The Pitfalls of Writing Today

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One current ugly stumbling block for all writers these days to be ignored at all costs is the average inbred moron seated at his computer who deludes himself into believing that what he says on a public book based forum actually matters. Alway providing of course that you were dum enough to allow his or her rant to appear as a comment on your blog in the first place!

These kinds of people set themselves up as self-styled critics, typically wittering on endlessly about subjects such as non-American spelling and grammar in books written by anyone living beyond the borders of the US for instance, thereby clearly demonstrating their ignorance of the English language to the world at large. The aforementioned description while general, nevertheless fits the individuals currently responsible for the majority of one and two star reviews for any book you care to name on Amazon, to the detriment of the genuine reviewer. Not one of them has ever written a book in their entire lives, let alone had one published, and yet they feel it is their bounden duty to harshly criticise, especially when it comes to newbies, no matter whether or not they are self-publishers or mainstream. There are also a few unscrupulous individuals who see absolutely nothing wrong in adding a link to their review of your book advertising their own efforts – report them!!!

Like most writers these days, I simply fail to understand why Amazon seemingly encourages and condones what amounts to nothing more than often vicious attacks. As a writer, for the sake of your sanity take my advice and never read the reviews. Above all refrain from entering the forums, no matter how indignant you may feel.

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Unlike them, as a successful writer I see far more pressing issues in a lot of today’s eBook offerings, the main one often being the new writer’s poor choice of genre. A lot simply jump on the bandwagon hoping to cash in on what is portrayed as popular by various publisher’s advertising campaigns, such as the current trend in nauseating vampire and zombie based stories and what can only be described as badly written pornography – (Fifty Shades of Grey springs to mind). While it is true to say that these genres appeal to a mainly young sector of society, those who write more thought provoking novels are left by the wayside, struggling to survive. Still others become convinced about writing for niche markets, which in effect means the product of their efforts will barely sell in the dozens rather than the thousands.

Face it people, the only book that will sell in its thousands is the one whose subject matter initially provokes curiosity in the mind of the often fickle potential reader. A growing number of writers cling desperately to the belief that by writing in a largely unpopular genre, the product of their toil will be noticed. How many times recently have I seen writers desperate to sell their wares, spend money time and effort to change a cover for instance and to produce actual paperback copies, which they then hawk around the many small time book fairs, largely at their own expense? In the end none of the aforesaid will make a damned bit of difference if your favourite genre is currently out of fashion. To my mind this kind of thinking is nothing more than an example of self induced vanity press. In other words spending money you can ill afford.

Just remember this – if you have to shell out good money to get your manuscript edited by a so-called professional, you have to recover that cost as well as the cost of the cover and printing before you are in profit – something which a lot of modern day writers choose to ignore at their peril.

Next comes the biggest stumbling block for a lot of writers – editing and proof reading. Many pay someone to edit for them. But, using the ‘look inside’ feature available on Amazon, it would appear that many mainstream editors let alone self-published writers simply fail to use a Spell checker, common to all writing software packages. The same goes for the humble Grammar checker – patently ignored by the majority. How many even use the Look up or Synonym features, accessed simply by right clicking over a word? Not many obviously.

We now arrive at colloquial language and writing in the first person. Many fall into the trap of using colloquial language when two characters are conversing within the context of a story – bad idea! The other big no-no is to write in the first person. It is not easy to do. The use of first person is chock full of pitfalls for the unsuspecting. Avoid using it if you can. Loathsome as it may be, even third person is preferable.

Finally remember this simple fact, the product of all your hard work is just one among millions currently available. If its content doesn’t stand out, it is destined to sit in the literary equivalent of the doldrums for ever more. No amount of cover changes, giveaways and signed copies in an internet contest will increase its chances of becoming a best seller!!!

20 thoughts on “The Pitfalls of Writing Today

  1. The reign of the trolls on Amazon is about to end. I am currently the victim of one of their most vicious attacks to date. But I have them dead to rights; screen shots of them conspiring to leave 1-star no-read attack reviews, a book I just published that although it has no sales already has 4 1-star reviews. After some research I have discovered that many of the activities Amazon allows the trolls to indulge in appear to be in violation the Minnesota cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying statutes. Not only that but a person filing a complaint of cyber-stalking or cyber-bullying need not provide proof of the accusation. That means if I file a complaint charges will be filed and arrests made.
    This story should break all over the internet within a few days.

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    • Good luck with that Rick. I can’t honestly say that I think you will win. After all you are going into a David and Goliath situation with Amazon and its in house trolls.

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  2. I think the only proper way to put your book out there is through proper self-marketing. You have to find the group of people that your book appeals to and find a way to suggest to them to read it. Theses days we’re plagued with a certain amount of laziness. Most people that know about Amazon are the more technological people of the world. Unfortunately because of when technology was introduced, you get a younger crowd that is only interested in *drum roll please*… What is popular.

    I do agree though, Amazon needs to do something about who they allow to be a critic. Maybe the star system should be reserved for avid readers. Feedback is important, and you would not want to keep quiet or block out out every one who would potentially review your story because not everyone is a troll. However, a little control over how readers are allowed to impact your story would be nice!

    If you get the opportunity, make sure you bring that up, Rick! These trolls are in a way also vandalizing your work. Think about your book being on a shelf in a library. Their one star ratings and tasteless reviews are the equivalent to unwanted, amateur scrutiny written all over your book cover.

    Good luck to you, and great article. 🙂

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      • Oh ye of little faith, theses people are criminals, and their attacks cyber-stalking and harassment, both crimes punishable with up to 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine. They are already unusually quiet today since I informed them they are criminals yesterday. For the last week I have had alerts of 30 or more posts by the trolls, today 1. I suspect they have moved their wallow to another forum thread that has not yet been reported to me. No doubt plotting after researching the info I gave them and reconsidering their whole position now they have been revealed to be the criminals they are. In other words they are on the run and they can smell it. Can you smell it?

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  3. For god’s sake be careful Rick. Re Amazon here in the UK, The government is still trying to force it into paying the correct amount of corporate tax, (£2.5 billion). They are also demanding tax from Google and Starbucks too.

    Personally I think it would be far easier to push runny excreta uphill with a toothpick!

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    • Thanks for your concern M8. 🙂 I have the news people from KTTC tv coming to interview me momentarily about these cyber-crimes that have been ignored far too long. That smell I been alluding to is the smell of your runny excreta hitting the fan. The troll are on the ropes and if I can muster enough press they will be exposed to the light of day as the criminals they are. We all know what happens to a troll in daylight.

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  4. While I agree with you on some points, I have to point out that, though it wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular, the constructive (and necessary I might add) criticism regarding first timers could be construed as ‘trolling’ if it were posted within a review of a person’s book.
    So where does one draw the line at Trolling?
    I think we should all remember that many people are not very good at either GIVING criticism or RECEIVING criticism. (I mean, nobody likes to be told they have runny excreta, and they might retaliate, even if their original intentions were good and simply misconstrued) review three books a week, and while I’m always trying to highlight good aspects of a book, I also do not disguise my negative reactions.
    Why?
    The only way to better your writing is through the lens of CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. So I was taken aback when you suggested authors ignore their reviews.
    Great post with a lot to talk about.

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    • Thank you for reading and replying Ensis.

      Constructive criticism is one thing, but what some ‘Amazon reviewers’ consistently do is anything but. When one of those people deliberately sets out to ‘get’ a writer (new or established), it quickly becomes nothing more than cyber-bullying. Believe me when I tell you that until Amazon stop turning a blind eye to their viciousness, I will continue to encourage all writers to avoid reading the reviews.

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    • Ensis, you will find that there is a difference between a troll making a few remarks and a concerted organized effort to harm careers and sales by a group of trolls who constantly do this. One is an annoyance the other a crime.

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  5. Many trolls think they have found a permanent wallow on Amazon forums. They do their dirty work under the guise of reviewers and scream bloody murder if anyone question their actions. Hiding behind the reviewer persona they are always whining about troll authors and the importance of free honest reviews. But they are the trolls and they specialize in 1-star no read attack reviews with 20 or so of them voting on comments and reviews to control what reviews or comments stay on top. This secondary gaming of the Amazon website to control the placement of reviews on book pages shows clearly they are organized with the explicit aim of cyber-bullying new writers.

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    • Their actions are nothing more than a planned attack designed to harm, and have absolutely nothing to do with issuing genuine reviews. As someone who professes to write genuine reviews you Ensis should realise this.

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  6. Here are a few of the current crop of troublemakers:
    Amanda Welling
    Amazing Grace
    Anna Karenina
    angela longstaffe
    Bruins Gal
    Carla
    Cathyr
    Coaxial Creature
    Cphe
    Curmudgeon
    Charlene
    Dog Lover
    ETA: soon
    G
    Ginmar
    Gunspurs
    Hamstead
    HJ Leonard
    H.Stewart
    In2Books
    Iola
    John Green
    K.L. Clark
    Kathryn
    KarlynP
    Kelli
    Mahala
    Marcus Pailing
    Mayhem
    Michael McKinney
    Misfit
    Miss M
    Nana Janet
    Ness
    Nospin
    Old Rocker
    Pete Morin
    peachbird76
    Rachel
    Scamp
    ScottBooks
    Sires
    Strawberry
    Teacher Mommy
    Tansy Gold
    TheInQuisition
    Twinny

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