Saturday, December 15, 2012

Here's a Story. . .

Seasons Greetings, Everyone!

The post I originally planned to upload I decided to place on the backburner because I have a more serious issue I would like to talk about.  This message is for Authors--(Independent Authors) to be exact and I want you to understand what I am saying and hear me loud and clear!

Most of my fans know that I'm an avid reader.  In fact, it's hard for me to say what is my greatest passion, writing or reading?  Either way, they both serve a huge purpose for my existence and I enjoy what my gifts bring to me.  Having said that, as many of you know, it wasn't until 2009 I decided to let the world know of my first love--writing!  I knew putting myself out there was a huge risk.  I understood that no one made me any guarantees, and I also knew how terrified I was at what would be said and how I would be perceived by the public.

I'm happy to say that my fears were for not and I'm still breathing and living to write another day.  My latest novel is currently in the works so I couldn't be more happier about that.  But unfortunately, I had an incident that I need to share with my readers and especially authors!

Many independent authors have asked that I read their books or inquire if I would like to read their books, and sometimes I take them up on their offer and sometimes, I don't, depends on the genre of the novel.  A few months ago I read a book that an independent author wrote who did not ask me to review, but, as anyone knows, when I read a book, I always give my reviews on Goodreads. 

You should already know that no matter what your artistry form is, there is always going to be that someone who doesn't like what you do--even if you feel it's the best work you've produced to date, there is always someone that doesn't agree and will critique you.  We've discussed critiques in another blog post earlier this year.

Anyway, I wrote my review and it wasn't that favorable to the author.  Make no mistake, when I read a book I read (hard) and I make assessments of the storyline, the characters, how well it's written, the length of chapters, proper use of words, how it ends, etc.--again, we've covered this in a previous blog post.  So, it should come as no surprise that when I give my reviews, they can be very critical, and let me also state, just as critical as I am of other authors' work, I am just as critical, if not more, on myself.

In this business you have to have thick skin.  There are going to be people out there that say things that are totally off-the-wall, and borderline ridiculous, but the fact of the matter is, those people buy books and they also have an opinion, as does the entire human race, so you shouldn't be surprised when you get a critique that isn't as "favorable" as you would have liked.  The best you can do is hope and pray that you don't get too many of those type of reviews, because if you do, then that may say something about your writing technique.

Ok, so back to what happened.  Most of my books I purchase from Amazon.  I own a Kindle and download books.  So, my 2012 reading year is coming to a quick close, and Amazon contacted me and asked if I would give reviews on every book I purchased from them this year to help other readers make informed decisions. I'm thinking they have no idea how many books I've reviewed and how long that's going to take for me to do.  So I got the brilliant idea that I would go to my Goodreads account and copy and paste the reviews I had already done.  Awesome, Right?!  (I know you feel the big BUT coming).

Wrong!  Apparently, for one indie author and his friend, whom I will not name, had a problem with my uploading my review--again!  Amazon sent an email telling me I had a comment to my latest review.  Not thinking anything of it, I click on the email and wouldn't you know it, I'm getting slammed by this author's friend about what right did I have to put my review on Amazon since I had already placed the same exact review on Goodreads a few months ago.  Of course, the comment was rather lengthy expressing that I shouldn't have done this and that my opinion couldn't have been more wrong, so on and so forth and needless to say, this sparked much anger from me.  (I think some of you don't understand that opinion and fact have two different meanings!)

I wasn't going to respond.  I really thought, "Ok Kim, you pick and choose your battles, is this really worth getting into a heated debate over?"  After much thought and getting angrier after having read the email several times, I couldn't let this pass.  And, as you clearly see, I'm writing on this blog post, because I'm still angry.

People let me tell you ALL something!  If you don't want my opinion, don't put your shit out there for me to read--PERIOD!  If you write it and I take a notion to read what you've written, you can best rest assured that I will be reviewing it and if you don't like what I say in my review--TOUGH COOKIES!  You better 'man up' and grow some damn balls!

So, after I responded to this irate commentator about what I said of her friend's book, wouldn't you know it, just like magic, the author himself contacts me and gets in on the action.  Of course, he wants me to call him so we can discuss the review--which I refused.  I was so taken aback by this whole ordeal, it gave me a headache, and when I awoke this morning, I was still pissed from the experience.

I have never in my life had to deal with such absurdity.  The nerve of another reviewer and author to personally write me because they didn't like what I said about a book.  (Are you really serious right now?)   I had to point out to this author that I'm an author too and let me tell you something, I have had my fair share of negative reviews and critiques.  Some were very helpful and others were downright cruel, but nonetheless, you know what I did when those individuals took their precious time to contact me, after having spent their hard earned money and again, their precious time, to read my book, I thanked them for the comments and asked them to please keep in contact about future projects I would be working on.  Have you ever heard of the saying "the customer is always right!" Even when you don't agree!  Not only am I upset about this madness, you can best believe I will not be a returning customer, which I'm sure he's probably thankful.  

I don't know how most of you indie authors handle your book business, but I try never to upset my readers.  Whether they liked the work I produced or not, I always keep the door open for them to return and ask for their feedback and honesty.  Perhaps some of you liked to be lied too or want to pretend you're the next James Patterson and Stephen King, but I reside on planet earth and I keep it real--ALWAYS!  Bad reviews can be turned into a positive.  Maybe you should review what the reader is saying and see if there is any merit to their words.  You might learn something!  That's how you become a stronger author.

You know, did I want to yell at these people who spoke unfavorably against my hard work and say what the hell are you talking about?  Where in the world do you get off telling me..., yada, yada, yada, but my point is, YOU NEVER EVER treat a paying customer the way I was treated by this reviewer and author.  How insulting it was to be contacted at all about what I said about the book!  And of course, it just further added to my opinion as to what I thought of it, seeing how he reacted to my response.  And furthermore, Amazon encourages its customers to review all their products, and yes, that's books included!  They contacted me, I didn't contact them!  As much money as I have spent on Kindle books, no wonder why they asked me to give my reviews.  I hadn't broken any laws nor had I done anything wrong and I stayed within Amazon's guidelines.  The only crime I committed was stating my feelings on how the books I read impacted my thoughts!  Obviously, some of us authors can't handle that--there's your damn crime!

It is my sincere hope that I never have to encounter an unpleasant experience like this again, but should it happen, I'm giving you fair warning, that nothing you say or do will make me vary from my opinion or review.  Once I make up my mind what I feel about a story, that's that!  My review is not up for discussion, nor is it negotiable nor can it be bought.  Because many of these indie authors' reviews I find suspect to begin with.  I don't know if I buy into all these 'five-star' reviews.  I give five stars when they are due, but when they are not, I'm not lying to impress anyone--and I don't give a damn if you like it or not!  I write reviews solely on how a novel made me feel, and it's nothing personal against the author. 

NOTE TO AUTHORSIf you can't stand a critique or a strong opinion, don't write and get out of the game!  You better learn to strap your "man balls" on and take care of business!  Otherwise, stop wasting the public's time!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet

Think. . .Before you Speak!