Book Review Writing 101

As an indie author, one of my most time consuming activities when trying to avoid writing is reading reviews for books I’ll never read. This might seem like a futile activity, but I like to think it gives me an idea of what readers are looking for, it allows me to avoid common pitfalls of writing a specific genre, or, failing those, it at least entertains me for a couple minutes. The latter is provided by what the internet seems to be best at doing: exposing me to the nuts out there and the stuff they want everyone to read.

In short, in the place of the three extra books I could’ve written during the time I procrastinate is up-until-now useless knowledge about what makes a reasonable book review.

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Instead of writing three extra books, this cat attempted to master winking. Nailed it!

Book review writing is difficult. I had a brief stint being active on Goodreads, and I wrote a few reviews. They’re shit. And not horseshit, which is almost pleasant when encountered on some country road, but the type of shit you might encounter in some inner-city back alley, which you can’t, to a reasonable degree of scientific accuracy, tell whether it came from man or dog. I totally understand that without the shit reviews out there, customers wouldn’t be able to make pseudo-informed choices about the books they buy. If only qualified people wrote book reviews, I wouldn’t have any, and I wouldn’t even sell the meager number of books I do. But what I don’t understand are reviews that fail on some basic level. Not able to articulate why the story about that wizard gave you a semi but you stated it anyway? That’s cool with me. But what I can’t forgive is writing a review that doesn’t meet the four requirements below. Book Review Writing 101 – shoot for horseshit, not human or dog shit.

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Sweet shit.

When writing a book review, you should ensure:

  1. Your star rating is justified by your review

Along with writing the shit you write, you’ll be required to give the book a star rating. It’s important to make sure that if you, say, give it a three-star rating, you make sure you articulate to a reasonable degree of clarity why you knocked two stars off. I received the below review on Smashwords. It’s my first and only one on there. I appreciate her taking the time to write it. It’s a favorable review, but I can’t help but wonder why it wasn’t at least four stars.

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Smashwords, you are the website that distributes this book.

Till the day I die, I’ll always wonder why baseball team A never won the Wold Series, how political party C made such a mess of country B, and why, despite my book being very entertaining, I didn’t inspire this reader to press that sweet five-star button.

2. You finish the book before writing a review

A book isn’t like a plate of food. You can’t take one bite and decide you don’t like it, unless that one bite was riddled with objective errors, like the chef used piss to thin out his sauce instead of water. Confused metaphor aside, if you don’t finish a book you’ve failed to attain the primary qualification for reviewing said book: you didn’t read the frickin’ thing.

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Send it back. Terrible character development.

When I go to my dentist, she doesn’t lean over, exposing her cleavage a little, and take one look at a molar and give me a clean bill of dental health. She looks at all of my teeth and then decides, based on the cleanliness of each individual tooth, that I do a bang-up job of brushing my teeth. I’m also a pretty decent flosser, but that is neither relevant nor contributes to the metaphor.

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I couldn’t decide which caption to go with, so I’ll put both: 1) “Yep, that was definitely a nipple” and 2) “How many fingers am I holding up?”

3. You don’t assume everyone has the same reading tastes as you

It may sound simple, but people like different stuff. While I’m not a fan of hotdogs, I quite like burgers. Some people watch football on a Saturday afternoon; I prefer to watch movies. The below review can be read in two ways. He could either be defining my target demographic somewhat or he could be saying that, because it features the subject matters stated below, the book is objectively bad. The fact that he gave it two stars seems to suggest the latter. I don’t like posing for pictures with a dog that looks suspiciously like me, but it’s not to say it’s an objectively bad pastime.

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If this book for you?

4. You know what type of book you’re reviewing

When reviewing a book, it’s important to know what category or subcategory the book falls into. You’d come across as a bit of a doofus if you wrote a review for Sharknado 3: The Third One based on its merits as a serious natural disaster movie. Equally, you’d come across as a doofus, at least in this humble author’s opinion, if you wrote a review of a comic mystery book (aka, bumbling detective) and you reviewed it based on its merits as an example of “noir detective fiction,” which is incidentally a non-existent, paradoxical subcategory, as I pointed out in a previous blog post.

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Define finally…

 

That’s all I’ve got, which is to say it’s Saturday afternoon and I’m going to watch a movie while eating a burger. If you’re on the way to a football game and have a hankering for a hotdog, go fuck yourself. What you like is obviously shittier than what I like.

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User of words

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The first in my series of comic mystery novels is perma-free on Amazon.com. Check it out here.

The best way to interact with me on social media is via my Facebook page, which is my way of saying head on over and like it.

 

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Five Reasons to Keep an Author Blog

I started writing this blog for one reason: to sell my fiction books. I may just suck at blogging, or I might not have been doing it for long enough, or it might be because I write wonky lists like this too often, but this blog does not sell any books. It doesn’t even get a significant number of downloads for my perma-free book. I’ve thought of quitting and putting the time I take to write, edit, and publish this blog back into my fiction writing, but I kinda like doing it. From now on I’m going to write one a week. Even if the end result is shitty, like I fear this one might be. But because I have an iPad and an ass and way too much time on a Saturday morning, I’m going to need greater motivation than the half-assed promise I just made to myself to keep up an intense once-a-week schedule. I’m going to need to go full-ass. Fuck that, I’m going to need to go five asses. Just in case that wasn’t clear, which I’d totally understand, I’m going to need five reasons to keep my author blog updates more regular than my beard-trimming schedule.

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Seven, but who’s counting?

Here goes:

  1. To keep my writing sharp

It doesn’t take me long to write the first draft of a novel. About six weeks, assuming I don’t get ill or go on vacation. This year I figure I’ll write four. So this year, I’ll spend only twenty weeks actually writing—if I don’t keep this blog going—and the rest of the time making book covers, writing blurbs, editing, formatting, and publishing the finished products on Amazon and Smashwords. That’s a tiny amount of time doing what I love and a shit-ton of time doing stuff that makes me want to blow my fucking brains out. Not only is that a little depressing, but during those weeks when I’m not writing comedy or the stupid exciting stuff that goes in between it all, I’m going to get seriously rusty. Just take a second to think about the drivel you’ve just read. It’s definitely a product of my being rustier than…well, something that’s typically rusty, and definitely not a product of my having always sucked. So there’s the first reason, keeping those comedy writing muscles strong and ready for action for when I write shit I expect people to actually pay for.

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Old motor vehicles are typically rusty. And lazy writers.

2) Something to do instead of drinking

One of my hobbies, up until fairly recently…scrap that, pretty much my only hobby up until fairly recently was getting drunk and watching shitty horror movies. I’m now into my thirties and want to be able to look back on this period as a time when I went hell for leather and tried to achieve everything I wanted to achieve with my life. Failing the achievement bit, I want to be able to look back and think that I was at least a reasonably functioning member of society, with friends, and healthy hobbies, and Saturday mornings that weren’t spent scrolling through my Facebook feed as I built up the motivation to reach out my hand and put the glass of water I poured for myself ten minutes ago to my dry lips. One of the distractions that I’m going to use keep myself from relapsing back into that wonderful time of potato chips, craft beers, and movies that were so bad they were good is this blog. Sure, writing it will pale in comparison to that feeling of cracking open that first beer, knowing there are eight more in the refrigerator, but it’ll keep me out of trouble. If you don’t have a drinking problem and want to make this point applicable to you, swap something you do instead of drinking that’s damaging  such as eating processed foods or whatever.

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“Uh, honey, where do you want me to put the cheese?”

3) It’s cheaper than a therapist

I try to keep this thing useful or entertaining for the small readership it has, which comprises mostly of fellow indie authors. When I don’t have dubious advice to offer them, I at least try to make the blog posts funny. But sometimes it’s good to just let loose and go full narcissist and write about shit that pisses me off, to expunge it from my mind, such as when I critiqued some of the really bad reviews I’ve received  for my comedy mystery book. I don’t know whether that’s an accurate description of what people do when they go to see a shrink—now that I’ve thought about it, it definitely isn’t—but I figure I’ll use this blog to give my girlfriend a rest from my tirades and expose you guys to them instead. You’re welcome, there’s no need to say thanks. You guys are now my shrink, which means you’ll listen and probably not say anything afterwards or interact with me in any way. You’ll probably just nod, feeling a little sorry for me. Now that sounds like an accurate description of what a shrink does. And better still, you won’t want me to pay out my ass for it afterwards.

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“I’d do this shit for free…”

4) One day a shit-ton of people might read these words

I don’t fully understand it, nor am I willing to spend a significant time researching the subject, but the more you blog, the more chance you have of your blog turning up in search engine results. Sure, if you’ve got a decent number of followers on a social media platform, you can get fairly decent traffic to your blog by spamming. But it’ll never be enough to significantly impact on book sales. You have to turn up on the first couple pages of search engine results for that, which means producing a shitload of content. In a couple years’ time, assuming I’ve kept my promise of not drinking and writing these things every week, this blog could be like a gigantic cyberspace glacier, slowly moving week after week, picking up shitloads of debris and dirt as it goes. You’ve probably just worked out, if you’re a follower of this blog or have read my books, that in that metaphor you were dirt or debris, which isn’t how I imagined thanking you for reading. How’s that shrink gig working out for you? My apologies.

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“Go straight on, take a right, keep going, then another right and it’s there. You can’t miss it.”

5) One day I’ll have a record of how I made it

I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here, but four is a shit number when it comes to offering reasons to do something in a blog format. If the meager sales I get turn around in the future and make me financially independent, I’ll be able to look back on this blog as a historical record of how I got there. It’ll be like when my grandparents tell stories of hardship during World War Two, only way less significant and way whinier. Now if that isn’t a decent reason to keep an author blog, then I don’t know what is.

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“Sure, the Nazis were shitty and everything, but I wrote one hell of a blog.”

So there you have it.

My hour’s up. It’s time for me to get up from your leather sofa I’ve been lying on and for you to get up off your chair you’ve been sitting ramrod straight in and for us to ride out that awkward moment when we don’t know whether we should shake hands, hug, or just quietly nod at each other after I’ve told personal stuff to you and probably cried a little. Is the same time next week good for you? Excellent.

If this was useful or as therapeutic for you as it was for me, hit one of the share buttons below. Right now this blog’s a tiny snowball, with your help it could become a snowman’s ass.


My fiction books can be checked out here.

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How to Write a Cliffhanger the Right Way

This week a reader was pissed after reading my perma-free book. But this isn’t the first time. What made this situation unique was, he sent me an email, stating he’d enjoyed it, but that he wouldn’t be reading the next one in the series. Why? Because I ended the book with a cliffhanger. He wrote that because I was so desperate for readers to buy the next book, he wasn’t going to play ball. He also gave me some condescending advice about how I’ll put readers off with this devious writing strategy. Before I wrote the ending, I was well aware of writers using the old ending-a-perma-free-book-with-a-cliffhanger strategy to sell the next book in a series, and have seen hateful reviews for perma-free books that ended with a cliffhanger. I had also considered how readers would react to my ending, so none of what he wrote was news to me.

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Find out what happens to the house in the next book.

I emailed back, writing that there are two types of cliffhanger. The first type leaves the reader without the conclusion to the story’s main story thread or mystery, with the conclusion in the next paid-for book. This is obviously uncool. The second type is ending a series book with the inciting incident for the next book in the series, after concluding the main story thread or mystery of the first book, like in an episode of Quantum Leap—I even gave a nod to that show by finishing with the main character’s catchphrase: “Oh, boy.” I think endings like that are fair, and, if done right, exciting, and I don’t remember people going apeshit at the end of each episode of Quantum. I told the guy the type I’d used was the latter, and thanked him for reading, anyway, etc. He never got back to me. And the ninety-nine cents he would’ve paid for my next book had I not been “desperate” for him to read it has me writing this blog post on a street corner, having not been able to pay my mortgage this month. I’m also starving, and for the life of me I can’t find a piece of cardboard to scrawl on to inform passersby of my dire straits.

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“If my story only had a beginning, middle and end, as opposed to a beginning, middle, end, and another beginning, things would’ve turned out different for ol’ Crazy Joe here.”

I was going to make this week’s blog post about differentiating between the two types of cliffhanger, and making a case for why I think they’re a good thing, citing examples in television. But I just kind of did that in—what?—three hundred words, so there’s that idea out of the window. Then it occurred to me that I haven’t written a blog post that mines the comedy from a situation in a little while, and that I’m supposed to be a comedy writer, God damn it. So without further ado, I reveal to you, three ways to sell the next book in your series that are less offensive than using a cliffhanger.

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A swarm of hot-air balloon enthusiasts using their favorite mode of transport to avoid the dreaded cliffhanger
  1. Tell the Reader the Next Book in the Series Contains the Secret of Life

You’ve just finished reading a page-turner, and it turned out it was the priest whodunit, not the chicken farmer, or the icecream man, and definitely not the mistress. It was a solid, mildly entertaining read. It didn’t make you laugh, and the writer could’ve found ways of putting humor into their ridiculous but semi-serious mystery work, but it was a decent read nonetheless. With only five minutes to go of your train ride to work, you figure there’s no point starting the next book on your Kindle, so you start scrolling through the back matter. You read about the author, and he proclaims his undying love of the mystery genre, and tells some silly story about what inspired him to write mediocre fiction. After that, you come to the plug for the next book, and HOLY SHIT!, it contains the freakin’ secret of life. You rush to work to get connected to your workplace’s shitty WIFI, download the book, and read it over the next week or so. When you get to the end, you find out it was just another shitty story about an alcoholic detective solving a ridiculous murder mystery, padded out with an unconvincing love-interest subplot. Huh. No secret of life, which the author promised. It could’ve been worse, at least this God-awful book didn’t end with a cliffhanger. But wait…the next book promises it’s the only book on the planet that can be seen from space. Holy freakin’ cow! You’re not sure how that’s possible, with it being not composed of matter, but still. Space!

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Warning: may contain excitement intended to bring about sales of next book in series
  1. Tell the Reader the Next Book in the Series Will Somehow Feed the Third World

Despite your sales ranking revealing a different a story, tell the reader that if they buy your next book it has the potential to fund the feeding of the Third World, after it’s helped you pay for your wife’s breast augmentation surgery. If they just cough up their ninety-nine cents, celebrities having pictures taken with African infants with distended abdomens will become a thing of the past, and publicists will have to go back to the drawing board when they’re client’s clothing line isn’t selling as well as they’d hoped.

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“Does he bite?”

3. Tell Readers the Next Book in the Series Will Get Them Laid

Feel free to copy and paste the following text into the back matter of your book, changing details where necessary:

Dear reader,

Thanks for taking the time to read my high fantasy story about a wizard who comes up with a spell every time he’s caught in a situation he seemingly can’t possibly escape from.  If you could take a few minutes to leave a review for this book, it would put a really stupid, really big grin on my face. But first, I just want to take a second to tell you what inspired me to write this book. As you know from my “About the Author” section previous, for a long time, probably since I’ve been potty trained, I have held within my heart a great passion to write high fantasy. But what I’ve also held…in a different place than my heart, is the need to get laid. Probably like you, I didn’t get to bang the redhead with the big tits in my math class, and my love life since highschool has been equally underwhelming. But, like the wizard in this book, I too managed to make the love interest in my life inexplicably sleep with me. I took the time and effort to write the secret to my success into the next book in this series. All you’ve got to do is buy it. Click on this link to find out the secret and unleash your inner happiness.

Kind regards,

L.J.J Writersmith


 

So there you have it. Three great marketing tricks.

But seriously, thinking of writing a cliffhanger? Think again, if it’s the first kind. As always, if you laughed out loud at least three times, please take a second to share this post with the buttons below. It’ll get you laid, probably.

In next week’s blog post, I’ll reveal the one writing hack that’s guaranteed to make you sell more books than Lee Child, Jo Nesbø, and J. K. Rowling combined.


 

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Wondering what my fiction reads like after this bit of neurolinguistic programming? Try it for free here.

 

How to Not Shoot Yourself in the Face After Receiving a Bad Review

Last time I blogged I think I maybe came across a bit of an asshole. But, as I’ve written before, I don’t think it’s the first time. My intention every time I write a blog post is to discover a comedy mother lode, from which I can mine joke after joke, until I ask you to like my Facebook page or check out my books. But sometimes I fail in finding the comedy. The result can sometimes get messy. So what blog post idea have I come up with this week to make sure I stay well clear of coming off as bitter or hateful? As an indie author, what benign subject shall I blog about that has no potential for turning into a whiny, rhetoric-filled rant? Why, bad reviews, of course.

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After a receiving a bad review, this indie author went for a relaxing stroll.

If there’s one piece of advice indie authors agree on, it’s that you should never, ever reply to or comment on a bad review you’ve received. Ever. It’s sound advice, and I’ve managed to heed it so far in my short non-career as a writer. The last couple weeks I received my first really bad reviews, but I took them well, like a divorcee who had no intention of gaining sole custody of his children. I won’t be addressing the failings of the reviewers who posted bad reviews for my books directly. But it would be irresponsible of me if I didn’t use my reflections on these reviews to calm indie authors who might be worrying about their first really bad reviews. That’s my thinly-veiled excuse for writing the following advice, and I’m sticking to it.

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Veiled, thinly in parts, but in the literal sense.

While reading my bad reviews, I identified three distinct types. Two of them you can forget about. Hell, you can even make a night of it and read them with your spouse with a bowl of popcorn, reading bad reviews the same way Woody Allen thinks about going to the movies. The final one could result in you spending an evening with a bottle of whisky and a loaded gun. In order to put your mind at rest, if you’re an indie author awaiting his first reviews from non-Twitter followers and family members, I’m going to dispel the myth that all bad reviews are damaging for your potential writing career.

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A swarm of bad reviewers in their natural habitat.

Three types of bad reviews. Two you should be indifferent about. One that should make you go back to the drawing board. Got it? Good.

Let’s jump right in.

  1. The Review Written by Someone Who Got Offended by Your Book

John Locke wrote that if you don’t offend anyone with your writing, then you’re not doing it properly. I agree, especially if you’re writing comedy or humorous fiction. The book business is highly competitive, and in order to gain fans, your aim should be to tailor your writing style to appeal to a slim demographic of readers, which inevitably alienates or offends the rest. As long as you tailor your book descriptions to keep that demographic of reader who will hate your books from reading them—like I thought I had, and still do—then have at it with a writing style that isn’t cozy or appropriate for all the family. When I tell a joke, I want to surprise you. And sometimes that means shocking you. Just because one reader thought I was being sexist when I wrote a shit-ton of ex-wife jokes in my first novel, does it mean they shouldn’t be in there? Absolutely not. I bet some of those jokes are the reason for at least a few of my five-star reviews. And who knows, you could even end up with a reviewer going hyperbolic on your ass, spewing hate-filled observations that might intrigue potential readers browsing your book. Like I did.

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Popcorn time.

I bet at least a few potential readers who read the above review thought, If this crazy person hated it, then I bet I’d love it! Or it could be: Jesus, what in the world has this author written to upset this person so badly? I want to find out. I know I’ve thought both of those things when reading reviews for other authors’ books. Hell, one of my colleagues muttered the latter when I showed her the above review. If you get a review of this kind, relax. You just offended someone. I do that practically every time I write a simile. And who knows, by writing that edgy joke that made some readers want to throw their Kindle in the trash from disgust, you might just gain yourself a fan who’ll write a five-star review for your book and buy everything you write.

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Brain fuel

2. The Review Written by Someone Reviewing the Wrong Type of Book

On a number of occasions I’ve received reviews that made me think, Did this person read my book?  And one occasion, I was convinced of it—and it turned out she had. But that’s not the type of review I’m thinking about. A couple days ago, someone reviewed my book thinking it’s something it’s not. Here it is:

bad review twoThis person seems to be convinced that I attempted to write “noir detective fiction.” Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I wasn’t entirely sure what that was. So I googled it and found this definition:

noir fictionSure, my books feature a private investigator as the protagonist, but I wasn’t attempting to write “noir detective fiction.” The Jake Hancock Mystery Thrillers are throwaway three-hour reads with outrageous plot lines, silly characters, and a shit-ton of borderline-misogynistic jokes—if you ignore that women in the books run rings around the men. I could say they’re parodies of detective fiction, but that would be giving myself way too much credit. As I mentioned above, I wrote a book description for the first book that communicates that it isn’t a serious mystery thriller. There are clues left throughout the description, but the key is in the following paragraph:

“Despite having not worked undercover for a while, Hancock poses as Megan’s much-older boyfriend for a family weekend at her childhood home in Rodeo, Texas. From within their home, he will learn their secrets…and hopefully get laid in the process.”

This part of the description alone should’ve informed this reader he or she wasn’t getting Raymond Chandler. Am I worried about this review? Hell no. I did my job in writing an appropriate book description. If they couldn’t see that they were buying oranges instead of apples, then they need a new glasses prescription. And if you write appropriate descriptions, this type of review will be kept to a minimum. Will this review hurt my sales? There’ll probably be some potential readers who are put off buying, but for every browser put off by this review, I bet there are two who think, What did you expect? And ignore it.

If I wanted to be a pedantic dick, I’d point out that “noir fiction” features someone other than a detective as the protagonist. But I made a promise to myself at the start of this blog, and I didn’t have a clue either.

And if I wanted to be an even bigger dick, I’d point out that this reader is a fan of a series called Taco Bob and the Witch Sisters. I’m not dicking on that series, as I haven’t read it, but the reviewer seems to have reviewed that series based on its merits, but held my series to a literary standard I didn’t try to attain in the first place. She’s right: It is a poor attempt at “noir detective fiction.”

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Tacos minus Bob.

3. The Review Written by Someone Who Thinks Your Book is Objectively Bad or Mundane

Ready with the whisky bottle and loaded gun? Getting the above types of bad reviews is all well and good, but what you don’t want are reviews that say your book objectively sucks. That it’s riddled with errors, punctuation or otherwise. Or that it’s mundane. And the reviewer is oh so eloquent in explaining why. These reviews are book-sales cancer, especially if they make up the majority. To fix the former, you need beta readers or an editor. I use a number of beta readers to spot mistakes in my books, after I’ve done a shit-load of editing myself. But as with all books, even ones published by big publishing houses, there are probably a few errors in each of my books. But I figure the readers who love my books will forgive me for it. In fact, one reviewer wrote as much:

good review

The next reviewer, not so much:

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Four-star reviews, if they become a trend, can be equally destructive to sales. I mentioned above that you should write to entertain a very specific target demographic, and for good reason. If you try to please everyone, you could end up wowing no one. Try to please everyone, and you’re serving everyone a bland meal. Remember to open the spice drawer, even if chili powder doesn’t agree with Aunt Barbara’s irritable bowel syndrome. The only solution to avoiding mundanity is to be brave. Write books that offend the shit out of some people, but which makes fans of others.

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. There are many other types of bad reviews. Feel free to add your own in the comments section. Meanwhile, I’ll be writing the next Hancock book. It’s going to offend the shit out of some people. I can’t wait. Thanks for reading, and please share if I made you laugh at least four times…maybe that’s ambitious. Three? Deal. The share buttons are below.

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Three Dumb Things Skeptics Need to Stop Writing About the Steven Avery Trial

Because I live on planet Earth I’ve watched the fascinating docu-series Making a Murderer on Netflix. Like anyone who possesses at least a modicum of logic, I came to the reasonable conclusion that Steven Avery was framed by the Manitowoc County sheriff’s department for a crime he probably didn’t commit. But some people remain unconvinced of his innocence. Which is cool. What’s less cool, and more importantly outside of what’s considered sane, rational thinking, are some of the arguments skeptics are citing on blog message boards and social media as proof of his having done it.

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“I know who did it…it’s that bird there!”

Now these cotton-headed ninny muggins have cited a vast array of dumb reasons to prove Steven Avery’s guilt, but I like to keep my blog posts short. So I’m only presenting three of my let-a-bald-eagle-peck-my-eyes-out-from-frustration favorites.

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

  1. “If Steven Avery didn’t do it, then who did!”

This argument doesn’t hold much water. No water, in fact. It goes without saying that just because you can’t think of anyone else who might have committed the crime, it doesn’t mean you should blame the only person who’s standing trial. This is a child’s way of thinking. A kid comes down the stairs on Christmas morning, sees presents under the tree. He thinks a second, then says to himself, “Mom and Dad were asleep last night, and the presents weren’t under the tree when I went to bed…so it must’ve been Santa!” If you’re a Steven Avery-innocence skeptic and my implying Santa doesn’t exist has let the cat out of the bag and ruined Christmas for you, my apologies.

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“No, Mr. Avery, it isn’t ‘unfair’ that you’re the only one in the lineup.”

2. “But what about the sweat DNA evidence under the hood?”

Ken Kratz is a fine storyteller. Now that his career as a district attorney is over, he should really put that keen imagination of his to a more ethically-centric use, like thinking up ways of tricking old ladies out of their hard-earned retirement funds. One of his complaints about the documentary was that the film didn’t include the litigation of the prosecution’s “sweat DNA” evidence found under the hood of Teresa Halbach’s car. His argument being that they wouldn’t be able to plant sweat evidence. I’m not sure, and I can’t be bothered googling it, but I’m pretty sure the DNA under the hood of the car is mentioned in the film. What isn’t mentioned is the source of the DNA, which is probably what Ken Kratz, Mr. Ethics, has his panties in a bunch about. The source of the DNA isn’t mentioned for good reason: because it’s not identified. Not only that, but there’s no such thing as ‘sweat DNA’. I’ll let Jerome Buting, one of Steven Avery’s attorneys, do the explaining:

“It wasn’t sweat DNA. There’s no such thing as ‘sweat DNA.’ Their own expert, from the crime lab, testified that they never did a presumptive test on that hood latch to see if there was blood there. And she said, ‘I can’t foreclose the possibility that it was blood from which the DNA came.’ It was a discolored swab.”

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“He did it for sure. I seen the magic fairy dust.”

3. “It would have been too difficult to plant the evidence!”

I imagine the people who believe this crock must exclusively wear Velcro-fastening footwear, because “Shoelaces are too difficult to tie. Believe me, I’ve tried.” Or I imagine they bring their laptops to PC World to have viruses removed, because “Them things are stubborn. You can download free software to remove them, you say? Horseshit!” Conversely, what is difficult is dislodging a car key from a piece of furniture and have it land underneath a slipper. If you’re a skeptic, give it a try—use a shoe if you don’t own slippers. They’re quite similar. I bet my last Jolly Rancher that you can’t get your car key to fall underneath your Velcro-fastening shoe when dislodging it from a piece of furniture.

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“I found the key right there, underneath them ones in the middle. You see, with it being under the middle pair, we knew he had to have murdered her and put it there.”

So there you have it. If you’re a skeptic, feel free to call me an asshole in the comments section below. If you’re tired of hearing unconvincing arguments for Steven Avery’s guilt, do us all a favor and share this blog using one of the share buttons below.


 

If my poking holes in fallacies has convinced you I’d make a pretty good comedic mystery writer, well this is your lucky day, because that just happens to be the genre of novel I write. They can be checked out here.

The best way to say hi or call me an asshole is via my Facebook page.

Five Achievable New Year’s Resolutions

Before we all get shit-faced tonight and then sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ while we watch someone else’s fireworks display from our balconies as the clock strikes twelve, we’ll probably be considering how we can better ourselves in 2016. But are we kidding ourselves with typical New Year’s resolutions? Probably is probably the answer. New Year’s resolutions are like Chinese welding: they’re made to be broken. Maybe it’s time we lower the bar a little. Are we really going to consistently pack ourselves into gyms, transforming our bodies to look like Brad Pitt’s in Fight Club? Will we be able to spend more time with our families while maintaining the same work schedule? And can we really imagine ourselves volunteering every weekend, handing out warm bowls of soup to queues of cold vagrants? It’s time to stop being so 2015 and step into the world of the realist.

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This holiday makes it seem like it’s going to be a great year

I know what you’re thinking: if we can’t realistically achieve those improvements to our lives, then what areas of our lives can we expect to improve? I’m glad you asked. I’ve spent the last five minutes thinking of achievable New Year’s resolutions so you don’t have to. I know, what a guy…

You’ll probably never have a six-pack, but you can realistically expect to be able to:

  1. Throw away a pair of socks as soon of one of them has a hole in it

As far as New Year’s resolutions go, this has got to be the easiest. After pulling out a pair of socks on a Monday morning, only to find one of the garments no longer achieves its primary purpose of completely covering your foot, get up and throw those suckers in the trash. Both of them. It’s 2016, and you’re way above having a collection of odd socks in your underwear drawer. Your wife will now at least respect you a little, and you can say goodbye to that inevitable embarrassing moment when you’re on a staff training course and the course leader makes everyone do an activity with their shoes off. For the really confident New Year’s resolution maker, you can promise yourself that you’ll regularly trim your toenails, so that the big one doesn’t prematurely poke a hole in your sock in the first place.

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I know I saw a hole someplace

2. Regularly wipe the dust off your printer in your office

Okay, I just looked around the room to come up with this one, but I can’t be the only seemingly civilized human being who cleans every surface in his home except the printer’s. Looking at him now, he looks really sad with that years’ old layer of dust coating him. In 2016, things are going to be different, and I’m going to respect my boarding pass printer-outer. And so should you. A printer’s for life, not just making air travel slightly less stressful.

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Dust…? Ha!

3. Spend MORE time flicking through your news feed on Facebook

Watching viral videos of monkeys throwing feces at each other is important. Thinking of heading to office earlier in 2016, so that you can gun for that promotion that evaded you in 2015? You have permission to forget all about it. You may as well spend time in the mornings by slightly amusing yourself while simultaneously depleting your sense of self-worth. Who knows, those few miserable chuckles could do a world of good for your morale, making you the type of employee who your employer thinks would be suitable for handling the complexities of the next rung of the ladder. It probably won’t, but at least you’ve spent your time trying to watch a bunch of shit videos, half of which wouldn’t load on your three-year-old iPad.

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Come at me, brah!

4. Say “I love you” to your parents at the end of FaceTiming them without putting on a silly voice

You’ve tried to have a meaningful conversation with your parents while hungover on a Saturday afternoon, and it’s getting to the point where you need to rap things up. Instead of waving like a mad man and saying those three blessed words in the voice of Patrick from SpongeBob SquarePants, look straight into their eyes—well, the camera lens—and say it like you mean it. You’ll feel better, and your parents might think you’ve started taking ecstasy on Saturday afternoons. Win-win!

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That’ll never be us

5. Don’t drink water

In 2016 you’re going to be more efficient. You’re going to run your days like a well-oiled machine. Teeth still need to be brushed. The baby’s diapers still need changing. So what can be shaved from your daily routine? Drinking water, of course. All that unnecessary swallowing of water and the subsequent bathroom breaks are undoubtedly the reason why your face didn’t appear on the front of Time magazine in 2015. But won’t I die, Dan? I hear you ask. Not if you buy IV equipment from eBay and hook it up to your arm every time you sit down to do work by the computer. The really ambitious New Year’s resolution maker can forego all that unnecessary eating, too.

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Is his face exactly in the center?

So there you have it. Choose one of the above and make 2016 what it’s supposed to be: a hopefully slightly less depressing facsimile of 2015.

It wouldn’t be a proper Dan Taylor blog post if I didn’t at least spend a little time waffling on about myself, so I’ll let you in on what my New Year’s resolutions are: getting in shape, quitting drinking, and getting more organized. Oh, and handing out bowls of soup to vagrants with a fake smile on my face.

Happy New Year!


 

My books about a private investigator way too cool to make New Year’s resolutions can be checked out here.

And don’t forget to say hi on Facebook.

Interjections Are a Funny Business

While reading a review of a book I was thinking of buying, I came across an interjection I’d never encountered before. At first I thought it was a typo, that the person had meant to write “belch.” But upon googling the word, I was proven wrong. The word that had got my attention was “blech!” Just in case you didn’t magically understand its meaning from reading it, blech implies nausea. Of course it does.

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Blech!

I found it among a list of equally bizarre interjections, and in the absence of anything else to blog about this weekend—blech!—I thought it might be good fun to try them out. What kind of writer would I be if I couldn’t incorporate the likes of feh, gak, and neener-neener into my writing? And what kind of writer would I be if I couldn’t come up with my own equally bizarre interjections? A shit one, just in case that wasn’t clear.

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Now what would he say next…? I know, “Neener-neener!” Nailed it.

Here we go:

  1. Neener-neener, often uttered in a series of three repetitions, is a taunt.

Reading neener-neener once makes poking my eyes out with a public restroom toilet brush seem preferable, let alone reading a series of three, which I’m informed from the list of interjections I’m referencing is often the way it’s used. But who am I to stand in the way of the evolution of the English language? I’m pretty sure that if had one of my characters use this in their dialog, readers might think I’d swapped my green tea breaks from writing for a casual smoke of crack. Or that I’d fallen asleep with my head on the keyboard and hadn’t edited out the result, which is basically how I wrote the first Hancock novel, according to one reviewer. But fuck it. I’ll do whatever it takes to stay fresh and happening. Time to pop my cherry:

Girlfriend: Did you forget to clean the bathroom this weekend?

Me: Neener-neener neener-neener neener-neener!

Girlfriend: *Takes away my crack pipe and hands me a cup of green tea*

  1. Feh is an indication of feeling underwhelmed or disappointed.

No commentary this time, just straight into the cherry popping:

Girlfriend: What did you think of that Matt LeBlanc film?

Me: Feh!

Girlfriend: Ah, so a C minus?

Me: On the money.

Well what do you know, it is actually effective communication. I actually gave that pile of steaming cinematic feces a D plus, but still, impressive.

  1. Gak is an expression of disgust or distaste.

This interjection has typo-accusation bait written all over it. It’s barely a noise, never mind a word. My googling gak further revealed that it’s also a noun that means a sticky or messy substance. As soon as I read this, coming up with a way of using gak in a sentence was child’s play:

Girlfriend: *While sorting through dirty laundry* Dan…what’s this gak on the bed sheets? *Drops laundry upon realizing* Gak!

  1. Chrecckkkcccxxxx is an indication of great pain, like when one stubs one’s little toe on a coffee table leg or reads a series of three neener-neeners.

I have to confess to making this one up. I have another confession: it’s my favorite. Why? At least it’s an approximation of something people in the English-speaking world actually say, which is more than can be said for feh, neener-neener, or gak. Next time you mistake your open wound for a steak dinner and pour salt in it, give it a try.

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Chrecckkcccxxx!

So there you have it. Was that as good for you as it was for me? If so, press one of the share buttons below. Otherwise, feel free to type any one of the interjections above into the comments section.


 

My books, which aren’t a result of me falling asleep with my head on the keyboard, can be checked out here.

The best way to say hi is through my Facebook page. You can also say gak, feh, or neener-neener to me there.