What a crazy week, right? All the news from San Diego Comic Con, previews for awesome movies (hello, Hobbit!), new book deals, new debuts, and in the middle of it was a bit of petty rivalry and general stupidity that stood out like a bad hairdo at prom.
Let's start with the GoodRead Bullies, no, not the ones leaving negative reviews, the ones who took revenge of negative reviews to a new level and posted personal information about the reviewers...
While no one likes negative reviews (except all the readers who agree with you), there's a right and a wrong way to handle the negative reviews. The right way is to roll your eyes and realize the reviewer is not your target audience. Or perhaps that the reviewer doesn't speak English (some of the reviews of my own books make me itch to edit). The wrong way to handle a negative review is to publish the reviewers personal information and encourage people to hate on them. While you might only be spewing invective on the internet there are crazies out there who will take this as an excuse to hunt the reviewer down and physically harm then.
I'll be perfectly frank, if I ever found myself named on a site like that there would be lawyers at your door in record time. When a person's address winds up on a public site filled with hate speech it isn't just the person you're threatening, it's their family. And while I'll tolerate any amount of name calling I will not let you threaten my children.
I'm not sure how the GoodReads Bullies will shake out. I hope they get banned from GoodReads and sued within an inch of their livelihoods. And I hope none of the reviewers they've threatened are injured. Negative reviews have their place.
And speaking of reviews...
Let's discuss paying for reviews, or why you shouldn't. Start here, with the demand from the review site ChickLitGirls for $95 for a positive review. They back up the legitamacy of the scam by saying Kirkus also charges for reviews. Do you read Kirkus reviews? I never have.
I did hear about the Amazon scam where you could pay $5/review to get positive reviews listed by top reviewers. After all, all you need is a couple of family members to let you borrow their log-in information and you could be earning a couple of bucks by boosting books. Nothing says legit like bought reviews!
Paying for reviews is like buying friends on FaceBook or followers on Twitter, you'd have to be desperate to do it. What's the point? Do you really have $95 to pay someone to tell pretty lies about your book? REALLY? Donate it to charity and I'll tell you pretty lies for free. Promise.
And while we're on the subject of lies...
There's a scam slowly making it's way around the open writing sites. If your fanfic and old work is hanging out on a random public website this is something you need to watch for. A friend emailed me to announce he'd had someone who wanted to buy his book, which was interesting because I didn't know he was shopping one. I asked him which one, and he said it was a 200k epic fantasy he'd written in high school and posted on a public site years ago.
We exchanged emails and discussed first rights, which the publisher seemed cool with, and then the sticking point came up. My friend read the contract and it wasn't a contract. The buyer was offering $200 flat for the book, rights and everything. They "publisher" had the right to sell, change, edit, and distribute the book without the author's permission and without paying royalties.
My friend was tempted, after all, he wasn't using the book. But he used the world in a book he's editing now for publication... selling the older story would mean selling the rights to that world (at least with this contract).
But, honestly, $200 for something you've worked years on? No sale.
If someone offers you a contract for your work make sure you get fairly paid. You need royalties, and you should retain rights or have them revert in a decent interval (three years for full rights to revert is standard in small press - it may be longer with Big 6).