Encouraging a Writer -Christopher Nuttall

*This is a good day to run this post of Christopher’s.  Normally I’d run it at Mad Genius Club, since it’s mostly about writing and how to constructively critique a work.  But it runs deeper than that.

Today is the 29th of February, aka blogger appreciation day.  This year I’m not doing badly or in financial trouble, unlike four years ago.  I do however put in at least three solid blogs and a bunch of hosting a week, and if you average it out with what I get from the blog it’s about $5 a blog.

Not complaining.  I’ve not kept up with subscriptions, and though health is coming back it’s really slow so I’ll try but no promises on the subscriber space.  (Today my publisher suggested someone upload me, and we replace me with a cyborg to get around the health issues.  It was at a party and I THINK she was joking.)  (I will btw ship stuff off before the next move which looms a month off, and that’s before the hopefully last move three months off (in case you wonder why I said I have a million troubles and a blog war is not one of them.) I certainly don’t want to move a ton of books and stuff twice.  I haven’t done it so far mostly due to time.  I’m not driving — car needs fixing and we haven’t had TIME — and coordinating with the guys to take me to the post office requires they have… yeah, time.   BUT it will happen.  One way or another.)
Anyway, it’s the 29th of February.  If you enjoy someone’s work from Instapundit down to the most obscure blog I can’t think of — because obscure — send them the price of a cup of coffee.  They and you will be glad.

AND if you like an indie writer, give them a good review.  If you got a free book, give them a review and/or a tip.  It’s a difficult world out there for anyone living from freelance.  You want more work from them in the future?  Keep them in the game.

Oh, and a PSA- I’m told (again I don’t have time for this, am away from home and net time is very limited and mostly on tablet) someone is claiming I tweeted offensive/blog-war stuff.  Look, even if someone annoys me, they just annoy me. I don’t have time for wars. If they REALLY annoy me, I GIF-post them but the last one was someone accusing me of being racist, in my professional circles. And even then I only answered because the someone had annoyed me before.

More importantly though, I don’t tweet.  I echo my posts, and instapundit echoes posts, automatically.  BUT I don’t tweet.  (I think maybe I retweeted someone’s post once or twice, and I tweeted at Milo once, because I’d gone to twitter due to a blog link.  BUT that’s the extent of it.  I don’t like the platform.)

And seriously, I don’t have time for cr*p like that. I’m finishing books, I’m moving, probably twice before summer, and right now — the next few days — I’m at a space conference.  I’ve got a million problems and none of them involves a poo-flinging contest over fundamental disagreements. People are allowed to believe whatever they want.  Unless they physically come after me and mine, I won’t do more than slap them down in my blog comments. Because it’s my blog.  In their own home they can do any crazy thing they want to.  I don’t care.

And now I’ll get out of the way and let you read Mr. Nuttall’s excellent post.*

Encouraging a Writer -Christopher Nuttall

Before I start, I should note that this is NOT a cry for help. This was provoked by a response to one of my earlier posts, which inspired me.

Being a writer requires, as Eric Flint said, to practice a form of double-think. On one hand, the writer must believe that his work is worthy of great awards; on the other, he must consider it a piece of garbage that needs heavy revision. Good writers strive hard to strike a balance between the two extremes. A writer who believes the first rapidly declines in quality (as he is convinced his work doesn’t require an editor) while a writer who believes the second tends to give up (as he is convinced he will never make it.)

The responses a writer gets tend to drive him (or her) towards either of the extremes. Praise can drive a writer towards the first extreme, particularly when it isn’t tempered with thoughtful comments and critical advice. Criticism, however, can push a writer in either direction; it’s easy to give up, but it’s also easy to believe that your critics are merely trolls. (You can probably guess who I’m thinking of here.)

Ok, you may ask. What’s the point?

My recent twin articles on piracy attracted a comment from a reader who complained about book series being left in limbo for years (David Weber’s Multiverse, for example) or simply abandoned altogether. In the case of the latter, two indie authors were mentioned, both of him had one or two books and then vanished from the scene. I took a look at one of the books and I noted that some of the critical comments were actually very savage; indeed, they were not useful critical comments. I have no way of knowing for sure, but what I think happened is that the author simply gave up. He didn’t see any value in continuing when he made no real headway.

This is a particular problem for indie authors that is just coming into the light. Traditional publishing (say what you like about it) did a reasonably good job of grooming authors, ensuring that new writers were edited before their works saw the light of day. Obviously, a few howlers were published, but by and large the quality was reasonably high. Indies, however, have neither the encouragement of a contract nor the support of an editor. It results in authors either putting up books that are not ready for online sales or simply losing heart and vanishing from the scene.

Looking at the author in question, that may seem a little odd. A four-star overall rating isn’t bad, is it? But negative comments impact writers far more than positive comments. (We’re like that teenage girl who obsesses because some jerk called her fat, even though everyone else says she’s pretty.) It’s easy to fall into despondency when our work gets a bad review. I know, that makes us sound like prima donnas. And yes, that’s exactly what we are. No one starts writing without a very high opinion of themselves.

So, how best to encourage a writer?

First, write good reviews.

I’m not talking about merely ‘great book – five stars’ although such comments are warmly welcomed by all writers. I’m talking about detailed reviews, a paragraph or two, that prove that the reader actually paid attention to the book. Writers love hearing specifics, if only so they know what to focus on next time.

Second, if you must be critical, be constructive.

It is a regrettable fact that books, particularly ones without a proper editor, tend to have everything from plot holes to spelling errors. But it is also true that indie books can be edited on the fly. (I edit the documents of every indie book of mine, when someone emails to say they’ve spotted an error, and re-upload the document.) A decent critic is the writer’s best friend.

For example, a reader of Harry Potter might take issue with Harry being entered into the competition in Book 4 against his will. He might write “I have problems accepting Harry being forced to compete, as we know he didn’t enter his name. This opens up a whole series of questions – if Harry can be forced to compete, why can’t the Dark Lord be forced to stop being evil? It might be better to make it clear that Dumbledore was forced, by the terms of the contract, to force Harry to compete, as the original agreement didn’t make any provisions for a fourth competitor. A line or two would close this loophole and give Harry a better reason for taking part.”

Don’t engage in personal attacks, of any kind. Writers – particularly new writers – are learning their trade as they go along. Calling them ignorant idiots will merely turn the writers against you, leaving them unwilling or unable to deal with your comments.   Maybe you know better than them about [whatever] but treating them with contempt for basic ignorance isn’t helpful.

(And if you meet a writer who isn’t inclined to listen to gentle critical advice, just don’t bother.)

Third, help to promote their books.

Most writers, particularly new ones, don’t start out with a huge fan base. They certainly don’t have vast amounts of money to spend on publicity campaigns. If you like a writer, please tell your friends about him; join their Facebook page, share their posts/tweets/whatever as far as possible. It does help, both to convince the author to keep going (because they’re selling more books) and to encourage more people to read his books.

Fourth, join their forums/blogs/etc.

Authors love attention. People writing comments on their blog posts boosts their morale, which keeps them going. (There’s nothing more annoying for a writer than putting a blog post online that garners no comments at all.) If you enjoy something they write, say so; if you want to take issue with it, do so gently (see point two). And while you’re at it, you can ask them when the next book is coming out. <grin>.

Fifth, don’t blame the author for something beyond their control.

This really applies to both traditional publishing and indie, although in different ways. It isn’t fair to blame a traditionally-published author for the price of his eBooks because there’s a very good chance he isn’t setting the price. Writing a bad review on the grounds the eBook costs more than the hardback will merely frustrate the author. For indies, making fun of their covers is rarely productive. A new author will probably not have the money to make something really spectacular – covers like the Ark Royal books cost $300 each – and it isn’t fair to complain about them using a stock image, even though you’ve seen it before.

Any others? What do you suggest?

120 thoughts on “Encouraging a Writer -Christopher Nuttall

  1. When I first got into writing, one of the best resources was a good critique group. Yeah, I know all the caveats. But the greatest advantage is that someone sees your newly created universe before it reaches the light of day (published) and allows you the change to make tweaks, revisions and even full rewrites.
    A good group has iron clad rules on what a critiqued writer can expect – and what is expected of him.
    What’s more, it allows a writer to chance to field comments about his baby in relative privacy. And to start developing the rhino hide needed before chancing publication.
    Lots more I could say, but I’ll plug it up for now. Maybe it should go on *my* blog!

  2. Amazon reviews. Just the sheer number of reviews there makes a difference. And yes, a paragraph to show you really did read and enjoy is nice.

    If you like an author’s work, it might be worth searching for them on social media, or googling to find their own website. You may find yourself conversing with your favorite writer.

  3. Anyway, it’s the 29th of February. If you enjoy someone’s work from Instapundit down to the most obscure blog I can’t think of — because obscure — send them the price of a cup of coffee. They and you will be glad.

    Eh? ( Perks up ears). Blogs don’t get much more obscure than mine. No coffee, please, though, I’m one of those white Mormon males our esteemed hostess isn’t.

    1. Note, Chris said “send them the price of a cup of coffee,” not the brew itself.
      Being LDS you probably aren’t aware that a cheap cup o’ Joe will run a buck and the fancy schmancy Starbuck stuff five dollars or more.
      Or, if you’re a published author, payment an order of magnitude greater than the pittance you’d receive from a single book sale.

      1. Since I don’t have a mechanism set up to receive said price of a brew, that still won’t work. For now, just leaving a comment I can distinguish from spam will be entirely satisfactory.

  4. in case you wonder why I said I have a million troubles and a blog war is not one of them.

    When I first got to this line my head said:

    “A million tribbles! Well then you should find a better way to store your grain, for that is far too many for even a cat such as Greebo.”

    But no, it was a far more mundane comment, a million troubles. Sigh…

    To our esteemed hostess:

    Your not so patient readers are awaiting your settling down in good health and publishing more writing to give us our fixes. I know you would like to be done with this phase of your life and find out what it is like to be happily settled down for a while. For all our sakes, particularly yours, I pray this particular version of Interesting Times For Sarah will soon be a memory.

      1. Which is why I thought that she ought to find a better way to store their grain … so no tribbles could get into it again.

  5. What I think is weird is when I read reviews on Amazon and the reviewer gives a book one or two stars and then writes in the review something to the effect of, “The low score is not for the book – the book was good – it’s because the paperback I received had a page missing,” or, “great book but I give it two stars because the seller sent it a week late.”

    Yeah, I’d be annoyed to pay money and find that I’m missing a page from my book. But I’m pretty sure that isn’t the author’s fault. Nor is the vendor’s logistical errors necessarily the author’s fault (unless said author is the vendor, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in the reviews I’ve seen).

    If I were an author, I’d be annoyed that my average rating is going down because somebody is taking out a third-party issue on my book.

    1. Alright, from the customer’s POV, where does one put the “Hey, something went very wrong here.” line? It seems like the review space is getting used for more than one thing as it’s the one thing that is readily available.

      1. Customer Support would be the proper place, methinks. For one, that actually has a chance (a good chance, in Amazon’s case) to actually fix the problem. Messing with a writer’s rankings because of something like that is like finding someone scratched your car at the parking lot of a restaurant and marching back to the kitchen and slapping the chef.

        1. I will agree that that is indeed the case. The other thing here is that those reading are aware of the author ranking significance, how much of the general populace takes it that way rather than the entire “Amazon experience”? I do not recall Amazon informing me of such things – or they did but in the usual boilerplate that gets skimmed at best.

          1. I’ve said it before here and should probably try to suggest it to amazon to have a “product” And “Fulfillment” Rating.

      2. It seems like the review space is getting used for more than one thing as it’s the one thing that is readily available.

        I rarely write reviews on Amazon (I should try to do better, particularly on more recent books. Even if Sir Thomas Malory isn’t interested in what I have to say, Sarah Hoyt might be), but I think a lot of people use that space to review the product as a whole.

    2. Heh. A relative of mine co-authored a textbook. There were several very positive reviews on Amazon; the one negative review was about issues with the ebook. Apparently the rights the publisher had to some of the graphics (charts, photos, graphs, etc.) did not include electronic reproduction so the the electronic edition was missing about 5-10% of the graphics. Ugh.

    3. Anytime I see a review like that I down tick the reviewer and comment on the fact that the book reviews is not the appropriate spot to complain about the book price or condition on delivery as the author has pretty much zero control over those kinds of things.

    4. *blink* Okay… I have seen a few of those, but I’ve never understood them. It wouldn’t ever even occur to me to complain in reviews about something like that that’s a problem with shipping and handling, or the reseller, or the distributor.

      I’d just shrug and call Amazon’s customer service and get an RMA. Amazon’s customer service has always been excellent, in my experience, going all the way back to when I first started buying there… uh… so far back I don’t remember any more. 1998 or ’99, maybe?

      A review is for a comment on the content, quality of writing, and enjoy-ability of the book or story, in my opinion.

  6. Great article. Reviews do make an impression on authors (and they can make a huge difference in sales). So does sharing posts/announcements; I’ve been lucky to have a few supportive readers who’ve greatly helped spread the word.

    Two things I’ve seen in reviews I wish people put more thought into:

    Don’t assume the ideology/positions of a character are the author’s, or the book’s (well, unless the points get belabored enough that it becomes obvious the author has an ax to grind). A characters’ opinions on assorted subjects are part of their makeup.

    Do try to confine the review to the content of the book. A 1-star review because the reader thought the book was total crap, I totally understand. Not so much when one gets a 1-star review because the book didn’t download properly, or the buyer missed the introductory sale price and now has to pay full price, or because it’s the first book of a series and the sequels haven’t come out yet (I got one of those for a novel that came out all of sixty days ago).

    1. I was asked by a published author to beta her latest work in progress. Caught one easily correctable science error, but over all it was a very enjoyable entertaining story. Went to Amazon to look at her reviews and found two consistent criticisms, folks disagreed with her politics and some objected to the rather high incidence of typos.
      Not a damn thing you can do about the politics issue, Sarah has blogged at some length on that subject. As for the typos, I went ahead and did a pro bono copy edit of the WIP and sent it back to her, 350 pages with roughly one correction per page, done in MS Word with change tracking enabled so she could see where and what I changed.
      Guess I must have hurt her feelings as I never heard from her again.

      1. Or she was grateful but didn’t know what to say… which brings up a good etiquette point: always send a thank you or at least a polite note. For all you know it got caught in a spam filter and she never saw it.

  7. Sarah, obviously Toni was joking because that technology doesn’t exist yet. 😉

      1. Well, with my knees I’d love that technology and would especially love to send a Weber PICA (with me downloaded into it) to LibertyCon while I stay home. 😉

        1. Everyone talks about uploading as if it were a form of destructive testing. If you can upload, you can duplicate, and I know my life would be a lot easier if I had a team to which I could offload all these data analysis tasks while I Think Big Thoughts.

          Of course there would have to be some form of virtual incentive to get multiple virtual me instances to do what meat-me wants done, instead of plotting to take over the world. Gotta think on that one…

          1. In the case of David Weber’s PICAs, downloading/uploading is copying.

            The memories and personality of a human is copied to an extremely human-like android (most often looking exactly like the human).

            Many PICAs were used in dangerous situations where a human would be killed and remote control devices would be useless.

            Others were “fancy wheelchairs” used to allow badly crippled humans something like a normal life.

            The high-end models were mainly used by humans when they wanted a vacation but were needed elsewhere or used by humans wanting an “extreme sports vacation”.

            The memories from the PICAs were download back to the human so that they would experience what the PICA had done.

            The standard PICA had a ten-day limit of use after which the memory/personality of the human would be erased.

            It should be noted that the original human was legally responsible for the actions taken by the copy in the PICA.

            There were cases where the human decided to “emancipate” the copy of himself in the PICA in which case the ten-day limit was removed and the “copy” was legally a separate being with all the rights of a citizen.

            In addition, the memories and personality of a human (normally a scientist/engineer type) were copied to a computer.

            These “copies” (IIRC there could be multiple copies of a single human) were also legally a separate being with all the rights of a citizen.

            1. But if you copy yourself, wouldn’t both of you want to stay home/go, whatever the preference was?

              1. I suspect that anybody that got “caught” in that mind-set wouldn’t be allowed to use a PICA. 👿

                  1. Worse, as the PICAs were an accurate copy of a human including working sexual “parts” and some of the High-End PICAs could be modified by the “wearer” to switch sex.

                    It was illegal in that society for the “copy” to interact with the original in any way.

                    Note, these PICAs are set in David Weber’s Safehold series.

                    Most people in that society were aware that mankind was in a losing war against an alien species that wanted all other Intelligent Life Dead.

                    David Weber (and his main character) has stated that few people in that society were completely sane (as earlier times would consider sane).

                    1. “David Weber (and his main character) has stated that few people in that society were completely sane (as earlier times would consider sane).”

                      If you lived in the Kobyashi Maru test for a century or more, would you be? A theme he seems rather fond of as he set up the same scenario in the Bolo pastiches he wrote between the Melconian Empire and the Concordiat.

                    2. Closer to 50 years but I’m not saying that I would be sane living in that universe. [Frown]

            2. “There were cases where the human decided to “emancipate” the copy of himself in the PICA in which case the ten-day limit was removed and the “copy” was legally a separate being with all the rights of a citizen.”

              Actually, that was illegal; that’s why the hack to arrange that for “Merlin” had to be done secretly, requiring a hardware / software hack to be written from scratch that disabled the high-speed data interface in Merlin’s case.

              1. The “Freed PICAs” were from David Weber’s comments (in the Safehold conference of his site) concerning the “background” of the Safehold universe.

                Yes, it was Illegal for the ten-day limit to be removed from Nimue’s PICA in that situation but there were legal means to remove the limits.

                My suspicions are that Proctor? lacked the access to legal means of removing the limits which is why the damage was done to Merlin’s high-speed data interface.

    1. Oooooh! And with the way Baen likes to pair up authors I can just see sometime in the future getting –> twice the Sarah, twice the fun!

  8. Ugh, I hate moving. I sincerely empathize with you having to put up with that not once but twice this year. Hopefully the last move will make it all worthwhile.
    Some excellent points by Mr. Nuttall as well as the comments about people that pointlessly leave 1 or 2 star reviews for something beyond the author’s control. I had thought in these Lake Woebegone days that we’d have an opposite problem where everything gets 5 stars because people feel bad about making someone feel bad.
    Very odd times when people will tear someone apart for not having insta-sequel or because Amazon doesn’t let them download fast enough but people will get fired or thrown out of college for pointing out simple facts that someone else doesn’t like.

  9. If I may suggest; in a review, poease be specific. Telling the world the book thrilled you to the core means next to nothing if you don’t say WHY.

    So, the book is great. Great what? Noir detective? Farce? Hugo Gernsback SF? Don’t count on the blurbs; publishers frequently flub them. Tell. Us. What. The. Damn. Book. DOES!

      1. “What’s that?”
        “A LASER”
        “What’s it do?”
        “Nothing. Just laysthere.”

        (I can’t claim credit for this one. Inherited it from Pa. That laser pointer play that’s so old now? He/we did it… in 1972. HeNe and a compact [for the day!] homebrew supply that fed off the car’s lighter socket. I wonder what he’d be up to now, if…)

  10. Oh, my speech recognition software is being obtuse this morning, and it won’t let me say HOORAY! So I had to type that last word with my fingers on my keyboard.
    I feel celebratory because this column by Christopher Nuttall:
    1. validates most of my practices
    2. gives me a new idea, and
    3. provides a forum where I can spit in the eye of one who first attacked, then attempted to sabotage my reviews.
    What started out to be a comment became a column, and so I put it over here:

    And I’m NOT gonna check the comment box, because I’d like to get some MORE work done today. And I can’t do that if my inbox explodes.

  11. I hate the reviews where someone goes on and on about how they love the book, but then only give it 2 or 3 stars, because they only give four stars to ‘fantastic books’ and never give 5 stars, because the already did that once, (or nothing ever deserves such a high rating.)
    I’m not kidding, I’ve gotten that review. Rather than use the stars as Amazon intended, they used their own system, which was much more severe.
    I also get annoyed when Amazon won’t remove the personal attacks, even after you report them (from a certain troller we all know and love), or reviews about scenes that aren’t even in the book! I’m not kidding, I have received one star reviews for scenes that were not in the novel. I guess some people just have really good imaginations and a tenuous grasp on reality.

    1. I call them drive by reviewers. They have a cut and paste review that may have nada to do with your book, but because of your politics, or your association with Sad Puppies, or simply because of your presence here, they feel compelled to strike a blow for SJW, and a mightily cheap blow at that.
      Speaking of reviews, good call making Champion for Hire a 99 cent special. Got it, liked it well enough that 3/4 through it I went and bought the rest of the series. Great stuff, may just be me, but I taste the flavors of both RAH and Leo Frankowski there.
      And I mean that as a sincere complement.

      1. Because I had everything on sale, I can’t change any prices for the next two weeks (amazon is weird). I’m going to lower the price of a couple of books once that 2 week period is over, and will debate moving Champion for Hire to 99 cents permanently.
        Just started working on book 7 today. Have a different novel coming out in a couple of weeks. Need to get off my butt and order the cover for that one (Its title is: The King of Las Vegas).

    2. I try to reserve 5 stars for something outstanding but to give 2 or 3 for a book they loved and never give the 5 star is just twisted. I tend to think that 3 stars is “I didn’t like it but someone else might.” 4 is “I liked this a lot and will read more from this author” I do think that 5 stars should mean a little bit more. I might be alone in the universe but books with solid 5 star ratings don’t say “this book is awesome” to me, they say “my mother and all my best friends reviewed my book.”

      1. Ah, if only there were even mother and friends to leave a review! It was truly sad when my wife released her book, and no one, not even the people who read it before publication put up a review. It has had a number of sales, and those who read it that she encountered in person waxed enthusiastic about it. Still could not get them to post a review. Sigh.

        1. Know the feeling – everyone tells me, when I do book talks and events how much they loved the books … but so very few will do a review. I even had a reviewer wonder about that; a comment along the lines of “great read, but hardly any reviews!”

      2. On Amazon or Newegg I am loathe to purchase something with less than a decent quantity of reviews/stars. I’d like at least a dozen before I trust the rating system. And I am one of those that hates the five/one star dichotomy. I’d prefer four to be “meets all criteria” and Five to be exceed. But usually it’s either or.

    3. I’m a two or four star reviewer. I don’t think I’ve read anything lately bad enough to rate one star. Five stars means “it should be made into a movie ASAP and will become the 22nd century’s Shakespeare”. I haven’t read one of those lately, either. Two stars is “didn’t finish it”. Four stars is “will buy more”. Three stars is “meh, OK book,” which doesn’t really warrant the bother of even rating it.

      If anyone wants three star reviews, let me know. I don’t find them worth it, but if it helps hold up an average, I can least click the rating button.

      I am at least consistent. I rate everything that has a scale this way. You must be hopelessly awful to warrant one star (I’m looking at you Sears customer service – send me more surveys!) and amazingly good to rate the top value (10 or 5). (Hammacher-Schlmer is a rare example.I murdered seven Scoobas before they cut me off their lifetime warrantee – and returned my money.)

  12. Yes becareful of your health. I got slapped up side the head in January by how easy it is to get in trouble telling yourself you will wait 6 weeks for your doctors appointment. Nothing like a long visit to the hospital to put putting off going to the doctor into perspective. ::sigh::

  13. When I published my first book, I had both Alpha and Beta readers go through it, then paid an editor. And probably the best advice I got was to ignore the reviews. There is ALWAYS going to be somebody that doesn’t like/hates/puts a ridiculous comparison in a 1 or 2 star review.

  14. I stopped reading my reviews when I got a 3 star because someone didn’t understand some of the words.

    And Sarah, here’s to a recovery that is not hampered by the next move.

    1. I got a 3-star review that said that a dragon should have been an acceptable romantic partner — BUT abused the hero as getting help from a witch.

      One wonders why a dragon is fine but a witch isn’t.

      1. I would guess the reviewer is one of those kinds of zealots who are convinced that Harry Potter is evil because witchcraft.

        1. Given that dragons are considered direct symbology for Satan, that doesn’t sound like that particular brand of crazy. That usually goes hand in hand with regarding CS Lewis(!?!) as non Christian because Narnia. Bah.

        2. True but a lot of older European folklore has the Dragon as a being of Evil and even linked to the Devil.

          Obviously, as a Dragon I reject the idea that all Dragons are evil and we have nothing to do with the Devil. [Dragon Grin]

          1. There’s an Albanian fairy tale where the Snow White figure hangs out with forty dragons in the forest.

        3. Nah, didn’t sound like that type.

          (The fun part is that describing it as “getting help” from her was — iffy at least.)

  15. Great post, Chris. (May I call you “Chris”? Or do yo prefer your full name?)

    I generally won’t write a totally negative review (although there are a few obnoxious authors for whom I’ll be glad to make exceptions if I ever actually read any of their work again). I try to point out details I liked. And if the book isn’t to my taste (especially one I’ve been asked to review by publisher or author), I always try to make clear in the review the negative things that are due to my taste. And I try to say something positive about some aspect of the book, whether it’s the prose, the pacing, one of the characters, etc.

    While I’m not 100% consistent, I try to include links to the authors’ webpage, and if they have a Twitter account, send a tweet that includes their handle and a link to the review so they can retweet, especially if it’s a positive review.

  16. I love reviews that show the reader was engaged in my story. I get a lot of “Dammit, you made me stay up late to finish the book!” 😀 Another reader wanted to know all the backstory for characters and cultures that I hadn’t put in the book, *and* wanted a sequel. And then there was “I am sad because I will never have the chance to read this for the first time again.”

    Doesn’t have to be a book report. Just an emotional response. Books grab different people different ways, but the response is a good clue how you as a reader might experience the book.

      1. Good. That’s too far to get to. If it had been here in DC, I’d have left work early. Thanks!

      1. That looks like so much fun. They need to invite a space lawyer next year–although, they’ve got Glenn, I suppose. Sigh.

            1. Of course they have lawyers in space. And several other forms of litter that’s left the airlock. 😎

            2. I quite understand. One of the unrealistic attractions behind Golden Age and Silver Age SF was the complete lack of lawyers outside Earth’s gravity well … 😉

  17. I will admit that my first one-star review made me happy. Why? Because it showed that I was being read by people who were not friends/family/whatever. And the reader explained why he got thrown out of the book, and how it failed to be as advertised (for him). So it was a good review, but he did not care for the book. Which is fair.

    1. Yes but that was a good constructive one star review because it provided useful feedback to you the author. It’s the reviews where they appear to expect the poor author to have something to do with the whole pricing, manufacture, and or delivery of the book. Ok, yes in the case case of indi authors then it might apply but …

    1. that NASA reactionless drive up and running when you’re done, of course… no pressure…

      I never could wrap my head around how reactionless drives that don’t create any pressure are supposed to work.

  18. Actually, most of the ones I’ve seen written about, it isn’t that the drive is actually reactionless so much as artificial / manipulated gravity means that the crew doesn’t feel the reaction.

    1. Technically a “reaction drive” is where “something” is “thrown” from the spaceship in order for the ship to move.

      On the other hand, the “solar sail” is a reactionless drive because the spaceship “moves” because of the pressure from the sun on the sail.

      On the gripping hand, most other reactionless drives involve some manipulation of gravity. [Smile]

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