Friday, April 26, 2013

My thoughts on Kickstarter and self-publishing

I know it's none of my business, but I'm going to say it outright: It's kind of presumptuous of an author to expect other people to pay his or her self-publishing costs via Kickstarter.

Now, like I said, it's none of my business. There is nothing ethically wrong with doing this, and I completely understand why someone would turn to Kickstarter. Self-publishing isn't cheap, what with having to pay for editing, cover costs, printing, marketing, etc. If a reader has enough faith in this author to put out a good product, then by all means, let them contribute.

It's more the author mindset behind this that I don't understand. All I can do is look at this and go "Who the hell do you think you are?"

It's one thing to ask readers to buy a book, but asking them to cover the cost of books that may or may not have even been written is kind of, well, arrogant. Why should these people want to spend money on books that haven't come out yet when there are thousands of other books they can buy instead? Sure, if they read and liked the first book, then it makes sense that they might be willing to pre-invest in the second and third. However, if your sales figures for Book 1 aren't enough to cover the costs of publishing a second book, then what makes you think you'll have any success with a Kickstarter campaign?

I'm not saying "don't do this"--it's not my job to tell you what to do or what not to do with your publishing journey. But don't be surprised if the whole thing turns out to be an embarrassing failure.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Choosing to review

It feels like a long time since I posted a review. It's not that I haven't finished a book since The Madman's Daughter--I finished 3 actually. But none of those three were books I cared to review.

For reference, here are all the books I finished in 2013. (Yes, I know some of you might find this list pathetically short.) The bold books are the ones I reviewed.


1. “Hold Me Closer, Necromancer” -- Lish McBride
2. “Silver Phoenix” -- Cindy Pon
3. “The Crown of Embers” -- Rae Carson
4. “The Road” -- Cormac McCarthy
5. “The Monstrumologist” -- Rick Yancey
6. “Incarnate” -- Jodi Meadows
7. “A Storm of Swords” -- George R.R. Martin
8. “Throne of Glass” -- Sarah J. Maas
9. “Code Name Verity” -- Elizabeth Wein
10. “The Madman’s Daughter” -- Megan Shepherd
11. “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Miserable Mill” -- Lemony Snickett
12. “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Austere Academy” -- Lemony Snickett
13. “Letters from the Ledge” -- Lynda Meyers

Currently, I'm reading A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire #4) and Ghosting (Kirby Gann). I only read a couple chapters of Ghosting and do plan to review it when I'm finished. I don't plan to review A Feast for Crows (though I must comment that I don't like it nearly as much as the other books in the series. Two of my favorite characters have yet to make an appearance!)

Why do I review some books and not others? I'll start by saying that "to review" is my default state. It doesn't matter if it's good, bad, or mediocre, if I made the effort of reading it, then I usually want to say at least something about it. Half the fun of books is having an opinion on them, after all.

So why do I choose not to review some books. Let's look at specific cases:

A Song of Ice and Fire: For the most part, I love this series. But the books are all just long chapters of a really long story, and it wouldn't feel right to review them individually. Maybe I'll review them when I finish the series (or at least catch up on the ones that are currently published.)

A Series of Unfortunate Events: My roommate recommended these books to me. They're fun and clever, but not really my thing. The books are a little too ridiculous for my liking, but they're meant to be that way. It would be like criticizing cotton candy for being too sweet.

Letters from the Ledge: When I write a review, I would like that review to start a dialogue. When I review a traditionally-published or well-known book, there is a pretty good chance that someone else has read or has at least heard of the book. These people often come equipped with opinions of their own, so that I can discuss the book with them. When it comes to self-published books, that dialogue is less likely to happen, since fewer people have heard about the book. If I liked the book, I'll definitely recommend it, but if I came out of it feeling 'meh,' (as I did with this book), then I won't waste my time.

What about you? Do you review every book or only a select few? What makes you decide whether or not to review?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dear Author: It is not your job to tell me what your story is about

I'm currently following the blog of a writer whose debut novel is coming out this month. Lately, she has been posting a series of blog posts about what her novel "is" -- posts that talk about the world, the characters, etc.

The main thing that bothers me about this is that I feel like the author is trying to tell me what her book is about--how I'm supposed to interpret the characters and their journeys, etc. And while I'm sure the author put a lot of time into crafting her novel so that it reflects these interpretations, it isn't her job to interpret the story for me--it's my job, as a reader.

Believe me, I love learning about how authors interpret their own books--why they included certain elements or what those elements mean. But this is something I want to learn after I've already read the book and interpreted it for myself. It's the same reason I don't like to read reviews of books that are on my To Read list--I don't want those reviews skewing my own opinions. However, after I have read the book myself, I seek out those reviews so I can compare them to my own.

Same goes for what writers say about their own books. After I've read a novel, I might scour an author's blog or interviews to see what he/she had to say about it. Sometimes I'll go "Yeah, I had that same impression" or "Wow, I didn't notice that. I just gained a whole new appreciation for your book." There are even times where I'll disagree with the writer. One author recently commented that she was happy with a casting choice because that actress could bring the necessary "complexity and depth" to the character. My response "That's funny. I didn't realize that character had any complexity or depth."

If you're doing your job as a writer, you shouldn't need to tell me about the importance of family or the hero's journey in your novel--I should be able to figure that out for myself. Please don't insult my intelligence or my ability (and right) to draw my own opinions and conclusions about your book.

Anyway, I'm still really excited to read this book, and for that reason, I'm going to stop reading the "[name of novel] is" posts on this author's blog--at least until I've had the opportunity to judge for myself.
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