Authors: Ye Can’t Have it Both Ways

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been periodically hanging out over on Amazon’s forums – specifically the sub-forum for their “breakthrough novel award”, wherein a bunch of irreverent novelists engage in wisecrackery and tomfoolery and even occasionally discuss something related to wrting.

A lot of people have been posting excerpts of their work, asking for feedback. Some people have been complaining that they get “unhelpful” feedback – like anonymous people leaving one-star reviews with the comment “sucks”. Or, indeed, one-star reviews with no comments at all. Many have suggested that the person or persons leaving this feedback is, you know, under-endowed, sexually frustrated, et cetera. Stay classy, children.

The thing is, though, they don’t really want honest and sincere feedback. They don’t want you to review their work, or (horror!) critique it, but to praise it.

Now, some of these same people are complaining because not enough people are leaving comments. “I have 70 views and only three reviews,” one author writes, “Ugh. That sucks.”

You can’t have it both ways, people.

I’ve read most of the ANBA previews that people have posted. One or two of them are decent. Most are, in accordance with Sturgeon’s Law, crap. (Having written a crap novel of my own, I believe I am well-qualified to make this judgment.) A couple, truth be told, are just so utterly awful – laden with illiteracy, typos, cliches, bad research, logical errors, and purple prose – as to be, basically, beyond redemption. The sort of thing where the kindest thing one could say would be “I’m sorry, but there is absolutely nothing that can be done to make any right-minded person want to read this”.

The authors don’t want to hear this. They don’t want to be told that what they’ve produced is appalling. They want to be praised, told how great they are, and how great their work is.

Me? I learned long ago that feedback on writing is a case of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything”. I have better things to do than randomly crush the spirits of some poor would-be author somewhere, and a little too much honesty to praise the aroma of their steaming turds.

Odds are, writers, if people are avoiding your work, or leaving un-helpful negative feedback, there’s a reason for it. Just because the world is full of assholes doesn’t mean you really have written the Next Great American Paranormal Romance Novel, okay?

Speaking of crap novels, on Amazon, after a week or so above the one-million sales rank (yay!), my crap novel has slipped back down below two-million, in the paperback edition. (The Kindle edition remains unsold after six months.) As a kind of amusing barometer as to just how badly Mendacities is selling, it’s significantly out-ranked (i.e. outsold) on Amazon by an eighty-dollar book of random numbers. Yes, that stings, slightly, why do you ask? 🙂

Published in: Geekiness, General | on February 15th, 2011| 1 Comment »

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One Comment

  1. On 2/16/2011 at 3:35 pm Nemo Said:

    Special thanks is due to some kind random stranger who, sometime in the last twenty-four hours, became the first person to buy the Kindle edition.

    Here’s hoping you enjoy it. 🙂