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3,700 Views 43 Replies Last post: Apr 23, 2018 11:12 PM by Melbo92 RSS
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Level 3 854 posts since
Jul 18, 2009
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Mar 8, 2018 9:09 PM

Why would you not tell this person he cannot write?

I was chewed out by someone for making a jest on another post when the OP asked a pretty ridiculous and totally generic question. Turns out the OP had the same questions to ask on the KDP forum, whining about why his book didn't sell. CLICK HERE  His name is Thomas Haslom and while I can sympathise with his hard life and even commend him for managing to escape that lifestyle, not everyone is cut out to write a book just because they have a story.

 

His book "Ill-mannered state of mind", is listed on Amazon for $61.99 for a 97 page pamphlet that I defy anyone to read. Not even sure how he gets away with the nudie on the cover!

I think it is absolutely necessary to advise someone like this to get help, to get educated, to learn the craft before attempting to publish and sell at a price that best-selling authors would balk at! That he hasn't already attracted a scathing review for his illiterate effort is a miracle. Before he does receive one, isn't it wise to do our best to dissuade him from making a fool of himself? Shouldn't we do everything in our power to make him see and understand that he is not the great writer he has been told he was. It is a mercy, surely? I know that he may not listen, I know we will be reviled for popping his bubble, but I think it has to be done. I consider it my duty as an older person and forum member. I believe it is an obligation.

Level 4 2,558 posts since
Jul 2, 2011
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1. Mar 14, 2018 12:09 PM in response to: Phoenix61
Re: Why would you not tell this person he cannot write?

Phoenix61 wrote:

 

Shouldn't we do everything in our power to make him see and understand that he is not the great writer he has been told he was

 

No.

 

You're not the gatekeeper, and it shouldn't be your life's mission to point out other people's shortcomings. 

Level 5 3,861 posts since
Feb 1, 2011
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2. Mar 9, 2018 9:41 AM in response to: Phoenix61
Re: Why would you not tell this person he cannot write?
is listed on Amazon for $61.99 for a 97 page pamphlet

 

My browser shows this to be a 519-page  book, but regardless, it's overpriced.  Possibly, he chose a color interior by mistake?

 

I see that the author used about a 36-point font, I guess one doesn't need to write  much to get to 519 pages.

 

For some reason, though, the Kindle edition is shown as 97 pages.  Maybe it's because Amazon assumes most people will vire it using a normal 12-point font or thereabouts.

 

Dan'l

Level 4 2,929 posts since
Feb 7, 2015
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3. Mar 9, 2018 9:56 AM in response to: Oreohelix
Re: Why would you not tell this person he cannot write?

Oreohelix wrote:

 

You're not the gatekeeper, and it shouldn't be your life's mission to point out other people's shortcomings. 

I agree, unless they ask for feedback on their writing, or why their book's not selling, or how to get their name "out there" (as Mr. Haslom did). The answers to all those questions depend directly on the quality of their books.

Level 0 24 posts since
Aug 28, 2010
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6. Mar 9, 2018 1:55 PM in response to: Phoenix61
Re: Why would you not tell this person he cannot write?

Way to go.. $61.97 for a small book.. Hooo Haaa...

Level 0 9 posts since
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7. Mar 9, 2018 7:00 PM in response to: Phoenix61
Re: Why would you not tell this person he cannot write?

First, you say it is your DUTY to inform bad writers that they are bad writers. Then, in a subsequent response, you say that no, you do not have the right to tell someone not to chase their dream.

 

Well, what is it?  Are you obligated to be the sole person to dismiss someone's aspiration to be a published author? Or are you agreeing that no one has the right to tell anyone else to 'keep their day job'?

Level 5 12,993 posts since
Aug 22, 2008
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9. Mar 10, 2018 8:38 AM in response to: Phoenix61
Re: Why would you not tell this person he cannot write?

I don't consider it to be my role, responsibility, or obligation to tell someone he or she can't or shouldn't write and publish books.

 

First, in a free enterprise system, the marketplace will ultimately take care of that. A sane person doesn't continue to do something the same way if it yields nothing in return (or if it yields more negative results than positive, such as bad reviews). Sane people, when faced with that situation, will eventually either (a) quit on their own, or (b) make a commitment to improve (and if it's a genuine commitment, almost anything is possible after that). My role is to offer information and services to those writers/publishers who are working to improve. That doesn't leave much time for the ones who aren't (or for the crazy people).

 

Second, I might be wrong. Every major label in Great Britain had auditioned and rejected the Beatles when George Martin finally signed them to a recording contract. A lot of well-respected individuals at all of those other companies were just certain that the group would appeal, at best, to only a very narrow market niche and have no significant future or sales impact. Obviously, they were mistaken. The older I get, the more refined I believe my personal sense of "what's good" becomes -- but even so (as with all those men who passed on the Beatles), my "refined judgment" sometimes proves to be a lousy predictor of what the global marketplace will embrace and purchase.

Level 4 2,929 posts since
Feb 7, 2015
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10. Mar 10, 2018 10:55 AM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Why would you not tell this person he cannot write?

A thoughtful contribution, Doug. I agree fully with your reasoning. But tell me, if a self-pubber asks your opinion of a book riddled with spelling, grammar, punctuation, or formatting errors, would you call it to their attention, or are you a proponent of the if-you-can't-say-something-nice school of thought? If I had to guess, I'd say the former, but done with kindness. You're nicer than I am. (However, I'm nicer than most of the editors I've known, curmudgeons who pulled no punches.) Self-pubbers often come here full of hubris, pomposity, or a sense of entitlement. It rankles; sometimes I can't resist the urge to stick a pin in their balloon to wake them up. You have more restraint. As I said, you're nicer.

Level 0 9 posts since
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11. Mar 10, 2018 12:24 PM in response to: Phoenix61
Re: Why would you not tell this person he cannot write?

Phoenix61, no, I haven't blocked you.  For no other reason that I can't figure out how to do it.  With that being said, I will have to start to consume my humble pie and acknowledge that Thomas' writing skills, do in fact, suck. They suck in a way that I was stunned.

 

I went to his book on Amazon and read a few pages.  My jaw lay permanently on my chest until I forced my mouth closed. Obviously, this is someone who didn't finish high school, but who felt he had a story to tell. It could be a great story, but it's not going to get told by this person.

 

Regardless, I still stand by my assertation that if Thomas is looking for help, we should give it, and in a way that he may actually take the advice given. Suggestions, not insults. Such as, he may need a ghost writer, if the story itself is good. For whatever reason, he wants this story told, but he is not the one to tell it.

 

I don't know if Thomas has actually asked for help from more experienced writers.  He knew enough to come to the Create Space Community, and came here perhaps looking for that help. To slam him for his very raw writing skills isn't helping.

 

We should suggest he start reading novels - a LOT  of novels. Focusing on the 'how it's done' of proper writing. Because regardless of where someone grew up and what slang was used on the streets, readers, for the most part, didn't grow up there.  Even if he garnished a following of slang/hood readers, there are huge differences between the 'language' of one area of the country to the language of another. 

 

He could consider taking a writing class - or several. We could suggest workshops.  Getting a mentor etc.

 

My final thoughts - chisel off the rough edges around you.  Try to be a bit more kind. This world is so full of angry, sharp-edged people, that a few more people who don't cut to the bone would be welcomed.  I used to be a nasty keyboard warrior on Facebook.  It got me banned for 30 days - twice.  So, I know a thing or two about being censored.  It's not fun. But, it's their rules and it's not Freedom of Speech.

 

Anyway, since I cannot figure out how to block you, I'm sure we'll run into each other again.  I hope on better terms.

 

L.D.

Level 5 12,993 posts since
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12. Mar 10, 2018 1:33 PM in response to: Lorem_Ipsum
Re: Why would you not tell this person he cannot write?

Lorem_Ipsum wrote:

But tell me, if a self-pubber asks your opinion of a book riddled with spelling, grammar, punctuation, or formatting errors, would you call it to their attention, or are you a proponent of the if-you-can't-say-something-nice school of thought?

Is this book already published and available for sale? If so, then my conclusion is that the person is just looking/hoping for positive strokes, not genuine feedback to develop and improve. After all, if my opinion were truly of value in that regard, the person would have asked for it much earlier in the process. So I would either not respond at all, or toss it back with some type of "What do YOU think of it?" question.

 

However, if the manuscript were still a work in progress, then yes, I'd try to offer honest and useful feedback if possible. The challenge there, as you've suggested, is that some people have a long way to go yet and will need a lot of help to get there. So one of the first tasks might be to provide a realistic assessment of what lies ahead and the work that will be involved. That way, instead me telling an author that he/she shouldn't pursue this path, the person can make his or her own choice to either commit to that work, or to quit and move on to the next big dream or vocation.

 

Lorem_Ipsum wrote:

Self-pubbers often come here full of hubris, pomposity, or a sense of entitlement. It rankles; sometimes I can't resist the urge to stick a pin in their balloon to wake them up.

That's not unique to self-publishing authors (that same statement often applies to rookie professional athletes, young medical doctors/interns, fighter pilots just out of flight school...list goes on).

 

Also, as you well know, self-publishing includes a large measure of self-marketing, so I think at least some of that attitude comes with the territory. Everybody can name products (including books) that were top sellers not because they were really "good," but because they were promoted and marketed so effectively.

 

What bothers me most about the type of authors/publishers to which you're referring is that they totally fail to see that they are in the business of providing a product to paying customers. They would be absolutely livid if the manufacturer or seller of a product they purchased had just slopped something out there the way they did. And yet they seem to have no concern at all about the quality of the products they offer.

Level 0 9 posts since
Oct 7, 2010
Currently Being Moderated
13. Mar 10, 2018 2:00 PM in response to: Lighthouse24
Re: Why would you not tell this person he cannot write?

Your last paragraph is my concern as well.  But, since Amazon and CreateSpace have opened the door for any level of writer to express themselves, it's not our job to bemoan the lack of quality. We can vent and rant and rave all we want, but the fact remains that an avenue has been created for people like us, who understand the English language, who have put together a thougtful product, and who want to pursue a career in writing. No doubt, 99% of the successful indie authors who have found some kind of success, were rejected time and time again by the brick and mortar publishing gods. Bottom line - don't have an agent?  Don't even bother.

 

Frankly, I am grateful that this avenue exists, because I know I would never, ever be that needle in the haystack of slush books that find it's way to the desk of a kind hearted editor, having a fantastic day, who says, "Hey! We may have something here! Let's get this author signed immediately!"

 

But, this avenue also has merge lanes, that allow writers like Thomas to travel next to us. They published his work. What can we do about it?  Yes, it may appear that he is satisfied with his product the way it is.  Unfortunate for him. In cases like this, it's best to let it go. This 'work' will disappear in time, and a new, horrible piece will take it's place. There are probably thousands of 'Thomases' out there, writing garbage and thinking it's gold.

 

I choose not to worry about things like that. It's like worrying about a restaurant that served us a crappy meal, and we spend hours telling others how crappy it is, when in reality, it will fail miserably on its own anyway. I don't want to expend that energy - I'll let the universe take care of things like that.

 

Which it always does.

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