Strange, new territory

 

“From my close observation of writers… they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.” Isaac Asimov

“A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it.” Danielle Steele

This is a blog posting about book reviews and how 2012 is the year that dumb-ass, terrifying & @#% weird-ass stuff relating to reviews and publishing in general hit critical mass. (Sort of different but not entirely different than my 12 Stages of Good Reads Author Meltdown that I posted about a few weeks ago.)  I feel like writing one because, well, is it just me or does it seem like 2012 is the year when book reviewing became a major issue that everyone is talking about? If you Google “Author Meltdown” you’ll wind up with 1630 results – that’s like … a lot.

Just. What. In. The. @*$% Is. Going. On.Here?????

Me? I have a theory that goes like this – publishing (authors, agents, publishers) have been driving down a dark highway without the benefit of headlights for a while now. 2012 is when they smashed into a bull moose that walked onto the pavement. The moose, by the way, is the Interweb.

Why authors and why now? Because authors are;

a) Dirt poor and can’t afford a publicist

b) Promoting via the Interweb because it’s all they can afford

c) Did I mention that the lion’s share of book promotion has been downloaded onto authors? Yeah, it has.

We should have seen it coming, all of us. Blogging has been around for more than a decade. Twitter is real time as it happens social networking and nobody can deny the immense power of Facebook … but there’s a new player on the scene – Goodreads. (Well, not really that new. It’s been around since 2006.) Yeah, I know there’s Shelfari and Library Thing but Goodreads is the undisputed king of book-related social media. It boasts 10 Million members – a fart in the breeze compared to Facebook, but we’re talking about books here and not, oh, say … how you barfed in a cab last Saturday after leaving the nightclub. Library Thing has 1.5 Million members and Shelfari, an extension of the all-seeing Amazon has … hmm .. unknown, actually. Maybe that’s an Amazon secret.

There’s another factor that I don’t think anyone would have seen coming, either. Self-published books. There are metric tonnes of self-published books thanks to Amazon Digital Services, Cafe Press, etc. Now I’m not going to say the bad author behavior is exclusive to self-published authors, but it seems to me that a higher proportion of bat-shit craziness can be attributed to them. (I have a theory on this one too. It has to do with how @#$*^ hard it is to find an agent and get published and how your agent would drop your sorry ass if you ever did something so stupid as to declare war on a blogger who didn’t like your book. Very simply, most authors have worked too long and too bloody hard to find that agent and get that publishing deal than to go ape shit on a reviewer who thought your book sucked ass.)

And I can understand why some authors might have difficulty restraining themselves. There’s a lot of snarky-ass reviews out there. But want to know something? Social media is all about snark. Snark is the currency of the Internet, forget US or Canadian dollars! Hell, one of the best ever blogs on the process of getting published was called “Miss. Snark.”

Were I to say that self published authors don’t have the discipline yet of learning how to respond to criticism compared to agented authors, I would get hate mail.  Not all self-published authors are the same just as not all agented authors are the same. Still, you can’t deny that regardless of your authorly status, the very fact that book lovers are now connected to one another on an unprecedented scale, well … you might want to keep your trap shut if you see a review that makes you want to take leave of your senses.

Very simply, you’re going to get called on it. Fast. Super fast. At the speed of an electronic virus even. In fact, your bad behavior will … go … viral. And really, what kind of virus has a happy ending? In short, no good can come from commenting on a bad review. Hell, I get bad reviews all the time. Do they bug me? Sure – nobody likes criticism. But I’m not insane enough to declare thermonuclear cyber-war on a blogger who wrote what I perceived to be an asshole-ish review of my book.

You have to step back – I know it’s hard, but you really must do it. You don’t have a choice, dear authors. You will get steamrolled if you don’t. And, see … once you dip your toes into a tepid tub of bad author behavior, you can’t undo it. In fact, attempts to undo the damage can go viral in their own right and an Interweb story that might have had a life span of a couple of days begins to take on a life of its own for weeks on end.

Good reviews are a vanity issue for authors. Bad reviews are too, and you know what they say about vanity, right? The true test of whether or not your book sucks ass is the question of sales.  That’s the ultimate decision maker in all of this, right? If you sell a jillion copies of a book that has been universally panned on Goodreads, who really gives a rat’s ass if Kirkus or a blogger thinks your book blows on an epic scale?

Unfortunately, I’m a bit of a pessimist about these things and because of this, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if we see a website or blog devoted exclusively to reviewing the reviews. Why? Because review-related controversy has taken a life of its own – it’s only a matter of time until someone is reviewing the reviews. It might be a disgruntled author or possibly a sociology student who might wish to conduct an experiment. Hell, it might be the hacker group Anonymous for all I know.

We’re in strange new territory now. 2012 was just the start of the weirdness and I think it’s going to get weirder and weirder still. Just you wait.

In the meantime, if you’re an author – feel free to post this little jpeg below to your website if you think authors could be doing a better job of keeping their tempers in check. Reviewers are not the enemy!

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POLTERGEEKS – Get Your Geek On Blog Tour!

Here’s the banner – feel free to spread the love! Really looking forward to this!

 

And here’s the links to the blogs!

Winged Reviews

I Smell Sheep

All Things Urban Fantasy

Serendipity Reviews

Sister Spooky

Sons of Corax

My Book Journey

The Selkie Reads Stories

Big Little Book

Melanie’s Book Addiction

Choose YA

Short and Sweet Reviews

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PSST … Big Blog Tour Prize Pack!!

My blog tour is about to begin and I’m giving away a killer prize pack! What am I giving away? Oh, just a copy of this,

this,

this,

this,

 

I’ll post all the stops on my blog tour this weekend. To win, you need to put a comment in the comments section for this post telling me why you can’t wait to read POLTERGEEKS as well the name of the blog on my blog tour. (A Tweet or an FB posting wouldn’t hurt either.)

I’ll announce a winner on October 9th just as soon as I come back from my London launch of POLTERGEEKS.

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Review: THE WRONG GOODBYE

Sam Thornton is a Collector of souls and you’d think the poor guy could just do his job. Alas, when you’re working for the guys downstairs amid the backdrop of brewing war between Heaven and Hell, you’d think someone might want to cut you a little slack. Not so for poor Sam – he’s been dispatched to collect the soul of a very bad dude and the book starts off with Sam doing just that – the only problem is that he’s been duped. Sam has collected the wrong soul and this unfortunate double cross is pretty much hammered home when he wakes up in a hotel room that is literally carpeted with insects.

Like, bajillions of them.

THE WRONG GOODBYE is the title of the second book in Chris F. Holm’s fantastic COLLECTOR series. It’s urban fantasy for sure, but it’s also a road trip in a classic Cadillac. It’s all hell breaking loose and the promise of spending eternity in nothingness if Sam can’t get the soul he was originally dispatched to collect. Old friendships can be a killer, particularly when you’ve been screwed over by another collector. In this book, we get more back story as to how Sam, a fairly decent sort of agent for the forces of darkness, wound up becoming a collector in the first place. In an earlier review, I’d said that Sam was a little bit doomed and a little bit damned. We learn more about the massive sacrifice Sam made for someone he loved with all his heart and soul – a soul that is now damned for all eternity.

We’ve got body swapping going on – Holm does a fantastic job of explaining to the reader just what it’s like to wake up in a morgue in someone else’s skin. We also meet a lovable sidekick in Gio, another damned soul in someone else’s body – a soul that Sam is going to use to draw out the bad guy. So yeah, Sam is using his sidekick but he’s got three days to find a missing soul that he should have already collected or it’s bye-bye time for Sam.

Oh, and we learn that demons are addicted to skim – tiny shavings from human souls that allow demons to experience minuscule, fragmented vignettes of that soul’s life – a way to actually feel what it used to be like to live amid God’s grace. What a brilliant plot device – and Sam actually goes into the demonic equivalent of a crack house. Also, if you split a human soul in half it’s sort of like a hydrogen bomb – Holm suggests a famous natural disaster was actually a soul that had been split open.

And that brings us to a great calamity about to fall onto the human world if Sam can’t find that rotten, stinking missing soul, let’s just call it Noah Version 2,0.

Listen, if you love urban fantasy with colorful characters and a protagonist who you want to stand up and cheer for, I highly recommend this book. THE WRONG GOODBYE picks up where DEAD HARVEST left off, only this time the stakes are much higher – for Sam – for all of humanity. Sam Thornton is a good guy working for the bad guys – an impossible situation and that’s what makes this series one of the best UF series in bookstores.  The hero’s journey is laid out for all to see, only for Sam there is no happy ending  – there never can be. Gripping, page-turning realism. THE WRONG GOODBYE is everything that’s right about urban fantasy and one of the best books of the year.

 

 

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R.I.P. City of Heroes

I am unbelievably sad that NC Soft is shutting down what I believe to be the best ever MMORPG, City of Heroes. I started playing alongside my spouse back in 2005 – we played daily for a couple of years until we moved to Saskatoon in 2007. It was just damned good fun and for a superhero junkie like me, it was like reliving my childhood fantasies. The servers will be shut down forever in November 2012 – I might log in again and do a couple of mishes to say thanks for the memories.  Here’s someone’s COH Video – damn, I’m going to miss that game.

 

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