Reviews, Feedback and yes, some Assholes

Have you had someone just trash your book and give it one star?

One of my favorite little bathroom books is a quick read called ‘Dear Asshole.’

The authors are Jillian Madison and Michelle Madison. 

Before I became an author, I was known well for my ‘Dear Shithead’ letters.  When someone gave me this book for my birthday, they knew I would appreciate it.

Dear Shithead, letters never made it to their intended audience as written.  Instead of sitting around fuming over the world’s injustices and stupidity, I would take to the keyboard and write.  They were probably rants in truth, but they never saw the light of day.

Many, too many of them were directed at my boss, who only had the position as he was a good liar. I think he had pictures of his boss with someone’s wife, but that is another story.

If you need to vent, writing such a letter is an excellent way to do it; just don’t hit send.

Now, on to the reason for this post.

I research a lot of stuff for my writing.  Part of that research is to look at what other books are available in that genre.  Lastly, I look at the reviews.

Here is some ‘shithead’ advice from someone.

“Just because you can write, does not mean you should.”

I love how people who write shit like this always post under a pseudonym.   Firstly, Asshole or Shithead, pick your adjective; you suck. 

No, this was not written to me or one of my novels.  One day, as there are shitty people who build themselves up by criticizing others, such a comment might be directed at me. 

Have you published a book?  

It takes guts to write a book, believe in that book, and then put it out there for assholes to write negative shit about.  I am perfectly ok with constructive criticism.  I welcome it.  Any writer should; that is how we improve our craft.

It can cost an easy $1000.00 for an editor to read your book and fix things.  Most self-published authors might make $10 the first year.  Now, the cover art is another bugaboo in that you can spend $500 on.

One of my author friends spent over $5000 to get her book on the market, and it is just sitting there.   In truth, unless you can score an agent or are very rich, it is a tough market.  If you can afford to navigate the shark-infested waters of predators, your novel is not going to be up to the quality of one published by Simon and Shuster.

This particular author has it for free on Kindle Unlimited, which is the kind of abuse he is getting.

If you cannot say anything nice, or at least constructive for your free read, keep your mouth shut!  That is why people write books like Dear Asshole.  You should get that book and read it in front of a mirror.  I would wager more than one of those pages will apply to you.  Just try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you write bullshit poison pen nonsense.

This world needs much more love and a lot fewer assholes!

Ever notice how you might be in line at the store, and everyone is polite.  You get in your car, and those same people will run you over while flipping you off.  That is the world we live in, and we need to change it.

Whew!  For you authors, if you would like constructive criticism as time permits, let me know.  With NaNoWriMo in a day or so, my time is limited but, I believe that a rising tide lifts all ships.

I donate a lot of time to local writers groups.  That is what I think we all should do.  Lift each other up instead of using them as a stepping stone to lift yourself while on their backs.

I know people who will Beta Read for a whopping $20… Can you imagine someone who will do that?

Yes, I have used them.

For you authors, realize that objectivity is not going to be your strength.  Also, understand that other authors will give your novel a one-star review because they have written something that competes with yours.  Yeah, some people suck!

I ignore one-star reviews, especially if they are under a pseudonym. Let’s face the facts; we give a percentage of the book away for free.  If they look inside the cover and buy it for a whopping two dollars after reading some of it, and then give it one star…sorry, that is unbelievable.  

I hope you find this post informational and inspirational. 

Much Love -TW

The Death of eBay

 

After people bid on items and then backed out after winning got me to asking why.

eBay enjoys success for two main reasons.  One, much like Amazon, the service makes it easy for people to shop.  Within moments of a simple search with the ‘buy it now’ filter enabled, people can find what they are looking for, and it is already sorted with the lowest prices first.

After a quick look at their ratings and possibly the shipping time, a few clicks later, the item is purchased, and you are done.

This might be what saves them from demise.

Q. Why do you think they would die?

eBay started with the premise of an auction.  This is not an auction for new items, but old.

‘Old,’ as in items that have been around for a very long time and usually passed through the hands of several owners, possibly for generations.

These auctions allow people to part with ‘treasures’ that were once treasures of someone else.  ‘Treasures’ are emotional purchases.   Allow me to explain or, as Ricky Ricardo used to say to Lucy, ‘You got some Splaining to do.’

My grandparents had this cheesy clock on their mantel that had a faux fireplace in it.  That clock intrigued me as a child.  I was told that they would ‘will it to me.’

As a five-year-old at the time, I had no idea what that meant, I just remember that at some time in my life it would be mine.  Well, it never happened.  Sad, I know, but there on eBay you can find that same clock, which is ‘very old’ now in different states of disrepair.

My only reason for thinking about spending money on it would be as a reminder of my grandparents every time I saw it.  Those types of purchases take you back to sometime in your life that hopefully was pleasant.   I am assuming that one would not purchase or own something that brought them back to a horrible time in their life.

eBay recently succumbed to the taxing authority, where Sales taxes are now assessed on all purchases.  If I sell an item for $100 and then out of state shipping is $30, and…now they collect a tax on it, the person buying it is looking at $140.  Rounded.  This happened, and the person backed out of the deal when they saw the final price tag.  Can you blame them?

eBay is about getting a good deal, not spending tons of money on taxes and shipping.

Working this in reverse eBay takes a percentage of the sale price the seller gets less than the $100, has to have an item that is worth more than the $100 and go through the trouble of listing, packaging and managing the transaction.

The taxing authority is the beneficiary of your work or your purchase, and I am sure eBay cut a deal with them to go through the trouble of collecting and remitting the tax, so eBay makes more money from the purchase.

My sales on eBay have all but stopped because of this and I would imagine that others who sell on eBay as a hobby or business have seen the same types of changes.

Here is what I think needs to happen.

Once an item is no longer ‘new,’ they should not be allowed to charge sales tax on it again and again and again.  That is absolute bullshit!

I would encourage you ebayers and, for that matter, antique mall shoppers and sellers to write your congressmen a letter objecting to this practice.

The problem with taxes is they only go up; they never go the other way.  States and other taxing agencies will tell you how much your tax dollars help, but in truth, they just rob the taxpayers of funds.  Municipalities, much like you and I, need to budget their dollars like you and I do.

The more they make, the more bloated and inefficient they become.  Taxes choke businesses, and in the end, it is you and I that pay the price.

While eBay resembles Amazon more and more, I suspect that soon you will find other auction sites or people figuring out ways to market their ‘treasures’ not using eBay.

We the people need to push back, and it is past time.

Re-press this post or forward it if you are like me and happen to enjoy shopping for Trinkets and Treasures.  Yes, that is going to be a business name for such artifacts.

If you know of such places, please let me and others know.  The system only seems to work for the government.  The way they waste your money, they do not deserve it.  Some things should not be taxed, and I happen to think old tchotchkes should be exempt from further taxation.

My proposal will be this; you collect sales tax if you offer new items where you have in quantity, which is indicative that it might be a business.  If, on the other hand, it is an actual auction, there should be no taxes.  That is also true of flea markets, antique malls, and yes tailgate sales where like-minded people gather to swap stories, tell jokes, and yes, trade junk.   We need to get some common sense back in our government, and it starts with you the people telling them enough is enough.

Folks, they work for you, we are not a serf class. Push back or be plowed under.

Much Love -TW

Feedback.  How should you use it?

This is a cover I created for Diamond Joe.  The island  I took while on holiday, the ladies I drew as well as parts of the horses.   Diamond Joe should be a movie.  Too bad Hallmark does not do same-sex movies.

AHHHH!  I don’t want to market my books, I just want to write the damned things!

Sound familiar?

I am a natural-born storyteller.

As a kid, I was the one with the flashlight making up stories about the zombie bunny that would be all cuddly and cute when you were hugging it.  As soon as your eyes closed, the fangs came out!  The claws turned in to razor-sharp daggers that it would use to rip your throat out!

Can you imagine how many kids tossed their velveteen rabbit books in the trash after that little story?

Whoever heard of evil bunny rabbits? Gives all new meaning to biting the ears off that chocolate Easter bunny now, doesn’t it?  Die you SOB…you’re not ripping my throat out!

I always wondered why nobody wanted to sleepover at my house… Was it my breath?  Is it possible that my invitations to parties were not lost in the mail?  BOOO!

Stories are part of who we are.  If it were not for them, we would have no bible, no Jesus, no Zeus or Pele’.  We would have no folklore at all.  The magical kingdoms of the Scots, we would never know about.

While history is written by the victors, the stories that entertain, are written by writers.  That is right, baby, who is your mama!

Before the written word, they would lie around at night and look up at the skies and wonder what all those dots of light were.  From constellations resembling things they might recognize, much like clouds today, they made up stories.  Those passed down through the ages have most certainly changed much like the ‘telephone game, ‘but never the less, we have them.

This week I got one of my novels back from a beta reader who had some interesting comments.

Tonight I want to talk about feedback and how to use it.

Let’s deal with rejection first.

It is going to happen.  Those excellent agents must have material that they don’t have to sell.  It has to be so good that it pops off the page without even reading it.  There must be linguistic magic that enchants the person who even thinks about opening the e-mail.

“This is not the kind of thing we handle, or your book is not right for us.”

“Son of a bitch!  Let me take the old Underwood out and shoot the damned thing, and go back to waiting tables!  At least there I get a pinched ass for a few dollars, and hey…I get some attention.”

Ok, that might be a little on the extreme side.  I haven’t waited tables, while since I was a kid. I do have an old Underwood that actually works, but of course, I don’t use it either.

Rejections are a starting point. Here is how to handle them if traditional publishing is your path.

Send out your baby, gird your loins, and while you are waiting for the offer letters to come in like the proverbial tsunami, start another book.

Absolutely, positively, do not rest on your laurels!  Are you listening? Tell me, you heard that!

You spend your time writing your book, and you send it out after you have languished over every god damned word in the thing. Send it out and move on!  Do you realize that the average book is over 70k words and writers suffer over every one of them?  Is this the right word?  We agonize, trust me on this one grasshopper!

When you get the boilerplate letter weeks to months later, file it away, and send it out again.  Someone out there is looking for what you wrote and just possibly with weed so much more prevalent, you might catch them in a stoned moment, and they might laugh at your hook or characters and in a weak moment, they send you an e-mail with all kinds of miss spelled words telling you that you rock and please submit the entire manuscript!  Hey, it could happen!

On the flip side, you find the agent who is genuinely seeking what you wrote and is ready to do what it takes to sign you.

Happy days!  It could happen.

Tonight I just uploaded a new version of Diamond Joe.  After applying many things that I have learned over the years, I have made this lesbian love affair, an affair to remember.

That sounds tawdry, and it is not.

The beta reader told me that she loved the story and was amazed that my characters each had their own voice.  ‘Hello, they should have their own voices.”

This is a romance with romantic subplots, family issues, and oh yes, a racehorse!

What is not to love about a rags to riches story, where a young lady discovers who she is and better yet, captures the heart of a young rich widow, who has no idea that she would love another woman?

I walk you through the entire thought process, and I take you down the dark road of, ‘what if she is after my money?”

Oh yes, there are gold diggers out there, gay or straight or is it gay and straight?

This is a heart wrenching, feel-good story that they should make a movie out of but, Hallmark has yet to make a movie with same-sex couples.  Why is that?  This book would be such a killer hot movie.  Maybe Netflix should pick it up.

I am trying to figure out who would play whom…

Back to the feedback.  What you want from them is what they liked and what did not work for them.  That is all you want, as that is all you need.  If they start to tell you, it would have worked better if…Stop them!  You don’t want to know the ‘if’ part.  The reasons are simple.  If they render an opinion and you should be foolish enough to take it, guess what, it is now their story, not yours.

So ladies and gentlemen, if you read my novels and you should be so kind as to offer me feedback, just tell me what worked and did not work for you.  Allow me to figure out why.  I am the writer and in my little office, I am a god!

That sounds crazy but think about it.  I create worlds, people, places, and situations. I even create evil little rabbits.  That is what a writer does, and if you don’t respect any writer that you know, you might find yourself in one of their stories, tied to the bed, surrounded by hundreds of chocolate Easter rabbits, without their ears.  Since they cannot hear you, they will never know if you are loving, or hating your throat being eaten out.  It is just payback after all.

Write! Write! Write!

When I get a rejection letter, which I do on occasion, it just drives me to improve my craft.  Since they hardly ever tell you anything other than, ‘we don’t sell this shit’ (paraphrased,) you send it out again while learning your craft even better.  That is what drives me.  Yes, I would love to know what exactly they didn’t like about it but, it is probably their twelve-year-old child going through the slush pile while playing some game on their phone.

  • Put some magic in your hook!
  • Cast a spell on the reader.

Write something so overpowering that even the twelve-year-old will stop looking at the phone long enough to say ‘WOW!”

I have said it many times in different ways, you cannot be a one-trick pony.  Write your story, nobody is perfect and your story will not be perfect.  Send the thing out and start writing about evil little bunnies, or not.

If you are like me, you are on fire at the keyboard.  You can go hours without eating, or even thinking about food, as your characters are running through caves or jumping off cliffs, you cannot leave them!  Continue on, and don’t let the bastards or twelve-year-olds get you down.

Agents are always looking, even though they might profess to be too busy.  If they are good, they are looking.  You might try sending your queries to agents in states where pot is legal…I kid…nobody gives a damned if it is legal or not!

I am probably one of the few who has never tried it.  I don’t smoke, but I hear some gummies are to die for…Bwhaaa!  Are they rabbit gummies?

Much love peeps.  -TW

Greetings Fellow Earthlings!

Are your books selling well?

 

I hope that this blog finds you all well.  If not, let me know, and I will put you in my prayers, or if you are against such things, I will send you good thoughts.

What is wrong with that sentence?

I genuinely do mean that I will pray for you but, I am appealing to the politically correct or those who don’t believe in a higher power.

You might have noticed that usually, I sign with ‘much love.’

If you are reading this blog or you have purchased one of my many novels, or perhaps you follow me on Twitter, we share a bond.

I can love you without being ‘in love’ with you if that makes sense.

Writers share a bond, and I feel like most of my followers are writers.

Currently, I am going through the process of looking at each of my novels ‘all 30 something of them’ and trying to figure out why some sell very well, and some don’t.   I have asked close friends to read those that are not selling well, and give me feedback.

To improve my craft, I have spent much time and money on programs, classes and yes seminars to see what I can learn that I don’t already know.

If you are a successful author, please comment below and send me a link to your books.

If nothing else, you will sell a book or two.

Do you realize how much of what we write must be perfect to sell?  Not only is the story critical, but the characters must be real.  Once you get a cohesive story with characters that people can relate to and ‘feel’, you have to create the perfect cover.

The brand that you assemble and sell to the world must be one that people will recognize and gravitate toward, before they even read the title.

If your pen name or brand brings people to your books, you are successful.  The cover art must be perfect.  As an artist, I have muddled my way through one cover after another.  I don’t have the luxury of hiring a focus group or think tank to assist in that process.  You probably don’t either.

There is a real benefit to fishing for an agent, a good one. They know the people and companies to contact for the perfect cover, and for the precise editing of said book.

In one of the groups I am associated with, I uploaded a complete novel for them to read, free of charge.  Just give me some feedback.

The novel has enjoyed medium success, but for the subject matter and the type of story, it should be much better.

Here is the truth of the matter, not one person has downloaded it and read it.

If I cannot give a novel away to other writers, how can I expect to sell it?

I challenged them with that question at the last meeting. ‘They don’t have time,’ was the answer.

Allow me to pontificate on what it takes to be a successful writer.

  • Read much and often.
  • Go out of your office and live your life.
  • Pay attention to everything and anyone.
  • Make notes of things and or people that might make fodder for a story.
  • Don’t steer away from controversial issues.

What I was hoping for is for them to read it, and offer some feedback.

From character development to the story itself, what did you like or not like, and why?

‘Why’ is the operative word.

Without ‘why,’ what they tell you is worthless.

One of my beta readers told me just tonight that there were a few ‘eww’ moments.

Ok, great, what are they, and why?

Feedback is critical to the process, and let me tell you, it is like pulling hen’s teeth.

Was that idiom lost on you?

As the weeks and months progress, I will be creating more blogs with helpful thoughts, notes and what have you, regarding writing.

If you have not followed me yet, why not?  Am I asking for money for these pearls of wisdom?  No.

Am I seeking free anything from anyone?  No

Am I trying to pay it forward and assist other writers…?  Yes!

With Christmas around the corner, we have time to write before the year ends, don’t waste it.

Much Love…-TW