Thursday, September 18, 2008

Seeing stars

There's a new interview with me up on the Faber site.

I was also interviewed this week by an Israeli journalist. It seems the Hebrew edition of A Gentle Axe has either just come out or is about to. The interview was for the Maariv newspaper and hasn't appeared yet.

The Israeli journalist asked me about the cover for the Hebrew edition, which I had not seen, and had nothing at all to do with selecting. It's an interesting image, which I suspect may be highly controversial in Israel. After all, it does depict a severed head. But, I repeat, I had nothing to do with selecting it.

I can only trust that Keter, my Israeli publisher, know what they are doing, though this article, which I don't understand, seems to suggest that it has provoked some discussion. Why otherwise do they show a close-up of the severed head.

A friend located the book's page on Keter's website and I was able to judge it for myself. I have to say, striking as it is, the image seems to have very little to do with the book I wrote. I found myself wishing I had written the book for which that would be an appropriate image.

And now a cautionary tale for all internet-obsessed, meddling authors. Whilst I was looking at the Israeli publisher's page for my book (without being able to understand it, of course) I saw this line of numbers, one to five, and wondered what they did. Thinking that maybe they led to other pages about my book, I clicked on the number two. The next thing I knew, my book had a two star rating. Surely the first ever instance of an author giving his own book a crappy rating.

My own question to myself is, Why? I mean, it's not as if I would have understood the "other pages" I thought I was navigating to anyhow. I was just meddling and that was the price I paid.

Of course, I tried to redress the balance by clicking on five, but it seems the software has something written into it disallowing the same computer to rate twice. The following morning, I looked at the page on my other computer. As that is networked to the laptop I had been using, and the laptop accesses the internet through it, I expected it to be the same story. But even so, meddler that I am, I couldn't resist clicking those numbers again, just to see what happened. Well, they worked this time, though I hadn't expected them to. Yes, I confess, it was a five I clicked on.

Feeling enormously guilty, I contacted the Israeli publisher saying, "Look, there are two ratings on your site for my book, one two star and one five star, but they are both my me, and I didn't really intend to do either of them. Could you please delete them and clear the rating."

The sound of laughter reached all the way from Tel-Aviv.

That'll learn me.


Rachael King said...

Ha ha! Great story Roger of the meddling author. there is one appalling customer "review" of my book on a website and it is the only one, and I just can't quite bring myself to rate myself and redress the balance.

I like that cover I think it's quite cool!

David Isaak said...

Just to meddle further, I went to the page and gave it another five.

Hey, even though I'm not Jewish, I think my name can pass for Israeli. They'll never catch on.

Matt Curran said...

That's a fantastic cover, Roger. There's something almost "Terry Gilliam" about it.

On the meddling side of things, I hate stars on reviews, especially customer reviews. They're utterly pointless - ahem - meaningless. The best reviews I've read and taken note of, have been ones that haven't been followed by gold stars or the lack of them. Rating something out of five/ten is a bloody lazy/lousy way of reviewing.

And totally agree, it is damned tempting to redress the balance for a bad review, but then it shows just how pointless customer reviews are too.