I find this ever so amusing…

When you publish a book, you’re sending your baby out into the world. It’s up to you to make sure that progeny can stand up on its own. If it can’t…

Also, when you send your book to a review site, you’re asking for a person’s opinion of a book. When you outright ask a reviewer “What did you think of my book?” you should expect an honest answer. Either way, an ethical reviewer is going to be honest. 

And you can’t take it personally. The reviewer isn’t saying “So-and-so is a horrible person and deserved to be quartered and hung.” A good reviewer is going to tell you why your book didn’t get that five-star rating. Whether you agree with it or not, you can’t deny them their opinion of your book. The only time a reviewer should be called to point regarding a review they’ve written, is if they get stuff completely wrong (as in setting, character names, etc). 

HEre’s a delightful little exchange between me and an author over on amazon… 

His reply to my initial review, which is posted on this site as well: “This is a nice review, considering it’s more aimed at you as an editor…..If that’s what you really are??
I like the way you’ve used my words during our emails to try to make people look at you as an editor and less of me as an author. What’s your gain?? To get people to go to you for a cheap edit/proofread…..Seriously…….
You may not like the way I write, that’s your call, but many, many other readers do. Are you telling me they are all wrong about my book?? – I don’t think you can answer that because deep down you know that we are not all the same, and we don’t read the same. I’m just not like you. It’s that simple, but thanks for pointing out your thoughts about my work…..”

My reply:
“First lesson any author MUST learn post-publication is: reviews are opinions. When you send that book out there, it’s like sending your adult child out into the world. They have be able to stand by themselves. Sometimes, they can’t. 

I don’t think this book can. This is my opinion. It’s mine, and it doesn’t really matter if you like it or not, because I’m entitled to it. You sent your unedited/badly edited (without mention of it being an ARC, which, terrifyingly, it wasn’t), horribly formatted, overly-written, mis-plotted book to MY book review website, and then asked my opinion. 

You don’t read books. It shows. Fact. You prefer not to have your book professionally edited for whatever reason (which, by the way, is not a offer of services, and never was). Fact. Side note: I did, however, offer advice on how to find an editor. I’ve been there. I’ve been broke. Been too prideful. But in the end, product matters. But if you’re okay with spending your money on a shoddy product, okeydokey. You’re the one who will ultimately have to face that. 

As a result, professionally speaking, your book deserves no stars, but Amazon requires me to select one. Opinion. But also, fact, in a way. I shared snippets of your book with a few very successful writers with whom I am friends. Responses ranged from silent head-shakes and horrified glances to “OMG whut?” The GOOD parts of your book are stripped away because of the lack of editing and mangled formatting. Interestingly, you wanted to throw the ‘all the other readers must be wrong’ thing in my face. If you read carefully, most of your 9 reviews mention the problems with editing. I don’t know…might mean something. Quite honestly, we DO read the same. We use the English alphabet to form sounds, which then form words, which then form sentences, paragraphs, which all mush around in the comprehension centers in our brains to form a meaningful experience…etc. If you mean, we don’t all know the difference between a well-edited, good book and a “It’s done! PUBLISH ALL THE THINGS NOW!” book, you’re right. And that’s a shame, when there are amazing books by fantastic authors (Brian Keene, Carolyn McCray, Joe McKinnley, Mercedes Murdock Yardley, Elizabeth Massie, Ellen Datlow…wait, you don’t read, so you probably don’t know any of their books) who have put their heart and souls into books and DESERVE to sell millions of copies…and then there’s Clifton Falls, of which the author doesn’t like to read, doesn’t want to use an editor, and sees no problem with offering a badly formatted, unedited book for sale. Again, my opinion, to which I’m entitled.

Again, mostly opinion, but when you compare it to the industry standard, fact. You can’t rise to the next level if you don’t conquer the one you’re on, with every project you undertake. 

Lesson two every published writer has to learn: You don’t like a review? Move on. You do realize a bad review can generate as many sales as a good one, right? No? It happens. People want to know what the hullabaloo is about. Granted, they’ll probably agree once they understand the specific points I’m talking about, but it takes a good minute and some effort to get Amazon to refund a purchase. 

Lesson three: A reviewer offers legitimate constructive criticism? You have two options: Take the advice and roll with it, or shrug your shoulders and walk away. Win some, lose some. 

If you really want to be a writer, you have to grow a thick skin. You have to take reviews with a grain of salt, or a spoonful of sugar. Maybe that’s lesson four? 

This isn’t coming from somebody who sits and reads books all day. This is coming from a peer, and some one who has far more experience than you in the same field. I’ve been in the industry in various capacities for over a decade. I make my living in this industry. The average reader may not see the things that will keep you from taking it up a notch, but I do, as do any published, serious, non-hack authors. Believe it or not, I’m actually trying to help you, dude.”

 

 

Jimmy by William Malmborg

Jimmy seems like an ordinary high school senior. He has a doting mom, a clueless dad, and a cool younger brother. He even has a sort-of girlfriend. On the outside, he’s the perfect kid. Jimmy has a secret, though. He has a bondage fetish. He loves seeing girls tied up and tortured. And even more than he loves seeing it, he wants to dothat to a girl. When he kidnaps a fellow student, he starts to think, just maybe, his dream is coming true.

Bu unfortunately, Jimmy is an idiot. He snatches the first girl he can. Once he has her tied up in his secret bomb-shelter hideout, he doesn’t really know what to do with her, other than string her up by the wrists, slap her with a belt a few times, and make her touch his penis. One of the things that bugged me about this book was just when the author was starting to delve into Jimmy’s mental sickness, the writing would suddenly become stilted and almost clinical in its delivery, especially regarding male physiology and how things like erections work.

So Jimmy has a few issues to deal with. His girlfriend takes things up another level, so he is suddenly realizing maybe he didn’t have to kidnap a chick to get his rocks off. But by then, he’s got a second girl in his harem, and this one fights back. His brother is starting to suspect something is off about him. A bully has found Jimmy’s stash of bondage porn. And worst of all, prom is Saturday night!

Throughout the story, the plot gets convoluted with introspection by Jimmy’s girlfriend, his brother, even the bullies. We have the girls in the bomb shelter throwing in their two cents. Tina, his girlfriend, has mommy issues–this ultimately could have worked out very well for the story, and added a big kick in the pants at the end, but more about that in the “spoilers” section.

At the end of the story, the author gets body-count happy and starts killing people off left and right. Literally. None of the people the reader should actually care about survives, save for the girlfriend, but to me, she wasn’t someone I liked or disliked. She was the usual angsty teen girl, with no real redeeming qualities. She could have been completely removed from the story, and it wouldn’t change the plot noticeably. To me, a main character–actually, any character worth naming and giving a backstory–should be so integral to the story that their absence would change it. If Tina had been taken out, the story would have progressed just the same.

So, all in all, it’s not a bad story. It’s technically well written. I thought the story would have been a bit more immersing if the author had relaxed a little. There are times when the writing is very stiff and reads as if is almost over-edited. The dialogue is good, if a bit stilted at times ( especially when female characters are speaking). Jimmy is a decent way to waste a few hours.

**spoilers**

You can’t kill someone with a couple blows to the face with an empty bucket. The human skull is pretty dang hard. You can do some damage with a metal bucket to the face, obviously, but I highly doubt it’s possible to outright kill a healthy, strong teenager with a bucket to the face. It’s possible the bucket could do enough damage to impede breathing and cause suffocation.

All through the book, Jimmy’s girlfriend extols monotonously on her mommy issues. At the end of the book, the survivor, Samantha, discovers she is pregnant and the book suggests she is about to commit suicide. It would have been a bigger twist, with more of an emotional kick, if his girlfriend had discovered she was the one who was pregnant, especially considering her history with her own mother.