Sam Hawken Posts

Make Them Sorry, by Sam HawkenAnd so August comes to a close.  This was the release month for Make Them Sorry (link), as you may recall.  The latest and best Camaro Espinoza adventure.  If you don’t believe me about the “best” part, be sure to check out pretty much every review that’s come down the pike.  My publisher makes a point of passing these things on to me, because they know I dont read reviews as a general rule (link), and I’m happy to say they’ve all been top-notch.

I’ve also heard from more readers than ever about how much they love Camaro as a character, which is something I find gratifying in a real way.  Critics are nice to hear from, at least sometimes, but it’s when I hear from readers about how they connected with Camaro that I feel like I’ve genuinely succeeded.  I’ve been writing about Camaro for six years at this point, and I have yet to grow tired of her.  She has a few more stories left to tell — the next book is of critical importance, he said teasingly — and isn’t going anywhere just yet.  If you’re one of those folks out there who really likes what you’ve read, keep watching this space.

My thanks go out to everyone who bought a copy of the book, who told other people they should read it, and for all your support over the years I’ve been on this journey with Camaro.  It truly does mean the world to me.  Without you, I could not spend so much time with such a cool woman, though occasionally I think my wife gets jealous.

Be sure to get your copy of Make Them Sorry, the latest Camaro Espinoza thriller, available right now from your favorite bookseller. (link)

Camaro

Postive and negative ratingsThis could be the shortest post ever, because my point is perfectly encapsulated in the title of the entry.  I do not read Amazon reviews.  I used to, but I stopped years ago.  Similarly, I stopped reading reviews on Goodreads and so forth.  The only time I ever see them is when my publisher or readers send them to me directly.  I post them here, and move on.

Criticism is a real thing and can be incredibly useful.  By and large, however, what one finds on sites like Amazon isn’t criticism, but complaining.  Why isn’t the book like this other book?  Why did so-and-so have to die?  Why so many F-words?  Why is this so long?  Why is this so short?  The packaging on my shipment was lousy and my book got damaged!  And yes, you can find stuff like that last all over Amazon, because people apparently don’t know there’s a way to contact Amazon customer service about damaged or lost orders, and the author has nothing to do with that process.

I love hearing from readers, and have provided a way for them to get in touch with me via this site, but I won’t read what they have to say on Amazon, or anywhere like Amazon.  Because there’s a converse element to this which can’t be ignored: if one considers compliments valid, one has to consider complaints valid.  And, as I said, complaints are useless.  A well-reasoned critique is invaluable.  Grousing is not.

By all means, if you feel strongly about my books one way or another, post those thoughts wherever you like.  At the same time, don’t expect me to see them.  It’s not that I don’t care about getting better as an author, or continuing to do whatever it is I do well, but public reviews are more harmful than helpful.  And this goes for both writers and readers alike.  Everyone has an opinion, after all.  And what do we know about those?

Writing

Social MediaThere’s a school of thought which insists social media is an essential tool for writers.  As advertising budgets at publishers have shrunk, the attitude has been that authors should pick up more and more of the slack, constantly entertaining the world via clever tweets, perfectly filtered Instagram photos and pithy Facebook updates.  I could not care less about any of that, and I respectfully suggest you consider taking this stance.

At best social media is a time-wasting distraction.  Every minute you spend reading tweets, looking at posts or perusing images is a minute lost.  No work has been done.  And if you’re not working, then by definition you’re goofing off.  For someone like me, who depends on a steady income from producing fiction, goofing off is literally something I can’t afford.

This isn’t to say entertainment must fall by the wayside, or that one must work all the time.  However, I’ll ask you this: would you rather spend your time scrolling through a feed (of whatever kind) that’s been shown by objective study to cause depression (link), or is it better spent reading a book, taking a walk, playing a game, talking to someone close to you, or simply watching television? I know my answer.

If you’re a writer and your publisher says you have to use social media to sell books, tell them no thanks.  If your friends or family or coworkers insist you get a social media account to “keep up with everything,” don’t do it.  There is no good to come of being on these services that outweighs their negatives.  You are better off doing almost anything else.  Your Twitter feed isn’t going to sell books.  Your friends can send you a text if they want to go out.  Your relatives can pick up the phone.  You don’t need to see pictures of someone’s vacation, party or food.

And that’s why I don’t use social media.

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