressed through anyway in hope that it would get better.

It didn’t.

I know not everyone will like our books, but these reviews were polar opposite in comparison to the other comments. My gut tells me this author hired reviewers to get their 4 STARS so they could shoot to the top of Amazon.

As a retired music pro, I know what it’s like to swim with sharks, do business with squirrels and perform with snakes. Back in the day, I competed against musicians who were great at selling themselves and rocketed past me to better gigs. But as time unfolded, and they had to deliver the goods, they showed their true talent.


As quickly as they were the top dog, they were dropped, forgotten and faded into oblivion. I continued to improve/persevere and found myself with better jobs and notoriety.

What’s my point?

Well, let’s get back to this author I have tied to the whipping post. It doesn’t matter how many blasted stars they have or how many Tweets they send or how AWESOME reviewers say their book about “Amish vampire finds true love with a gypsy-alien” really is (not the real title!) In fact, go ahead and label your crap as crème brûlée! Eventually readers will notice that foul taste is in their mouth and run for the toilet to heave.

But what has me really irked is that readers are the ones being bamboozled by the this shell game of “let’s hide the crap.” That is SO wrong!

As for me, I know I have a LONG way to go as a writer. I’ll continue to hone my craft and let my work (hopefully!) cut through the sword rattling that’s being done in cyber space.

Yes, I’ll continue to pound the pavement and keep my head above water in the social media frenzy, but I won’t succumb to paying for reviews.


My readers deserve my best.

So do yours.

Published by

J.E. Lowder

I've played bass for Shania Twain, had a black rhino charge me while on safari, and I've been in the Oval Office. In high school, I went backstage to interview groups like Bob Seger, Rush and Kansas, sorta like "Almost Famous" but without Kate Hudson! As an author, I draw from all these experiences (and then some) when crafting my stories. The quote that sums me up the best is by G.K. Chesterton: "Nay, the really sane man know that he has a touch of the madman." I'm married, the father of four wonderful children, and a proud grandfather. I currently live near Nashville, TN where I write, bike and am always on the prowl for adventure and stories.

5 thoughts on “When Crap is Crème Brûlée”

  1. I wholeheartedly share your frustrations – which I think, given my normally quite emotionally-violent predispositions to such matters, you express in a very balanced and eloquent way!

    Personally, I do not believe that there is any such thing as a universally popular book; so any that look like they are, usually aren’t. All book reviews (as with any opinion on any form of art) are subject to the circumstance, perceptions, and – sometimes – commercial interests of the so-called observer. That’s why I don’t write reviews any more: they’re just my opinion, based on my personal taste…

    Let’s face it: I wouldn’t walk up to someone in a bookshop, tap them on the shoulder and say, “Oh yes, buy that book, I loved it…” or, “Nah, leave it, I think it’s rubbish…” and, even if I did, the prospective purchaser would probably, quite rightly, tell me to go and stick my opinions somewhere “the sun don’t shine”… I can understand the concept of star-rated reviews for physical products – but for art I’m not convinced it works…

    In the end though, I guess it’s best – as you rightly say – to channel this angst into renewed energy to self-improve…


    1. Great points, especially per one’s taste and how to define what is “good” in art. And yet I humbly offer this: Before the revolution of the e-book, you could rest assured that the books in the store or library had at LEAST passed basic editorial tests. Yes, writing styles would vary as would storytelling techniques. Some books were destined to become classics while others were simply written for fun or a quick sell. Now, however, the market is inundated with so many poorly written books that it is time consuming and daunting for readers to find these gems.

      I know this is all part of the e-book revolution, and I wholeheartedly embrace the opportunities e-books give authors. I just wish I had on taller boots when wading through the muck! 🙂


      1. Can’t argue with that. Equally though, the traditional books on offer had all been filtered based on what the publishing houses (in their opinions) considered would create a return on investment. Not necessarily on what constituted creativity… I’m sure you know well from your musical days too… The analogies are synonymous. I could also mutter on about the fact that with ebooks you can now walk out of the bookshops with 10% of the book in your pocket (more than enough to test the quality without financial commitment) and not get nabbed by local law enforcement; or that I’m currently reading (and enjoying) a famous author’s latest print work (yep: old tech as it might be) and am ignoring his complete disabuse of the semi-colon, not to mention occasional mucked up paragraph, and even the odd completely-wrong-word. “Trad Published” does not necessarily equal exceptional quality either, eh? 🙂


      2. Great counter. I especially feel the e-book wave–once the gunk has been filtered somewhat by time & discretion–is the one I want to ride as an author. I still get jazzed sitting at the beach and downloading a book sample onto my Kindle. Magic!


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