Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tinker's War Reviews Needed

Well, it's that time. Tinker's War has been out for over a week now and though it's been selling well, it hasn't netted one single review. It's looking awfully lonely up there on the Amazon page. Tinker's War could really use some love!

I know it's a big pain to go to Amazon, Goodreads, and whatever sites you frequent, look up the title, and try to brainstorm a review. Especially the review part. You want to be fair to the author and to the readers. You don't want to hurt anybody's feelings. You want to keep your reputation intact. I get it. But let me assure you, even if you received an ARC directly from the author, you are under no obligation to post a great review.  In fact, other readers will benefit more if your review is genuine, and they can often sense whether it is or not. Not to mention that your review is there for other readers in the first place. The author benefits regardless of how you rate the book, because it helps readers to make a more informed decision.

Now I'm not going to beg you to go write a one-star review on Tinker's War. I'm not crazy. But if that's what you need to do, by all means do so. However, I would like to encourage you to write a few lines about what resonated with you. Writing a review can be as simple as: 1) I liked _____, but 2) I didn't like ____. Feel free to criticize. Feel free to gush. Feel free to write two sentences and get on with your life.

I only ask for you to take a few minutes to post a review or two. In turn, your reviews will help me get books into the hands of people who want them, thereby allowing me to continue this career! Thanks once again for your support.

Tinker's War links:

Amazon Kindle Version
Amazon Paperback Version

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tinker's War Available Now!!!

Tinker's War is now live on The paperback and e-book aren't linked yet, and for some reason Tinker's War is appearing as a sequel to itself rather than The Tinkerer's Daughter, but that should be fixed in the next day or two. Here are the links:

Tinker's War e-book
Tinker's War paperback
My Amazon Profile Page (all of my books!)

Your support in terms of reviews, tags, referrals and of course purchases is very much appreciated. Thanks to all of you, I've been able to pursue my dream as a career for more than a year now. I can't express how much this has meant to me, and how grateful I am to all of my readers. Thank you!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tinker's Daughter price change, update on Tinker's War, and a word to the puppeteers:

As of today, the price on The Tinkerer's Daughter has dropped to $2.99. It's all part of my nefarious plan to seduce more readers into the series, of course. Today the Kindle, tomorrow the world! Only kidding. I've got enough problems without making the whole world my responsibility.

In related news, I'm submitting the final approval on the paperback of Tinker's War today, and the Kindle version is zipping through the cloud already. I'll post again when they're finally listed for sale. It won't be long now! 

And on to current events:

I have something else I've been wanting to say. I have been trying to keep it to myself. I thought the whole thing would blow over, but it just won't seem to go away. And frankly, the more I think about it, the more irritated I get. Here's what I'm talking about:

The whole world probably knows by now that certain authors, both Indie and legacy-published, have been "cooking the books" on their reviews. How did they do this? Well, there are multiple ways. The first is to pay people for reviews. The second is to make fake "sock-puppet" accounts at places like Amazon and Goodreads and use those fake accounts to give yourself fake five-star reviews. The third is to use those same sock-puppet accounts and try to destroy other authors you consider competition.

Yeah, I know. But here's the thing: A lot of people are defending some of these actions. And in a way, I agree. I had a conversation with Karen Woodward a while back, where I pointed out that even The Beatles and The Beach Boys have used similar tactics. Corporations spend millions of dollars on commercials using fake reviews, and big publishers and famous writers and musicians have been caught promoting their own work with fake reviews. It's almost a tradition.

The problem is, where do you draw the line? Personally, I think it's okay to "pay" for reviews, assuming that those reviews are guaranteed to be fair and truthful. It takes years to build up reviews, and it takes hundreds or even thousands of free copies of books. That's the way the system works. That's how it has always worked, and it always will. You give books away for free, based on the hope that those readers will give you a review. In my experience, you give away about 1,000 free books to get ONE review. Yeah, and I'm not the only one. Most legitimate, honest authors will tell you the same thing.*

*Here's your first clue on whether an author is a puppeteer: I've sold thousands of copies of The Tinkerer's Daughter, and given away thousands more, and I have 22 reviews on Amazon. I can show you examples of this all day long. New and midlist authors don't have hundreds of reviews, no matter how good they are. If they do, you should be suspicious!*

Also, there are services out there like Book Rooster that charge a small fee to distribute a novel to readers who have committed to review that book. As long as those reviews are honest, I don't see a problem with this. You're not paying for a review, you're paying for a commitment. To me, this sounds like paying a promotion company to do the same thing. It is the same thing. 

But some people took it a step farther. This is where things turn gray for me. They made sock-puppet accounts and gave themselves dozens or even hundreds of fake reviews. They used these fake accounts to have fake conversations with themselves, talking about how great their own work was. Okay, this isn't far removed from what the Beach Boys or a thousand other successful examples have done. Personally, I haven't. I think it's dishonest and unethical, but I do see the gray-matter argument and I'm trying not to judge these people. After all, they haven't hurt anyone. The buyers who were deceived can just as easily return the book for a refund, and now they're a bit wiser from the experience. They'll never buy anything from that author again. Unless of course they actually liked the book, in which case everybody wins. 

Now let's move on to category three. These are the lowest of the low. These are the universally hated slanderers who wrote fake reviews in an effort to besmirch and destroy the writers they considered competition. Where do I begin? No author is competition to another author. The market will never be too full of good books. Readers can't get enough as it is, and the damage these "writers" have done in some cases may be irreversible. A new writer filled with potential might just give up the craft after a few of these reviews, and the world would miss out on something that might have been great.

If you've done this, you're not an author and you are NOT writing good books. If you were, you wouldn't have to stoop to this level. You're a scumbag. Your books are garbage, and there's a special place for you in Hell right next to the pedophiles and serial killers. And do you know what else? EVERYONE HATES YOU. Even the people who posted fake five star reviews on their own books think you're a piece of garbage, and they're right. You're a morally bankrupt, unconscionable sociopath and you shouldn't be writing books, you should be seeking professional help, because it's one thing to boost your own rating and ego with fake reviews, but when you set out to destroy another author's career, you crossed a line.

Oh, and by the way, this practice is illegal and against Amazon's terms of service. Amazon and others are developing algorithms to analyze and identify these reviews at this very moment, and those of you who still have them posted should be losing sleep or hitting the delete key as fast as you can. In the meanwhile, lose sleep over this: when you made that fake account and posted those fake reviews, your I.P. was recorded. It doesn't matter what name you chose or how you tried to conceal your identity. They will identify you. And not just on Amazon, either. Recording your I.P. address is standard practice, so you might want to take another look at Goodreads and all those other places you've been trying to game the system.

My recommendation to you is that you start cleaning your nest now, before the Feds take an interest in what's been going on.You might just get out under the wire.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tinker's War Countdown

No big news this week, just a reminder: Tinker's War will be available this weekend.

As of yesterday, I have begun the final read-through on the paperback version, and I hope to upload the e-book any minute. Once the final versions are in cyberspace, it's just a matter of watching and waiting. If all goes well, both versions should be live by Saturday, and possibly even a bit sooner.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Supernatural fans note: '66 Impala project!

Any Supernatural fan can tell you that Dean's 1967 Impala is as much a star of the show as Sam and Dean, if not more. The car is just awesome.

The '67 on the show is a four-door sedan, probably chosen because it's a lot cheaper to replace than the more popular two-doors, which are becoming rare and considerably more expensive. This particular model ran for three years, 1965 through 1967, with only minor changes each year. Most notably, the 1965 had round taillights and a smaller grill. The 1966 kept the grill but moved to square taillights. The 1967 added the wraparound grill and front disc brakes (the first year they were available for Chevy).

Any fan of Supernatural or muscle cars in general would love to get their hands on a car like this. Well, I did. Here's how it happened:

I've got a long history with classic cars. I love hot rods and muscle cars, and even old trucks and motorcycles. I had restored old vehicles in the past, but I eventually ended up selling them. Then, about two years ago, my wife and I were discussing the fact that our son was going to be driving soon and he'd need a car. Like most parents, I believe my kids should earn the things they have. I also wanted to teach my son the value and pride of good, hard work. I got the chance to do just that when I found an old, beat up '66 Impala for sale at a fire-sale price. I showed it to my wife and son, and we were all in agreement. A week later, we towed it home:

As you can see, the car was rough around the edges. Aside from some missing parts, the engine was blown and the transmission was badly neglected. The interior was tattered, the headliner gone. And there were some other problems:

 We went to work right away. We cut out the damaged body parts and welded in new sheet metal. We pulled the blown 327 and dropped in a fuel-injected 350. We bought the 350 from a local salvage yard, and it required a little cleanup as well:


I wasn't going to have my son driving around with the original manual drum brakes, so I purchased a disc brake conversion kit:


In the last two years, my son and I have worked very hard to restore this old beauty. I'm happy to announce we're getting very close. We've had the car running for some time, but we ended up pulling the fuel injection and going to a four-barrel carburetor. That was one of the best decisions we've made yet. The finicky computer just wouldn't be happy in that old car, so it's gone. We also painted - not the final paint, but a basecoat to keep out the rain and protect our hard work. This is what the car looks like now:

I'd say that's a change for the better! I'm very proud of all the hard work my son has done. I'm also happy to say we've salvaged one more classic from a slow, rusty death.