As writers, we should focus our promotional efforts on trying to get people to talk about our books (review them, read and recommend them, give them awards, take them to their book groups, write articles or blog posts about them) instead of trying to get people to buy them.-Mary Walters
At the end of January, Ethereal Girls was a dead book. Nobody was talking about it and nobody was buying it. I had dropped the price to 99 cents and relegated it to the back burner. Then on the advice of my editor I posted it on a certain internet forum. They hated it. In fact, they hated it so much they started trolling it. My name started traveling across the internet regarding how atrociously terrible Ethereal Girls is and culminated in a piece on February 13th entitled Ethereal Girls: If You Hate Women but Love Staring at Them. It currently has 290 notes on Tumblr. It read as follows:
If you hate women, but love staring at them, you’ll love the creepy “Ethereal Girls.” To begin with, I excerpted the cover, because I thought the detailed-yet-not-quite-right drawings of underage womens’ breasts and genitals was a little much to put on my blog. (If you must, click through to see the vulvae of your high-school notebook dreams.)
The author forbids any portions of his book to be excerpted without his express consent, so I am unable to provide the actual text here (it’s in the “Look Inside” button hereif you’re truly curious) but I will provide you with a sample of what you might potentially find if you were to plunk down the ten bucks for this flagrant abuse of the English language:
Stacey was wearing a short, tight jean skirt, that was really sexy, and her butt was sticking out, causing it to bulge around her butt. She leaned forward and said “It’s time for cheerleading practice.” The other girls nodded and when they nodded their boobs moved. They all had really big boobs, and round. Wow.
Stacey wondered if the other girls had magical powers. “Does anyone have magic” she thought, and then a big snake woman, who had really big and sexy boobs, came into the gym. “I’m going to use magic.” She said. Her boobs jiggled as she said the thing about magic.
The snake shook it’s tail and hissed, and the other girls said “We don’t have magic. Please save us.” They looked really great and 1 was crying, and it went on her boobs, and the tear went down in the cleavage (between the boobs) and everyone saw it.
The most striking thing about the article is the fake snippet. Drew, the author,claims that I wouldn’t allow him to post excerpts…except that I did. The language he’s referring to is boilerplate legalese in the front of the book:
This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews.
He can post text from the book because his article is a review. But why instead does he just make up an excerpt that doesn’t reflect anything actually in the book? Because there’s nothing really to troll.
The book isn’t that bad, with mostamazon customer reviews falling in the 3-4 star range until the trolls descended. The first two chapters are freely available to read here on this site. Drew never actually read any part of the book because if he did, he’d be making fun of Liza fighting a Yakuza cyborg while she’s wearing a pink dress at the end of chapter 2. But even if he did read that section, posting about that would run the risk of people thinking it was awesome and plunking down money for it, and he couldn’t have that. Therefore, he made shit up.
The trolls aren’t really trolling Ethereal Girls, the book; they’re trolling a made-up idea of Ethereal Girls, what they believe the book to be, some creepy fetishistic worship of muscular teenage girls, when it’s really an over-the-top superhero novel. If the cover featured a super masculine boy, nobody would’ve cared…but because its a girl, I’m a perv and the book appears a thousand times more sexual than it actually is. Somehow I’ve managed to push a cultural button which prevents people from taking the book seriously and instead whips them into a frenzy of hate and scorn.
But no matter! By trashing the book, Drew (who has a huge following) spread me and my book across the net. And viola, somebody mentioned they bought it just to see how bad it was. Exactly what I want.
We all know Uwe Boll makes terrible films (most notably film adaptations of video games) and has done so for years. Here’s the thing: the only reason Boll is still making movies is because people wouldn’t shut about him (the German tax loophole that allowed Boll to make his earlier films was closed in 2007) If people didn’t want Uwe Boll making terrible video game adaptations, they should’ve shut up after Alone in the Dark, but they didn’t and he’s still making movies today. The reason this happened is that the more people talked about him, the more chance there was for people to watch his films to see how bad they were. I myself am guilty of this, having watched all 3 Bloodrayne films, Postal, Far Cry and In the Name of the King. I played right into Uwe Boll’s pocket.
I used to hate trolls, but now I love them. As Mary Walters said, writers should get people to talk about the book, and trolls are people talking about my book.
So keep going everyone! Troll Ethereal Girls into the ground. Talk about how atrociously awful it is on every corner of the net. Proclaim how Ethereal Girls makes 50 Shades of Grey look like Lady Chatterley’s Lover by comparison. Flood Amazon with one star reviews, the more over-the-top and absurd the better(but please purchase a copy before you leave one). Go ahead, I welcome it with open arms. The more people troll me and my book, the greater the chance somebody curious will buy it, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll like what they find.