Why I Decided to Give My Book Away for Free…And Why I May Regret It

In trying to find more ways to promote my self-published book, Out Where the Buses Don’t Run: Seven Years of Rants, Raves, Dirty Jokes, and Bad Ideas From a Small But Loud Corner of the Blogosphere, I’ve come across several platforms, some interesting, some not so much. The one that’s really piqued my interest greatly is Story Cartel. The idea behind Story Cartel is that the author offers his or her book in exchange for a reader offering an honest review. Where the reader posts their review – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, their own blog, etc. – is up to them.

I’ve decided to give away a copy of my book at Story Cartel. It’s available right now for download, until October 3rd. So go on, head on over to my page link at Story Cartel and download yourself a copy of my book, and post a review – your honest review, please! – once you’re done. Much obliged!

The good thing about Story Cartel is that I’m given an up-to-the-minute update of who’s downloaded my book. The idea is that by knowing who’s made the effort to download and possibly read my book, I’m able to develop a relationship with future readers. I can certainly see how Story Cartel’s model can help foster a mutually beneficial relationship between authors and readers. So far, I’ve gotten a few reviews on Amazon, some good, one bad.

Ah, yes, the bad review. I think I’m going to slightly dip my toe into the Author Behaving Badly pool for one moment. It’s inevitable that an author is going to get a bad review. I knew full well my anthology of blogs wasn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, it hasn’t been, as evidenced by one bad rating I received.

But if there’s one MAJOR PET PEEVE I have with regards to book reviews, it’s a review that’s written after the admission that the reviewer hadn’t finished reading the book.

Look, I’ll admit there have been plenty of books I’ve started that I’ve never finished. For one reason or another, I’ve just never finished them. But I think it’s patently unfair to judge a book’s value based on the several pages you’ve “managed” to get past. I mean, can one honestly give a fair assessment of War and Peace based on reading merely the first 50 pages? No, you can’t, and neither can you give my book a fair assessment if you only read a few essays.

(Not that I’m comparing myself Tolstoy. Far from it…I’m not that arrogant.)

And if you’ve only read a few pages of my book, you’re able to fully judge my book with this review:


I admit I did not finish this “book”. I just couldn’t stomach it. Writing for his own self esteem, the only reason I could deduce, would have been a good reason I guess. However, a plethora of readers who read to appreciate structure, well developed characters, a good story, amusement and other sound reasons will find none of that in these rantings. There is no reason to read this book; it has no value. If you read this book and enjoy it, you are probably proud to be a bed wetter, have less than 12 teeth and love the sound of your own voice.
Seriously, there are so many millions of beautiful words, why would someone be proud to snooker someone into publishing this trash.
This is the worst review I have ever written, but appropriate to what I read.

Yeah, it irks me. I can live with the bad review, provided it’s an honest review.

Oh, who am I kidding? This isn’t a review from the Kirkus Review, or The New York Times Review of Books. It’s a reader’s review, and a bad one at that. So giving away my book leaves me open to reviews that may not be so “honest” after all. But that’s the risk I’ll take right now.

But I will give kudos for the put-down. Because I do love the sound of my voice.


10 thoughts on “Why I Decided to Give My Book Away for Free…And Why I May Regret It

  1. I’ll admit, I haven’t finished your book yet (been SO busy…yeah, yeah, yeah…), but I’ve liked what I’ve read. The reviewer was expecting character development and other novel attributes from an anthology? Of blog posts? Water off a duck’s back.

    I joined a group like Story Cartel…it’s LibraryThing. Still have a couple to review for them. My mom’s passing really did a number on me—I’ve coasted through the year since and haven’t been able to keep focused.

    Anyhoo…you sound like you’re taking it in stride. Peace out. (Did I just say, “Peace Out?” Who am I—Kanye?)

    • Like I’ve said, I can deal with a bad review. It comes with the territory, as not everyone is going to like your output. But I can’t be bothered by someone not taking the time to consider what the hell it is they’re reading, and then taking offense at the fact that it wasn’t what they were expecting. Not my fault you can’t read a fucking synopsis.

      On a side note, my condolences on your mother’s passing. I hope you’re doing well.

  2. It seems said reviewer was looking for narrative fiction, i.e. “good story” and “developed characters.” Your book’s jacket summary on Amazon clearly states it’s a “collection of thought-provoking essays.”
    This was the reader’s mistake–they should’ve known what type of book they were getting into. Essays seldom have plots or characters.
    That’s why I didn’t read your book all the way through–simply not my genre. I am still looking forward to that superhero drama of yours, though.

    • Exactly. I’m not sure what she was looking for, but judging from her Amazon profile, my book was probably one of the last things she should have been reading. Another example of someone getting something for free, and then griping about the quality of the product. Harrumph!

  3. First of all while I think story Cartel sounds like an interesting idea, I’ll have to look into it more. Obviously some drawbacks though – reviews from non professionals who didn’t even bother to finish the book? I applaud you for printing the bad review and shrugging it off though. Hang in there.

    • It’s something of a badge of honor for me, getting a bad review. They’re inevitable, so rather than gnash your teeth and rail that you’re misunderstood, I think it’s best to take those reviews with a grain of salt.

  4. It sounds corny and contrite, but keeping a good attitude is a must. At the very least, it keeps me from gathering up all my unfinished manuscripts and tossing them into a massive bonfire in the backyard.

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