Friday 15 March 2013

Reader's View: Back Off The Bad Reviews

Am I the only one who has noticed the trend towards denigrating 1 star reviews lately? Last year I read THIS POST by popular blogger J.A. Konrath in which he said, and I quote:

"Every one of those millions of reviewers who trashed a book deliberately did it to harm that book's sales. That's the whole point of a one star review. Someone yelling to the world "Don't buy this!"

This is why I don't leave one star reviews. I think it is a shitty, mean thing to do."

Whilst the post itself does contend that people should be allowed freedom of speech and  leaving 1 star reviews is allowed by such entities as Amazon and Goodreads, the overwhelming tone essentially says people who write 1 star reviews are evil.

Today I came across THIS POST  which sets out to list the The Top Ten Best Books With The Worst Amazon Reviews. The article lists the classics like 1984, The Great Gatsby, Ulysses and War & Peace, posts quotes from the bad reviews and then goes on to poke fun at those reviews.  Does this not strike anyone else as being a tad bit hypocritical? Don't even get me started on the literary, elitist, snobbery. I am currently trying to reread The Great Gatsby. Four months and counting. I don't dislike it but these people make it sound like it's a cardinal sin not to enjoy the classics.

Maybe I'll feel differently about it once I'm published and get my own 1 star reviews but for the moment, I am really annoyed at the assumption and the conceitedness that  surrounds these people who poo-poo 1 star reviews. I've left a few 1 star reviews in my time. Not once have I done it because I deliberately want to harm someone's book sales. To be honest, I couldn't care less about authors as people when I read their books. I judge a book by its contents and if I don't like what I read, I am honest about it. Why should I have to wait and consider the impact it has on the author if I write a 1 star review? Reviewing isn't charity. Good reviews shouldn't be given just because you feel sorry for an author and worry about what it might do to their book sales.  If I go to a dentist and they knock out all my teeth should I go home and contemplate the harm I will do to their business if I complain or will I make my displeasure known? 

I follow many reviewers on Goodreads who have posted 1 star reviews. Far from being remiss about it, these people always write lengthy considered reviews outlining why they truly disliked a book. I don't see anything wrong with this. I also don't see anything wrong with someone simply giving a 1 star review and writing a short paragraph about it not being for them. Just like reading is subjective so too if the amount of weight a person puts on a bad review. If I see a 1 star review with no explanation I simply don't give it any weight. Sometimes a reviewer finds a book so abhorrent they lose their marbles and write their own novel of a rant. So what? I find overly positive reviews with heaps of .gif animations useless and a waste of my screen space. Yet I don't see any  authors complaining about those reviews.

Don't get me wrong, it's not as though I hand out 1 star reviews like it's going out of fashion. Believe it or not it takes a lot for me to give a book a 1 star review. I don't mind grammatical errors, formatting slips or even slightly mundane story telling. These things are forgivable to me. I get that writing isn't easy. What I can't forgive is impossibly stupid characters and gender self hating female protagonists.  But none of the consideration I go through when I write a review is "Hmmm I don't want this book to make any money so I'm going to give it a 1 star review." Because you know, my blog and Goodreads profile is so super famous that my bad review will convince everyone not to buy a book.

I don't know about you guys but I for one and sick of all the 1 star review trashing

Monday 11 March 2013

Random Thoughts: For The Love Of Writing

Once upon a time I wrote a story. I did it for the love of writing. It was called Iron Willed and I managed to get to the second book in the series before I finally lost steam and it sort of died in a heap. A lot has happened since I stopped writing that story.
      I rediscovered dystopia thanks to The Hunger Games. I  discovered self publishing and all the trimmings that come with it. Including the one piece of advice that all the advice sites agree on. That self published writers need to write good stories and have them edited to within an inch of their lives.
      Now that I look back on said story I can see how much I've improved as a writer. I'm so glad that all this obsession hasn't been for nothing. And yet a part of me is a little sad because I can also see that all this precision has bled a lot of the love right out of my writing.
      I've always maintained that I'm not really a writer. I'm a storyteller that just happens to express herself through the medium of words. I would love to tell my story through film or art or possibly manga/anime but alas I am so much worse at those than I am at writing. So this is how my stories will be told.
      I am sitting here thinking about what a shame it is that I find myself focusing on the craft rather than the storytelling. I remember how quickly I wrote those books and how much fun they were to write. It was freeing to just let the words flow. The story isn't mind blowing. I'll never get professional accolades for it. In fact, I can see some discerning reviewer (like myself ironically!) who would tear it to shreds. But you know what? This is the one book that I don't think I'd care if a reviewer totally firebombed.
      It's a fun book filled with teenage romanticism, cool powers, impossible world building, a snappy heroine, a non romantic best friend and plenty of stereotypical sidekicks. And I love it. Every single bit of it. So I've decided I'm going to write it. Technicality be damned.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Writing Vs. Life

This month I had the good luck to have quite a few long weekends off. Wow you must have gotten so much writing done I hear you say. If only that were true. Every Friday I'd mentally prepare for a long session of story telling only to wake up too late on the Saturday, do to many unrequired chores and spend way too much time agonizing over irrelevant things.
       I love writing. I know that writing breeds more writing and once I start it's hard to stop. It's the starting that is difficult. Because sometimes, as much as I love it, writing just can't compare with the other things going on in life. Or at least, I can't seem to give it priority over other things even though I know I should.
      In Melbourne, it's coming to the end of the most perfect summer that I can remember. It's been almost two months of beautiful weather which means my garden is bathed in sunlight all day long and is just begging to be enjoyed. So I do.
      Then there is the TV that's just begging to be watched and the chores that need to be done. I'm also trying to break a really terrible reading drought at the moment as well so I'm constantly picking books up and putting them down.
        All in all that doesn't leave too much time to do any writing. It's always at the back of my mind that I should be sitting down and getting all those words written. Each day that I write nothing is another layer of anxiety that I feel. That's my insecurity this month. I'm worried that I can't just make myself write despite everything else that I can do, which is what needs to be done if I'm going to reach my goal of publishing something this year.
         What about everybody else? What are your insecurities this month?

Monday 4 March 2013

Publishing in Australia

I've been at this writing lark for a little under two years now and even in that short amount of time it feels like the entire publishing industry has changed so much. When I first decided that I wanted to try and publish, I was under the impression that my only option was to go the traditional route and do the whole agent, then publisher, then years of editing thing.
        Frankly, it scared the heck out of me. Not only because it's such a difficult process to begin with but because of the lack of control that I hear writers have over their own work. Then I met all you wonderful bloggers and writers and discovered the world of self publishing. Now it feels like I have all the options in the world. I only need pick one and go for it (Ha! Because it's that easy!)
       I've made it my goal this year to publish at least one thing I've written. Being Australian, I think that brings with it a whole different kettle of challenges than it would if I were from say the States or the UK. For a start the market is a lot smaller here and it could take years for a book to prove itself in Australia before international publishing is considered. For another, self publishing hasn't caught on the way it has elsewhere so I still get those blank looks from anyone when I mention Kindle or Kobo or Nook.
       I don't even want to delve into the scary world of self marketing, formatting, book covers and everything else that goes with it. I am neither an artist nor an accountant and I am the absolute worst at following any kind of advice unless it is written in easy to follow steps and everything happens exactly as instructed. Not exactly a stellar start point for a writer. But despite all that, I have a dream and I will see that dream to fruition no matter what.
       So, I've decided to document my Australian publishing journey on this blog. I will write about everything that I do in order to get my work out there. So that all those writers who come after me don't have to suffer the same kind of anxiety that I have been! And if anyone comes across anything that might help me, please feel free to post it in the comments :)

Watch this space!