Is Goodreads Any Good for Authors?

The title of this post alone will probably stir some level of reaction from those in the online publishing world and I think its time we talked about Goodreads in detail. I am very much aware that Goodreads is aimed at readers and the platform may be a polarizing topic for debate but we’re going to look through that and try to decipher whether or not its actually beneficial for the modern day author…

Disclaimer:

Much like it says in the title I will state here that this post is aimed at authors, and yes I am aware readers use Goodreads much like I do as a reader. This post is also my opinion from experience of many years as both an author and reader. Those who wish to defend Goodreads as a reader, take it elsewhere because this one is for authors and I have nothing against any reader who uses Goodreads. This post is also just my opinion which doesn’t need to be taken seriously if it upsets you in anyway. I cannot and do not wish to control how you feel so my advice is if you feel so strongly about defending Goodreads then like most things on the Internet, then scroll on by and don’t read this post.

My reasoning behind this post?

Over the many years I have spent active on social media there have been only a few occasions where I got myself into an argument that led to a toxic situation. One of them funnily enough started with me venting about Goodreads and then someone had to use capital letters in a reply to inform me Goodreads was for READERS and not authors. Arguments went back and fourth. People got unfollowed and notifications were turned off in result. I think at one point I was accused of being aggressive – Twitter right? I’m also pretty sure somebody even gave one of my books a one star rating over on Goodreads because of this argument. So of course these days I tend to stay right in the middle and don’t really tweet about anything polarising – I often see folks complain about getting into arguments on the Twitter. My advice: try not to tweet about stuff that will spark heavy debate or passionate opinion…

Very recently I saw on another platform a rather high profile indie author said they no longer look at Goodreads for the sake of their mental health and so it got me thinking. Then my bloggy sense started tingling because we need to talk about it. Truthfully, there are so many authors who live in fear of being ‘review bombed’ on Goodreads I think it’s worth addressing. What is review bombing? Well it’s a term that comes from an angry mob forming online who band together and give an author’s works low ratings on Goodreads – yes this happens and it sometimes goes unnoticed by the platform, or so I have heard. When you publish a book, you essentially build yourself a glass house that will forever be vulnerable. For some this might be a revelation but it is something I now live with, it’s common knowledge that some folks will stoop to responding to me by just rating my book with a single star. This happens to many authors all the time.

What is Goodreads?

I always like to include those of the beginner persuasion in these things and well if you are new to authoring and the online book world you’ll eventually come across Goodreads which is basically the Facebook for books online. To me, it’s a little clunkier and outdated but you can compare it to FB in essence. Authors can list their works, create profiles and even join some groups which over the years I have found quite useful – especially the indie author ones and this is probably the most social part of the platform.

For the reader side of things and probably what the site is more suitable for, you can leave reviews and probably the most important tool for me as a reader/reviewer is the ability to create a ‘to be read’ list (TBR). This way I can track what I have said I would read and review – now this falls down if a newbie author hasn’t listed their work. Top Tip: Even if you never use Goodreads again, list your works so readers and reviewers like me can find them and then remember to read them.

Slipping from my control: My Goodreads Experience

Another disclaimer:

As mentioned above, this account contains my opinion. I’ll happily admit it might not be ‘right’.

Apart from using Goodreads to track my reading/reviewing endeavours a once bright eyed indie author (me) jumped into the foray of the platform and listed his books. Now for a beginner author, Goodreads feels good. You’ve listed your books and maybe a few folks have even reviewed them. Because its normally close friends and supporters the ratings of your works will probably be quite high, to begin with. Happy days. But then things will start to slip away…

I suppose all books go through this, but after some time a book’s rating will start to go down as it picks up more reviews. And so sometimes after a big book promo I’ll see the rating of my book tank along with my mental health. Now who’s leaving all of these low ratings? Well they are not always low but the way the rating system works always seems to be against good ratings. After some years my books ratings slipped from my control even though after publication they aren’t really mine anyway. Recently I made a pact with myself to not really care about the overall rating of my book’s on Goodreads. This was a mental health driven decision. And yes I know that reviews are going to happen, I have no problem with that.

There appears to be a culture beneath the surface of Goodreads where readers can just torpedo a book with one star, even without explanation. These ratings don’t require proof of purchase and normally aren’t even moderated by the site, not to mention they help nobody. Many times I have seen authors campaign to have an abusive review taken down – you’d think they would automatically be flagged these days – as I said, outdated and also a hot bed for potential toxicity in my opinion. Let the dumpster fire burn…

This isn’t just me venting about receiving low ratings or taking shots at Goodreads because in all honesty I don’t have that many, but from my experience the whole one star torpedoing is real and I can even correlate some I’ve received to every time I have shared my honest opinion online… joke, or is it? If you really want some heavy opinion on Goodreads then all you have to do is Google it and you’ll see.

Personally and my own conclusion is that Goodreads shouldn’t be taken that seriously for authors if it stays how it is. How can we if it isn’t basically made to be troll free or at least effort is put in to do that? It is linked to Amazon so I don’t think the whole verified purchase eligibility to leave a review concept would be that hard to set up. That kind of falls down with books that are inherited or gifted so options are thin. Its become a little bit like the wild west in that respect and so if its going to be like that then I can’t take it seriously. For the sake of my mental health, I hardly look into detail at my book’s reviews on the platform, that’s what Amazon is for. (yes I know Amazon are involved with GR’s ownership)

There is however a silver lining to this because I do use Goodreads in a social capacity. The groups can be very helpful for both authors and readers. I tend to lurk mainly in the ‘Support for Indie Authors’ group which boasts several thousand members and is a message board that covers so much from basic book formatting to book promotion. There are other like minded authors out there and the groups are a good way to find them. The support level in these groups is beyond fantastic and really a credit to the platform.

Asking the wider community…

Seeing as I have an engaged responsive Twitter following full of authors I decided to take the plunge and just ask them what they think of Goodreads as a platform for Authors. The response I got was actually a little unexpected because at first nobody said anything…

Now my tweets always stir some responses but when it came to the subject of Goodreads, nothing. This is an immediate red flag because although some authors did eventually respond it says way more than I needed to know – authors are most likely hesitant to give their opinion of Goodreads in fear there will be repercussions that will negatively effect their work’s rating. Is this the modern book world we live in? Its kind of worrying and sobering but probably the true reality of how potentially toxic things can get on social media. (Remember this blog post is an exploration and my opinion, I’m not taking shots at Goodreads in any capacity).

I did however receive a number of private messages from fellow authors requesting not to be named. Their experiences were all similar and all of them mentioned the one star review thing so they would rather talk to me privately which I respect. We are all trying to maintain an image online after all. Some authors mentioned bullying, tactical reviewing so a reviewer can climb the ratings, books receiving bad reviews before release and even abuse. A major point that all of these authors mentioned also was the lack of response or action Goodreads took on certain issues. The site in my opinion appears rather unregulated and in the 21st century something that probably needs looking at.

So my tweeting efforts weren’t a success but that didn’t stop me from using the search bar to find some more author related experiences. I have opted not to include twitter handles to protect authors from any potential repercussions.

As you can see it’s polarising and of course mentions the reading experience side of things which the platform is aimed at but you can see the whole troll review thing is a problem.

Conclusion

From everything laid out I think we can at least try and put together some concluding points that authors tend to have in common. Is Goodreads any good for authors? Well here are my findings in bullet points.

  • It’s a good idea for authors to list their books on the Goodreads even if you don’t actively use it. At least that way readers can put them on their lists.
  • Goodreads would be a much better place for authors and readers if everyone was transparent about the review bomb thing – these one star review bombs help nobody and yes I know readers are entitled to their opinion but manners comes to mind.
  • That one star review bomb thing is a glaring problem but partly a mob culture that is external to Goodreads so they are not fully responsible but should at least acknowledge it.
  • Furthermore, Goodreads would benefit from introducing a review system where people have to write a sentence or two as opposed to ‘hitting and running’ because these type of empty ratings help nobody.
  • Some of the author groups contain some real value and resources that can’t be found anywhere else.
  • Goodreads can just be used as a reader only platform which I tend to do these days.
  • If you are going to use it as an author be prepared for ratings to slip potentially.

My humble opinion doesn’t really matter but it’s obvious to see authors mentioning the same issues so perhaps a little modernisation of the platform is required. As I’m writing this, today is the first day I’ve decided to no longer check my book’s ratings on the platform. They only seem to get lower – that’s my experience anyway. As a reader I will continue using the platform to post reviews and list books I want to read. My primary take away is for authors to just remove themselves from something if isn’t beneficial but if you do enjoy the platform as an author then go for it.

Everything laid out stands as a lesson for anyone potentially looking to get themselves on Goodreads and most of what I’ve said is based upon my own experience and some opinion. But what’s next, can authors go to another similar platform that might feel a little easier to use and feel fresher on the whole?

Going elsewhere

The wonderful thing about the internet is variety and even in the book world which is seemingly monopolised by Goodreads. There is another awesome platform I use. BookBub, they have own site that’s fresh and personally I think its a decent space for authors. You can review books and connect with others. Check out my profile and if you are an author get yourself a profile and list your books on there. At least that way if they are listed on the site you can then apply for a featured deal – the book promotion holy grail – more on that here.

Final Thought

Overall Goodreads is a subject many authors tend to tread lightly on and I might be risking some incoming hatred but remember this post is just my opinion and not an attempt to shutdown the site or anyone who has left a low rating for a book. Goodreads does have a place in online authoring and probably will for a long time. If you do leave a comment reminding me that Goodreads is for readers then I will probably just ignore it.

I know reviews are just opinions and there isn’t much I can do about that. If you do have any grievances then do please leave them in the comments and not through rating my books on Goodreads.

So finally, what do you think of Goodreads for Authors? (and don’t tell me the site is for readers because I know that seriously…)

Thanks for stopping by.

Let’s talk about… Star Ratings

Book reviews. What do they really mean? Unlike most products out there, books aren’t reviewed for whether or not they function properly, books are reviewed through the opinion of a reader which is entirely different…

The word ‘subjective’ gets thrown around a lot in the literary world, Agents will cling to it when rejecting a query and many other reviewers will use it as an excuse to give good or even bad reviews of stories.

Above the sacred book review is an often overlooked factor of governance, the Star Rating which is the subject for discussion because on at least 3 platforms I know of in the book reviewing world, it differs..

Goodreads

Is Goodreads Free?

Goodreads (the Facebook of the Book world) takes their stance on the star rating system as follows…

More on caveats | lucinda sans

Now I’m pretty satisfied with most of their definitions and let’s face it, the only thing available to review on Goodreads is books so it’s pretty specifically set for them, that is until it comes down to the 2 star and below. To me 2 stars is less than OK for a book…

The truth is, I’ve never rated a book below 3 stars on any platform mainly due to the fact I just haven’t found a read like that yet; I am quite picky and know whether or not I am going to enjoy a book, so I see the star rating as a score out of 5 and anything below three isn’t a pass… (this is just my opinion folks)

Amazon

More Amazon delivery restrictions are coming | TechRadar

Amazon, arguably the most important place for authors to get reviews as it is where their work is sold exclusively from, like me. There appears to be a little difference between their rating and Goodreads, now Amazon have done the Amazon thing and I can’t find anywhere reputable throughout the Google that tells us straight up what each star in their rating system means. This could be because they don’t know, they don’t want us to know or maybe it’s a combo of both. So let us look to the 2 star review as an example:

beam me up

This ‘review’ is taken from my super hero comedy novella ‘The Teleporter’ and as you can see it’s not only a negative review but a DNF review also which is hardly in line with the Goodreads 2 star review of ‘It was OK’.

When comparing probably the two most important book reviewing platforms they contradict one another and that is without another major factor; personal preference which is what Mr Beam me up decided to do with his/her review because even if you put out guidelines, whether or not they will be followed is another thing and this reviewer didn’t then hop on over to Goodreads.

Reedsy Discovery

reedsy

You can expect my very first Reedsy Discovery review tomorrow and it’s a good one trust me! Now their rating system is strict compared to others. They feel that you don’t need to give every book a 5 star rating and of course save that for the truly exceptional reads.

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As you can see from their emoji heavy rating system that it agrees with me in principle. Anything below 3 is a ‘not for me’ but this also makes things tricky going upwards because of their stance of 5 star reviews, one has to find a truly exceptional book to use that rating.

Personal Preference

I don’ think there is one true way to rate a book using the above platforms and their own star rating systems. They differ too much, even without us realising. A four star review from Goodreads could mean something entirely different on Amazon because of the personal preference of a reader or because the guidelines aren’t particularly clear.

Personally I might have been way to generous in the past but arguably the books I’ve read had an effect on me and motivated me to rate them the way I did. The journey these authors have taken me on has led to what I thought of them and I pride myself on the support I give. The 5 star rating I give might not be for a truly exceptional once in a lifetime story but for the effort they put in to write something, to do research or even help me escape this world for just a while.

Authors view reviews as gold dust or even currency these days and it’s big business trust me. If it wasn’t for reviewing books, this very blog would be a ghost town.

What do you think of the star rating system for books? 

Erase history, erase the lesson…

France – June 10th 1944 

On a sunny Saturday in a rural farm village known as Oradour-sur-Glane 642 innocent people were massacred by the German 2nd Waffen SS Panzer division. They just turned up out of the blue that morning. Women and children were herded to the local church and then grenades were thrown through the windows. The men were split up and put in the many barns that surrounded the area. Those barns were set alight and any one trying to escape were immediately shot. The small peaceful village was then practically levelled by German grenades and fires. A harrowing tale of unnecessary violence toward fellow man. War has always been the same and the survivors were less than 10.

Instead of bulldozing the wreckage, it was decided that a new town be built very nearby and the current remains left as a reminder, as a monument of the harrowing destruction and loss of life war brings upon this world. And trust me, I know this because I have been there twice, and it’s poignant, quiet and sombre. You can feel the atmosphere among the silence. The still charred stone of buildings along the high street. A doctors car still left with it’s door open, rusted and sunken into the ground. The church, now without a roof or stained glass in the window frames. Bullet holes in the walls and many more plastered over a WW1 monument. The museum that straddles the monument puts everything into context, without it, maybe the place would be wrongly conceived as just a ruin, because new generations forget, but within those crumbled bricks and a growth covered tram line is the truth of what history really serves, a reminder and lesson of where humanity went once, and a hope that we can learn from it.

Oradour-sur-Glane, France: Remember. – Rick Steves' Travel Blog

Statues fall and so does the lesson…

Every now and then a moment in history moves many people toward a desire for change. As humans we should always be trying to better ourselves. Regimes fall and over time they are forgotten mostly, or at least their context is. Those people who died on that sunny Saturday are forever immortalised by the wreckage of their home which serves as a monument. If the French authorities were to tear down this monument, or if a mob of protesters looking for change suddenly invaded it, then there would be public outcry.

I see the news and what is going on right now. I can only think the same thing when I see these mobs tearing down statues, some of people who serve important moments in our history. There is no thought, just spray paint and tear it down. Of course some of these statues represent people and a time far gone. Slavery or even genocide, people who probably shouldn’t be paraded in public places, but removing that statue and that name entirely is erasing history. Erase the history and you erase the lesson and again we lose our humanity. 

Not for one moment should you think I agree with these statues and what they stand for morally once upon a time, I agree that they should stand as a reminder of where we were and where we are now. Like Oradour-sur-Glane in 1999 they opened that museum and gave everything some context, because people of that age were rapidly passing away, time takes away good people and memories of a certain time.

Put these statues in museums with some context beside them. People have lost reasoning because there is no context and they are desperate to see something done. Why is there a statue of this person? And more importantly why was it re homed to this particular exhibit.

You keep the history, you keep the lesson and eventually you reinstate humanity. I know what happened recently is terrible. And Black Lives Matter very much so, even more now than ever because racism needs to be stamped out and we can only do that via education and history. I’m 100% with everyone who’s feeds have become activist feeds recently, keep flying that flag, keep being proud to call bullshit on racism, but remember the history that got us here and view it in the context of modern day. This year alone has been the true test of humanity and we need it more than ever!

Weekly Ramble #71

Everything feels boring at the moment. Social media has gone stale and seems to be the same broken record playing over and over again. As an introvert I’ve never had a problem with being confined to just my own thoughts but when you confine everyone else at the same time, there’s the problem. Maybe because the whole flock is bored too it’s started some vacuum of mundane repetitiveness.

Twitter for me right now has hit rock bottom in my opinion, my following and those I follow are saturated by the writing community which is overall good but I need to branch out. I’ve muted so many writing community hashtags to try and avoid the monotonous repeat of every writers lift or follow train. How can a room full of millionaires appear to be individually rich when their numbers are all the same, everyday?

I turned off the Prime Minister’s brief last night and substituted it for a few hours in Skyrim. My opinion of the authority dwindles as we try to navigate these pain in the ass times which need to fuck off. This isn’t some depressive slump or episode, I’m fine, trust me, but it’s like what someone once said to me;

‘It will always be them and never you…’ 

Wise words…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #70

What are you doing to look after your mental health? Right now more than ever do we need to be conscious of our subconscious because every so often in times that are different it’ll peek out from behind the curtain and catch you out..

Many of us are creatures of habit. We rinse and repeat in a our lifestyles, it’s how they were designed. The ‘routine’ was our nuts and bolts. In most structures, if you take the nuts and bolts away, things fall to the floor. Our brains are no different, and after extended time in isolation and away from those who make up the construct of our human routines, it’s getting difficult. Everything is making me fed up.

If you like me, you’re probably sick to death of hearing phrases like ‘unprecedented times’ or even ‘corona’. The news is a plague in it’s own right. It’s sole content is this crap the world currently faces, yet another uphill challenge but this one has us all directly gripped. I try to stay away from it. This whole deal won’t change in days or probably weeks. Journalists, or at least some of them have slipped in my opinion of them. If you watch the daily briefings in whatever land you are, and there’s an opportunity for Q and A, you’ll hear the upmost absurdities being regurgitated from their mouths.

Recently here in the UK the daily brief has included questions from real people who are asking what we want to know (not journalists). Not about the stupid fucking economy but when will we be able hug our grandchildren, or take them to play in parks. Real questions that have a human implication to emote. Journalists default to this mode of questioning that is both aimed at making a figure head stumble and bring a somewhat level of misery to everyone else. Are they things we need right now? How are we going to relate to them if they just ask questions that trigger bad thoughts?

A key and gospel way of looking after your mental health is to choose. And by choose I mean not be around certain people and places. While this is hard because we are isolated, I have abstained from listening to the Q and A part of the daily briefings. While I wholeheartedly support freedom of speech and questioning the authority to an extent, there is some journalism that is just destructive and bares no necessity in the modern world. Fuck off with your negativity and stop trying to divide us. The one thing we will always have as a species, isolated or not is each other, let’s keep it that way shall we….

Revisiting ‘The Staircase’ – I think he did it…

True crime documentaries have taken a huge leap in quality as of recent. One of the culprits of that is Netflix and a few years ago I watched a documentary called ‘The Staircase’ and within a few episodes I was hooked and immersed. 

For those who have Netflix, this is essential if not mandatory viewing and covers the story of Michael Peterson – a man who is accused of pushing his wife down the stairs to a bloody death. The circumstances are odd and suspicious. After a second viewing of the whole deal, I am more than certain he did it… but why?

This post is best suited for those who have watched the Staircase. But those who haven’t be warned this will contain spoilers… 

The Staircase | Netflix Official Site

The whole docu-series is candid and unique look from the accused side of view,  for most it is seemingly on his side and it’s one hell of a roller coaster. Even with my now stance of thinking he did it, I am still aligned with how he was treated by the justice system of America. You do feel for the man and his journey. The District Attorney and Police force played some very dirty games and did everything they could just to get a conviction.

Peterson for all he’s accused of, seems like a nice and fair man. A veteran from the Vietnam conflict and father to four children, two of which are from a previous marriage and the other two, daughters from, well this is where the alarm bells begin to ring…

It turns out a close female friend previously died in very similar circumstances in Germany some years previous. After her death Peterson adopted her two daughters in an act of what appears to be kindness. But then the evidence begins to unravel.

All of this is just my opinion but I think he deliberately murdered these two women because both times they reacted badly to realizing his (bi) sexuality. Now this is just me spit-balling here but the sexuality concept is a big deal in the case. The police found stuff on his computer to suggest he was intending to do ‘stuff’ outside his marriage. While this alone isn’t any cause for murder and especially today with bisexuality and homosexuality being much more tolerated and considered the norm. Both times these women had to of found out and he either wanted to silence them or they didn’t accept it.

Another important point I noticed the second time around is that Michael Peterson loves the camera to a point where he is revelling in the coverage but not in an obvious way. We all know Ted Bundy loved the spotlight and so does Peterson but in a subtle way. He did it and that’s perhaps something we will never know.

What do you think? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #63

It’s getting more and more difficult not to get caught up in the storm that has seemed to encapsulate the modern civilized world.

This whole corona deal is becoming more and more absurd by the day. Is this really it or is this just hysteria? The internet age is not helping and that’s ironic for an information super highway – there just isn’t any of the right information at the moment and this thing is at all of our doorsteps.

Uncertainty is an uneasy thing and that’s what is forcing a reaction. That reaction vessel being toilet paper of all things. Events are shutting down and everything is getting cancelled but still there isn’t panic on the streets, nothing has gone to hell. Where are all the fires or bodies? Someone coming out of a coma right now will think that this is a now dystopian future but it isn’t.

Carrying on has it’s risks while isolation does too. You remove yourself from the world, eventually you’ll need to go back sometime. My line of work involves having to attend, it’s a must. A particle accelerator control room doesn’t fall under the ‘work from home’ umbrella. Our crew are shift workers, I arrive to relieve the next guy from his duties and he will do the same 8 or 12 hours later. It’s a radioactive site, it must be protected.

Writing involves staying in anyway and the show will go on. The blog will keep running and I shall do everything in my power to remain normal. I’m healthy, happy and semi muscular. I’m ready to step in and help those who can’t help themselves. My hands are cleaner than ever.

Social distancing does seem to be working. You should try it for a while. Not for others but for yourself. Even if you don’t stand beside what ever clown is in power, listen to their advice and watch the news.

Stay safe and stay healthy. We’ve got this. There has been worse… 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Problem(s) with WWE in 2020…

Fans of pro wrestling have been saying for as long as I can remember that the WWE ‘modern product’ is dying. The truth is, and although I am a casual or even social viewer these days, they may actually be right. Even I’ll admit from a very loose standpoint that I no longer know what they are doing to tell stories. 

Image

Those stories is what first drew me to tune into the then WWF all the way back in the late 90’s. The men and women who collided in the ‘squared circle’ were gladiatorial super heroes to me – the whole pageantry of the bright lights and a ruckus crowd pulled me in and even inspired me to be a stage performer. But that was then, and now what stands in place of a company that seemed to be on the constant up is a plateau of ‘cash grab’ style events that most probably keep it afloat.

Of course I am talking about the multiple event deal WWE is aligned with putting on in Saudi Arabia who are opening their doors to more and more mainstream entertainment. While these ‘shows’ may do wonders for the WWE’s bank balance their true investment in the global fans is suffering for it. Their latest event which last Thursday saw a popular modern day Champion known as Bray Wyatt (the Fiend) drop his belt to a part timer and star of yesteryear Bill Goldberg (who wrestled a handful of times in the past few years). Their match lasted no longer than their entrances and even left me asking questions.

Aged multi billionaire owner Vince McMahon is at the very forefront of ‘creative’ decisions and has been since most probably the stone age of wrestling. And with the short term of pleasing a singular audience in mind he is pretty much imploding the company’s rep from within. WWE has been a money making super business for some time now but their tunnel vision towards making that cash has began to unravel and even casuals like me can see it from afar. You can see the reactions from the twittersphere…

fan reaction

Part time performers seem to be a theme these days in WWE with McMahon acclaimed ‘attraction’ Brock Lesnar being a high profile champion for some years but only appearing every now and then. In fact he appears on a sometimes monthly basis and hence demotes the rest of the roster. This whole ‘nostalgia’ thing is great for one night but it has no longevity for the performers looking to prove themselves and become big stars of their own.

goldberg tweet

I guess even billion dollar companies ‘sell out’, that’s why they are worth billions but how long can they sustain doing things like this? Those who are ‘smartened up’ will know there is another wrestling promotion in the US which has recently emerged known as All Elite Wrestling. They too are backed by a billionaire and could eventually ‘go places’.  Perhaps WWE’s days are numbered… thank God I’m not a full time viewer these days…

 

 

 

 

 

‘The Devil Next Door’ – Netflix Review

In quite recent times Netflix have led the way in creating some truly gripping and informative documentaries. Over the past year I’ve kind of become obsessed with the stack of true crime programs that the now giant of streaming has to offer. Even though many of these stories are harrowing, chilling and disturbing; I find myself fascinated sometimes.

devil.PNG

Last week I came across a new release and at the time it appeared in the #1 trending thingy that Netflix have recently introduced – a feature somewhat better than ‘stuff you might like’ – in terms of television shows and their popularity the masses don’t lie most of the time.

‘The Devil Next Door’ happened to be sitting in that #1 trending spot and the trailer began playing before I could do anything and I was instantly hooked on the premise. That premise being the story of John Demjanjuk a retired Ukrainian who lived in America and was an American citizen until he was arrested for being identified as a Nazi war criminal.

Even now the subject matter is pretty heavy and to this day there isn’t a definitive answer why so many Jewish people lost their lives in what was a mass extermination during world war two. For me, even thinking about it and how much those people suffered is enough to first make me angry and then upset. So some of this 5 part documentary not only covers some harrowing subjects but it also shows some footage of what is probably just the tip of a sinister iceberg – this one isn’t for the sensitive types.

John Demjanjuk or ‘Ivan the terrible’ as he used to be known as while working in Nazi death camps finds himself extradited to Israel and what unfolds is a lengthy court case which could lead to conviction and possibly execution. The whole thing is spread out over a long time and throughout I found myself asking have they got the right guy here? Evidence isn’t as definitive as it would be today and this court case took place in the 80’s. Photo’s of him as a younger man are from identification papers from the world war era and it’s obvious to see he’s a lot older. This is just one of the many variables in what is a gripping account of court room footage and angst amongst the people this man might have committed vile acts against.

The whole morale dilemma runs parallel to a battle of identity along with right versus wrong. If this is the right guy should they be entitled to execute him? Would letting him live be a compassionate act that rises above what all of those people suffered? Should the court case have taken place on neutral ground? The whole concept is layered intricately with these questions and a roller coaster ride that I couldn’t look away from. The outcome might come as a shock which I won’t share but recommend you watch.

 The Devil Next Door is an enduring watch with a heavy subject matter, a subject matter that history cannot and will not ignore, it’s graphic in some places but it has to be because what we are shown is nowhere near as bad as what the real people suffered. It’s dramatic and even shocking in places but will hold your attention throughput. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should I self-publish? What do you think?

I’ve been here before, again I’m at a point where letters are going out to literary agents and there’s this thought; ‘why am I doing this?’ Now to get my reasoning for this blog post straight. I am not looking for attention or pat on the back. Yes I know one day my train will set sail and all but what I need right now is constructive advice.

The self-help books have been read, the various forums looked at. Some of closest friends consulted but still there is no answer as to whether or not I should self-publish my first book Clark Thorn and the Warrior Project. Everyone I go to is sitting beside me on the same side of the rather large castle wall. That castle being publication. There is nobody I know, that I could consult with a trustworthy decision or ounce of advice who is on the other side of that wall. Don’t get me wrong I take everyone’s advice on and I am thankful for that.

Now I know literary agents have to be selective and have got to choose the right project for them. They stick up various filters such as the want for a synopsis and a ‘standard’ cover letter. Why shouldn’t they, at the end of the day they only want the very best and they are in the position to want that.

But am I in that position also. Why should I choose the ‘traditional’ route. For all I know every agent that has ever looked at my book could think it’s a pile of shit. But that still doesn’t stop me because I know people are successful and have been successful for producing a lot less.

It does help to be talented at something in this world but it isn’t vital for success. Right now I don’t know, much like last year and when I opened the Hall of information. My idea now of self-publication is finding a relatively decent company/service whom I could pay to help me out. I am currently writing book 3 whilst book 1 is gathering dust. Wouldn’t it be better for me to build a readership by self-publishing?

I am fully open to suggestions. The floor is open for anyone to give me any constructive advice? Comments are welcome.