Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ruminations on Reviews or Something

"Wow. This book is incredibly raunchy! However, that's what makes it a great summer beach read in the tradition of Judith Krantz and Jackie Collins. Sex (gay AND straight), drugs, rock & roll, reality TV - you name it, this book has it. Definitely not a book for the faint-of-heart.

It's a quick read, and even though the 3 main characters are annoying in the beginning (you wonder how they can be so stupid), you do become invested in the story and in finding out how they are going to fix (or in one case, ruin) their lives.

What really annoyed me, however, was the constant references to brand names. Did I really need to know the brand name of EVERY piece of clothing Liza put on for a date, including her bracelets and fragrance, not to mention her shoes and bag?? I don't mind a brand name here and there, but in this book they were constant, and the book started to read more like a luxury goods catalog.

The ending was a bit rushed and disappointing. As I got towards the end of the book I actually wondered if I was missing a bunch of pages, because I couldn't believe the story was going to be over in just 10 pages. The Page Six style epilogue wrapped things up just a little too neatly."

This to be nameless novel was published by St. Martins so I'm not really surprised that the 2nd sentence mentions the raunch content as Diane Reverand, the editor there, seems to judge all good writing by that yardstick.  This, by the way, was a positive review at Amazon.  Really puts my bad reviews in context!

I don't actually want to talk about this but it came up someplace else, so I'll give it a quick spin around the block.
Kindle Desktop Publishing is not a free service.  Writers pay for the privilege of selling there.  What does Kindle/Amazon owe writers beyond probably the top selling site for just about everything on the planet?  I get 30% of what I sell for a 99 cent book.  That means Amazon gets 70%.  Hey, nice profit for having a site already built and everything just fits in to the existing structure.  This is such a good deal for Amazon, they are selling the Fire below cost.  What does that tell us?  That they're making out like bandits on the ebook market.

To which I will continue to say to Jeff Bezos, well done you.  This is not about money.

HOWEVER.  Back to the objects/objets thing.  Where is the machinery that  protects the authors from potentially malicious and/or stupid readers?  Why does Amazon automatically take the side of the reader without giving the author a fair hearing to defend their work?

Do you AS A WRITER, and I think it's fair for the sake of this argument that you have a vested interest in the outcome and are not a non-writer who can comment dispassionately throwing judgments about willy-nilly, want Amazon to dictate word choices or content of your book based on the complaint of one reader?

Where does it stop?  How much input from a nameless individual being protected by Amazon will you accept graciously in exchange for your shot at 35 cents?

If you were in a similar situation in legacy publishing would you in the very least write at explanation of the passage to the editor?

Prime example.  My last hardcover ever (I expect) was edited by someone with no knowledge of aviation and the book is in large part about aviation.  She thought I made a mistake and confused altitude and attitude.  Of course, as a private pilot I made no such mistake and explained the difference fully.  The explanation was accepted and the book was published with no change.

Shouldn't we expect the same from Amazon?  If not, why not? They're protecting the reader.  Don't writers deserve consideration as well.  All writers, not just Konrath and Eisler?

I know I'm ahead of the curve on this.  I know 99.9% think I'm nuts.  You all won't in another couple years.
This is a big deal.

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