The Printed Fox: It's time for another "Good Idea, Bad Idea"

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's time for another "Good Idea, Bad Idea"

How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot:

What do you do when someone leaves you a bad review on Amazon, or Goodreads, or any other number of product review book websites out there?

Do you:
A.) Ignore all reviews
B.) Cry, throw things, scream into a pillow, and then eat a tub of ice cream while wallowing for a day or so in self-doubt
C.) Take a deep breath and learn from it, since you know bad reviews are part of the business
D.) Call people who took the time to leave an honest review names like "fucktard"

I'm going to assume that most of you answered a combination of B and C. When I first started down the publishing journey, I had always thought I would do A. Reading a lot of authors' blogs and newsletters, I knew reviews were those bad train wrecks of the published world; they're generally awful to look at, are tragic, and the watching of such serves no purpose.

But I also had this macabre fascination. So I read my reviews. I have two that greatly upset me not because they're bad reviews, per say, but because there is no logic behind them that I can see. But did I go on my public Facebook fan page and call them fucktards? Hell no. Did I vent my frustration privately to my friends? You bet I did. They just made no sense to me!!!

Well you know what, me? Tough shit!


The thing is, they made sense to the people who wrote the reviews, and since it's their review, not mine, I have absolutely no say in what someone writes about my books. All I have is my writing ability standing there all alone with nothing but its own merit keeping it company. I've been writing for my entire life; I've been writing seriously since at least 1998. I've only been published with NNP since April of last year.

However, in that time I have put out two books, as well as had shorts in the exclusive Campus Sexploits anthologies as well as a Duo with the lovely Rachel Carling. And let me tell you, my editor is absolutely grueling, but I adore her. I love having someone that I can talk to late at night about the virtues of a clarifying comma in front of a non-independent clause because of a vague qualifier.

But that's the geek side of my Grammar Queen self coming out.


So I stumbled across this author on Amazon and the story blurb sounded kinda interesting. I was in-between books so I thought sure, I'll give it a shot.

It was awful.

Little to no character development. Verb tenses were inconsistent, and not just occasionally, but enough that it actually started to get offensive. There was no research on the smallest of details. It read like fanfic, like the author had a fantasy and was writing about herself, just ten years younger and with a different name.

But her passion for writing was really very clear in the book. At least, in what I read of it. In no way did I read the entire thing. It was just awful. I left an honest review in which I rated it 1 star, but I also offered to help her, to give her a list of resources I had found invaluable, and also offered to introduce her to editors I know. I could respect the passion, so I went to follow her Facebook fan page.

She said "fuck you" to the people who left bad reviews, and called them fucktards.

Really? I mean, really?

You're going to publish your book, and then go publicly throw a tantrum and call people vulgar names simply because they didn't kiss your ass? These were honest reviews. This is not how you behave in public. Crappy author or not, you're calling yourself an author and alienating your readers by calling them horrible names is not how to behave when your reputation is on the line.

Because as an author, your reputation is all you have.

The internet is forever, so be damn careful how you
treat the people who make royalties possible.
This is not rocket science.

But what really upset me, on a professional level, was how obvious it was that somewhere in this author's mind there was an utter refusal to hire an editor. That's kind of like in triage, with your femoral artery spurting everywhere, you refuse to hire a surgeon.

Why are you self-publishing if you don't have the ability to do everything for your book that a traditional publisher would? That's why you're self-publishing, right? Because --for whatever reason-- you've foregone the traditional route and have elected instead to be your own publisher, right? Well, that means having an editor on hand.

And if you can't afford an editor, you shouldn't be publishing. Seriously. It's like the great Elle Woods said:

Why let someone else do for you what you can do for
yourself? Except in the case of eyebrow maintenance.

I might add "editing" to Elle's very short list of "eyebrow maintenance" on things you should let someone else do for you.

Yes, I love Legally Blonde. Don't judge me.

After a while, you've looked at your manuscript for so long, read the same passages so many times, that you begin to see what you expect to see and not what's really there. You edit at 2am when your eyeballs are popping out of their sockets and the backs of your eyelids are covered in steel wool. You type "there" instead of "their," and you have two versions of one sentence in your head and don't realize that you've mashed them together so now your verb tenses are screwed up and you've inadvertently conceived a new word. Except it's a horrible word and should never be allowed to come to term.




If you have any respect for the written word, for books, for published authors, hire an editor.

If you want to skip the traditional publishing route and opt to self-publish, hire an editor. Self-publishing does not somehow lift you above the quality necessary to call yourself published. If anything, you have a higher bar to meet because of the unwashed masses self-pubbing simply because they suck so hard no publisher will touch them, and they don't want to pay their dues and learn how to write before becoming published. You want the instant gratification. You want everyone to kiss your ass because they wrote a book. You're rubbing elbows with them, and there is nothing to set you apart from the worst that can be dredged from the Riverbed of Wannabes except the quality of your writing.

Without an editor, you are every bit like the worst quality of wannabe hitting "publish" on KDP.

Lowest. Common. Denominator. I don't care what your excuses are. If you cut corners and crap out a shitty book that you then publish and expect to be called great, this is you.

If you attack your readers who actually went out of their way to donate time and write a review, this is you.

Be mature, suck it up, find the lesson in the feedback, and move on. In other words, be a real author instead of pretending to be one.

Stop fricking' giving us a bad name.

An editor is there to watch your ass so you don't make the kinds of writing mistakes that scream amateur like someone wrote it across your forehead when you passed out drunk at that massive frat party that you knew was a bad idea but went anyway.

Learn from Jacqueline Howett about why the internet is forever, and why bad grammar and a bad attitude make you look like a toddler who needs a nap, and out you for the hobbyist and delusional impostor you are. (You can read the disaster at ground zero here, and even though Ms. Howett has removed all of her replies, you can still tell a lot of what she said from the replies in the comments as well as a few quotes in the articles.)

Or learn from Kendall Grey. Because some of us take screen shots and let our fellow authors and readers know what you are.

And just in case you missed it before, I take screen shots, too. Because my fellow authors and readers deserve to know you call people "fucktard" and tell them "fuck you too" for leaving an honest review in which I even offered you help, resources, and access to my connections (meager as they are at the beginning of my career).

The interwebz. It's not just for porn anymore.

And if you're taking any of this personally and getting
upset, now might be a good time to ask yourself why.


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