Monday, August 10, 2015

The care and feeding of an Amazon author

Long ago, and oh so far away, I was a book reviewer. Books came out every season, and my editor
for whatever publication I was writing for (Vancouver Sun, Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal, etc.) would phone me and run some titles by me, or even send a few and let me pick. I did this for a shocking, disgraceful and deeply embarrassing 25 or 30 years, which I've been told I must take off my resume so it won't look "dated". But I loved the work and I suppose would have kept on with it.

I wonder what happened to it all.

Now it's slam, click, like, buy, gulp, consume, poop it out the other side, with normalized ADD as a laxative. More than ever, it's "product" like Dairy Queen soft-serve, only brown.

I got out of it, I had to, the last book nearly killed me because I didn't understand the language of barter: you give me five stars for MY book, I'll give you five stars for YOUR book, and neither one of us will have read the book because we're too busy turning out more slop and swill.

(The worst example of this was a published author who "friended" me, then immediately messaged me and said she had looked at my Amazon author page and noticed I "didn't have too many reviews". She said my work looked "great" and would love to rate it with five stars if I'd take a look at HER page, which "didn't have too many reviews" either, so maybe we could help each other. She said she'd try to take a closer look at my stuff - meaning, read it - if she had time. Her page had a sci-fi dragon/maiden-with-flaxen-hair/his-manhood-stood-erect series (oh, these endless SERIES - big sellers, I'm told) with approximately 200 reviews. OK then. The "unfriend" button is a Godsend sometimes.)

You can't say I didn't try, in fact I tried everything I could think of, but somehow the "everything" was always desperate, embarrassing and "wrong".  I just don't know the secret handshake, and as far as my self-esteem is concerned, I'm still being shunned on the playground because I just don't know how to do this. And PLEASE, don't anybody send me instructions, because that is not what I am talking about. 

Did I stop writing? I write for myself now, every single day, and it is intensely enjoyable, but I don't mean to show it to anyone. Ever. This is the only way I can maintain the purity of the experience and keep my sanity intact.

(A P. S. to the sci-fi dragon-lady story: she mentioned the name of a Hollywood producer who might be interested in looking at The Glass Character, deliberate catnip. I did a little research on this guy, and while he pretends to be a producer, he is a convicted felon who has never "produced" anything but a criminal record. If you're a serious writer, if there are any of you left out there, watch your back.)


  1. If I could afford it. . .

    So how do these things go: "I laughed! I cried! It became a part of me!" Can I get a job actually turning these out?

    I guess I am old school about the definition of "review". These things took 2 weeks to write and I was paid about $125. I worked hard at them, beavered away. I guess I am in some sort of semi-retirement now, but I STILL love to write. (No, no, they can't take that away from me.) But no more of the publishing game, it's a language I no longer speak. Movie rights, now. . .

  2. I particularly like this one:

    If this were a meal, I'd say Adrienne Thompson stuck her feet in it!! For those that don't know, that means it was great! The only disappointment was that the book has to end.

    The characters were flawed, but I kept rooting for them. I wanted to see good things happen. They really came to life for me. The story flowed well, and I had such a hard time putting this book down.

    Every time I thought I had this figured out, the direction would change. I was able to envision these people. It was like peaking in on a family. They seemed to leap off the pages and invite me into their world. The feelings were raw and real. From the love to the hate, the confusion to the clarity, these could have been real people. Just when I think she has written her best book, she gives me one that is better than the last!!

    The only thing I like better than all the double exclamation points is the juxtaposition of "peaking" (as in "peaking in on a family") and "leap".