Saturday, 13 May 2017

Shiny's One Star Review - and How I Dealt With It. Plus more FREE stuff.

Thank You

Just wanted to thank everyone who participated in Kindle Countdown last week for A Shiny Coin For Carol Prentice.  

I sold a bundle (well, relatively - I was happy) and, for a brief moment, hit some decent rankings, particularly in the US, thanks to E-Reader News Today and a terrific little site on Fiverr.

She's also hit 20 reviews on UK, where the Storyteller Contest is taking place. I'm delighted with that.

And that's down to you. Thank you xx. 

Carol, Steve, Marin, Rob, Pippa and the lovely people of Southwell/Wheatley Fields thank you too. 

Except Toby, of course. He's nasty.

Designed by Brenda Perlin
A Bad Notice

Shiny got her first 1* review last night. Quite a bitter and scathing one too. I'm actually glad in one way: I have been wandering about on little fluffy clouds about this book. That's dangerous for an artist so this was a much needed dose of reality. 

Thank you, E. Nicol, for firstly buying the book and secondly completing it. Sorry it wasn't your thing.

Contacts, colleagues and friends of mine all talk about how to deal with shocking notices. I shall find some links and include them. If you are reading this, and you have a link, please add it to the comments. I'll embed tomorrow.

My favourite, though, is from "Birdman" starring Michael Keaton. 

A once famous Hollywood actor, down on his luck, invests his life savings in a Broadway play. In a bar, he spots a critic enjoying a G and T on a bar stool at the other end. He wanders over to ascertain her feelings: They aren't particularly supportive.

I felt like Keaton last night, if I'm being honest with you.

 Here's another nice link:

Generally Beloved Books with Bad Reviews

It won't be the first bad review I've had and it won't be the last. It just looks worse when written down. 

I am used to verbal criticism about books from friends. I once had two really good football friends of mine come up to me in the stands at Meadow Lane to destroy my second-least popular book, Violent Disorder. 

This was in front of my dad and son. They didn't mince their words. VD, which I really like, and consider underrated, is now known between my son and me as the "less popular sequel".

I have other friends who have given kickings to The Ritual (a load of crap) and the second-person written Ultra Violence (why didn't you write it properly?) but mostly, you can tell whether someone likes a book you've written, not if they buy it, or even read it, but whether they complete it. 

Think of your own reading behaviour. You have to know how it turns out, right? If you can't be arsed with that, then the writer has failed and it probably isn't a book they would give even a 3* review to.

I generally know - of my acquaintances, contacts, networks, friends and family - who likes my stuff and who doesn't. I'm not offended.

Of course, the pagan high priest in any artist's fevered unconscious with that pathological need to be universally venerated will never be satisfied with that level of indifference, but life goes on - there's no need for the one star shocker - which is just exposition, really, when you think about it.

The Best Writers

I would say that the best writers get terrible notices. 

One of my favourites is contemporary fiction/avant garde author Tom McCarthy. 

My favourite trad-book of last year was Satin Island. It's a masterpiece. A beautifully written shaggy-dog story with some memorable set pieces and a sad recollection of institutional torture during the aftermath of a Turin G8 protest.

Satin Island Amazon UK

To my shock, it has some of the worst reviews I have ever seen. It also has an average rating which has me baffled. I stare at that rating and wonder what planet people are on - and why, exactly, they picked up a book like this in the first place. I

I guess it takes all sorts, a perception, which, fundamentally, in the cold light of day, is how I dealt with my own savage notice.


I've still got some paperbacks left if you want a free one. They're pretty nice for the shelf. Drop me a message on Twitter DM or FB DM with your address and I'll send the very next day.

Here's my friend, futurist YA author and psychologist, Carla Eatherington, reading Shiny. 

Carla, incidentally, has made her debut e-novel, Utopia, free this week. For YA fans and fans of apocalyptic fiction, it's a superb book that I read in three sittings. You'll be wanting the paperback yourself afterwards. Details here.

FREE Download of Carla Eatherington's Utopia - HERE

And that's it for this week. Thanks for listening.

Marky xx

You can buy Shiny and other Mark Barry books by clicking the icons on the top right.

Mark Barry Author Page


  1. Top stuff Mark. I'll go and try to find a link to a good one I read in a post just this week. Those 'in the face' reviews I do find the hardest. When people rip into stuff you've written right in front of you and you have to just grin and bear it...grim...

  2. Yes. THOSE reviews. I've learned to either ignore them or respond with dignity intact, kinda like I do to query rejection letters and their "your manuscript just didn't move me" jargon. You know the grand writer you are, Mark. The rest is just opinion... and often times opinion seen through the filter of a very myopic view, i.e, below: my own worst review (for ATSP):

    1.0 out of 5 stars -- Smut unacceptable
    By Rosemary E. Dimitt on November 18, 2016
    "I removed it from my Kindle before the second chapter. Language and content. As my Mother used to say, if a person has to use gutter language, they don't have a very good vocabulary!"

    Despite my deep affinity for "gutter language," my response:

    "Hmmmm.... I'm wondering if you were reading THIS book... there's not a word that could be considered "gutter language" in either of the first two chapters (I just checked for my sanity's sake!). I'm sorry if the candor and rawness of the real life dialogue offended you, Ms. Dimitt, but I promise you the story has merit and depth you might enjoy if you could get beyond. But certainly thanks for trying!"

    The subjectivity of art and oft-times crankiness of readers. What a strange and mysterious marriage!  

  3. Of course, it's easy for me to laugh about that review, because I've actually read—and LOVED—the book.

    Whenever I get a bad review, I play the one-star game. Just think of any literary icon and look up their one-star reviews. For example: