With Greenstar collaboration continuing to go exceptionally well, Simon Cantan and I are throwing around some ideas for more joint projects after Season One of Greenstar is written: we already have a couple of ideas we are playing with, and a list of things we might do next year (including some ideas for Greenstar Season Two).
However, in between discussing the super-secret secrets of our cabal, we encountered a downside to working well together.
Simon commented he really enjoyed An Unquiet Calm, but didn’t think it would be a good idea, from a publishing perspective, to say so on Amazon or the other online retailers. And of course the same holds true for me to uploading reviews of his books: however scrupulously fair we actually were, and however much we bent over backwards to indicate our friendship might unconsciously influence our perspective, all it would take is one person suggesting we were artificially inflating each other’s ratings for all our books to get rated down (or even blacklisted).
And I entirely see his point. Greenstar will be our third collaboration, and more importantly, the first paid collaboration. So we do have an interest in each other’s success.
The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.
– Harper Lee
But I also chafe against the restriction.
Our first interaction was a short email conversation after I sent him a link to my review of Shiny New Swindle. He is one of the few authors I have reviewed more than once as part of my weekly review series. I started following him on Google+ because of his response to my reviews. Reviews are one of the reasons that we know each other well enough to be collaborating.
Another reason, perhaps even more chafing, is that we each think the other is a skilled author. While there are many authors whose work I would recommend, Simon is the only one I am actually staking my professional relationship on: if I post a review which gives a minority opinion on a books worth it is potentially embarrassing for a short while; if I co-author with a writer, any embarrassment reappears whenever someone searches for more of my work.
Each time we review our process for Greenstar, each time we consider another collaboration, we decide to go forward because we think the other writes good books.
The very interest in Simon’s work that suggests I might be tempted to praise it is also potentially the greatest proof that I would still praise it if I had never spoken to him.
Of course, I could create an account under a pseudonym and post a fair review with a disclaimer at the end that I knew the author. However, questions of my review style being distinctive aside, I am loath to actually indulge in shady practice to reduce the chances of being unfairly accused of it.
Therefore – while I will not be taking down the reviews of his work I have already posted – anyone who uses the ‘other reviews by…’ feature on online distributors to find more books they might enjoy might miss out on some of Simon’s books.
Hopefully the reviews I have already posted will direct people to them anyway.
And if my argument seemed plausible, maybe people who read this will check out Simon’s catalogue too.
Do you only review books where you are unconnected with the author? Do you believe someone with an interest is better placed to give a useful review?