Been thinking of doing a series of videos "reviewing" the writing of real authors. Not the whole damn book or anything, but just passages--kind of the way I used to review pieces of code from people, only I'd be targeting professionals, not amateurs. (Let's be honest: professional code sucks.) Thing is, I've decided that "BookTube" is definitely NOT for me.
How much criticism is enough?
I feel that we get a lot of people lately commenting on the caliber of writing you get in self-published fiction. That's fair; you paid money for it, so I guess you get to bitch about it. The problem is--and this is similar to my motivation for the series I did on code--that people are able to understand what those people are doing wrong, but that doesn't provide them a meaningful place to build from.
I mean, yeah, my writing is better than that one guy who wrote the insane book about the crazy alien lady and drew his own cover art. Thrice. But what's that mean, anyway? My writing is better than most people's. Call me arrogant; I don't give a shit. I know how most people write, because I run a writing group. The point I'm making is that "better than most" just isn't valuable information.
What can I improve? What do I need to stop worrying about? What will an editor actually have a problem with?
I don't know the answers to those questions, in part because the answers become stale as soon as I discover them: if I find something to improve, I improve it. If I realize I need to stop worrying about something, I stop worrying. In other words, improvement is a constant process, and you can always find something else to get better at...
...In any case, critiquing my work gives me something to improve. To a point. Past that point, you're just bitching because someone asked you what you think and you needed an answer. And that's the critical point we're looking for, here. That's what I want to try to find.
The problem with BookTube
The problems with YouTube's book community (They call themselves "BookTube." God only knows why...) start with the YouTube algorithm and the fact that human psychology has a negative bias. They want clicks, they want videos that people can sink their teeth in to, and so they bitch about things. Constantly. Things that don't. Fucking. Matter.
This guy was reading a book by a famous YouTube personality. He came to a passage containing a school shooting. Admittedly, that kind of thing, included gratuitously in a book, leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and so I can understand why the video creator wanted to lash out. The problem is what he chose to lash out at.
"The author doesn't even say what kind of gun."
This is not a direct quote. I watched the video hours ago, and the video was really long. I'm not going to go back through his two hour video to try to find the part I'm talking about. Suffice it to say that this is close to what he said. I promise not to nitpick the wording.
Anyway, reality check: it is not essential that we know the make and model of a gun in a passage of writing. Chekhov himself does not provide any further information about his gun other than the fact that it is, indeed, Chekhov's gun. What more do you really want to know?
I have, on more than one occasion, asked my writers to leave out detailed technical information. There are plenty of good reasons for this. First off, authors don't know shit. What information they do "know" is often incorrect. (Case in point, the person creating the video in question went on to spout a lot of incorrect information about gun laws.) Second, readers don't actually give a damn.
That's the important part. Readers do not care, but the people participating in this community will pretend to care, because they aren't acting in good faith as readers.
This chick was talking about a list of books she found disappointing. She came to one wherein the author, apparently, accidentally described too many sets of boobs and butts during the course of the book. This makes the author sexist. After that, she wasn't able to fully enjoy the book, because the author is sexist.
Of course, I had just watched this same girl make the same complaints (too many boobs and butts) about another book, but that author wasn't sexist. That author, naturally, was a woman. Women can't be sexist. Right?
Readers. Don't. Care. They're not trying to judge the character of the author, because for an ordinary reader, the act of reading is not performance art. No one knows what books you read in the privacy of your own home, and complaining to exactly no one about the moral failings of the author is worth precisely zero internet points. A person acting in good faith as a reader (rather than acting out some element of virtuous performance) does not virtue signal regarding their reading material.
So, in short, the problem with BookTube is that I don't need my shit coming up in the Recommended Videos feeds of people who lap up this kind of drivel.
So, now what?
I'm not sure. BitChute is one option. Maybe Gab. Or maybe what I should do is just do my shit on YouTube and actively disclaim any association whatsoever with the "BookTube" community. Of course, if I do that, the first thing I'm gonna need to do is get myself a fake name. Maybe use one of those voice modulators so that I sound super sexy. I can't put my real name on a channel like that and have my real name on my future books.
Censorship is such fun.