Amy on writing

Is It Worth It?

Capture the Tide cover art by Amy Westphal

Lets research it…

Paid book reviews and the independent or emerging author.

Is it worth the cost or the effort? Good question. Here’s my take.

I entered the Readers Choice Awards Contest the last day of the deadline. My book wasn’t finished by my editor yet but I really wanted to find some literary street cred and based on my research, this contest is the real deal. Not only do they judge completed works, they also judge unpublished works. Exactly what I needed. For more info go to

Needless to say. I did not win the contest. If you’ve followed my blog for some time, you’ll know I’ve had my fair share of rewrites since I started my journey and my book is a different book today. However… I did submit an updated manuscript to be reviewed and got a really nice 5 star review for my novel CAPTURE THE TIDE. I will post the review below. I’m pretty pleased with it.

Now, some people might think that a paid review is meaningless. You’ve probably seen them on Amazon or something, but it doesn’t mean that all paid reviews are equal and that they don’t have value. As an emerging writer, I see no reason not to take opportunities that give you legitimacy. Everyone knows that a strong platform pays. Agents love a platform, and even better? A platform with a healthy following. And I’m working on that here. I don’t have staggering numbers like some literary bloggers, but I am pleased with the growth of my website and blog. But up until now I have mostly talked about my writing process and managing mom life with entrepreneuring, I haven’t actually discussed my book itself with much detail. And I think its time to change that.  So for the first time on I’d like to use my professional review to share a taste of what CAPTURE THE TIDE is all about.

Readers Favorite Book review for CAPTURE THE TIDE by Amy Westphal

Reviewed By Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite

“Life is ugly, gritty, complicated, glorious, and beautiful. But not pretty. Stories are pretty, saccharin tales of black and white and no gray.” It takes Lauren a remarkable journey of discovery to learn those simple truths about life and about humanity as a whole. There will always be the good and the bad, the glorious and the evil, the happy and the sad. Even with a fresh start, a cleansing if you will, humanity will always recover with the same mix and make the same mistakes. When an asteroid hits Lauren’s world, it takes away her home, her family, her life. She has to start again. But she is not alone. And once she discovers that simple fact, she is able to fit together again the pieces of the puzzle that disrupted her life and will create her new life. 

Amy Westphal’s novel, Capture the Tide, is more than an Armageddon story of total destruction and the survival of the few in the aftermath of disaster. It’s a powerful story about the human tenacity to recover and to try again, to survive in the best possible way under unknown, uncertain circumstances. The plot develops from Lauren’s entrapment in a bomb shelter, securely locked away for two years with no connection to the outside world. She has no idea what will await her when the clock finally ticks down and the lock on the door disengages. She finds a world totally different from the one she remembered, but also a world not so different. There are the good, the bad and the ugly, as well as the glorious and beautiful everywhere she wanders. Until she finds her family again and a way to create a new life for herself. A powerful plot that outlines the many faces of humanity. The description invites the reader right into the story and the characters are so real that the reader feels they know them intimately.

So honestly my darlings, what do you think? Does this sound like a book you would like to read? Inquiring minds (mine) want to know..

Post up in the comments.

Cheers, Amy

And for more information about paid reviews I recommend checking out  she is an incredible resource for writers.

Image- My cover design for CAPTURE THE TIDE

19 thoughts on “Is It Worth It?”

  1. As an avid reader, I think any form of review of a book is vital paid or not.
    So glad I stumbled across your blog, I have a pipe dream of writing a fiction so I will be following your blog closely for advice.
    Looking forward to reading your book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think large publishing outfits, and people like “paid reviewers,” have this entire writer/reader relationship backwards, and I think it’s by design, an altogether insidious one at that.

    I am here to change that relationship.

    I will pay you so that I may read a hard copy of your book’s first chapter. Contact me for more details.

    Your story sounds like what I am going through right now, but it’s been four years, not two. After eight years, and three deployments to war, I got out of the military in September 2014, and I can probably draw parallels to your fictionalized thought process. Or, maybe not.

    Either way, I would rather pay you to find out, than watch you drown in this sea of chaos, paying other people off, just to be able to have a slight chance of having your work produced in a way that you share your work with people actually willing to pay you to be able to eat and survive after pouring your heart into something. Just this paragraph alone exhausts me when I think about that whole process. I can only imagine how you feel as the actual author and creator. I empathize.

    Like I said, contact me for more details. -E

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As far as this so-called Jane Friedman woman: naturally, I visited her website, and read through her biography she provided all of us.

    You asked me what I think, so I am going to tell you what I think. I think the woman obviously has a lot of problems, and is in no position to be leading people down the road of business, especially not business entrepreneurship centered around self publishing fiction authors who have heartfelt thoughts that are directly connected to products they personally create.

    I am no business expert, but you asked us what we thought, so here are some red flags that stood out to me immediately.

    On one hand, simply from a business standpoint, each click someone makes on that link she provided to her “drinking interview” and other links on her “personal resume” sends traffic to someone she is affiliated with, and it’s making both of them money. You are helping her make money by simply reading her resume, sharing her name and website with other, and also by reading an entire article talking about why she thinks it’s cool and hip to be a woman who drinks alone in her house in her 30s (more on that later).

    Don’t believe me? The entirety of her resume is her filling up the page with unnecessary fluff that said “I’m really good at making people pay attention to me, so I made a living off getting people to pay attention to me on social media, and it eventually got me a job traveling the world telling other people how to get people to beg for attention well enough to get people to click the mouse button so that advertising affiliates would pay them based on percentage and nature of the amount of mouse clicks.” Imagine buying tickets somewhere, or a turnstile at a transit hub, and you will better understand what I’m talking about, except we are talking about writing.

    Eventually, people are going to actually read what they came to read. I foresee high volume in the beginning of this woman’s strategy, but now she has to hold the attention of thousands of people. She did this with a team of 20 people or more, and the budget that belonged to someone else. Amy, you aren’t a team of 20 people, nor do you have a large budget, to include a discretionary fund for incidentals that help stroke the ego of investors. You’re one woman, a passionate writer at that, with a personal connection to your work no less. This woman does not hold personal connections like that. She is not “married to her work” as we used to say in my very cutthroat professional job in marketing. I used to work in her type of environment in the Army, a place that would probably shatter the ego of someone like her, especially with the whole drinking thing she does.

    Now, on the other hand: her personal life.

    The woman devoted an entire part of her professional resume on her website, to divert us from the resume itself, and instead directs all of us away from it in order to discuss something “personal,” or a personal “take,” whatever that means. I keep seeing people using this word “take,” or “hot take” like that a lot now, and it’s annoying.

    Anyway, she diverts us to her personal life so that we could read an entire article on some other stranger’s website that is solely devoted to the female sex entertaining and justifying potential alcohol abuse and alcoholism in their lives, well into their middle age. Again, she is making that other “affiliated” person money with each click to and from both websites. I 100% guarantee it, because that’s how internet marketing works. She even calls it “e-commerce” in her resume.

    The entire drinking article is an obvious, outspoken inner monologue of Miss Friedman providing her glorification of, and grandstanding over her obvious potential alcoholism. The interviewer draws out a few talking points, and she just lets it rip. She even mentions her alcoholism “may have ruined romantic relationships.” HUH… YA DON’T SAY?!

    To Janet: yes, lady, you ruined a chance at starting a family early in your life with the career path you chose, and the way you handle your personal and professional life with alcohol as a lubricant is not wise either. Now you want other women to join you in this downward spiral, and you wish to be paid to show them how to become more like you. You were probably abusive toward men and women when you drank in the past, which is something you glossed over in the interview, and you even admit to acting stupid and careless when wifi and wine mix together when you are by yourself on your internet connected devices at home. You are more than likely drinking alone in your 30s in some small apartment somewhere, probably paying too much rent, looking for the next e-commerce convention to go to so you can make end’s meet, and you’re trying to tell me “why that’s a good thing” as all of these mainstream leftist media outlets would say about any number of degenerate behaviors.

    I digress.

    She mentions enjoying billboards while drinking. Most billboards are along sides of the road, so unless she is looking at billboards from the comfort of her home, or from the window of a taxi cab or other public place, she is either drunk in public or drunk driving. Being buzzed is being drunk, so I don’t appreciate the message she is sending to a country full of people who already have enough problems with substance abuse.

    This woman doesn’t seem like she loves her life, or her job, at all. When I look at the portrait she provides on her home page, and I look into her bespectacled eyes, I see pain, and uncertainty. I don’t see happiness, or confidence in what the future holds. I see strain, pain, and drain. I know the look because I have had the look too in the past.

    I do not say any of this to defame her character, nor do I say any of it out of hatred. I say all this out of love because I care.

    Her methods are not the way a self published author will become successful, rich or not. Her methods are a way to become an alcoholic who travels a lot, and is tasked with keeping 20 people or more on task, and the task is keeping a bunch of other people, thousands of them, interested in things with which she may not have any moral or personal connection. It’s a typical social pyramid scheme. It brings in a lot of volume, but the return on investment is usually never a guarantee.

    Finally, let’s talk about her “ethics statement:”

    “I earn my living as an entrepreneur and freelancer; my goal is to be truly independent of any obligation to an employer, business, or organization. I am not paid by any company or organization to recommend or promote their services, either on this blog, through social media, or any other public forum. Any sponsorships or advertising relationships, when they exist (which is extremely rare, as this site does not carry advertising), are stated upfront and transparently. If I write about a company I have consulted for, I disclose that when I write about them. My income is driven largely by my own writing and teaching, as well as consulting services for writers, and I consider my interests to be aligned with writers’ interests.”

    All complete bullshit. BULLSHIT.

    She is a freelancer. She has deadlines. She is a professional writer. SOMEONE pays her. Therefore, unless she pulls her food out of the ground on her own land, out of the sky, out of the water, out of the woods, and the wine from her own grapes on her own vineyard, or whatever, the woman is obliged to someone to deliver something to be compensated with Federal Reserve notes and physical coin currency within a prescribed time and date. As far as no advertisement revenue, again that is bullshit, because every single link provided throughout her website is an advertisement to something. Even if it is her own writings. If someone pays her to read her works, she is obliged to deliver what she advertised, within the time period to deliver that she promised.

    This is still America.

    One thing is for certain: the world of technology is changing, but the relevance of people like her who perform the functions that they do is going away, so long as the 1st Amendment continues to exist.

    Again, I speak from experience in marketing and advertising, out of love, and with care.

    You asked us what we think. That was what I think. Brutal honesty, because multi level pyramid marketing is not what self publishing authors need.

    Tread lightly, and use caution. If nothing else, keep your feet and knees together, Airborne.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You provide an honest yet cynical perspective that I really appreciate. I love honesty and authenticity and that’s obviously your jam. I appreciate your offer to read my first chapter too. I’ll have Think on it and check you out further. I am not disillusioned by this industry. It’s a harsh and unforgiving place, as an artist I’m always aware of how business kills artistry. I’ve lived it many times. When I decided to start a writing career I entered it knowing that Im playing the game. Whether I like how if functions or not I’m in this thing. I want to find an agent and have my book published traditionally. If it doesn’t work out. I will self publish and probably look to Kent Wayne for tips because he’s awesome. Anyone you makes a living doing what I want merits attention for me. They use the system with some success and I see it. I’m not an internet person. I don’t social media. WordPress is it for me. I’m as authentic as they come but I’m willing to follow suit if needed. But I like what you’re saying. And will peruse it in my head for sometime give myself some edge. Thanks EJH, Amy.


  4. Reviews are the trickiest of things…Makes me long for the days of many newspapers with Arts sections, because then the reviewer was indeed paid, but there was no inference of conflict of interest in praising or condemning a new book…Both the public and the writer had a little more assurance that the review was at least genuine and heart-felt…Not so easy to achieve today, and yet you pulled it off! Well done, I’d say — on writing and scoring a good review in these tougher times!

    Liked by 1 person

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