Monthly Archives: January 2019

…my pal, Tony McManus, ponders Amazon’s ‘killing the golden goose’ policy on Author reviews…

…the following superb piece from my Author friend, Tony McManus, mirrors what so many of us in the self-publishing community feel right now:

A LOW BLOW FROM AMAZON

I have mixed emotions regarding Amazon. On the one hand, and I guess like most indie authors, I am grateful for the opportunity Amazon has given me to become a self-published independent author of thrillers. On the other hand, they do things that puzzle, baffle and annoy me.

Writing a book, a novel, fashioning a work of fiction, and doing it well, is not easy. Even for ‘natural’ writers, highly gifted and driven writers pursuing destiny, it’s hard work. That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable. A writer on a roll, writing well, enjoys a ‘high’ like nothing else on earth. Like a ride to the moon, it can be the most satisfying thing he’s ever done. He gets to feel good about things.

But then, after completion, he has to sell his book. This is the hardest part.

In order to sell their books, indie writers need to build ‘platforms’ in the form of websites, blogs, and newsletters; all time-consuming chores. It helps to be something of a huckster, a showman. Being shy and reclusive is a drawback. But more than anything else they need reviews. Readers’ reviews are essential, the lifeblood of the enterprise. Good reviews drive sales. Without reviews, a book lies ignored, beached in the shallows. The problem is, reviews are not easy to come by. Only a small percentage of readers are prepared to write them. So, writers are faced with the task of cajoling readers into making the effort. At the end of my latest novel, in the hope of a response, I left a little note:

‘Note to the reader

I hope you enjoyed A Bangkok Interlude. If it’s no trouble, a short, honest review would be greatly appreciated. ‘ 

Getting reviews can be really tough; it’s a hard road to tread. And now, thanks to Big Brother Amazon, it just got a lot harder.

An Australian lady recently purchased and downloaded a copy of my novel, A Bangkok Interlude. She thought it was, ‘Awesome’ and said so on Facebook. She then wrote a review reflecting her enthusiastic opinion. Amazon rejected her review and directed her to their ‘Community Guidelines’. She went there and found that in order to publish a review she had to have spent AU$50 minimum; I imagine that is per year. I have discovered that this rule applies in every ‘Amazon Community’; in Britain, (Amazon.co.uk) for example, one must spend 50 pounds sterling in order to place reviews. The same holds for all the ‘Amazon Communities’.

It wasn’t always this way. Once it was easy and straightforward. You bought a book on Kindle and, if you had a mind to, you wrote a review. It made sense. Not anymore.

I’ve concluded that this financial threshold is the latest salvo in Amazon’s War on Fake Reviews.

Amazon has been waging this war since around 2012. And in so doing they’ve deleted vast numbers of reviews, many of them genuine and not in the least fraudulent. It appears that many innocent writers and reviewers are being cut down, ‘friendly fire’ casualties of Amazon’s unfeeling robots.

Authors are forbidden from holding the slightest relationship with a reviewer. So if a writer develops a group of fans, those fans could be banned from writing reviews, as a fan club could be deemed a relationship by Amazon’s bots. Punishments can include banishment. For life. And there is no appeal. I’m told the entire Kindle store is run by robots and AI. Things are getting more than a little scary. And it appears that the war is largely a failure as the real scammers are getting through.

This latest move, placing a minimum of purchases, will, no doubt, have its effect. But reviewers who get their reviews rejected, like the Australian reader, will be put off from writing reviews; once bitten, twice shy.

At school, I was taught that it was a far, far better thing that a guilty man escapes justice than an innocent man suffers punishment. I feel that Amazon should take note. Far better that a few fraudulent reviews get through than so many genuine and honest reviews get deleted.

Honest reviews benefit Amazon as well as the authors. What a pity they can’t seem to see that.

…thanks, Tony… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

24 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

…a first-ever Guest Post from my pal, Authoress, Barbara Spencer…

…my dear friend and splendid Authoress, m’Lady, Barbara Spencer, has dipped her foot in the murky waters of my web with her first-ever Guest Post… and she does a terrific job of it… enjoy… here she is, sitting front left in this Interpol snap of a gathering of suspicious-looking writerly characters in London…

I am not quite sure what a guest post entails, having never been asked to do one before. All I know is that Seumas Gallacher, the author of the Jack Calder thrillers, who is also a poet, a bon viveur, and generous to a fault, issued the invitation.

Strangely, it was his novel, Killer City, that began our friendship. For me, it was special because it was the first book I actually downloaded onto Kindle and enjoyed reading. When he flew into London, several authors and I met up with him under the shadow of John Betjeman, the poet Laureate and steam train buff. It was a great day out.

He said to talk about my new novel, The Year the Swans Came, understanding that for me, a children’s novelist for a dozen years with a similar number of books under my belt, it is perhaps the most important novel I have written. Not only is the style very different, I have switched age groups and genres and now write fantasy for adults/top teens, or to be more precise magical realism. It is also the forerunner of a trilogy – something else I’ve never done before.

It is also a mystery, hence my problem. How do I chat about the plot without giving too much away? This review from Catherine Kullmann says it far better than I ever could:

‘As Maidy Bader anxiously awaits her sixteenth birthday, the day on which ‘overnight, girls become adults, eligible to be courted, and to marry’ her thoughts return to the past and most importantly to her elder brother Pieter’s sixteenth birthday, the last he spent with his family. No one speaks of him or why he vanished. Life goes on as it always did in the unnamed country. The unnamed invaders have left and those deportees who could, have returned. Among them are the Bader’s neighbours, the Endelbaums. Their beautiful daughter Ruth, who is Maidy’s best friend, has had to give up her hopes of marrying Pieter. Slightly older than Maidy, Ruth is the belle of the college the girls attend while Maidy stays more in the background.
On Maidy’s birthday, everything changes. Maidy begins to emerge from her chrysalis. Pieter returns as suddenly as he departed, but gives no explanation for his long absence. Ruth immediately claims him, but she is also intrigued by the four strangers, handsome young men, who suddenly appear at the college. She takes their attention and interest as her due but Maidy is surprised to find herself sought out both by gentle Jaan and the strangers’ leader, the charismatic and mysterious Zande. And Pieter is desperate to marry Ruth and complete his apprenticeship with his father, a maker of mirrors.
But all is not as it seems. This is not a college romance. Unimaginable secrets swirl beneath the surface of daily life and all too soon the unwitting Maidy and Ruth are drawn into the vortex of an ancient tragedy that threatens them all anew.
I was blown away by this book, enthralled by the beautiful writing, the slow build-up of the mesmerizing story and the wonderful characters. Magical realism of the highest order’.

Catherine is quite correct, both the country and the invaders remain unnamed. The country is Holland and the city Amsterdam. That is where the idea originated. I took my granddaughter to Amsterdam in 2010, to celebrate the publication of another book.

This is the blurb:

‘Growing up amongst the ruins of war, four siblings use the bridges and cobblestone walkways of the old city as a backdrop for their games. Pieter Bader, the eldest, wants to follow in the footsteps of his family, designers of mirrors for royalty since the 17th century, while Maidy, the youngest, dreams of becoming a writer. Around the smallest bridge in the city, she weaves stories of swashbuckling pirates and princesses, who wear sandals made from the silken thread of a spider web. Her best friend Ruth lives next door. She dreams of marrying Pieter, only for him to vanish from their lives late one night.
Is his disappearance linked to the arrival of the swans, feared as cursed and birds of ill-fortune? What will happen when they return six years later, on the morning of Maidy’s sixteenth birthday?
And who exactly is the charismatic and mysterious Zande?
Follow Ruth and Maidy’s cursed tale of love as they discover what happened to Pieter, and how the appearance of Zande will affect both their lives, unleashing events as tragic and fantastical as one of Maidy’s stories.’

 

The Year the Swans Came is now on Net Galley and free in the hope of gathering reviews:

https://www.netgalley.com/widget/170266/redeem/bd7ce1b4b4e2e41708099f12305304db971d393bf4f27e82bbd3f17397f1381c

…many thanks  to m’Lady Barbara, who can be contacted as noted below… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

Twitter: @BarbaraSpencerO
Facebook: facebook.com/BarbaraSpencerAuthor

10 Comments

Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

Readers … resolve to read more in 2019!

…my dear pal, m’Lady, Susan Toy has this great news about the new group putting readers and writers together… have a read and then join up, join us, and join in! ! enjoy 🙂

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

HUGETHANKS to Allan Hudson for hosting me once again on his blog, South Branch Scribbler!
Following is much of that original post. Please visit Allan’s link to read in its entirety.

I am a reader and I read a lot of books! No matter how many I read however I never seem to catch up with my ginormous to-be-read stack/list of books. Even though I try to follow Dr. Seuss’s advice:

I never manage to come even close to catching up.

But then that’s part of the fun in reading, isn’t it? The search for new books to read, test-driving new authors’ writing, the joy in “discovering” a new-to-you book or even a genre that you’ve never read before. I’ve spent my entire life reading and working with books and authors and am an author now myself, yet I never tire of reading, thinking about, discussing, recommending and…

View original post 577 more words

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized