J to tha M: J Brings Up Goodreads

And Off We Go…

medium_6478709717J:  So, what about Goodreads? good or evil?

M:  I’m not on it much

J:  But many readers are. what about readers who go straight to the bad reviews before deciding if they want a book?

how relevant are the reviews on Goodreads as compared to those on Amazon?

Are they even relevant at all?

Does goodreads serve a purpose in that readers can share books with friends the way they would by word of mouth, or has it become useless because of shameless marketing?

M:  I think it’s a balance like anything else

I don’t think bad reviews tank a book–unless they’re ALL bad

It’s hard for authors to read bad reviews–we’ve all been there

but, looking at it from a purely reader standpoint, it’s true that most bad reviews actually help convince me to buy a book

it’s weird, but I think most readers don’t trust the gushy, glowing reviews

what with the pay for review scandal and the realization that a lot of people get friends and family to leave reviews

and some (not all) of the more professional review sites seem to be somewhat…how shall I say..biased toward giving good reviews

J:  It’s hard to give a bad review when you get a free book

M:  I skim through the 3, 2, and 1 star reviews to see if what people are saying are things that seriously bug me

I find those actually more honest and informative for the most part

of course, there are trolls, and they seem to be on Goodreads more

but I think I can tell the difference, as can most readers

J:  I think Goodreads does serve a purpose

in that readers have a place to give honest opinions and writers have a place to share their work

but as with everything, it’s been abused in many ways

M:  yeah. that happens when human beings get involved in a social group atmosphere

and I think it started with the intention of just being a sharing and talking about books you read

but it’s become such a commercial marketing tool, too

and wearing both a reader and writer hat, I can see both sides

but it’s kind of a shame, because now it’s hard to trust any reviews you read–to take them at face value

I mean, we’ve touched on this before. I’ve see author groups where everyone passes around a copy of their book to everyone in the group and they all leave reviews for each other

(and not just Goodreads groups)

and books get a whole bunch of reviews

and yes, they say they don’t expect or require a good review, but…

J:  I agree. In those circles, they’re all often friends

and as much as I tell people your book is awesome, they know I’m your friend

M:  I mean, if you give an honest not-five-star review of a book that didn’t appeal to you, what are the chances other people in the group are going to ask you to read theirs, or want to give your book a good review, honest or not

J:  and there is that

M:  and how many readers who aren’t writers know this is what’s happening? they just see a bunch of high reviews and think they’re from people who just picked the book up on their own and decided to review

reviews have just become goal numbers, like a lot of things

how many followers

and to me, if you’re just looking to increase numbers and improve algorithms, you’re losing what books should be at the core

simply writing a story that appeals, or reading and sharing the same

J:  And also take some of the joy out of writing them

M:  exactly. and reading them

I saw something the other day, where a blogger reviewed a book, and then at the end, encouraged people to go “like” her reviews on Goodreads and Amazon

J:  siiiiigh

M:  so now, not only are authors looking for more and higher numbers, so are reviewers

and I’m not completely naive. I know the great and mysterious Powers That Be tend to look only at those kind of numbers – whether you’re a reader or writer or a whatever it is you do

higher numbers give you more power and influence in whatever world you play in

but it’s still kind of **sigh**

J:  It’s hard not to clamor for them when you know that’s what others are looking at

You want to be above it. outside of it

M:  it’s hard not to get caught up in all that and lose sight of the joy of reading and writing

but I still cling to my version of the fluffcloud that if you write an appealing book, all those numbers will follow

J:  it’s just hard to trust that when you’re not sure how people are finding it to begin with

M:  and I say “appealing,” not “good,” because different people’s definition of “good” varies

J:  sure, one person tells one person, etc.

but Goodreads was supposed to be a way to get it to that one person

M:  an author can scrounge up 30 or 40 5 star reviews from friends or professional circles or whatever, but not 500 or 1000 (not saying that authors with 30 or 40 5 star reviews are doing this, but you know what I mean)

those are the books that I trust appeal to a wide audience

that’s the kind of book I want to write

the kind that as soon as you’re done, you want to talk about it and tell everyone

I love that feeling, and, man, it would really feed my own personal happiness to be able to give that to others

so I try to make that my goal

J:  Well, I tend to think your book rests in that category

but it hasn’t been seen by enough people yet

again. people probably don’t listen to me when I talk about it because I’m your friend

M:  well, thank you. It’s a start, and I’m always wanting to learn more, do better, put more emotional oomph into the next thing I write

I want to make that connection I feel after reading a story that really hits me

J:  the thing is, every book has “issues”

depending on who’s reading it

I mean, Twilight, which I’m prepared to admit hooked me, had stuff that pissed me off. made me roll my eyes or question my attachment

there’s always something

no matter what you do or learn, you can’t make everyone happy

M:  no, and that’s hard to accept, especially when you read that critical review

but what one person doesn’t like might float another’s boat

and it doesn’t always make sense, simply because everyone is different

I mean, I can read two books that have similar issues, whether grammar, structure, plot or character development

and in one book, I can’t get past it

but in another, even though the issues are similar, the story or writing or characters hit that chord

and I can overlook those same issues that made me DNF the other book

so…I’ve just decided it’s magic

J:  sometimes

M:  you can’t necessarily define or explain or reason, but you know when you read if it’s there or if it isn’t

J:  look how much you actually had to say, even though you’re not on Goodreads much

M:  not much was actually about Goodreads, though

J:  Goodreads is just the tool

heh. tool

M:  Goodreads, Amazon, the whole review thing

the whole chasing numbers thing

I think that’s my dissatisfaction with a lot of social media

it’s not about communication so much, but chasing numbers. making yourself feel important, powerful, liked

J:  As long as you don’t let it blind you to the fun

M:  exactly

J:  you don’t have to succumb to the numbers game

M:  but I think a lot of people do

J:  and still use Twitter for fun

M:  if you find that kind of thing fun, see

and some people don’t

J:  I find talking to you on twitter fun

M:  I don’t find talking on twitter particularly fun

sometimes it is

but it just ain’t my thing

J:  no worries

M:  I like talking to you, just not on twitter. heh.

I love chatting and communicating with other readers, writers, everyone

Just not on a forum where everything has turned into something else. Am I using the right words? Good content? The right hastags? bleh.

When I chat with someone, it’s because I want to and enjoy it, not because I should or have to. If that makes sense.

J: Sorry if I knocked you off your fluffcloud. You’re so rarely up there.

M: Right? Here’s my swandive off the fluffcloud

brb

 

photo credit: Arek Olek via photopin cc

On Writing: The Importance of Critique Partners

Bad Girlz Write: Part Two

writing with critique partnersWeek before last (May 15), the talented ladies over at the Bad Girlz Write blog hosted a J to tha M chat about critique partners. You can read the final version here, but, as you may have noticed, we can be wordy bitches–or, at least, M can. We had so much fun with the subject and subsequent chat, we decided to share all the crap we cut on the FFYW blog. Lucky you guys, right?

Outtakes and Deleted Scenes

J: Jesus. how long has it been?

sometimes it doesn’t feel like long at all

and sometimes I feel like I’ve known you forever

when was that contest I asked you to judge?

M: Early 2010?

J: I read one of your stories and stalked you

I mean, asked you to judge a contest

I don’t even remember the contest

but I do remember getting all heart-clenchy when I read your stuff and wishing I could do that

make people get all heart-clenchy, I mean

and when I put that call out on twitter for a WC and you popped up, I kind of fangirled. a little. I mean, a tiny bit

M: I love to hear heart-clenchy

and, man, that was a long time ago

J: we’ve been pretty together on a lot of things

M: except that fluffcloud thing

J: you love my fluffcloud

M: the whole licorice and cotton candy

J: I keep you smiling through your gross licorice

you also love knocking me off of my cotton candy fluffcloud on occasion

I oblige you

that’s what friends do

M: keep it balanced

J: How did we get to the point where we wouldn’t write anything without the other seeing it?

M: I think it was during the WC chats where we both were kind of eyeing each other

J: and we gradually moved to private chats

from pasting bits and pieces to sending the whole chapter

we were sponges, ready to grab whatever we could from each other

soak up

M: and we were not only open to learning, but wanted it desperately

J: I loved that you were willing to make changes

instead of thinking you had it down because you had so many readers

and also that you were willing to give me a shot in spite of the few readers I had

M: honestly, I didn’t write to get readers. I wrote to get it out of my head and share. Part of that has always been wanting to make it better

J: that was so easy for me to see, too

M: make it better to satisfy myself and hopefully anyone who happens to read it along with it

J: we did go through a pretty short “getting to know you” period

if someone were to ask me why I trust you so much–well, we’ve covered a lot of it. Definitely your willingness to keep learning. I know if you don’t know, you’ll look it up. I never worry that you’ll tell me something without knowing for sure

then there’s your ability, which I saw firsthand. I already respected your writing before we met

M: it’s the being able to admit and understand that we might be wrong and willing to learn if we are or not

honestly, attitude is the most important thing

J: it’s hard to have a partnership when one believes she/he is better than the other

M: and it’s being able to question, too

not take everything the other says for granted

being able to argue a point

being able to accept when we’re wrong – and when we’re right

and know there are no hard feelings, that we can have a healthy debate

be honest but kind, not hurt each other’s feelings

J: some of your “no effing way” choices make me giggle sometimes, too

You with cooing. Me with flesh.

I just made myself shudder with that one

M: only babies and old ladies coo

not hunky heroes

just no

J: I never had a hunky hero coo

for the record

M: thank baby jesus

J: who would definitely coo

M: Only as as a baby

J: We just kind of fell in each other’s laps (or not. still working on that one.)

M: you’re going to be working a long time

J: I’m determined. Another thing you love about me

M: As far as finding a good CP, get to know people, who you fit with

J: it really is hit or miss. it’s just a matter of sticking it out

M: like meeting friends

J: and actually don’t be quick to trust

M: some people you like and click with, some you don’t

J: however our story might contradict that

M: everyone has different strength and weaknesses, and it’s great when you find someone who complements, balances

but the most important thing is comfort and attitude, I think

J: I can’t even begin to say how grateful I am for your patience when I’m going through your stuff

when I feel like someone’s tapping their watch, I make mistakes. I miss things.

M: yes, it’s a lot of understanding and being considerate on all kinds of levels, while being honest, too

honest about the editing issues, as well as time, and knowledge

when you have that level of trust, you both feel comfortable in asking and doing

M: writing is a lot of stress

and emotion

J: I just realized (again) how special you are

M: we have a pretty special relationship

J: what’s really telling of the comfort and trust in our partnership is our decision to write a whole book together

and then, because we’re either geniuses or fucking idiots, a whole series

M: and those two things together can be a fuck-all mess

J: I usually sway toward geniuses

M: oh, absolutely 🙂

J: I also think it’s going to be obvious to anyone reading this chat that I’m definitely the cotton candy

heh

M: good critique partners are all about support – all different kinds

I’m the whippy licorice, for sure.

J: but man, I love you

M: aw, I love you, too

we need that balance

otherwise, we’d be flaily messes

J: and I can’t thank you enough every day for the support you’ve given and still give. The knowledge, the patience, the learning, the understanding, the firm line in the sand once in a while…

M: it goes both ways, it really does.

I couldn’t do this without you

J: and I feel the same

M: if you weren’t there to talk me down from my ledge…

J: it’s also important to mention that we weren’t the only person there for each other. What lonely lives that would be

we’ve always been smart enough to know someone outside needs to see it first, too

M: absolutely

J: I had Tiff; you had Sarah

and sometimes even more eyes beyond that

M: oh, yes

M: no manuscript is ever perfect. someone will always find something

fresh eyes

that understanding there makes us even stronger

J: and you and I have never had a problem with sharing

M: if we did, we wouldn’t have the relationship we do

J: because we’re lucky bitches.