Saturday, November 4, 2017

Reviews? More FAKE News?

As if we don't get enough FAKE, a former reputable review site is another place where I've now had to consider the source. Two days ago, I received an email reminding me this was the final chance to sign my book up for a review if I hoped to have it considered for the annual contest. (Important award, I'd add here.) Yadda yadda and the details followed. Well not really. The links to click followed. When I clicked to see how to enter, knowing there is always a fee, I was surprised to see a reviewing fee for $425-$500 and a note that only books reviewed by them are eligible for the contest. So in essence, the exorbitant entry fee is the review fee.  I'm assuming they consider their review advertising. The author has the option of having the review posted on the site...or not. I guess it depends on the review.

I can't even offer a solution to what seems like a very shady operation by one of the most widely respected review sites over the years. Books have always been submitted for reviews to major reviewers and then the reviewers volunteered or were assigned books to review. Some of these reviewers made a name for themselves and expanded into newspapers and magazines and then websites. Many independent reviewers reviewed on blogs in return for the opportunity to read for free. One review site sells advertising and reviews entirely different books. There's a wide variety out there. 

Ads are one thing. Reviews are different. Their website isn’t a magazine. Prices for online ‘now you see it now you don’t’ content is different from a paper magazine sitting in a doctor’s office picking up new Readers every 15 minutes. Ads are pointedly paid for material ... that’s understood. A review is not supposed to have strings. Now, based on the very large fees being charged for reviews, I'd love to read the books and write reviews ... but honestly, I can't believe the fee wouldn't be an influence on me. Perhaps I'd word my review with more care, hoping the author would submit again next year. 

Since reviews are linked to Amazon rankings, which weighs heavily in book visibility, this "pay to play" system is looking ever more shady. Amazon claims they take down reviews from people with too close a relationship. Friends, relatives, FB buddies. That describes my life. I tell everyone I know about my books. How else am I going to have sales with no additional capital investment? So when Amazon takes down these reviews, it kills me. My husband didn't write one and neither did my mother, but other authors I know did, authors whose opinions I respect, and they weren't always generous with the stars. That wouldn't help the readers or me. I believe they were honest with their opinions. Those who couldn't give me at least a three stars and a positive review probably just didn't comment at all. That works for me as a reader and an author. I've had trolls who I believe didn't even read my books review them as if that was going to help their friend's book rank higher. I don't know. Maybe it will, but when all is done,  I'll be on the high road heading up looking at them heading down the low road.  I hope they can handle the heat.

I'd be naive to believe money doesn't play a large part in everything we do. Advertizing is king, right.  So exposure costs either time or money. I read the reviews on Amazon. And I usually read the bad ones first. Why didn't this guy like the computer? Keyboard. Another one star keyboard problem? And another. Guess what? If the keyboard matters to me...those reviews make a bigger difference than all the advertising in the world. So I don't want to find out they are receiving the computer for free and getting paid to use it and review it. I'm not sure I'd trust one of those reviews because the reviewer's future depends on how many "this review was helpful" checks they receive. 

Can't we all just be kind but honest? Can't we put ourselves in the other person's shoes and walk for a mile or two then write the review for the shoes? "I couldn't get the first ten feet because the backs dug into my heels, but they looked fantastic. I'm only going to wear them when I sit. I was given these shoes in exchange for an honest review. No one paid me $425-$500 to try them, but it would have helped, and if you want to enter these shoes in a contest, you'll need something for your blisters. I highly recommend..."

Anyway... this is a moot point for me. I had two books come out this year Dire Moon (awesome hot cover) and A Fae Myth (also an awesome cover) which were not national contest material, just easy enjoyable reading. Not everything I write is Pulitzer material like this blog. GRIN. But I suggest you check out some of my books and see if there's one you might enjoy. Eliza March at Amazon has them all. Except this one. It's not done yet. But it will be soooon.

If you are on Face Book please go LIKE As the Chair Turns  

Hair of the Were will be my next book and the first in the ongoing series about Delia Belaquoit. I'm loving it so much I hope you'll at least give it a try and recommend it to your friends when it comes out.  Start looking for the first book in AS THE CHAIR TURNS, DeWolf’s Salon and Spa late 2017. Sign up and keep your eyes open if you want to volunteer to be one of the first BETA READERS for us. Subscribe to DeWolf's Newsletter for updates.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Update on How's that Writing Journey Coming?

Update The cover is ready for Hair of the Were the first book in the Luna de la Mar Spa series from Eliza March.

Have you met your goals? What do you do when you succeed? Or fail? What about when you disappoint yourself? Beat yourself up for not being dependable? I have a confession... 

 It's October? OMG - How did I get here and how did I get side-tracked from my writing goals? One thing that interferes with getting my writing done is having more pressing issues that keep popping up, forcing me to re-prioritize.  My family's needs always take priority over everything else, and my uncle has decided to move into assisted living. With no children of his own, I'm trying to help him find a suitable place near his friends. It's giving me good practice for finding out what I will want when the time comes for me and my husband. But it's time consuming and distracting.

"Hair of the Were" is late. I'm beating myself up over not meeting the goal for a planned  September release. The first humorous paranormal book in my As the Chair Turns series should have been released by now, but Irma showed up and blew (pun intended) that and several trees in my yard all to hell.

My house is way too large for my husband and I to maintain. We were ready to downsize and reduce the stress in our lives. Half our belongings are in boxes. We installed new flooring, new roof, and updated the kitchen and the bathrooms. There's still more to do and, now after this hurricane season, there's more. I also planned to put "said" home on the market last month. Real retirement is beginning to feel like an illusive dream.

Needless to say, my plans have changed. But although we had no firm plans in place for moving on, we did have a few dreams; so now, frustration is setting in.

Since I'm not wealthy enough for my writing income to take precedence over my other sources for paying the mortgage and bills ... such as emergency hurricane preparedness and cleanup, I need an alternative vision. I edit part time, mentor/coach part time, work as a hairdresser part time, and then write. So writing comes last, and money that I'd like to spend for promotion and advertising is being gobbled up in daily living expenses.  I am not the only author suffering from this dilemma.

What I've decided to do is stop setting "firm" goals for my release dates and avoid the guilt. I have at least eight books in progress at this time, and because I value good story and character development above churning out crap, I am taking a step back.

One of the observations I'd like to make for writers is that you should set your own pace. Yes, the authors who are releasing quickly and often are having success, but don't sell your work short. Don't self criticize because you take more time to tell the story the way you want to. Do it your way in your own time.

The self-publishing market makes it difficult to rise above the algorithms, keywords, and massive numbers of releases daily. What I see are opportunists, sharks feeding on minnows, finding a way to make more money for themselves without a care to the quality of what they turn out or how they affect the market in general.

Are we dumbing-down literacy? Yes. And genre fiction. The Chicago Manual of Style reviews editing rules about once a year because colloquial language and needs within the US are changing with the speed of social networking. There are age-gapped and style changes taking place every day. English, in all its forms, has different rules around the world, but in addition to that, I believe, fiction in (American) English is being swamped by books published with little, no, or unprofessional editing.  The results are chilling.

Incorrect uses of tense, words, phrases in books and TV, social media, and radio infiltrates our daily experience. Which came first? Does it matter? The results are the same. Confusion and inconsistencies. Authors who discard the rules and, through advertising and promotion, convince readers it doesn't matter.

To each her/his own. I can't live with "incorrect" or inconsistencies in my books. And believe me they have them. But I strive to improve with each book I write, because, as in all art, fiction and novels are a personal matter of taste. Correct language, grammar, and punctuation is not. Dialogue can be true to form, narrative can not.  An author can maintain her or his voice without compromising quality editing.

Be careful when comparing your goals, needs, and successes with other peoples'. 

Be good to yourself. Enjoy the journey no matter where it takes you.