A Sticky Situation

checklist-310092_150Sometimes, as fellow writers, we are asked to participate in groups and events that have the potential to result in hard feelings or damaged relationships.  We authors can be a sensitive bunch, for all that we are told to develop thick skins.  I ought to know. Yet, without the feedback from our fellows how are we to know when we are missing the grade?

There are two conflicting urges we must deal with concurrently when offering our opinions on the work of others. This is especially so when we are in personal contact (as opposed to writing a review where we are not known to the author). Our first impulse is to be helpful, supportive and encouraging. But if we are to meet that goal it is imperative that we also be honest. If our honest feedback has to be less than glowing it puts us in a bind. This is even more so if the situation involves more people than yourself and the author on the hot seat. Continue reading “A Sticky Situation”

Book Vetter

Book VetterThe best thing about self-publishing is that anyone can do it.
The worst thing about self-publishing is that anyone can do it
– Anonymous

I’ve yet to see anyone describe the perceived issue better than this anonymous commenter on my blog. The rise of a viable means of self-publishing has given anyone who wants to bypass the traditional gatekeepers and put their work out there a way to do so. Books that deserved to make it past the gatekeepers, but might not have in the past for reasons of marketability or just bad luck, are now getting a shot at finding their audience. But many also perceive a downside. In the past a reader could pick up a random book at their local bookseller or bring up a book’s page at their favorite online retailer, read the blurb, possibly check out the first few paragraphs, and if the story appealed to them they could purchase it with the assurance that all aspects of the book would almost always meet some minimum quality standard. Continue reading “Book Vetter”

Real Writers Have Thick Skins

Walk it offYou don’t have to spend a lot of time on social media to see plenty of examples of jackassery. This is not especially true of authors, but authors are people, so it is just as true of authors. Seldom does a day go by that we are not exposed to some kind of little drama – petulance, whining, back-biting, or fervent appeals to action over some imagined injustice. What a buzzkill.

When ignorance (don’t know) combines with apathy (don’t care) and arrogance (I’m special), you really have the makings of mega-drama. One of two things is usually at the center when this vitriolic mixture bubbles up to the surface. Either some author did not like a review they just got, or somebody’s book or guest post got turned down. Continue reading “Real Writers Have Thick Skins”

A Tale of Two Reviews

On my review blog we sometimes have what we call a doubleshot, our normal review that is published in the morning (US time) and a review of the same book by another of the site’s reviewers later the same day. It started because there are some “pals” (when the site is called “BigAl’s Books and Pals” it is the obvious term for the other reviewers, right?) who are fans of the same authors and more than one person wanted to review some of the same books. It seemed like a no-brainer since both were going to read the book regardless and I thought it would be silly to turn down content. They were non-controversial, with little disagreement (possibly a 4 star versus a 5 star). Kind of predictable given how they came about. But they were also interesting in comparing the focus of the different reviewers. The readers, reviewers, and authors all liked the feature. Enough so that I started looking for opportunities where I thought a book would be a good fit for this format and propose it as a doubleshot to a pair of reviewers.

That was bound to bring an end to the predictability, and it did. A book was submitted for a potential review that appealed to me. I’ve gotten fairly good at guessing which books are going to appeal to Keith Nixon, one of the pals. When he’s perusing what is available for reviewing, Keith likes thrillers and “crime fiction” if it is spiced with a bit of humor, even better. This looked like the perfect fit, so I asked Keith if he was interested and he agreed to give it a try. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Reviews”