A “Friendly” Undeserved Rating

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Shining StarLate­ly sales have been close to nonex­is­tent. Eh, I wish I could say oth­er­wise but that’s the way it is. I’m still in the process of extri­cat­ing myself from Xlib­ris but once that’s done and set­tled I will reeval­u­ate whether or not I want to sign back up for Amazon’s KDP pro­gram.

Of late, my atten­tion has been on my WIP, hence pub­li­ciz­ing AUW has tak­en a far back seat in the clut­ter and lack of time that is my life. Despite this, and lag­ging sales, from time to time I check out how my title is rank­ing on Ama­zon and also to see if I have any new reviews. I also occa­sion­al­ly check to see if AUW has any new reviews on Goodreads.

Today I noticed some­thing very curi­ous. At some point in the recent past I was award­ed a five star rat­ing, sans review, from one of my Goodreads “friends”. Said “friend” will remain name­less. I found this curi­ous because although I don’t real­ly know this per­son, I am fair­ly cer­tain this per­son has NEVER read AUW. In fact, if I was the gam­bling type, I’d bet every­thing I own that this is the case.

So, why would this per­son, my “friend”, give me a five star rat­ing?

I think I know why. A cou­ple of months ago this “friend” pub­lished a book and dove full steam into a pub­lic­i­ty blitz that includ­ed mass friend­ing on Goodreads, form emails offer­ing a favor if and when the need arose (we’re talk­ing Goodreads friends, not life­long since we were wee pups in the cra­dle friends, so it seemed kind of icky weird), a free eBook down­load of the new­ly pub­lished nov­el, and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to win a free auto­graphed copy, among oth­er things. The email was, well, kind of weird, most­ly because I don’t know this per­son, and also because who offers strangers online an any­time favor? But I saw it for what it was, an attempt to gain expo­sure and to sell books. I didn’t respond and I sort of for­got about it until today.

I’m of the opin­ion that my five star rat­ing was one of those self­less favors meant to, at the very least, endear me to the author and at most, oblige me to rec­i­p­ro­cate.

I can not.

I tried to read this person’s book a while back but couldn’t com­plete it. I just couldn’t. The writ­ing was, well, suf­fice it to say, 4% was all I could take. If I can’t turn off my inter­nal edi­tor when I am read­ing a book then that’s a sure sign its chock full of writ­ing flubs, gram­mar errors, incon­sis­ten­cies, edit­ing night­mares, and plain old WTHs. Despite the major issues with the writ­ing, this book has a num­ber of very impres­sive reviews on both Ama­zon and Goodreads, so per­haps I’m wrong or being too harsh a crit­ic.

In light of my unde­served five star rat­ing from this author/“friend”, I won­der how many of this author’s five star reviews were because the author is a good writer with a com­pelling sto­ry as opposed to a self­less “friend” will­ing to do favors. Of note, the author has also rat­ed their own book. Want to take a guess?

My per­son­al opin­ion of self rat­ing is that it should not be done. Besides tacky it is whol­ly unbi­ased.

My opin­ion on “friend­ly” rat­ings based on any­thing oth­er than the opin­ion of one per­son who has actu­al­ly read my book, is that I don’t need them nor do I want them. It lacks integri­ty. It makes me feel like a cheat.

I don’t need friends or rat­ings like that.

Character Traits

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How to Care for Introverts:  Wise WordsWhat is your favorite char­ac­ters per­son­al­i­ty type?

If you are a writer, how do you decide what your protagonist’s per­son­al­i­ty will be?

I recent­ly start­ed giv­ing this deep­er thought after watch­ing Pitch Black for the mil­lionth time.  I love that movie because of the tit­u­lar char­ac­ter, Rid­dick. My favorite char­ac­ters tend to be sim­i­lar; tac­i­turn, intro­vert­ed, cun­ning, decid­ed, and func­tion­ing by a moral com­pass of their own mak­ing. Rid­dick def­i­nite­ly pos­sess all of those traits.

I con­sid­ered Riddick’s per­son­al­i­ty traits and I tried to deter­mine what his per­son­al­i­ty would be based on the Myers-Brig­gs Type Indi­ca­tor.  The best I could come up with was ISTP (intro­ver­sion, sens­ing, think­ing, per­cep­tion) because he is not a peo­ple per­son, he uses his sens­es to gath­er infor­ma­tion and under­stand the world around him, hence the sil­ver eyes that help him see in the dark, he acts based on what he thinks is right as opposed to his feel­ings, and he keeps his options open, usu­al­ly for the swift get away.  Based on the old D&D align­ment trait sys­tem, I believe that Rid­dick is chaot­ic neu­tral.

Chaot­ic neu­tral char­ac­ters are wild, unpre­dictable and often fol­low their own per­son­al code with­out a care for oth­ers — they are often self­ish and the only thing pre­dictable about them is their unpre­dictable natures. This is the align­ment of rogues, anti-heroes, the mad (when not chaot­ic evil) as well as char­ac­ters who do not fol­low nor­mal eth­i­cal codes but do not active­ly seek to destroy the nat­ur­al order either (as a chaot­ic evil char­ac­ter would).

Yup. Sounds like Rid­dick to me.

This got me think­ing about the main char­ac­ter of my WIP, The Hin­ter­land Chron­i­cles. Dr. Bilqis Haq is a law abid­ing cit­i­zen. She wants to keep the peace, and although spir­i­tu­al­ly con­flict­ed she is will­ing to do any­thing, includ­ing stuff­ing her feel­ings and beliefs, to bring such peace to fruition. She is what I like to term a sheeple. In oth­er words, she is a fol­low­er and is nev­er a will­ing leader. By the end of my WIP, life will change dras­ti­cal­ly for my poor lit­tle pro­tag­o­nist. The calm she wish­es to main­tain will be chal­lenged. She will be forced to choose sides, nei­ther of which is opti­mal. There will be no good choic­es and she will not have the option of hang­ing back and let­ting some­one else do the choos­ing.

In the process, her per­son­al­i­ty will even­tu­al­ly change. She will cease to be law­ful good. She will become chaot­ic good or per­haps, if pushed chaot­ic neu­tral. Watch­ing Bilqis make the change will be excit­ing.

I decid­ed to take the Align­ment Test myself, just to see where I fall on the spec­trum. I was not sur­prised to learn that, like Rid­dick I am chaot­ic neu­tral. I knew I’d be chaot­ic neu­tral because of ‚my will­ing­ness to chal­lenge tra­di­tion, my unwill­ing­ness to fol­low soci­etal nor­ma­tive behav­iors with­out first ques­tion­ing their use­ful­ness, and my will­ing­ness to break the rules if they do not make sense to me.

My Myers Brig­gs per­son­al­i­ty isINTP along with Marie Curie, Jung, Ein­stein, Data and Sev­en of Nine (Star Trek), Sher­lock Holmes, and Albus Dum­b­le­dore.

What align­ment trait is your favorite char­ac­ter? What align­ment trait are you? What are your Myers-Brig­gs char­ac­ter­is­tics?

There Are No Mistakes

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The four capital mistakes of open source

Almost five years ago, I self-pub­lished my nov­el An Unpro­duc­tive Woman with Xlib­ris.

If I knew then what I know now… well, let’s just say I would have hung up the phone when they called me and offered me a pub­lish­ing pack­age.

Once the book was in the world and pub­lished the first three years with them were fine. They real­ly were. Xlib­ris did exact­ly what they said they would. They helped me design a cov­er (which I lat­er changed), they helped to edit a man­u­script that was already amaz­ing­ly pret­ty clean, and they made it avail­able at mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent out­lets.

Fol­low­ing pub­lish­ing I was busy with school and fam­i­ly so I admit­ted­ly did very lit­tle in the way of self pro­mot­ing, but once I made up my mind to actu­al­ly pay atten­tion to the An Unpro­duc­tive Woman I real­ized a num­ber of unfor­tu­nate truths.

  1. I nev­er need­ed Xlib­ris.
  2. I could have done all of this myself for far less mon­ey.
  3. Xlib­ris is a busi­ness, which explains why they kept try­ing to sell me one new ser­vice after anoth­er.

I wasn’t angry with Xlib­ris because of truth #3. They are a busi­ness and as such they were doing what busi­ness­es do. Try­ing to make mon­ey. They did. While very lit­tle, I did ben­e­fit from their ser­vice. Using them made things very easy for me at a time when I had none to spare. Because of them, I didn’t have to wor­ry about the details.

A year and a half ago I decid­ed that the time had come when I need­ed to take a more active role in my writ­ing, that I would net­work and pro­mote and try to make more sales. About this time last year I also made the deci­sion to join Amazon’s KDP pro­gram. While not extra­or­di­nary, I did notice an increase in sales. An increase in sales is great. I mean, I nev­er thought that An Unpro­duc­tive Woman would make me wealthy, (One can hope, right?), but no sales turned into some sales and some sales are def­i­nite­ly bet­ter than none. Then I start­ed to have prob­lems.

KDP kicked me out of the pro­gram at least three times because my ebook kept pop­ping up at oth­er out­lets, thanks to Xlib­ris, even after I’d asked that they remove my ebook from all mar­kets. Need­less to say, they didn’t. Each time I thought things were a go again, Ama­zon would find it some­where else. I’d get kicked out of the pro­gram again. I noticed a drop in sales as a result. That’s when I got annoyed with Xlib­ris.

$3.99

$4.95

Two weeks ago I noticed that Xlib­ris snuck their ebook ver­sion of An Unpro­duc­tive Woman up on Ama­zon and actu­al­ly set it for a low­er price than I have it list­ed for. They were com­pet­ing with me for sales of my book. I have asked and asked them not to make an ebook avail­able any­where because I’d for­mat­ted and pub­lished the ebook ver­sion on Ama­zon myself and because it is a req­ui­site of the KDP pro­gram. And still, there it was.

At that point I was more than annoyed. I was incensed.

Last week I draft­ed a brief let­ter and faxed it to Xlib­ris telling them that I want­ed to with­draw my book from them 100% in all forms on all out­lets post haste. It hasn’t hap­pened yet because appar­ent­ly it can take up to six weeks. I’ve turned into the cus­tomer from hell because I have emailed them on a dai­ly basis ask­ing the equiv­a­lent of “Are we there yet?” It’s just that I am cooked and want to be done with them.

I rarely admit to mis­takes. This isn’t because I’m so arro­gant that I don’t think that I ever make them. I don’t often admit to mis­takes because I think that doing so miss­es the point, which is that there is always some­thing to learn from almost each mishap, tragedy and flub. To call these things mis­takes negates the good that can come from them. I also believe that some­times our per­son­al tragedies aren’t always for us. Some­times they are for oth­ers to learn from as well. With that, allow me to share some lessons I’ve learned from this.

  1. If I’m bright enough to write a book, chances are I’m also bright enough to self pub­lish said book with­out the help of ser­vices like Xlib­ris.
  2. I have more time than I think I have. Its bet­ter to real­lo­cate my time in order to do the things that are real­ly impor­tant to me.
  3. The indie com­mu­ni­ty of writ­ers are gen­er­ous, smart, and savvy. Net­work, ask ques­tions, and ask for help.
  4. Nev­er pub­lish with a van­i­ty press. You give up your mon­ey, your con­trol, and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn how to do some of this stuff your­self.
  5. Don’t get angry.

Just remem­ber. There are no mis­takes.

What choic­es with your writ­ing have you made that you wish you’d done dif­fer­ent­ly?