Photoshop Friday

I didn’t announce on this blog, but in early February, I entered Miss Midas into the Amazon Breakout Novel Contest. I figured, what the heck? I’ve yanked it out of the query system. This can be Midas’ swan song.

Well, I made the first cut, the top 2000 out of 10,000, but then got axed as they narrowed that down to the 500. I shrugged it off, figuring that since I had to enter my YA novel in the General Literature category (there was no YA section, so I had no other choice) that I probably got reviewers who were expecting Love in the Time of Cholera, but got a light, cutesy YA story instead. But yesterday, for a lovely birthday present, I got the reviews of my excerpt back.

Let’s just say, now I know why I didn’t make the cut. Two “expert” Amazon reviewers (otherwise known as Amazon customers who do lots and lots of reviews) scored my excerpt and then wrote a response. One was quite enthusiastic, the other . . . I’ll show you. (Bear in mind that these two were my only two judges for the second round. So, yeah, this one person pretty much ruined my chances of going on.)

I’ve titled this post: Oh no she didn’t! A Catharsis.

From the first line, I knew I was in for a good time. And I quote, “Usually, I address a work’s strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, I have nothing positive to note about this excerpt.”

So, I’ve actually gotten one, my first Amazon 1 star review, complete with all of the snarkiness and insults we’ve come to know and expect. Aside from one, generic suggestion on how to improve (tighten up the grammar.) The rest of the fairly lengthy review consisted of the numerous reasons why my writing was so bad it was “an insult to teens,” “ridiculous,” “annoying and sloppy,” or, my favorite, the review called my use of actual product names (Coke, Xerox, etc) a “horrendous faux pas.”

It looks like my fears were confirmed. I think, perhaps the most telling line of the review was this, “When I was at YA age, I was reading Achebe (as were all my friends).” Kinda says it all.

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19 Comments

  1. sraasch on April 3, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    The last line of the “review” negates the whole thing. If someone doesn’t like/know/read YA, why would they review it? They’re opinion and advice can’t be taken seriously, as they don’t know what stands and what works in that market. That’d be like if I tried to review a nonfiction sports book — I would say, no matter what, that it was horrifically boring and awful, when in that market it could’ve been considered great.

    Oh, people. They make for good blog posts though 😉



  2. Miriam S.Forster on April 3, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    She was reading WHAT? This sounds like those New York Times Reviewer who reviewed a YA book and said, “I have a hard time imagining kids picking this up over Tropic of Cancer.”

    Yeah. Sure. Whatever you say…

    I’m sorry you got slammed. 🙁 At least the other person liked it.



  3. Natalie on April 3, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Ren, I applaud you for even talking about this, first of all. MAN, what a punk-a snob!

    This just shows how important genre expertise is. That person clearly has no concept of YA. They had no ability to point out strengths and weaknesses because they were totally out of their element. It’s sad that they chose to “flame” it instead of openly admitting their lack of knowledge.

    At least they proved it with that last line…hehe.



  4. Kiersten on April 3, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Oh, geez. What. An. Idiot.

    Ren, I’d read you over Achebe any day. Even though when I was that age I was reading Faulkner…



  5. Renee Collins on April 3, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Sara-Totally. Although, this person was just given a dozen or so “General Literature” excerpts to judge, they didn’t get to pick. So, he/she probably wasn’t hoping to read any YA, but still that doesn’t give them any reason to be insulting.

    (Probably what steams me the most is that the “reviewers” all got a Kindle for judging. That mean-spirited review earned someone a Kindle. Oh, the humanity.)

    Miriam-No kidding. Could they have been any more condescending?

    Natalie-BIG time snob. Again, I should have expected that by entering it in the literature category. But, alas.

    Kiersten-Thanks. 🙂 Achebe’s got nothing on me.

    I was the same as you, btw, which makes her comments all the more insulting.



  6. JaneyV on April 3, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    On the positive side – you got in the top 2000 out of a whopping 10000. That’s brilliant! This from the woman “who never wins anything”. I’m dying to know what the positive review said because honestly the negative reviewer was clearly out of his/her depth and in order to sound intelligent s/he went the “I’m so much more superior than thou” route. Sad really. So kick that one into touch and show us the one that really counts!

    Great photoshop pics btw.



  7. Nikki on April 3, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    Hey why don’t you post the positive one. I mean that’s the one that really matters!! LOL! I would love hear what that person said.



  8. Diana on April 3, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    Ren,
    You already know from several angry emails how I feel about this……person.

    I think your last picture sums them up perfectly. I literally laughed out loud when I saw it.

    But you failed you mention to the others the grammar error they made while asking you to correct your grammar….I will quote it:
    ” …the writer needs to return to the piece and edit careful..”
    Edit careful, eh? Obviously, they didn’t “edit careful” their own review!!
    I bet this person just wanted to blow hot air and would have done it regardless of the book.
    People like that need a serious reality check. Grrrrrrrrrr



  9. Becca on April 3, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Ren….I am livid.

    In fact – I can say no more – or I will begin to swear many unthinkable swears….

    grrrrrr….



  10. Kimberly on April 3, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Ouchie!

    How sadly narrow-minded that reviewer is.

    The YA genre has expounded exponentially in the last decade. Teens are more accessible by literature than they ever have been. Somehow I doubt Achebe is what the modern, everyday teen is looking for.

    Sheesh!



  11. Renee Collins on April 4, 2009 at 3:26 am

    Janey-Thanks. 🙂 I did feel good about making the first cut.

    And in response to you and Nikki, I think that’s a good point to focus on the more positive review. First reviewer said said it was “fun and charming” and he/she seemed very amused by my main characters. So, overall, a pleasant review. I came away feeling good.

    What I really am going to focus on is that I made it into the top 2000 out of 10000. That’s pretty exciting for me.

    Becca and Diana-Ah, my dear sisters. Your fury warms my heart. 🙂 That said, I really didn’t let it get me that down. It made me mad more than anything. So, no worries. I’m not curled up in a ball in the corner crying. (That was last night. j/k! kinda . . .)

    Kimberly-I totally agree! I know my book is far from perfect, but I do think I can say with reasonable certainty that many teenage girls would like it.



  12. jessie on April 4, 2009 at 4:29 am

    I think that was very brave of you to put you book out there. That’s scary. Especially receiving criticism from strangers who are so anonymous they can insult you. What a nut. But it looks like you broke Reviewer’s nose, so I guess you are even.



  13. candicekennington on April 4, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I think the last picture says it all!! I swear some people get a venue to share their opinion and the power goes to their head. I have to agree 100% with sraasch and Miriam! Here is a quote I like that I thought quite apt.

    Writing is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to those who have none.
    Jules Renard



  14. Lady Glamis on April 4, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Wow. You know what? Trust your own instincts and phoeey on people who don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s one thing to be constructively critical, another to not even try and let that “review power” got to your head. I’ll bet your work is great! If your blog is any indication, you are witty and intelligent and entertaining. What is not to love!



  15. Renee Collins on April 4, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Jessie-It was a little nerve wracking, but as a query veteran, not too bad.

    Also, I’m sorry to say that I was the one getting the nose smashed in. Though, I would have loved your scenario.

    Candice-Ha ha! I love that quote. Sheesh, sometimes that feels so true. 🙂

    Michelle-You’re so nice! :)Yeah, I think this reviewer definitely went on a power trip. The reason they were selected as judges is because they write lots and lots of Amazon reviews. And we all know how those can be. Rather telling.

    In fact, looking on the Amazon forums, a surprising amount of people had similar experiences. And they aren’t just sour grapes at a negative review. People have posted reviews similar to mine: insulting, condescending, and devoid of anything actually constructive. So, I’m thinking Amazon might want to reconsider how they chose judges.



  16. Terri Tiffany on April 5, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Oh this is awful!! I agree too that you are totally brave for telling all of us this. When we get our next rejection–we will think that it can’t be as bad as this one and I mean this kindly! THat reviewer should not be a reviewer!! She could ruin someone to writing forever–glad she didn’t you!! You are one tough person!



  17. jessie on April 6, 2009 at 2:29 am

    Oops. That big white arrow with “me.” I guess it just wasn’t clear enough.



  18. cindy on April 6, 2009 at 4:41 am

    ugh. i’m bracing myself as reviews trickle in too. they are all over the board, too descriptive, not enough description, love your heroine, really didn’t warm up to your heroine, so on and so forth.

    a sympathetic bootay shake for you, chica!



  19. Slendarella on April 9, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Reviewers that don’t take into account the genre are not valid reviewers….in my opinion.

    It sounds like this reviewer was caught up in the power of getting to review, rather than giving an honest look at a ya novel and taking into account the intended audience. Don’t let it get you down – keep moving forward! slendie