Sunday, January 29, 2012

An Eville Review and Why There Are No Evil Reviews

From the cover of EVILLE by Holand Peterson

EVILLE is a hoot of a read. I mean that literally, I hooted laughs several times while reading this spoofy fantasy adventure supernatural novel (think a more imaginative and fresh Young Frankenstein). Holand creates a wacky world of supernatural beings. When Mr. Average Guy and this world's funny and fun.

Granted this is a good review, but it easily illustrates why there are no evil or bad reviews. I enjoy oddball spoofs and takeoffs of genre fiction. But there are people who dislike or even despise that sort of thing. And are very vocal about it, sometimes on reviews. This is where the writer needs to put on a "reader" mindset. When looking for something to read and browsing the reviews as a reader, I experience a bad review differently. Many times, I'll read the one star reviews first. They are often good for a laugh. An example: a one star review for a novella, that gave it one star because it wasn't novel length and the reviewer didn't like novellas! Now, the novella was stated as such and priced accordingly, in fact was pretty cheap for an eBook of that length. Another review of an anthology of four novelettes gave one star because each novelette was written within the author's well known world. Again, it was clear from the cover that was what each novelette was. And that's what I enjoyed most about that anthology. So a bad review may generate a sale or several.

But what about a review that specifically attacks the writing? OUCH. Again, as a reader, I may discount the review if it's badly written. Even if well-written, I may like what the reviewer dislikes, "too complicated and convoluted a plot" for example. I don't believe there is such a thing. And I may want to read the book to see if I agree or disagree with the reviewer's review.

As a reader, the only review that turns me off a book is one that talks about bad or sloppy writing. Bad is weak characters, a poor plot, or little or missing conflict, and sloppy being too many grammar and spelling errors. And that's something we authors have control over.

Now, I know bad reviews drop your Amazon ranking and that's not good, and you may lose sales, and that's not good. But when you consider reviews as only a small and necessary part of a writing career, and that everyone gets bad reviews, it's not quite so painful. Remember the famous saying: "I don't care what they say about me, as long as they spell my name right" (readers, who said that first?).

Finally, bad reviews can also generate good ones. I've written more than one good review after reading a book and disagreeing with the bad reviews. So, try, try to relax a little, dear writer friends, about reviews!

Feedback? Review my post? Give it a bad review? A good review?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Speak up and Succeed...

...without panicking.

Into every author's life comes the moment when you'll be asked to participate in an event, whether it be a book signing, a talk, sitting on a panel or doing a workshop. People love to meet the author. I've done a lot of events and will be doing many this year as part of my promo for my upcoming novel releases--the first one February 24th!

Here's a few tips that will help guarantee a successful whatever and help take those anxieties away.

First, practice beforehand. Keep notes on what you're going to say. If you're giving a read, read your pages out loud several times until you're familiar and comfortable. Practice looking up from your pages. Speak out and slow down. If your audience can't hear you or understand what you say, then enjoyment is lost. Try not to worry about it being "perfect," we all flub up and many times the audience doesn't notice!

Be brief and to the point. My mom always said, "Stop talking before people stop listening." Consider what you would like to hear from an author. Remember there's no reason to prove to your audience that you have succeeded as an author by telling about every step of your journey, your struggles and every single failure and success. The fact that you're in front of an audience means you've succeeded. Pick one to three stories and keep it brief. Less is more and leave them wanting more. Both cliches because they're true.

Think outside the box. For example, I'm going to be at an event at the Ada Community Library. This event will be by the Pixie Chicks' Writers (a group I belong to) and will be about An Eclectic Collage I and II, anthologies written by the Pixie Chicks. Instead of reading from my work, I'm going to demo the exercises from my article in An Eclectic Collage I.

Most important, relax as much as you can. Remember, the people in the audience are on your side and people too. The more you relax the more they will too and then everyone will enjoy!

Readers, any other suggestions?