Thursday 20 December 2012

To Go Free Or Not To Go Free? That Is The....

I've read quite a lot lately about whether or not one should offer one's books for free. Many people feel that to do this cheapens not only one's own work but also the market as a whole.  There are many arguments for and against, and I daresay you might have seen one or two of them yourself.  I was reading one on the blog of Geoff West yesterday....

...which you might like to look at, too, as both the blog and its comments feature both schools of thought.

What do I think?

About three years ago, when I had written much but had not yet heard of Amazon KDP or even Kindles, I was browsing my local library.  I came across a book entitled 'Mutiny On The Bounty' by John Boyne, which I imagined, rightly, to be a fictional account based on the true story.  I love this genre anyway, and have always been fascinated by the tale of this famous mutiny, so I got the book out.

It was marvellous, unputdownable.  I then went on to read the rest of John Boyne's books, and extol his genius far and wide. I will add that he was good enough to accept my friend request on Facebook, and seems to be a thoroughly nice chap.  

Now, John Boyne is an internationally acclaimed author, anyway, and you could argue that he didn't need my approval. Indeed, he could probably live without mine alone.  However, the approval of thousands like me, as a group of people who love his work as much as I do, has got him where he is today.  I probably wouldn't have bought 'Mutiny' if I'd seen it in a shop. But I had the chance to try for free the books of this author about whom I knew nowt.  I wonder how many of his other devotees discovered him in the the same way?

Here's another story.  A couple of years ago, my sister read a book that had been a free giveaway in some magazine; it was called 'The Big Picture' by Douglas Kennedy.  She had never heard of Douglas Kennedy, and nor had I.  She read it, then phoned me and said "You MUST read this book!"  Since then, she and I have both bought and read all ten of his books, and extolled his virtues ... ditto the above, re John Boyne (minus the Facebook bit!)

I discovered Emily Barr in a second hand shop.  Well, not her in person, but her book 'Plan B', for about a quid.  Need I say more?

Speaking of Emily Barr, I was delighted to see that my book 'The Other Side' now features in the 'Customers also bought' lists of several of her books on Amazon!  How cool is that?  Now, this wouldn't have happened if I had never put my first book, 'You Wish', out there for a three day free promotion.  I'd still be selling about six books a month, like I was when I first started!  The free download opportunity gave people the opportunity to try out my novels without spending a penny.  

Yes, I do value my work.  I value it so much that I want as many people to read it as possible, which is why giving out free copies is something I am happy to do.  It's only the same as having them in a library.  Of course I want to make money from writing.  I have international bestseller fantasies, the same as anyone!  But the main reason I write is because I love it, and I want other people to love what I do.  The more people who read my books, the more are likely to do so.

Oh, here's 'The Other Side', by the way!

What do you think about all this?

Writing six weeks later....  I just wanted to say one thing, though....  since Christmas the amount of books that are on free promotion at any one time seems to have quadrupled - which makes me wonder if anyone actually need pay for a book ever again.  There's an air of desperation about it ~ writers seem to be putting a book out on sale for a month, then, when it doesn't become an instant bestseller, shoving it on for free, in the hope that it will boost post-promotion sales.  Thus, the free promotion no longer has the effect it used to, because everyone's doing it.  Ah, well.  All markets flood, eventually, I suppose.  My thoughts on the rest of it, as a principle, still stand, though, and I will still put my books on for free from time to time.

Wednesday 5 December 2012

It gets right on my nerves, it does.....

....just me talking about things that annoy me again!!

'Are you ready for Christmas?'  
     Have you had your first one yet this year?  I got mine yesterday.  I don't expect the person who asked me this will have a very good one, as I was forced to cut her head off.

Why is it always so HOT everywhere?  
     Since about the end of September this year, every time I go into a doctor's or hospital waiting room, or on a train, I feel about fit to pass out because the heating is always turned up full blast. Don't the people who recklessly whack up the thermostats in these places realise that most who visit them will be wearing coats?  
     Shops are as bad; until I get to the chilled section in Morrissons I have to walk around with my coat hanging over my trolley, thus revealing that I couldn't be bothered to change out of my bleach stained leezurewear t-shirt before I came out (my fault - I should learn). In early October I went into Marks & Spencer to buy a winter coat, and the mere activity involved in trying a few on actually made attractive beads of sweat appear on my face.  I mentioned it to one of the shop assistants; she said, 'oh yes, it's awful, isn't it.  I just try to move around really slowly.' 
     Taxis are usually dry and airless, too - and some people's houses - what happened to wearing a jumper?  I haven't worn or bought one for years.  Can't be healthy, being so artificially hot all the time, can it?

Talking of shops, I'd like to say this:
     I want to buy the bottle of shampoo I've just brought up to the counter.  I don't want to top up my mobile, buy stamps (postal, saving or otherwise), invest in an aftershave gift set for 'just' £12.99, add a family sized bar of chocolate to my shopping list, get that DVD for half price because I've spent over 50 quid (and, presumably, because it isn't selling at the normal price), change my house insurance or anything else you're offering me.  
     Yes, I know it's not the fault of the sales people who have to offer all these things.  I feel sorry for them having to say it two hundred times a day.  I usually hold up my hand to stop them as soon as they launch into the speech;  recently, one young chap in Savers thanked me most profusely, saying that his mouth was permanently dry and it made him feel like a right idiot. Sales promotion 'experts', listen to your staff and customers!

     How come women who are more than three stone overweight are no longer just 'fat', 'big', or the ghastly 'curvy', but, apparently, now 'sassy'too?

     And don't start me off on 'rocking' - "I'm currently rocking this really cool suit"; "Next time I'm rocking down to the supermarket..", etc etc.  Only acceptable if you're in Van Halen, otherwise it just makes you sound like a prat.  Still, at least the people who are currently saying it will have jumped onto the next bandwagon in a month or so.  That moment when..  Just sayin'...

     Clicking 'like' on someone's Facebook status update about people with an incurable disease/bad treatment of some monkey or other doesn't 'raise awareness' of it if you don't know what that disease etc is, and have forgotten all about it two minutes later, anyway.  
     It just makes you feel as if you've done something good.
     Guess what - you haven't!
     Even if your awareness is momentarily raised, this still doesn't actually do anything about it. Copy-and-pasting the actual Facebook status update doesn't do a great deal, either, unless you're actively involved in fund raising or spreading the word about new solutions for whatever it is. I think it was a journalist in the Guardian who invented the word for people who do this - Clicktivist.  Nice one!

Taxi drivers:
     Generally speaking, if people sit in the back of the car and answer your questions in monosyllables, it means they don't feel like talking. 

     Anyone else weary of the overuse (and often misuse) of these words? Genre.  Generic.  Exponential. Demographic.  Iconic.  Literally.  Ironic.

     I really, really hate the way that someone being sick on a television drama/soap/film is portrayed so graphically these days.  We don't actually need to see it coming out of their mouths, or, indeed, the remnants as they are wiped away.  Gross me out!

     Similarly, can't people ever kiss on telly/films without the sloppy, squelchy sounds???

     This isn't annoying, just something that amuses me. On films in which someone is going to confront a dangerous person, or in which a group of teenagers are going away for the weekend to some cottage in the hills where, inevitably, there will be a resident psycho waiting to pick them off one by one, have you noticed how, within the first ten minutes of the film, the fact that there is no mobile/cell reception is always established via one of them trying to make a phone call to their mum? Producers of such pictures must have cursed the advent of the mobile phone.  
     'Hey, Mr Huston, I don't like to mention this, me being just a lowly stage-hand an' all, but while he was hiding in that attic with the knife wielding maniac mooching around below, couldn't he have just called 911 on his cell?'

     Perhaps I just watch too many crap films!

Saturday 24 November 2012

A solution to the endless 'dodgy five star review' problem!

This isn't another moan about not-very-good books having five stars and the reviews all being from their mates, incidentally.

I've had my say before on this one I won't repeat myself.  I'd just like to say this - reviewers, please look at what the stars actually mean before you post a review.  If you hover over the stars on Amazon and on Goodreads, they show you what they indicate.

Anyway, whatever happened to the 3 star review?  That quiet little cheeky one twiddling its thumbs, minding its own business in an average kind of way, in between 'it was fab' and 'it was crap'?  Don't see many of these little fellas, do you?

Let's hear it for the 3 star review!  Let's hear it for, "it was very good in parts, but I skip-read some of it, it wasn't quite my thing, but someone who loves this particular genre might lap it up.  If it was given a professional edit I might have given it four stars.  It was okay, fine, something pleasant enough to read on the beach that afternoon."

There, that's okay, isn't it?  It doesn't mean the author will hunt you down and set fire to your house, or unfollow you on Twitter, does it?

Now, the solution!

I think this would be for Amazon to introduce more stars.  I finished a book last night.  I read every word, read it quickly, found it fascinating, but can't quite give it five stars, because that would put it up there with my favourite books, wouldn't it?  Wish I could give it four and a half. So, how about a seven star scale?  Wouldn't that be great? Wouldn't it be good if you could give six stars on the seven star scale - equivalent to the four and a half star review?  Because that is what I think some five star reviews often are.  I would give four and a half stars to the book I finished last night.  So I'll give it five.  Because it was better than a book to which I would have given four.

Amazon's new scale should be:

7 - Amazing, loved it, didn't want it to end, right up there with my favourites
6 - Seriously good stuff, will recommend, but not quite up there with my favourites
5 - Good, I enjoyed it. 
4 - Good, a few dodgy bits, but on the whole it was pretty fair.
3 - Skip read it a bit.  Not too bad if you like that sort of thing
2 - Boring, not very well written, hardly managed to struggle through to the end
1 - Badly written shite, gave up without finishing.

There!  Wouldn't that be better?

Thursday 22 November 2012

My Top Four Independently Published Books This Year.....

What are yours?  

Now that we are eleven months into the year, I've been thinking about this.  So, in no particular order, here are my favourite four 'indie' books of this year.  

Drum roll.....


Time travel and rock 'n' roll - what's not to like?

1923: A MEMOIR by Harry Leslie Smith 

Struggling through the early years of this century in northern England - fascinating stuff

DUNGDA DE ISLAN' by Charles Dougherty

Charles and his wife's adventures around the Caribbean islands - wonderful!

THRIFT by Phil Church

Hilarious tale about a teacher losing the will to teach...

My reviews of all these are on the Amazon links :)

I am also very much looking forward to reading:

NORTHMAN by J D Hughes



not to mention.......

COMING HOME by Chris Gallagher 



a special mention, for anyone who loves more girly stuff...

THE DATING GAME by Susan Buchanan

or if you prefer the psychologically thrilling, you could try 

HAUNTED by Maria Savva

One day when I have a lot of time on my hands I really, really want to get stuck into the fantasy world of 


I hope you've found something to interest you there - and I'd love to hear what your favourite books of the year have been, and also the ones you recommend and are looking forward to reading.

There are so many more I am interested in reading or would like to mention, but I tried to just pick my favourites, ones I think may become favourites, or that might appeal to many others, too.

Thanks for reading this, too!

Monday 12 November 2012

A HUGE thank you.....

..... to everyone who's helped me out this weekend - list below!

I've just finished a 3 day free promotion for my book, Dream On - I am happy to announce that you will no longer see my tweets about it all over Twitter! :)

If you have downloaded the book, you might be interested in this interview that the delightful Clive Eaton did with me on his blog - amongst other things, I've talked a bit about 'Dream On' and where the idea came from, and the research for it.

Now!  Most importantly I had LOADS of help with the free promotion, without which I would not have been able to make a success of it.  I would like to thank EVERYONE who downloaded it, shared the link on Facebook, stuck it on other sites for me, and, most of all tweeted it and retweeted it on Twitter!  I've tried to keep up with reciprocating all the RTs as I was going along, and will continue to do so.

I'd like to give a special mention to some people who really 'went the extra mile', tweeting the book for me over and over and over again.  I am most touched by your help, and hope to be able to give similar help back to you in the future.  I apologise to anyone I've left out - I was frantically scribbling names down on lists all weekend!

Special thanks to (some will be with Twitter name, I'm afraid!): 

Susan Buchanan, Bev Spicer, Zoe Saadia, Charles Gonzo, Angela Fiendishly Fab, Ian Little, Dave Perlmutter, Electa Graham, Chantal Merlin, T W Luedke, K J Waters, Stephen Venables, Brian Menard, Geoffrey D West, K J Bennett, Gary R Walker, Maria Savva, Jane Sleuth 62, Carol Hedges, I C Camilleri, Proofreader Julia, Sonya Kemp, Vanessa Wester, Sherrie Lowe, Jennie Orbell, Emma Covill, Penelope Hellyer, Judee B, Andy Lucas, Lisa Corelli, Tony Huby, Kate Hanney, J D Hughes, E Lindley, Melodie Ramone, Neil Low, Patric Guntert, Richie Earl, Crystal Marcos, V T Vaughn, Laurie Breton, C S Sanders, Robbie Thomas, Bev Jones, David Leadbeater, Janice Ross, Kayla Stonor, Chris Gallagher, Peter Davey, Paul Shawcross, Lynn Gerrard, AreoMc, Roy Murry, Barbara Rumbarbar (!), Great One 04, Olivia M (Bunny lady), RM Duchene, Flick Merauld, Positive Jules, Bill Carson, Danny Kemp, Kerry Parkinson, Diane Major, L J Bush, Tim Prive, P J La Rue, Phillip Mayes, Tim Davis, Teresa Hamilton, Jonathan Grimm, Marie Fostino, Jeff Whelan, Wendy Potocki, Lisa Richardson, George Angus, Dan Chamberlain, Chris Petersen, Charity Parkerson, Josie Noonan, Emily Guido, I M Telling, Blue Harmonie, Dianna Bellerose, Ross Kitson, Mackenzie Brown, Clive Johnson,Roger Grubbs, Anita Philmar - and sorry if I've missed anyone out!

Thank you!  

Wednesday 7 November 2012

DREAM ON IS FREE!!! From 9th - 11th November!

As above!  I'm crossing fingers that Amazon doesn't muck it up - I felt absolutely gutted for a fellow writer friend who had that happen  - she'd publicised it all over the place, but Amazon failed to put it on for free - please cross fingers for me too :)

DREAM ON will be free from approximately 9.30 am on Friday in the UK (and various times everywhere else!) - when I've done free promotions in the past that's about when they start. I hope that anyone who is interested in reading this will download it, and spread the word on Twitter, etc - many thanks in advance!  Oh, and it has 17 reviews on Amazon UK - and they're all five stars... 

Here's the synopsis:

Dave Bentley was born to be a rock star.  He's a reincarnated Viking warrior, too...

When Dave forms his new band, Thor, there are  many sleepless nights for Janice, his on-off girlfriend and mother of his son. Not only must she deal with the thrills and spills of life as a hardworking single mum, but also the imminent return of singer-songwriter Ariel Swan, Dave's one true love.

Poor Janice. Dave is still the love of her life.

Ariel Swan returns to small town life - and Dave's heart.
She and her friend Melodie (whose ambition is to be "a celebrity") enter a TV talent competition, so Dave and the rest of Thor decide to make the most of the opportunity for possible fame and fortune, too. This adventure brings about big changes in the lives of all of them – none of which Dave could have anticipated.

One member of Thor even ends up on The Jeremy Kyle Show...

Here's the Amazon link, in case you would like to read the reviews - I've got some that have made me very proud indeed, including ones from book bloggers, other authors and a top Amazon reviewer :)

If you download it, I hope you enjoy it! 

Tuesday 11 September 2012


....I bet you thought I was going to tell you how to sell tons of books, didn't you?  Well, it's nothing to do with that!

This is it.

Weightwatchers desserts

They are about 130 calories each (lots of different sorts, my current favourite is the strawberry meringue).  They come in packs of two, and they're GORGEOUS.

The clever sales ploy is putting them in packs of two.

You're trying to lose some weight and you see them in Morrissons and you buy them.  At only 130 calories they can't do any harm, can they?  Later on you eat one, and if you're quite strong willed you save the other one until the next day.  Then, because they're so lovely, next time you're in the supermarket you buy two packs of two; maybe the strawberry meringue, and the chocolate brownie.

Back at home you're not quite so strong willed as the day before, and this time you eat one after dinner, and the other one from the packet a few hours later, whilst watching telly.  Next day you remember how lovely they were, and eat the third one at lunch time.  Followed by the fourth one at about four pm, because they're only 130 calories each, and that's quite reasonable for an afternoon snack, isn't it?

You have now eaten 520 calories worth of zero nutrition, probably extra to the calories you would have otherwise eaten had you not discovered Weightwatchers desserts.

 Thus, you don't lose any weight.

Thus, you resume the diet the following Monday.  Diet resumed (in your head, anyway) you know you'll need low calorie ways to satisfy your sweet tooth.  So, whilst in the supermarket buying all your diet food, you buy a packet of Weightwatchers desserts, promising yourself that you will only eat one per day after dinner.  Of course, you don't.

And so it goes on.

I can see myself buying these lovely, wretched little things forever.

Thursday 6 September 2012

The current outrage against fake reviews...

..... and those that people pay for, which amount to the same thing - they're all fake.

This is what I think:

Yes, the whole practice is appalling, but I'm not joining in with the pitchfork waving on various blogs, or the signing of petitions, and nor shall I adopt the phrase 'sock puppet', which is already over-used.

For a start, they're few and far between, which is one of the reasons we hear about them when they're brought to light.  We worry that they will undervalue the 99.9% of reviews that are genuine, but they probably won't.   Don't forget, most people who have Kindles probably don't even know about all this; remember the LendInk row?  Has that had any lasting effect on any of the authors involved?  What's that?  You've never heard of it?  There you go, then.

Yes yes, it's amazing that John Locke has admitted to paying for some of his, but it's probable that his books would have sold as many without them - he had LOADS of great contacts, was one of the first to do the ebook thing, and I daresay his books are highly saleable anyway.

The people who resort to paying for reviews or writing their own fake ones are to be pitied, and educated, perhaps  - how bad does your book (or, more likely, your marketing) have to be, that you can't get proper reviews for it?  Posting fake ones won't do them any good in the long run; rather the opposite.  If people have bought a book on the basis of its 20 five star reviews, then find it to be crap, they're more likely to feel annoyed and write a bad review.  Also, they run the risk of being outed, as happened to RJ Ellory.  Incidentally, he was doing well anyway - must be some kind of nut!

Eventually, the scum will rise to the surface; and it won't affect YOU, either.  I think people are forgetting one thing: the reading public/Amazon customers (which includes authors, too) is/are not stupid.  If a book has 10 5* reviews on the week of its publication, from people who have reviewed nothing else, (ie, from neither reviewers who received pre-publication review copies, nor loyal readers who've been looking forward to it) we KNOW some of them are likely to be fake.

Does 'fake' also run to getting all your mates to write great reviews, even if they haven't read it?  - ah, here we come to a blurred line.  If a friend of yours reads your book and loves it, then chooses to review it (maybe with a little prompting from you), does that make it a 'fake' review, too?

Since I've put my books out into the world,  I've gained a fair few readers who read them all, recommend them to others, and write reviews of them.  I've got to know some of them, which is great.  Some have become online friends; lovely!  Are other, already existing friends who read your book only because they know you, then write a review because a) they've loved it and b) you asked them to, really any different?  I'm sure you'll agree it's a grey area!

But back to paying for reviews.  Yes, it's a dreadful practice, and all I can say is more fool the writers who pay these scumbags to do such a thing, thus enabling them to earn money from idiots who should know better.  As for creating fake profiles to write good reviews for yourself and bad ones for 'the competition' - well, perhaps if they spent that time working on making their own books better, they wouldn't need to.

Monday 27 August 2012

DREAM ON - my new novel!

.... is now available on Amazon!

Here's the blurb for the Amazon page, so you can see what it's about:

Dave Bentley was born to be a rock star.

He’s a reincarnated Viking warrior, too….

When Dave forms his new band, Thor, there are plenty of sleepless nights for Janice, his on-off girlfriend and mother of his son.  Not only must she deal with the thrills and spills of life as a hardworking single mum, but also the imminent return of singer-songwriter Ariel Swan, Dave’s one true love.

Poor Janice.  Dave is still the love of her life.

Ariel and her friend Melodie (whose ambition is to be ‘a celebrity’) decide to enter a TV talent competition – so Thor go along, too.  This adventure brings about big changes in the lives of all of them – none of which Dave could have anticipated.

One member of Thor even ends up on The Jeremy Kyle Show…..


It's a bit shorter than my other ones (80K words instead of 90-95K), simply because that was all the story required.  It's more humorous, too, what with Dave and his pub band, and Melodie with her 'celebrity' aspirations - oh, and other talent show contestants, and The Jeremy Kyle Show, and....! One of my test readers described it as a 'kitchen sink drama' - there is quite a bit of serious real life/relationship stuff going on as well.

I'm planning a sequel for it, which I will start writing soon.  If you've enjoyed my other books I think you will like this one, too - if not, I hope this one will spark your interest!

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Things that make me go GRRRRR

I don't experience learning curves, I just learn things.

I don't pop across to the dentist's chair, your blogsite, the checkout, or indeed anywhere else - I just go there, okay?Similarly, medical people, do not just pop the needle into my arm, or ask me to just pop my clothes off, right?

Neither do I simply pop things into the oven, despite the instructions on the back of various foodstuffs.  The words 'put' and 'take' are fine; we don't have to be all pseudo-chummy about this.

When I have any experience that lasts a while, or decide to do something new, I am not going on a journey, unless I am, during this time, for instance, catching the number 27 to Morrissons.  

I have changes in my life, but they are not necessarily sea changes.

I may be pleased about something, but I most certainly do not *do a happy dance*  or, if triumphant, *do a victory dance*

I make guesses or estimates, I do not make guestimates.

When I worked as the Accounts person in an engineering firm, I was not a number cruncher.

Can't I want all my book covers to look similar without creating a brand?

I imagine all teachers make a difference every day of their lives, they don't have to make a song and dance about it.

I prefer to get together and discuss things with people, rather than touch base.

That stuff around my waist is not curves, it's fat.

I can really love doing something, get very enthusiastic about it - obsessed for a while, even - but I haven't suddenly started to describe it as 'my passion'

I don't source, gift or growth things, I do not task people to do anything, and I would certainly never birth or parent.  Why not?  Because they are nouns, not verbs.

I will never, ever attend a webinar.  I might look at an online seminar, though.

I laugh a lot and I am probably slightly unconventional in outlook, but I am not quirky, sassy, kooky, and please strike me down the day I become bubbly.

I will send you a message on Facebook, I will not inbox you.

When I talk about something that used to happen in the past, I will refrain from using the term 'back in the day'.

Anyone who tries to sell me a few olives, nuts and seeds in some crappy container and calls it a graze box is at risk of getting it shoved where the sun etc etc.

I do not have tipples, I have drinks

When I find something particularly enjoyable to eat or drink, I say 'Mmmm', not nom nom nom.

...thank you to Sarah Vogel for reminding me of this one - if I want something in a shop I say "Please can I have", not "can I get...", one of the many things that sound okay when Americans say it, but awful when English people adopt it.  Dude.

There are many, many more, and more will be added, unfortunately, as time goes on, and these will be adopted by many, too, alas......  

Saturday 21 July 2012

"How dare they say I can't write BUM on a wall?"

Note: since writing this, over two years ago, my attitude to this has mellowed slightly, as I realise that some people give bad reviews to a book for reasons other than it being crap!

My last post on here was about accepting bad reviews.  I've written in the past about how I disagree with the 'culture of encouragement' that can give fairly average writers the false impression that they are likely to win the next Booker Prize, and also about whether or not authors should comment on reviews at all (I don't think they should).  Since then, I've had discussions with other writers about whether bad reviews are cruel and unnecessary, and whether the reviewer should give constructive criticism (including suggestions of how a flaw might be improved).

I've also just read an article in the Guardian about some group on Goodreads that 'outs' bullying authors who snap back at reviewers.  It suggested, amongst other things, that the group was as bad as the bullying authors.  I haven't looked at the group, but I imagine I would agree.  I did actually see one of these groups on Goodreads and almost joined, just out of nosiness, to see what it was all about, but stopped myself in time!

It all seems a tad like the playground, to me.

This is my view on the subject:

The purpose of a review is to tell the reading public what you thought of a book, to advise them whether or not to read/purchase it.  If you didn't like it, you have the right to say so.  If you (ie, the author) puts something out for sale/on show, you must expect criticism.  The purpose of a review is not to give an author feedback.  To most people, your book is a product, for sale, and that is all.  I know it doesn't feel like it when you've slaved over it for nine months, but that is how the reading public sees it.  I'm sorry if that sounds a bit harsh!  If you want feedback on your work, there are plenty of creative writing/critiquing groups you can join. 

The self-published book market gets bigger and bigger all the time - some of the stuff therein is marvellous, and would probably have been taken up by an agent/publisher in different times.  Some of it is very good, some quite good, some just okay.  Some of it is dire; those manuscripts that made the agent say "Jesus H Christ, what IS this crap?"  are now appearing on Amazon, along with five star reviews by the author's mates. Sometimes, people need to be told not to give up the day job.

It's a bit like The X Factor and similar shows; people who couldn't sing a note would be told by Simon Cowell, forget it, you can't sing; they would be seen outside the audition room in tears, saying "but everyone (read: my family and close friends) tells me I've got a brilliant voice!  It's all I've ever wanted to do!"

Yes, but you can't sing, love.  Desire to do something doesn't necessarily mean the talent is present.  I'd love to be able to paint wonderful landscapes.  I can't, though.  I'd love to be an actress.  If I ever tried, I suspect I might be fairly average.  No-one can tell you you mustn't write if you enjoy it, or that you mustn't publish your work, but once you put it 'out there' it WILL get commented on. 

People are entitled to their point of view.  It is not the responsibility of the reader (who doesn't know you from Adam) to give you helpful suggestions that might help you improve your work.  Having said this, if I don't think a book is much cop, I won't review it; knowing how it feels to get a particularly vicious bad review, I wouldn't want to bestow that feeling upon anyone!  Furthermore, I do understand that some reviewers might have their own issues with the writer him/herself, or indeed with any writers who have managed to finish a novel.   They might make comments that seem unnecessarily cruel, for a variety of reasons.  And yes, it's frustrating when the reader just doesn't 'get' what you were doing with the story; however, you can't tell someone how to read a book. All this, however, is another subject.

Every time you tweet or write on Facebook that a certain film or TV programme is rubbish, you are, in effect, giving a bad review.  Yet I imagine some of those 'bullying' authors have done just that, many times.

Another thing to consider is whether your first novel should be your debut....  

Monday 9 July 2012

What I think about bad reviews

Ooh look, a new review!!  Scroll down the Amazon page to the most recent reviews... and, oh no, it's one of those nasty little ones with hardly any yellow stars....

Yes, bad reviews are horrible, but they don't really matter all that much, unless you're getting more than about 7% bad ones - unless they ALL say that there are grammatical and punctuation errors, in which case you might have some work on your hands, but that's a different subject.  

Here are some of the things people say when they get them: 

  • "Huh!  Obviously someone with an axe to grind!"
  • "Well, why read it if it's not their usual type of book?"
  • "They just didn't understand it."
  • "Some people just want to knock something that everyone else says is good."
  • "I looked at their other reviews and they give bad reviews to everyone."
  • "I don't think they'd actually read it, or they wouldn't have said that!"
  • "Probably downloaded it when it was free, forgot it was a freebie, found it wasn't their usual genre, so felt annoyed that they'd paid money for it."
  • "I bet it's one of so-and-so's mates; she must have asked them all to write me bad reviews." 
  • "Must be a troll!"

Whatever.  I've said a couple of those myself, in the past; I bet you have, too.  I don't do so anymore, though.  I've faced up to reality. 

Mostly, if someone gives your book a bad review, it's because they didn't like it. End of.  Furthermore, they are entitled to express that opinion.  I've written another post about whether or not people should write bad reviews; that, too, is another subject - I'm just trying to help you deal with the ones you do get!

The odd bad review doesn't actually matter that much.  Forget about it.  Who says everyone has to love everything you do?  Are you really that insecure?  No, of course you're not!  

Consider this: you know how those 'Best Films of All Time' lists always feature Star Wars, somewhere near the top?  I went to see it when it was first released, and fell asleep within the first half hour.  I've tried watching the sequels a couple of times, and the same thing has happened.

If it had been a book, I'd have given it a one star review - because it bored me witless and I didn't enjoy it at all.  Okay, I may have given it 2 stars because it was well executed, but that's about it.

Most would disagree with me.  I was one of the 10%, or maybe 5% who didn't like it - and I'm sure whoever produced/directed/wrote the damn thing hasn't lost a moment's sleep over me, or all the people like me.

Remember that one man's meat is another man's poison, then vow never to use cliches like that in your next book!  My most widely read novel, You Wish, has been described as 'absolutely brilliant, clever and insightful', and also 'a complete load of rubbish' - and practically every variation in between!  

Oh, just one more thing.... when you're being very reasonable and mature about it all, try to really not mind, unlike the chap in the cartoon below.....!!