Monday, December 31, 2012

Amazon bans authors reviewing other authors on its site

In the past couple of years there have been several instances of authors posting glowing reviews of their own books on Amazon under fake names to promote themselves. This has been dubbed "sock puppeting" and after several complaints from other authors and the public Amazon has decided to crack down on it by banning authors from reviewing other authors who write the same genre as they do. Authors can still review books as long as they are not in the same genre they write in and - this is what really makes me mad - are positive and fit Amazon's guidelines.

So even if you hate a book if you want to review it you will have to put more stars then you think it deserves. How is this fair and honest? How is this a good thing? Amazon is treating all the authors of the world like they are children. "Now now," said Amazon. "Can we play nice, please, children? Anyone who says something nasty will have to go to their room!"

It seems that the humble review has become a bit of a weapon. Now anything below five stars is viewed as "trolling" and the reviewer can be targeted to an online hate campaign for attacking an author and trying to damage their career all with a simple honest review. Amazon thinks if an author reviews another author who writes in their genre that should be considered a "conflict of interest" and that they cannot be impartial about their views.

Oh please. Can NO ONE handle honest criticism anymore? Do we all have to hold hands as authors and constantly pat each other on the back and say "Good job!" and pretend to be friends? Is it so wrong to be honest and to point out each others flaws? Do we really want to live in a world where negative reviews are not allowed? Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Shouldn't we be able to say "I didn't like that book and here are the reasons why..." without being thrown off a site or bullied on facebook and youtube?

On the other side of the coin is authors who really are using reviews as weapons. I'm talking about people who have not read a book but target other authors because they might see them as competition or they might have posted a negative review of their ow work and want revenge. This is childish behavior and should be stopped. But forcing all authors to post "only positive" reviews is not that answer. Do not stifle the free speech of everyone because a couple of big babies don't know how to act like mature adults on the internet.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Death of Capitals

As a writer I am a bit of a grammar Nazi. My spelling and grammar is not always perfect. I make mistakes like anyone else. But if there is one I always do it is start my frigging sentences with capitals, people! I've been noticing a trend of people forgetting or choosing not to use capitals and it really, really bugs me.

It's not just people forgetting to use capitals. When people write in textspeak (which I've ranted about in the past) and combine it with bad grammar they might as well be speaking in another language because I cannot understand them. It's like young/stupid people have their own version of the English now. Is this what getting old feels like? Eventually I'll probably need someone to translate young people speak for me.

When I see people write without capitals I really do want to start waving my arms around and ranting and raving. It's just so lazy. I especially hate it when celebrities do it because I think it sets a horrible example. It also makes the person come off in my opinion as dumb and uneducated. In reality I know they are just lazy.

Is it so hard to write you instead of u or to press the caps key when you start a sentence? If I wasn't a writer this probably would not bother me so much...

In other news it has been a real slow year for me writing wise. I suffered from a lot of writers block and a lot of real life drama got in the way and my muse packed her bags and went on vacation. I'm experimenting with short stories at the moment and taking it easy and waiting for inspiration to strike for my next big project. I do have one short story being subbed around so fingers crossed I find a happy home for it!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Big babies on the internet: Why can't authors handle bad critiques anymore?

There sees to be an increasing numbers of authors chuckling tantrums on the internet over bad critiques. No one can handle honest criticism anymore. I read one story about a fellow author who reviewed another book. She gave it two and a half stars and kindly listed its bad and good points. An honest, good review.

The author of the book she reviewed complained to Amazon, got her review pulled down, and did a "revenge" review of her book in an attempt to tarnish her sales.

How fucking childish is that? I've heard of authors complaining to reviewers that they did not "read their book right" after receiving a less than stellar review. What the hell? How can you read a book wrong? If they misunderstand anything then it's your fault Mr-knickers-in-a-twist. Why don't you stop whinging and listen to what they have to say? You might learn something and improve as a writer.

I've struggled to accept bad reviews in the past. I've had some harsh ones. It is natural to want to defend your book. I've done it in the past. I'm not proud of it. I've never done it to a reviewer though. I've done it to people who have been kind enough to critique me. But I've learned from those lessons. I've been childish in the past. Easily hurt. Offended. I try to be more mature now. Now when people critique me on line I address all their points, good and bad, and attempt to see things through their eyes. And you know what? By swallowing my pride and listening to others I really feel like I have improved a lot as a writer.

Every writer must learn how to accept criticism. A bad review is not an attack on you or your writing. Do yourself a favor and stop reading reviews of your books all together if the temptation to respond to them is too strong for you. Be professional.

Should teenagers read "adult" romances?

God, I really hate Fifty Shades of Grey. Morning chat shows waffle on about it as if it invented the erotica genre. They talk about the author and her rise to success and how "You TOO could achieve her success!" by doing these ten simple steps. This morning they spoke about a book being labelled "Fifty Shades of Grey for teenagers" and asked the question...gasp...should our precious children be reading that sort of filth?

What annoys me is they seem to think that every romance book out there at the moment is identical to Fifty Shades of Grey and contains nothing but sex, sex, sex. Wrong. Yes, there are a lot of FSOFG clones out at the moment, but do not think for one second that every romance author out there right now is desperate to jump onto the erotica band wagon.

The book they mentioned was about a 16 year old girl who has to chose between two young boys who are both battling to win her affections. They made no mention whatsoever that it contained sex scenes similar to those featured in Fifty Shades of Grey. The title Irresistible, the front cover of a man unbuttoning his shirt, and the premise of a 16 year old girl having sex was apparently enough to throw this book into the "porn" category for them.

The reason, apparently, why the book is being marketed as an age appropriate alternative to Fifty Shades of Grey is because some bunch of old, disconnected adults somewhere think the teenagers would relate to the book better because the characters are teenagers like them. They then went on to say how it would better for them to read books like Irresistible, erotica novels tailored for their age group, than adult novels.

Um...why? I started reading romance novels (bodice rippers) when I was 14. My mother gave them to me. I did not want to read about teenagers and their boring, stupid lives. I wanted to read about cowboys, Indians, sexy space men, sexy vampires! I wanted to read fantasies! The books I read could not have been more adult. They had big strapping men on the front hugging women to their chest while on the deck of a boat. I still remember trying to hide the front cover with my hands while I tried to read one of my bodice rippers on the bus.

Listening to some stupid old man this morning on the tv say "Do we really want children as young as ten reading fifty shades of grey?" really made me mad because he is comparing all romance books to one badly written, fucked up trilogy that showcases sexual violence.

I really hate how we live in a society that wants to shield young children, and even teenagers, from sex as if it is some shameful, terrible secret. It makes me mad. I would not recommend Fifty Shades of Grey to my future children, because I think it's crap, but if they want to read it I will not stop them. I would let them make their own decision. Once their done I would recommend a dozen betters books though.