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

Write and publish with love and fury.

Review: Storytelling problems and the finale of #Dexter

This isn’t my usual sort of blog post, but it’s time to talk about storytelling problems and, unfortunately, the Dexter series finale is Exhibit A. Spoilers ensue, so you’ve been warned.

1. The final season of Dexter was mostly rudderless. Masuka has a daughter. Yay! If she was a plant from the FBI, she would have been useful to the plot. Instead, she gave the comic relief guy no opportunities to do comedy. Nice topless sports bar, but otherwise, why is she there? We want Masuka to be Masuka with lines like, “Science is a cold-hearted bitch…”

2. Dexter’s struggle to become human is betrayed in the final scene. Okay, Pinocchio becomes a real boy and decides feelings suck. He returns to being a monster with his final look. The struggle wasn’t interesting enough because it more internal than external. Hard to do in film. Easier in a novel, but still tricky.

3. The last scene felt tacked on and dragged on too long. Were we really supposed to wonder if that’s Dex, or perhaps the satellite flipped the channel to a lugubrious episode of Ice Road Truckers? If they wanted to sap the power of “And the body was never found,” they should have done it in a strobe flash POV shot with bearded Dexter standing over a kill table in a cabin, long knife in hand, snowshoes on the wall. 

4. The show made us love a serial killer’s exploits in Miami. Dexter had a good life and an endless supply of pulled pork sandwiches. Now he’s alone in Alaska or Canada. Dex is alone so no one he cares for will get killed. We get it. However, you don’t leave Batman poor with no Batcave and no Batmobile. A downer ending would have been okay, but this punished viewers. He’s still Dexter, but now he’s got no inside track from inside a police station and fewer opportunities to be the Avenger. We want him on that wall! We need him on that wall!

5. The show worked best when Dexter was constantly in danger of being caught. I didn’t think Dex was ever in much danger of being caught. Maybe it was a lack of lines and physical presence, but Elway and the US Deputy Marshall never came close to feeling like a credible threat. The Marshall reminded me of Ty Pennington and looked like he should be giving one lucky family an extreme home makeover instead of closing in on Dexter. Elway’s hair looked like he might have been the front man for a New Wave band in the ’80s, but the private dick, the cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about? We’re not talking about Shaft here.

6. With the build up to the arrival of the hurricane, I pictured a Hitchcockian ending complete with a fight to the death aboard the Slice of Life. Once Oliver is caught (again) the narrative drive is lost and there’s no goal except to explore feelings. The folks behind the show overestimated our patience for repeated flashbacks to Deb and Dex in the maternity ward. For that to work, they needed to at least bring Rita into the flashback. (We would have forgiven so much for that cameo.) They bring Miguel’s wife back as a real estate agent, but the name “Rita” is never spoken? (They came close with Harrison’s drawing, but no.)

7. Plot holes abound through the season. It really bugs me when the mechanics of a script only work if the characters do incredibly dumb things. This season, no computer was password-protected, the Deputy Marshall doesn’t recognize Oliver and Hannah stays at Deb’s house. Perhaps most egregious (because it was in our faces every time we saw her) Hannah always looks exactly like her mugshot and it never occurs to her or Dex that she could cut and dye her hair. Even the most brainless fugitive would do that much. Man or woman, if you’re on the run, shave your head!

8. The season progressed as if there was no plan. From one episode to the next, Zack goes from being so clueless he doesn’t know to wear gloves to leaving Dex a clue behind on purpose? Anybody from the later seasons of Lost working on this thing? Can we have the writers from John Lithgow’s season, please? How about we get a mulligan?

9.  The theme of the season was the ties that bind: mother-son, father-son, sister-brother, friends and family. What got us hooked on Dexter was none of the above. Anybody else notice that when Harry disappears, it doesn’t feel like a strong beat? Harry’s been Dexter’s coach for years, but when he’s gone, it feels faster than Rick Schroeder’s throwaway disappearance from NYPD Blue.

10. The wasted opportunities made me sad. If I’d written the final season (and were king of the universe so I could do anything I want) it would have been a cat and mouse game between Dexter and Quinn and Batista. Batista had a box of paper LaGuerta left behind that contained the phone records that made her suspicious. Quinn had already been suspicious of Dex (which he let go and forgot about after Dex did him a solid.) Those suspicions are the seeds of a plot that would have carried the inertia from last season and given LaGuerta’s death significance and consequence.

Batista was the single most underused character and, I would argue, the beating human heart of the show. If he’d pursued an investigation that led to a showdown in the end, Dexter fans would be having much happier water cooler conversations today. Oh, and killing Quinn would have been a very acceptable sacrifice to drive the final wedge between Dex and Deb.

We cared about Batista because he cared about everyone else. Dex once said that if he could be anyone, he’d want to be Batista. There’s talk of a spin-off. It should be Batista, now more jaded and suspicious of everyone. Save Masuka’s return for a Three’s Company reboot.

I hate to be this guy. I’m not a hater. I loved most of Dexter. When it was good, it was great! What did they do right?

1. “I’m going to kill you with that pen.” (Plus the saucy little hesitation before pressing the alarm and the instant switch to “He tried to kill me!”)

2. Batista’s reaction to watching the recording and seeing Dexter in a whole new light. Excellent acting as always by David Zayas.

3. Jennifer Carpenter is a great actress. It’s hard to act drunk for a long time without looking silly. She did it. (Question: What does she say to Quinn just before she goes into surgery? We replayed that three times at increasing volumes and still couldn’t quite catch it. It was the worst sound work since we all came back from watching Brokeback Mountain to google what Heath Ledger’s last line was.)

4. Michael C. Hall. Excellent actor. Even in casual moments, there’s something lupine about his face. In his last look at the camera, he delivered. His best moment? There are many to choose from, but I’d go with the moment he discovers that’s not Miguel’s blood on the shirt and rams his hands through glass in a rage.

5. Charlotte Rampling is an excellent actor. I’d like to see her in more stuff. Is Bates Motel looking for a creepy neighbor lady to run against Norman’s mom on Town Council?

6. I watched the penultimate Breaking Bad immediately after watching Dexter. That flushed some of the gunk out. That’s not something Dexter got right. In fact, they went up against the Emmys, but it was fortuitous.

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Set Your Internet to Ignore (Psst! The fun is in the parentheticals)

Comment threads and reviews are interesting windows to the human heart. Well, maybe not always the heart. Sometimes the comments come straight from the toe jam.

If you want to be disillusioned with the future of the human race, read YouTube comments. You won’t have to read much before you actually welcome the massive meteor that will destroy Earth this Friday afternoon around 2 pm EST. (Wear a sweater.)

Recently some fool seemed said anyone who criticized a single Amazon policy was against capitalism. No point worrying about people who conflate one thing with a different thing. (“Brainless communists are behind every rock and tree!” is so ’50s.)

In another thread that was very anti-indie, a snarky commenter replied to an indie’s post by correcting a minor typo. The indie made great points about the industry, but the message from the traditional author was clear: A single typo invalidates your argument. (I almost commented, “Bitch move, traddy.”)

But then it occurred to me, I am not a lone genius. If I see it, everyone sees it.

When you read an illiterate one-star review or when someone slips into a screed about  unrelated topics, everyone sees it for what it is. That’s a good feeling isn’t it? I’m even starting to regret that meteor strike burning up all the planet’s oxygen before the next Game of Thrones. (Perhaps I should cancel the order. Hm.)

This week a person of my acquaintance was criticized because, at the end of his post…wait for it…he dared to point out that he sold stuff for a living. As if that’s a bad thing. (Wait! Maybe Communism is coming back, after all.)

Stop worrying

These comments don’t hurt you as an author or blogger. They hurt the snarker. I’ve gone out of my way to block people who are mean to others. I report abusive reviews that libel the author instead of talk about the book. I know who’s naughty and nice. If the offenders are authors, they are banished and I never buy their books. I’ve gone out of my way to purchase books because of egregious reviews.

 

Here’s the math:

Idiot reviewer hates book + nastiness + condescension (+ possible libel) – a kind thought =  it’s probably not a book nasty, condescending idiots enjoy < I’d like to think I’m not an idiot, therefore, I give that book a try. (Was that condescending?)

Don’t act like a knob

No, you don’t have to be sunshine and sweet cakes all the time, but if you’re going to be mean, you better be twice as smart and savvy with facts. (For instance, Scalzi, Konrath and Wendig can be cutting, but they’re always smarter than they are savage.)

Act like a knob and you’ll be treated like a knob should be treated:

I won’t give you more thought.

I won’t think you’re clever.

I’ll set the Internet to Ignore.

~ I am Robert Chazz Chute and I sell stuff. 

Filed under: author platform, authors, book reviews, ebooks, publishing, Writers, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

#Giveaway: The Free Download Experiment

I’m conducting an experiment with my blogs and Vine account with this giveaway.

I’m giving Murders Among Dead Trees to you for free until midnight May 13th on Amazon (assuming that you might like weird suspense with 57 flavors.)

This gift is coming and going fast (that’s part of the experiment), so please act now and click the pretty cover. Hope you love it.

 

Free until midnight May 13!

Free until midnight May 13!

There’s lot of strangeness in Murders Among Dead Trees.

It’s huge, so if you don’t like the flavor of one story, the next one might appeal to the inner demon you’re pretending isn’t there. (That’s adorable, by the way.)

If you like the book, please review it.

Thanks! Enjoy!

Filed under: book marketing, Books, self-publishing, Vine, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Write! Like a Boss!

One of the movies we love here in the secret bunker is The Incredibles. I love a good Bond movie and The Incredibles is superheroes in a Bond movie. It’s a lot of fun, though, for me, the most effecting scene is where the missiles close on the plane with kids on board. Having kids makes you cry easily and I’ve cried during that scene several times over.

Kind of a Spoiler

In the original plot for The Incredibles, the plot called for the plane to be piloted by an ordinary human — a sweet old man and friend of Elastigirl — who gets killed in the explosion. That was revised when they decided it was too dark a turn for a kids’ movie.

The best scene

For my wife, She Who Must Be Obeyed, the scene she always brings up first is the attack on the city.

Samuel L. Jackson, primed to defend innocents and come out of retirement, really sells it when he sees the devastation and shouts, “Honey! Where is my super suit?!” 

His wife’s reply: “Oh, no you don’t! I have been planning this dinner with the Robinsons for weeks!”

Honey! Where is my super suit?!” 

The juxtaposition of the mundane with a superhero’s clothing needs is funny, but it doesn’t stand out as much for me. She Who Must Be Obeyed is not wrong. (That can never happen.) However, it underlines that we can’t predict how our writing will be received. We must write for ourselves and hope others of like mind will find us (or we must find them). When I wrote for magazines, I was often surprised which bit of a column provoked outrage and what spurred letters of admiration. People won’t necessarily unpack your book the way you thought you sent it.

And then… 

Yesterday I read one-star reviews of a few of Shakespeare’s plays. One star. Really? I know it’s a subjective universe, but The Freakin’ Bard only gets one star? 

Write more. Worry less.

You could concern yourself with the trend of reviews. Report the abusive reviews. Consider correcting fallacies in reviews (like author Elle Lothlorien). Refuse to read your reviews (like author JA Konrath).

Reviewers are not your boss. You are your boss. Being boss is one of your best reasons to write. Don’t give it up. Write! Like a boss!

Stop worrying so much and just write your next best thing. The next best thing could be your best book ever (which someone will load down with a one-star review). Just write. Not everyone will love your book or they’ll love different parts of your book for different reasons. Those who dislike your work aren’t your readers of the future, so they don’t matter. They don’t pay you for your books so they literally don’t figure into the accounting. 

There really is no accounting for taste.

~ Robert Chazz Chute writes like a boss. Check out his books at AllThatChazz.com (where he also podcasts like a boss.) He interviews like a boss at CoolPeoplePodcast.com. He loses weight like a boss at DecisionToChange.com. He vines like a boss and writes about Vine here. He prepares an apocalypse like a ghoulish boss full of verisimilitude and magic realism at ThisPlagueOfDays.com.

Filed under: Rejection, reviews, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , ,

Writers: Was this post helpful to you?

I bought a book today by an author previously unknown to me. At six bucks plus, it was the most expensive ebook I’ve purchased in a long time. (Usually my ebook purchases are from indies, not trad publishers.) I bought this ebook because of one of its reviews. I did not buy because the review raved. The book caught my attention because the review’s tone was so damnably condescending, I had to make the purchase. This wasn’t a case of pitying the author. There were good reviews, too. Also, it helped that I suspected this was a book I would enjoy. It sounded smart and sure and people who liked it said it elevated and challenged its genre.

Whatever the book’s merits will be, the key component for the purchase was that the reviewer was too much of a jerk. What is it about bad reviews that so often reveal more about the reviewer than the book being reviewed? I emailed the author to tell him I bought his book. It sounded interesting and I wished him success with it. I look forward to reading it, but what can the rest of us take from this?

Take this post as a small salve to authors’ bruised egos.

People will love your work and others will hate it, but I want you to know that readers are generally intelligent people. They often see through the reviewer’s veil more than you might think. Readers divine intent when they read over-the-top malice and subtract value from a nasty review. Yea or nay, readers like thoughtful reviews. They get it when a reviewer sounds disrespectful or less than literate. Good readers (people who buy a lot of books!) aren’t easily impressed by cheap shots and snarky remarks. When a review is especially egregious, you might even get a sale out of it. 

I’m not saying bad reviews are better than happy ones, but don’t take the bad ones too much to heart. Also, when you spot a really nasty one that goes at the author personally instead of the book? Be sure to click “No” beside the question, “Was this review helpful to you?”

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The Great Review Controversy, Take 2

From The Telegraph: A best-selling British crime writer, RJ Ellory, used pseudonyms to pen fake glowing reviews about his “magnificent genius” online while simultaneously criticising his rivals.

Read the link? Wasn’t that frustrating?

This time it’s a writer from the traditional side of publishing who has disappointed and embarrassed himself. As bad and individual as the act is, I’m relieved he’s not an indie author. Blame has been spread  around like confetti at a clown rally lately and I don’t want any more glitter in my jock. Will the fact that he’s traditionally published buy indies any more slack? No, but it probably won’t make things much worse for us. It’s so difficult to get reviews and build an audience that I find it disheartening to be painted with mile-wide brushes. I’m trying to make a living as a suspense novelist here!

Instead of distrusting five-star reviews — or automatically believing one-star reviews — I wish more people paid attention to reading samples. I encourage everyone to read book samples before clicking “buy” (even when, perhaps especially when, it’s “free”).

Reviews get too much weight in some people’s minds. My tastes aren’t necessarily yours, so why give so much power away to another when making reading choices? I read book samples to avoid unpleasant surprises. The first chapter usually gives me a glimpse of the quality and tone of what’s to come. Some people fail to exercise the reading sample option and then blame the author. “I wanted romance and this is fantasy! How dare she?” That’s like getting angry because the drugstore doesn’t sell coconuts.

Is Amazon really “Spamazon”? It’s the Internet. Is the fault in our tools or in ourselves? To confront the problem of bad reviews, fake reviews and attack reviews, we need to grow up, do our due diligence and keep things in perspective. You don’t believe everything you’re told. Fine. Enjoy those free reading samples and make better informed choices before the too-easy click.

Indies are mostly beautiful dreamers and bold, generous storytellers. We are not all evil scammers out to fool readers. Many of us tell entertaining stories with few resources and we perform this service for the equivalent of couch change. It’s churlish to make all authors collateral damage for the offences of others.

When the NY Times story about paid-for reviews broke last week, I was initially forgiving and didn’t take it so seriously. John Locke, for instance, may have paid for reviews, but he said he was open to honest opinions as well and he still wrote all his books which, nicely reviewed or not, a lot of people like. I wished he’d mentioned the paid-for-review strategy in his how-to book in the interest of full disclosure, but at first I figured his tactic just sped up his trip on the success train. However, when I saw so much negative reaction from potential buyers, I got sad. Unfairly or not, it hurt our reputation.

Then I realized I couldn’t approach Locke to ask for a cover blurb for my next book in The Hit Man Series. He was on my short list of authors I planned to ask for an endorsement. I’m not assuming he would have gone for it. I’m just terribly disappointed because of the damage done. (That cry of “I’ll never read indie again!” really got to me, silly as it is.) I read a few of Locke’s books and enjoyed them, but now his name is tainted with the “Paid for Reviews” badge. He’ll recover from this. Locke has a huge fan base who don’t care about this controversy. It’s probably too inside baseball for most and for people who are already fans, why would they care?

It hurt me and fellow indies, though (and we don’t have that big cash cushion to ride out the bad weather.) You know that saying, “Save a horse, ride a cowboy”? Indies need a bumper sticker, too: “Save an author, buy a book.”

Hm. That’s not near as sexy and catchy. Suggestions?

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

Why Authors Should ALWAYS Respond To Negative Reviews | Digital Book World

See on Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

At Digital Book World, Elle Lothlorien lays the foundation for her argument that authors should respond to bad reviews as other businesses do, in an attempt to rectify a bad customer experience. This is a very interesting blog post for a number of reasons, and you may find the comment thread even more compelling. You may even find it disturbing. The post appeals to my affinity for the contrarian viewpoint, but it was the comment thread that had me thinking, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Slow down! Save this level of vitriol and nuclear response for really serious problems, like family reunions!”

This is just Part 1 of her argument and that’s where the disturbing subtext emerges in the comment thread. Some commenters rise up, prematurely, I think, to condemn Lothlorien’s advice before she’s given a chance to lay out her strategy. They attribute motivations and actions to the author and reviewers before she’s had a chance to show what steps she takes and recommends. Condemnation before full presentation sounds like a trait you don’t want in a book reviewer.

Since the reaction in some cases (in the comment thread) is very defensive so far, I’ll be very interested to see how Lothlorien defuses her critics, one of whom goes so far as to threaten her with a bad review now that the author has dared to express an opinion. Wow. It’s ironic that Lothlorien is accused of intimidating reviewers to bump up the stars in her reviews in the same thread. Are we so cynical we can’t imagine that a listening ear and being nice might actually change a reviewer’s perspective? Are all opinions set in granite? Some objectors to the article assume their initial reaction is the best and purest one. Maybe not.

I don’t respond to negative reviews because I have accepted dogma (yes, I’m saying I haven’t really thought about it past “Don’t do it!”) and I’ve seen where it goes awry. As soon as I read the headline, I thought of The Greek Seaman debacle, which Lothlorien even mentions as an example of how not to do what she’s recommending. I have to concede that Lothlorien makes some good points.

“Anecdotal evidence!” someone cried. Well, what other evidence might there be? No one is studying this problem wearing a lab coat and clicking on a calculator. That said, I’m not (yet?) convinced responding to bad reviews is ever a good idea. I am willing to hear her out and in the meantime, I’ll reserve judgment until the follow-up installments.

Even if by some miracle of business pschology she manages to convince me otherwise, I’m sure it’s something I’ll never want to do. No one wants to be on the wrong end of the 1-800 line dealing with complaints, though as Lothlorien would point out, that is what businesses do.

There’s a fundamental question about ourselves that bubbles up through the cracks in the subtext: Do we have to get so angry about this stuff? We can change, can’t we? Flexibility in mind doesn’t necessarily equate to flip flopping. Mental agility means intelligence. I’m scared Lothlorien might be right and I hope she’s not. If I end up thinking she’s right, though, I won’t be mad at her. Click the link below for the article and read on.

See on www.digitalbookworld.com

UPDATE:

Today’s podcast, The Unintended Consequences Edition, covers this issue, as well, in case your prefer your commentary in audio.

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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, , , , , , , ,

10 Questions to Ask Before Committing to Any E-Publishing Service | Jane Friedman

Via Scoop.itWriting and reading fiction

CLICK THIS LINK TO GO TO THIS VERY HELPFUL POST: Via janefriedman.com

Filed under: DIY, ebooks, publishing, self-publishing, , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , ,

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

Available now!

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.

Write to live

For my author site and the Chazz network, click the blood spatter below.

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