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Ryan Field Books; Paid Book Reviews; Finding Beta Readers



Ryan Field Books Facebook

On facebook, I have an author page that’s been around for at least the last five years. However, I’ve personally been on facebook for almost as long as facebook has been around with my own name, and in that time I’ve built up a list of friends who are a cross between readers, family, and friends from all parts of the world.

So when I use facebook, it’s not only just for book promotion. Facebook for me is also a social outlet that I enjoy daily. And what happens as a result of this is the author page, Ryan Field Books, usually suffers and my own personal facebook account is where you’ll find me. And, I accept all friend requests unlike some people because I do think of that account as a place for readers, too. Frankly, I never got the concept of “Do you know this person?” on facebook. Part of the reason I’m on facebook it to meet new people, and not just stick to those I already know. It’s social media. Isn’t that the basic point of it? I’m supposed to turn people away just because I don’t know them? Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose?

The reason I’m posting about this now is because I checked out my author page late last night for the first time in months and found messages and comments left by readers who were thoughtful enough to take the time to do that. And I felt awful about not knowing this, and even worse because one of my biggest pet peeves about authors and social media is when the author is too grand and mighty to actually communicate and socialize with readers in any capacity. I see readers leaving comments on author status updates all the time and when the author never replies I get a little put off by that. I personally think it’s important to at least take the time to say something once in a while.

So I will try to start updating that author page, and I will keep up with things more frequently now. But if you did try to reach me on the author page and you didn’t get a response, please understand that was just me being absent minded and I always reply to everyone who contacts me. I would actually like to delete that author page, but I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea either.

Paid Book Reviews

I know I’ve posted about paid book reviews before here somewhere, but for those who don’t know what I’m talking about I’ll explain it again. This basically falls under the category of “Everyone says you should do this,” and authors are always being told that reviews are the most important way to promote their books. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve read this advice. And in the quest for book reviews some authors pay outside sources to read their books and review them.

I’m only going to link to one place right now, because some of the places where you can buy these book reviews are questionable at best. This link seems reputable. Although I’m not an expert on paid book reviews, I do know that Kirkus seems to have a good reputation in the field. But it’s not without pitfalls either, as this author notes in this blog post titled, “Kirkus Reviews: Is it Worth the Money?”

Not only was I starry-eyed, but I was also impatient. Instead of paying $425.00 for a review that might take 9 weeks, I decided to fork over the extra money and paid $575.00 for the 4-6 week review.

Once the review was published, however, nobody saw it. It got tucked away three or four layers deep into the Kirkus labyrinth of thousands of reviews, and you wouldn’t find it unless you searched for it specifically.

I’ve personally never paid for one single book review in my life, and at this point I don’t intend to do that. I’m not being holier than thou; I just prefer unsolicited reviews all the time. I also write some highly erotic gay romances, and most people tend to be discreet about leaving reviews for books of that nature. In other words, I get e-mails in private from someone who writes middle grade books telling me how much he loves my books, but I don’t expect him to review one of my books on his middle grade web site. Or for that matter, to review one of my books on Amazon with his real name. And that’s part of what comes with choosing to write anything highly erotic…and gay. No complaints. Everything about the genre deals with discretion and privacy…even what I post here on this blog. I self-censor all the time.

I’m also too damn cheap to pay Kirkus $575.00. I’d rather have this, or this instead.  And when I think as a business person, and I think about how many books need to be sold in order to make a paid review from Kirkus worthwhile, the numbers simply don’t add up unless you’re writing something mainstream with the potential to attract hundreds of thousands of people. Even in that case, I have a literary agent friend who advises his newer clients against paying that much for book reviews from anyone, and then he tells his authors to focus on social media and unsolicited reviews from readers. He’s a great agent and good friend and I trust him completely.

But the general point of this post is to show that paid book reviews are not uncommon, they aren’t unethical, and authors and publishers have been doing this for many years, both large and small. Of course there are a few questionable web sites out there that will review books for a fee (one for five bucks a book), but I think it’s safe to say that you’ll know them when you see them. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Finding Beta Readers

This is something one of my authors who contributed to The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance asked me about a month ago and I was at a loss. I know there are tons of beta readers out there, but I’ve never personally had one so I couldn’t name anyone specific. But I think beta readers are great, and when I saw this article I figured I’d link to it for those who are looking for beta readers, or even those who don’t know what betas are.

Don’t ask family or friends; their critiques are worthless. Are you part of any writing groups? You should be! Go join a few now for your next novel. I have a group of awesome friends online who have been invaluable beta readers for me. For now, go to Goodreads and find an author who writes the same kind of stuff as you. Look at the people who’ve reviewed his stuff, and consider if their reviews are accurate and insightful. Message 5 of them and ask them if they would read and critique your work. But really, fellow authors are the best because they can point out tangles in your structure and help you fix them better than readers can.

Whatever you do, don’t ever pay for a beta reader. The author who asked me about beta readers mentioned a company that will read and critique your book for a fee of $200.00 and I think that’s just insane. There are more than a few readers out there who would be willing to read your work and critique it for free. They love doing this, they are usually the best critics, and you’ll get an outside opinion that’s objective and more reliable than you can get anywhere else. In most cases, the beta reader is going to be the same type of reader who will be reviewing your book when it’s published.

Facebook Stock Down; Porn Star in Where We Belong; Obama and The New Normal

On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg had to deal with questions from aggressive stockholders about why facebook’s stock isn’t what he’d promised it would be by now. Facebook is free to millions of users and based on ad revenue, like most social media.

“We’re disappointed with the performance of the stock over the last year,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “We expect there’s going to be fluctuations.”

Mr. Zuckerberg also defended the company’s business model and several of its recent decisions, such as changes in its mobile apps and new ad products. He said there are signs of strength across Facebook’s business, especially in mobile, where about 30% of its sales now come from mobile ads.

It should be interesting to see how this continues to play out. The fact is that times are still hard for most people. Most people don’t click facebook ads (partly because they don’t trust viruses). We used to have no choice when it came to ads on TV and radio. We had to watch them or listen to them, or get up and leave the room until they were over. Now we do have a choice, for the most part, with ads and most of us don’t pay attention to them. Most ads annoys us. In a weird moment a few years ago I thought I wanted a nine feet tall white artificial Christmas tree. I searched for a few on google, and for the next three months I was followed by a shitstorm of ads for nine feet tall Christmas trees until I thought it would never end. I didn’t buy it in spite of the ads…or perhaps because of the annoying ads.

Facebook could start charging users. A lot of online newspapers and magazines are starting to do that. But would you pay to find out what Betty Jane Author Person had for lunch?

Actually, I’m on Zuckerberg’s side. I don’t know how it’s going to work out, but I hope it does. I do like social media and I think it’s helped change the world. I’m just not certain I’d pay for it.

You can read more here.

Porn Star in Where We Belong

I posted earlier that former porn star, Johnny Hazzard, is in a new gay indie film that’s not porn titled, Where We Belong. You can read more here.

Frankie Valenti, aka gay adult film star Johnny Hazzard, is set to make his big screen debut in the independent feature-length drama “Where We Belong.”

The film, set in a small town in Central California, highlights two estranged gay brothers who struggle to reconnect after the recent death of their homophobic father. Valenti plays the role of the younger brother and black sheep of the family.

Aside from the fact that I have a gay brother and that part about the film interests me, I also think it’s interesting that the film has been funded through kickstarter. I’ve posted several times about kickstarter here. If you haven’t heard of it, you might want to check out that link.

Kickspy lists the details here.

Here’s a facebook page for the film.

Obama and the New Normal

I posted more than once about the TV show The New Normal.  I was on the fence with it for a while, I finally started getting into it more, and now I hear it’s been canceled.

NBC quietly canceled its groundbreaking gay sitcom “The New Normal” after just one season on Friday. The news was met with very little fanfare from the liberal media, which stood in stark contrast to the circus atmosphere hype surrounding the show’s premiere on September 11, 2012.

The cancellation was among a long list of shows such as “Go On” and “Guys With Kids” which were also canceled Friday.

“The New Normal” was produced by Glee’s Ryan Murphy, who sought to redefine the way families are portrayed on TV. Murphy arrogantly described TNN as “changing the face of television.”

Of course One Million Moms took credit for The New Normal Being Canceled. This is very amusing:

A conservative and notoriously anti-gay group is claiming responsibility for the cancellation of the NBC series “The New Normal.”

Joe. My. God cites an email sent to him from Monica Cole, the leader of One Million Moms, who writes, “Our persistence has paid off once again! ‘The New Normal’ got the axe by NBC after the show’s first and only season!”

You can read more of this nonsense here.

Give us a break, million moms. And give us some credit, too. The reason I think The New Normal was canceled was because it was too self-indulgent. I wrote about that here last year. I was wrong about TNN sticking around. I guess you can’t win them all. But I don’t think I was wrong about it being way too self-indulgent.

There was a TV show years ago where the creator used to get very political. It was called “Designing Women,” and it’s still on TV in some markets in syndication. In the beginning, it was a great show. But as each season passed it started getting more political and self-indulgent and it wound up being more cheese than actual entertainment. The only reason I watched it was because Delta Burke was hysterical and her character grounded the other big mouths who were always complaining and harping about something. And it always seemed as if the creator of that show, Linda Bloodworth Thomason, was standing on a soap box telling the world her political opinions: self-indulgence once again. The show wound up tanking after Burke left, and Bloodworth-Thomason went on to create other shows that never did half as well as “Designing Women.”

Those one million moms can think anything they want, but the fact is that I know many gay men and women who didn’t watch TNN because they couldn’t relate to it. Some I know hated it. I actually did relate to TNN in many ways, but not all gay people are like me or like the characters on TNN. And that’s the problem with being self-indulgent. You tend to assume too much, and you don’t take into consideration that not everyone agrees with you. 

In the same respect, on the very day that TNN was canceled, the US Department of Education made a huge change of its own:

The new policy, which takes effect in the 2014-2015 school year, will eliminate the terms “mother” and “father” from student aid forms. The new, non-gender specific terms will be “Parent 1″ and “Parent 2″.

The change is being instituted to make children who were raised in non-traditional same sex homes more comfortable with the application process.

“All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement.

You can read more here, where Sandra Rose gets into a few interesting statistics about HIV/AIDS.  


Facebook Bug Shuts Web Down; Freedom to Marry

The article to which I’m linking explains more about the issues Facebook had last week, which seemed to be about Facebook’s connect API that resulted in shutting down more than a few web sites. This article from Technorati explains it fairly well.

The said Facebook glitch apparently stemmed from the company’s Connect software, a system that lets outside websites sync with Facebook, so people can do things such as post “Likes” or comments back to friends, or log in using their Facebook identities.

The Facebook Connect problem had also apparently caused people logged in at Facebook who tried to visit websites synced to the Connect feature to be redirected to a Facebook error page.

I didn’t actually experience any issues myself, but I do use Facebook to connect with several web sites, like goodreads and some livejournal blogs. I think I use it to connect with Huff Po, too. But for me it’s not a huge issue because I spend as little time at goodreads as possible, and the only blog I’ve frequented regularly on livejournal was Elisa Rolle’s blog. But since Elisa moved, I rarely ever to to livejournal anymore. I’ve had a blog there for a long time and I probably should just delete it. The most traffic I ever get is spam. I just always figure it can’t hurt to keep the address with my name. So I leave it alone.

In any event, here’s more about the facebook issue here, at Business Insider.

It appears users who went to a site that used a Facebook button to let users log in redirected to a Facebook error page. The glitch went away if users logged out of Facebook.com.
We experienced the glitch with several major sites including Gawker, New York Times, CNN, and even Business Insider.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-connect-glitch-2013-2#ixzz2KWmn7tXO

Facebook issued a statement later, which you can read more about at the link above. They basically just blew it off as something insignificant. For all we know, it may have been nothing important. But I have seen a few bloggers shouting to the heavens about how dangerous something like this could be. Of course I wouldn’t take any of them very seriously because their rants sound a little too high strung. But it is interesting that Facebook does have the power to shut the web down in such large numbers, with such large web sites, even for a short amount of time. And I will start to rethink how I sign in to other web sites next time I’m offered the option of just signing in with Facebook. I always did it to save time. But nowadays I don’t think it hurts to be too safe.

And if you don’t know this by now, listen carefully. Never click a link on facebook unless you are 100% certain it’s safe. Links to blog posts, and links to reputable web sites seem safe, and most of the time they are. But I have heard of people clicking links to things like “Win a Free iPad,” and they’ve had to pay hundreds of dollars to fix their computers. Tech help is not cheap.

Freedom To Marry

For those who are not on the Freedom to Marry e-mail list, I try to post about these things just to pass the information on. It’s an important organization with regard to same sex marriage, and they are working hard to change the world.

From my inbox:

2013 is shaping up to be another groundbreaking year for the freedom to marry. Marriage bills are being considered in multiple states, and next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear two marriage cases.

That’s why Freedom to Marry is working to raise and invest at least $2 million dollars through our Win More States Fund in battleground states – including Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

No matter where you live, we all have a stake in winning these battles to set the stage for winning marriage nationwide. Winning in as many of these states as possible will clearly show the rapidly growing momentum for ending marriage discrimination once and for all.

Ryan, will you join us in helping to win these critical marriage battles by making a donation to Freedom to Marry’s Win More States Fund today?

http://freedomtomarry.org/winmorestates

Every dollar raised through the Win More States Fund will be channeled strategically into these critical campaigns where and when they are needed the most, supporting grassroots organizing, television and radio spots, new media programs, lobbying, and more.

Freedom to Marry is embedded in each of the campaigns, putting staff and resources on the front lines to do the critical work necessary to win. As we reach out to you now, Freedom to Marry has already raised $800,000 toward our initial $2 million goal.

Ravenous Romance: The Vegas Shark; Phila DA Goes After Zuckerberg; Sen. Menendez Gets Online Wank

Update: Here’s a purchase link to allromanceebooks.com ]

Ravenous Romance Link here.

Amazon Link here. 

I’ve been told my new book in the Bad Boy Billionaire series, The Vegas Shark, will be out sometime today or tomorrow. I don’t have links right now, but I will come back and update as soon as I get them.

I posted something about The Vegas Shark a few weeks ago, and did an interview blog hop with a group of authors and talked about a few things I don’t normally get into. If you are so inclined, you can read that here.

I did a few different things in this book I don’t normally do, and for some reason I find hard to explain, I felt much closer to this book than I have to any books since I wrote “Chase of a Lifetime.” It’s not a parody or based on any films or straight romances, but I do hope it’s funny in certain sections…or at least someone will think it’s funny. I also hope they think it’s sexy, because Treston is a hot little guy. He is a gentle, loving male stripper who makes a name for himself in Vegas by shooting ping pong balls out of a very interesting part of his body. And I used music this time, which I don’t always do.

Here’s the plot description that will be up on all web sites:

Even though life is far from perfect, handsome young Treston Fair Leigh believes in heroes and fairytales. His favorite song is You Are My Sunshine and he’s certain love can conquer all.

But when the man he’s supposed to marry does something so unthinkable to him he’s not sure he’ll ever recover, he stops looking for love altogether…until he meets the one man in the world he believes is intrinsically decent enough to save him from all the bad boys he’s ever known.

While he’s planning to marry his hero, he quits his job as stripper and part time escort and rearranges his life. The only problem is the most notorious billionaire bad boy in Vegas has fallen in love with him, through no fault of his own. And no matter how hard Treston tries to fend off his advances and insult him the bad boy won’t give up.

Only this time Treston is serious and he’s going for the good guy instead of the bad. He doesn’t care about money or looks or fame. But will the billionaire bad boy leave him alone? And is the man Treston’s going to marry truly ready to forget about Treston’s past, the unusual way he shoots ping pong balls out of his body, and all the men he’s been with?
 
When I heard about the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office going after Facebook, I had to read more about it. I live in a Philly suburb and I find these online legal issues fascinating for many reasons. One, I’ve been working online for a long time, in the wild west days of the Internet, and I have been amazed at the things I’ve seen people get away with online they normally wouldn’t be able to get away with in real life. Two, because I think as more people become familiar with the Internet we’ll be seeing more legal issues arise. A lot of the Internet is lawless…as it stands now…and many of these Internet businesspeople have been playing by their own set of rules as if they don’t have to be held accountable to anyone. This recent turn of events with the Philadelphia DA’s Office I think is just the beginning of more to come.

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams is publicly calling on Facebook to remove photos he says threaten the safety of a cooperating witness.


A Philadelphia woman agreed to testify against drug dealers for whom she purchased guns.

Williams says Freddie Henriquez posted her statement to police on his Facebook page along with other postings about killing “rats.”

The DA’s office has asked Facebook to take down the posts, but the company said the images do not violate its policies. Williams held a news conference Monday to display the offending images and throw some weight behind his request.

You can read more here. What I find interesting is how many times have we heard that last line before. This shows you the arrogance the DA is working with, and how the people at Facebook set their own rules and standards and are not held accountable to anyone…or at least not until now.

This is also interesting:

Williams called on Zuckerberg to be a “good corporate citizen” by ordering Facebook to remove the page of a Philadelphia man Williams alleges used it to solicit the killing of a witness in a case involving illegal firearm purchases.

So far, Facebook – if not Zuckerberg personally – has said no, because Freddie Henriquez’s page urging people to “kill rats” does not violate any of Facebook’s terms of use.

“I asked to be district attorney. . . . Victims didn’t ask to have their car stolen, didn’t ask to be raped or shot,” Williams told reporters.

Williams said he had sent a letter to Zuckerberg asking him to order Henriquez’s page removed and his Facebook account deactivated.

In an e-mail, Facebook did not directly address Williams’ remarks.

Of course they didn’t address the remarks. That’s because they don’t have to follow any rules like other businesses and they can make all their own rules up as they go along. As I said above, it will be interesting to see how more of these issues are handled in years to come. I don’t see this going away.

In an even more amusing post about all things Internet, it seems Sen. Menendez from New Jersey has received some classic online treatment and he’s stunned, simply stunned. I’m really only smiling out of the side of my face with this, and I know how serious it is and how these allegations can hurt people. Once something is online it’s up there forever. And there are clever, devious people who have figured this out while the rest of society has not been taking the Internet very seriously.

This is a statement from Menendez, and you can read more at the link above. I don’t know if these allegations are credible or not and that’s not my point with this post. I’ve reached a point where nothing a politician would do would surprise me anymore. I’m talking more about the nature of the Internet, how vicious it can be, and how permanent these things are. They don’t go away.  

“It’s amazing to me that anonymous, nameless, faceless individuals on a website can drive that type of story into the mainstream,” Menendez said. “Now nobody can find them, no one ever met them, no one ever talked to them … The bottom line is that all of those smears are absolutely false.”

Well, where the hell have you been, Sen. Menendez, because this is exactly what they do, and they have been doing this for a long time. In fact, some have made it their lives. Others, like a few publishing web sites, are only popular because they smear and lie this way. All I can say is welcome to the real world, Sen. Menendez, as it stands today. If you could see some of the corruption I’ve seen you’d be amazed. And guess what, they’re only going to call you a politician “behaving badly” now because you actually had the audacity to complain about it. You see, Sen. Menendez, there’s nothing wrong with being anonymous on the Internet. In fact, it’s encouraged by some of the loudest voices on the Internet. But I guess you’re learning the hard way like the rest of us.

As a side note, just because it’s interesting, I recently read a blog post where an author actually tells readers to go to Goodreads, create a fake identity, and leave anonymous comments to complain about something. I swear I’m not joking about this. I’m not linking because the blogger is an idiot and I don’t feel like promoting an idiot. My point here has nothing to do with the topic the blogger/author is talking about in the post. I couldn’t care less about her feelings or concerns. I’m only talking about how she actually encourages people to go to Goodreads and create fake names and identities.

I’m actually starting to think I’ve been doing things all wrong by not having fake identities.  

But then again, you can’t make this stuff up. And I have a lot more fun knowing I can use my name and real identity in the long run.

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A "Beautimous" Thing About Social Media and Politics

The “beautimous” thing about social media is that we control it ourselves. It’s not a democracy and we can pick and choose who we want as friends. And that means that other people can pick and choose whether or not they want us as friends.

Pardon my “beautimous” title, but we’ve been without power since Monday and living on a generator thanks to hurricane Sandy. Most of this section of PA and NJ are without power, so there’s not much to do but watch TV…for those of us lucky enough to have generators. Last night TV was so boring I wound up watching a Honey-Boo-Boo marathon. So that should tell you the kind of mood most of us are in around here.

This morning while getting gas for the generator I saw two women almost get into a fist fight over who was in line first. Had I not been waiting for an hour because there’s only one gas station open I would have found that entertaining. But people are on edge; it’s been stressful for some and overwhelming for others. No one’s in the mood to play.

My literary agent friend in NY, where they got hit even worse than we did by Sandy, has power in his apartment, but no power in his offices and his associates can’t get to work because they live in New Jersey, and all public transportation is at a stand still. He’s not in a very good mood, and he typically has a very long fuse and suffers fools a lot better than most people I know.

Yesterday he e-mailed me a story about something that happened to him on facebook that made him livid. He saw a woman, a little known author with a small press who worked as a journalist for an even smaller publication, post something political. According to him, it was one of those vicious political updates we’ve all grown so used to they are almost invisible now…usually posted by some fanatic who never actually does anything more than rant on social media. I don’t mind smart political posts by anyone about any candidate. I welcome them because they inform me. My friend Jill on facebook is always posting about politics and her posts are smart. But those who post too much rubbish on either side of the political spectrum are hidden from my news feed never to be seen or heard from again.

My agent friend posted a comment on the update he saw yesterday, which isn’t something he normally does. But the dumb status update by the woman author was related to Hurricane Sandy and he’s short on patience because he’s experiencing the aftermath right now in New York. This woman author, who lives in a place that hasn’t been affected by Sandy, replied to his comment with another snarky comment. He replied back, and then she continued to challenge him.

He ultimately wound up unfriending and blocking the “idiot.” He has a photographic memory and claims he can remember almost every name he’s ever come across, especially author names. And now this woman author who was ranting on facebook about politics will always be the “idiot” who pissed off a prominent NY literary agent who was only trying to be nice to her in the beginning by pointing out a fact.

On a grand scale, that’s probably a small thing. And the “idiot” author probably doesn’t care one way or the other, nor does she even realize he blocked her and will always remember how rude she was. But do it often enough and more people start to remember you. And those people will tell other people, and so on and so forth. And before you know it, you become known as the facebook “idiot.”

I’ve seen it happen so many times I can’t count them. I’ve blocked and unfriended people for less and they probably don’t even know it. And I have a very long fuse. I can’t take a lot and overlook a lot and make more allowances than most people I know. Under normal conditions I think most people feel the way I do. But screw around with stressed out people after a major storm like Sandy and you’re taking a chance. As I said, the “beautimous” thing about social media is that people can cut you off, without looking back, faster than you can post another political update on facebook.

I will never understand why some authors, especially those who don’t have great sales and don’t write political books, are willing to take the chance of pissing anyone off with their political rants. I would think after working so hard on a novel, and working even harder to get it pubbed, they would want their names to be associated with that novel, and not associated with politics on facebook. But what do I know?  

Facebook New Friend Request Fail for Authors…

This is a good example of how to “friend” someone on Facebook:

Hi, thanks for accepting my friend request. Hope we get to know each other better.

To which I always reply:

Thank you for sending the request. Nice to meet you.

I have never refused a request from anyone. I know there are people who guard their friend list with great care. I respect that but I’m not one of them. I figure I’m out there already with books and I’m not going to insult someone by not accepting a friend request. I made that choice the first year Facebook hit the Internet.

But…

This is facebook friend request fail:

Check out my books!! You won’t be disappointed!!

Well guess what? I know I won’t be disappointed, because the last thing I’m going to do now is check out your books or anything else about you. Same goes if you start hocking me to attend events, or put me into a group that clogs up my inbox with FB notifications. I know I can turn the notifications off, but the fact that I have to even do that irritates me.

I don’t do it to other people, and I don’t like it done to me. And I think most people would agree with me.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to use social media. And if I’m thinking this, trust me there are many others thinking the same thing but not saying it.