Dear Publishers of Lesfic,

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Re: Dear Publishers of Lesfic,

Postby Baker » 15 May 2013, 07:50

That is a good review. This bit added lots of credibility for me:
In order to keep the mystery a mystery while still preserving Maggie's fragile ego, Maggie will frequently "hide" details from her own internal narration, only to reveal them later on when it's more appropriate. Which implies that Maggie Gale knows that there's an audience or is omnipotent, either of which would be in gross defiance of the point of having an internal monologue narration to start with. And even if she DID know there was an audience, it's still cheap tactic instead of actual character tension, or, you know, admitting Maggie could ever make a deductive mistake.

This shows the reviewer has an understanding of some basic storytelling mechanics. If the author is doing this, bleh! I would not be a happy reader.

What I found interesting was looking at all the reviews of that book. The reviewers who gave it 5 stars fall into two categories: (1) those who have written only a review on this book or at most one or two others; and (2) prolific reviewers who only seem to give books 5 stars. (A couple of the reviewers had over a thousand reviews to their credit--not just of books--so I only checked back through half a dozen pages of their most recent reviews.)

This illustrates something I do to evaluate reviews: I check out the record of the reviewers to see their record. If I see the person has only posted 4 or 5 star reviews, I check to see if they have reviewed a book I have read. If they have, I make a judgement on their reliability (wrt their tastes and critical abilities aligning with mine) based on that common point of knowledge. (One of the reviewers of the above book has given 5stars to that unmitigated POS "One Fine Day", so her/his opinion is a complete wash for me.) If they haven't, then I will simply discard their highly favourable review as unreliable because they only post favourable reviews.

Now, I have no idea how other people approach evaluating the reliability of reviews with a view to their usefulness as guides for their own reading tastes. :dunno:

Elaine wrote:They either lie and give them five stars or they don't review them at all (if you can't say something nice...). So if the four and five stars were at least for real, fine, but that doesn't help me avoid the one stars.

Do you think people lie about finding a book a smashing read for them? Oh, I have no doubt that people have different criteria for finding a book worthy of praise, and I know some people have undisclosed vested interests in posting fulsome reviews and high ratings, but do you really think there are people who think a book sucks shit through an old sock but who give it 5stars anyway?
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities ~ Voltaire
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Re: Dear Publishers of Lesfic,

Postby wildlx » 15 May 2013, 08:02

Baker wrote:This illustrates something I do to evaluate reviews: I check out the record of the reviewers to see their record. If I see the person has only posted 4 or 5 star reviews, I check to see if they have reviewed a book I have read. If they have, I make a judgement on their reliability (wrt their tastes and critical abilities aligning with mine) based on that common point of knowledge. (One of the reviewers of the above book has given 5stars to that unmitigated POS "One Fine Day", so her/his opinion is a complete wash for me.) If they haven't, then I will simply discard their highly favourable review as unreliable because they only post favourable reviews.

Now, I have no idea how other people approach evaluating the reliability of reviews with a view to their usefulness as guides for their own reading tastes. :dunno:

I also make a similar evaluation on the reviews.
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Re: Dear Publishers of Lesfic,

Postby FranW » 15 May 2013, 09:20

Baker wrote:Do you think people lie about finding a book a smashing read for them? Oh, I have no doubt that people have different criteria for finding a book worthy of praise, and I know some people have undisclosed vested interests in posting fulsome reviews and high ratings, but do you really think there are people who think a book sucks shit through an old sock but who give it 5stars anyway?

I think the vast majority of readers do not do this, but there are some readers/reviewers who have a vested interest and so yes, they will give a book five stars not because they liked the book but because they want to please the publisher or the author, or because they are compensated for providing a positive review.
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Re: Dear Publishers of Lesfic,

Postby ElaineB » 15 May 2013, 13:50

I have no idea why they do it, but it seems clear they must.
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Re: Dear Publishers of Lesfic,

Postby Nurse Jo » 16 May 2013, 08:22

I enjoy reading the reviews of books in the weekend papers, both non-fiction and fiction. They are detailed and robust to say the least. There are rarely 5 star reviews :) . Quite honestly, I source most of my reading material from these reviews. The papers I use are The Times and The Guardian usually. I try not to look at Amazon reviews, imo you might as well discount 90% of the Amazon ratings.

When I read lesfic I generally do not expect literary greatness, in the same way that I do not expect literary greatness from what I call 'beach holiday' books. These books I read for light entertainment and I enjoy them very much. They have an important role in my life, just as valid as the more 'heavyweight' books. For example, I really enjoy both Rosamunde Pilcher's and Zadie Smith's books. Different parts of me are satisfied with the different styles of authors. Lesfic is definitely more Rosamunde Pilcher (family saga/romance fest) which is neither good nor bad in itself. It 's what it is.
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Re: Dear Publishers of Lesfic,

Postby PhoenixGre » 23 May 2013, 10:11

Nurse Jo wrote: When I read lesfic I generally do not expect literary greatness, in the same way that I do not expect literary greatness from what I call 'beach holiday' books. These books I read for light entertainment and I enjoy them very much. They have an important role in my life, just as valid as the more 'heavyweight' books. For example, I really enjoy both Rosamunde Pilcher's and Zadie Smith's books. Different parts of me are satisfied with the different styles of authors. Lesfic is definitely more Rosamunde Pilcher (family saga/romance fest) which is neither good nor bad in itself. It 's what it is.


I actually think the same. Mostly, I read Lesfic for my own brand of fantastical escapism. So what hits the spot for me tends to be how entertaining and immersive the romantic dynamics unfold, per my taste. Which, of course, is a poor indicator of any judgement of mine regarding quality. I wonder, could it be what the 4/5 star reviews are about? That these reviewers are completely doing away with even basing their opinions on any kind of literary merit, because they figured that nobody, who have been reading lesfic for awhile at least, will be turning to them with 'heavywight' reading in mind. Thus, it's more or less a 'movie-style' entertainment rating value. I don't know, I'm really just grasping at straws here.

However, variety is always the key. And hopefully in time, we will be getting a bigger library consisting of excellent quality on par with other genres, alongside what we have now.

I'm also curious as to what kind of titles are the strongest selling ones over at the main lesfic publishers like Bold Strokes books. Nothing to with publishing, but I do take a look once in awhile at sale stats regarding another form of genre, and regardless whether what's produced is quality or dreck, it's really an eye-opener as to what does well and what doesn't.
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Re: Dear Publishers of Lesfic,

Postby ElaineB » 24 May 2013, 00:22

I do wonder if lesfic is "graded on the curve," meaning five stars for a lesfic book aren't the same as five stars for, say, Toni Morrison. And yes, what sells, and what's considered "good" may not be the same thing. Just look at Fifty Shades of Grey. I haven't read it, but the consensus seems to be it's not well written. Sometimes just having a "platform," a ready-made audience is enough.
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Re: Dear Publishers of Lesfic,

Postby Baker » 24 May 2013, 07:14

ElaineB wrote:I do wonder if lesfic is "graded on the curve," meaning five stars for a lesfic book aren't the same as five stars for, say, Toni Morrison.

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is the case.


Elaine wrote: And yes, what sells, and what's considered "good" may not be the same thing. Just look at Fifty Shades of Grey. I haven't read it, but the consensus seems to be it's not well written. Sometimes just having a "platform," a ready-made audience is enough.

Exactly. When you have multiple measures of success, it's inevitable that a book will be a runaway success according to one measure but an abysmal failure on a different scale. I think what we have to bear in mind for lesfic is that publishers use the sales metric, and nothing else. They are in the business of selling books, so successful to them is the bottom line. There is zero incentive for them to bother with that nebulous concept of quality if it has no bearing on sales. That is where reviews come in. If people have no idea a book is good or dreck, there is no way a potential reader can avoid the crap and buy only the well-written, well plotted, good stuff. Which is why only rating books highly, or reviewing books you want to give a four or five star rating to, is counter-productive to the desire to see an array of high quality books offered for sale.
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Re: Dear Publishers of Lesfic,

Postby Proofrdr » 25 May 2013, 07:30

Nurse Jo wrote: I really enjoy both Rosamunde Pilcher's and Zadie Smith's books...


I've not read Smith's works, but I discovered Pilcher when I was in the Peace Corps. The Keeper's House was in the book locker each household of PCVs received. When I returned to the US, I read all the Fraser books and all the Pilcher books until the late 70s when I started a second teaching job. I had no time for pleasure reading at that point and kind of forgot about her. You're right--they're great books for reading at the beach. She's a good writer.

I don't expect great literature with every book I read. But I do expect to be entertained by a good story with careful, honest writing. I think the problem with lesbian fiction is that the vast majority of readers are not demanding good writing. I think they are just eager for stories that revolve around lesbians and are happy with what they can get. What they get is pedestrian at best: undeveloped stereotypical characters, predictable plots, limited and uninspired description [if any], stilted dialog, and obligatory sex.

I also don't expect editors to rewrite books for the authors, but I do wonder how much editing they are actually doing. At least the spelling, grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure should be correct. Some of these books are coming through in horrendous condition.
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Re: Dear Publishers of Lesfic,

Postby Baker » 25 May 2013, 09:45

Yes, I know editors are limited in that they have to get authors to work on changes rather than simply take the helm themselves. I do appreciate that. It must be immensely frustrating for an editor to analyse a book, point out the problems, suggest solutions, and have an author either unwilling or unable to enact those changes. On the other hand, some lesfic editors are simply shocking. It seems anyone who has a book published can set out a shingle as an editor and work on another author's book. Editing is not something you are automatically qualified to do because you are functionally literate. The best editor I've had analysed my book on multiple levels (structure, character arcs, prose etc etc), and made suggestions. She was open to discussion. I didn't always agree with her, but I respected her skills and experience enough to go with her suggestions. I sure as heck wouldn't do that with every person who styles themselves an editor who works for a lesfic press. I've heard some horror stories from authors who got paired up with incompetent editors. The damage they can do is not simply to one book, but they can put the author on some wrong tracks with their writing in general.

Part of the reason for shitty editors is also the problem with shitty books: the pay is low. Lesfic publishers don't want the expense, and time, involved in a thorough editing of the books they put out. They know their audience doesn't demand it: heck, some of them simply repackage fan fic and ask people to pay money for it. And some of that shit sells.

The most glaring example of this was "One Fine Day". There are so many basic structural problems that I find it hard to believe the editor did anything except make sure her name was spelled correctly on the galley proofs.
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