Reviews

Little White Lies: Are They Good or Bad in Publishing?

24 October 2014

From author Judy Mollen Walters via The Huffington Post:

Little White Lies. We all use them in daily life. A friend asks us if she looks like she’s gained weight and we say no when it does look like she’s put on a few pounds.

. . . .

But what about little white lies in publishing? Those happen all the time, too, yet many of us argue, they’re good, for both the liar and the recipient.

. . . .

My experience with little white lies started as a naive but hopeful author, sending out query letters trying to find an agent. Some agents sent a generic rejection letter but others wrote a little personalized note. I got excited about “nice” rejections — hopeful that they “meant” something. But in the end, they probably didn’t mean a thing more than no. No means no, no matter how nicely it is said.

Then I got an agent and we moved to trying to find a publishing house and editor for my work. Editors generally wrote lengthier rejection letters and again I read into them. The editor said the characterization was good! The editor said the subject matter grabbed her! Whatever it was, I clung to it, believing it meant something. But my agent would remind me that no meant no, and no matter how an editor “sugar coated” it, a rejection was a rejection. She went so far as to say that it was common in the publishing world to “cushion” the rejection with niceties and that I shouldn’t believe them. She was right. Rejections are rejections. How the person chooses to say it should not mean anything to you.

I left my agent when I decided to self publish. This time, I experienced the little white lies from other authors. Over the years, I had befriended a few authors online whose work I especially admired. They wrote contemporary, family centered fiction; so did I. The only difference was that most of them were traditionally published. I reached out to quite a few to try to get blurbs for my book cover. They all said no. Most said no with the “I’m too busy,” line. I sensed they were lying, especially when I would see their names on blurbs for lots of other books over the coming months and years.

. . . .

When I brought this up with other writers recently, a traditionally published author told me that frankly, traditionally published authors didn’t really want to associate with self pubbers. They didn’t want their names anywhere near our work. And that’s why they told us they were too busy. They didn’t want to tell us they thought our work would suck (even though they hadn’t even read it yet).

. . . .

I’ve talked with other writers about this. They agree that it’s difficult to tell someone their work is not ready to see the light of day, how treacherous it is to walk the fine line of constructive criticism and “this really stinks but I can’t tell you that.” We’ve talked about how “nice” everyone is in publishing. It’s almost taboo to be anything but super sweet to someone you don’t know, or even to people you do.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post

Here’s a link to Judy Mollen Walters’ books

 

Internet trolls face up to two years in jail under new laws

19 October 2014

From the BBC:

Internet trolls could face up to two years in jail under new laws, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said.

He told the Mail on Sunday quadrupling the current maximum six-month term showed his determination to “take a stand against a baying cyber-mob”.

The plan was announced days after TV presenter Chloe Madeley suffered online abuse, which Mr Grayling described as “crude and degrading”.

She has welcomed the proposed laws but said social media should be regulated.

. . . .

Under the new measures, magistrates could pass serious cases on to crown courts.

Mr Grayling told the newspaper: “These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life.

“No-one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence.”

Miss Madeley received threats after defending her mother Judy Finnigan’s comments on a rape committed by footballer Ched Evans, which she said was “non-violent” and did not cause “bodily harm”.

Richard Madeley has said “prosecution awaits” those who sent “sick rape threats” to his daughter.

Link to the rest at BBC and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

The Choices of Kathleen Hale

19 October 2014

From Smart Bitches, Trashy Books:

Next week I will be a guest of the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in British Columbia, Canada, and one of the workshops I’ve giving is on reviews. Specifically, it’s called, Reviews: How to Get Reviewed, and How to Put a Review in your Rearview Mirror. I’m a blogger and reviewer who regularly gives negative review to books, and I’m also an author of two books, both of which have received positive and negative reviews. I both write and receive reviews regularly, but it’s not that experience that gives me an understanding of where Kathleen Hale went wrong.

In an article published by The Guardian today, Kathleen Hale details how she targeted a reviewer on GoodReads who had given her upcoming book a negative review.

When Kathleen Hale stalked, monitored, and then personally harassed by phone and in person a reviewer who disliked her book, she had crossed what should be an obvious line of acceptable behavior. Hale repeatedly sought engagement and demanded attention from a person who did not consent to that contact, and moreover sought through every possible means to unmask a person’s pseudonym because she wanted to, and she thought she had the right to do so.

There is a line between how you feel about a review, and what you do in response to it. 

. . . .

When you publish a book, when you create anything and release it into the world as entertainment to be consumed and enjoyed by other people, you lose all control of the conversation about your creation.

I have written about this at length in a book edited by Brian O’Leary and Hugh McGuire. But here’s the shorter version: once it’s published, it’s not under your control anymore. Your name is on the cover, and your name is likely part of the review, positive or negative, as well. But you cannot control what people say about it, and chasing people down, arguing with them about what they said, rounding up other people to tell that person they are wrong, is not helping. It’s attempting to quell what could be a beneficial conversation.

. . . .

You and your book are SEPARATE THINGS. They are NOT THE SAME.

“Oh, I was reviewed by X. They flayed me alive.”
“I got a review at that site. They ripped me to pieces.”

As far as I am aware at this time, I have no magical powers to flay people, my eyes don’t turn black and creepy, and I am not definitely not Alyson Hannigan. So I don’t flay people, living or dead. If I had that skill, I imagine I’d be very popular among people who need to field dress an elk.

And I don’t rip people to shreds, either. I don’t have that kind of upper body strength, to be honest.

I may have disliked a book. Another reader may have disliked a book. That happens a lot. But the book and the author are separate things.  A book is not the author, and the author is not the book. If I am offended, angry, disappointed, outraged or completely over the moon with glee about a book, that has very little to do with the author personally.

Link to the rest at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books and thanks to Barb for the tip.

‘Am I being catfished?’ An author confronts her number one online critic

18 October 2014

From The Guardian:

In the months before my first novel came out, I was a charmless lunatic – the type that other lunatics cross the street to avoid. I fidgeted and talked to myself, rewriting passages of a book that had already gone to print. I remember when my editor handed me the final copy: I held the book in my hands for a millisecond before grabbing a pen and scribbling edits in the margins.

“No,” she said firmly, taking the pen away. “Kathleen, you understand we can’t make any more changes, right?”

“I was just kidding,” I lied. Eventually she had to physically prise the book from my hands.

A lot of authors call this “the post-partum stage”, as if the book is a baby they struggle to feel happy about. But for me, it felt more like one of my body parts was about to be showcased.

“Are you excited about your novel?” my mom asked, repeatedly, often in singsong.

“I’m scared,” I said. Anxious and inexperienced, I began checkinggoodreads.com, a social reviewing site owned by Amazon. My publisher HarperTeen had sent advance copies of my book to bloggers and I wanted to see what they thought. Other authors warned me not to do this, but I didn’t listen. Soon, my daily visits tallied somewhere between “slightly-more-than-is-attractive-to-admit-here” and “infinity”.

For the most part, I found Goodreaders were awarding my novel one star or five stars, with nothing in between. “Well, it’s a weird book,” I reminded myself. “It’s about a girl with PTSD teaming up with a veteran to fight crime.” Mostly I was relieved they weren’t all one-star reviews.

One day, while deleting and rewriting the same tweet over and over (my editors had urged me to build a “web presence”), a tiny avatar popped up on my screen. She was young, tanned and attractive, with dark hair and a bright smile. Her Twitter profile said she was a book blogger who tweeted nonstop between 6pm and midnight, usually about the TV show Gossip Girl. According to her blogger profile, she was a 10th-grade teacher, wife and mother of two. Her name was Blythe Harris. She had tweeted me saying she had some ideas for my next book.

. . . .

Curious to see if Blythe had read my book, I clicked from her Twitter through her blog and her Goodreads page. She had given it one star. “Meh,” I thought. I scrolled down her review.

. . . .

“I think this book is awfully written and offensive; its execution in regards to all aspects is horrible and honestly, nonexistent.”

Blythe went on to warn other readers that my characters were rape apologists and slut-shamers. She accused my book of mocking everything from domestic abuse to PTSD. “I can say with utmost certainty that this is one of the worst books I’ve read this year,” she said, “maybe my life.”

Other commenters joined in to say they’d been thinking of reading my book, but now wouldn’t. Or they’d liked it, but could see where Blythe was coming from, and would reduce their ratings.

“Rape is brushed off as if it is nothing,” Blythe explained to one commenter. “PTSD is referred to insensitively; domestic abuse is the punch line of a joke, as is mental illness.”

“But there isn’t rape in my book,” I thought. I racked my brain, trying to see where I had gone wrong.

. . . .

After listening to me yammer on about the Goodreads review, my mother sent me a link to a website called stopthegrbullies.com, or STGRB. Blythe appeared on a page called Badly Behaving Goodreaders, an allusion to Badly Behaving Authors. BBAs, Athena Parker, a co-founder of STGRB, told me, are “usually authors who [have] unknowingly broken some ‘rule’”. Once an author is labelled a BBA, his or her book is unofficially blacklisted by the book-blogging community.

. . . .

“Blythe was involved in an [online] attack on a 14-year-old girl back in May 2012,” Parker said. The teenager had written a glowing review of a book Blythe hated, obliquely referencing Blythe’s hatred for it: “Dear Haters,” the review read. “Everyone has his or her own personal opinion, but expressing that through profanity is not the answer. Supposedly, this person is an English teacher at a middle school near where I lived… People can get hurt,” the review concluded.

In response, Blythe rallied her followers.

. . . .

It turned out that Parker and her co-founders were not the only ones to have run into trouble with Blythe. An editor friend encouraged me to get in touch with other authors she knew who had been negatively reviewed by her. Only one agreed to talk, under condition of anonymity.

I’ll call her Patricia Winston.

“You know her, too?” I Gchatted Patricia.

She responded – “Omg” – and immediately took our conversation off the record.

“DO NOT ENGAGE,” she implored me. “You’ll make yourself look bad, and she’ll ruin you.”

. . . .

In the following weeks, Blythe’s vitriol continued to create a ripple effect: every time someone admitted to having liked my book on Goodreads, they included a caveat that referenced her review. The ones who truly loathed it tweeted reviews at me. It got to the point where my mild-mannered mother (also checking on my book’s status) wanted to run a background check on Blythe. “Who are these people?” she asked. She had accidentally followed one of my detractors on Twitter – “I didn’t know the button!” she yelled down the phone – and was now having to deal with cyberbullying of her own. (“Fine, I’ll get off the Twitter,” she said. “But I really don’t like these people.”)

That same day, Blythe began tweeting in tandem with me, ridiculing everything I said.

. . . .

Why do hecklers heckle? Recent studies have had dark things to say about abusive internet commenters – a University of Manitoba report suggested they share traits with child molesters and serial killers. The more I wondered about Blythe, the more I was reminded of something Sarah Silverman said in an article for Entertainment Weekly: “A guy once just yelled, ‘Me!’ in the middle of my set. It was amazing. This guy’s heckle directly equalled its heartbreaking subtext – ‘Me!’” Silverman, an avid fan of Howard Stern, went on to describe a poignant moment she remembers from listening to his radio show: one of the many callers who turns out to be an a******* is about to be hung up on when, just before the line goes dead, he blurts out, in a crazed, stuttering voice, “I exist!”

. . . .

Over the next few months, my book came out, I got distracted by life and managed to stay off Goodreads. Then a book club wanted an interview, and suggested I pick a blogger to do it.

“Blythe Harris,” I wrote back. I knew tons of nice bloggers, but I still longed to engage with Blythe directly.

The book club explained that it was common for authors to do “giveaways” in conjunction with the interview, and asked if I could sign some books. I agreed, and they forwarded me Blythe’s address.

The exterior of the house that showed up on Google maps looked thousands of square feet too small for the interiors Blythe had posted on Instagram. According to the telephone directory and recent census reports, nobody named Blythe Harris lived there. The address belonged to someone I’ll call Judy Donofrio who, according to an internet background check ($19), was 46 – not 27, as Blythe was – and worked as vice-president of a company that authorises disability claims.

It looked as if I had been taken in by someone using a fake identity. I Gchatted Patricia: “I think we’ve been catfished?”

Patricia asked how I could be sure Judy D wasn’t merely renting to Blythe H? I had to admit it seemed unlikely that I might be right: why would someone who sells disability insurance pose as a teacher online?

“Well, there’s only one way to find out,” Sarah said, sending me a car rental link. “Go talk to her.”

“DO NOT DO THIS,” Patricia cautioned me.

“You don’t want to talk to her?” I responded.

“NO STOP IT HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW YOU’RE RIGHT?”

“I don’t.” I opened a new tab to book a car.

. . . .

As my car rental date approached, I thought it might be helpful to get some expert advice about meeting a catfish in person. So I telephoned Nev Schulman, subject of the 2010 hit Catfish, the documentary that coined the term. He now hosts and produces the MTV programme Catfish, in which he helps people confront their long-distance internet boyfriends, girlfriends and enemies – almost 100% of whom end up being fakes. Maybe, I thought, he could help me, too.

“Of all the catfish I’ve confronted, there was only one I didn’t tell I was coming,” Schulman said cagily, apparently shocked by my plan to go unannounced. Nonetheless, he had some tips: “This is a woman who is used to sitting behind her computer and saying whatever she wants with very little accountability. Even if she hears from people she criticises, she doesn’t have to look them in the face. She doesn’t know she hurt your feelings, and she doesn’t really care.”

“How did you know that she hurt my feelings?”

“Because you’re going to her house.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Tymber for the tip.

Amazon’s Elite Reviewing Club Sabotaged My Book

17 October 2014

From The New Republic:

I’ll bet you don’t know what the Amazon “Vine Community” is. I didn’t. I was never even aware of it until my memoir was published earlier this year. Books offered on Amazon for pre-order have a notation: “This book is not eligible for review until publication date.” However, in the run-up to my release date there were already five reviews postedand they all were rotten; I mean inaccurate, insulting, and demonstrably written by dim bulbs. I was absolutely stunned. Who were these people, and why were they allowed to comment on a book before actual purchasers, when there was a clear prohibition.

Well, they were “Vine Voices” I found out. Amazon explains: “Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions.” Well, swell. A fellow customer would have read those pre-publication “reviews” and thought the book was dreckalthough some people, I have to hope, would have spotted these attacks for what they were: ad hominem attacks. God and Bezos only know how many “trusted reviewers” there are. In any case, these people are given freebies … cold cream, sneakers, pots and pans, and … books! I submit to you that free stuff does not a book reviewer make. One could fairly think of Vine membership as offering an all-you-can-eat buffet of things.

. . . .

Another pre-publication pan from a Vine Voice was posted twelve days prior to publication. Her considered opinion was this: “I found the writing to be so sophomoric that I am still bewildered how the author, now in her 70s, ever made a living as a writer … Reading this felt like watching an aging singer past their prime still trying to perform in concert. I suppose if you want to learn more about Ms. Howard’s pampered life then you may enjoy this. I did not.” (I must say I appreciated the elevation from a Kardashian to an aging singer.) As for the writer’s “bewilderment” about how I ever made a living as a writer, please no one tell her that I was a syndicated columnist for decades, wrote cover stories for national magazines, and got a book advance in seven figures.

. . . .

If you do not detect the hostility in these Vine reviews, I bet your names are “Quirky Girl” and “Ms. Winston.” These people were not reviewing my book, they were reviewing me. Or rich people. Or something. And Amazon gave them the tools, through Vine, to damage my book for the casual browser. I can see the valuemaybefor man-on-the-street reviews of cold cream and pots and pans, but books?! Especially by people who collect free stuff, feel important because they’re getting this swag, and, forgive me, do not sound in the least like well-read people to begin with.

. . . .

Books, of course, can be and are reviewed pre-publicationbut by reviewers who are attached to magazines or newspapers. “Book Reviewer” is considered a profession, and reviews are done by other writers. Good sense would seem to mititate against any group of people unschooled in creative and critical reviewing coming up with a worthwhile review. The Vine people, who deal mostly with products for the home and the body, seem inappropriate bellwethers regarding products for the mind, if you will.

I was so distressed about this injustice that I looked up the list of Amazon’s board of directors. Great good luck, I happened to know two of them, so I pestered the one who was a lawyer, feeling all this slamming by the barely literate approached tortious interference.

Link to the rest at The New Republic and thanks to Margaret for the tip.

PG says someone needs to tell this author about Special Snowflakes United.

What The Huge Success Of ’Gone Girl’ Says About Us As A Society (Hint: It Isn’t Good)

12 October 2014

Spoilers ahoy!

Let’s start with this: Gone Girl is a great book, a really great book; one of those rare works of craftsmanship that make even we battlehardened correspondents from the front line of book reviewing drop our habitual sneers of ennui and let slip a small nod of respect. Gillian Flynn pulls off so many tricks in this novel, that it’s hard to believe that one brain could be so crafty…

My problem with Gone Girl isn’t the book or the writer or the film. My problem with Gone Girl is us.

Spool back to 1944 and the movie Double Indemnity. Based on the novella by James M. Cain, Double Indemnity starred Barbara Stanwyck (at that time the highest earning woman in the US) as a woman, Phyllis Dietrichson, who beguiles a hapless insurance salesman (Fred MacMurray) into helping her murder her husband and collect on his life insurance policy. The film, directed by Billy Wilder, was nominated for seven Oscars and won a grand total of zero, but who cares about that because Double Indemnity can lay claim to being the very first noir film ever, spawning a thousand imitations and a genre we’re still enjoying today. It also featured a femme fatale—a stereotype which caught on so hard and so fast that it became clear that there was nothing that western culture yearned for more at that point in time than a dirty girl who used her sexual wiles to get dumb guys to do her bidding. The 40s and 50s were full of these women—Cora in The Postman Always Rings Twice, Laurie Starr in Gun Crazy, Kitty Collins in The Killers—the stereotype became so pervasive that Elvis Costello even wrote a song about them and for a while it seemed every bar in every town contained a scarlet-lipped temptress, using her compact to check her mascara and simultaneously scope out the room for a mark.

Then the craze subsided and in the history of female archetypes, the femme fatale became just another chapter.

Seriously, here be spoilers…

Amy is a Men’s Rights Activist’s worst nightmare come to life. The woman who gets pregnant to trap her man. The woman whose sweet exterior conceals a psyche composed entirely of vitriolic hate. The woman who fakes rape (‘I took a wine bottle and abused myself with it every day, so the inside of my vagina looked…right. Right for a rape victim’ Amy coolly admits to Nick after she returns). Amy’s actions present a text book case for those who believe that most rape victims are liars, that women are incapable of rational thought, that women are the controllers, not men, that you can’t trust a word a woman says because she’ll just twist everything to make you look bad.

But this is just fiction—right? Though reading about Amy might be an unpleasant experience, especially for women, she isn’t real. She’s a fantastically well-conceived creation, a vehicle for a particular narrative about modern marriage, a device through which Flynn can make some sharp, shrewd points about how some relationships work. Yes, this is just fiction. My problem isn’t with Flynn’s choice of character, or how she made Amy act. My problem is with how we reacted to it.

We embraced it. Something about Amy struck a chord with us. Just as audiences of the 1940s flocked to see Phyllis Dietrichson plot and flirt, the audiences of 2014 greet Amy Dunne with a smile (or wince) of recognition. We know this woman—the entitled, embittered, privileged woman who keeps lists of every slight, colour-codes her grudges and deploys her children in the same way a retreating army sets out landmines. This is who we think bad women are nowadays. Not hussies on the make, but cupcake-bakers settling emotional scores.

This is my problem with Gone Girl. It holds up a mirror and shows us what we believe about women. It explains why rape goes unreported or unprosecuted. It explains why women find it harder to gain positions of trust. It explains why many people still believe that victims of domestic violence were asking for it (see p412 of my edition). Of course Amy Dunne is #notallwomen but she rings a loud enough bell with many of us that we find her actions utterly and completely compelling and believable.

On her website, Gillian Flynn makes this point about women in fiction (and it’s a good one):

Isn’t it time to acknowledge the ugly side? I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books. I particularly mourn the lack of female villains—good, potent female villains Not ill-tempered women who scheme about landing good men and better shoes (as if we had nothing more interesting to war over), not chilly WASP mothers (emotionally distant isn’t necessarily evil), not soapy vixens (merely bitchy doesn’t qualify either). I’m talking violent, wicked women. Scary women. Don’t tell me you don’t know some.

The success of Gone Girl says we think we do.

Full details at litReactor.

I dunno…

Are we in for a return to prominence of the femme fatale?
Is this really an indicator of something new or just a one-of change of pace like BODY HEAT?
Given Hollywood and corporate publishing’s habits we’ll no doubt see a wave of imitators but will they really find an eager audience?

Felix

Signing a Publishing Contract

11 October 2014

What to Do Before Signing a Publishing Contract

Column by Brandon Tietz at LitReactor

Writing a novel is damn hard. Selling one to a publisher, in its own distinct way, is even more difficult because you’re essentially convincing a company to gamble on you and your work. This is part of the reason self-publishing is booming right now. Searching for a publisher is both a hassle and a blizzard of heartbreaking rejection, so when you actually do get an offer, it’s a huge moment. So euphoric that emotion can often blind the writer to those important details on what’s on the actual contract. It amazes me how many authors took their time working on their novels only to sign a contract after skimming it once. It’s not an iTunes update, guys…read the damn thing. Here are some key things you should know before signing on the dotted line.

Who Are These People?

I will go on record and say that I have scared away authors from a publisher I went through because it was a sub-par experience. They’re out of business now, if that tells you anything. What I’m saying though is that you should know the publisher before you sign any sort of contract that binds you to them. Now I don’t recommend asking authors whether they do or don’t like the publisher while you’re querying, but after you get the offer, feel free to reach out and get a feel for how they’re handling their business. Unhappy authors are usually a good indicator that you should tread lightly.

****

Conclusion

Don’t be blinded by your contract. Signing a bad one can be the thing that ends up screwing you over for the life of the novel. Do your research, ask questions, and for the love of God, don’t be afraid to ask for changes if you don’t like something. If three author copies sound low—ask for more. If you don’t want your book assigned to a certain designer—ask for an alternative. A contract is an agreement between two parties…not one party telling the other how it’s going to be.

Read the rest here.

From guest blogger Randall

A Memoir or a New Feminist Manifesto?

8 October 2014

A review by Heather Wilhelm:

So, did you hear that Lena Dunham wrote a new memoir? The 28-year-old Dunham is, of course, the media-declared “voice of her generation.”  She is a “feminist icon.” She is also the “wunderkind” creator of HBO’s “Girls,” which, in case you’ve missed it, is a mediocre television show featuring confused, naked, largely Caucasian body parts flopping all over Brooklyn for no particular reason.

Over the past few years, Dunham has been vexingly omnipresent:  cheerfully cruising the red carpet for her eight Emmy nominations, clasping Golden Globe awards with a crazed look in her eyes, pocketing a $3.6 million book advance, hosting a particularly sanctimonious episode of “Saturday Night Live,” hijacking the cover of Vogue, and earning approximately 10,365 media stories per day. I don’t want to scare you, but she could be hiding in your closet right now.

Well, blow me down, and, apparently, don’t take my stock market advice. As of Tuesday night, “Not That Kind of Girl”—which, it should be noted, is authored by a young woman who recently got a bowl cut exactly like Jim Carrey’s in “Dumb and Dumber,” on purpose, and then posed naked, towel-wrapped, chewing a birth control pill packet for a Planned Parenthood e-mail enthusiastically comparing voting to doing Ecstasy—hit No. 2 on Amazon. Yes, this is actually happening. Let’s discuss, if only to combat a creeping sense of quiet existential despair.

***

“Wait a minute,” you might be saying, especially if you’re actually serious about women’s empowerment. “A man won’t solve your deep-seated issues. You need to address them yourself!” That is correct. I was reminded of this in high school, in fact, when my mom gave me a copy of “Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives,” written by one crazed genius, Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

Say what you will, but unlike “Not That Kind of Girl,” Dr. Laura’s book is pretty brilliant, centering on a simple thesis: Women, as Dr. Laura so eloquently puts it, should not be just “Wo- Wo- Wo- on a Man.” They should not, in other words, define themselves through their romantic relationships. This will make them crazy, Dr. Laura argues, and unhealthily dependent on men.

Lena Dunham has clearly not read this book, for at the end of “Not that Kind of Girl,” her conclusion centers on a man—her newest boyfriend, a hipster guitarist—who has indeed solved her problems, creating a new and lasting peace. I am not exaggerating. From the ending: “Stuff like this only happens to characters played by Jennifer Garner, right? … He seems to be there without reservation. He pays attention. He listens.” Yes, but how about when existential angst strikes in the middle of the night? “He settles that. … He helps you sleep.”

It’s kind of like the end of “A Tale of Two Cities,” except there’s no self-sacrifice, no introspection, and it doesn’t make any sense. But here’s the good news for the man-dependent Ms. Dunham: The feminist in-crowd won’t be blackballing her anytime soon. She’s got the “woe is me” act down cold.

Read the rest of the review here.

Julia

 

Seriously? Rotten Reviews…

2 October 2014

From The Atlantic:

Fake Reviews: Amazon’s Rotten Core

The web has created some fantastic opportunities for authors, publishers and self-publishers alike, but this summer has seen the industry’s dark underbelly revealed in all its venal, pustulant ignominy. Things kicked off in July at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival where successful author Stephen Leather confessed, during an on-stage panel discussion, that he used fake accounts to promote his own books. This admission of sockpuppetry shocked the writing community and has been covered well byfellow panellistSteve Mosby.

UPDATED 29 August (see below for details).

Leather admitted to creating accounts on forums under assumed names in order to “create a buzz” about his own work. He also promotes and reviews his work using at least one pseudonymous Twitter account. In Leather’s own words, transcribed from a recording of the panel:

I’ll go onto several forums, from the well-known forums, and post there, under my own name and under various other names and various other characters. You build this whole network of characters who talk about your books and sometimes have conversations with yourself. And then I’ve got enough fans…

Although Amazon gets the headline, in the article the fake reviews cross all publishing platforms. Read here.

Julia Barrett

Hillary Clinton’s new book isn’t poetry. But the Amazon reviews of it sure are.

21 July 2014

From The Washington Post:

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s account of her time at the State Department, “Hard Choices,” and Ed Klein’s more tabloid-y account of her relationship with President Obama have been duking it out on the New York Times bestseller list. We have yet to learn which one will win.

. . . .

One place where nobody wins? In the customer reviews section of Amazon, where opinions of the two books are twice as polarized as the American electorate because, well, a certain type of person apparently writes these reviews. To wit: Ninety percent of the reviews of Clinton’s book give it either one or five stars. And more than twice as many are one-star reviews.

Link to the rest at The Washington Post

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