Now, I have always resisted Twitter in the past. I have heard so much about Twitter trolls that I just didn’t want to engage in a form of social media that was so open to abuse by the sort of people that think they’re big or clever because they can be vile towards other people while hiding behind an anonymous user name.
Of course some recent high profile cases have shown that the trolls aren’t quite as anonymous as they would like to think. But the fact is that this particular form of media is open to abuse and there are some nasty people out there who will abuse it.
But, on the other hand, just publishing a book and then not telling people about it is as effective as burying it at midnight in my back garden. People just don’t stumble upon things: books, music, film etc by accident. They have to be told about them.
PR firms spend huge amounts of their client’s money telling us about the latest block buster movies. Over the last couple of weeks Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway have been all over our TV screens and newspapers telling us all about their new movie, Interstellar. It looks very exciting, I have to say and I might go to see it, but I’ll wait until I’ve read the reviews.
So here’s the thing. There’s all that money being spent to try to persuade me that this is a ‘must see’ movie, but I’m going to wait for someone else to go and see it, then write a review which I will then read and, on the basis of that review, I will decide whether or not I’ll go and see it. So have the movie studio wasted their money on all that PR?
No, not really. Huge numbers of people don’t read newspapers so they don’t read the reviews that have been printed in them. The closest they will get is the carefully selected quotes that appear on the posters outside the cinema. You know the sort of thing “Tremendous Five Stars – Daily Bugle”. What they don’t tell you is that the full, unedited quote was “This movie is a tremendous waste of your time and a five star load of rubbish”, but studios have always been very selective with the truth.
Some people always want to be the first to see the latest movie so they will believe the studio hype and they will go and see it. Sometimes they will walk out of the cinema wondering why they wasted two hours of their life, but that’s the price you pay for being first.
But those people don’t remain silent. They go to work the next day, or after the weekend, and they tell their friends how awful the film was. Nowadays they will often post their own reviews on their blogs or on websites dedicated to such things. So all that studio hype may be undone by a few well (or ill) chosen words by a bunch of complete amateurs.
I also suspect that the more hype that a film gets, ie the more time lead actors spend on TV plugging the movie, the worse the film is. The more adverts that the studio or distributor pay for, the more likely it is that the movie will be awarded a Golden Raspberry rather than a Golden Globe.
After all, the same word of mouth that can make a movie sink without trace is quite capable of making a film into a grand slam success, so word of mouth is just as powerful as any advert and the best films are talked about just as often as the worst films.
The same applies to books, of course. How many books have you read because a friend told you that it was a great read? How many have you avoided because a friend told you that a book was pants? Once again I read the reviews in the newspapers as a guide to what may be worth reading and what may not. I also use websites such as https://www.goodreads.com/ and I check the reviews that have been posted on Amazon before I buy a book.
As regular readers of this blog will know, I’m not shy about giving my opinions on a wide range of subjects so I also post reviews of the books I have read. Most of those opinions have been 4 or 5 star reviews, a few 3 star and a couple of (very rare) 1 stars, because most books have some merit and, as a writer, I admire the courage of other writers for just having a go.
What amuses me the most are the poor reviews posted by people whose use of language is so poor that they are barely intelligible. The nerve of someone to tell someone else that they can’t write when they themselves can barely summon up the words to apply the criticism and then spell the words incorrectly. I mean, in the days of spell check does it do anyone’s credibility any favours if they misspell ‘rubbish’? It’s like someone crashing their car into a wall and then telling the wall it’s a bad driver! Oh well, I think we’re back to trolls here and I don’t want to start repeating myself.
My publisher and I had a chat about bad reviews and what to do about them. He cited an example of another of his authors who was accused, quite falsely, of plagiarism. There was a vague similarity between one chapter of his book and something someone else had written, but that’s a bit like saying there’ s vague similarity between Bach’s Air on G String and Procol Harum’s Lighter Shade of Pale. Yes, some of the musical phrases sound similar and the band may have been influenced by Bach, but that doesn’t mean Procol Harum plagiarised Bach’s work.
Anyway, the publisher’s advice to the other author was not to retaliate or refute. Any argument is futile in such circumstances because (a) it’s a matter of opinion, not fact and (b) the author has to descend to the level of the reviewer which will never do the author any favours.
I’ve had so few reviews for my books that I haven’t had to worry about that so far. I don’t know why I have had so few reviews, because my sales figures suggest I should have many more, but I guess some people are just satisfied to finish a book and then just move on to the next one. If you have read one of my books then posting a review would be appreciated, because reviews do help sales and we all want to help each other, don’t we?
So, back to Twitter. If you do want to follow me you can find me @robert_cubitt #author. Someone had beaten me to robert cubitt, and there are a couple of other users of that name so please do check that you have the right one.
So, here we are, only a couple of weeks before my new book hits the street (or at least the Amazon website) so I’m going to be doing quite a bit of promotion for that over the next few weeks on Facebook and on Twitter, so please forgive but if I don’t tell people that my book is available then it’s pretty certain that no one else will and I didn’t write it just for my own amusement. Well, maybe it started out that way but it has come a long way since 2012! Of you do buy it (and I hope you will) please post a review when you've read it.