The End of the Week and Month

photo by Jim McVeigh

September 28th? Seriously? The calendar tells me so, as does the cool, damp day. My bare feet are cold, but I’m happy about that. Socks are good.

This week had a little of everything:

  • The plumber stopped by on Tuesday morning at 8:30 and departed at 3:00 in the afternoon. We thought it was a minor fix, and I still think it was, but the very nice guy really didn’t know what he was doing. He left at 9:00 to pick up a part and was gone for two hours. Then his boss showed up, presumably to do the aspect of the job the nice plumber couldn’t do. We were housebound. I’m used to that, spending most of my day indoors writing anyway, so it didn’t bother me all that much. We’re still better off than the neighbors, who bore the worst of it two and a half weeks ago when one of the underground pipes malfunctioned (I don’t know what happened –  it was blocked, it broke, whatever it was, it’s been a problem). They’re still not able to return home (we’re attached to each other as condo owners). How’s your infrastructure?
  • On Wednesday, we entertained my 80-year-old father-in-law all day. God love him, he’s a character. He thought it was one of the best days ever because he took us out to breakfast at the Beacon Diner (if you don’t know it, just picture your hometown diner, one you like). Heavy, salty breakfast – just the thing for people who work the fields all day. That’s not us. They do have great johnnycakes, though. Because he’s tethered to his portable oxygen tank, he really can’t do much other than sit, so he sat. All day. And we couldn’t leave him alone, so we sat with him, re-running episodes of Boardwalk Empire Season Two. I’m Nucky’d out. Then it was off to dinner. I needed a juice cleanse the next day.
  • I noticed that the person who had given my book a two-star review took it down. I didn’t really think it was justified, although I do accept that not everyone will like the book. Maybe she had a change of heart. Maybe she read my blog post about bad reviews.  Today I discovered that someone different (I hope, at least) had posted a two-star review. This woman, ‘Mommyofone,’ couldn’t even finish the book. Yikes.
  • Meanwhile, I plow ahead with my second novel and try to figure out what else I can do to get noticed. Maybe nothing. There are a lot of books out there, many of them very good, and I’m thinking maybe I need to get this second one out, have people like it (maybe I can convert “Mommyofone” to give me four stars). So, back to work.

Whatever you do this weekend to ring out September, make it memorable!

The Coveted Five-Star Review (the dreaded one-star review)

Since my novel debuted two weeks ago, I’ve received some wonderful feedback. Of course, all of it has come from my friends. Not that they’re disingenuous, not at all. But they know me, and they like me, and even though I believe they’re being truthful in their praise of “Chocolate for Breakfast,” I’m interested in what a stranger would say about the book.

About a year and a half ago, I began reading e-books on my iPad, through the Kindle app. I connected my existing Amazon account with my iPad, so when I buy an e-book, it goes directly there. I do buy e-books for the most part now. Nothing against print books. Still love them. But I prefer the convenience of shopping at home, and I do have limited space to shelve books. And (note to book printers) with my e-reader I can increase the font size and put less strain on my eyes.

I purchased an e-book I thought would be interesting, but I’m not going to name it here. Because it was not good. It wasn’t. A ton of misspellings and grammatical errors, which really do detract from the book. I get hung up on the mistakes. This was a memoir, and the author clearly had issues. He portrayed himself as a victim, even though forty-odd years had gone by. He used his book as therapy, and it showed. I wrote a brief review on Amazon, and gave him two stars. I tried to be kind in my review, but still gave him only two stars. Well, he replied to my review, and he wasn’t very nice about it. I held fast and did not comment on his reply, but last week I deleted the review. Why? Because it really served no purpose. I felt that, in this case at least, my review of his book wasn’t necessary.

Yesterday I read a blog by a woman who had read and reviewed the newest release by an established author. Apparently, some readers, who adored the author’s previous books, were disappointed with this latest novel, and some readers gave the book one star in their Amazon reviews. Others reacted, some not very well, to these one-star reviews. The resulting firestorm hurt a lot of people, and in the end, it could hurt the author.

A bad review by a good reviewer can help an author, if that author is able to take constructive criticism. Look, my book is not going to be a winner with everyone, I know that. And I fully expect to see reviews that are not as positive as what I have now, from my friends. Positive reviews, especially at the outset, can really help an author gain visibility online, and I’m grateful for every one of my reviews. Poor reviews can help eventually, but may do real damage to the author’s credibility and reputation.

In my opinion, if I really didn’t like a book, I probably just won’t write anything at all. It’s what I hope my readers would do, too.