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Beware first time authors

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Showing 1-25 of 385 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 29, 2012 9:14:29 AM PDT
Robin Landry says:
I am becoming wary of first time authors because it seems to follow a pattern when I review them; either I get no helpful buttons pushed, or if I give the book 3 stars or less, I get bombarded with unhelpful votes. This is the reason I deleted my email address and buy books I think I'll like. First time authors need to know that they're alienating reviewers. Anyone else notice this pattern?

Posted on Jun 29, 2012 9:32:16 AM PDT
John Duncan says:
Well, there are first-time authors and first-time authors, and even James Joyce was one once. Serious authors do want serious criticism (most of them, anyway). I think the problem is not with first-time authors as a class but with a sub-set who imagine that a few 5-star shill reviews from their friends and family will cause lots of people to rush out and buy their books. I think this has always happened, but my impression is that the appearance of electronic books has made it much worse.

Posted on Jun 29, 2012 9:38:27 AM PDT
John Duncan says:
I chose James Joyce to see if Charles was going to read this discussion. Isaac Asimov would have been a better choice, as he wrote more than 500 books, one of which (possibly his textbook of biochemistry) must have been the first.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2012 10:23:56 AM PDT
I think we can empathize. When we wrote our first reviews, we had to wait to get any votes (metaphorically, sales). And oh, when the neggies hit, what a blow (returns)! I suspect many who've written three reviews have given up. And Amazon takes away our fan votes. We know what it's like to be rewarded, ignored, and punished.

Your point is well-made. I've even had unfriendly comments from authors.

Steven (Stephen?) King had a first book, too. I forget which one. The critics loathed him. Now, as popular as he became in the early '80s, there are still a lot of people who just don't like his work. This is going to be true of any author. And yes, I do see the "not helpfuls" on less than glowing reviews of works by new authors.

There are so many new authors now, and some are very good, but most do need to polish before they publish.

Posted on Jun 29, 2012 10:46:14 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jun 29, 2012 5:57:11 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2012 3:36:21 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 29, 2012 3:37:13 PM PDT
The reason you may not be getting the helpfuls may be because hardly anyone is even aware of the book. This happens to me a lot with new authors/books. The negative votes are easy to figure out. The author probably alerted their friends and family and fans - they are promoting a negative round of attacks on your reviews. Why the author is not getting people to vote positively on the good reviews...that is an interesting question.

Posted on Jun 30, 2012 8:01:36 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 30, 2012 2:18:13 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 8:48:39 AM PDT
Dog Lover says:
No. The "idea of a review" on Amazon is NOT to "assist the writer" although writers may find that to be a side-benefit. The purpose of an Amazon review is to provide information to prospective purchasers of the product/book/etc. to help that person make a decision about the purchase.

I don't believe (could be mistaken) that any one on this thread is "judging" writers by how many books they have written. Rather, we are "judging" them based on professionalism (or lack thereof) and behavior we've experienced in the past. Being "leery" is not the same as "judging."

Best of luck with your book.


In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 8:50:56 AM PDT
Puddle: < Please don't judge a writer on how many books he's written. Everyone was a first time writer at some point ...>

The problem isn't each individual first time writer, but the enormous proliferation of the class of first books made possible by self-publishing. The "gatekeepers" who used to filter out the Sturgeon's Law 90% are not in the loop for the self-published, so the poor reader looking for the s.p. novel is forced to read through what used to be the slush pile.

(Also, novice writers often used to hone their chops by writing -- and having rejected -- short stories, before going for the novel.)

< and every writer needs assistance with their writing by reviews from people who aren't biased. .... .Isn't the idea of a review to assist the writer? >

Actually, that is not the main purpose of reviews. This assistance should take place *before* publication, and is called "editing." The reviewer is trying to let potential reader/purchasers know if the already-published book is worth spending time/effort/money on.

< If you only review to get people to like your review...then maybe you need to rethink your motives. >

Good point.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 10:30:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 30, 2012 10:39:04 AM PDT
Brent Butler says:

To pile on, Sturgeon's Revelation (Law) applied to published works, which he theorized were 90% crud. What is in the slush pile is normally MANY times what is published, and most of it is worse crud than the 90% published crud.

So what does that have to say about the percentage of self-published works which receive no (or no competent) proof-reading, let alone actual editing? Most of these SP authors don't even bother to put the trash in Microsoft Word and just page down through the thing to see which words are the wrong color! LOL Word will also find many serious grammar errors. The problem there is that the average SP amateur author will have so many grammatical errors caught by Word (and Word won't catch them all) that it is overwhelming to start rewriting the corrections. Plus, what is trash to the reader is their "art", so how dare Word or any human suggest (hundreds of times) they could have written a better sentence? Isn't it so much easier to just publish the trash, assuming that discerning readers will be able to see through the muck and understand that they really, REALLY are good writers after all? LOL

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 10:46:26 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jun 30, 2012 1:16:32 PM PDT]

Posted on Jun 30, 2012 10:50:08 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 30, 2012 10:50:21 AM PDT
Brent Butler says:
Bryan, let me be the first of several to tell you that this type of post is, by Amazon policy in place for more than a year now, limited to the Meet Our Authors forum, which you can find a link to in the forum list at the bottom of this page. Spamming and promoting your book in other Forums, including this one, is not allowed.

Also, it is unwise for you to tell reviewers that "they are good books!" As the author, you are predisposed to think that. As reviewers, we will tell you the truth, good news or bad news.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 10:51:31 AM PDT
Dog Lover says:
Here is the "rule" listed by Amazon - (further clarification by Amazon after this posting, BTW, forbids writers from using the sig line with the book title included as well. Just FYI.)

****begin copy

"Amazon Community Team says:
Amazon recently created a new community for authors. The `Meet Our Authors' community is designed to give authors a space to engage with one another and promote their latest and greatest works.

With the advent of the new community, we will ****no longer allow self promotional posts in other communities. Starting on Monday, May 16th, all "shameless self promotion" activity will be limited to the `Meet Our Authors' community. Promotional threads outside of these forums will be removed.***** [Emphasis mine}

We invite authors and interested readers to come join the discussion at:

We look forward to seeing you!

******end copy

Good grief. This is something like the 4th time I've had to post this today on different fora. Is it like traffic tickets? The end of the month is when you see a flurry of such stuff?


Remove the links from your post.


Posted on Jun 30, 2012 11:00:08 AM PDT
Brent Butler says:
Ok, here is the bad news. I read Chapter One of your preview for POTUS. It is full of incorrect punctuation and badly formed sentences. It is about on a par with "OK" fan fiction.

It is not a polished product suitable for sale.

Why would I pass judgement on your entire book based on the first few pages? Because if you can't get the first few pages right, which make the critical first impression with a reader, I'm not going to torture myself by reading more bad prose trying to find out if you improved.

That is why real professional authors rewrite their books many times, until they have a polished final draft.

PS. Find a new "professional editor". The one you paid is incompetent.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 11:54:23 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 30, 2012 1:06:59 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 12:00:57 PM PDT
>>Also, it is unwise for you to tell reviewers that "they are good books!" As the author, you are predisposed to think that.

Much of what I've ever written is rubbish.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 12:18:01 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 30, 2012 12:30:24 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 12:20:55 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 30, 2012 12:30:35 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 12:29:47 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 30, 2012 2:18:50 PM PDT]

Posted on Jun 30, 2012 12:35:33 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 30, 2012 12:38:15 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 1:04:50 PM PDT
"every writer needs assistance with their writing by reviews from people who aren't biased."

Yes. In the real world, such assistance is provided through writers' critique groups or even paid editors.

Somehow, in this Amazonian universe, self-published hacks believe they can get away with *charging* people to buy their not-ready-for-primetime books just to give them free writing advice.

The result? Clueless wannabe authors such as yourself who misguidedly believe (and I quote you), "Isn't the idea of a review to assist the writer?"

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 1:05:23 PM PDT
"Ps - And they are good books!"

You're outta luck. I only like spending my hard-earned bucks on crap books.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 30, 2012 1:08:46 PM PDT
Dog Lover says:
BD - you need to delete the links to your books from your first posting.


Posted on Jun 30, 2012 1:10:27 PM PDT
Self-published author Bryan Mooney on his way out:
"Never mind- I was asking for help and obviously came to the wrong place. Thank you all for reminding me to look elsewhere."

Actually, you came to the right place ("need some help and direction"). And you got some great advice. Just be sure you take it!

Posted on Jun 30, 2012 1:11:40 PM PDT
Brent Butler says:

There are a lot of good books on both the technical and creative disciplines involved in writing.

I'm reading one right now called "It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences" by June Casagrande. You need to read that, and possibly one or two other books with similar instruction. If you want to write, always maintain the attitude that you can learn more about writing. I've written for various reasons for more than 30 years, and I made straight A's in every English and literature related course I ever took. I learn new things almost every time I write something.

Another well regarded book is "Stein on Writing". I have not read it yet, but it is in my stack. I'm also looking forward to seeing what "How to Write a Damn Good Novel (Volumes I and II), by James Frey, are like. Again, they come well recommended but I haven't read them yet.

I've probably written a couple of million words that I've been paid for in my career, but none of it published as a fiction novel. I've been working on one of those for a long time, and I just put it on hold to give myself a more solid foundation in the discipline, by studying books like the ones named above.

The Chicago Manual of Style should be regarded as essential for all aspiring writers. Issac Asimov, best known to the public for his science fiction, but also known for myraid non-fiction texts, once wrote that his primary emphasis as he wrote was to achieve clarity. Writing with clarity involves two things. First is organizing thoughts to be communicated coherently. Second is communicating those thoughts according to recognized structures of the language being used. So if your commas are missing or misplaced, or phrases are placed to modify the wrong word (as I noted to another aspiring author here this week), or you mistakenly make the important thought a subordinate clause, you confuse the reader, or just make what you write sound silly.

An author owes it to the reader to get these things right, but more importantly authors owe that to themselves. Too many authors think that because they can type, they can write. That's like thinking that because you can swing a bat, you can hit a 100 MPH fastball.

The intimidating part of writing is that once you get the structure of English right, there are many other pitfalls between the keyboard and a good book. That's where books like "Stein on Writing" will help.
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Discussion in:  Top Reviewers forum
Participants:  88
Total posts:  385
Initial post:  Jun 29, 2012
Latest post:  Jan 30, 2013

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