I got a review!

A review! A bunch of words, all for me! And it’s a 2-star!

There’s always a sting, if your work isn’t received with glowing praise, but it fades quickly, now. To be honest, I like all reviews I get, all responses, all comments. I have a lot of love for anyone kind enough to let me know how they felt about something I wrote.

Once I’ve had a few minutes to absorb the sting, it turns into a kind of catharsis. A review is an opinion, from one stranger to another. It should cause reflection, and consideration, and ultimately understanding. What does it teach me? What do they really mean?

How can I use this to be a better writer?

It’s not enough to just be pragmatic about it, to shrug your shoulders and say ‘Well, everyone gets negative reviews.’ No! Bad writer! No cookie for you! You will LEARN, dammit, from what your reader has told you. And you should treasure this kind of feedback, because it’s more likely to be honest than the good stuff.

More than that, it keeps me grounded. There is a danger, always, of a writer becoming more ego than talent, and it bothers me that I could become that. But a bad review forces me to be humble, and tells me that I am not as good as I think I am. That I have room for improvement.

That really, I shouldn’t have rushed that story.

Oh well… it’s done, published, and I’ve moved on. Always look forward, not back, and never, ever rewrite once it’s been made public.

In other news, I’ve decided to pull my stuff out of Kindle Select. I want to publish on Smashwords, and post the stories here for free as epubs or something. That way, I can make them free all the time if I want.

//shay

Controversial opinion time – sock puppets

Who doesn’t read Joe Konrath’s blog? If I ever need a dose of authorly indignation, he delivers every time. I do love him for that. So much righteous fury, as if he’s the lone warrior with a sword made of words standing in front of every indie author in the world, fighting the good fight against the evil of traditional publishing.

For various reasons, I am very much on his side there. I don’t say it in real life, but nothing short of a multi-million dollar advance and some blunt force trauma to the head would make me sign on with a New York publisher.

Anyway.

His latest rant on a code of ethics for authors made me fume. In case you’ve been out of the loop of publishing, there’s this thing where authors use fake accounts to post glowing reviews of their work and trash other authors. It’s called sockpuppetry, for obvious reasons, and the feeling running around the place seems to be that it’s NASTY and BAD and people who do it need to be burned at the stake. There’s this site called No Sock Puppets Here Please where they’re asking authors to sign a pledge that they’ll never do it, pinkie swear and all.

I’m not signing this crap, whether as myself or as Shay Kassa, because it’s (a) insulting and (b) stupid.

For the record, I haven’t reviewed the books listed under my own name using the Shay Kassa name, because that would be a terrible idea and could get me outed. There’s a big wall called ‘holy-shit-people-might-find-out-I-write-porn’ between the two, and it shall remain forever more. I’ve reviewed my Shay Kassa stories on Goodreads as Shay Kassa, because I find the idea of an author reviewing their own work and not giving it five stars hilarious. (I haven’t trashed any other authors, unless you count bad book reviews on Goodreads.)

But even if I wasn’t worried about my pen name and real name being connected, I am a moral person, by and large. I don’t need to be told that misleading readers about my books and attacking other people is an ethically dubious thing. This pledge is essentially that: it’s insulting my sense of honor by suggesting that I need to sign a declaration in order to act honorably. No, I don’t buy the crap that it’s important for authors who are on the fence about it to see that it’s wrong by weight of numbers. I don’t do group morality.

Authors can justify it any way they want but it’s being an asshole by extension, and if they didn’t learn that that kind of behavior is wrong when they were young, then there are bigger problems around than fake reviews.

Now – it’s also stupid.

Think about it for a minute. The vast majority know it’s not on the level. Those who won’t do it don’t need a declaration. As for the others – what the hell is stopping them from signing the pledge, then doing it anyway and rationalizing it after the fact? If they’re found out, they’ll face a backlash that likely won’t be affected by them having signed the pledge. It’s pointless.

I guess this kinda hits close to home because Shay Kassa could be considered a sock puppet account. It’s me, but not me at the same time. I don’t consider this a sock puppet, though, because I’ve been careful to keep that aforementioned wall in place at all times.

The reviews are a problem, though. I like to leave reviews of books on Goodreads because I’m a reader as well as a writer. I’m not supposed to do this, according to the Shadowy Author Marketing Grand High Council(TM), because a good review implies favoritism and a bad review implies that I’m trashing a competitor to get ahead. I’ve yet to figure out how exactly that works – it’s not like a bad review on one book is going to catapult sales in someone else’s direction – but there you have it.

To all this I say: to hell with it, I do what I want.

//shay

The best of the worst reviews

Guys, today I want to make a public service announcement. Forget the covers for a minute.

I love to rip into Fifty Shades of Grey. Or Gray. Who cares?! Fifty Shades of What the Everloving Hell am I Reading. Now, much as I love to do that, I am not a critic. My contempt can only be extended so far in literary form before I get bored and go find some erotica to read. But my contempt still simmers for this god awful train wreck of a book, such that I return to it again and again to poke it with pitchforks. It’s like picking at a scab, or something. I can’t help it. I can’t be alone in this respect.

So, my friends, if you’re anything like me and you love to hate on Fifty Shades, you’ll enjoy the following: the best of the worst reviews of E.L. James’ crappy Twilight knock off, according to my oddball liking for particular kinds of snark.

With much swearing and threats and pleading to let the reviewer kill herself or the characters

With insightful commentary

With animated gifs

With much laughter (in video form!)

Heee…

And my own one on Goodreads.

Ah, what a way to start the week… Leave more in the comments if you’ve got them.

//shay

I reviewed myself

Good job, me! Clearly you have a bright future as a seller of smut. Although, and I’m sorry to say this… you need to add more sex.

No, really! Don’t cry, me! Your stories are good, really they are. (Except for the description. And the dialogue. And the plotting. Okay maybe I’ll just send you a copy of ‘On Writing’, by Stephen King.) But trust me, me, you need to add more sex.

Sex, especially if it’s unrealistic and stupid, is what brings in the sweet tasty money. Just look at Fifty Shades of Grey! Oh, how you love to bash it, but come on, check out those sales numbers…

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GAH. No. Cannot do. I can’t write to a formula any more than I can stand on my nose and recite the digits of pi.

BUT!

I can do vampires. I WILL do vampires. Yes, even if it’s ridiculous and over-played. And, because I love you all so much and I feel bad that I can’t publish something this week (because it’s not finished yet), here’s the first two parts of the next story. I’m calling it Vigilant. It has vampires in it – my kind of vampires, which do not sparkle why would you even suggest that – as well as other stuff I haven’t really filled out yet. No, I have no idea where I’m going with it, although there will eventually be sex because that’s just how I roll, baby.

Don’t tell me the ending, I don’t want any spoilers! Now to go hunt down some freebie Kindle erotica…

//shay