09/09/2012 In My Writing
6
Andrew
Sep 09, 2012

Writing In The Age Of Amazon And ePublishing . . . and a couple shameless plugs.

Things have changed a bit for me since my book got published. For one thing, I need to be more careful of what I say on line. Take Dan Caty, President of Chik-fil-A whose anti-gay statements earned him a boycott by my family. Had Mr. Caty kept his views to himself, he would still be the same anti-gay marriage person he is, but he wouldn’t be pillared by so many LGBT people and their supporters.  Lessons learned:  1) What people don’t know they can’t hold against you; and 2) if you’re selling something, be as Switzerland like as you can in your on-line life. Thank you Dan Caty.

What brought this up were two distinct events.  The first is a review – or rather a rating – I received on Goodreads for Second Shot. For those that have followed my writing, you know that this was my first attempt at a novel and I posted it, without any real editing, on Gay Authors to get feedback on how to improve.  Somehow it got listed on Goodreads and this week someone gave it 1 star.  Clearly this person didn’t like it, which is fine. I wish they’d have told me why, but in the end it doesn’t matter.  And from what I could tell of this person from their history, they have given more than a few 1 stars as well as 5s, 4s, 3s, & 2s.  It was not someone who joined up just to trash me.  So, while it’s a bit of a downer, it’s also a valid reflection of what a reader thought of the story. As the old adage goes, you can’t please everyone – Or can you. . . ?

The second reason event that got me thinking about the whole on line rating/review system is that I read an article about a guy who made $28,000 a month writing fake book reviews for author’s on Amazon.  Here’s the story. The jist is, for a fee, he’d see that your book twenty or more 5 stars. That way, however good or bad the book, it would appear to be fabulous and hopefully attract a bevy of new-i.e. real, booking buying- readers.  I can say that I’ve read a number of books lately that have good ratings and reviews and been less than thrilled by the content.  None lived up to the hype given.  So even if they weren’t the product of a paid fake reviewer, who’s to say they weren’t done by friends and family at the request of the author? 

The point is, how good/useful/accurate is the ‘peer’ review model that seems to rule the internet? Somehow because it’s ‘real’ people not professional reviewers giving the feed back, it’s supposed to be far better and more accurate than the old NY Times book review system.  I’m questioning this because it is so easy to manipulate these ratings.  Don’t think your rating is high enough? Get some friends to create an account and jack you up, or do it yourself, or better yet, do both.  Don’t like someone? Do the same in reverse and trash whatever they’re selling.  A 1 star rating can drag down someone’s rating more easily than a 5 star can pump it up. Getting on someone’s bad side can certainly negatively impact your rating.  And since a high peer review is necessary for getting sold, be as close to Switzerland as you can in your on line life, because you’re going to get enough 1 stars even without pissing people off. 

 

Okay shameless plugs for those who have made it this far:

 

First as you know, (Un)masked is out and available for sale. What you might not know is that the Goodreads M/M group is holding a fund raiser for a LGBT Youth organization one of the Moderators works with.  Anyta and I made a pledge to the M/M Romance Group Gives Back Charity Event tied to book sales of (Un)Masked. Basically for every book sold we’ll make a donation. Here’s a link to the Charity Event post, our pledge is the last post on the first page of the topic.  So if you’ve been thinking about buying the book, buy it in September because you’ll be helping a good cause too. [Not just my daughter’s college fund. 😛 ]

 

Second, my nephew, Nicholas A. White, wrote a book.  He’s all of 20 and studying to be an engineer at Clemson. It is not a gay romance story, but it’s worth reading.  The book is called Forever In Carolina it’s available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If you need more of a reason to buy the book than to help out a first time author, he’s donating 20% of all profits from the book to Cancer Research.  Since it was self-published, he has a bit of upfront money to recoup, so help him out and buy the book if you can.

 

Last, if you read this – the few of you that do – a comment now and then would be great. I’m weird like that, I like to hear from folks reading.  Even if it’s to say this.

 

Thanks

 

6 Comments

  1. podga says:

    Hey Andy

    I’m reading! I’m reading!

    I don’t agree with Caty (duh!) and I particularly don’t with agree some of the causes and foundations he funds, but I’m glad he was open about what his opinions are, both because I now know not to support his business and secondly because the 1st amendment is still important, and it’s no good telling others not to limit your speech, if you’re going to do it to yourself for commercial reasons. Besides, for every Chic-fil-A there’s an IKEA, a Betty Crocker and a Levi’s that prove that you can also gain customers by expressing a socially responsible opinion and backing it in practice.

    As to the rest, I think that in many ways it’s harder than ever for a new writer to enter the market. In the past, it might have been tough to get somebody to publish you, but then you had the marketing machine of that publisher behind you, and their PR working with critics, etc. Today it looks easier, because of all the self-publishing and e-publishing opportunities, but how do you stand out? And who supports you, when everybody can express their opinion, however right or wrong it may be? Which is why, I come full circle back to knowing a little bit more about the writer, about their beliefs and ideals. A book is not a chicken sandwich. Who authored it matters.

    So my 2 cents’ worth is that you can’t please everybody all of the time, nor should you try to. If something is important to you, you feel the need to speak about it, and you would have done so in the past, by all means continue doing so.

    • Podga,

      Your comment reminded me of this:

      “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” – Winston Churchill

      I agree that taking a stand is important, but sometimes this old adage makes more sense: ‘Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, but no one wants to hear yours.’ For example, getting into it on the Soapbox at GA is sure to earn you a few enemies. And to what end? No one is going to change their mind based on my comments, they don’t go there for that. People go there to express their opinion and not to find answers to help them decide. So perhaps my comment was over broad, but it’s still a valid consideration. Pissing off a portion of your target audience is never a wise idea.

      Just to belabor this – Standing up for Gay Marriage isn’t being controversial because my target audience supports that concept. I doubt those who oppose gay rights would buy my books anyway. But for example, getting upset with someone who identifies with one political party or another and attacking their positions just because I don’t agree with them, doens’t seem like a good idea.

      But I agree, if you don’t stand for something – other than making money – you end up lacking passion and that’s never a good thing.

      Thanks again for commenting. 🙂

  2. Kc Grim says:

    By reading a few reviews on some stories, I had suspected that someone was trying to pad their ratings on some sites. I know that I poke around to see if anyone has read/reviewed my story but I would never sink to hiring someone to write fake reviews. If just 1 person reads and likes my book, well that worth more than 100 fake ones. Your right that you will never please everyone so why try? Once your story is published it’s out of the authors control.

    I agree with picking your words very carefully and sometimes there will be nothing you can do to avoid the backlash. The other day someone was very vocal about hating something i wrote and the first thing I thought of what do I say? Learning to accept these negative reviews have made me a much stronger more determined writer.

    • KC, from a personal stand point 1 real review is worth an infinite amount of fake ones – agreed. From a commercial perspective, I see the point of the guy who sold a million eBooks on the strength of all the purchased fake reviews. I haven’t done it – clearly since I don’t have that many reviews on Amazon and I certainly am not lighting the book world on fire with books sales, but I think if that was a means to get people to take a look and see, then I’d say it’s a legit method of promotion – maybe. 😛

  3. Rob Linn says:

    I have already emailed to tell you my high regard for Second Shot. I know you were making a point about “reviews” (which I have long suspected were less than reliable on Amazon, and online in general). Just wanted to be a voice giving my recommendation to the blogosphere concerning your work.
    I am a composer, not a writer. Talk about a tough market to crack! We do what we do because we must, and while approbation helps… I would still write my music without, and I suspect you would keep grinding out great stories no matter what.

    And I’m gonna read ’em.

    Robfromtexas

    • Rob,

      Thanks for the post. Yeah I think composer has to be harder – much harder. I agree, I’d keep writing, but I’m not sure I’d keep posting if most people said it stinks or no one commented. I’d probably keep it under wraps, ensuring my one and only best seller would be publish posthumously. 😆

      Thanks again for the note and the continued encouragement.