Hiiiii! It’s Monday! I’m supposed to muse! Is gonna be great! …I got nothin’!
Anyway, welcome to Nerd Cactus, the blog for book worms, nerds, writers, cosplay ninjas, pirates, and literally anyone in between. The love is strong here. Embrace it.
I don’t normally riff on the Muse without having some idea where I’m going, but once again I find myself pressed for time due to my insane, ever-changing work schedule. As much as I’d like to lounge around in my new harem pants and daydream until the perfect subject hits me, I don’t have the time or the luxury.
Though I just might wear my harem pants to rehearsal… They’re crazy comfy, yo.
*side bar: If you’re into roomy, tribal, flowy almost-but-not-really “Hammer pants” check out harempants.com. You can use the code Harem10 for 10% off your purchase so that’s pretty neat.*
Ok, enough screwing around, let’s find a topic… Hmm. Well, here’s something that has been puzzling me lately. Although I am a bibliophile I am also a Kindle user *gasp*. Don’t judge, I have my reasons; I travel a lot and this way I can bring as many books with me as I like, it’s a bit easier on my wallet, and I can read in the dark. Also, since I have the Paperwhite it doesn’t feel like reading off a computer screen (which I detest).
Look, the point is I am a pretty frequent Amazon customer, and when trying to find new reading material I often skim through reviews. And not just reviews from the New York Times or The Globe… Though I rarely find them helpful, I actually look to Amazon’s customer reviews to gauge the reactions of the average reader. Sometimes the opinions are garbage and sometimes they simply warn of cliffhangers, strange POV shifts, or editing errors. (That last one is what I search for in particular, because it is a dead giveaway for self-published titles.)
Now I’m not knocking on self-publishing. It’s a wonderful way to pursue your dreams, share your stories, and build your name without having to be at the mercy of major publishing companies. However, the self-publishing world does not have the same standard (read: strenuous) editing process, so plenty of below-average stuff slips through. And some are definitely worse than others…
Given all that backstory let’s get to the aforementioned issue that’s had me confused. Recently, someone I know on Facebook posted a change.org petition which made me stop short. The petition in question is directed at Amazon and is titled Change the “You Know This Author” Policy. Just in case that doesn’t give it away, let me clarify… This petition is trying to stop Amazon from removing reviews that have been identified as written by friends/family/acquaintences of the author.
First of all… Way to creep, Amazon.
But in all seriousness, I immediately imagined how my mother would review my work and how incredibly biased it would be. To me, that would be an inflated review. One which I honestly wouldn’t want. It would completely undermine the other reviews I received in my own right. I’d want my work to be represented honestly, not praised to high heaven by friends who hadn’t actually read what I’d written.
The petition also attempts to claim that in an age of trolling there is no such thing as an honest, genuinely positive review. Though there are certainly a number of unnecessarily nasty reviews, I don’t think they are done in the spirit of trying to ruin an author’s career with negative feedback. Trolls don’t really make a habit of lurking on amazon.com. That’s what Reddit is for. So Amazon is just trying to put an end to exaggerated, undeserved reviews with their policy. It makes absolute sense. Why would someone fight it?
…But then there’s the flip side. It’s very difficult to break through in an online world saturated with self-published novels. These authors depend on good reviews in order to climb the Amazon market bestsellers chart and get noticed. They don’t have the luxury of press tours and book signings handled by an agent or a PR manager. So I can see and understand the struggle, but I also can’t justify putting my name on that petition when I have personally read a few real stinkers (to put it mildly) as a result of what could only have been overblown reviews.
So, yeah, that’s been on my mind. It’s a pretty interesting thought-struggle because my opinion swings both ways as a customer and as a writer. Lots to think about. I’ll post the link below if you’d like to add your name. As always, no judgment here.
See you next week for booze and books!