Well, for anyone who does not know what this is all about, please go to Amazon and look for Everybody Masturbates. I am not recommending you purchase this, nor do I profit from the click if you do. It may be a cute little book, yet I now have reservations.
The author, Mr. Christian YoungMiller, is upset because he did not like my review. He did not like my comments to his comments either. Now, I cannot put comments on my own review because he has given Amazon a load of — and they bought it. Yet, he continues to spew onto my review. So, I must put my comments here, on my blog, where this author cannot keep me from answering his nonsense.
That said, I will start at the beginning. In several comments that followed I learned quite a bit about this author. For one, I learned that if he does not like what you say he will complain to Amazon until you can no longer answer comments on your own review, even as the author makes invalid, nasty remarks, which you have not done. Oops, already said that.
His first comment was this: “As the author of this book, I feel that it is extremely important to point out that the reviewer is wrong. Billy has an apple for a head and not a tomato.” OK, I thought the character’s head looked more like a tomato, still, the author thinks this is “extremely important” so every tomato became an apple. The illustrations are in black and white in the book. You decide. Is this an apple or a tomato? (Illustrated by Andrew Toutant in Everybody Masturbates.)
His reasoning for using a fruit instead of a cartoon of a human child was a fear of causing racist thoughts in children. Being conscientious of this is commendable. Kids can be influenced by all sorts of input. I think the fruit walking around is cartoonish and takes away from the story he is trying to tell.
This was my response when the author asked me what I would prefer he had done instead: “you cannot cover every possibility. Why not just write something like “it does not matter where you go to school, where you live, the color of your eyes or the color of your skin, or anything else you feel makes you or someone else different, everybody masturbates.”
I’m not sure he read this because he replied: “I again ask you to consider the decision that I had to make when writing the book. I always expected that the books would be bought by parents. But I wasn’t sure what the parents would do with it once they bought it. My guess is that because the book has a kids’ friendly cartoon style, they would be able to give the book to their kids to read.”
He continued: “racism is a much more subtle thing that it was in the 50’s. Kids get impressions from images that sit in the back of their mind and later shape their impressions of people. It would destroy me if I, in anyway, contributed to a negative stereotype of some race. So why not avoid the problem all together by making the characters something that eliminates the possibility of there being an issue, fruitheads?”
I understand his concerns and am glad to see he put so much thought into this. The title itself says everybody masturbates not just this kid or that one, so I don’t really understand the problem. I do not like avoiding problems when I write. What is the point of writing if the author avoid the subject they are writing? There is a written way of handling this author’s perceived racial problems that should keep racism from happening, when reading his book.
As I suggested: “you can not cover every possibility. Why not just write something like “it does not matter where you go to school, where you live, the color of your eyes or the color of your skin, or anything else you feel makes you or someone else different, everybody masturbates” (emphasized). And leave it at that.”
Aside from the professional-who-shall-not-be-named, the author contends he has done the research. This is one of the things he found on his quest for all knowledge about kids and masturbation: “Human beings have been engaging in the art of masturbation for a good 10 or 11 years now, yet no one except me has written a book devoted to the subject for kids.
But for those 10 or 11 years kids (and adults) have still been masturbating and thinking poorly about them self for doing it. Should parents not have a well researched book that would deal with the topic? How long would they have had to wait if I hadn’t written it breaking the silence that exists around this topic?”
I was shocked. So was another reader who asked the author: “I’m curious as to how you would explain your initial statement of “Human beings have been engaging in the art of masturbation for a good 10 or 11 years now … “. You negated it in your last comment, but did not elaborate.
If Suzanne was so fooled into assuming you “believe that human beings have only been engaged in the “art” of masturbation for 10 or 11 years”, I don’t blame her. I was fooled as well. Please clarify your argument, because I sincerely would like to know what you meant by saying it.”
After ranting on about me calling him a predator, not giving him his 5 stars, blah, blah, blah, he finally gave Stephanie an answer: “When I stated that human beings had been masturbating for 10 or 11 years, I wanted the reader to next think “wait, human beings have been masturbating forever.” And when the reader thought that, it would make the actual point I was trying to make which was that “human beings have been masturbating forever, yet mine is the first kid’s book devoted to masturbation”. (sic)
So, if I understand his convoluted thinking, he wrote something he knew was not true so the reader would think “that was stupid, 10 or 11 years. Huh. No, it’s been a little bit longer than that. Boy, not one, not a single soul, has ever written a book like this for kids? Wow!” To which I must add, “That is such baloney.” It is 2011 and this is the very first book on masturbation for kids? No, a few minutes of research brought up many other books and resources. To see a few please click here.
The statement that I called the author a predator must definitely be addressed. This is centered on my “Ew!” remark. The author decided I am now implying, no, wait . . . in fact, call him a predator. Because? While reviewing his book I mentioned the author’s other titles (not terribly unusual). One caused me to remark “Ew!”
Here is what I said to his charge: “About the “single man” comment. This was caused more by the book Everyone Masturbate for Girls book. Ew! No man, single or otherwise, who lacks credentials, should be writing about masturbation for girls. Especially in detail.
You already covered girls (and have a girl on the cover), so why write another book aimed solely at them? To me it feels predatory. BUT – before you get your shackles in a bunch, I am NOT calling you a predator. I have seen your websites and do not believe you are a predator. I think you are a nice guy, with good intentions, trying to make a buck. The subject matter you choose, including the one for adults, are best left to the experts. That way the information will be complete.”
The author said: “a 1 star review [which] more than a little implies that the author has predatory intentions.” This is just sad. Granted, I probably should not have explained my ew and left the predatory remark off the comment. I felt attacked by the author’s insults, so maybe it was a Freudian slip. Regardless, some things are best kept to one’s self. That was one. (The one star was changed to two stars to sooth the author’s bent ego.)
Finally, there is the problem of this author’s deceptive, unethical behavior on Library Thing. Library Thing is a site devoted to cataloging every book that has ever, or will ever, be printed, whether by traditional publishers or author published (often called vanity press or indie books).
The author has published this himself. Meaning that the author would need to enter his book into the Library Thing database himself, unless someone who has joined LT had read and reviewed the book, which would have entered the book.
Many authors enter their self published books and then often offer free copies in exchange for reviews so that their book can start getting rated. Operative word here being “start.” This is how I got a a copy of Everybody Masturbates. None of them start their book out with a top 5 rating.
Strangely, though no one had entered a review or rating, the book, and EVERY book this author entered into the database began with a 5 star rating. It only took one click to solve the mystery. The author GAVE HIMSELF a 5 star rating when entering each book. (Click on the small 1 under members.)
So, unlike every other book that LT catalogs, these books start out with the highest rating possible. Fair? No. Absolutely not! Not fair to other authors who must wait for someone to read their book and, hopefully, review it to get a rating.
Not fair to reviewers who take time to read books and then time to review and rate. Most reviewers take this seriously, as do I, yet rating a book that the author has rigged, so he will get better ratings than he many deserve, make the entire process a joke.
It is not fair to publishers who do not get such self-assigned favoritism. Can you imagine a book being placed at number one simply because the publisher said it is number one? Not fair to the now number two book, is it? And it is not fair to librarians who buy books, adults who buy these books and children who read them.
Many people go to Library Thing just to find a new book, looking at reviews and ratings to help find a good book. To me, the author self-rating his books immediately upon entering them in the system is shameful and makes him a cheat.
So what did the author say about these 5 stars he gives himself. If you are a reviewer this will be offensive. He said: “And now to answer your question about the 5-star review on LibraryThing. It is my opinion that people like Suzanne abuse the rating and review system.
And I am stating this knowing that she has a website devoted to kid’s book reviews. There are people who post bad reviews based on a snap judgment even though their opinions change later and they don’t change their review.
There are people who unfairly give bad reviews because, although well written, it sparks something within them that they found difficult to deal with. There are people that give bad reviews because they are trying to make a political statement. And there are people that give bad reviews partial based on the title of other books that they haven’t read.
“So because I know those people exist, I feel the need to protect myself from them where ever I can. Since I could easily do it on LibraryThing I chose to do it there. I didn’t hide what I was doing. If I wanted to hide it, I would have created another account and give the books a 5 star review from that account.
No one would ever know it was me. And no one would ever question it. But I instead chose to do it under my author account. And thank god I did, because it at least in part balanced out Suzanne’s (in my opinion) despicable review. I wish it wasn’t necessary for authors like myself to do that, but clearly it is. That is why I do it.”
Wow! I expected something like “I like my books, so I rated them a 5.” No, instead it is somehow MY fault that he must do this to save his ratings. Huh? About the hiding it part. One must go to the book’s page and then find a small little number under “members” then click this to find out who rated the book, since no review existed (or even if there are reviews. Ratings start with the first rater at the top). Now, could he make a fake membership and review and rate his own books? Sure, he could and now he just might.
This guy’s justifications for the questionable things he does is convoluted at best. To call my review “despicable” is really out there. The guy has an ego problem. He cannot allow anything or anyone to ruin the unrealistic view he has of himself and his writing, the craft of which I never reviewed.
Was my review despicable? NO. Not anywhere near. Was it unfavorable for the author and brought his perfect 5 rating down a bit? Yes.
Authors write the best they know how, usually with lots of sweat and tears. Then editors help them revise sections until the publisher is happy. Then the reviewer, who may have gotten an advanced copy (A.R.C.), reads the book and writes a thoughtful, honest review of it, all of which is the reviewer’s opinion.
The ethical and professional author accepts the reviews and ratings, letting the chips fall where they may. They DO NOT enter a 5 star rating (the best), in order to raise the book rating and they NEVER do so in order to compensate for ratings lower than the 5 stars; NEVER – until now.
For one last twist, this is what the author had to say about my “despicable” review as a whole: “Suzanne, I completely respect your point of view. And do thank you for asking questions and pointing out things that I’m sure that others have thought.”
Plus, a BIG thank to Stephanie. I appreciate your comment. Stephanie said: “Suzanne, I on one hand, found your review thoughtful. I appreciate how you changed “tomato” to “apple”, as that seems to have been a major issue. Thanks for your honest thoughts.”
If you have read this far, dear reader, I thank you. It is time for me to get back to the point of this blog – reviews. Books reviews — kid’s books. If you want to comment on this mess, please feel free to do so. Comments are moderated, yet anything that is not nasty, out-of-line, spiteful or just plain stupid (nah, stupid might make it to the page), will be put through. I believe in free expression, but do not want the space filled with inane remarks.
The original review is next.