Amazon best seller happiness and review woes.

2015-11-30

 
So, my promotion for Steve Saves the Day went AMAZING – I sold over 900 free copies, and over 30 paid ones for subsequent books and paperbacks. It has been staying steady at #8 on the top children’s action and adventure free best seller list. I honestly could not be happier.

However.

The review process is harrowing.

I have about 30 people, friends and family and people from my gaming community, who have downloaded and tried to review the book and have all been denied.

That includes people I have no social media ties with that I only know through World of Warcraft and All That Remains.

What. The. Hell. Amazon?

I get the checking to see if someone has the same address or last name as you. I get that. I somewhat get checking social media and blogs, but isn’t promotion what social media is for? I even get (though am very unnerved by) IP address tracking and gift cards. But I have no clue how they determine many of the others and it sucks.

I mean, should I just delete my Facebook and Twitter so Amazon doesn’t pull every review since I ‘know’ the people who like them? Bah.

Basically, Amazon is awesome for selling stuff but terrible for reviews.

That is all.

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All _______ books are the same.

I saw a spoof trailer mash-up the other day called The Divergent Games that talks about the similarities between the most popular YA books today. And it made me really upset.

The video goes, ““In a world with ambiguously oppressive governments, in a vaguely distant future full of strange love triangles, a team will form.” “From great suffering came a solution.” “She’s the one they all talk about.” Basically, the formula is apocalypse + order + oppression + girl + boy(s) = YA.

But guess what, the formula itself is not a problem.

Every genre has a kind of formula. That’s kind of the point of a genre. Sci-fi has aliens and tech. Mystery has a murder that needs solved. Are we really going to say that the YA movies are somehow lower than the hundreds of romantic comedies with the same boy meets girl premise?

You know what I love? Fantasy. The fantasy formula? Magic + journey + hero who doesn’t know it + destiny + evil with an army and impending war. And guess what, I can read a hundred journeys and a hundred endings and that’s ok.

I realize that the trailer is made is jest. That’s the point. But it breeds a type of thinking that if you can’t do something completely original, don’t do it at all.

And that’s the worst thing you can do to a writer. It’s a morale killer. And I hate that.

The hardships of writing in a non-native language.

I was born and raised in Russia, which is where I learned to speak, read, and write. Unlike America, where the Language Arts class is both reading and writing, Russia’s school had divided it into two classes: Literature and Russian. In Literature class you read, and in Russian class you learned grammar and spelling.

When I was little, I wanted to be a Literature teacher because I loved to read. My parents would “ground” me as punishment by kicking me outside to play instead of letting me sit at home and read. I looked forward to Literature class because it meant new stories. I hated Russian class because it was hard. So many rules and exceptions.

So you can imagine how much of a shock I was in after coming to the United States and seeing just how much worse the English language is. I was 11 and starting 6th grade. I didn’t actually go to the regular classes but spent my days in ESL learning the ins and outs of why there’s a silent e that doesn’t actually do anything, or why in the world English has so many useless filler words like the and a (words my parents still don’t use because why?).

I would say I did pretty well in learning a second language and making it my own. I think in English, I imagine in English, and I write in English. I can still speak and read Russian but that’s not the point of this post. The point is, even though I am in many ways an American, it still feels like a huge roadblock in my writing.

First of all, there are words I know exist but can’t think of. I’ve heard it before, or read it before, but I just can’t think of it and it’s the perfect word for this sentence so I’m going to spend a half hour skimming through similar words on Thesaurus.com until I find it.

There have been days when I spend more time on Thesaurus.com than actual writing. I’m so grateful for its existence, because without I would never be able to actually say what I see. And that’s the hardest part. The scenes I see in my head sometimes seem impossible to put on paper because I feel like I don’t have enough words.

I’ve told myself many times I can’t do it. I can never measure up to anyone who writes in the language of their birth. But then I remember back in high school, a teacher pulled me aside one day and told me that my writing has a special style. It’s simple, but elegant. I use the least amount of words but still get my point across. And I feel hope.

Maybe I can do this.

And I hope that others who struggle like me find hope too.

Because you can do it too.