The Writing Process

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Just Pay the Writer Already!

Published June 10, 2016 by administrator

There’s been much controversy this week over whether artists should be paid for their work. Until now I’ve remained silent because I didn’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction. I wanted to know my facts and present sound evidence as to why these arguments are so ludicrous.

Some of those arguments include:

  • I can’t afford to buy books because I don’t make much money. [Understandable, but not an excuse. KU is cheaper than Netflix, btw.]
  • I deserve to read any book I want without paying for it because I’m a special snowflake [yes, I’m paraphrasing this one specifically to be spiteful].
  • Authors shouldn’t make the same amount for the first copy as they do for the 500th since each copy isn’t a new item. [Let’s address this in a minute.]
  • Art should be free for everyone to enjoy. [And some art is. Enjoy that.]
  • If an artist wants to be paid he/she should get a patron. [Ha!]
  • I’m not really stealing. I just downloaded it from someone who did steal it.

Let’s address that last point:

Yes, 95% of us on the internet are guilty of downloading illegal content at some point in our lives. My point here is not to villainize those who don’t know any better. It’s to educate people so they understand why what they’re doing is wrong. Sadly, the majority of those involved in this self-entitlement hoohah are too young to remember the Napster incident. I admittedly still chuckle at the Napster Bad videos and comics making fun of Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield from Metallica. On a serious note, while they may appear more Neanderthal than man, they do have a point. File sharing sites are bad, because they subvert the system.

First and foremost: COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS ILLEGAL. ACQUIRING PHYSICAL OR DIGITAL GOODS WITHOUT PAYMENT UNLESS RECOGNIZED AND PROVIDED AS A GIFT BY THE OWNER OR CREATOR IS THEFT. It does not matter if you’re just getting it from someone else; you’re still stealing. You can go to jail for this, and you will deserve it.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, sweetness, but that’s the cold, hard truth. Your “innocent” actions are breaking the law. You aren’t special. You can’t break the rules and expect preferential treatment [We are not even going to talk about that little jackass rapist in the news right now or I will have a stroke.]. END. OF. DISCUSSION.

PoePoe

Because we need some levity. And because the police are coming for you, you damned, dirty thief.

MOVING ON.

I sat down and did something very unusual for a literary type: I did math. [Insert awestruck gasps here.] Anyone who has a job should be able to appreciate what’s coming. This is a salary breakdown for writers. We as artists would love nothing more than to make our art our full-time jobs, but most non-artistics don’t understand just how much work goes into the things they think don’t deserve a price tag. So let me break it down for you.

THE NOVEL:

Let’s assume I write one novel which tops out at 80,000 words, and I’m going to publish this novel in a traditional manner (i.e. through a publisher, small or otherwise). This means I’m not paying for edits, artwork, or formatting.

Now, let’s assume I’m an average-speed writer, fairly clean. I’m going to write 1,000 words per hour for decent copy. First novel draft: 80 hours of work.

Now we have revisions. Assuming clean copy and minimal self-editing is required on my part, we’re going to estimate another 15 hours for reading and revising. Accumulated total: 95 hours.

Then I hand my labor of love over to the publisher. I will then have at least one, possibly two or three, more rounds of edits with a professional editor. Let’s assume two rounds of edits at another 15 hours each. That’s 30 additional hours of work for this one book. Then it’s released into the wild.

Final total: 125 production hours.

For one book. Base rate. We aren’t going to factor into this the endless hours of promotion which goes with the successful release of a novel. Right now it’s irrelevant and the cost will increase so exponentially it will outweigh the benefit of writing the book. Today we’re figuring out how a writer can be full-time based on today’s financial standards JUST BY WRITING BOOKS.

THE CONTRACT:

Say my publisher is a generous one and offers me 40% of the net royalties for my book. If we list this ebook on Amazon at $3.99 (which, by the way, is MORE THAN FAIR for an 80,000 word novel), Amazon is going to pay the publisher at a 70% royalty rate, or roughly $2.80 per domestic copy. This, in turn, means I’m going to see approximately $1.12 per copy sold.

US LABOR STANDARDS:

Minimum wage in the United States is currently $7.25. This means the average full-time minimum wage worker brings home $15,080 per year, pre-tax. Net income is going to hang out somewhere around the $12,000 mark.

Now, let’s compare minimum wage standards to a single title, shall we?

THE UGLY TRUTH:

125 hours at $7.25/hour is $906.25 pre-tax. Once we make it, we’re going to have to put back 20-30% to pay our taxes because we’re contractors, not on payroll.

Assuming we’re steadily selling books, that’s 809.16 copies sold in a year JUST TO BREAK EVEN.

Now there’s a national movement to raise minimum wage to $15/hour because we’ve firmly established that American inflation rates make it impossible to support a family on $15,000/year. Let’s revisit the numbers under this new standard.

$15/hour means a gross annual income of $31,200 pre-tax.

125 hours at $15/hour is $1,875.00

That’s 1,674 copies I have to sell in one year. 140 copies per month.

This means an author making minimum wage writing full-time (while only being reimbursed for the time accrued by writing and editing) would have to publish 16 ½ novels a year. That’s 1,320 hours of work to produce enough fiction to make a living.

Unless an author is already established with a wide following, selling 1,700 copies of a book will take longer than a year. The average indie author is selling somewhere between 5 and 50 copies a month. Which means assuming the best (50 copies per month), we have to triple our output to 49 books per year. 

3,920 hours of work in one year to make a lower-middle class salary.

Let me point out here that a full time job consists of 2,080 hours of work per year. 40 hours per week for 52 weeks. That means to break even at “minimum wage” standards, we authors have to work 1,840 hours more per year than the average fry slinger at Mickey D’s without receiving overtime pay. That’s 75.39 hours of work per week to make the same money you make in 40… with no guarantees that we’ll even meet that minimum.

So please allow me to call bullshit on this self-righteous notion of art for art’s sake. You can take that shit back to MGM and let them keep it on their logo.

To those who want to say an author’s work should be prorated and they should make less per copy the more copies they sell, I pose this question to you: how would you feel if your boss approached you today and told you the following: “Yeah, we really like your work but you’ve been here several years and we’ve already paid you your value. We’re going to start paying you less money for each hour you work.”

You’re pissed just thinking about it, aren’t you? It’s unfair, right? Well guess what, sugarbritches… THAT is EXACTLY what you’ve suggested for us. It’s disgusting. It’s despicable. And to us, you’re now an asshole.

These epithets aren’t coming from the minimum-wage crowd, either. This is coming from the middle class – people who have the luxury of cars, cell phones, blu-ray players, coffee addictions, and expensive hobbies. You can pay $5 for a cup of coffee to enjoy once, but you’re too damned cheap to spend $3 on a book which will last forever? If that’s the case, then you don’t need the book. And if you’re willing to go to jail over $3, then please have a nice life, wherever it may lead you.

By the way, the days of patrons are pretty much over. The plebeians don’t need the support of the patricians because they can do most of the work themselves. That and the patricians tend to be the ones demanding freebies, so your argument is invalid.

This is why you need to stop poor-mouthing and pay the damned writer.

But you still want free books because somewhere five years ago your mama told you that you were special and you can have anything you want. Well, you can. And you want to know how to get them?

Become a book reviewer. Reviews are a form of currency in the literary world. Most authors and publishers are more than happy to hand over free books to reviewers – to people who actually leave reviews. Unfortunately, Amazon’s system is built on a review-based algorithm, meaning books with more reviews receive more visible promotion space. If you leave a review, good or bad, you’re helping that author.

Even if you insist on stealing the book to read, the least you can do is review it. If you refuse to pay money, you can significantly lower your douchebaggery level by giving two minutes of your time. And for god’s sake…don’t tell the writer you think all of their stuff should be free and pirate sites are a good thing.

There’s a pretty good chance you’ll get punched in the face.

Manic Monday: State of the (Writing) Union Address

Published February 1, 2016 by administrator

Guys, I’m having a moment, and it’s not pretty.

So I found myself wandering through the digital racks of Amazon this morning, perusing the freebies in the hopes that I might find a fun new author (like I really need ANOTHER book to read) or discover interesting new concepts not yet apparent to this world. Unfortunately, the farther I wandered, the more disheartening and, quite frankly, disgusting, it became.

People are giving away their blood, sweat, tears, and time for chump change. Books are releasing and within a month have hundreds upon hundreds of glowing reviews – none of which come from verified purchases, mind you. From my research, the majority of the verified purchases appear to give these “masterpieces” one star and generally tell prospective readers the equivalent of don’t freaking bother.

All the goodies are hanging out there, cheap and/or free, in the hopes someone might stumble by and happen to snatch that particular piece of low-hanging fruit.

Now we all know I’m not the world’s best or most prolific author. At this point in my game, if I’m completely honest with myself and y’all, I’m still struggling to attain mid-list mediocrity. My own fault, yes, but that’s another rant for another day.

I bust my butt to produce quality work and I take pride in the finished product. I’m not out there schlock-hocking, writing to a formula or a trend for the sake of making a buck. I don’t just slather words on a page and slap a pair of half-naked people on it to throw up on Amazon for free just to get attention. I’m doing my best to do this the right way.

[Pause: I’m not saying self-publishing isn’t the right way because (1) I’ve done that too, and (2) there is no right way to go about publishing… what I’m saying is I make sure my work meets a certain standard in editing, artwork, and overall production, which is what readers deserve.]

The problem I have is this:

I just find myself dumbfounded time and again at the low quality and lack of concern people have for literature. Everyone and her best friend seems to be thinking these days, “Oh, I need to make a quick buck. I’ll just go write a book and be a bestseller!” And you know what, kids? Goshdarnit, it just don’t work that way.

I hate to break it to you, but not everyone in the world is cut out to be an author. You might have the best, most original idea ever conceived, but I have a pretty strict policy around here – if you don’t have at least a basic grasp of grammar, punctuation, and dialogue, you are not a writer. And you’re dragging down the quality of something I love, so step off.

Writing truly is a dying art. And that cold, sad fact makes me want to sit down and cry fat, ugly tears. This rise in I-can-do-it-myself-ness has made a complete mockery of what we as professional authors do.

Guys, we can’t let this stand. We have to take back our craft, to rise above the masses of people scrabbling for the petty change at the bottom of the basket. It’s going to take some work, but we can do it if we stick together and demand that change.

Screw that… we’re not going to demand change and wait for it to happen. We’re going to make the change.

Well, yes…but how?

I’m so very glad you asked! It appears the problems with our market boil down to five simple rules, and we’re so busy keeping up with the Joneses that we’ve lost track of what’s important.

1. DON’T GIVE AWAY THE GOODS.

no-freebies-480_thumbMy mother is a voracious reader. So am I. So are the people by whom I’m surrounded. Yes, we do troll the bargain bins from time to time, but that isn’t where we spend the majority of our lives.

We, as respectable authors, need to step out of the cheap-trap. If our work is truly worth its salt, then we need to recognize and respect it by not giving it away. Promotions are one thing – go ahead and have a freebie week to gain interest. Give a short story away as a teaser. But don’t fork over a three-novel set for $.99 because you think it’s going to get you somewhere. By giving away your best work, your readers will come to expect it of you. Now that’s not to say a short story can’t live at that $.99 mark for it’s entire life. But you don’t want to take that kind of horrible cut on a novel. You’ll never get anywhere like that.

Price your books accordingly. Let the tramps have their pennies. Eventually the readers will tire of wasting good money on subpar writing and start looking back toward the more reasonably-priced works, where you’ll be hanging out in the henhouse with us.

2. DON’T FALL INTO THE NICHE TRAP.

Let’s face it…by the time we recognize a trend, we’re already behind it. Unless you’re writing ten of everything out there right now in the hopes the market will circle back around to your favorite type of critter, you’re never going to be that guy who writes that book and becomes the next Stephenie Meyer. Writing to the market may make a few people marginally successful for a month or two, but it’s never going to sustain a career for anyone. Rather than doing what’s already been done, we should be focusing our strength and energy on creating the next thing. We should be writing the books which will define the new trends, not follow in the footsteps of someone else. Sure, werepenguins are the hot thing right now, but that doesn’t mean the wereskunk will follow.

Be original. Write your own story, and let the trendy schlockfest continue without your participation. Make yourself that new and different thing everyone wants to read.

3. HIRE SOME OUTSIDE HELP.

You need an editor. You need a professional cover. You need proper formatting.

I repeat: You need an editor. You need a professional cover. You need proper formatting.

Should I say it again? Because I will. And here’s why you need those things:

Because if you’re fighting the good fight, you want to put your best foot forward. A reader is not going to want to pay fair market value for an unreadable turd, which is why a professional product is the bet thing we can ask for at the end. Yes, sometimes it’s a pretty hefty outlay of cash on the front end, particularly for good editing, but it’s worth it in the end [this is where the credit publishers never get comes into play…they pay all of this for you so you don’t have to]. A professional product will go the distance and will likely suffer less returns than an unpolished hunk of words.

I learned to format out of necessity. I had a background in digital artwork so I was ahead of the curve with covers. I got lucky in that one of my good friends has a Master’s degree in English and will cut me a break. I also offer these services to other authors for reasonable rates because I want others to succeed. I can’t fix your technical ability, but I can make your book pretty.

Your readers deserve quality, so give it to them.

4. DO NOT PURCHASE REVIEWS. EVER.

Product_review1.jpgThe Perfect Review DOES NOT EXIST.

You might think you’re doing yourself a favor and putting yourself ahead of the game, but YOU AREN’T. Trust me on this… if you’re going to shell out huge chunks of cash for something, see Step 3. A review from a verified purchase is going to go much farther than some nobody giving you the digital equivalent of a tongue bath. Because the dirty little secret is this: 300 good reviews from a questionable origin will not hold a candle to that one verified critical review. Readers who consider reviews are going to read those low ratings first because those are the ones which tell the truth.

Now that’s not to say you can’t offer your book to reviewers for an honest review. I’ve done that. Yeah, it’s bitten me in the butt a time or two, but you know what? I’d rather have an honest opinion than a “OMGILOVEITSOOOOOOOMUCH” review any day. You know why? Because honest reviews keep me honest, and show me my mistakes so I can learn from them.

Expend your resources elsewhere, kids. You owe it to yourself to be honest.

5. WRITE WHAT YOU WANT TO READ.

I believe this, above all others, is the most important rule. If you aren’t enjoying what you’re writing, how can anyone else enjoy reading it? Writing on autopilot reads on autopilot. Believe me, I’ve read enough poorly-executed, trend-trailing garbage to know the difference between a story with heart and a kc-readstory for cash. I love reading as much as I love writing, and I often find myself disappointed by what I’m reading because it doesn’t share the love I feel for the craft. Emotion plays heavily into writing. I want to feel what the characters feel and see what they do. I don’t want to go through the motions of being in love because this chick is supposed to fall for this half-vampire werepanther. If she’s going to be in love with something so sensational, I want to suspend my disbelief and be in love with her. Likewise, if a psycho clown is on a killing spree in my bedroom, damn it I want to feel like I’m next.

We’re readers, not statistics. We aren’t dollar signs. And if we aren’t willing to pick up what we’ve written and read it, then we’re writing the wrong thing. As I said, it’s time to take it back, to do what we love for the sake of the craft. This…this is how we’re going to do it. We have to rise above, to band together and stay strong.

Yes, the market sucks at the moment. But with persistence and forcing quality back into our products, we can turn that around. Who’s with me?

NaNoWriMo: A Writer’s Perspective

Published November 15, 2015 by administrator

It’s November 15th. Yes, I know… thank you, Captain Obvious… but I say that for a reason: It’s November. We’re nearly half-way into that lovely Writing Nightmare known as NaNoWriMo. Don’t know what it is? Click the link back there and the website will tell you all about the organization that hosts it, the event, the philosophy, and the craziness surrounding it. Want the Reader’s Digest version? It’s an event sponsored by a non-profit organization that encourages people to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.

I participated in NaNoWriMo for five consecutive years. I even “won” two of them. Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with NaNo which ultimately stems from my published work.

There are pros and cons to this.

Let’s start with the pros. I polled my writer friends on Facebook awhile back, and I got some fabulous answers. Here are a few of the positive opinions I received:

Rie Sheridan Rose: “I love it because it gives me a deadline to stick to. I don’t always finish, but I have three finished novels and a first draft from NaNo, two of those finished ones published. I try every year since I started in 2003, but I don’t feel pressured to make 50k words if something happens in November. I think it is a great tool, and a good discipline builder, even if I’m not particularly disciplined.”

Lucy Blue: “I have to say, it’s a powerful motivator. I’m a very lazy writer; my usual pace is about a chapter a week. So far with NaNo, I’m averaging about a chapter a day.”

Vicki Locey: “I love it. It teaches discipline big time. Once you`re disciplined it`s amazing how much writing you can get done.”

Chris Garrison: “I love it for the deadline to keep me focused, and the focus to keep the novel in my head every day. That momentum is what makes it possible, and lends a breathless intensity to the resulting books. I love the reckless abandon of writing now, knowing I’ll have time to fix it later.”

Amber Kallyn: “I think it’s great to get people in the habit of writing, which can be used the rest of the year. Plus, it’s a fun community writing event.”

Helen Davis: “I’m just having fun with it. And joining the National Bandwagon means that my family and friends actually respect the time I spend on it. “I didn’t mop the floor because it was a NaNo catchup day flies a lot better than the truth “I was lazy and just wanted to play.””

Ali Justice: “You know I fully support NaNo, I have been doing NaNo for 3 years now, the first year I failed misarably the second I wrote the 50,000 words and loved every minute of it. It’s not all about Winning and losing though. Its about getting to know other writers, newer people finding out that they love writing, it’s about coming together as a writing community and thriving. It doesn’t matter if you write 50,000 words or 10 words. It’s just an outlet and I think it’s a great one!”

Now, my positive opinion:  The idea of NaNo is a great way for fledgling writers to learn the process of writing a book. It teaches consistency and determination. It gives new authors a support system and a feeling of belonging. It comes with its own cheering section and forums to discuss the process among like-minded people.

The key here is discipline. Any self-respecting writer knows consistency and discipline are what we need to get to the end of a manuscript.

As a general rule of thumb, I try to write 1,000 words a day. To accomplish NaNo at a reasonable pace, one must only write 1,667 words a day. There isn’t a big difference between the numbers, but in terms of writing a book, that additional 670 words is enough to cause serious damage. On a good day, I can write as much as 5,000 words. That’s a huge accomplishment for me.

Unfortunately, now that I’m an actual working writer, that’s where my love affair with NaNo stops.

The last few years have been hell on wheels for me in a personal sense. I know that doesn’t have f***-all to do with my professional front and the need to push out word counts and secure book contracts. It’s an excuse, but unfortunately it’s an unavoidable one. The majority of 2015 has been spent staring at a blank page, unable to think of a single interesting thing to write. This year, I have finished two short stories. That’s it. Two. We’re talking about less than 20,000 words of marketable material. And the idea of subjecting myself to the breakneck pace of NaNo for the sake of winning a badge to display on my Facebook wall makes me physically ill. I’m talking serious panic attack material here.

The pressure to finish can be constricting. For someone as competitive as me, it’s crippling. I’m the type who typically doesn’t want to start something I know I won’t finish, and the idea of strapping on a hefty word count every single day knowing my personal state of mind scares the Bejesus out of me.

You see, I don’t believe in writing for quantity. I believe in making each word committed to paper count. That’s not to say I don’t go back and delete whole sentences or paragraphs or sometimes even chapters. What that means is I don’t believe in writing words simply for the sake of padding a word count. When I write, I edit as I go. I think about what I’m writing. As an author, I’ve learned to self-edit as I go and make sure I’m really saying what I want to say as I put words on paper. I’m a relatively slow writer, but I’m okay with that. I’m writing for the love of the words, not the length of the book.

I even considered trying NaNo again this year just to get myself back into the habit of writing all the time, but the idea of physically signing up and showing the world that I’m doomed to failure made me stop dead in my tracks and walk away. I do, after all, have a newborn child and a three-year-old to contend with, and getting any sort of legitimate word count with my little girls around ain’t easy, folks.

So when it comes down to it… if you’re a NaNo fan and participant, great show and I wish you the best of luck for the remaining 15 days of this nutty month. For those of you like me… look me up and let’s talk. Perhaps we can find a better way to motivate ourselves and each other without fear of psychiatric committal.

Thursday Shenanigans!

Published July 24, 2014 by administrator

Shenanigans!

I love that word. It’s fun to say, and saying it means having fun.  For those of you that don’t know, there are LIVE Shenanigans on Thursday nights. Alexandra Christian, Crymsyn Hart, and I have a standing date on Thursday evenings at 7pm at the Starbucks in Rock Hill, SC. It’s a writer’s group of sorts, in that we’re writers and we get together.

I say that because the topic of today’s Shenanigans Post is just that: Writer’s Groups.

Let me preface this by saying the following: THIS IS MY OPINION. THIS IS ONLY MY OPINION. This is my personal take on this topic based on my experiences and the experiences of my friends. I am not belittling anyone or attempting to cause trouble. I am stating an opinion.

Now, shall we begin?

When it comes to writing groups, I have to say I’m not a fan. I mean yeah, I love the idea of getting together with my writing friends and discussing the craft and our books over a cup of coffee, but when we get together, we’re doing so in the spirit of…well…shenanigans. We’re there to have fun, to vent our frustrations, and to get things done. But we’re not a traditional writing group, nor are we a critique group.

Granted, if I email the ladies and ask them for an opinion on something, I’m going to get it. But that’s not what this is about.

There’s another group of writers that meets in Starbucks on Thursdays from time to time. There are about eight of them, and they’re very serious about it. They come in with their manuscripts and their sharpies and determinedly comb over each other’s work. I applaud them for their dedication to their group and their cause, even if I don’t agree with it. That sort of writing group, in my experience, often causes more harm than good. I’ve seen good authors have their confidence ripped to shreds, often by people who have no business picking up a pen. I’ve witnessed meltdowns and accusations of plagiarism. I’ve seen friendships destroyed.

I guess at this point what I’m saying is that writing groups – people who get together to write and share experiences – are fine, but critique groups are a bad idea. And let me tell you why.

1. Jealousy: Not every person in a critique group is at the same level when it comes to talent and experience. Often I hear horror stories about how wonderful authors are beaten down time and again, their work ripped to shreds and completely bastardized by their fellow critiquers, and it always boils down to jealousy. The ones that are violently mean are usually the ones that know their limitations but refuse to admit them. I hate seeing anyone get hurt, especially by those they consider friends in the industry. Jealousy breeds contempt, and people can be cruel and spiteful.

2. Plagiarism: Let’s face it, not every person on the planet is on the up and up. More often than not, critique group horror stories involve some fool stealing someone else’s work. I’ve seen it more times than I care to. But then again, if celebrities (ahem, Shia Laboeuf) aren’t capable of keeping their fingers out of other people’s intellectual pots, who says us normal schlubs have to do it? PLAGIARISM IS WRONG, PEOPLE! It’s every author’s worst nightmare, to wake up and find that someone has stolen our work and potentially profited from it in some way. I only share my unpublished work with my nearest and dearest – as in people I know and trust not to run off with it. I’m leery of handing whole chapters of my work over to relative strangers because I don’t know what’s going to happen.

Now that I’ve pissed off everyone in the room, let me end by saying that yes, every author needs a strong group behind him or her. while having strangers read your work can provide interesting insight, the writing process itself should be supported by those who will support you, not tear you down. Speaking from experience, it’s nice to have people there to bounce ideas off of, who can talk me down from the Delete-Key ledge, and who remind me that no, writing isn’t easy, but I don’t want to be doing anything else.

Just my thoughts. And I can say from experience, I wouldn’t trade my ladies for the world.

A Plea to Reviewers

Published April 17, 2013 by administrator

From a struggling author to all reviewers, please remember one thing: writers are people too.

Poor ReviewI say this because lately I’ve seen more and more authors who are stuck in ruts with reviewers. It pains me to think that we, as a breed of human, are at the complete mercy of those select few who take the time to share their thoughts and opinions on our work. It’s a gamble, and one most of us aren’t entirely comfortable making.  As an author, the prospect of handing my work over to someone at no cost to give an honest opinion that could damage my reputation scares me.

It’s not the honesty that scares me. It’s the opinion.

As a reader, I tend to take reviews with a grain of salt. Nine times out of ten, I’m not going to read reviews if a book catches my attention. But that tenth time… If I’m on the fence about a particular title, I’ll turn to the reviews. And I don’t look for the glowing 5-star ones or the trash-talking 1-star ones (we’ll discuss those later). I look for the middle of the road reviews that give constructive criticism.

Are there plot holes?
Is the dialogue readable?
Is the premise believable?
What about the grammar?
Formatting issues?

If I find twenty mid- to low-end reviews because of grammatical issues and unresolved plot points, there’s a gDislike Buttonood chance I’m not going to buy the book because those are things that I don’t want to deal with when reading.

I look for the same things when I’m reading reviews of my own work. I want to see the things readers found that I missed. In searching out these reviews, I have tools to improve. So this book wasn’t that good because of these points… I won’t do that next time.

Don’t get me wrong – as an author I love seeing the happy 5-star reviews pop up! It gives me warm fuzzies to know that someone enjoyed my work and is willing to tell the world all about it. After all, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into these stories, so knowing they’re appreciated makes me want to keep writing.

What I don’t like seeing, though, is a trash-talking, mean spirited review. I don’t like reading them as either an author or a reader, because there is absolutely nothing helpful about being hateful. I’ve seen my share of nastiness, believe me. Tearing someone down just to do it is unfair.

Thus, my plea to all reviewers:

This applies to every reviewer, unless of course your name is Statler or Waldorf.

Statler and Waldorf

First and foremost – don’t review a book you haven’t read. Chances are you’re going to do three things: (1) upset the author, (2) annoy the readers, and (3) make yourself look quite foolish. My Mama taught me not to open my mouth if I didn’t know what I was talking about. She also taught me to keep my mouth shut if I couldn’t be nice (which is kind of the lesson of this post).

Before you write that nasty review or tell a hard-working author that s/he doesn’t ever need to write again, stop and think about how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of your nasty comments. You’re not talking about a robot here. You’re talking about a person. It’s okay to admit that you don’t like a book – I have my share of dislikes too – but you’re not just insulting a book. You’re tarnishing the reputation of a person who has worked very hard to put those pages in your hands. You’re not telling people something they need to hear. You’re just being mean.

If you want to give a low rating to a book then feel free to do so, but please tell us why. “This is crap and I didn’t like it” isn’t fair, either. “I didn’t like it” will suffice because while you might think my work is crap, there are other people out there who will enjoy it.

Your reviews are going to carry a bit more clout if you explain your situation instead of spewing nastiness. Your reviews help us learn.

Not every reader is as objective about reviews as I am because not every reader is also a writer. Given the plethora of reading choices, many people now choose their reading material solely on Amazon reviews. They’re looking for praise as well as pitfalls, opinions as well as  critiques. They want to know what they’re getting into before they buy the book.

Be honest, but don’t be cruel. Don’t rip me to shreds because you’re having a bad day. Because you know what?

I’m the author here.
Piss me off, and you’re probably going to end up having bad things done to you in my next book.

 

RELATED BLOGS ON BAD REVIEWS

Kobo Writing Life: How to Survive a Bad Book Review

Beautiful Mistakes: Romance Doesn’t Mean Trash

Author Alison Lee: Deciphering One’s Bad Reviews

Concurring Opinions: Bad Book Reviews by Bad Reviewers

THE NEXT BIG THING!

Published January 17, 2013 by administrator

Week 29: THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP

This thing is becoming a monster, I see. For the last 29 weeks, indie authors have been tagging each other around the ‘net in a crazy game of leapfrog. If you’re reading this, chances are you found me on Stephen Zimmer’s blog, since he was the one that tagged me last week. SO, without further adieu, I give you my Next Big Thing.

About me first – I’m a full-time administrative professional, wife, and mom who dreams of being a full-time author. As to what I write, that would be a bit of everything. My first love is horror, but I’ve been known to drift into the realms of epic fantasy, urban fantasy, and even romance from time to time.

For this particular post, I’m going to use a rather interesting work in progress… It’s the first book in a series, and I’m in the process of writing a proposal for it so I can submit it! Here goes nothing… ten questions. And… GO!

1: What is the working title of your book?

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a flake and suck at titles. The working title is “New Olympia Rising” because it’s the first in the “Annals of New Olympia” series.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book? 

This book is actually a sort of history for another book that will come later in the series. THAT book spawned from my first attempt to write a sword & sorcery story for Seventh Star Press’ Thunder on the Battlefield anthology call. It grew until there was no way it would fit into the 10,000 word limit, and I’d started writing the history to keep myself straight. The rest, as they say, is history.

[Insert cheeky grin here.]

3: What genre does your book fall under? 

There are too many to choose! This particular story is a combination Science Fiction / Space Opera with a bit of the apocalypse thrown in for good measure. Later books shift more toward post apocalyptic sword & sorcery, then back to Sci-Fi, all with that post-apocalyptic fantasy spin on the whole thing.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I don’t even know! My main character in this story, Doctor Steven Jackson (who goes by Jax in most cases) looks most like Julian Sands.  So far I’ve picked faces for two other characters – Katharine McPhee and Anton Yelchin.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book

Long-distance space flight, man’s greatest dream, is realized only to find out that it might truly be his worst nightmare.

6: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I definitely intend to submit it to a publisher, but I prefer to do it myself. I really sort of love being an indie author – I get to call the shots, even if getting stories picked up prove a bit harder.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m still working on it!  I started this particular book in December, and hope to have it completed and ready for shipment to whichever publisher I choose to threaten by mid-summer.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I really don’t know… it’s so off the wall that I’m not sure I can come up with a single book to match. It has a bit of the technical feel you find in The Andromeda Strain with a bit of Star Wars thrown in for good measure. You might even add a sprinkling of Orwell’s fantasy just for fun.

9: Who or What inspired you to write this book?

If I had to lay the blame entirely on one person, it would have to be James Tuck, who happens to be the editor for the anthology that spawns the whole thing. Really it was a perfect storm of things – the opportunity, the crazy idea, and the fact that I suffer from Epic Brain Syndrome.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s a blend of genres that transitions from one end of the spectrum to the other. My characters are ordinary people thrown into extraordinary situations, and I take the dreams of millionaire moguls like Richard Branson and pitch them far enough into the future to make them real. Of course, there are always consequences to any action………

Unfortunately I don’t have another author to tag… everyone I know has already done it. I hate that it has to end here, so instead I’ll point you in the direction of three fantabulous writers who you should definitely read.

1. Alexandra Christian – who is also participating this week. She writes paranormal romance, and she happens to be one of my best friends in the world.

2. Crymsyn Hart – who also writes paranormal romance. She and Lexxx help me haunt our local Starbucks at least one night a week.

3. Selah Janel – another of those absolutely wonderful people who keeps me grounded while also stroking my ego. She’s another hybrid like me who writes all manner of things.

Resolutions…

Published January 15, 2013 by administrator

I don’t make them. And I don’t for one very simple reason: I don’t like letting myself down when I don’t keep them. Every year I swear I’m going to do all these things – to lose weight, to be a better writer, employee and overall person, to do this or that… the only way I’m going to keep a resolution is if I vow to quit smoking.

And the only reason I’ll keep it is because I don’t smoke. Sad, isn’t it?

Everyone asked me back at New Year’s what my resolutions were and they looked at me like I was nuts because I said I wasn’t making any. If I swore to be a better blogger, I’d have failed already. It’s the 15th and this is my first non-publicity post of the year. I haven’t actually finished a story since the calendar change, but that isn’t because I’m not trying.

I’m busy. Really busy.

Work + Toddler = EXHAUSTED.

I’ve got a lot of stuff on my plate to do on this end, too. I have to get back in gear and start with promotion again. I have to plan out my convention season. I have to keep blogging. But first and foremost, I have get my head on straight and figure out which direction I’m going. If I don’t do that, then all is lost. Pretty sad, ain’t it?

I’m also sort of agonizing. The edits have started to surface for the Big Bad Anthology… and from some of the comments I’ve seen, our dear editor is a bit on the tough side. If some of the awesome people in that anthology are having red-pen nightmares, I’m terrified to see what mine is going to look like. When I get mine, I’ll only let the hissy fit last 30 seconds. I promise.

Plus some friends and I have taken on a new project – The Wyrde Sisters. The training wheels are still on this one, so be patient with us! It’s going to take some time to get it going the way we want.

So… In lieu of resolutions, I’ve set a few personal goals that I’d like to keep this year. If I don’t quite make it, I won’t be letting myself down because there isn’t a time limit. Well, on the first one there is…

1. Finish the Sword & Sorcery submission for Seventh Star Press’s anthology call.

2. Write up a proposal on the gianormous space opera/epic fantasy/sword and sorcery mashup.

3. Start on the epic fantasy series.

4. Get moving again on the soul collectors series.

5. Get all of my beta-reading / review projects read and returned to their respective owners.

6. SLEEP.

I still don’t get enough sleep, you know.