Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guest Clive Eaton: "It’s just too far-fetched!!!"


If there is one phrase that stops me feeling a book review has any credibility, it’s that one, or some variation of it.  ‘The story line is too far-fetched.’ ‘That would never happen!’ ‘How can the author expect us to believe such nonsense?’ To me, these types of comments are often made by people with a certain lack of intelligence. Let me explain why I believe this to be the case.

Consider this point: Without exception I could say to every single living person on this planet you don’t know what you don’t know”. In my debut novel, The Pyramid Legacy, I have the characters discussing themes such as the existence of God, aliens, parallel universes etc. The ‘don’t know what you don’t know’ concept was at work. Action took place in 2025, a time where the Internet no longer existed. ‘That would never happen!’ stated one reviewer, with a tone of authority. Why not? Sure, the specific reason of why/how it was destroyed wasn’t provided in the novel, but it is certainly covered in the forthcoming sequel, Operation Stonehenge, for reasons which will become clear to readers. Just because the reviewer couldn’t understand how it could be destroyed was no reason why it couldn’t be done.

Release date t.b.a.
Let me use an analogy to explain this point further. Take yourself back to the turn of the 20th Century. Two brothers were hard at work designing the first powered flying machine. Many people mocked them – including their FATHER! Some years earlier Bishop Milton Wright was discussing philosophy with a college professor. The bishop's opinion was that all useful inventions had already been made. The professor disagreed and in turn told the bishop that he was mistaken. "Why, in a few years, we'll be able to fly through the air," stated the professor. "What a nonsensical idea," responded Bishop Wright. "Flight, is reserved for the birds and the angels." Bishop Milton Wright was, like you and me, a person who didn’t know what he didn’t know.

I wonder how the bishop would have reacted if the professor had then added. ‘Far from nonsense Bishop Milton. In fact I’m writing a novel set in the early twenty-first century, where over five hundred people are transported several thousand miles at an altitude of thirty-six thousand feet, at speeds exceeding five hundred miles per hour. I shall be calling the craft, an Airbus.’

As authors we use our imagination to develop creative, and at times, challenging story lines. Readers are without doubt entitled to an opinion of our work. This opinion in the vast majority of cases is of course totally subjective. (If a book has grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, then a mention of this in a review is clearly not subjective.) But I find it somewhat irritating when a book is pilloried by a reviewer who a) hasn’t actually read the damn thing, b) can’t string a sentence together themselves, and/or c) clearly doesn’t have the intellect to follow the story line. 

Now I’ve voiced my opinion about book reviews, I’d be very interested to hear what annoys you the most about them.

Clive Eaton lives in a former farm-house with his wife, Judy, in the heart of rural Norfolk, England. He enjoys photograph, walks in the countryside and along the coast, and watching F1. He hates having his photograph being  taken, and the only photo he uses of himself online is one taken by his youngest daughter, Lucy, when she picked up his camera, in a restaurant in Liechtenstein, when he wasn’t looking.

 More on Clive at his website HERE.

Follow Clive on Twitter @CliveEaton

Check out Clive's book marketing blog HERE.

And you can find him on Facebook too.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Guest Blogger Michael Estrin: Why 1-Star Reviews Make Me Smile

Why do I love a good one-star review? My friends have been asking me this question a lot since the debut of my first novel, Murder and Other Distractions.

So far, I’ve been lucky. Thirty-eight people have reviewed Murder and Other Distractions on Amazon, and most of them have given the book either four or five stars. Reading such praise is great. A positive review—even if it’s just a few words to say that the reader enjoyed the book—can have a tremendous effect on an author. Writing, after all, is a rather solitary experience, so even the smallest gesture from a fan can go a long way. And let’s face it: reviews are one of the best tools we have for reaching new readers, especially if you have a small publisher and no marketing budget.

Knowing the personal and financial benefits that come with good reviews, one might think that an author who loves his one-star reviews just as much as the five-star variety might be a couple of McNuggets short of a Happy Meal. In fact, when I read my first one-star review to my wife, I’m pretty sure she mistook my uncontrollable laughter for the cackle of a lunatic.

"I bought this book based on the description and great reviews,” a reader named Matt wrote. “What the description and reviews left out was the EXPLICIT SEX WARNING. I flipped the 'next page' > button several times and the sex description did not stop. When I bought this book I did not realize it was a porno in print. My only consolation is I bought it during its promotional free period, so nothing lost. I doubt I will ever finish the book if all it contains is sex.”

Guilty. I didn’t put an explicit sex warning in the description, but not because I wanted to trick readers like Matt. I left the warning out because I thought it redundant, what with a cover that has two stick figures fucking doggie style.

So what made me howl with laughter? Well, you know that old idiom about not judging a book by its cover? Exactly. You can’t write comedy that perfect.

About a month later, I got my second one-star review. Unlike the first, I don’t think this one missed the cover.

“Inane, vulgar, pointless,” a reviewer using the handle Nonatchka wrote. “Could not wait to erase it from my library so it would not pollute the rest of my books. Does it seem harsh? Sorry I could not tell you how I really feel.”

As if the review wasn’t bad enough, Nonatchka’s headline was “wanted to poke my eyes out.”

An author would have to be pretty messed up in the head to smile when a reader threatens to go Oedipus Rex after reading their book, right?


I love Nonatchka’s one-star review for the same reason that I love the dozens of five-star reviews for Murder and Other Distractions. Each one represents a reader who had a reaction to the story I told. Sure, I’d love it if those reactions were universally positive. But that never happens. And if it did happen, I’d worry that I had written something so mild that it was the literary equivalent of soda crackers—guaranteed to inspire neither offense nor fandom. Bad and good reviews alike require the reviewer to make an effort. Any review means that the book made enough of an impression to push the reader into action. That is a very good feeling.

When Murder and Other Distractions came out in September, my biggest fear was that readers would hate it. But soon enough, reality took hold and I realized that in order for my biggest fear to be realized, I’d have to overcome an even bigger challenge—getting the book in front of readers. And now that it’s out there in the world, I find that a bad review—even one that considers my book capable of “polluting” a library of other books—isn’t so bad. Because the worst feeling isn’t what comes from a bad review, it’s the sound of crickets you hear when your work fails to resonate at all.


 Follow Michael on Twitter @mestrin

 Click HERE for more from Michael.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Battling for Your Book: George Angus on Ebooks

Amazon and Smashwords Are Battling For Your Book

Did you ever think you would see the day that publishers would be wooing authors? Heh. Neither did I, but that is exactly what is happening. This is just another sign that in some ways, there has never been a better time to be a writer of books.

E-books and E-readers have turned the publishing industry on its head. This isn't news to anyone who has been paying attention the last few years. How it's all going to shake out is anyone's guess at this point but I'd be willing to bet that the dust will not settle for years to come.

It is now easier than ever to self publish in an electronic format. I have a client who writes short stories. Every few months he sends me a manuscript with a cover image and I format the thing and publish it for him on Amazon and Smashwords. I've done this so many times that it now takes me about two hours total to publish in both places. Many, many authors are doing the same thing every day.

So, what's all this hub-bub about Amazon and Smashwords? Well it's pretty simple, really. Up until last year, an author such as myself could be all fat, dumb and happy just publishing at both Smashwords and Amazon. By publishing at Smashwords, you make your e-book available to virtually all e-book formats and e-readers. Publishing at Amazon puts tools and potential viewership in your hands that could propel your book to unimagined heights. By publishing in both arenas you have the best chance of success.

Last year, Amazon changed the game. In a big way. They introduced KDP Select and it set off a firestorm. Here is how KDP Select works:

From the original email received in December, 2011

“When you make any of your titles exclusive to the Kindle Store for at least 90 days, those with US rights will automatically be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and can earn a share of a monthly fund. The monthly fund for December 2011 is $500,000 and will total at least $6 million in 2012. If you haven’t checked it out already, the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library is a collection of books that eligible US Amazon Prime members can borrow for free once a month with no due dates.”

Seems easy enough, right? And it would be if not for the very first sentence. See where it says “exclusive?”  That's the rub, friends and neighbors. That's where the heart of this war resides. In order to take advantage of KDP select, you have to unpublish at Smashwords (Or anywhere else you may have your book published.) 
As you can imagine, this was not received well by Smashwords and other e-publishing outfits and I can't say as I blame them. The fire was again recently kindled (sorry) when Amazon announced that they were adding another 1.5 million to the fund. I first got wind of this through a Smashwords posting on Facebook. A quick side note on the posting – whoever posted it for Smashwords asked authors to “way in” on the matter. After about a dozen comments were left blasting them out of the water for the major grammatical faux-paux they deleted the post and reposted in correct form. Heh-heh.

Smashwords points out that any author making their work exclusive to a single retailer is cutting their nose off to spite their face. I think the point is well taken. With that said, literally hundreds of authors have taken Amazon up on their offer.

In some ways, this battle over us authors is kind of cool, but it also makes things a bit tough. See, I love Smashwords. Been with them a long time and have extolled their virtues on my blog several times. I also love Amazon. I've reviewed dozens of books there and am in the top 5000 reviewers. I do my Christmas shopping there. And yes, I have books published there. Do I kick Smashwords to the curb and put all my eggs in the Amazon basket or do I hang tough? I honestly don't know what the right answer is.

How about you? Are you familiar with KDP Select? Have you jumped off the Amazon cliff or are you considering the jump? What are your thoughts?
Short bio: George lives in Palmer, Alaska with his wonderful daughter, Maddy. He loves to read and he is the owner of tumblemoose.com, a blog he's kept for over four years now. You can follow him on Twitter  @GeorgeAngus

Check out George's books on AMAZON.   
Check out George's books on SMASHWORDS.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Suggested Bras for the Sasha Jackson Mysteries Series...

This just seems to suit the old bag in "Dead Light District".

This would be perfect for Macy, the runaway teen, from "The Lies Have It".
Sasha doesn't need all these keys - she'll figure out a way to break in!

Perfect for Christine Arvisais, the icy socialite who hires Sasha in "Blood and Groom".

Sasha's BFF Jessica would love this one!  Ooooohhh, CAKE!

Mick (from "Blood and Groom") would probably buy this for Sasha.

Wouldn't surprise me if Candace (from "Dead Light District") owned this one.

Mary Carmen!  Mary Carmen!  Mary Carmen! (in Dead Light District).
This would like, totally, you know, suit Terra from "Dead Light District"

The Weatherman (from "Dead Light District") bought this for his last girlfriend.

Exotic enough to suit Lindsey/Lakshmi, Sasha's other BFF (and soon to be sister-in-law).
Gwendolyn (from "The Lies Have It") has one of these for each day of the week.
A little bit of a confidence boost for when Sasha's having a bad day.

Gotta get this one for Mimi/Minerva (from "The Lies Have It")!
What else would a sculptor by day and dominatrix by night wear?
The only person who could possibly wear this is Carrie Jo (from "Dead Light District").

N.B. I found the images above all over the internet.  I Googled "funny + bra" and "weird" + "bra," plus a few other keywords, and got tons of results (some of which were decidedly NOT what I was looking for!)   
I found each of the bras depicted here on multiple websites or blogs, and have no idea what the original site was (except as noted on the images themselves).