Tag Archives: Andrew Leon

IWSG: Are we jeopardising the indie book industry by being ‘nice’?

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

For this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post, I’d like to discuss something that’s been on my mind a little bit lately, thanks to Andrew Leon’s two-part post titled, Is It Better To Be “Nice” Or Honest?

You can read the full post part one and part two by Andrew (and I recommend you do, it’s very thought provoking), but in the interests of time, I’ll give you the extremely abridged version. Essentially, what I took from Andrew’s post was that we are doing the indie book industry a disservice every time we write a positive review for a self published book that doesn’t deserve it. Why? Because reviews are the only currency independent authors have, and if we discredit that, then readers will assume all self-published books are as rubbish as each other and stick with traditionally published books, which have been judged as worthwhile by someone they trust (mainstream publishers).

I agree with Andrew on this point. Writing a good review just to be nice doesn’t do anybody any favours. It tarnishes your reputation as a writer/reviewer, it tells the author they don’t need to grow, and it turns readers off the indie book industry.

However, I’m not entirely comfortable with the extension of this argument, which says that we must write negative reviews for books that deserve it. While I agree this would add to the overall credibility of the industry, I just can’t bring myself to publicly criticise another author’s work. If they asked for my opinion, I would give it to them – in an email, not a public forum. I would rather recommend the books I enjoy and not mention the ones I don’t. I guess this is because I understand what it’s like to be an insecure writer, and I don’t want to cause others pain.

But maybe I’m just soft and my reluctance to criticise is actually harming the industry. Almost every self published book you see has a handful of glowing reviews, even those that clearly don’t deserve the praise. I assume these reviews are written by family and friends who would love whatever the person wrote regardless of the quality. By not balancing these reviews with honest, critical ones of my own, am I contributing to the erosion of review credibility, thus diminishing the indie publisher’s only currency?

I’m really keen to hear your take on this. Do you think I(/we) should be tougher and write critical reviews of self published books? Do you write reviews like that? What would you think if you read an ultra-critical review on my blog? And what effect do you think the absence of these reviews has on the industry as a whole? Let me know what you think!

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!



Filed under Insecure Writers Support Group, Self publishing, Writers, Writing

Andrew Leon in the HOT SEAT

Andrew Leon wipes his brow, but after just a few seconds, it’s glistening with sweat again. He stutters a plea, but there shall be no mercy. He must face his fate. And that fate is… the HOT SEAT!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Andrew?

Andrew Leon

Gday, Andrew!

I’m not sure, yet, what genres I write. The book I’ve finished is what I would call a modern fantasy. It’s also been called magical realism, and, while I like the term, I don’t think it really fits. I suppose most of the stories I have in mind have aspects of fantasy involved in them, but they wouldn’t quite fit into the stereotypical fantasy genre. And I do have some other stuff coming up that has no fantasy in it, but I guess I lean to the fantastical.

Andrew's latest book

Tell us about your latest book, The House on the Corner, in 25 words or less.

It’s about three siblings that move to a new house and what happens to them when they get there. It involves a troll. (See, there’s the fantasy.)

[CJ: Cool, sounds like fun. It’s going to be part of a series, right?]

Yes, that’s right. The House on the Corner is really about getting to know the kids. The second, Brother’s Keeper, is my current project and will be much darker. The third book, which will wrap up the first story arc, will be called The Tower on the Hill.  

[CJ: How exciting. Looks like you’ve got lots of writing hours ahead!]

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Hmm… when I’m not writing… Farmville. No, just kidding. Although my wife might disagree with the kidding part. I’m a stay-at-home dad, so the rest of my time is dealing with the kids, preparing meals (I’m the cook of the family), and all of that other taking care of the house stuff. And we just moved, so for the past two months, most of what I’ve been doing has been involved with that.

[CJ: Moving. Ugh. The word alone sends a shudder up my spine.]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I don’t know that I have a process other than just doing it. I develop the loose plot in my head (I have to know where I’m going) and I just sit down and start writing. I make notes about things as I go along that I’ll need to know later and won’t want to go back and find, but, really, that’s about it. However, I’m not a pantser, not by any stretch of the imagination, although it might look like that to someone watching me from the outside. I just don’t do all that heavy plotting and outlines that most plotters do.

[CJ: Sounds like you’re half pantser, half plotter. I’m plotter all the way. Those heavy plots and outlines? That’s me. :-)]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

You know, I don’t really know. The closest I get to that is, probably, C. S. Lewis. If you read The House on the Corner you can probably see why. But I wouldn’t really see that he inspired me to write. Tolkien would get closer to that, but, still, not really. Sometime during high school, I just knew that, at some point, I wanted to write. I probably waited longer than I should have, but I’m doing it now, so, maybe, that’s all that matters.   

[CJ: Indeed. That is all that matters. :)]

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

My biggest challenge was learning how to make myself do the writing. I have a bunch of projects that I started at one point or another that all ended up abandoned because I got as far as the idea in my head at the time, and I just stopped. I had to finally learn the trick I needed to get me through those spots and just keep going.

[CJ: Ooooh I’d love to know what trick you learnt!]

When I sat down to write The House on the Corner, I actually took a lesson from Tolkien. When he wrote The Hobbit, he did it as a bedtime story for his kids. He’d work on a chapter, and, when he’d finished it, he would read it to them. He worked through the whole book that way. That’s part of why my first book is about a group of children. I decided to read it to them as I went, so I would have some outside accountability. In doing that, I also decided to write it for them, and about them, so that kept me going too. And it worked.

[CJ: That is so cool. I love it!]

Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

Ow! “My biscuits are burning! My biscuits are burning!” 

[CJ: Tee hee hee.]

Why do you write? What do you hope to achieve?  

First, I write because I’m good at it. That’s part of why I should have started sooner. I’ve always been good at it. Right now, realistically, I just want to write stories that people enjoy. If I can make some money or a career out of it, that would be great. My wife would certainly like it if it started to bring in some extra income, at any rate. In my dreams, I would like to be one of those writers that school children are tormented with by having to study them.  

[CJ: So your dream is to torment children? Nice… ;)]

Finish this sentence from your character (12-year-old) Tom’s perspective.

One of the most embarrassing things that has ever happened to me was…  when I got caught by a friend as I was about to rub suntan lotion on a girl.  

[CJ: Oh no! :o]

Now finish the same sentence from your own perspective.

One of the most embarrassing things that has ever happened to me was when I was a kid, maybe 10, I had to take my brother, who was 4ish, to the restroom while we were at the grocery store. I accidently took him into the women’s restroom and didn’t realize it till a woman walked in while I was trying to help him wash his hands. Actually, I was just sort of freaked out by the woman in the restroom at that point, but, when we walked out, and I saw that we’d actually been in the women’s restroom, I was completely embarrassed.

[CJ: Double oh no. Pretty funny though!]


If you’d like to hear more from Andrew, check out his blog.

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀


Filed under Hot Seat, Writer interview, Writers, Writing