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Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Sixteen: The New Review Zoo!

Captains ChairBlog

 

Ahoy, Mateys!

Today, we’re going to talk about reviews. And the reviewers that leave them!

Reviews used to be something that authors waited for with trepidation and anxiety. The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Village Voice, etc. Getting a book review meant something. It was a badge of honor, or badge of shame. Once those reviews started coming out, whether good or bad, it meant you had made it as an author.

Today? Not so much.

Sure, reviews in major newspapers, periodicals, magazines, and prominent websites are great, but do they have the influence they once did? Not as much as Amazon reviews do. That 1 to 5 star review system that readers can leave on Amazon is really what can make or break a book these days.

Right or wrong, that’s life, kid.

There are other retailers I could talk about, but today I’m specifically going to focus on Amazon because it is the 500 pound metaphor in the room. Other retail websites have influence, but not nearly as much as Amazon.

Here we go.

First, let me say that  book reviews on Amazon are not actually book reviews in any sense of the word. They are customer satisfaction surveys. And there is a massive difference.

What’s that difference?

A book review is when an actual reviewer -someone that reviews books maybe not for a living, but as an intentional, thought out activity- reads a book, digests said book, then writes his/her opinion on what he/she just read.

A customer satisfaction survey is when someone purchases something then decides they want to tell people if they liked it or not and maybe leave some reasons why.

Splitting hairs? Hardly. One is active while the other is reactive. Book reviewers go into it with the active intention of reading a book in order to write a review about it. Whereas, customers leave their reviews as a reaction to what they just read. Two different intentions and models.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of actual reviews on Amazon. Lots of folks buy and read books for the sole purpose of leaving a review. I applaud them. It’s hard work reading a buttload of books and then dissecting and writing about them. I don’t want to do it. [Side note: I don't review anything. Ever. Not my gig.]

But, and let’s face it, the vast majority of reviews on Amazon are the equivalent of water cooler talk. Before everyone with an internet connection could spew their thoughts across the world, people used to just talk to each other. It went something like this:

“Hey, Ralph, did you read the latest Snooty McPooterson novel? Great stuff!”

“I can’t really stand Snooty McPooterson, George. I’m more a Letchy Von Dooemstein reader. That guy knows how to write about guns and dames!”

“Right you are, Ralphy old pal! Hey, want another scotch?”

“Is it ten yet?”

“It is somewhere!”

“Hahahahahahahahahaha… My wife is having an affair…”

Okay, yes I just watched Mad Men last night. Shut up.

So George talks about Snooty McPooterson to folks he knows, who then tell others, who tell others, and so on. People hear about a book and talk to others about it. That’s how word of mouth works and it has been the tried and true form of disseminating opinions for all of mankind’s history.

The Amazon review system takes that way of human interaction and tosses it out the window.

A reviewer leaves their opinion on Amazon and it sits there. No context. In my example above, Ralph’s wife is cheating on him! You think his mind was really on the substance of the last book he read? Probably not. And George would know that. He’d also know that Ralph likes to dress up in Shirley Temple outfits and talk to his Great Dane at length about Communist Russia ruining the potential of the American labor movement.

In other words, George knows to take what Ralph says with a grain of salt.

But in this day and age we are trained to believe what we see/read/hear on the internet as truth. That’s how we are wired. It’s the new “Well, I saw it on TV so it must be true!”. Yet it isn’t at all.

I’m going to give you two examples from my books. The first is a review of Dead Team Alpha:

1.0 out of 5 stars

Drivel, April 3, 2014
By NEO (Arlington Heights, IL) – See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Dead Team Alpha: A Post Apocalyptic Thriller (Kindle Edition)
What a vile, childish piece of crap. If this is what the zombie apocalypse looks like, I’ll just get it over with and join the undead.

Ouch, right? That thing sat there for a couple of weeks and pretty much stagnated sales. Did the review bug me? Not at all. I could give two shits about reviews of my books. Every one has an asshole and everyone’s asshole smells like opinion.

What did bug me is the fact that the reviewer, when you look at his old reviewer profile, says of himself “I’m getting older by the minute and am labeled by many as a curmudgeon.” 

Nice of him to be honest, but you see where the problem is? People in his life would know that about him and know to ignore the “get off my lawn!” attitude. But, unless you click on his profile and read his bio, you as a consumer wouldn’t know that at all and would put way too much stock into this guy’s opinion when normally you might not.

Next review is one for my novel AntiBio:

5.0 out of 5 stars Would recommend this for people who are into zombies., April 21, 2014
By Sylvia Pelayo – See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: AntiBio: A Post Apocalyptic Thriller (Kindle Edition)
If you’re in a zombie apocalypse read or post it’s very good read. Good story line and entertaining!! Very action-packed!!

You’d think I’d be stoked about a five star review, right? Except that AntiBio doesn’t have zombies in it and isn’t a zombie novel. So, uh….huh. What the hell do I do with this one? AntiBio is my return to straight up scifi. No zombies. I repeat, no zombies. Great rating, but did she actually read the novel? It is a Verified Purchase, so at least I know she bought it. Thank you, Sylvia! Yet, well…not a clue how to handle this.

These are two examples of the insanity of reviews on Amazon. And why do they matter? Because people take exactly one second to make a snap judgment based on what they see on the internet. To many quick glancers, Dead Team Alpha is now “Drivel” because some curmudgeon wants it off his lawn. To others, AntiBio is another zombie novel by me, which it isn’t. Not at all.

Yikes!

There’s the cray cray of Amazon reviews in two examples. And, for the record, I’m glad anyone takes the time to review my novels. I’m very glad they have taken the time to purchase a novel and read it! But…

What to do about it?

The Internet has spoken and said that it is unethical and wrong for authors to ask for reviews of their novels. I call bullshit on that.

I SAY AUTHORS SHOULD ASK FOR REVIEWS FROM EVERYONE THEY KNOW AND COMMUNICATE WITH!

That sentence was in all caps because I was shouting from the rooftops.

But, seriously, since it’s all bullshit anyway then why shouldn’t authors try to get as many reviews as possible from readers, fans, friends, and family? Load those stars onto that shit, yo!

Some say it dilutes the truth of reviews. But I say there is no truth anyway! Let the wild rumpus begin!

Authors, you need to ask everyone you know to leave a review. Your spouse, your children, your boss, your old babysitter, senile Aunt Matilda that shouts into her TV remote because she has thought it was the telephone since 1987.

The whole system is borked to Hell as it is. Jump into that borking. Get as many reviews as you can from people you know and trust!

Is it unethical to do that? Hells no! What would be unethical is to ask said friends, family, fans, readers, Aunt Matildas, to give only good reviews. Don’t sway their opinions. Just ask for them. Maybe Aunt Matilda really, really, really digs zombies and leaves a five star review while your mom leaves a one star review because she thinks the bad guy is based on her. And she doesn’t like your potty mouth.

But as long as the review system is basically identical to how a customer rates the cheese sticks at TGIFriday’s, then I say all bets are off, folks! It’s the new game and if you are a writer then you are playing it already whether you want to or not. So get your head in the game, playa, and start playa-ing!

Oh, and if you want to leave a review for any of my books, just click this link here! Please be honest, but don’t be afraid to get all cray cray. It’s how the system works, so why not, right?

Cheers!

Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).

Friday Night Drabble Party!

And here we are again, my friends. Another week coming to a close, another Drabble ready to Party. The circle of life, bitches. The circle of life…

IT’S FRIDAY!

Time to get our drabble on!

First, though, gotta plug the new stuff!

Anti1 Antibiotics.
They have failed.
All that’s left are the Strains- bacteria so strong they have brought the world to its knees.
But humanity has fought on, carving out pockets of civilization in a wasteland known as the Sicklands, creating the super high-tech Clean Nation cities.
And from the cities GenSOF has been born- Genetic Special Forces Operations. An elite military branch of the government that enlists men and women with specific genetic anomalies that allow them to be hosts to bacteria that even the Strains cannot defeat. Under the watchful eye of Control, GenSOF protects the Clean Nation cities from the ever encroaching Strains and the diseased inhabitants of the Sicklands.
But now Control has other plans for GenSOF, and possibly the Clean Nation cities themselves, and it is up to the operators of GenSOF Zebra Squad, and their cloned Canine Units known as bug hounds, to find out what those plans are.
Or die trying.

Click that pic and go get ya some AntiBio action! And!

DeadTeamAlpha-EcoverIn the post-apocalyptic, zombie infested wasteland, there is one beacon of safety in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains: The Stronghold.
For decades, the inhabitants have fortified and defended the Stronghold from zombie hordes, building their society and culture on military precision.
And chosen from the best of the best is Denver Team Alpha. DTA is the elite strike force used to rescue survivors and refugees that have made it to the hellish wasteland of Denver below. But because of the unbelievable risks, and high mortality rate, DTA has come to stand for something else: Dead Team Alpha.
Now DTA will be put to the test as something far worse than zombies comes at them out of the wasteland.

Click that pic and go get ya some Dead Team Alpha action! And!

Don’t feel like reading? Then have a listen to some audiobooks! Z-Burbia 2: Parkway To Hell just came out! Rock on!

Yep, I recycled some of the same announcements as last Friday. That’s how I roll, yo. Gotta keep up the Lazy Writer appearance. Don’t want anyone to think I work for a living.

Speaking of work, I’ll be incommunicado the next few days because I have a deadline to meet and my latest novel, Mega 2: Baja Blood, started slow. It’ll all come together, I’m sure, just going to be some long days and stressful nights. Huzzah!

Now, to the drabble!

Enjoy!

***

Foreign Object
By
Jake Bible

“He has some foreign object in his throat!” the doctor yelled. “Forceps! Now!”

“I’m sorry, doctor, but we have to call Security,” the nurse replied.

“What are you talking about?” the doctor said. “This man is choking!”

“Yes, but all foreigners, even objects, must be reported to Security for investigation and processing,” the nurse replied.

The doctor stared at her. “Are you joking?”

“No, doctor,” the nurse replied. “We have to alert Security.” Then she cocked her head and narrowed her eyes. “Unless you’re part of the Resistance. Are you, doctor?”

“Uh…no,” the doctor said. “I, uh, will call Security.”

***

Cheers!

Disclaimer: Damn foreign objects! They took our jobs!

Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Fourteen: Fight The Fear!

Captains ChairBlog

Ahoy, mateys!

Do you smell that on the wind? Do you? It’s the smell of FEAR!

And a particular kind of fear- Writer Fear! Muwahahahahahahaha!

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The social networks be drenched in it. Every insecure writer out there just puking their neuroses into every post they make. Then the other writers hop on and perpetuate the fear, keepin’ it rollin’. Soon they are all whipped into a frenzy of fear and if anyone even dares to add something positive or, God forbid!, question the fear, then lookout! Here comes the lynch mob!

So let me spell this out in simple terms: knock it the fuck off.

Sure, writers, as with all artists, can be an insecure lot, filled with neurosis, psychosis, and coffee halitosis. I’m not arguing that. What I have a problem with is the writers that jump onto the fear bandwagon and add fuel to that lame fire. Those guys all want others to be as afraid as they are. Don’t buy into it, man. Walk away. Below I have a list (not comprehensive in any way) of ten fears I see writers vomiting into their Facebook posts daily. Have a read.

To the examples and metaphors!

1. The Self-Publishing Fear Train- I know I’ll catch a lot of flak for this, but in my opinion, the self-publishing movement is fueled by fear, not by independence. I honestly believe the majority of writers that decide to self-publish are not doing it for the artistic freedom or for the chance at riches. I believe they are doing it out of fear that they will miss out on said riches. That’s the number one argument I see shouted by self-pubbers when anyone presents their case that they want to go a more traditional route- “Why lose out on all that money? Why give away 75% of your royalties?”.

It’s a stupid argument based on absolutely nothing. If this argument is why you are self-publishing then you are doing it wrong. A fear of the possible? Are you shitting me? Sure, maybe you’ll be in the .1% of self-pubbers that hits pay dirt, but more than likely you’ll be selling three books a month. Why? Because there are a million others out there like you all trying to be seen/heard/smelled. You think you can rise above that pile? Maybe. But, I’m thinking maybe not.

If you’d rather not put in all the immense amount of work it takes to self-publish a quality product then don’t. Get your ass out there and submit to agents and publishers. Don’t be afraid of losing money that hasn’t even been made yet. Get some experience in the industry then self-publish once you know the ropes. Or don’t. Stick with publishers if that’s your gig. Trust me, you aren’t losing a dime if you do.

2. Rejection- Ignore it and move on. Everyone gets rejected. We’ve all heard the stories of famous manuscripts rejected ten, twenty, thirty, fifty times. Just keep going. Rejection is part of the process. If you fear rejection then you fear the process itself and should probably not be a writer. Which brings me to…

3. Reviews- Ignore those too. Sure, read them if you want, but ignore them once you are done. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, writing is not a community endeavor. So someone didn’t like your novel. Whoopty shit. Who cares? Not everyone is going to like what you write. That’s why there are fifty bajillion genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres.

And get this, people that leave reviews have an agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with you or the work. Say what? Yep. Think of the last time you wrote a review of something or left feedback or sent an email to a manufacturer or whatever. Was your agenda to leave an honest review or give honest feedback in the hopes it would make the world better? No. You left that review, filled out that comment card, sent that email because you wanted someone to listen to you. Sure, you may have had a shitty dinner or really hated that book, but you could have just sucked it up and walked away. Yet, you didn’t. For good or bad, you wanted someone to listen at that moment.

Now, I’m not saying reviews are bad. Not saying that at all. I’m saying, as a writer, there is no need to fear them. They aren’t about you. They’re about the reviewer. Let them say what they want and move on. Don’t worry about whether or not the 1-star review will kill sales. It won’t. Personally, I am suspicious of books without any bad reviews. But that’s me.

4. The Rules- Whatever the rules are. They change week to week. And who makes these rules? Fuck if I know. So I ignore them. Don’t tell me when, where, and what I can post. Don’t tell me how to act on my Facebook page or not to market the shit out of my latest novel. Don’t tell me I’m supposed to act this way, like this shit, hate this other shit, write in first person subjective narrative BLECH FUCKETY FUCK FUCK.

Do not tell me what to do or how to act or how to write or anything. And if anyone tells you what to do or how to write or how to act then just walk away. Don’t even engage. Just. Walk. Away. Rules are for rule followers. You’re a writer, which is a type of artist, and artists don’t follow rules . That’s kinda the whole thing about being an artist. You get to fuck the rules.

“But, but, but…”

Shut up. Just shut up. Rules are shit. Ignore them. I don’t even subscribe to the “learn the rules so you can break them” mantra. Why learn a bad habit? Waste of time and energy. Just fucking write. Just act. Just do. Just whatever the fuck you want. It’ll all sort itself out in the end.

5. Content- This sorta goes hand in hand with reviews and with The Rules. If anyone tells you that “X” novels must/must not contain “Y” then punch them in the dick/taint/anus. If that were true then we’d still be reading Greek literature. Writing changes and writing styles evolve. Why? Because someone has the guts to ignore everything they have ever been told about “content”. Don’t use the F-word more than three times? Fuck that fuckety fuck shit, fucker. Don’t write in first person past-tense? “Fuck that,” I said. No sex in YA? Really? Yeah, because teenagers don’t fuck. Right…

You get what I’m saying? It’s your story, your novel. You get to put whatever the hell you want to in it. Writing is not a community endeavor! Say it with me! WRITING IS NOT A COMMUNITY ENDEAVOR!

6. Not Being Worthy- This goes out to all the newbie writers. It’s all good, mans and womans. You don’t have to say “aspiring” every time you introduce yourself. We’re all aspiring to something. Don’t worry about being a rookie. Just don’t worry. Are you writing? Then you are a writer. Have you gotten paid for any of your writing? Then you are a professional writer. You may not have experience, but own that, don’t fear it. Ask questions. Learn. Don’t be afraid, the veterans won’t bite. Not the good ones, at least. All writers have gone through what you newbies have gone through. We survived, and you’ll be surprised to find out, we are happy to help you survive too. Ask any question you want. As long as it isn’t fear-based. That gets annoying. ;)

7. Marketing/Promoting- So many writers are afraid they aren’t doing enough to market their work. If you are thinking about marketing for more than five minutes a day then you are doing it wrong. Why? Because you aren’t writing when you are thinking of marketing! There is a saying that the best way to market a novel is by writing the next one. Since I am writing a novel a month right now, I have to agree. Just keep writing. Get your work out there. Build up a backlist. The only way books become successful is by word of mouth anyway, so unless you plan on talking with EVERYONE then you are wasting your time.

With that said, yes I market and promote my work, but only when it is convenient and within my comfort zone. And doesn’t get in the way of the writing of my next novel. I post to Twitter and Facebook. I don’t post in Goodreads or hang out in forums. I don’t hunt down reviewers or bloggers. Not my thing. And guess what? My novels still sell. Don’t waste time worrying about something you don’t want to do.

Just write.

8. Getting Screwed- Guess what? At some point in your writing career you will get royally screwed over. It’s going to happen. Just deal with it. But don’t let the fear of getting screwed paralyze you. Don’t pass up an opportunity because you have been handed a contract that has the potential to screw you over.

I’m not saying sign a bad contract. Don’t do that. Consult with a professional before signing anything, of course. No, what I am saying is that if the contract wants rights to your novel for six years, don’t walk away because you only want to give four years. Sure, try to negotiate, but don’t make something like that a deal breaker. Read the contract thoroughly, but don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t get all anal retentive over every little detail. You’re a writer, so sign that bitch and move on so you can write.

If the publisher does screw you then tell the world and go about your way. If you have done what you were supposed to, which is consult a professional before signing, then the screwing you get will be minor. Not the end of the world.

9. Failure- Yeah, let that go. Either write or don’t. Is it possible you could fail? Yes. Is it possible you could be wildly successful? Yes. Where do you want to put your energy? I know where mine is going.

10. Not Measuring Up- One of the worst things a writer can do is to compare him/herself to other writers. Sure, you may not be freakin’ Tolstoy, but do you really want to be? Tolstoy had problems. Do you want to be Hemingway? One final shotgun incident may change your mind. Patterson? King? Koontz? Asimov? Rowling? WHY? If you want to be a writer other than the writer you are then I might suggest you only write fan fic. You are your own writer with your own process.

I write a 75k word novel a month. Is that something to live up to? I don’t know, I don’t care. It’s how I work. If that isn’t how you work then don’t feel bad about that. You aren’t me. And I’m not King. Not really an issue for me, that not being King thing. He’s got the King market cornered. Won’t be another like him. And there won’t be another like you.

To sum up: Kick fear in the ass. It’s stupid. You don’t need it. It’s not productive. And has zero basis in reality. Ignore the naysayers. Taint punch the critics. Don’t get caught up in the fear that people insist on throwing at you. Just write your ass off.

Or not.

It’s your call. And only your call. So, unless you fear yourself, which I can’t do anything about, then you have absolutely nothing to fear! FUCK THAT FEAR SHIT, YO!

Cheers!

Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).

 

 

 

 

Friday Night Drabble Party!

“I have a Friday we can use!”

“I have a Drabble right here!”

“Let’s put on a Party!”

That’s usually what happens at 6:59 eastern time. The Party is so spontaneous like that.

Speaking of spontaneous (not really), did you know I have a couple of new releases out? So before we get to the drabble, how’s about you check this out, yo?

 

Anti1 Antibiotics.
They have failed.
All that’s left are the Strains- bacteria so strong they have brought the world to its knees.
But humanity has fought on, carving out pockets of civilization in a wasteland known as the Sicklands, creating the super high-tech Clean Nation cities.
And from the cities GenSOF has been born- Genetic Special Forces Operations. An elite military branch of the government that enlists men and women with specific genetic anomalies that allow them to be hosts to bacteria that even the Strains cannot defeat. Under the watchful eye of Control, GenSOF protects the Clean Nation cities from the ever encroaching Strains and the diseased inhabitants of the Sicklands.
But now Control has other plans for GenSOF, and possibly the Clean Nation cities themselves, and it is up to the operators of GenSOF Zebra Squad, and their cloned Canine Units known as bug hounds, to find out what those plans are.
Or die trying.

Click that pic and go get ya some AntiBio action!

Don’t feel like reading? Then have a listen to some audiobooks! Z-Burbia 2: Parkway To Hell just came out! Rock on!

Okay, okay, I know, you want a drabble.

Enjoy!

***

Please Everyone
By
Jake Bible

 

“He’s not happy,” she says.

“Who isn’t happy?” I reply.

“That guy. He’s pissed.”

“Why?”

“You didn’t meet his expectations.” She shrugs. “That lady is angry too. What did you say?”

“Nothing. I was busy with the one guy. What is she mad about?”

“You didn’t say anything? No wonder she’s mad. That one likes to be treated as if she’s the only one person that matters.”

“Well, I can’t please everyone!”

She shrugs again. “Better try. Here come the pitchforks and torches.”

“Ha ha.”

“Uh, no, they really have pitchforks and torches. Should have tried harder.”

“But…but…ah, forget it…”

***

Cheers!

Disclaimer: Sigh…

Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Thirteen: Writing Is Not A Community Endeavor!

Captains ChairBlog

Ahoy, Mateys!

For today’s post I want to talk about how writing is not a community endeavor. Which you already guessed since that’s the title of the post. So let’s move on, shall we?

I am part of many Facebook writing groups. Some are public, some are private. Most duplicate each other because they are populated by insecure, needy, know-it-all, egotistical, depressed individuals. Writers.

On one of these groups there was a “discussion” about reviews and whether or not a writer should listen when a reviewer, or reviewers, mention a part of the writer’s style they do not like. My take is to always, always, always, always, ignore reviews. Did I mention the always? Yeah, always ignore reviews. Why? Because they are written by reviewers, not writers. These are readers that have opinions, not professionals with actual experience or insight. Also, reviewers are people. And people are flawed. Just because someone read your book and then posted a review about it, doesn’t mean they are smarter than you or their opinion actually holds weight.

Hell, they could have written it while doing meth off Bigfoot’s three foot dong, for all you know.

Ignore reviews and move along.

I stated this on the group and one individual decided that I was wrong, that you should listen to reviewers because if they all start commenting on the same flaw then you should change how you write to please them. They are the readers and you write for the readers.

Bullshit.

This person also started talking about critique groups and agents and editors and publishers and blah blah blah. That, as a writer, you should listen to them.

Bullshit.

I responded that writing is not, nor ever has been or ever will be, a community endeavor. That person did not enjoy that statement. They proceeded to write paragraph after paragraph about how I was wrong.

Bullshit.

Let me explain why, in very simple terms, this person is, and shall forever be, wrong: Because only you write the novel.

Are there others involved like agents and editors and publishers? Yes. But they don’t write your novels.

Are there readers and reviewers out there that want and expect novels to be a certain way? Yes. But they don’t write your novels.

Only you are the author, the writer, the creator. It is fair to say that there are plenty of professionals willing to offer you advice, but it is never fair to say that writing a novel is anything but a solitary experience. Unless you write with a partner, then it’s a dual experience. Whatever, you get the picture.

Your agent and editor and publisher can all say they want you to change Chapter Five. But you don’t have to do that. If Chapter Five is perfect the way you want then you can leave it. It’s your novel. Or, if their advice holds water, then make the decision to change Chapter Five.

Either way, it’s up to you and you alone.

This isn’t a hippie, dippy food co-op where everyone has to hug it out and have good vibes, man. This isn’t the PTO wanting everyone’s kid to feel special so let’s have a bake sale where there’s no gluten, peanuts, fats, sugar, corn, air, fun. This isn’t an HOA where you need a quorum for Bob Jones to be able to put up a fence that is one eighth shorter than the mandatory fence height.

This is none of that. You are a writer and the final decision is up to you. Always.

Now, I’m not talking quality here. Maybe the committee is right and Chapter Five needs to be jettisoned out of the airlock into deep space. Could be. Doesn’t matter. Still your choice.

Writing is not, nor will it ever be, a community endeavor.

You may not be all alone, but you are the writer and in the end it is your novel and you control what you keep, what you toss, what you like, what you don’t, and what the reader gets in the end. If you approach it from any other angle then find a new profession. You aren’t meant to be a writer.

Sound harsh? Sure. But it really isn’t. Why? Because if your novel bombs, even after taking everyone’s advice into account, guess who gets the blame?  Your agent? Nope. Your editor? Nope. Your critique club? Nope. The fans and readers? Nope.

If you take the advice and your novel fails you will be the one that is blamed.

So if the blame isn’t spread to the community then why should any of the creative process be?

Take what advice you want to or not, but always as a conscious decision based on your instincts and feelings. Never because someone told you to.

Because you are the writer and it’s your damn novel! Always.

Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.

Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.

Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.

He is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series for Severed Press as well as the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash), Bethany and the Zombie Jesus, Stark- An Illustrated Novella, and the forthcoming YA zombie novel Little Dead Man, and Teen horror novel Intentional Haunting (both by Permuted Press).

 

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