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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Facing Off With Book Killers



I had an excellent illustration of the ongoing war of no reason on Amazon yesterday. My novel HARD CASE has been selling very well. The moment it accumulates a number of five star reviews an incoherent one star book killer hits. Yesterday, the novel received a wonderful five star review, and a one star hit piece. Here is the one star hit by William H. White:
“Badly edited and poorly written. Might appeal to an adolescent boy but surely not to an adult. A comic book in words.”
Here is the five star review by Martin Fricke
This book has everything: gripping fight scenes, rich character development, thrilling plots, good composition, and even absorbing romance. I'm going right on to DeLeo's next one, Hard Case #2.
We as authors wonder if both of these reviews can be true. Yes, they can. John Harding, the star character in HARD CASE, is a larger than life, completely fictional and unrealistic, pulp fiction superhero a bit like in comic books. I wrote him that way, because many times, we as writers write what we love to read.
Mr. White, for whatever reason, bought HARD CASE without bothering to read the three chapter free Amazon preview, doesn’t care much for my pulp fiction, and took the time to save other readers from themselves. To a reader with elevated literary tastes, I’ll even give him his ‘Badly edited and poorly written’ comment. HARD CASE is neither Hemingway nor even Lee Child.
Mr. Fricke, on the other hand, felt everything I hoped a reader would when reading HARD CASE. He enjoys the same type novels I do. It doesn’t mean Mr. Fricke doesn’t enjoy many other literary genres, but he recognizes pulp fiction, likes it, and doesn’t expect a literary masterpiece. It may be he became so absorbed in the storyline that he missed the ‘Badly edited and poorly written’ parts. I many times overlook flaws while reading myself.  :)
I’m not blogging about the merit of either review, or a marketplace that allows ‘book killings’, even when they provide lengthy free previews. I’m here to face the facts. We can’t do anything about the ‘book killers’. I wish we could. If a writer’s novel becomes popular on Amazon, it will attract ‘book killers’. I’ve read one star hit pieces on Lee Child’s books that made me cringe. Lee Child does not shortchange a reader. His books are good sized and provide many chapters for free previewing on Amazon. The one star hit pieces on his novels could only have happened because the reader completely ignored the free Amazon preview. We can point out the free preview, but it doesn’t do much good if they’re ignored for the express purpose of destroying a book’s sales – and unless you want a troll army marching up your ass, whining about reviews is a waste of time. Lee Child doesn’t, and I’m not going to either.  :)
I’m writing this today because there is only one thing we can do to face down the ‘book killers’ – write more of what we love to write, providing multiple targets for them in the marketplace. A writer can’t write to please a ‘book killer’ because the killer isn’t there writing one star hit pieces to help you understand your shortcomings. The killer is there to kill the book’s sales. It’s an already documented fact with numerous media articles condemning the practice. Once we realize that fact, we only have one course of action – write more books, and write them the way we want. Expanding our fan base helps us fight back in the only way we can - with new material. Plus, writing more successful books really pisses off the ‘killers’.  :)  So, to my writer friends: don’t fret, just write. Here’s the paperback cover of my new entry into the front lines, in partnership with my friend and publisher, RJ Parker.

27 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Amen, brother. The truth indeed.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

It's a battle, Charles, but they can't stop us from writing, brother. :)

Shesawriter said...

Excellent blog post, Bernard. Love your positive attitude. This business is so subjective it's any wonder we all haven't lost our minds.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Thanks, Tanya. You're right, we have to develop armored skin if we want to stay sane. :) The cure to any downer in the writing business is to keep writing.

Vesper said...

Sounds very harsh to give just one or two stars to anybody who's worked so hard to write a novel. I'd rather stay away from writing a review if I didn't like it but I guess that would make me a useless reviewer... :-)
You've got to try to ignore them (I know it's very hard) and just do your business.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

That was my conclusion in the post, V. There's no use in getting upset with book killers. They aren't issuing critiques. Their main dynamic is killing sales. The moment a book achieves popularity on Amazon, it attracts one star hit pieces from sock puppets, trolls, or another author in the same genre. The only defense is to keep writing. :)

Devin Platt said...

That really is true. There are a lot of "trolls" on the internet that love to ruin everything.

Lexa Skinoholist said...

I like the cover!

Lexa Skinoholist said...

I like the cover

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Unfortunate but true, Devin. They multiply exponentially when they get a reaction too. :)

Thanks, Lexa. It has a lot of elements from the book. :)

mjguila said...

That's so true

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Thanks, mjguila. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Allan Chinn said...

thanks for the giveaway

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

The giveaway is all my partner, RJ Parker, Allan. Good luck.

kristaljane25 said...

I have never read any of these books but I will look into them and pick one to start.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Just read the free Amazon preview Kristal. Amazon supplies three chapters. No one should buy any book on Amazon without reading the free sample. It's very seldom a reader cannot get the gist of a book or whether they will like it after three chapters. That's what makes the Book Killers so obvious in their endeavors. :)

Raquel said...

great blog post! :)

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Thanks, Raquel. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

teena3940 said...

interesting blog post..

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Thanks,teena.

Donna Reynolds said...

Wow I must be behind I have never heard of a Book killer but why do people have to mess with others get a life.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

It's a funny thing, Donna. As the media articles point out, Amazon knows it's going on, but they ignore it. Authors really can't do anything about it. The media is picking up on it, and that's where some action may be forced to change Amazon's look the other way policy. Writers have to keep writing. :)

Courtney said...

That's a very unfortunate situation people of the digital era have to deal with. Online reviews let ANYONE post whatever they want, whether it's true or not. But I'm glad you're taking the high road and in the words of Dory, "just keep swimming" :)

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

It's not really the high road, Courtney. Writers really have no choice. Taking on a troll would be very satisfying, but it usually just stirs up a hornet's nest of sock puppets who jump in to get a piece. :)

Yep. Best to just keep writing. :)

Miri Sab said...

That's so true and I Love your positive attitude

Jun Hong said...

For readers or consumers like me, whenever there's reviews or comments made by unknown people in the internet, I'll just take it with a pinch of salt. :)

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

Can't have any other attitude and continue on in this goofy business, Miri. :)

I agree, Jun. Real readers who are interested in choosing a book for their enjoyment, read the free previews. I never buy a book on Amazon without first reading the preview. If I don't like the preview, I don't buy the book. I just figure it wasn't meant for me. I certainly don't issue a one star hit piece on it. :)