Friday, 27 July 2012

The Graveyard of Abandoned Projects

Gah! I have been through the wringer with this WIP, let me tell you. I don't usually suffer from writer's block but there are days when it's like wading through treacle.

But finally the end is in sight. The end of this revision, that is. And possibly the end of this WIP because I promised myself if one more run through doesn't fix it I would stop torturing myself and consign it to the Graveyard of Abandoned Projects.

The trouble with this writing lark is the more you do it and the more you learn about what is right and what is wrong the harder it becomes to feel satisfied with what you've written. I've learned a lot writing this particular book, or I should say rewriting it since I've spent more time doing that. I have umpteen files of discarded material as proof of my many changes of mind. But at least I've stuck with it and should have a semi decent draft of something which may never see the light of day but does at  least have a beginning, middle and end.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

More on Reviews

I've discovered a new pastime/hobby/source of entertainment.

Purely by accident I wandered into a page of one star Amazon reviews for, of all things, a Bic ballpoint pen.  You wouldn't have thought such a mundane item could be the inspiration for such hilarity, would you?  But it's a testament to how creative people can be.  

So it's set me off on a mission to find the most creative reviews.

Here's a great one on best selling Mum Porn, Fifty Shades of Grey.

Have you seen any brilliant reviews lately?  Please post your suggestions in the comments below.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Reviews and Author Feelings

Reviews have always caused angst.  A good review in the right place can propel a book/film/show into the stratosphere, and let's face it nobody likes a bad one however much they may claim to ignore them.

Time was when only professionals could review, but no longer.  With customer feedback on all retail sites and Goodreads, suddenly everyone's a critic.  And these days, with more people dipping a toe into self publishing, the question of eliciting good reviews raises its own ethical issues.

I recently encountered a situation where a SP author had entered into a reciprocal arrangement with another SP author to review each other's books.  A problem arose when, having read the book, she felt unable to give more than two stars as she could clearly see its faults.  "How do I review the book without hurting her feelings," she asked.

The trouble with this sort of arrangement is it can lead to a You Scratch My Back and I'll Scratch Yours scenario that devalues the whole reviewing process.  I've seen people say that they no longer trust Amazon five star reviews because of it, which is a shame because hearing others' opinions can be very useful, but only if the opinions are genuine.  

If you feel your hands are tied, because you naturally want the author to look favourably on your own book, there is no way you can give an honest review.  Even if you try to soften the criticism with blander statements, what use is that to potential readers who the review is for?  If you can't tell the truth, don't do it.

My friend decided not to review the book in the end, explaining her concerns to the author by email. I think this was the best course, and a lesson for the future to avoid such arrangements unless you have already read and enjoyed a book and could endorse it with total honesty. 

The best way to get a five star review is to write a five star book.