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Posts tagged reviews

Suing e-book reviewers and being a public jerk: Two bad ideas in one
April 19, 2014 | 3:10 pm

withoutruleoflawA friend pointed out to me a slightly older blog post that is rather interesting. In fact, it’s interesting not just for the article, but for the comments. It’s kind of a gift that keeps on giving. The blog post, by writer Greg Strandberg, quotes (and screencaps) a post by self-publishing writer Joe Nobody on KBoards, a semi-private forum for people who self-publish through Amazon. Nobody is a highly-successful pseudonymous self-publishing author, who Strandberg estimates has made over a million dollars from his e-book sales. Nobody writes in the post-apocalyptic SF genre, in the footsteps of mens-adventure writers like...

Horror writers join anti Amazon bullying push
March 31, 2014 | 10:25 am

Horror writers are made of stern stuff, you'd think. But apparently they find online bullying as creepy as anyone. The Horror Writers Association (HWA) ( has just added its voice to the series of calls on Amazon to end aggressively negative - and anonymous - reviewing online. Under the HWA's own very atmospheric online banner, it looks like "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore ... anonymity'." In the form of a "Public Letter to Jeff Bezos, CEO,," the call, attributed to Rocky Wood, President, states that: "We are writing to bring to your attention the fact that Amazon’s customer review policy does...

Book review: Flowers of the Sea, by Reggie Oliver
March 27, 2014 | 12:29 pm

Reggie Oliver is proving to be one of the most prolific, as well as most consistent, of modern British dark fiction and horror writers. His latest collection from Tartarus Press, Flowers of the Sea, includes thirteen stories and two novellas, many "originally written for inclusion in specific anthologies and ... therefore, to a certain extent, composed to a brief," but this needs little apology. As the author says, "none of them, however, was 'manufactured' ... cobbled together out of sheer ingenuity and the desire to please an editor." If anything, they show more sustained quality and variety than much of his...

One survey on marketing for self-publishing
March 4, 2014 | 6:25 pm

With the glut of surveys, polls, and studies of all kinds on the mechanics and economics of self-publishing, it's no surprise to see another one released, especially when that one is backed by an entity with a strong interest in the business area surveyed. As recounted by a press release with the modest title "New Survey Reveals Best Practices in eBook Self-Publishing," this report, "based on a survey of over 300 independent authors ... identifies trends and best practices around planning, executing and measuring a successful promotion of an eBook." The survey was conducted by Sellbox, which "specializes in helping...

Weekend Roundup: Even award winners suck for someone, Understanding lack of eBook ownership
January 26, 2014 | 12:11 pm

lack of ebook ownershipEvery Award-Winning Book Sucks (for Someone) (John Scalzi) As part of my occasional and hopefully instructive series of entries in which I try to make the point to writers that negative reviews are part of the territory and ultimately not something to get too worked up about or to let scar one’s psyche, I would like to present you excerpts of one star Amazon reviews of every single Hugo-winning novel of the last ten years. *** Understanding the Lack of Ownership with Digital Comics and eBooks (GoodeReader) When it comes to eBooks and digital comics the entire situation is more convoluted, 99% of the...

UK snark awards celebrate Hatchet Job of the Year for harshest reviews
January 15, 2014 | 10:30 am

In a welcome sign that snark survives this side of the Herring Pond, UK book-lovers' site The Omnivore has announced its latest Hatchet Job of the Year Award shortlist "for the writer of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months." And there are some wonderfully brutal, unsympathetic, attacks in line for the final award, which will be presented in early February, with the grand prize of "a year’s supply of potted shrimp." The Omnivore's own manifesto for the Awards makes for some very interesting reading - not least for what it defends. "Newspaper book pages are...

Yelp ordered to reveal identity of seven anonymous reviewers
January 11, 2014 | 4:21 pm

yelplogoA Virginia appeals court has sided with the trial court below it in ruling that Yelp must reveal the identities of seven anonymous reviewers who posted negative comments about a carpet cleaning service. The owner of the service, Joe Hadeed, believed that these users were not actually customers of his service (which would violate Yelp’s terms of service), and indeed they could all be one person with multiple sock-puppet accounts (despite Yelp’s slogan of “Real People. Real Reviews”), so he had his attorneys issue a subpoena requesting their names. The court said that, while users have first-amendment rights to...

Book Review: House of Small Shadows
December 19, 2013 | 4:18 pm

On the jacket of House of Small Shadows, Adam Nevill is described as "Britain's answer to Stephen King." I'm happy to say that, if this is an answer, it's a very distinctive and locally accented one that is anything but pastiche King. Rather, Nevill's very personal style is more what you would expect from a British ghost and horror story writer in the tradition of M.R. James and Arthur Machen - updated to the era of The Ring and body horror. It's that unsettling. Briefly, late-thirtysomething provincial antiques valuer Catherine Howard sets out in quest of a fabulous collection of animal...

Ebook review copies: DRM, distrust, demands
October 15, 2013 | 3:55 pm

piracyThis post was prompted by the complaints of a friend on Facebook about the DRM on a review copy of an ebook he had been sent to cover. Not a fan of ebooks at the best of times, he was driven to protest long and hard about the struggles he had been put to to actually open and read the book. I've had similar and worse experiences. One leading publisher responded to a request for a review copy for TeleRead by sending me a download link, which, after an involved login procedure, prompted me to install Adobe Editions on my device....

Fake review farmers or witchhunters: Which are worse?
September 23, 2013 | 4:00 pm

That favorite urban legend of the modern book world, the paid-for fake review, has surfaced again in a manner that looks likely to discredit the discreditors. One website alleges a certain female author farmed reviews wholesale, then scatters a whole slew of other author names supposedly engaged in the same business. All without substantiating evidence, or even a name for the source. Indeed, if you include that author and a certain well-known self-publishing star, 35 authors are accused of paying for fake reviews through ("the world's largest marketplace for services") and other similar platforms, all in one single post. Oh, and all...

Book Review: At Fear’s Altar, by Richard Gavin
September 16, 2013 | 4:00 pm

Canadian "numinous horror and esoterica author" Richard Gavin has released four collections since his debut "Charnel Wine" in 2004, and has garnered the kind of reputation that many writers would sell their souls for. This collection, his fourth, has received reviews varying from the enthusiastic to the ecstatic. There are thirteen stories, including a fictionalized prologue so dark that it definitely counts as one. There is the nightmare encounter with a dead god in "The Abject," where a wilderness becomes a metaphysical landscape that fulfils a myth in the most horrible but perhaps redemptive way. There is the new and quite...

On Negative Reviews and Bad Online Behavior
August 29, 2013 | 1:45 pm

cyber-bullyingI've read a couple of articles this week on author bullying, fan culture and negative reviews, and I've taken a few days to let the ideas simmer before writing this essay. As an author, I'm sensitive to the subject. But I'm also a reader, and that allows me to see both sides of the issue. No, I don't approve of author bullying—or any kind of bullying, for that matter—and I've seen too much about the bullying culture on GoodReads to be happy about what appears to be going on there. It will be interesting to see what, if any, changes take place...