When Do You Recommend Your Friends’ Books?

The indie writing community is very tight-knit. Make one of us mad, we all get mad. I think Faleena Hopkins figured that out quick enough. We support each other; we help each other. We do free things for each other: cover help; editing; beta reading.

We even do some naughty stuff like review trading.

We tweet each other’s books.

Lately, there have been a couple of people asking for book recommendations from indie authors. They want to start a list on their website, or they want to start reviewing indie books.

There were lots of tweets, as you can imagine.

And there was something that surprised me, but I guess it shouldn’t have. Someone was recommending books they haven’t read. How do I know this? For one, I know she doesn’t read indie. Two, she’s a very picky writer, and I don’t think she would have recommended these books had she read them. (That is a polite way of saying they could have used more editing.)

This made me do one of my super researching techniques: I ran a poll on Twitter. While the participant number was low, the results still stunned me.

indie books

I’m trying to figure this out because this bothers me.

Why would you recommend a book to someone if you haven’t read it? Would you walk into a bookstore, grab any old book off the shelf, and tell your friend it was fabulous and a must-read? Of course not.

This seems to be an indie-only thing, like not full-justifying your margins in your books when you format or adding your cover designer to the book’s contributors when you publish. Indies start stuff traditionally published authors don’t do. And the more indie authors do it, the more it becomes acceptable and the more newbie authors do it.

Of course I want to support my friends. But we all know indie writers don’t read that much. We might beta read, or be a critique partner, and that’s fine. It’s a little different in that I would assume the published book is different from a draft a beta or CP read. But at least you know the gist of the story, know if the book has proper punctuation and grammar.

At least you know the story makes sense.

But what are you doing to your own credibility if you recommend a book to someone you haven’t read and that someone takes you seriously? What if that someone takes a peek at the look inside on Amazon. What if that book has no established POV, or doesn’t have a good hook (AKA boring as f*ck)? What if the formatting is messed up, or has typos in it? What if the first paragraph head-hops into five different heads?

There were a couple comments in that tweet thread that asked the question: Who doesn’t read their friends?

Well, quite a few if my own track record is anything to go by. I can count on one hand the number of my friends who have picked up Wherever He Goes and read it cover to cover.

And if you want to ask me what indies I’ve read in the past few months, I can say one. And it was someone I edited for back in February. Otherwise, I’m busy writing or reading craft books, or reading trad-pubbed romance books. I don’t read indie simply for the fact that most of my friends don’t write what I like to read–contemporary romance. And then another reason I don’t read indie much anymore is if they find out I’m reading their book, they expect a review. I won’t leave a bad indie review. I won’t do it. So I don’t want my friends to wonder where their review is because there won’t be one if I don’t like their book.

Given those reasons, I rarely recommend indie books on Twitter. I recommend how-to publishing books or marketing books. I recommend trad-pubbed books that do something well that could be used as an example to my fellow writers.

I think it’s great that we help our friends. But if we want to help our friends, we should do it in a different way. Pass along promo sites. Recommend books you’ve read on how to do proper Facebook ads or Amazon ads. Marketing your friends’ books is not your job.

Sure, I’m flattered when someone posts a picture of my book on Instagram, or tweets about it. (And yeah, less five people have done that for me anyway.) But I don’t expect it and I don’t ask. My readers aren’t on Twitter. They aren’t even following me on Instagram right now–I got sucked into the writing world there, too. {KT Daxon is a good one for this, and I have to give her credit where credit is due. She does a great job of promoting the books she reads, and she truly does read the books she says she does.}

I would only recommend books I’ve read. It’s honest.

And you want people to be able to trust you, not question your taste.

Not question how good your books are.

I know this blog post sounds like I don’t think indies can write and publish good books. That’s not the case. What I am saying is that some indie books could use more editing. And I understand why indies don’t. It’s expensive and time-consuming. Waiting for an editor to get back to you is like sitting on pins and needles, and then you have to put in all the edits once you get them back. A total edit could push your pub date back by several months. But let’s not pretend that indies aren’t impatient, and rushing to publish is a mistake a lot of indies make.

This reminds me of the trad-pubbed writing community. I’m exposed to a lot of YA on Twitter and Instagram. It seems like a lot of YA authors do read other YA authors and tweet about their books and support each other. Being trad-pubbed is like being in a club, and those authors have each other’s backs.

Romance writers are the same way:

lori foster brenda novak

Here’s Brenda Novak reading Lori Foster for a book club Brenda is going to hold in her Facebook Author Group.

That’s real support. That’s real networking and collaboration.

There’s lot of bad things to say about the traditional publishing industry, but this isn’t one of them.

Let’s support our friends the right away.

Read the books you’re recommending. Because reading a book and having a discussion about the book with its author would mean a lot to the author, and a tweeted conversation about a plot twist or an evil character is true promotion.

Do you have any good reasons for recommending books you haven’t read? Let me know!

 

Blog book promo for the end of blog posts

 

5 thoughts on “When Do You Recommend Your Friends’ Books?

  1. I have only ever recommended books I’ve personally read and enjoyed. But if I knew an author’s other work, I might say something like, “I haven’t read this one yet, but I loved her other ones, and this sounds like something you’d like.”

    I have read indie exclusively for a long time, so I’m much more likely than you to have read something indie that I can recommend. (Although I finally broke my indie-only rule a couple weeks ago, when I decided I needed to read/reread some classics. The Old Man and the Sea won both the Nobel and the Pulitzer, yet it head-hops like crazy. I wanted to know how he did that. Now I’m reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, and it is also 3rd omniscient.)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for mentioning me in your post. I pride myself on reviewing the books I read, and making sure I read them all. You know me. I will even force myself to read a book that doesn’t interest me; that’s mainly because of OCD, but it still stands. I’m currently reconsidering my review process, but I love reading. I think a lot of Indie’s out there have excellent books, even better than some traditional. I think it’s sad and actually of a disservice to the author if you promote a book you’ve never read. I’d much prefer open discussion about my book than reviews. Word of mouth is so much stronger than Amazon Reviews anyway. There are MILLIONS of books on Amazon…unless your review number is high, it’ll do nothing to benefit you, IMO. I much prefer Word of Mouth, and that includes images shared on social media.

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  3. Good morning!

    I totally agree that, as authors, we probably don’t read as much fiction as we should. We’ve got our own projects, our jobs, kids (well, not me), etc. etc. Most of my Indie friends write outside my preferred genre, as you said of yours. I still try and read them, especially if they ask. Sometimes it takes me a long time to finish because of all the reasons listed above.

    As far as recommending something I haven’t read, I used to do that all the time. I assumed that if everyone else *was* recommending them and they had X number of followers on social media and X number of positive reviews, that it must be good work and I’d get to reading it eventually. Well, when I did finally read the work I was underwhelmed. So, most of the time now if I make a writer friend on Twitter, I will at least download the sample of their work and read it. It doesn’t take long to accomplish that. *If* I like it, I buy it. If I don’t, well, then I cross my fingers I’m not asked any questions. I have recommended books I haven’t finished yet based on my enthusiasm for what I have read, but I will not recommend books I haven’t at least made some headway on. So far, this hasn’t come back to bite me.

    And I know that social media isn’t a big book-selling engine, but I continue to share others’ work in the genuine hope that it connects with someone. Anyone. I don’t do it often. I did it like crazy yesterday, hoping the whole Book Lovers’ Day thing would boost visibility—try not to laugh too hard. And I do talk up my friends’ books to folks in “real life.” I’ve shared several indie titles with my writing group, pulling up your websites, Amazon pages, etc. on the big screen at the library where we meet. I’ve bought Kindle versions and sent them as gifts to folks. I had even created a little pamphlet of mini-bios and pictures of my author friends and their titles I had planned to give away at the book signing event in Virginia, but of course I’ve now decided not to go. And if any author, in the slightest capacity, helps me with one of my books I always put their name in the acknowledgements in my book and encourage people to seek them out. I try to be helpful.

    And I have gone back to reading Trad books. I still pick up non-fiction, though not nearly as much as you, but I am currently reading Bastard Out of Carolina, a trad book. It has errors, and not the kind I think were on purpose. But, I’m trying to think of the last book I’ve read, trad or indie, that didn’t have a few errors in it, and I can’t remember one. It’s been a year or two since I’ve found one that was so riddled with errors I couldn’t finish it, though.

    As for reviewing books…..I’m behind. Behind like effing crazy on reviewing. I’ve got a ton of excuses, not one of them worthy of screen time.

    Great topic. Hope you’re well and hope we can chat soon! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I never looked at it that way. My friend recently wrote her first book so I posted it on my fb. I commented that she wrote a book. That was it. No review, nothing about me liking it, just her writing a book. I can see where that can get out of control in the future.

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    • Hi, Robin. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll retweet books, or celebrate with a friend who has written one. But if someone outright asks for recommendations, I won’t recommend a book I haven’t read. So, yes, of course acknowledge your friends’ hard work! I do! We’re a strong writing community. But someone is asking me for book recommendations because they want to start a list on their website, well, I won’t recommend something I haven’t personally enjoyed. Why lie? And it just unnerved me to see someone whom I *know* doesn’t read indie give out a list of books, just because they were written by her friends. {insert rolly eyes here}

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