Hi everyone, welcome back to Not The Fox News. The Sun is shining, the weather is good, awards season is in full swing and we have a special correspondent to fill you in on what you missed. Former President and full time fictional person Jed Bartlet!
Yeah that about covers it.
I know, I know some of you will go ‘Oooh what’s occurring?. So, google ‘Hugo awards 2015’ start reading and be prepared for realizing it’s somehow a week later and you’re crying and angry and muttering ‘How? How can so many words that mean SO LITTLE be generated for so, SO long?’.
Because the internet, bunky. Because the internet.
Which is depressing. This sort of dusty ethical brushfire war has been going on for longer than a lot of people have been alive and it’s not slowing down any time soon. Worse still, it can feel very tempting to jump in and declare that you, are in fact, there to save the day. I did.
See. Not just you. Oh and nothing happened aside from one thing; I got distracted. I took my eye off the work I should be doing and tried to fix a problem that wasn’t mine to fix. That’s why so much of this stuff is so tiresome; it’s an ideological conflict in a village, a West Side Story dancefight with no dancing but way too many crappy response posts. Not to mention a mystifying belief that Fisking is the nuclear weapon of debate when it’s not even the nuclear weapon of Fisking. (DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH. Or haven’t seen Daredevil yet.)
There are some interesting, good pieces hidden in the conversation, certainly. But the operative word is most definitely ‘hidden’.
So, world’s most rubbish kaiju battle going on in the genre, vast amount of signal being swapped out for noise, you caught in the middle, no sign of Cherno Alpha. What is an internet savvy, articulate, positive reader like yourself to do?
Well, there is that one weird trick…
1-Read a book. There are LOADS of them. A lot of them are great. Go pick one. I just finished this and it’s top. This too.
2-Have opinions about that book.
3-Write a review. It doesn’t have to be a magnum opus. It can be two lines or forty. It can be a full scale blog post or just ‘I really liked this, especially the characters.’ Write how you write. Talk about what you loved. Talk about what you didn’t. Look at the experience of your interaction with the book and the things that make your heart beat faster or that you really want to tell other people about. Make a note of them. Write up your notes. Congratulations, it’s a review.
4-Follow the two rules. Firstly, run a spellcheck. I have friends who have dyslexia and similar conditions who sometimes worry that the problems that causes them prevent them from doing this sort of thing. That’s where your spellchecker comes in. I have other friends who sometimes don’t believe in the second draft as a stage of their process or a philosophical construct. On occasion those friends are me. That’s where your spellchecker comes in.
-4b-Don’t be an asshole. If you read your review back and chortle at the creative ways you’ve insulted the author, you’ve done it wrong. There’s a whole conversation about if negative reviews have value that I don’t want to go into here. Firstly because I like you people, secondly because I don’t really want Jed to keep headbutting the desk and thirdly because they do, with one qualifier; don’t be an asshole. If you didn’t like a book, explain why. If you’re personally offended by the book’s existence and feel the need to vomit your electronic bile over the internet, don’t bother. That vacancy was filled a very, very long time ago.
5-Post your review to your blog, your local Amazon and Nook sites and any others you want to and GoodReads. Some of you, like me, will view GoodReads as a cruel User Interface joke inflicted on us all by angry time travelling developers from 1991. That’s fine. It is. But post it there anyway.
Also, about Amazon, I know a lot of people have problems with them as a book seller. I know they’re all valid concerns.
I also know every single author in history enjoys being paid, eating and being able to pay bills.
So, to sum up: Every single review for a book helps. If you hated it, say why but make sure you follow 4 and 4b up there. If you loved it, say why. But please, please say it and say it in as many places as possible. Here’s some good places to start:
Because every single time you post a review, you do four things;
-Express your emotional response to a piece of culture using the largest megaphone in human history.
-In doing so, release much needed brain space to go fill with the next piece of culture you encounter.
-Help an author not only get more visible but feel like everything they went through getting the book to print, or indeed, electron, was worthwhile.
-Make this a more positive space for us to all be in.
One weird trick, four positive outcomes. Looks like good value to me, what do you think Jed?
Awesome. See you next month, folks.