Stand In Front of People and Read. No Pressure!


Johannes Jansson

John Scalzi has an interesting post up about Author Events and audience turnout:

… it happens to every writer. Ask nearly any writer who has done an event, and they will tell you a tale of at least one of their events populated by crickets and nothing else. Yes, even the best sellers. And here’s the thing about that: Even with the best sellers, it’s an event often in the not-too-recent past. Every time you do an event, you roll the dice. Sometimes you win and get a lot of people showing up. Sometimes you lose and you spend an awkward hour talking to the embarrassed bookstore staff. Either way, you deal with it, and then it’s off to the next one.

Yikes! No fun!

I’ve been to a few readings and they’re pretty cool, but I don’t know how I’d do at one if I were in the spotlight. I tend to make jokes nobody laughs at when in front of big crowds. (Like that one time when I told a joke and the utter silence of the large room was broken by the solitary laughter of my husband.That’s why we’re married, baby.)

The only other experience I have is teaching high school classes and adult education classes. In both of those situations I had some control of the room so who knows what those people actually thought of me. If someone put me in front of an event and said, “entertain everyone!” I might just defecate a small rock. (For that image: you’re welcome.)

So here’s to hoping that all future social situations go smoothly for me!

Amazon Won’t let your Mom Review your Book

Notebook_(16864494368)It recently came to my attention that if Amazon suspects that a reviewer personally knows the author, then their review of the work is deleted. I guess I can understand the need for a company as large as Amazon to guard against sock-puppeting, or the practice of logging in using multiple usernames to bolster a work unjustly. I can even see why they might want to limit reviews from friends and family, but if you’re an indie author, how the heck do you start?

Or really, what if Amazon makes a mistake? There are some authors claiming that the network they’ve built requires them to be Facebook friends with their readers, and those readers start to get disqualified for their reviews. After all, they kind of “know” you, right? Amazon does this via automated systems, because they have a ton to do and reviewing every appeal someone might make would be time consuming and not very cost-effective. But without personal attention, abuse happens.  The loss of a good review, to an indie author, can be the difference between a few extra bucks and greater word of mouth.

Author Lori Otto very astutely points out in her blog post that self-published authors that rely on their personal connections to makes sales are unfairly affected by Amazon’s policies:

“The point is, as an Indie author, it is inevitable that readers will become friends, associates and confidants, and there’s nothing you nor I can do about it.”

She makes a compelling case for change. Even more problematic is that Amazon’s policy disproportionately punishes false-positives, yet it remains silent in the wake of one-star review campaigns. That doesn’t seem right. One star reviews kill.

There has to be a better solution to sock-puppeting that doesn’t entail punishing people for making money independently for their creativity. There’s currently a petition you can sign to change policies if interested: Here.

I signed.


(Picture origin here, used with permission.)

What I Learned from Orson Scott Card

After reading Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy I got some good takeaways I want to share. (Nota Bene: these are my reflections based on what Card wrote, not his advice verbatim.)

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Don’t try to be 100% original, or you’ll be unbearable. No idea you come up with will be truly original anyway, so write what you want to and bring your voice to it. That’s what your readers are buying.

Doing the work to build your world before you write at all will set you free. Even if you don’t use all of that information, having it all worked out only helps with your expository writing.

Science Fiction Readers are intelligent and inclusive. Don’t patronize them and don’t betray their trust. If you did your homework, they’ll respect that.

Warp Drive. That’s Star Trek only, newbie. And it’s not even good science, so while we suspend belief for a good time with Captain Kirk, Sci-Fi readers will throw your book out the window unless you’re writing fanfiction.

If the world follows our rules, it’s science fiction. Science Fiction is about what could be but isn’t; fantasy is about what could be. Fantasy has trees, Science fiction rivets.

Be willing to change anything. There’s nothing sacred about your original idea! During the creation stage, be true to yourself, even if that means the final story is COMPLETELY different!

Know the difference between characterization and a character story. A character story is about the transformation of a character, his internal turmoil etc. Characterization is caring about the people involved in the events of your story.

And of course, he recommends that all authors do their homework: read ALL of the greats, figure out why you like what they wrote (Or not! That’s fine too!)and only then will you have a better idea about what you want to write yourself.

So, get to it!