Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, April 1, 2011

This Week in Books 4/1/11

Books this week! Insert April Fool's Joke!

First up, one of my former clients, the great J.N. Duncan, is celebrating the electronic release of his fantastic vampire noir thriller DEADWORLD, which you should absolutely check out! The paperback will follow on Tuesday, so you paper fans don't have to wait long.

We all love libraries, right? Well, author Jennifer Hubbard is organizing her annual library fundraiser, in which you can leave comments around the Internet to raise money for a great cause. Click over! Click over!

Thanks again to Mur Lafferty for contributing Wednesday's guest post on using Kickstarter to fund a self-publishing campaign! Mur and I also had a chance to chat on her podcast, which you can find here.

Further congratulations are in order to Amanda Hocking, who recently sold film rights to her Trylle trilogy, with the co-writer of District 9 set to adapt. (via Stephen Parrish)

Does good writing really matter? Do people care about the standards set collectively by the publishing industry? We're about to find out in the era of self-publishing, and one author, Henry Baum, argues that bad writing doesn't matter. He writes:
At the risk of sounding like a snob: non-sophisticated readers will not care if writing is non-sophisticated, and there are a lot more non-sophisticated readers than sophisticated ones. That’s millions of potential readers.  Publishers might like to believe that they have the finger on the pulse of what sells – or what should sell – but when mediocre writing is becoming a bestseller, this pretty much renders the slush pile meaningless.
Agree? Disagree?

Smashwords CEO Mark Coker took to J.A. Konrath's blog for a guest blog and interview, where he lays out the background behind his e-distributing company. He calls the era of Big Publishing "over," though methinks it's a bit early for that.

There was quite an online kerfuffle this week after a self-published author fired back at her reviewer and some of the people in the comments section. While clearly yet another reminder that an author never wins when responding to a bad review and especially not with rudeness and profanity, am I the only one who sympathizes a bit with the author and not the people who piled on and are currently trashing her book on Amazon without having read it? This is a subject I plan on returning to soon.

Meanwhile, in the traditional publishing world, blogger Perez Hilton got a deal for a children's book. Which has the LA Times' Carolyn Kellogg asking one question: Really?

Borders raised some eyebrows as they sought to pay out $8.3 million in executive bonuses. (via Stephen Parrish)

And Tahereh Mafi has a hilarious new query assistant that you should totally download.

This week in the Forums, the self-published author review flap (with lots of great responses), discussing Barry Eisler's decision to pass up a big book deal, are textbooks obsolete?, a super sad true agent story, how much cursing can you get away with? and, of course, the billion bug highway.

Comment! of! the! Week! I'm going to Twitter for this one, as EvilWylie responded to my question about how authors of the future will make money:

And finally, speaking of libraries, not everyone knows that many libraries offer free e-book downloads. My colleague Sharon Vaknin shows how to set that up:

Have a great weekend!


Charlee Vale said...

Is it sad that I'm excited that the post I started was the one featured on your blog? :P


Remilda Graystone said...

Yikes about the review gone bad. My worst nightmare right there.

Thanks for the links! And happy April Fool's Day!

abc said...

Perez Hilton is almost the worst person on the planet. At least in America (not counting the rapists and murderers and wife beaters (etc.), of course).

Melissa said...

Baum’s blog was a real eye-opener. And I do tend to err on the side of his argument. Although I’ve purchased several really great eBooks, I can’t understand the popularity of some of the best sellers on Amazon. Really? I mean … really? I suppose “quality” depends on the height of bar the reader sets for himself/herself. Sure, I crave a good story. But if there are profuse spelling and grammatical errors within any text, I can’t get past that.

No, you’re not the only one who found the response to above-mentioned “kerfuffle” reprehensible. It’s one thing to explode in a moment of passion and quite another to intentionally skulk to Amazon to leave an author a bad review. That takes a certain amount of premeditation and cowardice that I can’t wrap my mind around. Please explain why a pinch is worth ten jabs.

The Perez book deal is hysterical. And wrong on so many levels, I can’t begin to count them.

Sandra Cormier said...

I feel bad for the author who derailed after the bad review. Self-restraint is an essential commodity when dealing with bad reviews or attacks on the Internet. I have to admit I sometimes lack that skill, but I hope the good outweighs the bad.

As an individual who must deal with family members with mental illness, I try to keep that possibility in mind when encountering individuals who lash out online.

Sometimes it's really hard, especially when some respond to concerns with more animosity.

A Paperback Writer said...

I have a hard time feeling bad for this author who didn't bother to proof read her book and then threw a public temper tantrum over the fact that someone noticed her mistakes.
Goodness, I teach 7th graders who can accept the responsibility for their own mistakes better than that!

Adam Heine said...

Best April Fool's joke ever.

I imagine responding to bad reviewers CAN be done well. Like some companies, when they find a bad response to their product online, will respond personally, something along the lines of, "Hi, I work for Something Electronics, and I just wanted to say I'm really sorry to hear you had a bad experience. We do try hard to please our customers, etc, etc... Can I offer you somthinsomthing..."

It's different for authors, of course, but I wonder if the same principle might not apply. Something like: "I'm sorry you didn't like that aspect of my book. I admit, I was back and forth about it myself. What do you think I could've done to make it better?"

Or something.

And obviously it depends on the reviewer. I wouldn't do this with the "THIS BOOK SUCKS!" Amazon reviews. Waste of time, methinks.

All Adither said...

I don't feel especially sorry for the author, unless, like Sandra said, she's mentally ill. I clicked over to her blog and I highly doubt that English is her first language. Which would explain a lot. I did find her hissy fit in response to the unfavorable review to be horrendously off-putting and a real bummer for self-published authors trying to appear professional.

She strikes me as the type who can't be reasoned with.

Mr. D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krista V. said...

Henry Baum makes a great point. When I'm talking to other (non-writer) readers and listening to the things they say about the books they read, it's pretty obvious that things like "stark, searing prose" or "overly wordy descriptions" - made-up quotations, by the way - don't even enter the equation when they're deciding whether they like a book and want to keep reading it. As long as they care about the characters and the storyline keeps them turning pages, they're happy (as well they should be).

Mr. D said...

Just want to be clear...I loved that comment of the week!

Anonymous said...

Jacqueline Howatt's comments are a little (okay, a lot) unhinged, but as someone whose correctly formatted book (apparently formatting was a part of the bad review), I feel sympathy for her.

Although I don't expect great reviews from every reviewer, the self-inflated importance of some blog reviewers - who are sometimes working off agendas they don't disclose - detracts from their validity. It's somewhat transparent to read a reviewer take a book / author to task (for grammar, political beliefs, whatever), and in the shellacking, observe them blindly reveal their prejudices, etc.

Curious, the book blogsphere's self-regard doesn't reflect reality: recently, the NYTimes reported the decline & relevance of blogs.

And while there are always writers who will do ***anything*** to publicize their book, I'm guessing there's a tipping point to author bashing. Even good blog reviews tend to sound like they're written by seventh graders ...oh wait! They are!

Insofar as it's possible, I will make sure that future ARCs don't go to bloggers ... most of them just want to sell them on Amazon for pennies anyway. Who needs enable the vengeful/childish/thoughtless/etc. blog "review" in the process

Anonymous said...

The other thing a lot of (nasty) blog reviewers seem to fail to consider: many state they're aspiring writers. Are they so naive to think that when - if - their book's published that people they've publically trashed in the past won't return the favor? With glee? And maliciousness equal to, if not greater than what they dispensed?

One would hope civility, and thoughtfulness would prevail, but when one's living / art is attacked for sport - as these nasty bloggers often seem to play - all gloves are off. And, I question what aspiring blogger / writers are thinking, given that bloggers are attacking actual who've navigated publishing: that the blow back won't be infinitely worse than anything they can regurgitate & put for as "criticism"? Unless these bloger/writer aspirants are all planning to write under pseudonyms (unlikely given their self-regard)

What's that saying? Karma's a bitch?

Anonymous said...

Great interview with Muir. Loved how you handled the dreaded question about writing to the market.

This is even more interesting given that a few agents have posted their want lists on their blogs.

As for writing for a non-sophisticated audience, check out the pulps in the 50s. This is nothing new.

However, I keep hearing rumors that NY publishers have out sourced their editing, so how much of a difference will there really be between NY published books and self-published eBooks?

Marilyn Peake said...

Congratulations to Jim Duncan!

Amanda Hocking is so incredibly lucky to be working with the screenwriter for District 9. The writing in District 9 is absolutely brilliant – one of my favorite movies ever.

I’ve been following the story about the author who had the meltdown online. What amazes me is how much publicity the author’s received. Neil Gaiman tweeted about it. (It surprised me when Neil Gaiman actually answered one of my tweets to him about it. I saw @neilhimself pop up in reply seconds after I responded to his tweet about the author. Made my day!) And The Guardian carried an article about it. The author and her book have received a ton of publicity. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the author receives an offer for a spot on a reality TV show or some kind of publishing deal in the near future.

Perez Hilton made a name for himself by crudely insulting celebrities, and now he has a children’s book deal with an imprint of Penguin. On the other hand, a self-published novel, THE SILENCE OF MEDAIR by Andrea K. Host, has made Finalist in the "Fantasy Novel" category of the coveted Aurealis Awards. I agree with Henry Baum that bad writing doesn’t matter to the gatekeepers in the way that it used to; and there are a great many high-quality self-published books available right now for less than $3 on amazon Kindle.

HaHaHa. @EvilWylie cracks me up – one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter! I also had some fun this week as I tried to emulate his sense of humor and he actually replied and offered me encouragement, but I realize I will never be as funny as @EvilWylie or @EmperorFranzen. All the same, I’m trying to add more funny, snarky comments to my tweets. I swear the world drives me nuts sometimes. Radioactivity is showing up in food around the world; workers in Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are sleeping on mats on the floor of the power plant and being fed nothing more than 30 crackers and vegetable juice for breakfast and a ready-to-eat meal or something out of a can for dinner; but not one Trending Topic on Twitter has anything at all to do with Japan. I’ve discovered that ironic, snarky comments sometimes put the world in proper perspective.

Sara said...

Prose quality - nobody is obliged to read books that make them twitch. I can't stand bad writing, or bad editing. But if someone else can, it doesn't matter to me.

Books with excellently told stories, great characters, and fine prose don't come along very often. If readers have to choose two out of three, they'll usually toss out prose first.

On the other hand, I doubt that readers and writers who care about prose will stop caring.

Naima said...

You’re not the only one, Nathan, I really feel bad for Jacqueline Howett. Yes, the F word was not classy, Ms. Howett's reaction was wrong and awful but the reaction to all of this made me cringe more than Ms. Howett's behavior.

Yelling to boycott the book and give it a one star rating on Amazon WITHOUT reading it is turning into a witch hunt. This is not how Amazon ratings works, this is abusing the Amazon rating system. You rate the book, not the author's character. If we had to judge the authors by their character, trust me, many will deserve a one star. Because any author that put all his blood and sweat into a novel (for months or maybe years) and read bad reviews about his "lifework" will probably rant and swear at the computer, but Ms. Howett made the mistake to put it online.

We all have our Charlie Sheen moment, but that's no reason to boycott a self-published author or make fun of her. You can give your opinion about the matter but please be respectful. Because of the internet, people don't see what effect their words have and forget Jacqueline Howett is a real person with feelings.

Anonymous said...

*Did she not think?* is what I'm thinking. It actually made me laugh although I can't imagine my teenage sister (and she's a stroppy one) going off about a random review on the internet.

Well... what can I say? This is the *adult* world of writing and publishing at it's worst. At least other authors can take heed of what not to do although I do feel sorry for the author.

I hope she doesn't find this blog though.

Bruce H. Johnson said...

Re: Bad Writing

There's a world of difference between bad writing and non-sophisticated writing.

For me, "sophistocated" writing just gets a couple pages of attention -- I'm not interested in "literature."

Bad writing is bad Craft -- bad spelling, bad grammar (when not appropriate), huge paragraphs, etc.

MJR said...'s too bad Jacqueline Howitt didn't respond by saying the grammatical issues had been resolved--it wasn't a bad review. And yet...all those nasty'm a proofreader/copyeditor and sometimes I think people don't care one way or the other if there are typos or grammatical errors in the books they read, but obviously I'm wrong!

Renee Collins said...

Anyone who has "a hard time feeling sorry" for Ms. Howett should go look on Amazon. Have you seen the feeding frenzy going on over there?

Over 100 reviews in 5 days. (Several have been taken down by Amazon, so the number fluctuates.) One star reviews are STILL being posted. People have even searched her other books and written harsh reviews of them.

And she "deserves" this because she threw one temper tantrum?

D.G. Hudson said...

I'm astounded at the bad form exhibited by the self-pubbed author, J. Howett. Her response sounds very whiny and self-serving. I can't see how you can justify that, Nathan.

Reviews should not be something that the author can request to have pulled -- isn't that somewhat like censoring any negative comments?

If the review was incorrect or spiteful, she has to let it roll off her back - it really does look petty and unprofessional after all that work to get a book published, to muddy it up with unprofessional bickering on the blogpost. The author didn't have to respond at all. Why respond if you feel the review was unfair? Ignore it, and move on, that looks better than raking the issue through the blogosphere.

This author needs to remember she is on display, and so is her book.

Kaitlyne said...

In regard to the comment on mediocre writing, I would say that there's still a big difference between competent writing and mediocre writing. Many readers, myself included, will overlook mediocre writing if the story or characters are good enough.

What is a necessary requirement, though, is competency at putting together sentences and paragraphs, etc. in a way that is easily understood. The worse the writing gets from a grammatical/spelling, etc. standpoint, the more difficult it becomes to understand, and I have a hard time imagining most readers being willing to wade through something difficult and trying to sort out what an unskilled writer is trying to say when they can go read a book that's at least competent.

I've been a writing tutor for years, and while I've never seen a slush pile, I can say that I've seen numerous college level students who haven't mastered rudimentary basics of sentence construction and structure even for something as simple as a short essay. I also have little faith that most people who can't write coherently have the ability to put together stories that will make up for it.

So personally, no. I don't think the truly bad writing from the slush pile will become more acceptable.

Renee Collins said...

D.G. Hudson-I don't think anyone is trying to justify Ms. Howett's behavior. Everyone agrees she was in the wrong.

Nathan (and many others, myself included) are responding to the writing community's reaction to her behavior. I am shocked at the vitriol that has been spewed at Ms. Howett. It's uncalled for.

Two wrongs DO NOT make a right.

D.G. Hudson said...

@Renee - I understand what you're saying. But control at the source (the author) is something that is also required.

The Amazon swarming effect has been done before and those who indulge in that sort of behaviour aren't going to listen to any reasoned arguments about being considerate in reviews.

The whole incident could have been avoided if the author had used discretion.

Both sides were in error IMO. Remember - you can't educate those who think they know everything.

jjdebenedictis said...


B-b-b-but it's Perez Hilton. He's dreadful.

This is a guy who spent a year and a half calling a sixteen-year-old girl "slutty" on his (massively successful) blog. Oh, and drawing cartoon penises on top of her image.

I would expect the sixteen-year-old to realize that's immature--he was pushing thirty years of age at the time. Ick.

Kaitlyne said...

Wow, I just finished reading through the Amazon reviews, and this is just horrible. I'd seen a couple the other day, but it's gotten kind of ridiculous.

As poor as the author's behavior was, I do feel sorry for her. She was someone who published her book before she was ready and doesn't know how to take criticism. I think a lot of us remember the first time we ever showed our work--that we were proud of and thought was amazing--to anyone else and were told that it had problems. The difference is that most of us get that in a more private environment where we can be embarrassed and then move on with our lives and our writing.

Yeah, she overreacted, but she's already screwed herself over royally without other people coming along and rubbing it in her face, you know?

Phoenix said...

The great majority of the reading public is unsophisticated. And that's OK! Especially when we're talking non-MFA majors out looking for simple entertainment. Remember that overused rejection phrase: This is a subjective business.

In a Who Cares About Quality? post from Nov, I equate less-sophisticated writing to velvet Elvises and dogs-playing-poker artwork. I also offered this example from a real-world setting to illustrate the point that not everyone agrees where quality ends and value begins:

Project approval in big business often depends on the green-light from a non-creative department. The accepted "rule" in design is to always give the decision-makers a choice so they feel invested in the project. A "trick" designers use when presenting ideas to decision-makers is to give them one obviously inferior design along with the design they want to push. The problem is that an inordinate number of times, decision-makers fall in love with the inferior design. What was "obvious" to a professional isn't so obvious to someone not in the game.

We writers and editors need to slip on our readers' glasses. I think when we do that, we'll see a large number of *thisclose* authors who couldn't get a legacy/traditional/legitimate publishing deal easily connecting with their audiences and satisfying the simple need for "a good read."

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

I am ignoring all the stuff about author and reviewer. No one's old enough to remember Harry Truman's response to a critic who dissed his daughter's work and the storm of controversy it caused. . (Me neither, but I read it.) Loved The office assistant. Thank you

Edward Gordon said...

In my blog for today, I talk about the impending impact of the .99 novel. I believe it's an unstoppable force.

A lot of writers don't want to think about it, and the publishing world dreads it. But like a sunami, it's coming no matter what.

Jenna said...

In reference to the self published author and her review..I liken it to a chef who after receiving a review of his cuisine, storms out of the kitchen yelling and waiving his spatula. Diners, their food once appetizing and actually quite good, find it now less than appealing. The chef turns to them and yell and curse at them. Wouldn't you leave the restaurant and never return? Wouldn't you encourage your friends to spend their money elsewhere? (rhetorical. I think that's obvious.)
I agree with those who say that giving her books 1-star Amazon ratings is probably NOT the best option. When the author posted her 5 and 4 star ratings-the chef now flinging his critically acclaimed frittatas in your face- she inadvertently opened that specific door for retaliation and outraged and offended readers took it.
When you're published without the reputable backing of a notable house behind you, you really are selling your professionalism and credibility as well as your book. Even with a publishing house, being an author is a business. When you bite the hand that feeds you (or rather, reads you) -a reviewer who garners you attention through a positive or negative review and even more importantly, readers- that is bad for business. And I myself would not invest in a company with such bad PR. No one likes a frittata to the face :)

Anonymous said...

"At the risk of sounding like a snob: non-sophisticated readers will not care if writing is non-sophisticated."

Bah! Good writing doesn't have to be high-class. Good writing is good writing from TV to Opera, and bad writing is bad writing all across the exact same spectrum. Bad writing is. . . bad. Lazy. Unclear. Lacking in plot, characterisation, and/or editing. (Although I will admit that the definition of "good" varies tremendously with personal taste.)

Louise Curtis

Margo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margo said...

So many great links!
Thanks for including the link to Jennifer Hubbard's annual blog challenge, Nathan. I'm participating again this year because last year's was so much fun.

Last year, my donations helped extend the lease on Evanston, IL's South Branch location. Now, that location exists as The Mighty Twig, a volunteer-run alterna-branch.

Feel free to add your comment! Each one's worth a $1 donation to help run The Mighty Twig. My challenge runs until Tuesday, 4/5:

I'm also donating $1 for each new @margorowder follower on twitter.

Thanks again, Nathan!

J. T. Shea said...

Congratulations to J. N. Duncan and Mur Lafferty and Amanda Hocking!

No congratulations to Henry Baum, who provides us with an excellent example of bad writing. Bad in the sense of being wrong.

As you have rightly argued, Nathan, every bestseller has SOMETHING going for it. Books consists entirely of writing. There is nothing else in a book except writing. Writing includes idea, plot, story, not just spelling and grammar and style.

What does Baum mean by 'sophisticated'? I doubt the word means 'good'. 'Unsophisticated' certainly does not mean mediocre. And 'mediocre' writing no more becomes a bestseller by chance than any other kind of writing. I believe chance favors the prepared mind. Presumably Baum does not.

But, Nathan, you expect Amazon reviewers to actually READ the books they trash? How quaint!

Tahereh Mafi's new query assistant is great. But I use Open Office, which has no Clippy. I have a sad.

Welcome back, Edward Gordon Jerome! I think...

Perez who?

K.T. Koulos said...

idI love reading your blog...every time, I find something else helpful. About the person saying sophisticated writing doesn't matter;
I both agree and disagree with him. Some of the less well-written books are actually good. BUT these people should do what people have done in the past...keep working until it's good. I really hope that this self-publishing thing doesn't get too large, because I don't want to sift through piles of crap writing to find anything good. I have to add though...I'm not against self publishing, as long as the people doing it aren't putting out crap. There should be a sort of...rule. You need to edit it at least a handful of times before publishing. Something like that.
Perez Hilton is horrible. He's just cruel. He shouldn't get a children's book out...if I ever have kids, they will NEVER read his things.
About the bad review and her responding, I can't say much since I just heard about it on here, but I agree with you on the part that I feel bad for her, not for the jerks who don't read her book and say it's crap. She did the wrong thing, with responding how she did, but I would have been just as angry if it were one of my books.

Estela said...

Re Baum: Ebooks haven't reached mainstream adoptation yet (the way cell phones, mp3 players, and streaming videos have). So you'd think that someone who has a Kindle would be a fairly "sophisticated" reader -- whatever that means. Apparently, you (meaning I!) would be wrong. Or maybe these ARE sophisticated readers, and what editors and writers are trained regarding what matters/makes good writing is off in some ways. Compelling is in, the rest is forgivable?

Estela said...

This is kind of random, but I just realized that "The Greek Son" fiasco catapulted "BigAl" into the Amazon Top 500 Reviewer ranks. Total number of "helpful" votes: 1,770 out of 1817. Total number of helpful votes from that ONE book (which most people wouldn't have known about if it weren't for the fiasco): 1,566. What a strange little world we live in.

Kevin Lynn Helmick said...

My comment must not have went through, maybe I used a bad word. I'll be careful. Vampire nior, ok , maybe. What I really want is a vampire western, or horror western.
Hocking: by the time I'm done typing her life story will be worth millions, probably is already.
Dumb books for dumb readers: I kinda agree with this. Although there are lot of good books out there, very few have writing I would call sophisticated. Just not a big market for it and no matter how lousy something is, if it's marketed right, people will eat it up.
Big Als review: It wasn't all that bad, was it? What if he'd given her one star, yikes! Can you say restraining order? She handled it very poorly, sad. Now she's made herself a target.
And Pams comment at Big Als "This is exactly why I don't review self published." What exactly does that have to do with it? That's one writer, coulda came from anywhere.
I would have posted there but they've closed it out, probably wise.
Big All can review mine anytime, I can take it. I will submit.
Kevin Lynn Helmick

Christina Tinglof said...

I'd love to see a future blog about how to effectively deal with unfavorable reviews. As an author, it's very frustrating especially if the review doesn't read the book!

Anonymous said...

Perez Hilton makes us all look bad. Please, everyone, we're not all like him. We're not!!

Mira said...

How wonderful, lots of links! Thanks so much, Nathan.

First, congrats and good luck to Jim Duncan! I hope it's a smash! :)

On the bad writing, thing, well, speaking of writers on a tear, I'm going to rant abit. Sorry, Nathan. I'm frustrated that people are calling Amanda Hocking's writing mediocre.

I think what is happening to the writer who went on a rant against her reviewer is happening to Amanda Hocking.

Just like people are ganging up and on a witch hunt against this writer, there is a more subtle type of ganging up on Hocking. Many, many people in this industry, writers included, have a stake in the way things have been done. For an unknown writer, rejected by all of publishing, to self-publish and make oodles of money - well, obviously it's because the American Public will buy anything as long as it's cheap.

Not that she wrote a good book.

Personally, I thought Hocking wrote a very enjoyable book. Layered and complex plot, interesting characters, the perfect amount of wish fulfillment for YA, sexy and unreadable hero, good cliffhanger.

My concern at this point isn't trying to change the minds of those who discredit Hocking. What bothers me is the possibility that Amanda Hocking will start to believe it.

I truly hope she doesn't.

Anonymous said...

"...but when mediocre writing is becoming a bestseller, this pretty much renders the slush pile meaningless."


He's right and no one wants to admit it aloud. Because heaven forbid you do admit this aloud, you're labeled an elitist.

But I do think it will balance out eventually. What's happening with the self-published garbage and a lot of e-publishers right now is what happened back in the 1950's when television started out. The shows (and commercials) were awful for the most part. But as time passed and the worst of the worst got weeded out, things improved.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading about Howett's rant, which I found very sad.

But I also find the fact that so many went to amazon to leave one star reviews even sadder.

Authors have no protection anymore when it comes to sabotage, on amazon, goodreads, or anywhere else where readers can leave reviews without proof of purchase, and with anonymous identities.

Overlooking Howett's rant, bad as it was, all authors have to start taking a stand and letting readers know that amazon reviews and goodreads reviews aren't always real reviews. And this goes for good and bad reviews. I've seen authors have friends and family write up good reviews, which is just as bad as haters leaving bogus negative reviews.

You simply can't trust amazon reviews anymore. Or, in my opinion goodreads. They are just too corrupt. The entire system is corrupt. And no one wins, not the author, publisher, or the reader who is looking for a real review.

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for Jacqueline Howatt in that no one deserves purposely mean Amazon reviews (or elsewhere).

And I feel bad that her future writing career is ruined.

But I do NOT feel bad for her one bit for the impression she made on everyone reading the original review. She brought that entirely on herself. Yes, it's sad that a public tantrum should be so ruinous, but guess what. There are a lot of us out here trying our hardest to be professional across the line. Jacqueline Howatt's responses were atrocious and she should be ashamed of herself.

Finally-- I've seen a lot of people say, including you Nathan, that the original issue was over coding. This is incorrect. That was Jacqueline Howatt's supposed issue, but in fact the review took issue with her poor grammar and spelling. It would have forgiven coding, I think, had the mechanics been in order.

Nathan Bransford said...


What did I say about coding?

Anonymous said...

What is coding?

Also, what do you all think of the author of House of Skin, who Joe Konrath got to break into a high Amazon category by publishing a letter from her in which she detailed her depression? Is that an example of a "query letter" to the actual reader that worked??

Melissa said...

@Anon at 12:29

“You simply can't trust amazon reviews anymore.”

I don’t trust Amazon reviews, good or bad. It’s too easy to harvest a masses of people and have them post good reviews -- or purchase an eBook to drive up its presence. I’m not even sure if the author actually wrote the book. I’d like to see Nathan tackle this topic soon:

Anyone considering going into self-publishing needs to be aware of what’s going on behind the scenes …

Adam Heine said...

Anon 11:50 wrote: "But as time passed and the worst of the worst got weeded out, [television] improved."

Wait. When did that happen?

Michelle R said...

Got the ARC of DEADWORLD to review and LOVED it!

Anonymous said...

Ugh. The response to Howatt's comments was an absolute witch-hunt and embarrassment. (I was one of the posters that asked Al to close the thread already.) It was like that scene in Airplane! where everyone lines up to take a whack.

This is just one example (like the "Speak Loudly!" joke) of why the publishing scene is so off-putting. Too much mob mentality. Not enough craft.

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