This is from a review of my new novel, Son of France:
“The second in the series after 2013’s lovely/harrowing Come Barbarians, the Edmonton writer’s first sequel follows the haunted ruins of its protagonist, Christopher Kruse. We now move past his origin story in a way that believably notes its catalogue of scabs. Impressionistically, imagine the depth of feeling in Catcher in the Rye — but add terrorists stripping flesh with a bolt cutter and a lot more punching.”
The headline of the review, by Fish Griwkowsky, includes the phrase, “Babiak reinventing thrillers.”
Come Barbarians only had good reviews. Great reviews! It was embarrassing. But something happened in the last five years or so, in the publishing industry: reviews don’t motivate readers. I don’t know why.
What I have found, with these two novels, is that if I can get you to read them… you’re happy you did. You share the books, recommend them (with caveats about vegetable peelers and bolt cutters).
Of course, this isn’t a unique problem. A store will use incentives and price manipulations to get us into the place because marketers know once we’re inside we buy. Every day, I get emails from multiple airlines convincing me to buy flights at nutty prices.
I don’t control the price of Come Barbarians and Son of France. My publisher puts a price on the novels, and stores do what they like. Amazon and Indigo discount the books, if you purchase them online. If I have some copies I’ll sell them to you at a loss just to get you to read them.
Self-published authors give away scores of copies of their books, often to each other, with the understanding that you will exchange five-star reviews on Amazon. It’s good for the algorithm. I can’t do that either.
What can I do, as an enticement, an incentive, a manipulation?
I KNOW! I’ll write you a poem. Here is an example of my poetry-writing prowess.
If you send me a photograph of yourself with copies of COME BARBARIANS and SON OF FRANCE, I will write you a poem. A poem just for you! I will post the photograph of you, with your poem, on this website.