Tag Archives: Kevin R Doyle

Guest Blog: Bloggers Rights by Kevin Doyle


My friend Kevin Doyle, author of the awesome One Helluva Gig, got wind of the bru-ha-ha over at The Rock of Pages. Between that fun experience and some others he’s had recently, he was inspired.

And, as I like to do for my friends when they are inspired, I allowed him space here at West of Mars, to share his inspiration. Love his thoughts, hate ’em, disagree or agree, it’s all good so long as it’s civil.


Like a lot of writers, especially those of us of the indie variety, I spend a fair amount of time scouring various web sites and blogs, seeking out people willing to review my work. Although one of my publishers is excellent when it comes to providing lists of sites and reviewers, it’s still a tedious, frustrating process. In general, of every ten sites I land on, usually nine are either not currently accepting requests or accept e-books, which is the main medium I work in to date.

Of those who do seem likely, I’d say on average I get a response from one out of every five I contact.

Still, one perseveres.

But something that I’ve noticed more and more in the last few months is reviewers not accepting self published works. This doesn’t directly affect me, as my works aren’t self-pubbed, but I do come across some who also don’t accept works from micro or small presses, which category my works definitely fall into. And how do I respond when I come across such a restriction?

I move on to the next blog on the list.

Recently, I saw a posting on Facebook where an indie writer took reviewers to task for not accepting self pubs. This person made it rather personal, demanding to know where the reviewers/bloggers get off setting requirements for who they will and won’t review. He made allusions to a few big names who were originally self published and stated that reviewers who don’t do self pubs were working to keep him as a slave (actual word used), consigning him to having to work for a living at a job he hates instead of just writing, as he deserves to be able to do.

Come again?

First, full disclosure and a disclaimer. In three years, my first book has sold less than ten copies. My second, in a year and a half, has sold less than twenty. My third, which came out earlier this year, is doing better but has still sold less than twenty. So I’m not somebody who’s got it made looking down on the little guy. Also, some of the comments ahead may irritate some. So here we go:

The posting I mentioned above really incensed me. I’ve been writing fiction, mainly short stories and only recently books, for decades. My first short story, “The Prime Ingredient” appeared in 1988 in Starsong, a small for-the-love publication from South Carolina, and my first book, One Helluva Gig, came out in 2012. Do the math, and you’ll see it took me a while to get even this far.

Over the course of this time, I’ve had a few encounters with creative writing students and teachers, corresponded with fellow indie authors, and of course participated in group discussions over different social media, primarily FB. What I’m about to say is directed towards some people in the field, but definitely not all. I’m guessing that the same could be said of folks in the art, music or acting fields.

In short:
Nobody owes you anything. You may have the greatest talent every, some talent, or no talent at all. Whichever, you are not entitled to any attention or recognition. If you get some, fine. If you manage to have great success, more power to you. But just because you decided to take on an activity does not require that people cater to you.

If I have a blog or website where I review books, or anything else, it’s my site. I’m the one putting it up; I’m the one putting my name, time and effort into it. And guess what? I’m the one who gets to decide who or what I do or don’t review.

It’s called freedom, folks. Someone who owns a store gets to decide what merchandise they do or don’t sell. A homeowner gets to decorate their house how they want. And a person who decides to spend a large chunk of their time, unpaid in almost all cases, reviewing books, gets to decide what they do and don’t review.

Specifying what type of books they review is no different than specifying what genre they will review, or whether they review e-books.

My guess would be, and here’s where I’m going to tick people off, that several of these reviewers have suffered through self published books of exceedingly low quality. They may think, rightly or wrongly, that the quality isn’t the same as traditional publication, and they don’t want to waste their time with it.

Notice, though, that I said rightly or wrongly. Whether they’re correct is irrelevant. It’s their blog/ site, and they get to choose what they do and don’t do.

My experience, completely anecdotal, is that those who protest most vociferously about their “entitlement” to recognition and praise are the ones least deserving of it. Just because five of your family members tell you that your work is the greatest thing they’ve ever read doesn’t make it so. This is somewhat related to experiences I sometimes have in my teaching. Numerous times I’ve conferenced with parents confused as to why their child received a poor grade on a paper. Often, their response is along the lines of “But I read it over and thought it was great. So who are you to say it wasn’t?”

Uhmm – I’m the teacher.

And at some point in the next week when I check out a new web site offering reviews, and I see that they don’t accept e-books for review, or only want family friendly material, or only accept work from a certain type of publisher, guess what my reaction will be?

Well, okay. It’s their blog, and they’re the ones who get to set the rules.

On to the next one.

Again, thanks to Kevin for his thoughts. Hopefully you can see why I love the guy. And if you run into those badly edited self-published books… you know where to send the authors. I’m always glad to save an author from bad reviews because of poor editing.


Guest Post from Kevin R Doyle: Writing in Different Genres


Welcome my buddy Kevin R Doyle to West of Mars! If you’ve been hanging at The Rock of Pages at all, you probably recognize his name. He wrote a fantastic Rock Fiction novella, and then brought us two guest posts last Rocktober. And now, he wants to share thoughts about writing in different genres, since his most comfortable place as a writer is within horror. Horror! From someone so brilliant at Rock Fiction?

Takes all kinds, I guess.

So here’s Kevin.

Most people read by genre, and that’s entirely understandable. When you find a type of material you like, you want to read more of it. When I was a kid, I was heavy into science fiction, with a decent helping of adventure in the Edgar Rice Burroughs and Doc Savage vein. As I grew older, I turned more towards horror and men’s adventure, and these days my casual reading is almost entirely in the mystery genre. (The procedural and private eye type, not the English cozy. Though around third and fourth grade, sandwiched in between Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, I went through a pretty decent Sherlock Holmes phase.)

By extension, most writers write by genre. Most, both known or unknown, are described or describe themselves as a “romance writer,” a “mystery writer” or a “fantasy writer.” It’s the flip side of the reading thing. When you find something you enjoy writing, you tend to keep doing it.

Not to say that authors don’t cross genres; obviously they do. But it’s fairly standard to think of someone as a certain “type” of writer.

For most of the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve been a “horror writer.” Almost all of my production has been in the short style field, and most of that was either horror or dark fantasy. (“Dark fantasy” being the term I started using when people gave me odd looks at the mention that I wrote horror.) Over the last three years or so, I’ve gone beyond the short story/ magazine market into, as of this February, three books on the market. (E-books only for the first two, e-book and print for the third.)

The odd thing, though, is that while I spent a couple of decades (my first story appeared in 1988) writing mainly horror, when I first broke into the book arena it was not in that genre.

One Helluva Gig, a general fiction piece about rock and roll music, tabloid journalism and the celebrity lifestyle, could in no way be connected to my earlier work. One friend told me that, while reading the book “I kept waiting for it to get creepy, but it never did.”

Gig, a piece of bittersweet nostalgia about dreams, hopes and aspirations that come up short and the way we cope when they do, was followed by The Group, a mystery novel about serial murder, wrongful accusations, and the way one lapse in judgement can ruin several lives. A story of straight up mystery and suspense, Group doesn’t come anywhere near Gig, which causes a problem. How do you build some kind of comprehensive marketing strategy, getting readers in the habit of buying your work, if the disparate pieces of that work are polar opposites?

My brilliant (?) solution was to produce my next book in an entirely different genre than either of the first two. The Litter (due out Feb. 13 from Night to Dawn Magazine and Books) does have its mysterious elements, primarily who are these cannibalistic kids who behave like wild animals and where did they come from, but it falls full square within the horror field. Including one particular little incident, about two thirds of the way through, that gave the editor a sleepless night when she came upon it. (No joke. I have the e-mail from her the next day to prove it.)

And now I’ve just added to the conundrum. How do I possibly build up a following among potential readers when my work is going in so many different directions? It’s not as if I wrote my first several books in one genre, developed a following, then decided to branch out. From the get go I’ve been shooting off in all sorts of directions.

And as I puzzled my way through this it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, I’m not giving readers today enough credit. Is it possible that the contemporary reader would be interested not so much in good writing in one particular arena, but good writing in general? (I know, there’s an inherent egotism there, but just roll with me for a minute.) And could the contemporary reader, who themself has to make an effort to seek out and read good material, with so many other distractions of modern life, be drawn not to good romance fiction, mystery fiction or science fiction, but to good fiction? Is the quality of escapism what’s important, not the particular path itself?

To date, I’m not sure of the answer, even with allowances made for the egotistic premise that I could provide such material. As in so much in life, it’s going to be a matter of wait and see. No doubt, I’ll know the answer soon enough.

But just to hedge my bets, and to show that I haven’t completely run away with the image of myself as an artiste, my next project (already three thousand words in) is going to be a sequel to one of the first three.

Which one?

Aww, for that you’ll have to wait and see.

I just hope that it’s not good mainstream material, mystery material, or horror material, but good reading material.

See, it’s not egotism, just hope.