Writer’s diary: stardate: 02.05.2014 😦
This week I broke through the 70,000 word barrier of my first draft for Acer #3, which I might call Smoke and Mirrors. It’s been slow going compared with other books I’ve written, but it’s coming together nicely, in my opinion. I had a couple of good sessions this week and have started to feel quite positive about it.
And so it was with some dismay that I was given to understand that I’m wasting my time on this series. I received a couple of negative comments on Amazon.co.uk just yesterday – one for each of the Acer books: Dirty Business and Loose Ends. They are both from the same reader. For Dirty Business he said: Paul needs to scrap this Acer Sansom killer and go back to Dover and his good books, at least they were readable. (Paul?)
For Loose Ends he left this comment under the title ‘Rubbish’: Just like his other Sansom book rubbish and not worth the money, his books with Dover as the back ground were readable this lot are not.
(Some of my detractors I’d like to run over with ‘de tractor’.)
It’s not often I am left baffled by a reader’s feedback. (I know these book aren’t going to win any prizes but equally I know they’re not ‘rubbish’ because I’ve had too many favourable comments on them from impartial reviewers whom I respect. I accept that they might not be everyone’s cup of tea but that’s different to ‘rubbish’.)
I’ve experienced my fair share of negative comments and almost always I can find a way to understand them. I’ve invited him to enlighten me regarding what it was in these books that so displeased him. I’d really like to know. (There must be a quote from some old sage out there somewhere about understanding alleviating anguish but I can’t be arsed to look for it. Besides, I feel my time is better spent trying to find out where this bloke lives. He only went and used his real name 🙂 )
There are many things I’ve learned through self-publishing. One of the most important to remember, if one wishes to remain sane, is that you really cannot please all the readers all the time. So I try to be philosophical about negative comments. I try not to let them ruin my day. But the truth is: I can deal with them a lot better when whoever leaves them is not so unnecessarily unpleasant. It’s so rude. Rudeness makes my blood boil. Rudeness and stupidity.
The reviewer in question is entitled to have his say over my book. He paid for that privilege. But why is it that some people feel the need to be so horrible? I mean, ‘Rubbish’. That’s not nice is it? Who is he? Who is anyone to say anyone’s book is ‘Rubbish’? It’s such a rotten, spiteful, nasty, lazy thing to plaster as a comment title.
And it’s not just him. It’s endemic on Amazon. Some of the things some people write for comment titles and comment content should make them ashamed of themselves. Passing judgement on a book you’ve read is a subjective thing. You might hate it, but maybe that’s just you. Express that privately if you have to, but why must people be so nasty on public forums?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for constructive criticism. I’ve learned a lot from decent readers who’ve taken the time and trouble to feedback to me constructively. Not everyone loves my books and that’s fine with me when readers comment using language that isn’t inflammatory and hostile. But I ask you, comments like those I’ve copied and pasted above, how do they help anyone? Readers or writers.
People like that remind me of people like this:
and I don’t like it. And it’s not about passion; it’s about being civilised. Ah, what’s the point?
He’s not my first and, of course, he won’t be my last. I just wonder how long I will be prepared to bite my tongue and remain affable in the face of such nastiness.
Mind you even smiling nicely and responding philosophically can upset a comment prowler. Example: A little while ago on Amazon.com a woman gave this comment for Rope Enough under the title of Rather boring: Couldn’t get into this book – even though it is an English crime novel. Not sure what the problem was, but it didn’t hold my interest and I didn’t finish it.
Fair enough, I thought. Because of my policy of commenting on every comment I had to write something. And it had to be fittingly philosophical. I replied: Hello Miriam, Just goes to show, I suppose – you can’t please all the people all the time.
That seemed harmless enough to me and to the point and honest in an ‘oh well’ kind of way. There was certainly no sub-text of unpleasantness intended.
So imagine my surprise when this week I got this comment from a reader who’d seen my response to Miriam: You are not going to win readers with that kind of attitude. I was about to give this book a shot because I love anything set in England. Most of my favorite authors are English. Your comment is off-putting and I will now pass on this one.
Still, one good thing to come out of all this: I was struggling to find a name for the hunchback kiddy-fiddler in my latest R&M File. Not any longer. Talking of which, oh look, his address came through – now where did I put de tractor keys?
(Please, just in case, I don’t want anyone springing to Acer’s defence on Amazon. I know I have some splendidly loyal readers who might do that, but it’s not what I’m fishing for. This is my writer’s diary and I’m simply sharing something to do with my writing journey that happened this week. That’s all folks.)