Responding to reviews, and other handy points for authors in general…

Since some asshat authors who have been attacking some friends of mine for leaving less than glowing 5-star book reviews on their work, here’s this helpful list on How to Deal with Bad Reviews on Your Book:

1. Take a deep breath.

2. Read the review.

3. Exhale.

4. If there is valid criticism, take heed of it. Think about it and perhaps use it to better your style of writing.

5. If the review is a rant by an apparent lunatic (or loonie, for short), spam for another book, or an attack by a detractor, identify it as such and confine said review to where it belongs: Oblivion. Forget it exists. Insanity breeds insanity, and being a writer, you don’t need more madness than what you’ve already got between your ears.

6. If point #4 is in effect: In certain instances, when a review is touching or right on the mark with you as a writer and a human being, feel free to respond to the review with a simple “thank you” or a “You have made a valid point and I will strive to better my work. Thank you for the insight.”

7. If point #5 is in effect: Do not respond to the review. DO NOT RESPOND TO THE REVIEW. Yes, that was said twice, because it is very important. Trying to reason with the lunatic fringe is like trying to count the number of Jimmy Carl Blacks who can dance on the head of a pin; it’s pointless, impossible and will only feed the madness and ire of the person ranting.

8. As a corollary to Point #7, do not harness your incredible social media powers and get all your friends to respond to said review in your stead. This looks just as bad, is very, very obvious (since no one bothers reading a review after it’s posted unless they are:

1) the author,
2) insane, or
3) are”helping” an author out by trying to make a reviewer look like an asshat). Remember they will look the asshats, NOT the author or even the reviewer.

9. Go have a beer, take a toke, read a book, listen to Freak Out or Megalomania, take a walk, run a marathon, have a pizza or whatever your preferred form of relaxation happens to be at that particular moment in time.

10. When you’re relaxed, start writing again.
11. Repeat #9 and #10 as necessary.

The single most important thing to remember as an author:
Do NOT take yourself too seriously.

Things that an Author should also ALWAYS remember:

You are NOT Raptor Jesus’s gift to the written word.

You are not perfect. Just because your mother or your wife or your dog likes your writing, does not mean it is the best thing every written. Many of you should be digging ditches instead of putting words to paper, given your grasp of the English Language.

Do NOT whine and kvetch over the fact you couldn’t afford to get a proper editor for your work, or that what you are doing is just a hobby-thing – If you publish your work, readers will assume you are a professional writer and have done all those neat little things professional writers do – like editing and proofreading and formatting and that sort of stuff you probably think is useless because you can’t afford it or your ego is so inflated that you don’t think you need it. Guess what? You do.

Do NOT get into online arguments with reviewers. YOU CANNOT WIN THAT WAR! And it is only a war if YOU decide to make it one.

Below is my new scale for rating books on my blog: NewRatings
I expect some, shall we saw, interesting responses to this…

Review: Brave New World

Brave New World
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is really the novel that started the utopia/dystopia sub-genre of fiction (and science fiction in particular), and we’re lucky that it’s still on a lot of required reading lists in secondary schools. Not for the efforts of the prudes and their ilk though; it STILL gets occasional efforts by the misanthropes out there who would prefer the world be like the one described in the book.

For the era, this is a surprisingly well-written and forthright book about the subject. People have no parents, and are grown in factories (an idea stolen by The Matrix, of course). People are discouraged from birth from reading. People learn about sex and are promiscuous 24/7 – no relationships other than physical are tolerated. People are bred to perform certain jobs and that is their lot in life. The few who are different are either exiled to islands or are part of “reservations” where people still practice the old ways. People are encouraged to maintain their “happiness” levels through a powerful drug called soma. Henry Ford is their god (this was written a long time before things like Ford’s fascist sympathies were revealed).

The main characters are two outcasts: Bernard, who isn’t quite the physical Adonis he was bred to be and is rather insecure about that fact, and John, called the Savage, who was actually born to one of the perfect citizens who became lost on one of the reservations during a vacation. Bernard brings John back to his society and tries to use him to become the talk of the town. John just wants to understand his origins and what his purpose might be, but finds himself on the outside of two societies instead of one.

Brave New World is really one of those pivotal books that EVERYONE needs to read. It blurs the line between science fiction and “literature” to the point that it is one of the few books that it would be hard to not classify as either. Huxley’s ideas have laid the groundwork for thousands of other stories, from Fahrenheit 451 to the aforementioned Matrix.

It’s quite simply a good book that makes you think. What more needs to be said?

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Review: Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics, Vol. 4

Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics, Vol. 4
Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics, Vol. 4 by Carl Burgos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another excellent Marvel Comics reprint volume, and again you’ve got the golden age rarity of having proper continuing stories. The Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, Electro and even Ka-Zar have adventures that span several issues

I think this is really what makes these Marvel Masterworks superior to most of the other reprint series – continuity and complete issues. Excellent artwork, good stories (for the time), and a lot of action. Hard to go wrong with that.

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Review: The Picture of Cool

The Picture of Cool
The Picture of Cool by Laurie Boris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Laurie Boris really makes me depressed, y’know? She’s just too good a writer. Makes the rest of us look like pikers, dagnabit. We have to stop her soon…

I was lucky enough to be a beta reader for this story, and I have to say that it’s hard not to like it. Laurie’s characters are real. Her prose is vivid and enthralling. The last time I read one of her books, I hated the characters; I mean, I wanted them all to be run over by steamrollers. The only character I liked was the pet bird. But I kept reading that book until the end, because the story just drew me in. That’s the same thing that happens with The Picture of Cool.

If you’re reading this, please get off your high horses first before buying and reading this book, as you are going to encounter a situation in it that some of you of a more moronic, sorry, I mean conservative, nature might find “offensive” or “evil” or some other moronic thing. Far too many idiots have that hang-up and if you do, this is NOT the book for you. Don’t read it, don’t leave a preemptive review, just go find a corner and live your sheltered life in deserved ignominy.

If you like a good story, a bit of romance, and realistic portrayals of human beings in love, then this is the book you SHOULD be reading.

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Review: Fauxpocalypse

Fauxpocalypse by Dave Higgins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from

I really wanted to like this short story collection a lot more than I did, since the concept was so cool: What if the world got ready for a massive collision that would end all life … and it missed?

There were a few good stories, a few extremely mediocre ones. and a bunch of just so-so tales. Many read like a watered-down The Day After or Threads. I did like that the stories were global in scope and not just set in one country. Other than that, it was pretty lackluster.

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