An author of Speculative Fiction, speculates about fiction.

I attempt philosophy. Oh no…

I like to keep you all updated with what I’ve been reading. This post was going to be a list of the great stuff I’ve come across lately but, I think there’s an important issue we need to tackle first. Indie e-books can be a bit of a minefield, sometimes. There are a lot of enthusiastic people out there who have found the perfect forum to share their work, but, sometimes, enthusiasm isn’t quite enough. Throwing myself into the Indie market, meeting the people and swapping reviews has had its ups and downs. There’s nothing worse than reading someone’s pride and joy and not enjoying it. And, since it’s Indie, we’re as face-to-face with our readers as we’re likely to get. Comments are personal.

Reading a particular novel recently, I had to give some constructive feedback. The story premise was good. I liked his setting and even the characters he’d created. Unfortunately, the grammar wasn’t great and his description was…well…flat.

“The living room was large and white. There was a red sofa and a flat screen tv.” – No direct quote, but no exaggeration either.

In this instance, told him all of the above and suggested he might want to think about mentioning key things that create atmosphere rather than listing room contents (I’m paraphrasing again). The author asked me how many stars I would award it on Goodreads. I said 2 in its current draft but probably more if he worked on it a little. He asked me not to review it.

Fair enough.

And that’s a problem with the internet. Not only are you toying with people’s dreams, but honesty doesn’t get you very far. I found that out on my recent Uni course, most of it performed by forum and IM. Some people can’t take criticism, and especially not over the net where a lack of body language can make you seem harsh. My primary problem? I don’t know when to lie. And for the first time, I’m seeing it a s a flaw. But, going into a grander, philosophical mode, here. If we’re ever going to raise e-publishing and indie authors to the same heights as hard published, ‘literary’ work, we have to be honest with each other. That’s why literary agents and publishers are harsh. They want you to be as good as you can be, for you, for them, and for the reader. No one wants to buy a washing machine that drops apart and fills your house with suds like a Three Stooges sketch, simply because the engineer’s mum liked his work and no one else dare pull him up on it.
I love getting reviews. They’re like sustenance to me. But the ones I really watch out for are the ones that have a good mix of criticism and compliment. Like the one given for Not Before Bed by Dan Powell (Author of These Strange Worlds). Dan liked what he saw, complimented it, and then pointed out where I could improve next time. Perfect! And I like to think this professional attitude to reviews can be found in others.

Well, this has turned into a rant and, for that, I apologise. In a nutshell, I just want us to be honest with each other. We owe it to our peers as Indie Authors who are striving for success. Why would we want someone to feel crippling disappointment at the hands of an agent or publisher when we can avoid it?

And so, to those people who 5 star everything that graces their Kindle or Nook, and for those who think they’re being nice by bulling up their online friends to impossible heights; just think about the larger picture and the culture we have the privilege to be creating here. because if we cock it up with niceties and little white lies, it’s going to be worth nothing in years to come.

Thus endeth this sermon.

Now here’s a picture of a fat giraffe to lighten the mood 🙂

Thanks for reading!

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2 responses

  1. Nice post – and something I’ve been ranting about in various places over the past few weeks. The trouble with Kindle publishing (and, obviously, I’ve also joined the fray) is that every dipstick who thinks they’ve written the next best thing EVAH! now has a means of publishing it. And they leave out editing and proof-reading and design because, hey, who cares?

    The thing is, everybody does care. The horror (and romance, in all likelihood) market is now awash with this shite and it’s going to put off people who would ordinarily have been willing to give something new a chance. What we have to do is persevere, put out our product as professionally as we possibly can and take whatever reviews come in. If you like your good reviews – and who doesn’t – you have to take the bad ones on the chin too.

    If I read a book, I will always post a review at Goodreads and perhaps even mention it on my blog. I read a mass-market paperback that an e-chum of mine had written and I really didn’t like it. I gave it 1-star. He read the review, tutted a bit and we moved on. My telling a lie, saying that it was a 5-star effort, wouldn’t have helped any one.

    Mark

    June 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    • Glad it’s not just me, Mark. I just feel sorry for the people who download a book based on a 5star rating and end up disappointed.

      Thanks for commenting!

      June 22, 2011 at 1:30 am

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