Why I’m Not Doing a First Draft Blog Anymore

Since I’ve received a few emails now asking about my first draft blog, I decided to do a blog post so I can refer people to it in the future.  There are two main reasons which I’ll state below.

1.  I can’t write a first draft when other writers are coming on to my blog with the intention of critiquing my work.  It was never meant to be a blog where writers were supposed to jump in and tell me what I was doing wrong, but some writers were treating it like that.  And only some of the comments were on the blog.  Quite a few were in my personal email, and I didn’t appreciate the spirit the critique was given in.  Some writers are downright rude when they email me.  On several occasions, I told people that the purpose of the blog was to do a first draft for my readers–not writers.  The first draft blog was never meant to feedback on what I’m doing wrong.  I have a critique group I go to for that, and I only let writers I trust who are respectful of me as a person to critique my work.  I don’t hand over my stories to strangers for feedback.  But a lot of these writers didn’t listen to me.  They kept on critiquing.  I didn’t have that problem with my readers.

You see, there’s a big difference between writing for a writer and writing for a reader, and to be honest, writing for writers sucks because most of the time, they’re so busy looking for problems that they can’t enjoy the story.  It’s writers, by the way, who (more often than not) leave the 1 and 2-star reviews on books whining about the quality of writing, grammar and editing, so if you see those kinds of reviews on any book out there, consider how legitimate they really are. 

There’s a spirit of competition running rampant among authors, and a lot of the 1 and 2-star reviews out there are done in the hopes of hurting sales for the author’s books.  I’ve had it happen to me and I’ve talked to authors this has happened to.  The sad thing is that these authors being attacked like this are those who want to be ethical in their reviews.  (When I say ethical, I mean they don’t leave a review on their own book.)  A lot of authors rig the system by giving themselves fake names and talking their friends into getting fake names to leave bogus 5-star reviews.  The same authors who typically do this will go under other fake names to tear down other authors’ books. 

Over at Smashwords, Mark Coker (the founder and CEO of Smashwords) has noticed the same thing).  This was written in the Site Update over on that website.

July 19, 2011 – Carpet bombing.  We’ve seen a few instances over the last couple days where authors’ book pages have been carpet bombed by swarms of one-star reviews obviously intended to damage the book’s overall ratings.  We have deleted the offender’s accounts.   See the Terms of Service for review guidelines.  Some of the victims have been concerned that these reviews are sponsored by fellow authors who are trying to get a leg up in the highest-rated reviews listings.  It’s also possible these reviews were perpetrated by over-zealous fans who are trying to harm one author for the benefit of another.  If we discover that an author or associates of an author are creating strawman accounts for the sole purpose of harming fellow authors’ rankings with malicious reviews, we’ll delete their books and accounts.  No tolerance for such shenanigans. Folks, we’re all in this together.  Be nice, stay ethical.

I wish all authors would take the last two sentences to heart.  (I also wish places like Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, etc would have the same policy Smashwords does.)  As authors, we shouldn’t be competing with each other.  It’s a win-win when authors support each other.  I wish all authors would grow up instead of playing these junior high school games.  Just because you tear down a book, it doesn’t mean yours will magically become a bestseller.

Okay.  Enough ranting.  Now for #2.

2.  I had three books stolen in June, and having a first draft blog is going to encourage the thief behind this to take my first draft and publish it before I do.  Worse, the thief might even register the copyright, which would make it harder for me to fight the stolen book with my lawyer.  This happened to two authors who posted short stories on their blogs.  I recently became aware of thieves registering copyright and selling the stories.  That’s a very scary prospect for an author.  Those two authors didn’t want to take the time or money to fight for their copyright.  I’m not afraid of the battle.  I have a great copyright lawyer now, and I register everything.  It might not show up immediately on the copyright site, but I have the receipts saying I registered the work, uploaded it, and paid for it.  I print them out and put them in my folder until I get the official paper in the mail.  I’m not playing around.  I’m very much aware my thief could be reading my blog posts.  Who is to stop this thief from taking all of my posts and registering them as their own?  Then I’d have a huge and lengthy legal battle on my hands.  That’s not how I want to spend my time.  I want to be writing new stories, not fighting to protect my completed ones.

I was thinking of posting the first chapter of the stories I’m working on, but then I thought, “What’s to stop this thief from taking that first chapter and selling it as if there’s a whole book to go with it?” So I’m not even doing that.  Amazon ignored me for a month on getting one of the three books down.  (They took two down right away.) I had to get a lawyer involved before Amazon finally listened to me.  The booksellers (with the exception of Smashwords) aren’t on the author’s side, so the author has to take every measure they can to protect him/herself.  And when I don’t share my works in progress, I am protecting myself the best I can.

Someone asked me which link could they trust to make sure they get the right copy of my book in case I have another stolen book floating around out there.  Go to my website www.ruthannnordin.com or this blog.  Those are links I put in myself, so they’re legit. 

By the way, I appreciate everyone who’s been looking out for me and reporting books that don’t look like the ones on my site.  Fortunately, these were okay since they were books I published years ago with iUniverse and Outskirts Press.  So I breathed a sigh of relief each time I checked those out.  I can’t adequately describe what it’s like to have my books stolen by someone who intended to steal all of my books (they were averaging two books a week before I caught them, and thankfully, I caught them on book 3).  But this thief meant business.  So again, thank you to everyone who took the time to search for stolen copies of my books.  (In case anyone is wondering, if I ever find out who stole those books, I wouldn’t hesitate to press charges with the sheriff’s department or get my lawyer after him/her.  I still have everything from that time on file for future reference, in case I need it.  I took screen shots of everything on the Internet and wrote down a record of everything I did during that time.  I say that for the thief’s benefit, if he/she is reading this.)

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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4 Responses to Why I’m Not Doing a First Draft Blog Anymore

  1. Judy says:

    Hoorah for Smashwords CEO! It was good to see he is on the author’s side and looking out for you guys.


  2. I started doing a First Draft Blog after reading your “Where’s the Money?” book. It’s been one of the most helpful books in the world to me. But I have to say that I’m relieved about you not doing that blog anymore. I had the same problem with writers, so I stopped. And maybe it’s because I’ve never traditionally published, and I majored in Accounting – not English, literature, etc. – but I don’t understand why writers feel such a strong need to critique. I let my readers tell me what they like. They’re the ones we write for, aren’t they? Am I supposed to listen to some writer who tells me I shouldn’t write in first person, or to the readers who write to tell me how much they love my writing style? Who has the final say in what “good writing” is, anyway? Over the past few months I’ve stopped listening to other writers altogether, and it’s done nothing but increase my fan base. My readers seem to enjoy my work the most when I just write what I feel like writing.

    I had a book under another pen name go to the Amazon top 100 and have a good bit of success recently. And one of my writer “friends” left me a bad review. I just know it was her – I can tell. I don’t get it. These eBooks we write are consumable products! Not in the literal sense, but you wouldn’t know that from the voracious appetites of some of these readers. They’re always looking for the next book to read. Are other writers afraid that just because someone liked a certain book, they’ll never read or buy another one? It’s just stupid! We should be happy for each other when one of us does well, not try to ruin each other.

    I don’t comment often, but I read your blog all the time. I love your openness and willingness to share your true feelings with us as you stay on this journey. You have been a tremendous blessing to me. Thank you.

    • Congratulations on getting into the top 100 on Amazon! That’s awesome! It’s not easy to get up there, either, so I’m sure that writer “friend” was jealous and left the review out of spite. It doesn’t make it any easier for you, especially since this was someone who seemed to be on your side.

      Yep, the blog was a lot of fun until I had that interview at The Creative Penn. That’s when writers came in bulk to critique my work, and they weren’t critiquing to be helpful. That kind of thing destroys the joy out of communicating with the readers. You’re right. The readers are the ones we’re writing for. We’re not writing for the writers. I wish they understood that. We have an audience who loves our work the way it is, and making our work into some other writer’s vision isn’t going to make our readers happy. The first draft blog ended up being too stressful. I’d dread making the next post because of the flaws the writers would find in it. Finally, I finished up the last story in a hurry and shut it down. It’s been a lot nicer to write my story without writers looking over my shoulder to tell me everything I’m doing wrong.

      Anyway, I am excited you got in the top100! I love it when indie authors sell with the big name traditionally published authors because it proves we’re just as good as they are. I see your success as mine, too, because we’re both indies who’ve never traditionally published. You make indie publishing look good when you get that high of a place. I’m hoping an author friend of mine gets in the top 100 with her next book. She was close last time. Just under 100 away from it. *fingers crossed your next book and her next book will get there!*

      Oh, and yes. There are so many people who read books fast enough where we can all have them as our readers. That’s why I’ll never understand the “it’s either my book or theirs” mentality.

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