Suck It Up

It happens. You, the writer, get a critique or a review of your work that makes you want to throw yourself under a bus. Or, throw the reviewer under the bus and set the remains on fire. Understandable, and we can all relate. However, reacting like this is one of the best examples I have run across to argue against a writer ever reading a review of their own work.

The woman done lost her damn mind.

Whoa. That was ugly in the extreme.

Now, to my mind, the review was actually very generous. The reviewer pointed out, very respectfully, that the manuscript in question really needed some help in the typo and grammar area, but the story was basically sound. That doesn’t sound so bad, but something triggered off a public meltdown of epic proportions. Instead of taking the review as constructive criticism, this writer decided to take it to a whole new level and not only ranted and raved, actually dropped the “F” bomb and blew her chances of having any kind of a career right out of the water.

Boom, boom, baby. Boom boom.

It doesn’t really matter that she is self-published. I have witnessed other meltdowns similar in scope from traditionally published authors. That being said, reactions like this from a self-published author only add to the stigma we independent types are trying to dispel. Trust me, we aren’t all like this poor woman. Most of us are well aware of the valuable service dedicated book bloggers and reviewers offer us. We know, as independent writers, word of mouth is imperative and invaluable to our careers and act accordingly.

The question now making the rounds of the ‘net is…do you read your own reviews? Furthermore, what is the etiquette when someone does review your book? Do you comment on the post, contact them privately or just let sleeping dogs lie?

I'm not waking that up.

First of all, if you can’t accept that not every one is going to love your work, you need to find something else to do with your time. When I started in this business, I received some critiques that burned my eyebrows from my very head. Some made me cry. However, I was just grateful that someone took the time out to read my drivel and offered suggestions of how to improve or simply pointed out what did not work for them. It’s not personal — it’s business. The problem for some people is it can be very difficult to separate these two concepts. The truth is, writers invest so much into their work it feels personal when someone has something less than totally complimentary to say.

Get over it.

A review is an opinion. Take what good you can from it and move on. Your focus, as a writer, should be on improving and writing, not weeping and wailing. If you see a trend developing, then it’s likely there’s something there to which you should be paying attention. It’s not a personal attack on your character, it’s an evaluation of your work and how it affects others. Isn’t that the damned point of writing in the first place?

If you absolutely cannot take constructive criticism, then maybe it’s best if you don’t publish anything at all. Or, at the very least, send a minion to read your reviews and only tell you about the good ones, which, in my opinion, really cuts you off from some valuable information. But, the choice is yours.

Second, should you contact the reviewer, good bad or indifferent?

I say if you want to thank them privately by email, by all means. You can always take a look at their blog and see if there is any kind of a precedent, but normally I would keep any correspondence private. It just seems best.

If it’s a bad review, move on and keep your mouth shut. Vent, if you must, to close friends and family, but be careful about that, also. Be polite and take the higher road — one review doesn’t make or break a career, but if your reviews all say the same thing, it might be worth it to pay attention.

Don’t Tweet, don’t Facebook, and for heaven’s sake, don’t show the world you are a psycho-crazy-bitch and kill your career before it even gets started.

And I can’t believe I have to say that out loud.

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I Have Been Awarded!

I am honored to say I have been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award from a fabulous writer, Eden Baylee.

Hooray! For me??

I met Eden in a writer’s group on Facebook, and right away she stood out like a shining star. Very helpful and supportive to everyone, with a sense of humor that really cracks me up. On top of that (pun intended!) she’s an excellent writer of erotica.

Woohoo, baby, we're talking HAWT!

She’s smart, she’s sexy, and she is one of the nicest people I have met on the ‘net. Eden has a work ethic I admire, and I’m really very honored that she chose me for this award. Be sure to check out her book, Fall into Winter and add a little spice to your life. I did. 😉

The Stylish Blogger Award is given from one writer to another for excellence in (a) writing (b) maintaining a stylish blog (goes without saying), and (c) being an all-around nice person. (Eden added that last part but I wholeheartedly agree. If I don’t like you, I’m probably not reading you anyway.) I’m really happy that Eden thinks so highly of me, because I feel the same way about her.

The first requirement of the award is to tell you a little bit about Eden, and the next is to share seven things about me.

1. I hate beans. Not green beans; I love those. But the legumes. ICK.

2. I just adopted a shelter cat named Athena. She’s crazy, so we get along great.

3. I watch American Idol. (Shut up. I refuse to be embarrassed.)

4. I sleep with five pillows.

5. I’m in love with Nathan Fillion. If he ever Tweets me I’ll have a seizure resembling a grasshopper having an epileptic fit. I would die a happy woman.

6. I never thought I’d like a Kindle. And I don’t. I ADORE it.

7. I watch scary movies with my eyes closed.

Now I have to list five blogs I think also deserve the award, my favorite part. The following people are blogs I visit on a regular basis because of their content, design and overall coolness factor.

In no particular order, I hearby bestow this prestigious award to:

Joshua Guess, Zombie Apocalypse Documenter Extraordinaire. He always has some interesting perspectives of what’s going on, plus he’s a huge geek, and you know how I love my geek boyz.

Lori Whitwam, Romance Novelist and the Best Dog Mom Ever. She’s also so damned funny I have to keep an extra set of undies around because…well, you know. Or you will when you read her.

Jennifer Drury, Lacemaker, Baking Goddess, and Best Writer With Her Light Under A Basket. She’s shy, until she gets riled up over stupid shiz, then she’ll tell ya what for. Heh.

Joseph Paul Haines, the Writer I Want to be When I Grow Up. I don’t even know what to say about this guy. He’s hugely talented, acerbic, intelligent and I admire him more than I can tell you.

Theresa Komor, one of the Sweetest People I Know. When I’m having a really bad day, so many times T (as I call her) brings a ray of sunshine to my heart that saves the life of many a fucktard.

My faves. Check them out, I think they’ll be your faves too.

Find “Not Nice and Other Understatements” at Amazon and now at Smashwords in any format you desire! Autographed copies are still available through the link on this page. Spread the word! And thanks for all of your support!

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Hello! You Look Stupid. Let Me Bend You Over

I’ll be the first one to admit I don’t know everything when it comes to the publishing business. It used to be publishing was a fairly static process — writers had only one option. Now, as we are all aware (or should be!) the lid has blown off the roof with the advent of e-readers and the option to self-publish.

I try to keep up with the gobs of information out there. I follow the blogs of who seem to be the movers and shakers, such as Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith; I have a small core of supportive writer friends in the same boat in which I find myself, struggling with trying to make the right decisions regarding publishing; I write for a living. And thank the Universe I have a small amount of street smarts and common sense. Because, my beloved poppets, the sharks have smelled the blood in the water and they are circling, just waiting for a chance to snack on your ass for breakfast.

They don't always look like this, but they do have big teeth, as a rule. Big, SHARP teeth.

I had a very interesting conversation with a person (who shall remain nameless) regarding “author managers”. When the term first surfaced, I’ll admit every one of my alarm bells started ringing in a total cacophony and the red flags were waving. The image of the robot in “Lost In Space” was blaring, DANGER, DANGER! I could barely hear myself talk over the tornado sirens screaming inside my head. I did not know this person at all, but just the term “author managers” made all my back hair stand up. (My back hair is a personal problem and will not be dealt with on this blog.)

This is my back hair. You can see the problem.

Intrigued, I asked this person to define what an “author manager” actually is.

The response: An author manager is involved with a writer’s career. Like the difference between a talent agent and a band manager. A manager is focused on the writer/reader relationship, where an agent is focused on the relationship between the writer and the publisher. A manager is involved with the career. An agent is involved with rights sales. (Mark this comment for later.) The biggest difference, according to this person, is that a manager helps a client with self-publishing “gigs” when it serves the author best.

Of course, this was not enough for me. I had to dig deeper. So, I said, “That’s an interesting definition. I’d like to know what an “author manager” can do that a writer can’t do for herself. And what the cut is.”

The answer: “Many writers find it difficult to include full-time marketing with writing, and self-coaching is not doable. [The cut] is 10-15%.”

Oh. So, you'll be using one of these things, correct?

To be perfectly honest with you, my lovelies, at this point I’m starting to become…well, pissed off. Because I smell all kinds of trouble. Mind you, I’m just like every single one of you reading this right now. I’m working my ASS off marketing and getting my name out there to the point I’m DREAMING of ways to market myself. It’s difficult, and that’s putting it mildly. The idea of a “manager” is appealing only because dammit, I’m a writer, not a marketer, but I’ll be boiled in oil and rolled in a nice honey glaze before I let someone take a bite out of me like that.

But, you know me. I had to dig further.

I asked if there was a website I could visit to get to know this person better.

The response: “Not really. [An] author-manager relationship is personal and professional, with very few select clients, so [a] website serves no purpose. But I am happy to answer any and all questions.”

Whaaaaaaa??

Um, say WHAT? You bill yourself as an ace marketer WITHOUT a website. Okay, then. Once I picked my jaw up from the ground, I forged ahead. The things I do for you people.

I wanted to know exactly what an author manager does, and what marketing plan was implemented.

The response: “[A manager is involved with] coaching to be a top-notch writer, constant marketing of books and name, handling of all writing gigs, agency-style repping and more. There is no set [marketing] plan. Each author needs different marketing tools, schedules, media and focus. [I] build an individual plan for [the] client. I usually have an 800-item checklist of marketing tools that pares down to about 500 after I knock heads with author and spouse.”

I don’t have a spouse. Oh, THEIR spouse? I don’t even know their spouse. But wait, there’s more. I wanted a definition of “agency-style repping”. Because, you know, I’m nosy like that.

“Repping = querying pubs, meeting editors, negotiating, managing contracts and rights, royalties auditing, selling sub rights. I can do those things. Until it gets so complex that hiring an agency (not just an agent) is the best thing for the author.”

Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon? I mean, I’m not the brightest light bulb in the box, but does that not sound like the definition of an agent? HELP ME OUT HERE. And didn’t you say earlier that an agent is the one that handles rights and sales? Then why are you sticking YOUR nose in there? I’m confused.

And more…”My focus is on developing and increasing teh value of the author’s brand. Marketing, PR, fanbase building. That stuff.” Um, okay. With your massive Tools of Marketing that number 800, right?

Moving on. I asked what they meant by “managing writing gigs”.

“Writing gig, by that, I mean, getting contracts to write prior to actually writing.” Wow. Cool. Does this really happen? I mean, writers have a hard time selling what they’ve already written, you can get contracts before you write anything at all? That’s…well, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And about as real.

Oh, and one more thing…

I asked, do you keep your percentage if you’ve handed over your author to an agency or agent?

“If I have to bring agency to help, we would also have publicists, typesetters, printers and assistant writers. I gotta pay them all.”

I must look like I fell off the hay truck yesterday. Or down with yesterday’s rain. Maybe this person thought I fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down. Or, maybe this person just thought I was like a lot of writers out there and they could take my money without me even noticing because I’d be so busy, you know, writing. Or struggling in quicksand.

Do not underestimate my horns. Also, I can kill you with my brain.

I’m sure there are legitimate “managers” out there, but to me this all seems like bullshit and then some. There are so many things wrong with this conversation I can’t possibly cover them all.

Final thought: No. Not only no, but FUCK no. I am not handing over a percentage of my possible earnings to anyone for an indeterminate amount of time, without transparency, and without a solid understanding of where the lines are drawn.

Beware. That’s all I’m saying. If it looks like a dead fish, smells like a dead fish and tastes like a dead fish, chances are it’s a dead fish.

You’ve been warned.

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A Happy Anniversary, News and Free Swag

I have been busier than a one-legged man in an ass kicking contest the last week, but like a former boss of mine used to say, “Busy is good.” Of course, he was a urologist, so that meant he was seeing a lot of genitals and my job isn’t nearly that interesting. Heh.

Heh. You thought I was going to post a picture genitals, didn't you? Sorry, wrong blog.

But I digress.

Today I’m going to present some free stuff, and who doesn’t like free stuff? First, my cohort Lori Whitwam is sponsoring a contest to help promote a Most Excellent publication titled Living With the Dead – The Bitter Seasons and I can’t recommend this book enough. In addition to the second part of the first year of material, there are bonus stories by the author (and me!) plus a novella by Lori. It’s a lot of bang for your buck, and Lori has provided the perfect way for you to enjoy it and spread the word.

This week is also the anniversary of the e-book (40 years old! Who knew?) and to celebrate, Smashwords is offering acres of free ebooks for the week.

Woohoo! Happy anniversary!

This means for this week only, you can get Not Nice and Other Understatements for free! Isn’t that amazing? I think that’s amazing! It’s available in every format known to mankind (thanks to the efforts of Todd Macy at Mace eDesign, bless his heart) and you don’t need a fancy-schmanzy electronic device in order to read it. There are plenty of other e-titles available as well, so support your indie artists and download! Read! Revel!

There is no catch to this, but I will ask you for one favor. For any ebook you read, please think about leaving a review either on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble — or all three! — anywhere and everywhere you can think of. If you have a blog, you can even post a review just like author Patti Larsen has done. Word-of-mouth is what fuels the indie publishing engine, and it’s the best thing you can do to support these hard-working, talented people. It doesn’t have to be a in-depth review (although if you’re so inclined who am I to stop you?) but even if you rate the book of your choice using the cute little stars or simply leave one sentence that indicates whether you enjoyed it or not is a big deal to the writer.

We indies appreciate and and love our readers bunches. *MUAH*

So much to read! I’m really excited, and suspect George Senior is about to become totally stuffed to the gills. The bad part is I haven’t had much time to read lately because the non-fiction work has picked up, but again, I’m not complaining.

In other writing/reading news, Jean Auel has finally finished the last book in her Earth’s Children series titled “The Land of the Painted Caves”. I am SO EXCITED about this! Thirty damned years she’s been writing the series, and I have been hooked the whole way. I still have my original copy of “Clan of the Cave Bear”, although it’s held together with tape, and on April 4, the library near me is sponsoring an event. At first I thought Ms. Auel would be attending as well, but on second look it seems she won’t be there. *sniffle* Still, I will definitely go to party down with the other EC fans. Once I have that book in my hands (I might get it for George Senior, too, but this is one book I have to have in the flesh) you will not hear from me until I’m done reading. Heh.

Until then, it’s back to work. I hope you all have a fabulous, readalicious week! Remember, spread the word :)

See? Even Darwin knew what was coming.

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