Pseudo-experts and other lunatics

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Here’s another post about some of the sharks waiting to pounce on the unwary writer…

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As a published writer, sooner or later you will encounter one or more of the following!

Once you have published a book or books, it is inevitable that you will attract the attention of individuals with a doctorate obtained via the internet specializing in incomprehensibly stupid!

The day when Amazon opened the can of worms by giving everyone and their dog the privilege of being able to offer their opinion on your work on their sites worldwide, was the day the age of the internet troll and other non-entities was born.

Today, not only Indie writers, but also traditionally published ones find themselves on the receiving end of what can only be described as complete hokum by pseudo-experts. For the latter its bad enough that their editors are imposing their often misguided personal opinions on how a book should be written, often to the detriment of the story, instead of sticking to correcting grammar and punctuation. But now all writers are endlessly being bombarded by totally baffling comments by some other published writers, who quite frankly should know better than to openly criticise someone elses work in public.

What you and they have to realise is that they are expert in only one thing – destroying their own reputation just for the sake of pouring scorn on a fellow writer’s work. Not everyone can write a story worthy of being read, let alone be published. Which is why so many who entertained the idea of fame and fortune by writing the definitive novel of the age fail and soon resurface as literary experts and critics. Or worse, offer their services as editors, always for a fee of course!!!

What none of them are willing to accept is that first of all your story is yours not theirs. Secondly, who better than you to know its ins and outs, plot and counter plot?

If you are lucky, people will find it among the millions of books on offer and read it. Some will like it. Others not, so they do their damnedest to convince the public to stay away, which begs the question why? In the case of failed writers, it has to be that they are quite literally green with envy. More than likely, they’re angry that they didn’t come up with the best seller first. What other reason could there possibly be for all the bile and invective showered on successful writers that we see on most social media sites on a daily basis?

What about what the literary snobs, pedants, anal retentives, pretentious poseurs, grammar nazis and other self-important armchair critics who inhabit the internet these days say? If you will take some advice from an old campaigner – JUST LIKE THE TROLLS, IGNORE THEM ALL LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

Having read this, you will now know that I have zero tolerance for any of the above types. Guess what, neither have any of my published writing colleagues either…

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Déjà vu

If this post seems familiar to some of you, it should do. I originally posted it on the 15th of February, 2015. Later I reblogged it. But as you know WP only allows a post to be reblogged once by any given individual. Hence the repost today with a couple of additional points included. Why? Because in these days of don’t read anything longer than a tweet, its message is still relevant – probably more so…

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woodchuck

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck,
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.

If you are of a certain age, chances are that you learnt that tongue twister in primary school, just as I did back in the early nineteen-fifties. It is a perfect example of the overuse of specific words, even though in this case it’s just a fun thing for kids to learn and to attempt to recite.

Many emerging writers tend to rely on a limited vocabulary, even though most words have perfectly acceptable alternatives. How many times have you seen specific words endlessly repeated by a new writer? Either that, or the incorrect versions of words.

Chances are you will come across examples of words when writing, which while sounding similar when used in actual conversation between two people, are completely wrong in a given instance within any piece of writing.

Note to self – hmm, a lot of words beginning with ‘w’ in that last sentence. Must watch that. Damn, there’s another one!

If you want an example of similar sounding words think about there, they’re and their. They all sound exactly alike. But in each instance they have a totally different meaning. Even simple words we all use such as and, can and do become seriously overused by most writers. I’m no different in that regard. I’ve even been known to start a sentence with it on occasion, for example the one word question – “And?” But only during a conversation between some of my characters.

What I’m about to say, I’ve said in previous posts here on my blog. But just for you, here it is again – once you have written that first draft, go back over it many times during its edit phase. Make sure that one of your editing sessions is solely dedicated to deliberately finding alternatives of those words you are so fond of overusing.

How? Use the synonym function incorporated into your writing software in conjunction with a dictionary and thesaurus. Even better, why not rewrite certain sentences using completely different words, that convey the same meaning as the original one?

Before some of you feel an attack of righteous indignation coming on, and are thinking of going on the offensive, I am fully aware that I have used several words in this post more than once. In this instance I am completely justified as I’m merely pointing out that every one of us needs to pay heed to the way we write.

In short folks, do your darndest to avoid using certain words too often. Here are some more similar sounding words that writers tend to get wrong – your and you’re, to and too. Allowed is yet another example of a word that sounds the same when spoken even when spelt differently. Its cousin aloud has a completely different meaning. The list is endless. Is it any wonder that so many people find the English language hard to come to grips with?

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Next, I would just like to point out something to all of the various types of literary cowards who insist upon hiding behind pseudonyms, such as a number of the armchair critics, pedants, grammar nazis, literary snobs etc, who inhabit the darker recesses of the Internet, each of them purporting to know far more about the written word than most writers.

None of us likes a smart arse who deliberately sets him or herself up as a scathing critic.

To all of the above – I can only surmise that what you appear to be suffering from is the literary equivalent of penis envy. Remember this, apart from being counterproductive, jealousy tends to feed on itself. Never forget that. It’s the only reason I can think of for why you deem it absolutely necessary to be so vicious towards not only the newcomers, but also seasoned writers, whether Indie or traditionally published?

First of all, may I suggest that you get over yourselves. Secondly, instead of endlessly criticising new and seasoned writers, by issuing those interminably boring, often repetitious one and two star reviews you are so fond of placing in the public arena, in your pathetic attempts to destroy a writer’s reputation, as some of you still tend to do on Goodreads and Amazon (you know who you are), why not actually try to write a book yourself. Maybe you already have, which probably accounts for the way you behave. But go on, give it another try. Far better to occupy your time by writing a book. Once you do, prepare yourselves for when it is torn to shreds by your fellow trolls. In other words, I’d think long and hard if I were you before you feel the overwhelming desire coming on, to rubbish someone else’s work.

Like most writers, I always refrain from reviewing some books, especially those written by new writers, if they did not succeed in gaining my full attention by drawing me into the story. Believe me when I say that it’s always better to do that, rather than to publicly condemn, and by definition, earn yourself a reputation as yet another vicious troll.

Just cast your minds back to the so-called review of my historical story Autumn 1066 , which I posted here on my blog a few weeks back… If I ever feel the need to offer criticism, it’s usually in the form of advice offered privately, well away from the gaze of the general public, either by email or when chatting to my fellow writers on Facebook.

All disenchanted individuals should try doing the same thing instead of attacking…

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Criticism versus Reviews

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What any writer dreads the most are attacks by members of the public, often with an axe to grind…

In days gone by every writer knew that the only individuals who offered opinions about their work were journalists working for leading newspapers, in the guise of literary critics. Back then they encapsulated the essence of a new work of fiction in one line of carefully chosen words taken from the text in question. Never once did their newspaper’s editor allow them to speak harshly against a given work. Instead, they chose to beguile future readers with the use of a single sentence from the book in question as an enticement like the following:

“A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

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Sadly those days are no more. Today, every reader has the freedom to criticise by writing whatever they believe is a review, knowing that they can get away with blue murder, then posting it on book sites such as Amazon. Most are not true reviews at all. Instead what you will see are endless examples of critiques, or far worse! The vast majority believe it is their god given right to tear apart any and every book, in particular ebooks by both traditional and indie authors.

It isn’t! All you are doing is showing your ignorance to the world at large. Some, not all, make it their business to harangue the author of the work they have just written about. A small number will insist that they could have made a far better job of writing the story!

To all of them I ask this – how many of them have ever written anything longer than their own signature I wonder? Have any of them ever had a book published? How would they feel if the boot was on the other foot? Would they feel outraged about the product of all their hard work being considered rubbish by hateful individuals? These people who go on the offensive are too cowardly to use their own name, preferring instead to remain anonymous by hiding behind a pseudonym.

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It’s inevitable whenever you publish…

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Hi kiddies, I’m back on the offensive once again.

The following is a classic example of what happens when a Troll goes on the attack by looking for the next title on their hate list:

The text does not flow. I was frequently jolted by missing punctuation and poor sentence structure.
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In this particular instance, the targeted book is my scifi love story:

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Céleste: Love, Hate, Revenge and Danger among the Stars.

And yet, despite the above pathetic attempt to rubbish the book by a specific troll living in Vermont, one Sligo McKluge, when he delivered his blatantly obvious attack, the book continues to receive nothing but praise by those who have actually bought and read it from the beginning to the end. Which begs the simple question – why the hell does Amazon still allow bitter and twisted morons like McKluge to comment in the first place?

Before the peace and brotherly love set jump in to defend him by preaching about the fundamental rights of the individual, insisting McKluge was merely exercising his/its/her/their right to express their personal opinion according to the section on the democratic right to freedom of speech in the first amendment of United States’ Constitution, I would remind you that like every other successfully published author of my acquaintance who are constantly targeted by total fwits like McKluge, I can tell you that that particular argument does not wash! It is nothing more or less than a load of old horse manure, especially when authors do not have the right to veto all one and two star reviews. Or better still, like Facebook, be allowed to block certain people from commenting, or in this instance reviewing!!!

PS – according to KDP, its being read in the US at the moment McKluge, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it!!!

Bah Bloody humbug

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Without Reviews Books Don’t Sell!

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I’ll say it again – without reviews, books don’t sell!

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Sunday last I posted about a perfectly good, balanced review for my latest science fiction romance Céleste that Amazon refused to allow because its author and I know each other. Since then, thanks to Derek Haines telling me how, it now appears as an Editorial Review on Céleste’s page on Amazon.com.

It’s bad enough that many people today don’t want to read a book. But for those that do, the number who take the time to acknowledge the book they have read by posting a genuine review are rarer than hen’s teeth. It doesn’t help matters when Amazon deliberately remove reviews willy-nilly, under the pretence of doing away with fake ones, while at the same time bending their own rules, when they openly offer professional reviews for a price. So how can they possibly justify their actions while removing reviews written by perfectly ordinary readers who bought and enjoyed any given book? The mind simply boggles at what can only be described as Amazon’s blatantly obvious double standards where reviews are concerned.

We writers are always telling you that reviews sell books. It’s a great pity that Amazon fails to appreciate that simple fact. After all, if a book doesn’t sell, they earn nothing, as does the author who did all the hard work in the first place…

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Taking a calculated gamble with the Trolls

online troll

To survive in the merciless world of Indie books, let alone achieve meaningful sales, sometimes you have to take steps to give your book a real chance. I’m not advocating that anyone tries what I did in this particular instance by any means. Occasionally it works. Most of the time it doesn’t.

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There was a time when like all writers I used to really get upset by Troll attacks. Then I saw a way of turning them to my advantage, a way that turns their attacks into book sales. A few days ago I decided to once again try a tactic I hadn’t used in many a long year, to get the Trolls that lurk on Amazon.com to attack my latest novella The Guardian (click on the link in green to see their one and two star reviews). I laid a trap to make it easy for them to find me on Amazon.com and Twitter by including my name and the book title in a deliberately hard hitting review of another scifi book. Predictably they took the bait.

When it comes to getting your book noticed, in this day and age you have to make use of any and all tactics, in this case by turning what many (myself included) normally see as a negative, into a positive. As a sales tactic, at best its dubious. But it works. Remember that the literary world takes no prisoners. To succeed you not only have to develop a thick skin, but also be prepared to sometimes turn other’s underhanded tactics to your own advantage, as distasteful as they may be.

Amazon Troll’s reactions are always the same. They rarely vary, therefore they can easily be manipulated to your advantage.

The gamble paid off. It’s working brilliantly. Once again the Trolls have obliged by falling for the same old ruse. Consequently sales have already picked up!

The more loudly the Trolls condemn a book, not only on Amazon but also on Twitter, the more readers become curious about why they are viciously attacking your book, and so they buy a copy. Sounds crazy I know. But it works!

Sometimes you have to employ tactics like this to survive in the dog eat dog world of books, especially when your latest offering is just another title among the hundreds of thousands of newly published books on offer. If you don’t want it to disappear from the reading public’s gaze, distastful as it may be, even employing the Troll’s negativity becomes a legitimate sales tactic.

My sincere thanks to the Trolls for your one and two star reviews on Amazon and comments on Twitter. Please keep them coming. The last time you attacked one of my books like this back in 2012, it became a best seller.

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What’s wrong with getting an eBook for nothing?

Free Books.001

Only everything!!!

The fact that today’s readers of eBooks demand they must be free or on offer as part of an all you can read for x number of dollars per month package deal, is just so wrong!

Face it people, when you go to your supermarket to get your groceries, or to any other retail outlet you care to name, do you get what you want for nothing? No of course not. So why should you expect to get a book for free? I’ve heard some people claim it should be free because an eBook isn’t a real book, only an electronic file. Good grief morons, try engaging your brains for once in your lives! These same idiots argue that they should be able to download their favourite music for free as well. I have just two words on that particular subject – Taylor Swift!!! We need someone like her to stand up for the largely toothless contributing authors of this world…

Thanks to Amazon belabouring the fact that eBooks are electronic files, the concept of never paying for any eBook written by an Indie has become the norm. How many of you feel guilty about reading that eBook you got for nothing? More to the point, how many of those free eBooks you downloaded, have you actually read, let alone reviewed?

Doesn’t it bother you that the eBook’s author invested several months, or in some cases, years writing it? If not, it damned well should!

It’s high time you all grew a conscience and put yourselves in the author’s place for once. After all, would you go into work if you knew that you would not receive a salary for your hard work? Of course you wouldn’t!

More fool us for loving the written word, to the point where we sweat blood like you wouldn’t believe to bring you that latest book. Common decency demands that we are owed monetary recompense for all our hard work in the form of royalties, no matter the price of the book in question.

Unfortunately these days most Indies are lucky if their titles sell in the dozens per annum. Thanks to Amazon’s penny pinching change in how they pay royalties, known as KENPR or Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read, combined with your own equally selfish attitude towards the product of our labours, if any writer thinks they will become rich these days, they’re seriously kidding themselves. We’re no different to you in that we need money to survive, but thanks to Amazon and uncaring people like you, 99.999% of Amazon’s Indie authors consider themselves lucky if they make maybe a couple of hundred dollars (US) yearly from writing.

Remember this tightwads – authors never receive royalties from those free copies you all greedily help yourselves too.

PS – if you agree with me, reblog this!!!

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Beware – Idiotic Marketing Ideas Are Here!

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A Typical English High Street

Yesterday morning I took delivery of an electric air-pump, which I need to inflate my new airbed. Now all I’m waiting for are those highly idiotic ‘please rate the product’ emails from Amazon UK. While they will expect me to rave on like a two bob watch about both products, I think on this occasion I’ll refrain. Hell’s teeth, we’re only talking about a blow up mattress and an electric air-pump, nothing special.

I hate to tell you this Amazon, but we’re a nation that still likes shopping in small family run businesses in our high streets where you get friendly courteous service. Yes there is a place for large concerns like yours where we can buy almost anything we care to name. Undoutedly the prices will be cheaper than any high street shop, but what we don’t need is all the hype and BS that goes with buying anything from you.

There is another thing which has crept in from across the pond, the sheer lunacy of sales days like Black Friday where total idiots with money to burn literally battle with one another, often violently, over products, and Cyber Monday when the emphasis is on equally insane online buying of those self same products.

I honestly don’t know how any of you feel about sales days like these, but when US based companies think that what works back home, will not only become accepted practice, but also be welcomed with open arms by the vast majority of the population of other lands, I’m sorry Amazon etal, but while the young may see nothing wrong with American sales tactics being employed more and more these days, the older generations, which is by far the majority here in the UK, usually steer well clear, preferring the peace and quiet of small shops.

Why an airbed? Two reasons. First of all because as a pensioner on a low income I can’t afford to buy a new soft mattress, necessary for a comfortable night’s sleep. Secondly, my back and other places, one of which I sit on, is now covered in various types of skin cancer, a legacy of spending forty-two years exposed to direct UV radiation from the Sun within the hole in the ozone layer down south in New Zealand. As for the ones on my back, which despite being benign are never the less painful, especially if I lay on my back at some point during the night, the doctors will only treat them if I submit to the knife once more. Or allow them to use focused radiation to fix the problem.

Will I let them near me ever again? Hell no. My previous experience with the local mob of medical specialists, was to say the least, far worse than putting up with the damned cancers. And another thing, it was radiation that caused the problem in the first place. I don’t need the side effects of any other form of radiation to add to my woes, thank you very much. Some people’s bodies are covered in freckles. In my case its skin cancer.

Rant almost over. What do I really think about rating anything? What do you think?

Bah Humbug!

PS – I can honestly say that I had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in years last night, even if the airbed tended to crackle when I turned over, and I sank into it. Why on Earth didn’t I buy one much earlier? LOL

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A Couple Of Problems With Social Media Sites That Need Addressing

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Ever noticed how when setting yourselves up on any Social Media site, how they all appear to be blighted by exactly the same problems? Crass stupidity seems to be the order of the day, or could that be just sheer ignorance on the part of those responsible for the sites?

For example, take the field to be filled in re your current work status in the section where your personal details are held. If you are retired, as I am, no Social Media site appears to be able to comprehend the fact that you are no longer part of the workforce. Facebook is a glaring example of what I’m talking about. When I retired almost two years ago, I changed the information to simply read retired. Job done, or so I thought. But no. According to Facebook I now ‘work’ at retired. Duh! No I don’t! What part of the fact that I am retired are you dipsticks unable to grasp?

The same stupidity applies when it comes to your educational status. Why do any of the Social Media sites automatically assume that everyone must have gone to university? Could it be because they were set up by young graduate American entrepreneurs, with no awareness of how people in the real word actually exist?

While it may be the case for a large percentage of today’s generation like them, for people my age and older, most left high school and went into the workforce, or into the armed forces as I did. Very few ever got the chance to do a degree. Most didn’t even want to. Back when I was at school we were ‘streamed’. The few academically bright ones were either groomed for University or Teachers College, while the rest of us were directed elsewhere. Most either entered a trade learning on the job (apprenticeship), or became part of the general workforce, where you were expected to turn your hand to everything and anything, unlike today when you need to have served an apprenticeship (they call it an inhouse degree for some weird reason), to even make and serve a cup of coffee in a certain well known American coffee chain. Perhaps the management think that a degree in coffee making is far more prestigious, who knows. Either way its still learning on the job.

Linkedin is another classic example of a Social Media site suffering from this shared insanity. According to them, I’m retired at retired, whatever that means. Even after I entered the fact in their system, for some strange reason, probably something to do with my full to bursting ‘Skills’ page where other people tell the world what you are good at, they keep on suggesting job offers which they think I may be suited too!

Once again – no, I’m retired you idiots. Get over it! I worked full time for forty years from my fifteenth year until the end of 2003, when at fifty-five, I experienced a total mental breakdown, brought on by stress in the workplace, rendering me unemployable. From then until my sixty-fifth birthday, I existed (barely) on a mental health benefit.

When someone updates their personal information, especially regarding their work status, to read retired, we are not working at retired, nor are we retired at retired. We’re just retired, no longer working, no longer commuting, no longer part of the rat race. We’ve done our bit, paid income tax, worked for various businesses and other employers. We have earned the right to be retired and to finally do what we want, not what an employer demands we do for an often paltry weekly wage. What part of any of that don’t the idiotic dipsticks in charge of Social Media sites seem to be able to fully appreciate?

Rant over…

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A Case of Blatant Pretentiousness? Sadly Yes.

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Pretentious adj. attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.

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Why do some people insist on adding the word author to their name on Social Media sites like Facebook? For the greater majority of these people, if you Google them, or type their names on Amazon or any other book site, you will find that very few have actually published anything!

Maybe it helps to boost their flagging ego somehow. Perhaps they delude themselves in believing that it will impress their friends, or somehow elevate their place in society. Sorry people, all it does is confirm the suspicions of everyone who knows you personally, that you are nothing more than just another poser.

So, posers please take note – the only time the word author comes into play, is when a writer is referred to as the author of a specific book. You do not author a book, you write one!

Genuine published writers do not adopt such nonsensicle tactics. You will find that most of us just use our given names. Attributing the epithet author, or even novelist, is for others to use when referring to a writer, not for you or I to assume as some kind of title.

Despite the fact that with a few judicious inquiries, the lie these people are living will be easily exposed, they still persist in referring to themselves as Author Joe Bloggs ,or Joe Bloggs, author. Why? What’s the point? Who do they think they are kidding?

When challenged, not only by me, but by others over recent years, a few of my FB aquaintances said that when they were first creating a profile on Facebook, when it came to filling in the various fields, without thinking they inserted ‘author’ instead of leaving that part of their profile blank, at the time seeing nothing wrong with using the word, being totally unaware of the subtle difference between both words, even though they refer to the same thing. None of my published writer friends, nor myself, have adopted either word as an epithet. Funny thing that, we don’t need to. Our work speaks for us…

Think about it? Does Wilbur Smith, J.K Rowling, Dan Brown or any other writer you care to name refer to themselves as ‘author’? No of course not!

So, if anyone reading this associates the word author in any way, shape or form with their name, believing that it is somehow prestigious, or perhaps means that they are a cut above hard working genuine published writers, think on!

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