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.

 

72 comments

  1. Dear, sweet Norm.

    I guess I have to take some of the responsibility. This all sprung up because of my thread on Facebook.

    Recently, I pointed out to Norm that his antics inspired people to look at his samples and that was where a lot of his negative reviews came from. Had he just let the reviews go, his overall rating wouldn’t be so bad.

    Unfortunately for him, he just seems so incapable of doing that.

    1. Also my fault for telling Sarah about this book to begin with. We’re all to blame, really. 🙂

      1. If Amazon allowed embedding of videos, there’s a certain ear worm of a song from an animated movie I would post every time Norm lashed out at a reviewer. 🙂

            1. Now I’ve got Meatloaf alternating with Flock of Seagulls in my mind’s ear. May you be afflicted by the high-pitched shrieks of a herd of happy toddlers! 🙂

    1. I knew you were a nice guy, Jason. Protecting everyone that way. You, sir, are a scholar and a saint — although a certain author might just disagree with me about that. 😉

      1. I was informed via email (very politely, I’ll add) that it could be construed as nothing more than a dig at the author if I didn’t post a link to Amazon for the book. I added it, but buried it so you’ll have to look at the most obviously hidden place to find it.

        1. Hehehehehehehehehehe. I found it right away but I’m not sure you-know-who would if he should come to SBR to check out the review.

  2. With respect to reviews: I am going to sign up for Kindle Unlimited TODAY, which allows me to read all of your work in the Unlimited store. Since I have the great good fortune to be permanently and totally disabled, I have the freedom to read all the time. SO: My mission is to read everything in the Kindle Unlimited store that has been written by the members of the madgeniusclub, and rate it and review it. I’d love to have multiple versions of your work, e & dead tree, with full retail paid, but the reality of disabled and fixed income makes this a no-go. I’m looking forward to this!

    1. You’ll have to write a blog of the KU experience after a few months, from the readers point of view. Once you’ve whittled down your pile of known authors, how hard is it to find good books, and so forth. As an author, all I can say is that two months in my sales are about doubled from spring, and if that because of more readers taking a chance on an unknown, then KU is my best advertizing yet.

        1. Mine crashed in August, and started creeping back up in the last half of September, when I started publishing every short and novella I’d been dragging my feet over. This month has been nice and steady, and kept it up all month.

        2. Tom, my sales have been like a yo-yo and, depending on the genre, sometimes the loans have outpaced the sales. But the way I look at it, money is money.

          1. I’ve had that as well, though my novel isn’t KDP Select, so no loans on it.

            Luckily, my stuff that is available for loan, I make more on the loans than the sales, so I don’t lose any sleep there. 🙂

        3. At least you have sales to crash from. Kiwi has sunk deeply into the sediment at the bottom of the Amazon sales stream. Currently 961,184, It hit some resistance at the 930,000 level, but is plunging again. Last sale was a KU on September 11th.

          Now on the plus side, a KU sale pays more than the cost of the book, so that’s one incentive to put shorts up and make them available for KU/KOLL.

          No new reviews since August, and that was a fairly generic pan. But hey, he thought it would tittilate teenagers (which seems to be the common criticism by anyone who hates anything even slightly erotic). I was only half joking about putting it into Erotica if it hits the million mark. The eight hours it was in erotica at launch sold more copies than any other day except the free giveaways.

          1. Might not be a bad plan.

            I’ve read somewhere that if sales stagnate, you should rethink some of that sort of thing. If you think it’ll sell in erotica, why not?

    2. I will be interested in hearing about your experience as a reader with KU as well. As a writer I just put my latest series in there as an experiment. I’m not crazy about having to be exclusive to Amazon, and I’m not crazy about being paid 25 percent less for each book’s sale.
      HOWEVER, a number of authors have assured me that you’re not losing sales, but gaining sales, as the readers in KU tend not to be the ones buying books outside of the program. As I’m locked into it for the next three months, I am very interested in discovering if I made the right decision or not.

      1. John, something else I’ve seen is that some of those who borrow under the KU program then turn around and buy the book. So I’m getting paid twice, which is really nice.

      2. I’ve said this so often, I need to create a “stock answer.” _Normal_ advertising (to get noticed in the right way) *costs* money. KU *pays you* to expose your book(s) to people who don’t know you. _Why_ are you complaining about exposure that _pays you_ for the privilege?

        1. As far as I can tell, Amazon isn’t advertising my books to anybody because I’m in the KU program. I’m just another one of thousands of authors.
          However, because I’m in the top 100 for several different categories for all three books in the series, I -do- get that benefit, but I was in those categories before I did the KU thing. And while I am seeing some nice extra sales, my red line is still higher than my blue line.
          Though the blue line is starting to get close.

    3. I hope you enjoy it, Pat. Remember, there are pen names for some of us as well. BTW, if you’d be interested in doing — as Pam suggests below — a blog about a reader’s perspective on the KU program, I’d be more than glad to mirror it on my blog.

  3. He is factually incorrect about foxes. Loyola in Chicago is crawling with daytime foxes, because students won’t kill them and there aren’t any other predators, whereas mice and junkfood are around in the day.

    Mind you, I was there for a week in summer and only saw a fox once, but that was at noon. Deserted campus noon, but still noon.

    1. I replied over on my site, but I’ll reply here as well: geographically, foxes out in daylight around here are either rabid or after chickens, either of which is rewarded with a .22 round or two.

      Also, and I don’t mean to nitpick, but 1 fox across 1 week does not constitute any location “crawling with daytime foxes.”

        1. Apparently, after many years of the fox skulk living at Loyola and having cubs and foxes around, they ended up relocating the foxes about four years ago. That’s why they took down all the cute pics from the university webpage.

          1. All right, you two are evil. I now have “What does the fox say?” worming its way through my head. That is NOT conducive to editing, tyvm.

  4. That review leaves me with the desire to instead read Ilona Andrews, Rick Riordan, watch Gundam Build Fighters, or have what past experience suggests will be a very frustrating conversation.

  5. I can almost understand why that one author did what she did. The person who had written the bad review was a member of a group that goes around doing that on purpose. In fact there is a huge ‘club’ of such people on Goodreads, (or at least there was six months ago) and the people running Goodreads refuses to do anything about them, even though they clearly state their goal is to destroy authors they don’t like – not give honest reviews.

    Then we have the revenge reviews. On the Amazon forums, boasting about your success, or even just talking about it, can lead to revenge reviews from jealous people. There are also a lot of people over there these days who seem to believe that they’re in charge and will attack anything and everything they don’t like from their ‘superior’ point of view. Even though they are not successful authors.
    Even the Kindle boards can be dangerous these days, and they’re pretty well moderated.

    What all this has meant to me, a hopefully up and coming indy author, is that I no longer post on the Amazon KDP forums – too dangerous. I don’t post on Goodreads, except for the occasional status update – it’s a freaking minefield. And after the Kindle boards refusal to ban a proponent of pirating ebooks (who I suspect is an actual ebook pirate), I only go there once a week.

    The fact is, we’re easy targets to bullies and lawbreakers. We do not have the clout of a huge fan base, a publishing company, or a roomful of New York City lawyers behind us to protect us from these people, and punish those who transgress. I myself have already picked up an SJW hater or three already, (plus Clamps), because my fiction is aimed at the male audience, and meant to be fun. You can imagine just how much that drives some people crazy.
    But I have learned not to talk to the Bad Reviewers, to date I have only responded once, with a short comment saying ‘There are no sex scenes in this book.’ after being accused of writing a triple X porno. And at times I regret even that comment.

    1. I savaged a book by Jennifer Lunde over at SBR once, and she responded in the most professional way, which led to me deciding that if she writes a second book, I’ll give her a second chance.

      1. I do try and learn from the bad reviews, but sometimes you just have to understand that the person doesn’t like what you write and move on. Especially if the good reviews greatly outnumber the bad ones.
        I’m also faced with a curious problem I guess. I’m writing shorter serials now, because they do sell better and give me a faster turn around time on publishing (and hence increased sales), but the last book in the series was both a ‘lay some groundwork’, and also a bit of ‘set up for the next story arc’ in the series, while still telling a story of its own.
        So I just know I’m going to get some reviews that are going to complain about a few plot aspects, but you know, setup! and I can’t go giving spoilers on the next one even though I did my best to provide foreshadowing.
        Maybe this is why some authors do teaser blurbs on the next book in the series?
        All in all, it’s a very learning experience.

        1. One thing to consider, from bad reviews is whether your tags are pulling in the wrong readers.

          And I feel your pain, about needing to set up the situation for the next in a series. I’m trying to weaving necessary setup into a book by making the character collide occasionally and drop needed information. But am I slowing the pace or making the readers lose track of the main story problem? I like “same universe stand alone” books and try to write them. But it’s a balance between “why is this here, it’s irrelevant to the story” or in the next book “You pulled this out of thin air.”

    2. I can understand why she did it. But it is one of those instances of “what good does it accomplish and can’t I be making better use of my time by writing?” As for the different fora you mentioned, including GoodReads, I used to be active on all of them but haven’t visited them in months. The main reason is I just don’t have time. Close behind that is just what you said. They are home, at least at the moment, of trolls and folks who make it their life’s work to tear down those they don’t like. I have enough to deal with when the GHH or SJW crowd comes calling — as well as the occasional visit from Clamps. I don’t need to be messing with the others like them.

  6. I’m a third of the way through Nocturnal Origins, and an evil thought occurred to me.
    I don’t know if Amazon will let me write OR amend a review, but if so, I’m putting together a book review that gushes over the book as the finest example of lesbian empowerment literature ever; the morphing of the were creatures being a metaphor for coming out; the predatory creatures are, of course, white men; the cougar teaching the jaguar is a metaphor for a sub lesbian seducing a dom lesbian into understanding her true self.
    So, if Amazon WON’T let me review the book twice, maybe I lead with the SJW interpretation, then at the end admit that’s all bogus, and Moby Dick is just a whale. Just thinkin’,,,,

  7. Okay, Amanda, I just gave you five stars for your ‘Blisteringly Erotic LGBT Allegory,’ Nocturnal Origins.
    Unfortunately, as soon as I hit ‘submit, it vanished, so if it gets deleted…I shoulda composed it off-line.

  8. The review just went online!

    5.0 out of 5 stars A blisteringly erotic LGBT allegory, October 28, 2014
    By Pat Patterson
    Edit Review
    Delete Review
    This review is from: Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
    We have come not to expect much in the way of enlightened literature from certain quarters who amusingly refer to themselves as writers, but with this latest tome, Ms. Green has shown herself to be at once deeply intuitive, wholeheartedly compassionate, and demonstrated a grasp of post-modern sensibilities that is ,simply…, breathtaking.
    The shallow reader will stop at once with the surface meaning in Nocturnal Origins, and we must only suppose that they will find it a rah-rah thrill, as if anyone cares. However, the discerning will immediately note that Ms. Griffin has chosen the threadbare mythos of shape-shifters and were-wolves to produce a work of art, heartbreaking in scope, examining every aspect of a modern femme MacKenzie (note Mac= daughter of , Ken= wisdom, Zie=zoe =life!) who reaches past traditional roles and explores her newly discovered sexuality in the aftermath of a brutal rape (thinly disguised in the book as an attack by a ‘were-wolf.’ The opening scene of her transformation in the hands of the gentle sub Pat is both deeply emotionally moving, while simultaneously one of the finest, most subtle examples of Sapphic Erotica we have ever scene. We may even suggest we were compelled to take a brief moment to ourselves, at this point…
    We simply MUST take note of the villain of the work a certain Samuel Wilcox in his screamingly hilarious double role as the sub in a S&M game, who provokes endlessly so that he may be punished as a bad, bad boy, as well as representing the phallus-superior culture (‘will cocks = domination by rape; Ms. Green DOES love her little jokes!).
    We trust Ms. Green represents the first of many of the aforementioned ‘writers’ who will henceforth spend less time with their rape-centric gun culture colleagues, and perhaps take tea with us?

      1. So Pam: I’m 15% of the way through Outcasts and Gods (excellent read, btw). Would you care for a review similar to the above?

        1. I dunno, would it be more fun to blast it as promoting male dominance, and express doubts of the actual sex of the author? Could be fun, playing with the symbolism

    1. That is awesome!

      I’d love to see a review of a Monster Hunters International book in that style.

        1. Ya, but…
          I’m thinking about that scene in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where Manny explains to Mike that there are jokes that are funny one time, and jokes that are funny all the time? I’m wondering if the clueless SJW/LGBT review is a funny one time joke. Well, maybe two times, since I just did a similar review for Pam Uphoff’s Outcasts and Gods.
          I will absolutely do a review in this fashion upon request from any author, and since I’m on Kindle Unlimited, I plan on at least one book & review per day for all of the authors on this site, but primarily my reviews would be straight-forward unless requested.
          But: as you wish…

          1. Well if you’re working your way through authors on this site, check me out next then? Look up the ‘Portals of Infinity’ series by me. Book 3 just came out and they’re all in the KU program. I’m actually going to move two other of my books in there soon (waiting for apple to take them down) though I may get a new cover for one of them.

            1. Okay! I’ll finish Draw One in the Dark tomorrow, and check out one of yours. Do you want a straight review, or something outrageous?

              1. I’ve already gotten the outrageous ones from the perpetually offended. I’d prefer a straight up one. Let me know when you leave it and I’ll read it. Serious reviews interest me, because I want to know if I’m making my audience happy, and what I might do to make them more so.

    2. Oh…My…God. You are a very scary person, Pat. I love it and it terrifies me at the same time. Thank you — I think. Yeah, thanks. 😉

    1. My dear Jason, I thought I should inform you that this line:

      By the way, if someone sends me something like this again, I will find you, and I will do things to you that would make even Liam Neeson shudder in horror.

      has had me giggling at random all through the day. But honestly, I must put the question forth:

      Where would this guy rank on the Author List?

      I thought ‘T” given the fisk… er review. Certainly above the Z, since he’s actually written his fiction. Y rank? I thought it a possibility given this bit at the end:

      Do not look back. This is your Sodom and Gomorrah, kiddies. Don’t look back or a pillar of salt you shall become. Don’t waste your money, time, or sanity trying to make it through this book. Don’t even try to start it. Don’t force yourself to get to chapter three. Don’t swallow the arsenic and push to the end. The payoff isn’t worth it (since there isn’t really any payoff) and you’ll hate yourself for it afterwards. I suffered through this so you would not have to.

      Inquiring minds are curious.

      Regards,
      Shadowdancer

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