One of my favorite writers thinks I suck.
Yeah, it's true.
Well, no, it's not, either. I am vast, I contain multitudes.
I'm Facebook friends with one of my all time favorite sf writers, whose name I will not mention here to protect me from snoopy search engine related recriminations of which I want none. This guy has been very friendly to me in the past and he actually read some of my fiction. He read one of my short stories that I was very proud of ("No Good Angel", you can probably read it yourself by clicking a link on my sideboard) and his response was 'mehhhhh'... he indicated that he wasn't surprised it hadn't sold, as it hadn't grabbed him. On the other hand, he said, he wouldn't have been surprised if it had sold. He could see it going either way.
Now, look... I know this guy is a working author and he did me an enormous favor reading the story. And he didn't say it sucked. So when I say 'one of my favorite writers thinks I suck', I'm being whiney and melodramatic. I get that. Still.
Anyway, sometime later he bought one of my novels off Kindle (ZAP FORCE) and I never heard anything back about whether he'd even read it or not. I mean, six months went by and he didn't say a word. Then, in a completely unrelated thread (well, I was bitching on FB about how apparently I just suck as a writer and I should just give up the dream) he mentioned that he had "really liked" ZAP FORCE. And offered to do a blurb for it.
Now, weeks later, he's finally done the blurb:
""If you love Silver Age comics, and what decent person doesn't, D------ M------ has recreated what you love in 'Zap Force.' It's nostalgic, it moves fast, and you can almost see the colored pages as you read. Tons of fun."
This is like when you're trying to fix your homely cousin up with a date. This is the "he/she has a great personality" blurb. Notice (as anyone else reading it will instantly) that at no point does he use any genuinely positive descriptors. He never says "great" or even "good". He doesn't mention my writing abilities at all. He advises that my book is 'nostalgic' and 'it moves fast' and 'you can almost see the colored pages as you read'... and finally, he says it is 'tons of fun'.
What he doesn't say is that it's a good book, that it's well written, that the author knows what he's doing, that the author has a great style, that he loved the characters or the story or the dialogue... he doesn't say any of that, and my guess is, he doesn't say it because, well, none of it is true. He didn't like it. He doesn't think I'm a good writer. He's simply not going to say so... any more than you're going to tell your homely cousin "I can't get a date for you, dude, you're ugly as shit".
Now, I've recently reread ZAP FORCE and I think it's a terrific little novel. It does indeed move fast, it has awesome characters, terrific dialogue, it's funny and it's witty and it has a great plot and stuff blows up in it real good... and that's the kind of blurb I want from the people who read it. Especially when they are one of my favorite authors in the world.
A mediocre blurb like that isn't fooling anyone, and it isn't going to help me. It's not going to help my morale and it's certainly not going to help my sales. It's very much as if he thinks I'm a child, or at least, an idiot; like I can't see, from that blurb, what he actually thinks of my abilities.
Or maybe he is pretty sure I can see what he actually thinks of my abilities from that lackluster blurb that he sent to me in a Facebook message rather than posting into his own stream or on his own page.
Maybe he's just letting me down as easy as he can.
I think I'd rather he just said "you suck".
* * * * *
Here's how you blurb someone's book if you really like it:
""D.A. Madigan crams more classic pulp tropes into one story ('A Dish Best Served Cold') than 'Kenneth Robeson' managed to shoehorn into 181 Doc Savage novels. If you like your pulp extra pulpy with a big slug of purple stirred in, D.A. Madigan is the writer for you."
"They don't write 'em like that any more... D.A. Madigan is a consonant connoisseur of all things pulp, and an absolute master of the form. His dialogue sizzles, his plots move fast, his heroes are noble and his heroines are hot. If you don't find your favorite pulp story ever somewhere in this anthology, you don't love pulp fiction."
"ZAP FORCE is pure pulp from start to finish -- hard hitting heroes, villains that rant and rave with the worst of them, evil aliens, capes & cowls, zombies & werewolves, particle beams & explosions, all mixed up with the most kick ass fight scenes Jack Kirby never drew -- if you dig that kind of thing, this one should be on your Christmas list."
Unfortunately, if I want this shit done right, I have to do it myself.
Tales of the Nebula: the Purple Pulp Fiction of D.A. Madigan
ZAP FORCE #1: ROYAL BLOOD