Five tips about reviews

Hi, peeps!

I’m thinking a bit about reviews. I know a lot of authors think about reviews. Sometimes incessantly. And yes, reviews can be helpful in terms of sales, both long-term and short-term. They can also be really harmful, but if you engage in this writing pursuit, guess what? That’s part of the territory.

In the world of books, reviews have a long and tortured history, as this 2012 Atlantic Monthly piece points out. Yes, friends, no matter the era, there are invariably complaints about reviews, reviewers, and what they ultimately accomplish. There are also always complaints about whether someone has the expertise in a particular genre or subject to do a review, and whether someone has a background in writing.

And yes, reviews can also be political/false in the sense that someone is trying to deliberately sabotage a writer or a writer is actually posting glowing reviews of his or her own work (that’s called a sock puppet review).


None of this is really new, friends. Certainly technology gives us the ability to post things quickly and create “buzz” (whether negative or positive). It also allows people to mask their identities and post whatever they want about a writer’s work. Which, again, isn’t necessarily new. It’s just a lot easier now than it was a couple decades ago to do it. The Interwebz have created an arena in which anyone can voice an opinion about a book (or any other product) and even develop reputations for reviews, and become kind of a reliable source for others about particular genres. You might, for example, find that you seem to like the same types of genres that, say, “pinklady998” likes, and you start following that user and find that you trust her/his reviews about certain things, which might in turn guide some of your own purchasing habits.

So reviews can also be tools. They’re a “word-of-mouth” kind of thing, in this crazy Internet age. So rather than hanging out with your friends on Friday night talking about the latest reads you got at the library (or at the bookstore), you post a review of a book online and that then becomes part of a larger conversation about the book/story that anyone else can engage in. Which is kind of neat, actually, that you can engage with other people from all over the world about a particular work.

As an author, though, you might consider the following guidelines regarding reviews. And I’ve said some of this elsewhere, but I’ll reiterate it here:

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Another thing authors shouldn’t do

Hi, kids! Here’s Auntie Andi with yet another “Things Writers Shouldn’t Do.” This one falls in the public relations department, though it’s also a good example of what could happen if you don’t adhere to one of the golden rules: “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

That’s a good rule for just about anything in life. But let’s see how it applies in the writing world.

As many of you know, I’ve talked quite a bit in the past about what not to do as a writer. For example, I don’t recommend responding to reviews (see why here). And here are some other things I suggest authors not do.

And here’s another suggestion.

Don’t bash your fellow writers. Especially not in a public article.

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More things you shouldn’t do as an author

Hi, kids–quickie here.

Caught this article on HuffPo a couple days ago: “11 Things Not to Do Before Your Book Launch,” by M.J. Rose.

Most of these tips are pragmatic, like the first 2:

1. Don’t assume everyone will wake up the day your book comes out and rush out to buy it . (No one can buy a book they have never heard of.)

2. Don’t spend more than 10% of your marketing/pr budget on a trailer. Trailers have to be marketed too. So far too many authors wind up marketing their trailers instead of their books.

A couple deal with making sure you don’t trip over your ego, like number 5:

5. Don’t be in awe of your own talent, book, brilliance, success or transcendental prose. It’s better to have someone other than you, the author, praise the book.

I’d say those tips can apply to after the launch, as well, and should be things you’re thinking about anyway, in conjunction with every book you write and your overall writing arc. That is, where you want to go with your projects, both long-term and short-term goals.

And some tips about etiquette for authors I posted a while back, just as a refresher. Go here and here, if you wanna see.

Happy reading, happy writing!

Things writers should NOT do, part 2

Hi, kids!

So this whole writing thing can bring you down. It can stress you out, maybe make you say stupid things and do even stupider things.

Yes, a lot of this should be obvious. But to some, maybe not.

I blogged about that HERE, with regard to responding to a bad review (hint: DON’T).

And here’s another example of unprofessional and rude behavior. In this case, an author took offense at a forum administrator’s moving of his thread to a more appropriate section of the forum. That forum was the “small press/self-published” thread. The author had a very public meltdown on the forum, then took the nasties to Twitter, where he continued his insults. Read the comments on that blog that documented his behavior/meltdown, because many of those commenters note more of this author’s claims.

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Tips n’ tidbits

Hi, kids–

Heads up! Tomorrow is International Talk like a Pirate Day! Every September 19th, it’s perfectly acceptable and even encourages to run around and talk like a freakin’ pirate. So go on. have some fun. And check out the official website RIGHT HERE.

In honor of that fab event, R.G. Emanuelle and I will be giving away a copy of our edited anthology, Skulls and Crossbones: Tales of Women Pirates over at Women and Words. That’s tomorrow, kids! WOOOO!

source: Bedazzled Ink

Okay. Hope you come by Women and Words tomorrow for that awesome-ness.

And now a tip. Readers, it’s awesome that you share your thoughts about a book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and other sites like that. However, keep in mind that sometimes an issue you have with a book is something that you need to work out directly with the publisher or with the retailer who sold you the book/ebook, and not something you use to diss an author or a book.

Giving a book a low-star rating because your Kindle file, for example, was screwed up isn’t really how those review sections work. Those review sections are designed to allow people to assess the plot, author’s style, and writing structure of the story, not to completely diss a book because something was wrong with the formatting in your efile.

So here’s a tip. If you get an efile of a book and the formatting is all icky and it makes your reading experience sucky, PLEASE contact the retailer and the publisher rather than dissing the book in the reviews. Especially in genres like lesfic, which are small enough that it’s way easy to go to a publisher’s website, get the email address, and let them know that you got a crappy efile. That publisher will most likely be more than happy to provide you a new efile or a gift certificate or something to make up for the crappy file, and they’ll probably check it out with the retailer. Or the retailer will give you a new file.

Don’t give a book a bad review because you got a bad efile. That’s not necessarily the author’s fault, and dissing his or her book because of a problem that has nothing to do with the plot, characters, dialogue, writing style, or writing craft disrupts what those review sections are supposed to be used for.

By all means, let the retailer know and let the publisher (sometimes the publisher IS the author) know that your efile or print book was flawed. Give them a chance to rectify the situation. Because that bad review you gave, that had nothing to do with the story the author wrote, is a little unfair. Diss a book because you thought the story sucked, the writing style was bad, the grammar was terrible, the editing was terrible, the characters were wooden, the craft was bad. That’s what those review sections are for. Not to give an author a bad review because you got a bad efile and ended up not even reading the book.

So in the future, if you get a screwy efile (or even a flawed print book), contact the retailer and the publisher to let them know, so they can check the situation, reimburse you, and correct the issue so you, in turn, can actually read the book and review it on the basis it should be reviewed: what you thought about the quality of writing and the story.

Happy reading and happy Sunday!

Ban, baby, ban

Censorship is so last century.

That’s why I’m always surprised when I come across articles like this in HuffPo. Specifically, a Missouri school district has banned two books from the high school curriculum and library over concerns that they’ll apparently cause high school students to swear a lot and even have sex. Or something.

Which books, you may ask, have that kind of power? The unmitigated power to cause someone to suddenly start swearing like a drunken sailor on shore leave and, quite possibly, to suddenly want to have oodles of sex on a beach?

Click to find out. Oh, the horrors.

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Things not to do when you’re in Congress

Hi, kids!

Lordie. Had quite a lot going on, and I’m finally able to chill out and provide some tips to you and, hopefully, certain parties in the state and federal legislatures who I’m sure read this blog religiously. Actually, this is pretty good advice for all of us.

Wanna know? Click on…

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Something that doesn’t sit well with me

Hi, folks–

Took a little hiatus there. Hope everyone’s well. A writer colleague of mine sent me the link to this article, and it kind of irritated me. No, not the fact that my colleague sent me the article. THAT didn’t irritate me The topic of the article did.

It’s from The Telegraph in the UK and it’s titled “E-books drive older women to digital piracy.”

And I started gnashing my teeth before I even read it. Why? Because book and music piracy is totally not cool. It’s just not. It’s not only unethical, but it’s theft. Plain and simple. Here’s my take on it.

And here’s a quote from the article:

One in eight women over 35 who own such devices admit to having downloaded an unlicensed e-book.
That compares to just one in 20 women over 35 who admit to having engaged in digital music piracy.
News that a group formerly unwilling to infringe copyright are changing their behaviour as e-books take off will worry publishing executives, who fear they could suffer similar a similar fate to the record labels that have struggled to replace lost physical sales.
The picture across the entire e-reader and tablet markets is even more troubling for the publishing industry. Some 29 per cent of e-reader owners of both genders and all ages admit piracy. For tablets the figure rises to 36 per cent.


That’s pretty unsettling. And disappointing, especially if you’re a writer. As an individual, I choose not to rip people off, and I choose to pay artists and writers for the work they produce, as well as support the industries that publish them. Now, I also support libraries and ebook libraries. Here’s why. That’s a whole other issue. The point is, I’m bummed that technology has, in a weird way, created new pirates. Or perhaps that people have allowed themselves to be lured into it. I’m all for ebooks and ebook readers. But it does make me sad that people use the power of technology for not-so-nice things. Double-edged sword, technology.

Anyway, hope you’re getting through your post-Rapture depression. 8)

When info goes bad…

Hey, amigas y amigos–

In this age of info immediacy, we’re used to just slamming stuff onto the web and going with it. We cut and paste, we disseminate, we make things go viral. But sometimes, the information we’re disseminating isn’t always correct.

I’m reminded of a game my elementary school classmates and I would play called “Telephone.” Usually, this was a game that a teacher implemented to demonstrate how information can be distorted and why it’s important to listen and pay attention. This was before household computers, folks. Before the interwebs.

So read on to find out why the hell I’m telling you this.

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Things writers should NOT do

Hey, folks–

You may have heard this one before, but here it is again. This link has been making the rounds through the writing/reading community as an example of how authors should NOT respond to reviews.

Yeah. Um…I’m embarrassed for this author, who ends up coming across as, unfortunately, unprofessional and unable to deal with critique, whether constructive or not. The author then made it a lot worse and responded in the comments section (more than once), with more of the same behavior. Yikes! The author even told someone to “f*** off.” Holy career enders, Batman!

Give me more! Yes, more! Click on…

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