C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Who reviews the reviewers? You could.

The second generation Amazon Kindle, showing t...

The second generation Amazon Kindle, showing the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe we need to make a concerted effort to review some reviewers so they’ll either change, cheer up or shut up. Allow me to explain before you give this blog post a one-star review.

I’m in the home stretch in completing my crime novel and after a hard day sweating over a hot keyboard, I dip into my Kindle to unwind. As I search for new books to load up on, I find myself drawn to scan Amazon reviews. The sad truth is, I haven’t been reading the five-star or four-star reviews much. I’ve been clicking on the one-star reviews and reading with horror.

There are several reasons for my self-abusive behavior: 

1. I’m looking for mistakes to avoid. Not all one-star reviews are wrong and I’m trying to glean the honest from the brutally honest. Some books are plain bad.

2. Cranky people can be funny sometimes. Sometimes on purpose. Just as villains can be more interesting to write than heroes, a bad review is often more interesting than a positive one…at least to write, possibly to read and, as far as achieving the purpose reviews are meant for? We’ll get to that in a moment. Hang in for the punch.

3. Five-star reviews tend to sound alike while the one-stars should be more interesting. This is the Anna Karenina/book review version of “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Generally, reading one-star reviews has proved a mistake because either it’s depressing or annoying. I should probably quit reading them. Or, we could review the reviewers in the hope they might improve just as they supposedly do for our betterment. That is the purpose, isn’t it? Or is it?

Hm. We’re writers. We should be able to do a better job than many reviewers at reviewing. Shouldn’t we?

With regard to point 1: The one-star reviewers often haven’t finished much of the book they’re reading and their criticisms are often inarticulate, too harsh or too vague. “Yuck” doesn’t inform anyone of anything except the reviewer might be a dim seven-year-old with a limited vocabulary and access to their parents’ Amazon account.

As far as point 2 goes, the hate comes through, but there’s not often a lot of creativity in the funny department. The problem is that too brutal a review isn’t a message conveyance system. It’s just a knife slashing from out of the darkness wielded by a bitter, blind assailant. Some reviewers offer such consistent patterns of hatred, I suspect they don’t enjoy reading but reviews are an outlet for problems that are traditionally worked out on a couch with the aid of powerful psychopharmaceuticals.

As for point 3: I was wrong and Anna Karenina was wrong. The hate sounds more alike than the all-out loving reviews. People love different aspects of a book but they repeat the same stuff that bothers them, often within the same one-paragraph review.

The Internet is mean because it’s anonymous. Some people mistake mean for being intelligent or funny. Nah, it’s often just mean and dumb. We keep hearing the rule “Don’t say anything on the Internet you wouldn’t say within bitch slapping distance.” It’s good advice crazy people don’t take.

Recently one of my books, Self-help for Stoners, got its first three-star review. (The others were four and five stars and wow did those make me happy!) The reviewer who gave that book three stars wasn’t in love with the drug use aspect of the book. Instead, he winced and I don’t think he meant metaphorically. I’m always intrigued how people react to that book because some have told me it’s anti-drug (Get off your ass, stoner!) and most assume it’s pro (What a wonderful world it could be. [insert trill of violins rising here] ) When people ask me straight out, I say it’s anti-censorship and pro-freedom but mostly it’s stories of suspense that challenge readers to draw their own conclusions.

Though it was a three-star review, the reviewer found a lot to love and respected the work enough to give it very thoughtful consideration that I appreciated. It was largely complimentary despite the aspects he disapproved of. That’s pretty decent and open-minded of him, don’t you think? Lots of people have three settings: love, hate and apathy. The mark of a good book review is an appreciation for nuance. Would I prefer unmitigated bouquets and cyber kisses? Of course, but it was still a good review from him and a good review for me. (In retrospect, I wish I’d sent him Sex, Death & Mind Control. He probably would have enjoyed that book more. The style has similarities and the subject matter is still suspenseful fun but there’s nothing there that could be considered advice.)

Which brings us back to those hateful one-star reviews. You know those little boxes that say: x number of y customers found this review helpful? Yes? No? I’ve been clicking “No” a lot lately. Too many of them are just too mean or uninformative or uninformed. If you think a review breaks the bitch-slapping guideline, click No. (Or click Yes if it was disapproving but helpful, funny, clever, civil or anything non-hateful and crazy.)

Suggestions:

If you only gave the book five minutes or a few pages, you aren’t qualified to review it. Move on. (I don’t know how much of a book you have to read before you’re qualified to review it. 50%? 75% 100% including the ISBN? Hence the Question of the Day at the bottom of this post.)

If you couldn’t wait to delete it because it’s somehow digitally sullying your Kindle, okay, but very often these folks are really mad at a book that was free. I’m not suggesting a free book should be bad. I’m saying, let’s keep our rage in check and our world in perspective. You tried something and it cost you nothing but time and you didn’t really give it much of that, did you? I don’t waste time finishing a book that I don’t like. There are too many good books out there and life is too short to get all OCD with, “But I got it so I’m committed to this living hell now!” C’mon. Let it go.

Please read a sample before you buy: “I thought by the title that it would be a summer romance and it turned out to be borderline porn about a war between foot-fetishistic elves and fairy vampires! I’m pissed!” We are all the star of our own movie, but just because you hated it doesn’t mean the extras milling around at the back of your set wouldn’t enjoy it. Leave it for those foot-loving peons and weirdos. Stars should be gracious with the supporting cast.

Nastiness is forever, so please check yourself before you wreck somebody else. An ill-intentioned review could  have real-world consequences. At best, you could dissuade someone from something that they could enjoy or maybe even love though you didn’t. At worst, you’re the one taking money away from some poor sod whose only crime is using too many adverbs. Ease up on the stick and don’t overshoot the runway.

What’s your motivation behind a bad review? A friend of mine has mentioned that once his book hit high rankings on Amazon, the nasty reviewers boiled out of the woodwork as if to make a point of taking him down a peg or two for having the audacity to do something that pleased a lot of other, happier people. Another author got a nasty review on her book which she suspected was payback from a writer who had asked for an honest critique and got one she didn’t like. (Warning to the petty and petulant: You don’t get help or even civility in the future if the word gets around that you’re a nit. This is the Internet. Word will get around.)

When you make a big deal about the book being a sub-standard work from an indie press, you’re smearing all hard-working, low-resource indies and dreamers with the same acid-tipped brush who are providing some grateful people with very inexpensive information and entertainment. That’s an ad hominem argument which is Latin for “Shut the $#@! up.”

Are you counting typos as you read? I recently mentioned a reviewer who said he liked a book but started off his review with the fact that he found five typos. If you can’t handle a book with five typos over 250 pages, we have a tank lined with cotton waiting that will protect you from the world. You’re too fragile for earth’s atmosphere. Once again, ease up, man! Many of us (most?) are doing all we can to prevent typos and as much as it may annoy you to find a mistake in someone else’s work, it kills writers to find it in our own books. (You can read a traditionally published book with as many typos. Lots of people hate that argument, so let’s try this tac: You can have a traditionally published book  with (what you perceive) as no typos! Yay! You will, however, have to pay ten times more money for it. Deal? Deal.)

Authors: Please read the whole review and weigh it with due consideration. Just as we hope book reviewers will be civil, gentle and thoughtful and read enough to have a reasonably informed opinion, we should assess reviews individually before clicking that dismissive “No” button. Let’s not let our egos impair our journey to improvement. (If you figure out how to do this, please write me explaining how. I’ll do anything short of meditation, a word whose language root comes from a Latin phrase meaning “Boring as $#@!”

I do thank people for decent reviews. I don’t encourage anyone replying to a nasty review. We can legitimately use the “Was this review helpful?” buttons as they were intended without getting sucked into a black hole of bitterness. If you find yourself explaining why someone should love your book — my baby! my baby! — either you wrote something incomprehensible or they’re kind of dim. Either way, arguing is a waste of time. Use that time to instead write another (great!) book and accept that no one book is for everyone.

Try this: Take a book you love. Look up the best book you ever read! Read the reviews. See all those one-star reviews? Yeah, that’s what I mean.

Question of the Day: How much of a book do you read before you feel you can honestly review it? I welcome your (helpful) comments.

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , ,

Indie publishing is getting better

Grammar police

Grammar police (Photo credit: the_munificent_sasquatch)

First bold statement:

The quality of indie books has improved.

We’re maturing. Ludicrously, readers expected the indie ebook revolution to produce immediate perfection, some even demanding a higher quality than they get from trad publishing. As soon as I post this, I expect a deluge of naysayers racing to come up with examples to disprove my assertion. That’s a misguided instinct, by the way. Yes, you could come up with lots of examples both tragic and comedic and I’d counter with a plethora of examples in favour of the indies. So let’s skip that and settle on this: I have over 200 books on my Kindle and my impression is that there aren’t nearly so many grammatical errors or typos as one might expect if you believe all those rabid grammarians moaning over on the Kindle boards.

Recently, I read an Amazon book review where some bonehead’s  first observation was that he’d counted five grammatical errors. Note that this was a book that he liked, but he went straight for that in his review’s first sentence. He criticized not as a book lover interested in story (which most readers are) but as a raging grammarian who couldn’t bear five errors in 250 pages. (I clicked the “non-helpful” button after I read that review.)

Second bold statement:

Most readers aren’t nearly as sensitive to typos as some would have us believe. 

As a writer, I hate errors in my books when they occur.

As a reader, I notice errors but my world doesn’t explode when I see them, either. 

In traditional publishing in the late ’80s, editorial departments were swollen with employees. Mistakes still crept in. They still do, trad or indie. We can’t afford eight levels of defence against errors. No one can hire that many editors and proofreaders. Errors will occur. But you know what?  When I get a book for $2.99 or less (or free), expecting perfection seems petty and silly, like angrily demanding lower taxes yet more services. We do need many eyes on our manuscripts. Everyone tells you to hire an editor and well you should. However, the edit and suggested corrections will also introduce errors, so comb it again. If you’ve gone through a major edit using Track Changes, for instance, you know the maddening confusion of figuring out what’s underlined and what’s not, making the changes and going cross-eyed after a few hours of peering at comma placement and comment boxes.

Most grammatical errors don’t obscure meaning so much you don’t get what the author was going for. No, this is not a call to publish your first draft, damn of consequences to readers’ understanding and comfort and ease up on yourself as a writer. This is a call for us  to celebrate the many authors who are obviously working hard to write well. Many of us are getting help to catch us when we trip.

Don’t mind the naysayers. Most of those rabid grammarians aren’t writers and I’m not even sure a bunch of them even enjoy reading that much. It’s like they take a book as a test and each typo is some kind of moral victory. That’s the Internet for you: perfectionism as a weapon to make haters feel better. But perfection is unreachable. (I just started a sentence with the word “but”! Oh, no! Yes, some people are still clinging to that.)

Perfectionism is a sign of self-loathing. Instead, go for excellence.

And lighten up. We’re getting better!

Filed under: publishing, , , , , , , , ,

The Writing Bomb: Amazon is Publishing Reviews? Will You be Next?

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

(Here’s something new for authors to worry about! Imagine you get a review stuck on your book that’s negative and that’s the first thing potential readers see before they know anything more about your book! Find out more by clicking the link below to hear what my friend Jeff Bennington found out. ~ Chazz)
Via thewritingbomb.blogspot.com

Filed under: publishing, reviews, Useful writing links, web reviews, , , , , , , ,

I just received my first review on Goodreads! And it’s a good’un!

The ebook review was for The Dangerous Kind, a novelette:The_Dangerous_Kind

Two orphaned brothers go into the woods on a hunting trip. Each has reason to want the other out of the way. Only one will ever see home again.

Read the review here!

Thanks to Mark Young for the nice review. It’s also kind of prescient of him. The setting for The Dangerous Kind is a small town in Maine called Poeticule Bay. Mark felt the novelette was a warm-up for more from Poeticule Bay and he’s right! I’m already working on the next Poeticule Bay book, a full-length novel.

If you’ve read Self-help for Stoners, Stuff to Read When You’re High, you’ll also recognize the name. In the very first story of that collection, an actress named Legs Gabrielle returns to Poeticule Bay for her father’s funeral. Complications ensue when she is not welcomed back as the local girl who made good. You can read that story for free here. Or buy it as part of the whole collection here. (All of $2.99.)

As for that awesome review of The Dangerous Kind, if you’re ready for a little suspense, just jump to buying it on Amazon.

Or Smashwords.

Or for your Nook.

Or you could, I suppose, go on with your life thinking that your world does not revolve around my dark tales of suspense.

You could, theoretically, pass this by and believe that you could do without fulfilling my petty desires.

But we both know that’s not true. (Er…right?)

Also, The Dangerous Kind is only 99 cents. 

(It ain’t begging if you provide something in exchange for the couch change.)

Or click the link above to get that free taste of Self-help for Stoners and see if you think I’m wasting your time…or drawing you into my world.

Filed under: All That Chazz, My fiction, web reviews, What about Chazz?, Writers, , , , , , , , , ,

And now for something somewhat different: allthatchazz.com

www.allthatchazz.com

Over a year and a half and 600 plus blog posts, Chazz Writes has been (and will continue to be) free content for writers about the craft and business of writing. Chazz Writes is about grammar, editing, writing advice and the latest self-publishing news. I’ve made a lot of friends and allies and promoted quite a few authors here. It’s a lot of fun. The fun will continue for readers on the companion site. Stop by, subscribe and see what’s cooking.

Someone is already offended because it looks like I’m saying writers aren’t readers. Some people arrive pre-offended, so…can you hear my shrug from there? As a writer, I’m also a power reader: vast library, ten books at a time, two e-readers…the whole smear. But not all readers are writers.  

What will be different? All that Chazz focuses on what readers want: reviews, sneak peeks and more ideas on what to read. On the new site, I write about reading.

Contributors: All That Chazz is open to submissions (just like Chazz Writes). If you’d like to write a guest post about who, what, when, why, where and how you’re reading, please submit your 300-word (max) post and a 25-word bio to me at expartepress@gmail.com.

The Book Review Circle: I haven’t forgotten about Kim Nayyer’s excellent suggestion to establish a book circle. (See the bottom segment for my personal update on what I’ve been doing instead.)

The Review Circle Recap: In the summer, I put out the call for self-published authors who were willing to review a book in exchange for a review of their own book. The reviews, to be published at All that Chazz and promoted on Chazz Writes, can be used by the author and the reviewer for their own blogs and whatever marketing purposes suit them. In the next couple of weeks (as the hither and dither allows) I’ll be contacting all the authors who contacted me to set up the circle.

If you want to participate in the review circle, email me with details of your book, genre and word count at expartepress@gmail.com.

(Don’t wait!)

This looks like a job for me: Wow, have I been busy! My business plan is coming together, though I wish I had a couple of interns and a cappuccino machine to hurry the publishing process along. So much of what I’m working on is new to me (formatting and podcasting, for instance). Some of the learning curve is so steep, I need two Sherpa guides. However, it’s coming together on schedule as long as I continue to try do everything at once. Self-publishing is not, as some claim, the “easy” road to publication. It’s just another path and the terrain is a little different.

I’m enjoying the view from this little goat path. I think I’ll climb higher and see what I can see.

Join me.

Filed under: All That Chazz, book reviews, DIY, e-reader, ebooks, getting it done, publishing, readers, reviews, self-publishing, What about Chazz?, , , , , , , , ,

TOP 10: People (who are not fans)

Old marketing decreed:

Get everybody! Your sales quota must include all sentient species with a credit card in the known universe!

New world marketing responds:

Nope. Establish a base of just a bunch.

But the bunch has to be rabid and slavering for your next masterpiece, book, song, film, poem, service, comic, or sex toy.

In short, you need fans (as in fanatics.)

For self-publishers, everybody in your fan base starts out as a reader, but they won’t all join you on your journey and buy in to your revolution. A lot of people can’t even be bothered to cross the street to spit on you. Something I learned a long time ago was that I am not everyone’s cup of pee. (Note to non-fans: that’s a joke and a point, not a typo.) I learned that to build successful businesses or loving followings, I had to focus on the people who appreciate me and ignore the rest. Oddly, everyone knows the 80-20 Rule, but how many apply it to their lives?

Critics will sap you of time and energy if you pay them too much attention. A fellow writer got one bad review recently. All his reviews were overwhelmingly positive except for that one. That burned like a cigarette in the eye. That’s the key to understanding the dark side of Internet marketing. Yes, you can spread the word faster about a good thing. However, negative reviews can get a lot of attention, too, mostly from the author who serves as the critic’s target. In fact, several authors have observed a bandwagon effect among some reviewers and book bloggers. One bad review can lead to more bad reviews. Ironically, as Reena Jacobs observed recently, it may be worse not to be reviewed at all than to receive negative reviews. If readers love or hate your book, at least you’ve spurred a reaction. If you ignite no fire at all, that may be a bad sign.

Here’s what to keep in mind when you read something negative about your work:

1. People (who are not fans) are nastier on the net than they would ever dare in person. They aren’t talking to you as a person with feelings and aspirations. They’re having a conversation in their heads with the idiot they imagine you are. Cyberspace allows distance, anonymity and depersonalization. Your nice neighbour, that little old lady who gets your mail for you while you’re on vacation and bakes cookies at Christmas? If her favorite author kills off a regular series character, the old dear’s mind can curdle into that of a serial killer when she writes an Amazon review.

2. People (who are not fans) mistake your work for you and judge you along with the work. If one of your books, blog posts, comics etc.,… is not as good as the others (and inevitably that will be so) critics will make assumptions about you and your mental state. Don’t you mistake all of your work for you though. They’ll make it personal, but don’t fall for that trap. Unfortunately, because we wrap up the author’s persona with his or her book to sell it, we foster an absurd inseparability in people’s minds. For instance, when Deepak Chopra was on the road selling a natural health book and had the temerity to drink coffee (OH-MY-STARS-AND-GARTERS!) a reader tried to shame him for it. That little old lady was pissed.

3. People (who are not fans) are more likely to write something negative than positive. Look at all those letters to the editor in the newspaper. Not so many saying, “Good job!” are there? Now think of the five best books you’ve ever read. Go to Amazon. See those negative reviews of the books that changed your life? Are you starting to see the weight you should give negative reviews yet? This is a subjective business. Repeat that until it sinks in. (I’m still repeating it, too.)

4. People (who are not fans) say things for their own reasons that don’t necessarily have anything to do with you. Maybe they made a bad day and want to export it. Maybe junior high was tough and the Internet is where they get even with strangers. Review the beginning of the movie Wanted. Remember the “I’d feel sorry for you if you weren’t such a bitch, Janet” speech? Repeat as necessary. (If you’ve ever worked in a cubicle farm, that scene alone will make you leap off the couch and spill your Cheetos all over the floor.)

5. Maybe you gave the person (who is not a fan) a negative review and it’s payback time. Yes, this happens. Maybe you friended them on Facebook, but you weren’t fast enough about getting that friend confirmation done and they took offence. Who knows? Everyone take everything personally because we are all the stars of our own movies. This has nothing to do with your work, but your work gives an opportunity for nasty people to say something shitty. Some authors don’t read reviews at all because, they argue, “If I believe the good ones, I’d have to believe the bad ones, too.” These are very mature people I can’t relate to. I don’t personally know anyone with that much self-control. I envy their sagacity.

6. Negative reviews are easier to write than positive reviews. Snark is easy. Snark is even funny sometimes, but mean’s no good. And if you’re going to be at all mean, you better be twice as smart as you are mean. For instance, I enjoy listening to Slate’s Culture Gabfest podcast….but sometimes I wonder, “Do these people ever like anything?” People (who are not fans) enjoy being clever at your expense. That does not necessarily equal constructive criticism. Maybe it’s just bitchy. Or stupid or wrong. Or all three. In this part of the equation, it’s not about you or your work. It’s that some people’s only creative outlet is criticism. Some fleas think they are driving the dog.

7. People (who are not fans) hope you’ll fail so they can feel better about their failures…or that they failed to try at all. Doing nothing at all is a great way to avoid criticism. Except for that pesky self-loathing and the long darkness before dawn when the demons come to torture your dreams and stifle your soul’s breath. (Yes, I’m saying that being a loser is like sleep apnea and all the implied dangers of heart disease but without the medical attention and sympathy from friends and family.)

8. People (who are not fans) don’t have enough going on in their lives, but they’ve got lots of time to focus on you. Otherwise, why the hyperbole about how bad your book is? I love books, but it’s just a book review, not the Nuremberg trial. The way some reviewers go on, you’d think trying and failing to entertain or educate or pass the time was a hanging offence. Another friend got a bad review recently. The ebook she gave out was free. The level of criticism did not match the critic’s financial and emotional investment. This author was wise enough to ignore the naysayer because she knew the guy wasn’t in her fan base and never would be. So what? There are plenty of readers out there to be converted to your peculiar brand of evil jocularity.

9. People (who are not fans) may be right. Maybe you do suck. But you can’t think that and succeed. You can only try to do better. Forgive yourself. You are a work in progress. “Books are never finished,” Oscar Wilde said. “they are merely abandoned.” Only listen to the people you trust. There are too many variables in the skulls of strangers who are not your fans. Write to please yourself first and don’t listen to input from writers too much. To write is to do your thing. That’s one reason so many people keep writing despite insufficient recompense, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and their parents’ bitter disappointment. (On the other hand, if every review is negative except the one from Mom, rethink.)

10. People (who are not fans) can be fickle. Tim Ferris, author of The 4 Hour Body, observed that a fan base has two extremes. At the top are the people who will follow you down the mouth of a cannon. At the bottom are haters who want to fire you out of said cannon. Ferris feels that the people at the extremes can switch places. Do something too different and some former fanatics will resist the new direction and even become haters. Be unexpectedly nice to your enemies and a few may come around to decide you are a worthy human being after all.

Or you could say “Screw ’em!”,

focus on the people who do get you

and move along briskly.

If you read all the way to here and hated the post, why did you read this far? It was too long a post for that nonsense. I will never understand that about haters. Don’t they have shit to do?

If you loved this post and it came at just the right time and you couldn’t have done without it…thank you. I love you for a selfish and stupid reason: You love something I wrote.

Filed under: publishing, Rant, Rejection, reviews, self-publishing, web reviews, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Book Review Circle: Growing ideas (& an announcement about great things to come)

Salient points:

1. You won’t review the same author who reviewed you. That’s why we need a big circle. That’s one way to getting solid reviews, too.

2. This is a give-to-get situation where you will only review one or two books a year. Once it’s posted on this site, you can repost your review elsewhere.

3. Check the post below for details on the information you need to send. This helps me match you up with a genre that interests you.

4. Send said information to: expartepress@gmail.com 

Ah, and here’s another grand pronoucement:

I’ll be posting the book circle reviews on the new website (coming this fall.)

This blog will continue, but Chazz Writes is primarily a place for writers interested in indie publishing.

The new site will run concurrently, like sentences for both stealing fireworks and accidentally lighting your school on fire with those fireworks.

The new site will be a place  for readers.

Book Reviews: A Very Decent Proposal (chazzwrites.wordpress.com)

Filed under: authors, book reviews, Books, DIY, ebooks, getting it done, web reviews, What about Chazz?, Writers, , , , , ,

Book Reviews: A Very Decent Proposal

The magnificent Kim Nayyer sent me a very interesting idea

that the self-published among you might just love.

“Magnificent?” you say, skeptically.

Me? I don’t say anything. Instead I whap you on the nose with Kim’s rolled up bio: Peter Parker and Marian the librarian’s love child. Selects and edits creative non-fiction submissions to Victoria’s Island Writer magazine. Writes book reviews, mainly of children’s literature and adult legal texts, to the extent those genres are distinct. News and information junkie. Proved her good citizenship by writing a blog for Canada’s public broadcaster during the recent Canadian federal election. Her website is http://www.kimnayyer.com.

Here’s the email Kim sent:

What a coincidence that I spotted your video book review today (nice!). Coincidence because a couple of days ago I was going to suggest to you a book review corner on your site, a corner restricted to reviews of self-published or e-only or e-first books, something along those lines to give a platform to the non-traditional market.

Recently a twitter contact  asked me whether I was able to review his book. I checked with a couple of my outlets. One only does Canadian books (and the guy’s in Portland) and the other only does pre-release publishing house books (and he’s self-published and the book came out earlier this year).I thought of you and your forthcoming books, and I thought of a couple of local self-published authors I know and how hard one of them works to sell her book.

My idea is not that you do all the reviews yourself (unless you want to, say in videos), but that you get a roster of a handful of decent writers/vloggers, perhaps other self-published authors, to do them as guest posts or to commit to doing one or two a year each, or perhaps in exchange for reviews of their books. The authors of course would send you or the reviewer free review copies of their books.  

Think it’s workable?

I love that idea! How about it, self-published party people?

If you’re a self-published author and want:

1. Your book to be reviewed, and

2. to review a couple of books a year

then, 3. Email Chazz at expartepress@gmail.com with:

your name, book title, genre, book length and what genres interest you for writing book reviews. I shall attempt to match up the compatible submissions and we’ll take it from there. Also, if you have suggestions, let me know. I do love the idea. I just haven’t thought much about what the protocol should be.

The self-published can support each other. As it stands, The System and The Man wants to keep you down. Let’s subvert The System, kick The Man in the crotch and spread the word about our books.

Yes, Kim the Magnificent. I think it’s workable!

GO INDIE! 

Filed under: authors, reviews, self-publishing, web reviews, Writers, , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Why you should read John Dies at the End

Sometimes I see manuscripts where there’s a lot going on. That’s good. The problem is that the protagonist is always around the action, but isn’t initiating any actions. Heroes are self-starters.

It’s okay to have your hero or heroine gobsmacked when zombie terrorists attack the city. However, if things are still happening to the protagonist rather than him or her being proactive, your protagonist will soon annoy the reader.

It happens more often than you’d think. I suspect it’s a plotting problem. If the hero runs around in circles while everyone around him knows more than he does, it’s easier to get him into trouble.

There’s a place for weak-willed characters. They’re called secondary characters. Your protagonist can do the wrong thing or draw stupid conclusions, but notice the words “do” and “draw.” Protagonists are verb-oriented.  Yes, the hero can be fooled. The hero can have room to grow as a person. But he can’t be an idiot who grows into a genius unless his name is Charlie and his pet mouse is named Algernon.

For instance, I’m reading a great book now called John Dies at The End by David Wong. Aside from managing to be a clever mixture of Stephen King and Douglas Adams, I noticed Wong’s protagonist makes decisions that are perfectly reasonable in context. And he acts immediately.

So many books allow villains to do what they made of fun of in The Incredibles: Monologuing. (Example: “I expect you to die, Mr. Bond! But first, let me give you a tour of the complex and explain my evil plan to corner the world’s teddy bear market.”)

When Wong’s hero confronts Big E Evil, he doesn’t let the Big Bad lay out plans for world domination. He  pulls out his pistol and fires immediately, no warning shots. The results may not be what you expect, of course, but his hero isn’t dumb. The effect of this narrative efficiency is so powerful you’ll find yourself asking, “Wait, what was the evil plan? Oh, nevermind. I guess I’ll find out later.”

Don’t worry. You will. But I won’t spoil anything for you. Just go buy John Dies at the End by David Wong. You’ll be glad you did. It’s the best book I’ve read in quite some time.

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CONTEST #3 is STILL OPEN

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Got a book you’re burning to review?

Is there a book you’ve read recently you feel so passionate about, you want to make the leap from just reading books to writing about them? You have until Wednesday, October 27 at 9 PM EST to submit your book review (400 words max.) 

The Chosen One shall receive one free copy of The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide by Becky Levine. She’ll teach you how to improve your chances of getting published by organizing like-minded writers to help you critique writing with clarity and sensitivity. Please paste your book review into the body of your email to chazz@chazzwrites.vpweb.ca.

 

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Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

The first 81 lessons to get your Buffy on

More lessons to help you survive Armageddon

"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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Fast-paced terror, new threats, more twists.

An autistic boy versus our world in free fall

Suspense to melt your face and play with your brain.

Action like a Guy Ritchie film. Funny like Woody Allen when he was funny.

Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

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