Today I finally threaded my way through the convoluted process of becoming an approved Amazon reviewer. My first official act was to award myself a five-star review for Eldercide. I'll have to wait 48 hours to see if it goes through or if they're picky enough to catch the blatant self-promotion and maybe ban me forever.

To be a reviewer in good standing, you also have to surrender your credit card number and to have purchased books from Amazon in the relatively recent past. I wonder how recently? In other words, you have to pay to play.

A colleague's review of Eldercide inspired me to take this cyberstep. Here's what she said:

You don't have to be elderly to connect intellectually or emotionally with this book. The story offers something for everyone : for readers of mysteries, a good story ; for readers of medical thrillers, authentic (but not too clinical) health care scenes ; for readers of literary fiction, an accomplished novel with believable, fully-developed characters. And for all of us living in modern society : a contemporary exploration of unavoidable end-of-life issues. The narrative flows smoothly. The dialogue is always on the mark. The editing is sharp, uncommonly good for alternatively-published books. I read the book twice, appreciating its qualities even more the second time. And after finishing the last page, I couldn't wait to talk about it with my husband. What higher praise for a book than that it provokes discussion?

Of course I focused on the part about the editing. I was my own editor - with Virtualbookworm, as with most POD publishers, you have to pay extra for an editing package, and I didn't. I have professional editing experience, and I'm confident of my abilities in that regard. But this is one of the legitimate gripes about self-publishing - stuff gets into print that's in desperate need of editing. That's why one POD publisher I know describes her company as a "printer," not a "publisher" - she freely admits that much of what they print is, in her own words, "crap." But she also feels it's the wave of the future.

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Comment by Julie Lomoe on January 17, 2009 at 7:59am
Hi, I.J. and John,
Just to clarify, I didn't review my own book. Amazon did post the review, which was titled "Please allow me to introduce myself" and then gave some biographical information. I did open by saying "Of course I'm awarding myself five stars" - meant in a spirit of irony, but perhaps it does come off badly. I'm new to this process, but I did go to my own reviews, and I see there's an option to delete my own review. Maybe I'll do so - I'd appreciate your both checking out the Amazon reviews for Eldercide and giving me your opinions. I don't want to turn off potential readers! Thanks for the feedback.

On the other hand, I was brought up a "nice girl" and taught that it's bad manners to brag - and I believe that valuation of modesty as the best policy has done me more harm than good in life. Had I been pushier, I probably would have been more successful, but hey - it's never too late till you're dead.
Comment by John Dishon on January 14, 2009 at 8:31am
Yeah, you lose credibility when you review your own book.
Comment by I. J. Parker on January 14, 2009 at 8:21am
But why would you review your own book? Surely, if that becomes known, it could hurt your reputation. Yes, I've heard stories about people getting their relatives and friends to write glowing reviews, but I still think that isn't the right thing to do.

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