A day like no other

I have no memory of the most profound moment of my life.

It was September 20, 1997. I had worked a full day selling cologne at the department store called Filene’s. After work, I met up with my best friend and roommate for a movie. Titanic was the number one movie at the box office, but we were there for L.A. Confidential, a more bro-friendly experience. The movie was sold out, so we went to Wal-Mart to look for Star Wars action figures instead.

Gimme a break. We were twenty-five. 

Our hunt was unsuccessful, so we drove across the street to McDonald’s for a late bite. We never made it.

A driver of an SUV ran a red light and t-boned our tiny Hyundai. He was supposedly searching for the song My Heart Will Go On (from Titanic) on the radio and didn’t see the stop signal, which is a much better excuse for a jury than “I was on the phone.”

Jump ahead almost twenty-five years. Spoiler alert—I lived. The three-ton vehicle, traveling at 40 miles an hour almost killed me. The road to recovery was a complicated and rocky one, and I have no memory of anything from that day, while my other memories are otherwise intact. Today, I’m watching Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time, a documentary of my favorite author. Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in World War II and survived the complete destruction of the city of Dresden, bombed by Allied forces. In the documentary, one of Vonnegut’s daughters said that he didn’t show his feelings about being the only survivor of such a horrific attack but he had to have been deeply affected by it. Of course, he felt it. Slaughterhouse-Five was his most popular book and only came about when he delved into his thoughts and feelings of that monumental event. Reflections that he worked for years to get just right on the paper.

While our experiences are different, I have worked hard to avoid tackling my own “Dresden Book” as Vonnegut had described Slaughterhouse-Five before he wrote it. There is therapy in exploring trauma, and writing is an indirect connection to others who are suffering. 

I lost a lot that day. Friends. Family. Teeth. An eye.

But I gained something, too. Perspective.

So it goes.

Confessions-Don’t let the bastards grind you down

We all know that people criticize more than they give praise. This is evidenced nowhere more than on the internet.

I had a bout of Covid, and while my wife and I are okay, it knocked us for a loop. Even though it’s passed, we’re still a little off. I managed to make some progress in my writing career, even if I didn’t do much actual writing. My goal is to get some attention for my superhero trilogy Tragic Heroes (Champions, Vengeance, and Avatars of the Maelstrom). I had recently taken them out of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, and they were ready to be listed elsewhere. At Barnes and Noble, I listed them as FREE, 1.99, and 4.99, respectively. They are 4.99 each on Amazon, so I requested a price match, which they obliged. Amazon won’t let a seller list an e-book as permanently free, but they will price match.

Now, I took out an ad on Facebook to promote the free book. I targeted 20 to 50-year-old males interested in superhero comics and movies. I spent 30 dollars, and it was shown to thousands of people, with several hundred “likes” and about 30 “sales.” Was it worth it? I don’t know. Thirty bucks to give away 30 books seems like a loss, but it might be okay if a few people read and leave reviews or buy the next in the series.

The comments hit me hard. The ad asked, “do you love superhero comics and movies?” The first comment was, “Yup.” Hmmm. Not that helpful, but it was okay. The following comment was, “What’s next, Buffet of the Maelstrom?” I didn’t get the joke, but I gave it a laughing emoji. Then a man left two different pooping dog GIFs. Two separate ones. He left one and then found a better one? Someone left a cartoon of Trump looking in a mirror and seeing a superhero version of himself, complete with rippling muscles and a waving cape. I didn’t understand what the commenter was trying to say here, so I responded with some “???” 

I felt hurt. Were the covers of my books indeed a pooping dog? Are the fans of the genre so wrapped up in the status quo that anyone else’s story is worthless? I haven’t had a lot of “success,” but I feel the books are good, with great covers and good writing. And it has something to say.

Maybe that was what some of the trolls were objecting to.

I didn’t want to get preachy, so I kept some of the themes of fantasy fiction, but I also imagined what someone with the literal power to change the world might do. I created Shiva, a girl who knew only the cruel hand of her captor. She knows nothing of the world at large, but she imagines one in which everyone is equal. When she develops a genius-level intellect overnight, she sets to change the world, but first, she has to conquer it. 

When I started imagining the story of Champions of the Maelstrom, I wanted to do “realistic” superheroes. What does that mean? In the comics and the movies, the heroes have little effect on the real world. I mean, they save it but mostly they fight each other and also bad guys, but no one works on injustices that can’t be solved with punching.

I saw a lack of genius-level female super characters in the existing world of comic books and their associated media. Male characters with amazing intellects like Mr. Fantastic, Lex Luthor, Batman, and Tony Stark are prominent figures, but I can’t think of any female heroes or villains as smart. 

I invented Shiva, who wakes up one day with the intellectual capacity to change the world overnight. She intends to take control of the world and force change. This is the conflict of Book One. 

Back to the negative reactions to my advertisement.

My page (https://www.facebook.com/TragicHeroesTrilogy) shows other images and quotes from the book, and I suspect those were the cause of the outrage. The first response I got was, “Seems like woke garbage!” and that was the clue to whom I had upset. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems I poked a nerve with males who saw the politics in my writing.

I wrote a book featuring a new take on superheroes, and I guess that is political. The storyline is good vs. evil with superpowers, but it’s also “With great power comes great responsibility—on steroids!” My antagonist drives the story, and unlike Batman and Spider-Man, who use their advantages to maintain the status quo, my character seeks to change the world. 

And that scares people. 

My point is that sometimes people will hate what you write, not for the writing but for what is says. And that’s a good thing. 

Featured

Confessions of a Failed Writer 5/6/22

CONFESSIONS….

Going Wide

I’ve been exclusive with Amazon since I published my first novel a few years ago. There are benefits to choosing Amazon as your only distributor, namely the ability to be part of their Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. KU allows subscribers to read any KU book for no additional charge! Writers are paid per page read. It’s a great deal for readers who are afraid to pay for an entire book that they might not like. It’s also an opportunity for publishers/authors to offer books to those timid customers. It works out to about one cent per three pages read, so the goal here is appealing to the mass market.

Amazon has a bunch of programs only available to an author who is enrolled in KU. One could interpret this from the opposite angle and say they have restrictions on those who don’t bend the knee. KU is a great program for many authors, but for me, I spent a lot of time and money to figure out that I wasn’t one of those authors.

Now, I’m “going wide” which is to say making my books available to a variety of platforms including one traditional brick and mortar retailer. One (potential) benefit to going wide is price control. Amazon has price minimums based on page length and file size, so I had to charge 4.99 each for my fantasy series, which might be a high buy-in for a skittish new reader. However, other retailers let you select your own price, damn the file size! In this case, I made my first book in the series FREE and the second is 1.99. Then, I told Amazon that someone was selling it cheaper and they matched the prices! It’s only with leverage and competition that we can have our demands met.

Will this new avenue be successful in getting my books in front of readers’ eyeballs and some money in my pocket? I don’t know, but it’s exciting! Wish me luck!  

Illegitimum non carborundum

OR

The struggle to stay positive.

I just published my seventh product, an erotic-comedy novella called sVck. It has dirty words and images and that makes it hard to promote because Amazon and Facebook have a policy against advertising “erotic” works. So getting the word out requires some grass-roots promotions and out-of-the-box thinking.

I found a few newsletters that promote “smut” to thirsty readers, so I’ll wait and see if the one I chose noticeably moves the needle. If so, I’ll reach out to other similar promotions. In the meantime, I tried to enlist friends and family to pre-order my new book with the intention of sparking Amazon’s algorithms into featuring my book on similar searches. Amazon is smart. First, it shows what other people have already bought. It’s their way of putting the most popular stuff by the front door. Sales begets sales.

Herein lies the bump in the road and the potential downer. Most of my Facebook friends don’t seem to care about my writing career. That said, there are any number of reasons why posting on one’s personal Facebook page might not reach every one (or even a significant percentage) of one’s social media friends. If you’re me, the endless cycle of pet pictures and political commentary have whittled your “followers” down to a devoted half-dozen. So, when I need to reach the masses, Facebook decides who is most likely to “like” what I am saying and doesn’t show it to anyone else. That’s what I hope has happened.

The alternative is that no one really cares that I’m a writer. I’m not one of those writers who knows his target audience and writes what they want to read. I write the things that will entertain me through the drafts, the re-writes, the edits, paying and supervising cover artists, and the eventual self-promotion, and I pray to god that someone wants to read what I’ve written.

It’s not the best business plan.

Maybe my friends and family don’t have the money to spend on my books. I get that. Times are tough and everything is more expensive, so shelling out 3 or 7 bucks for a book they aren’t going to read is a big ask. 

“We didn’t know you had a book out.” As I said, I don’t have a lot of followers, so it’s very likely that they didn’t even see my post begging them to buy my book. I took to DMing a dozen close friends I thought might react to a personal invitation. Some of them responded with screenshots of their orders or declarations that they had placed an order (or two). But what about the ones who didn’t respond?

I know some people are jealous. Not jealous like they spend all day shaking their fists and vowing revenge like some overacting soap opera character. More likely, they don’t see my efforts to be a writer as worthwhile and that writing isn’t a “real job.” I have a friend who says she wants to be a writer and envies me for the time I have to put into writing. I know because that’s what she says every time I tell her that I have a new publication. Not, “congratulations” or “I can’t wait to read it.” Just, “Must be nice…” I’ll spend another post ranting about “finding the time” to write. 

I can hear the band is playing me off, so I’ll wrap it up. I am lucky to do what I do and I know that writing isn’t a “real job.” Of course, it isn’t easy and requires no less devotion and expertise, but there is a sense of freedom being able to spend all day at home creating fantasy worlds. But it’s also scary as hell if you’re depending on those fantasy worlds to pay your mortgage.

In conclusion, appreciate the ones who support you, and cut some slack for those who haven’t yet; there are many reasons that your friends aren’t excited when you put out a new book (or record, or piece of art, or poem, or photograph, or have a baby) because maybe they’re jealous.

Or maybe they have other stuff on their mind. 

LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX

LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX

Sex can be a four-letter word.

I’m new to writing in the world of erotica and kinda new to the world of writing. I haven’t been particularly successful with my other books, meaning I haven’t made a ton of money. So I thought I’d dip my toes (and the rest of me) into the world of erotic fiction. I had a fun hook and a writing partner (my life partner who added the female perspective to the story). We wrote it, and yada, yada, yada, it’s ready for publication.

The elevator pitch is as follows: “Young Savannah is a new vampire, but she doesn’t want to drink blood. What can she do? A girl’s gotta eat.”

“Wait. What does she eat?”

“Wink.”

“Ohhhhhhh.”

You get it.

First, we have to list the novella for sale with all the vendors who sell e-books. This is a new path for me because up until now, I’ve been exclusive with Amazon to get some of that sweet Kindle Unlimited money everyone is talking about. As a publisher, you don’t have to click yes on the KU option, but if you do, you make your book “free” for KU subscribers (but unavailable anywhere else), and you get paid for every page they read. It’s about one penny for every three pages read. Thus I make about a dollar if someone reads my entire book instead of buying it for five (I would make about 3.50). It’s a great deal if you’re one of those writers with thousands of page reads a day. But if you have to spend two dollars to make one, it’s not that great.

But I digress. Category is one of the most complex parts of publishing. What category you choose determines what shelf your book is placed on in the digital bookstore. (See some of my past posts for my lamentation on the subject of categories and their subsequent abuse). I’ve heard from other experts on the topic of romance v. erotica. In short, I’ve heard that romance readers expect, nay demand, the HEA or HFN (happy ever after & happy for now). Don’t put it in “romance” if there isn’t a happy ending, i.e.; two people end up together. Not the massage “happy ending.”

But my book has a lot of descriptive sex scenes, and no two characters end up together, so it’s not romance? Right?

It might be romantic, but don’t put it in romance unless you want ‘category nazis’ to give you a bad review.

So, I guess I’ll put it in erotica.

OOOH, don’t do that! No one will find it.

Sigh.

Each platform (amazon, b&n, et al.) has different methods to list your book, including categories. I decided to risk it and put it in both romance and erotic (where the option is available), confident that the Warning on page one will turn off those who don’t want to be turned on. Since every platform has a free preview, I’m not worried that many people will make it past the warning and then demand a refund and post a negative review. Not too worried…

This is the ‘parental advisory.’ Warning, bad words ahead!

This book is intended for mature readers with a sense of humor! If you’re offended by descriptions of sex, heaving bosoms, college girls, penises, engorged genitalia, college boys, anal sex, spunk, clitorises, breasts, blood, cumming, sex, pussies, cunnilingus, boobies, blowjobs, vaginas, tits, asses, love, S & M, gay stuff, moisture, vampires, cum, jizz, wads, semen, and the C-word, please put the book down now and have a glass of wine. Do us all a favor and have a couple.

Now comes the part where we try to drum up presales before the book release. I have some experience, but not success advertising on Amazon and Facebook. Here’s the deal— Facebook and Amazon won’t let you advertise explicit stuff on their platform. What’s “explicit”? You might think it means you can’t show nudity or sexual situations, but their policy is that you can’t advertise sexually explicit material even if the ad isn’t sexually explicit.

In the days of My Space, I had a girlfriend who didn’t use MySpace because “Facebook was cleaner.” She didn’t really explore Facebook, or maybe she missed the dirty stuff because they weren’t allowed to advertise. There are some borderline groups and people promoting their smut that is way more explicit than a few dirty words.

Maybe the romance experts are right. Maybe erotica is a death sentence.

But we wrote a good book that will appeal to some readers, but how the heck do we let people know we’re out there, ready and willing? I’m told that grassroots campaigns are the answer! Get a blog and blog every day. Hmmm. Information that would have been useful yesterday! Well, months ago, at least.

What will we do to promote our project since we can’t promote smut via Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub, Twitter, or Facebook? Whizzbuzz books is a service that will promote any book for a year for $49, so maybe I’ll try them. I’m sure there are others. 

I hope we can get some people to follow us into the dungeon.

sVck is available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and wherever you buy your ebook. It will be available in print, too, on April 1st.

Reading is Hard. Pity the Reader.

I’m not talking about literacy, I’m talking about finding the time to read. Sure, you might be one of those people who always has a few books going at any given time, while putting even more books in your ‘to be read’ pile, and you probably don’t even own a television. No, I’m talking about the other people who have infinite forms of entertainment competing for their attention. Putting aside the hours spent sleeping, cooking, eating, cleaning et. al. we have more ways to spend the remaining minutes of our mortal existence than ever before. I don’t know about you, but I could just watch Disney + until the sun burns out.

As a writer, you need to get eyeballs on your words and keep them there. Kurt Vonnegut said, “Give the reader as much information as soon as possible. To hell with suspense!” While I don’t completely agree with him here, I know that a confused reader is one who closes the book and does not open it again. That’s the opposite of what you want.

We also have more ways to read than ever before, but the fact that anyone reads at all is amazing. But, the increase in the number formats means there are more books competing for your attention. As a self-published writer, the hardest thing you will do is to find readers. The late Mitch Hedburg had a joke about being a stand-up comedian and being asked to write a script, something related to comedy that isn’t comedy. I paraphrase, “It’s like being a great chef and being asked, ‘Well, do you farm?'” You wrote a book, which is an incredible accomplishment, but now you have to become an expert in marketing on an ever-shifting retail landscape. The three most difficult things you will do as a writer in reverse order are as follows and I quote- 

3) Write a book  2) Write your blurb. 1) Get people to read your book

I’m sometimes excited to check my daily page reads on Amazon. Often, no one read a single page or bought any hard copies. But some days when I see someone had read 500 pages of my books (or 500 people read one page each) I am excited. Something about the book kept them turning the digital pages and that’s a great thing. It means my newest marketing plan is reaching some eyeballs. Or it’s a fluke. I hope it’s not a fluke.

Back when I used to have a job, I told a coworker about this great movie. I offered to let her borrow my dvd. Every day, I would ask if she watched it. She hadn’t. Weeks went by. She said, “Are you sure I’m going to like it?” I wanted to say, “It’s a fucking movie. It’s two hours of your life! Watch it. Don’t watch it. Just give it back. I want to watch it again.” She returned it to me unwatched.

In case you’re wondering, the movie was Garden State. Her loss.

Making the decision to read a book, and then reading that book is a monumental accomplishment. I asked a friend to proofread a “finished” book and help me with plot points. While he was a book-a-day reader, he said he couldn’t get into my book. The first chapter was confusing (and thus, boring). I assured him that it picks up after that, but he never read any more of the book. He was right. The first chapter was not an attention-getter, so I changed it, but I couldn’t even force a good friend to waste any time.

That said, I plan to spend some time talking about the frustration that comes from friends and family not reading my books. I acknowledge to the universe that reading is difficult and tip my cap to anyone who spends hours alone with my words. It’s all I ever wanted.    

There’s a lot of stuff out there demanding our attention. Pity the reader and be thankful for them.

Typos- The ugly little mistakes and how to live with them

I make mistakes. Typos especially. I hate them. I feel like readers judge me on a misused or misspelled word or misplaced comma, and they do. Well, some do. But that’s okay. I just hope that when someone finds one, they don’t stop reading

I’ve found them in edited works. I hear them on the news. I see a misspelled word and I laugh, but I’m guilty too. I haven’t published a product without a typo. I had an editor for my first comic book, but somehow a misspelled word ended up in the finished product. Maybe the editor missed it. Maybe the letterer did. But it’s most likely my fault. I do so many last-minute changes to a script and I don’t sit with it long enough before I put it out into the world. I’m so anxious, and quite frankly sick of reading and rereading my words that I’m ready to be done. I click SEND and it’s off into the ether. Typos and all.

I had a job interview and I brought the first issue of my comic with me. I don’t know why. Bragging rights? Pride? It had nothing to do with the job for which I was interviewing. The boss skimmed it and said, “You spelled a word wrong.” Sure enough, I had misspelled “Losers” as “Loosers.” But I got the job despite my perceived lack of attention to detail. Maybe the boss saw the amount of work and skill that went into the production of a new work of art, but more than likely they were desperate.

I just released an audiobook and my voice actor found a couple. I was so embarrassed. I hate them because I feel like it makes me look dumb, but I still want to know so I can fix them before anyone else sees them and judges me. I’m worried they won’t read my story and be engaged by the characters and the plot, they’ll just be thinking, “Typo. Typo. Typo.”

One of my favorite words is sprezzatura- basically defined as controlled chaos as a fashion accessory. Bedhead. Untied laces. A necktie not tightened are all examples. It’s the imperfection that makes something perfect. However, sprezzatura isn’t by accident, it just looks that way.

What’s my point? I’ll try harder to avoid typos in the future, but I won’t loose my mind when I miss one.

Hawkeye Disney+ Show

This is my review from 2019 of the Hawkeye graphic novel, that seems to have heavily inspired the new show (which as of this post I have not seen). My Life as a Weapon and the following releases, Little Hits, Rio Bravo, and LA Woman seem an unlikely inspiration for a television series starring the marksman Avenger. His career as Ronin (briefly hinted at in Avengers: Endgame) would have been bad-ass. Flashbacks to his life as a super villain in the comics would have been neat. But, Clint Barton apartment complex owner who gets a dog, a girl-sidekick, and deals with the likes of the TrackSuit Mafia, gets the shit kicked out of him, and battles the villain known as (Spoiler) is a great choice for plot line to bring to the small screen. It’s exactly what I would have picked.Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye is amazing and different from any superhero comic you will ever read.

Volume 60: Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon (2013)

“What’s his name?”
“He’s not my dog. What’s his collar say?”
“Collar says it’s ‘Arrow’”.
“I’ll come up with something better.”

I thought this would be an ordinary story about a team superhero member on a solo adventure. Typically these solo missions involve their backstory, maybe a love interest, they might confront the person who trained them, and so on. You know, superhero stuff that expands the character but probably won’t come up again in the context of a team book. 

Wrong.

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon features Clint Barton, a powerless, but not helpless Avenger. Clint’s meager apartment building is about to be sold and its residents evicted by a Russian slumlord aka Tracksuit Dracula. Clint offers to buy the building but the offer is rejected causing him to suspect something larger and more sinister is going on.  

Enter Kate Bishop, Clint’s young replacement during his recent absence. Together they journey to Madripoor to attend high stakes a high stakes auction of a videotape showing an assassination that the government and SHIELD and the Avengers would rather not be seen by the world. Everyone who is everyone is there to bid on the tape, including The Kingpin, Hydra, the Hand, and Madame Masque. 

This new (from 6 years ago) direction for Hawkeye is fun and the writing and art are perfect. Fraction uses some bold storytelling techniques including shifts in time without warning, something your creative writing teacher would say, “…is jarring” but it works, and what does she know anyway?

My only complaint is the disparity in Hawkeye’s combat readiness. Early-on he gets into fights with untrained thugs and the sheer number of opponents combined with the danger of combat and he is taken out. More than once. You might think, “Okay, it’s gonna be one of those kinds of stories where the hero gets his ass beat,” but later Hawkeye takes on trained and armed ninjas and beats them like they were cub scouts. What does this mean? I don’t know. Otherwise, Hawkeye, written by Fraction makes me happy.  

by Matt Fraction (Writer), David Aja (Artist, #1-3) Javier Pulido (Artist, #4-5) Matt Hollingsworth (Color Artist), Annie Wu (Illustrator) Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer), Alan Davis (Penciler), Francesco Francavilla (Illustrator)

Check out my other reviews on my Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/janivesthewriter

Best Laid Plans…

Confessions…Quickie Edition

I read the book 20 Books to 100K. The premise for this (and the similarly named Facebook group) is that if you write twenty books, you’ll have enough algorithm recognition from Amazon that you’ll make, well, 100 thousand dollars. I’m not sure if that means per year or overall, but I like the idea either way.

Another premise put forth by the author Michelle Kulp is to write “Quick Reads” and put out a book of 100-pages or less per month every month. Her focus, and the focus of the other books that push the same idea seems to be based on list-based non-fiction I.e. instructional books like 23 Ways to Organize Your Life. I disregarded the non-fiction angle and ran with applying this to my current work, a sexy vampire novel. I  had also just started writing a superhero novel based on my own graphic novel that would be perfect for the fast reads category.

What an inspiration! “But won’t you sacrifice quality for quantity?” you might ask. “Great hypothetical question!” I would reply. That’s an obvious thought for anyone, but imagine this- consider making a dozen tiny meals versus the planning and execution of a single  banquet. The answer is, that both are unique and require their own difficulties, but to be able to focus on smaller portions frees the mind from the daunting task of planning, writing, editing and releasing an entire 300ish page novel. You have a faster turnaround from idea to release, and one might imagine there is a market of readers not looking to invest the time and money in reading long books. 

“But readers love trilogies and they love to sink their teeth into a, or curl up with, a thick book!” Sure. That’s true. But in this short attention span world, I can see readers who like to finish a book in a single sitting and move onto the next. At less than 100 pages, the quick read isn’t quite a short story and it’s not as big as a novella. “It’s just right,” said a little girl, settling down in a bed that’s not hers.

I was psyched as I browsed books (and sales numbers) in Amazon’s short reads category. I emailed their customer service and asked to have my graphic novel put in that category, thinking that it would be possible to promote my book at a lower price point and achieve the coveted “Best Seller” status, even for a week. The reply to my request was, “You don’t decide to be in this category. We decide to put you in the category.” Shit! And this from a company that lets obvious erotica that is not super heroic be placed in the “super hero” category by publishers seeking an easier best seller title.

Sigh.

That isn’t going to stop me. I’ll still release my short novel and start on the next one to see what happens. Hopefully I’ll be invited into the short reads category, but at least I’ll be able to get to the goal of 20 books more quickly.

I wonder what I’ll do with my 100k…

Confessions: Good Meows/Bad Meows

Confessions: Good Meows/Bad Meows

11/2/2021

After a month of work, Jake Hunsbusher and I (mostly him) finished recording the audiobook. What an experience! You would think it’s as simple as reading the words and recording, but for an emotional project with different characters of varying ages, accents, and sexes it felt like a little movie with me as the director.  I would have him rerecord a few sections with the inflections and emotions that I imagined while writing. The audio read by a true voice actor adds a layer to the story for the reader/listener, just like an artist for a comic book adds dimension the writer could never have imagined.  

That’s the good news. The negative news is that I had some difficulty with a promotional aspect of modern-day publishing. Many indie writers swear by a service called Pubby which promises to get your book reviewed for a monthly fee. The monthly fee (a year’s worth all at once is not a monthly fee, btw) is charged at the end of the ten-day trial. I put a note in my calendar to assess and cancel if needed, and off I went!

The way Pubby works (in a nutshell) is you get stars for reading and reviewing books. You can use those stars, as well as your introductory stars and stars you purchase, to get your book reviewed. As you look for ways to get stars you are offered a limited selection of books to read. I chose a few that might be of interest and went to work. I had a hard time because the books were not interesting enough to complete so I stopped until I could find books that I could read and like. Here’s comes the problem. A day or two into my trial, I had one review for each of my books I had made available. They were positive in a generic sort of way that indicated the person may or may not have read the book all the way through. They read like, “If you like science fiction with lots of action, this is the book for you.”

That’s just it. The people on this service are writers looking for reviews. They want to get their stars and move on. If you don’t read the book, at least you can should a positive review like you hope other readers will do. I went at it all wrong; I wanted to READ the books!

It reminded me of Meow Meow Beans on the show Community. If you haven’t seen it, one episode features a social media ap that allows you to rate your fellow students for arbitrary reasons and the people with the highest rankings are worth the most Beans and thus rise to become the ones with the highest social values. 

I don’t want to get reviewed that way. I want people to love or hate my work on its own merits, but I at least want them to read it. Just like I don’t like when someone gives a bad review based on the first two chapters, I don’t want a positive review if all they read was the blurb on the back of the book.

So, I cancelled. Here comes issue 2. They gave me a partial refund. I asked and they said that was all the charges they saw. I checked with my bank and they said I had been charged the whole year. I went back and forth with Pubby and they couldn’t find my charge because I had spelled my email wrong the first time I signed up. The customer service person was super snarky, saying things like, “Again, did you sign up under a different email address?” And “Does this email ring a bell…? I had spelled my email wrong on the initial signup but I was still getting correspondence and further charges, so they could have easily looked it up another way. After a frustrating experience and terrible customer service, I give Pubby ZERO Meow Meow Beans.

Side Note: While talking with my credit card company representative, I felt the need to explain that Pubby is not a porn site. She laughed and told me she doesn’t judge. Which makes me think that she thought it was indeed a porn site, Pubby. Yeah.