Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An Overuse Of Commas, or why it's important to be honest in reviews.

This is a response to Andrew Leon's review of an indie novel (which you can find here) and PT Dilloway's response to that review, which you can find here.

There was so much potential in this well written but totally discombobulated book. Several different and interesting story lines ended up going nowhere. The characters spent most of each chapter agonizing and internalizing over whether they had behaved correctly to situations or if they should have behaved differently, or how other people perceived their actions. I learned to just skim over the internalizing pages and then try to pick up on the thread of the story. On top of that, the plot(s) kept jumping timelines which confused me. Sort of a Robert Altman film without the benefit of visuals. I would give this a 1 star but I appreciate that is was well written and without gore, raunchy sex, or gutter language.

That is a review of my book Up So Down.

You, too, can own the book whose only
redeeming quality is that there
isn't a lot of raunchy sex!
Click here to buy it.
Up So Down is a book I'm really very proud of.  I spent a long time writing it -- I started it, actually, about when my twins were born in 2006, and I didn't publish it until 2012, after it had made it almost to publication by a traditional publisher, and after I had serialized it on a blog and made some major revisions to it.  After all that, which is an almost unprecedented level of work for me on a book, I published it, and then two years after it first came out, I got that review.

That was not my only negative review, even for that book.  PT Dilloway commented that there were 'missing pieces,' (although he gave it five stars and was generally positive) and Andrew Leon gave it four stars but commented that while the story was fine, the book suffered from some editing problems:

Mostly, it's nothing all that serious, an overuse of commas that most people won't notice, but there are some spots where there are wrong words or names and a couple of those spots did make me have to go back to figure out who was talking at a given a moment

I am thinking about those reviews -- the seriously bad one, and the ones that liked my book but found problems with it -- because those two authors, Dilloway and Leon, are right now in the middle of a debate (some would say fight) about the propriety of giving a negative review to an indie author's book.

The brouhaha is superficially about Andrew's review of Sandra Ulbrich Almazan's Lyon's Legacywhich you can read here, but it seems to me it is more actually about what kind of authors indie authors are, and how they should be treated.

Average rating on Amazon:
4.5 of 5 stars.
Click here to buy it and
make up your own
mind about the book, which
has its merits.
I had read Lyon's Legacy a while back and gave it five stars and a very good review.  When I saw Andrew's review, and when Andrew and I discussed his reaction to the book off the record, I was honest with him, and, finally, with myself -- if not with my review.  The book, I admitted, wasn't really worth 5 stars.  I had inflated the grade a bit because I liked Sandra and wanted to support her and felt, at the time, like I shouldn't give even a little negativity to a fellow indie author. Especially in retrospect, I felt the book was more of a three-star book: an interesting story, functionally well-written, but not a compelling must read that a five-star rating would merit.  I admitted to Andrew that if I reviewed it now, with my new thinking about reviews and indie authors, I would have probably given it 3 stars, and thus I wouldn't have posted a review at all.

That's my own compromise with ethics and reviewing and supporting indie authors: I won't post a negative review of an indie author.  I used to take that stance and find something positive to say about the indie book, no matter what, and never point out flaws.  Now, I take that stance and either post an honest review of a good book, or I won't review it at all.

(PS If I've read your book and haven't posted a review, that doesn't mean I didn't like it. I rarely post reviews, period, and there are great books that I haven't gotten around to posting reviews of because I really don't like to review books.)
I didn't go back and change Sandra's review or ranking, mostly out of laziness.  Instead, I read Andrew's review, and then I read the vituperative comments and back-and-forth debate about whether or not an indie author should give a bad review to another indie author.

Should one indie author give a bad review to another?


  1. You and your pal Andrew can say whatever you want about "honest" and "integrity" and free speech and all that crap, but this is a business. As I said, if you're not going to help then stay out of the way. Starting right now I want nothing more to do with either of you.

  2. It is a business, and lying in your reviews hurts the business.

    And, if you're so keen to have nothing else to with us, please remove yourself.

  3. Since you two already quit on this months ago and the entire Indie Writers Monthly concept was my idea, I'd suggest you two remove yourselves. Go start your own blog where you can drop all the poisoned pills you want.

  4. If you really want me to remove myself, I can. I'm not sure why you're taking this so badly?

  5. The review about any work should be honest and genuine. People refer the review in order to get an idea about the book or anything such that. So, the one who writes the review should be capable of analyzing all the pros and con honestly. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this. Keep sharing!

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