This post came, literally, out of nowhere. In no way did I intend on taking an hour out of my schedule to write this post, but I wanted to share this article that was delivered to my email and get some feedback on it. It’s a great conversation starter.
According to Derek, the cardinal sin of self-publishing is hubris: foolish pride or dangerous over-confidence.
In brief, Derek explains how many Self-Published authors destroy their own success by getting too excited about their book and being rigid and inflexible.
I also took the time to read through the comments, which were just as interesting as the article. One comment in particular caught my attention:
“But, another factor, aside from the lack of ability of some to admit that they don’t know what they’re doing, is influence. The wrong kind. Authors are usually around other authors online, and the fact is, very few will tell their fellow authors that their covers suck, that their manuscript is not polished, that their blurbs are confusing, that the book needs major editing – an author cannot get honest feedback from their peers. Feedback which could help them improve. Maybe this happens because most authors don’t welcome negative feedback themselves – so they don’t give it. The result is, a mediocrity virus goes around, contaminating those around it.” – Eeva Lancaster
Whew! That’s a mouthful, but is she wrong? I’d love your feedback on this.
I get a small taste of this reviewing books. Though people are always respectful to me personally, it doesn’t take much to see when someone didn’t like how you felt about the book. You can sense it in the watered down thank you they give you or smell it in the silent treatment (where you never hear from that author again, nor are you on the receiving end of their support).
I’ve also seen poor work highly promoted, especially book covers that are not very pleasing to the eye (to the point where I am not interested in reading the book). We promote these books like they are NYT Bestsellers because these are our friends and we may not want to crush them by admitting “the person who did that book cover messed you up”. I mean, you wouldn’t say it like that but you get my point. Friends don’t hurt friends but such a thing feeds into Eeva’s point.
I’m not one to judge. I know that book cover design is expensive and I’ve had my own experience with mediocre looking covers. In addition, I’m a big advocate of treating others the way that I myself would want to be treated. Would I want you to publish your one and two-star reviews of my book and bring my rating down? Of course not so I don’t do the same to the books I read. I do, however, provide honest feedback (as promised) privately through email.
Still, for the everyday readers who purchase books and leave reviews, there is something genuine about those reviews when you read them that let’s you know the reader is being real. Readers don’t feel obligated to say something nice about a book because they know the author. They just keep it all the way real. Is this how it should be?
I think so but to an extent. I’m also a huge advocate for professionalism. Everything should be done with as much excellence as our time can afford. People are just not respectful. Period. While reviewers should be honest, I also think tact goes a long way. Criticism sandwiched between two soft pieces of bread goes a long way.
A lot of people also don’t understand the books they read. The first time I read Beowulf it was boring. I was also just in High School and had no clue as to what I was reading. I was just reading to get a grade pretty much. Meanwhile, boredom oozed from every page I turned. It was painful. Today however, because I understand the book, I find it intriguing and deep. Tell you another quick story.
In 2006, I went to the movies to watch Dreamgirls when it released. I was eighteen or nineteen years old. Anyway, I complained about the music. “It’s too much music in this movie”, I said. The lady behind me promptly put me in check, “It is a musical.” It sounded harsh to my young ears but she was right. Dreamgirls is a musical so there will be lots of music. The point? A lot of people don’t understand the books they read. If you’re reading erotica don’t complain there’s too much sex. That’s kind of the point.
And so, the question remains, in our quest to support each other, are we helping or hindering? Here’s Derek’s reply to the comment:
“There’s a common problem in self-publishing, that authors help each other and support each other (great) but also reaffirm misleading beliefs or ideologies that can be harmful (bad).” – Derek Murphy
That’s deep and I myself cannot honestly say that Derek does not have a point.
One of the disclaimers we reviewers use for book reviews is: “…in exchange for an honest review…”
(My disclaimer message will change. I will now be using the following disclaimer: ‘I received a copy of this book as a gift from the author’ will be the message that accompany each review instead of ‘I received this book free in exchange for an honest review’. To learn more about why I am making this change, read Debby’s most excellent article about cleaning up your Amazon links HERE.)
But, back to the point. We, reviewers, say, “…in exchange for an honest review..” but, are we being honest? Furthermore, how does one display honesty respectfully? Surely there’s no way to not hurt someone’s feelings. It’s inevitable and since people have so many different ways of thought, who knows what they may consider disrespectful. My thoughts is that everyone should just be as respectful but as honest as possible but I want to hear from you.
In our efforts to be supportive, are we helping each other by providing valuable feedback or hindering each other by sugarcoating the truth?