Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ask the Reviewers - Benoit Lelievre

Today's guest is Benoit Lelievre.  Benoit also posts at Dead End Follies.

How did you discover Goodreads?
At the first and last writing conference I've ever been to. Authors Catherine McKenzie and Claude Lalumière mentioned being on it, so I checked it out and been a members ever since. I'm still following the two authors' careers from their Goodreads account also. Catherine is very active, she does a lot of contests and whatnot.

What have been your most memorable Goodreads experiences?
Reading "Most Read Authors" sections that blow me away. Most recently, Charles Gramlich's. If someone I share interests with has read 70 novels by an author and 100 by another, maybe he's on to something I should check out for myself. That's the beauty of literature. Just when you thought you've seen it all, you get hooked into a whole new world. A whole new current.

Name one reviewer not in the Forbes 25 that people should be aware of.
Caleb J. Ross. He mainly does video reviews, but sometimes he graces Goodreads with his tremendous, accurate insight. He's both pertinent and not intimidating, which I think is a rare gift.

What was your initial reaction to Amazon buying Goodreads?
Long story short, not much. I don't think Amazon is that supreme evil people make it out to be. At least not publishing-wise. They are not great by any means either, but they shuffled the board of an industry that abused writers and published crap for money since before them and I think they're making things interesting because other publishers will have to adapt.

Ultimately, the purchase of Goodreads is another step in their takeover of the publishing industry and that could become an issue given a multiple number of what-ifs. But right now, nothing really changed. If status quo remains, it won't change anything except that the business revenue will go in Amazon's pocket instead of whoever owner Goodreads before and that doesn't really affect me.

How many books do you own?
About 600-700. I have two and a half bookshelves filled, two with fiction only. Given the lack of storage in my home, I'll consider doubling up on my shelves' rows. They're big enough for me to do it.

Who is your favorite author?
Dennis Lehane. Many made my heart race, but not quite the way Lehane did. Honorable mention to Chuck Palahniuk, Haruki Murakami and Francis Scott Fitzgerald.

What is your favorite book of all time?
That's hard. I'd say it's a tie between Fight Club and Mystic River. The first turned me full-time reading and the second turned me to writing.

What are your thoughts on ebooks?
They're fine. I own a Kindle. Most of them are a lot cheaper than paperbacks.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
It's a complicated question. I'm all for it, because as a book reviewer, I was lead to dive head first into the self-publishign revolution. Lots of people don't really understand what it is. Basically, it's powered by Amazon's Kindle Store, which is kind of a thunderdome for writers. Whoever has been unjustly rejected by publishing, feels unjustly rejected by publishing or has written something that was called great, but unpublishable has a fighter's chance there.

For now, it's like a parallel universe to print publishing. You will find a lot of writers who you've never heard about, who make a good name for themselves. People like Vincent Zandri and Dani Amore. The most beautiful part of that is that it's all part of Amazon's marketing plan. They're cherry picking the best selling authors and offering them contracts with their publishing company Thomas & Mercer. It's brilliant and they end up with the best new writers doing that. Self-Publishing and mostly the Kindle Store made the publishing democratic again with prose quality and online buzz being the only two variables that matter.

Any literary aspirations?
Yes. I think it's a normal reaction when you read viscerally and lots of people do that. I have about ten, fifteen short stories published. Crime fiction, mostly. Some published in places like Crime Factory, Needle Magazine and Beat to a Pulp, which I'm pretty proud of. I'm still figuring out how to write something decent that's over 10 000 words, but that's another story.

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