Of sequels, reviews and how not to behave
I’m up to my eyes with the final edits to Duty from Ashes and am determined that it will be out by Nov. 1st. That means my mind is so focused on the edits that little has gotten in the past week. Maybe that’s why I did something our own Jason Cordova may never forgive me. In my defense, he egged me on. I swear it. He told me that he would review a certain book if I sent him a copy. So I did. And, yes, I will link and explain in a moment.
A little background. In this day and age of social media, there is one truth. What you put out into the interwebs is always in the interwebs if you know where to look. That is a lesson a number of us seem to forget all too often. It is so very simple to take to Facebook or Twitter or any one of a number of other social media sites to express our outrage or anger over something.
As folks who live by their words, authors all too often forget this. Back several years ago, an author took to his blog and FB to blast his editor because he didn’t like the job the editor had done on his latest novel. Now, I’ve seen what some of the traditional press editors can and have done and I don’t blame anyone for the occasional blow up for idiocy but you don’t let yourself be so specific that anyone with just a bit of knowledge of the industry or a bit of google-fu can find out who you are talking about. In this particular instance, he named names and gave dates and got more than a bit profane. Within minutes, the internet exploded, his agent and others saw it and he was basically told to take it down, issue and apology and pray he hadn’t just killed his career. He complied by taking down the post and making a sort-of apology but for months after, people quoted the post because it was still out there in the interwebs for all to find.
More recently, there’s been the author who admitted she was so upset by a review of her first book she basically turned into a stalker. She used her computer skills to find out who the reviewer really was, tracked them down, called them and even went to the reviewer’s home. That is more than a little creepy and is a prime example of why there are fewer and fewer legitimate reviewers available, especially for indie and small press published books. (By legitimate reviewers, I mean those who actually read the book and post in-depth reviews that point out good and bad. In other words, those who aren’t just out for free books. Note also that I don’t include the majority of Amazon reviews that are left by folks who have — or have not — read the book in question.)
Then there are the authors who really go off the deep end and respond to negative reviews by calling names, resorting to profanity and generally making themselves look more than a little foolish. Sometimes this happens when an author goes after a blogger on the that blogger’s site. Other times, it happens in response to Amazon reviews. We hear about the former more often than the latter because of social media. However — and this is where I get to Jason’s review — there are times when an author acts so badly in response to Amazon reviews that he and his book come to the attention of reviewers and the results aren’t what the author desires.
For those of you who might not know, Jason is part of Shiny Book Review. SBR is one of the few review sites I trust because Jason and Barb Caffrey post their honest opinions about the books they read. Being an author who knows the importance of reviews — but who is always worried about what the reviewer will think — I figuratively hide under the kitchen sink when I know they are reviewing one of my books. What I have found is that they have always been fair and have pointed out problems where they see them. I might not always agree but I do consider what they say and I respect their honesty.
So, cutting to the chase, last night on FB, some of us were discussing a novel where the author has been a prime example of what not to do as an author when it comes to Amazon reviews. Most of us in the discussion had at least read part of the free sample and we had read the reviews and the author’s responses to them. The tipping point for some of us came a few days ago when the author, upset when a very successful indie author offered some very good advice, went to the listing for the other author’s latest book and left what can only be called a revenge critique and was then proud of it when called on what he had done. That sort of thing just isn’t done — or it shouldn’t be.
Anyway, during the course of the conversation, Jason said he would review the book if I sent it to him (full disclosure, I did taunt him with the comment that I was tempted to send it to him for review). I don’t think Jason expected me to follow through but I did and, well, we all owe him. He did the literary review equivalent of falling on a grenade for us. You can find his review of the book — the now, in some circles at least, infamous Empress Theresa — here. I guarantee you that, having read the sample on Amazon and having gone to the author’s website, Jason is right on the mark with what he has to say.
The lesson of all this is, if you put a book out there for the world to read, understand that there will be people who won’t like it. Don’t engage with them. Don’t go leaving revenge critiques. Most of all, if you invite teachers or others to read your book and leave an honest opinion, don’t then attack them when they don’t say what you want. (You can follow the link in Jason’s review to the Amazon page and the reviews and comments. I have never before seen a book with so few reviews and so many comments. If you go to the book’s website, you will find sample chapters as well. They are interesting, to say the least, especially when it comes to changing POVs, construction, suspension of disbelief and more.)
Anyway, go read Jason’s review. The lesson to take away from it and from the way the author has behaved on Amazon is that this is a lesson in how not to act if you want to be taken as someone who takes their writing career seriously.
Now I’m going back to work. Duty from Ashes calls and I really, really need to get these edits finished so I can move on to the next project(s). What I wouldn’t give for a vacation.