Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Around the Word

Reviewola. There's been a lot of talk recently about the rise pay-for-play, and the general lack of transparency and accountability in the book review business, especially when it comes to self-publishing. Getting those stars on Amazon can make or break a book's success, so it's unfortunately unsurprising that there are those who will write a positive review—for a price. Data mining expert Bing Liu estimates that "about one-third of all consumer reviews on the Internet are fake. And it's not just paid reviews that are problematic: "puppet" reviews by authors themselves (or their spouses) are also a serious issue. Bestselling UK author ER Ellory came under fire recently for using several pseudonyms to flood his Amazon page with positive feedback. It is all but impossible to tell when reviews have been written by marketers, retailers, authors themselves, or by customers who can get a deal from a merchant for giving a good score. So what's a book lover to do? The Society of Authors has issued a call to arms of sorts, suggest that readers should take to Amazon and reclaim the reviews from the puppeteers. In the meantime, GalleyCat has put out this handy guide to decoding Amazon's star system.

Writers are from Mars, Editors are from Venus. Here at the GG office we frequently refer to ourselves as matchmakers or couples therapists for writing relationships, and this piece in the Columbia Journalism Review, "Five Types of Problem Writers," and its accompanying entry on the author's blog (complete with gifs!) caught our eye. Some represented types: the "newbie" writer who has yet to grow the emotional calluses to deal with the sometimes harsh reality of critism, or the power-drunk sadistic editor who eviscerates just to eviscerate, leaving a manuscript littered with backhanded comments. Do you recognize yourself in the list, or maybe someone you've worked with? How do you deal with a less-than-easy collaborator?

The Best of the Worst. Every year The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, the literary world's version of film's Razzie Awards, "celebrates" the worst passages written in the past year. (The contest was named for the author who penned what is arguably the best-worst line in literary history: "it was a dark and stormy night.") This year's top prize went to Cathy Bryant of Manchester for this gem:
As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.
She was congratualated by last year's winner, Suzanne Fondrie: “I take pleasure in passing the guttering torch of Bad Writing to this year’s winner. May you write long and badly, Cathy!”

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