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Thread: Be Kind to Indies!

  1. #51
    Mad Typospherian mpclemens's Avatar
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    Ban this book -- PLEASE

    My personal strategy is to write something so broadly upsetting that it rockets right to the top of the "banned" list. You can't buy publicity like that, folks.

    (Only halfway )
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  2. #52
    Writing! Writing! Writing! Requiescat In Pace
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    It just goes to show you should never get too upset by a bad review because there is always another review around the corner, and when you get that good review it makes it all worthwhile.
    For me, it just goes to show that reviews have little to do with writing. Putting weight on what someone else thinks is a lost cause from the get go. You can never win that game, no matter how hard you try. IMHO, time is better well spent learning the craft and writing.
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  3. #53
    practical experience, FTW JustJas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merrihiatt View Post
    For me, it just goes to show that reviews have little to do with writing. Putting weight on what someone else thinks is a lost cause from the get go. You can never win that game, no matter how hard you try. IMHO, time is better well spent learning the craft and writing.
    I agree that putting too much weight on what someone else thinks is not good. The trick seems to be keeping perspective and remembering that no matter how bad or good a review is, at the end of the day it's still just one person's opinion.

    I still find it very surprising when some author's say they never read their reviews. It seems like a valuable source of feedback that they are missing out on. I can't imagine not wanting to know how my books have been interpreted by others and if I got my ideas across in the way I wanted to.

  4. #54
    practical experience, FTW _Jinx_'s Avatar
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    I am just starting out writing story's and I am even more nervous then I was before...

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    I know this is about music but I think of this when people write rude things like that...

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    Last edited by _Jinx_; 04-15-2012 at 10:26 AM.

  5. #55
    practical experience, FTW JustJas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by _Jinx_ View Post
    I am just starting out writing story's and I am even more nervous then I was before...

    __
    I know this is about music but I think of this when people write rude things like that...
    Sorry Jinx, didn't mean to scare you!

    My advice is start putting your stuff out there now for people to comment on so that by the time you publish a book you know how to handle criticism and learn from it.

  6. #56
    practical experience, FTW _Jinx_'s Avatar
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    Its ok . I am surprised the review said that though... was the review some quack who just happened to have a blog (I mean any idiot can go on the internet and type in whatever garbage they feel like -.-)? or who was he/she?

  7. #57
    Writing! Writing! Writing! Requiescat In Pace
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    I still find it very surprising when some author's say they never read their reviews. It seems like a valuable source of feedback that they are missing out on. I can't imagine not wanting to know how my books have been interpreted by others and if I got my ideas across in the way I wanted to.
    Isn't that what beta readers and critiques are for? It almost sounds as if readers are being used as guinea pigs to test out whether a title has merit.
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  8. #58
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    Audiences have been used as guinea pigs by the entertainment industry for at least a century. Even us self-publishers are a part of that industry, and guineaing potential readers is the only way we can figure out what works.

  9. #59
    Writing! Writing! Writing! Requiescat In Pace
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kriven View Post
    Audiences have been used as guinea pigs by the entertainment industry for at least a century. Even us self-publishers are a part of that industry, and guineaing potential readers is the only way we can figure out what works.
    What works is to write a good book that has been proofed, edited, betaed, critiqued, has a good cover, enticing description and a marketing/promotion plan. And a bit of luck.

    I find the idea of tossing a book "out there" so readers can tell you what you may or may not be doing wrong to be abhorrent. We owe it to our readers, and ourselves, to put out the best work we possibly can.

    Yes, readers will tell us through reviews/comments what they think of our work, but they should be getting our very best effort, IMHO. If we expect them to put down their hard-earned money, we need to give them something worth reading.
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  10. #60
    Writer is as Writer does Terie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merrihiatt View Post
    If we expect them to put down their hard-earned money, we need to give them something worth reading.
    This right here.

    Readers don't invest money and/or time in our work to help us improve our writing. That's not the job of readers.

    If a reviewer should happen to make a comment that chimes with the writer and helps the writer spot a weakness, that's bonus. Just don't confuse an 'author's bonus' with 'the purpose of a review'.
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  11. #61
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Disclaimer: I note that the OP has behaved very well in this thread, and I don't want her to think that what follows is directed at her in any way.

    Many self-published writers complain that there's a stigma associated with self-publishing, and complain about the general perception that self-published books are of poor quality; but then those same writers demand less rigorous reviews of their work, expect readers to ignore their typos, punctuation problems, and spelling errors, and expect their readers to act as editors, proof-readers and general quality-controllers while simultaneously paying for the books.

    That's just not on. Publish the best books you can and be professional about your endeavours; but don't complain that your books aren't taken seriously while treating your readers with contempt.

    Phew. I feel better now I've got that off my chest. *fans self*
    Last edited by Old Hack; 04-16-2012 at 10:33 AM. Reason: Gah!

  12. #62
    WTF?!?! WackAMole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Disclaimer: I note that the OP has behaved very well in this thread, and I don't want her to think that what follows is directed at her in any way.

    Many self-published writers complain that there's a stigma associated with self-publishing, and complain about the general perception that self-published books are of poor quality; but then those same writers demand less rigorous reviews of their work, expect readers to ignore their typos, punctuation problems, and spelling errors, and expect their readers to act as editors, proof-readers and general quality-controllers pay money for their books while simultaneously paying for the books.

    That's just not on. Publish the best books you can and be professional about your endeavours; but don't complain that your books aren't taken seriously while treating your readers with contempt.

    Phew. I feel better now I've got that off my chest. *fans self*
    I started offering to do reviews on Goodreads. I have about 5 people so far. I read one book and I am working on four others. The first book I finished was great. The author did a great job, told a great story. I felt like I got a bargain! I got to read a great story for free! The one I am reading now (I'm actually reading around three) is a bit more of a challenge and I promised myself I would never rate a book well if I didn't think it earned it. I feel ok giving the writer a 3 star rating but I feel I should email the writer the review first and give him/her the option of preferring that I not post it. What you are talking about Old Hack, is exactly what I am afraid of. I have noticed that people do not always respond kindly to bad reviews. They are convinced that they wrote the next best seller even though it's total junk and lash out at the reviewer.
    This one I have now is not really junk, its salvagable. Good story, the author has some strong points in the writing but there are some real problems that need to be addressed. I am hoping and praying that this person is someone who honestly wants to improve and isn't gonna go postal on me when I post the review. I think it's a shame people should have to worry about that stuff, but 'snarky' seems to be the new trend in any form of social networking.
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  13. #63
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    The problem is that if you don't publish your review you're on the verge of being dishonest. You offered to review the book; you didn't guarantee to only write a good review. Reviews are for readers, not writers, and I think readers deserve to know the truth about books.

    The worst that could happen if you write a negative review is that the author is hostile towards you. If it happens it's soon over, and you don't have to respond; and if you do decide to respond you don't have to engage with the author, or defend yourself in any way. Just point her to one of the threads here which discuss the Author's Big Mistake.

    If you feel that you can't deal with that, then don't review the book at all. But don't give the authors the right to approve or refuse the reviews you write: you'll find that the authors will start telling you what to write and how to write it, and before you know it you'll be writing what they want you to write and not what you feel is true. That way lies madness.

    It's up to you, of course. But when I accept books for review I review all of them, apart from the books which are so very bad that reviewing them would be tantamount to bullying the author: those books get returned to their authors and I don't read past the first few pages.

  14. #64
    WTF?!?! WackAMole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    The problem is that if you don't publish your review you're on the verge of being dishonest. You offered to review the book; you didn't guarantee to only write a good review. Reviews are for readers, not writers, and I think readers deserve to know the truth about books.

    The worst that could happen if you write a negative review is that the author is hostile towards you. If it happens it's soon over, and you don't have to respond; and if you do decide to respond you don't have to engage with the author, or defend yourself in any way. Just point her to one of the threads here which discuss the Author's Big Mistake.

    If you feel that you can't deal with that, then don't review the book at all. But don't give the authors the right to approve or refuse the reviews you write: you'll find that the authors will start telling you what to write and how to write it, and before you know it you'll be writing what they want you to write and not what you feel is true. That way lies madness.

    It's up to you, of course. But when I accept books for review I review all of them, apart from the books which are so very bad that reviewing them would be tantamount to bullying the author: those books get returned to their authors and I don't read past the first few pages.
    Thank you Old Hack! You are right. I feel it is dishonest also, but I wasn't sure how to handle it. This is a really great experience for me and thanks for the post.

    Also, when you get a book to review like the last one you described, what on earth do you say to not sound like a total ass? I am just waiting for this to happen. lol Do you just 'not respond' at all?
    ~Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~ E.L. Doctorow~

  15. #65
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    Disclaimer: I note that the OP has behaved very well in this thread, and I don't want her to think that what follows is directed at her in any way.

    Many self-published writers complain that there's a stigma associated with self-publishing, and complain about the general perception that self-published books are of poor quality; but then those same writers demand less rigorous reviews of their work, expect readers to ignore their typos, punctuation problems, and spelling errors, and expect their readers to act as editors, proof-readers and general quality-controllers pay money for their books while simultaneously paying for the books.

    That's just not on. Publish the best books you can and be professional about your endeavours; but don't complain that your books aren't taken seriously while treating your readers with contempt.

    Phew. I feel better now I've got that off my chest. *fans self*
    You said what I was thinking!

    I think this is what annoys me most with the attitude of making the reader the gatekeeper. I'm not going to pay for the privilege of getting a book that I'm now expected to vet for the author. I'm not a publisher, I'm a reader.
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  16. #66
    practical experience, FTW JustJas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merrihiatt View Post
    Isn't that what beta readers and critiques are for? It almost sounds as if readers are being used as guinea pigs to test out whether a title has merit.
    I guess you can look at it that way, but every single person who reads a book will have a different opinion and reaction, and having the ability to find out about that reaction to your books that you've spent so long slaving over is fascinating to me as a writer. That's why I find it so hard to believe some authors don't read their reviews.

    I agree author's should only ever put out their best work and readers should never be used by a writer to test out their work, but I do believe reviews can be very helpful and enlightening for writers and help them improve.

  17. #67
    crazy mean SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WackAMole View Post
    Also, when you get a book to review like the last one you described, what on earth do you say to not sound like a total ass? I am just waiting for this to happen. lol Do you just 'not respond' at all?
    When I'm sent a book I don't feel I can review, I return it to the author with a brief note saying something like, "I am unable to review your book at this time. Best of luck with it."

    I do this for all sorts of reasons, and not just because the books are bad (although most books which I return do fall into this category, I'm afraid).

    For example, if the book is written by someone I know well then I can't ethically review the book. If I give it a good review people will assume I've done so because the author is a friend of mine; if I give it a negative review it could cause me problems with my friendships, or my professional relationships.

    I've received a couple of really good books for review which contained passagesI suspected were libellous. I returned those.

    I won't review books written by people with a past history of plagiarism. I won't review books from people who run the very popular blogs (they have enough publicity of their own, and they often have plenty of friends who would come and snark at me if I wasn't 100% positive about their books). I won't review books which are racist, demeaning or mean in any way.

    All books I receive which fall into any of these categories I return with a variant of the note above. I don't explain why I can't review the books concerned: I don't want to get into a discussion about it. If I get emails asking why I returned the books I ignore them. Easy.

  18. #68
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    I never said to publish under-proofed work and see how much slop you can get away with. But you do need to see just what the audience is reacting to so you can judge what to do next. You can and should continue seeking betas, editors, and the advice of others in the industry, but when it comes down to it the most important factor is whether or not the people buying the book thought it was good and worthwhile.

  19. #69
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    In some regards, a reader's review can provide good feedback, but personally I think that most worthwhile feedback you can get from a reader is going to be subjective.

    The things that are really useful--plot problems, errors, poor writing, and so on, are the things that can really help an author improve, and those are things that should be picked out by beta readers before the book is published. If the readers are picking up on those things, generally speaking the book was published too early.

    That being said, of course there are published books out there with author complaining of just that. I read a very famous fantasy book* that came highly recommended, and I honestly couldn't believe the book had even been published. Sophomoric dialogue, plot holes everywhere, inconsistent characters, and humor that just wasn't funny. However, the vast majority of readers saw none of these problems and I honestly think most of it was subjective--what I saw as a plot hole might have been part of the satire for someone else. Stilted dialogue was stylistic, and so on.

    I guess what I'm saying is that, generally speaking, readers might point out problems, but those problems (at the professional level) are usually going to vary based on personal opinion. One person might hate the way your book ended, the next might love it. One might think it too dark, one not dark enough. One might love your MC, and the next hate them. And so on.

    Those opinions do you no good as an author. Fighting to please everyone will never work, and how do you know which describe a real, legitimate problem and which are those subjective opinions? Writing to try to please all of them is a good way to drive yourself crazy and it won't improve the writing.

    Unless readers are all pointing out a similar flaw or the vast majority share an opinion, I think reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. I honestly believe that good beta readers and editors can help uncover most of the major errors in a book and if most of the readers are pointing out big flaws, the book went out there far too early.

    *Not what you probably think it is.
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  20. #70
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    Amazon reviews are just shit people say. I think they are noticeably worse only on indy books that are noticeably worse. Most readers neither know nor care how the book was produced.

  21. #71
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kriven View Post
    Audiences have been used as guinea pigs by the entertainment industry for at least a century. Even us self-publishers are a part of that industry, and guineaing potential readers is the only way we can figure out what works.
    That's both reprehensible and exploitive.

    As a writer you should be true to your story; not write to suit your putative readers. Write the best book you can, the way you think it should be written.

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  22. #72
    Becoming a laptop-human hybrid Fuchsia Groan's Avatar
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    I just want to add a footnote to this discussion: If you aren't pretty sure that your book is of professional quality, please, please don't send it to your local newspaper for review. Or if you do, please do not be offended and write a snarky email when the editor declines to review your book. It could mean they don't like the looks of your book and don't want to beat up on it, or it could just mean they don't have space and time to review you, because they now receive hundreds of local self-published books each year. There was a time when such a book was unusual enough to merit a story, but that time is long past.

    With some writers, I get the sense that they want feedback on their book, not an actual review. (One guy who had not even self-published asked me to write a story about his query letter! Thinking it might attract an agent, I guess.) I understand how it feels when you're writing into a void. I hate it! But asking a reporter to give you free feedback is like asking an agent to do that when they've already rejected the manuscript. While they may occasionally offer words of advice, they can't possibly always do so.

    That's why I refer many of these writers to AW... though not all take kindly to it.
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