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.