My Book is Getting the Worst Reviews. Except one.

on Mar 23, 2011
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First off, on twitter, someone named Naomi Klein called my book “Gross”.

I looked her up on wikipedia. Turns out we have a lot in common. She wrote some books (see below picture). She also “spent much of her teenage years in shopping malls.” So did I! And she has a lot more twitter followers than me.

(Naomi Klein, in the glory days, before calling me “Gross”)

I emailed her and asked her if she had actually read the book. She wrote back and was honest. “No,” she said, “but the jacket copy is gross”. Fine. I like that honesty. A lot of people judge books by their covers and then trash it to their 100,000 followers on twitter. At least she’s honest about it. I’m not being bitter. I really do appreciate her honesty in her response. I would’ve ignored me. (Or, you can follow me on twitter)

Then I figured, I might as well use this to my advantage. I tweeted out very loudly “Oh, I see, Naomi Klein judges books by their covers.” I figured a “twitter war” would be sort of like a west coast – east coast rap war. Biggie vs Tupac. Maybe Naomi Klein and I would both end up in drive-by shootings at the end of it all. And my book would sell through the roof afterwards. But she was honest again. “Keep to investing in the apocalypse. I’m not going to get in a tweet war”. Okay, honest again.

(I even look like Tupac a little)

Let’s veer over to Amazon, where the reviews are horrific. Except for one made by a big fan.

One reviewer said:

“Almost as poorly written as his blog…”

That really hurt. I work hard on my blog.

Then he says, “…where he meanders from topic to topic with little apparent rhyme or reason…”

Well…okay. I guess that is true about my blog. How can you go from My New Year’s Resolution in 1995, to 10 Unusual Things I Didn’t Know About Google and not think I’m meandering, with no real clue as to what I’m doing with this blog.

Another reviewer said:

“This book was a great disappointment to me, and I suggest you not waste your money buying it, or your time reading it”

The book is $9. You can buy breakfast with that money instead of buying my book. Food is a necessity. Some people have told me the book has helped them make money during this Japanese crisis. You can sort of see how based on my post, “Was Greece Nuked?” which has some of the ideas of the book in there. But, point taken.

(I’d rather eat this breakfast than buy my book, also)

For the guy who wrote that review, please write me. I will give you two choices: I will send you all my other books for free. Or I will refund your $9. With 5 two dollar bills (I’ll throw in an extra dollar because time is money and I can tell from your review you read the book).

Uh oh, then I got a good review. A really good review. But with a twist.

The review was complimentary throughout. Here’s a taste:

“Altucher is one of those cutting edge authors whom I admire because he is constantly thinking outside of the box, as in: ‘what box’?”

Wow! Thanks!

Only one problem. The reviewer was my wife. Ouch! And I didn’t know she was going to do it. Claudia, at least do it under a fake name! Haven’t I taught you anything?

“I hated seeing all the negative reviews,” she said, embarrassed.

So one of the heroes in the League of Extraordinarily Negative Reviewers did a little google search on “Claudia Azula” and of course found out she was my wife. I have never googled a reviewer before but I guess in the cutthroat field of Amazon reviewing that’s the sort of thing that happens.  Even worse: he noticed the book was dedicated to Claudia. He totally busted her. I say this, because one guy commented on her review: “busted!…LOL!”

Because it’s funny. For those not in the publishing field (not in the “biz” as we say), “LOL” is short for “laughing out loud”. If anyone not in the biz was lurking on that thread he would’ve said “laughing out loud” but he knew that anyone in the dark underbelly of “replied-to comments underneath reviews” would know what “LOL” was.

Someone pointed out that Claudia should’ve disclosed her relationship to the author. This was a very big no-no, Claudia!  My 15 years of reputation building were severely damaged by this action. So Claudia tried to make up for it by posting the returns anyone would’ve made if they followed the advice of my prior book. They were pretty good and she did her research. Again, without telling me she was going to do it.

But you can’t dig yourself out of a grave filled with shit, Claudia! It’s still a grave. As one guy pointed out, “you should just delete this whole thread.” Because to add embarrassment upon embarrassment, I started responding in the thread.

As the joke says, “the teacher said, ‘two wrongs don’t make a right. And two positives don’t make a negative.’ And someone in the back of the class said, ‘yeah, right.’”

Publishing is an ugly, ugly business. I wrote about it here in Why I Write Books Even Though I’ve Lost Money on Every Book I’ve Ever Written. And it’s even uglier now. Bookstores are going bankrupt. Publishers are so locked in internal political battles to save their turf that they don’t even see that the entire ship is sinking. My favorite fiction writers are writing for finance magazines. My favorite finance writers are, well, resorting to blogging.

So we have “Gross”. “Meandering”. “Busted.”  Sometimes I look at these and think I should just close myself in a tiny box and keep the lid closed. I could hide from all of the comments and reviews until the storm passes. But even Claudia said: “What box”?



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20 Responses to “My Book is Getting the Worst Reviews. Except one.”

  1. Claudia says:

    OK, I cannot stop laughing at the "Extraordinarily Negative Reviewers"… and one more thing, in my defense, I did like the book 😉

  2. DaveTelf says:

    this is the funniest article i've ever read on elephant. love the tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating but devil-may-care tone. I am making a scene in the coffeeshop w my unrestrained giggling. please, keep the hits coming. i love that after reading this article, i still don't know what your book is called or what it's about. but i'd buy it.

  3. Sara says:

    Heaven forbid a wife support her husband! I agree that Claudia should have identified herself, but it sounds like people were way too hard on her, and you.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Alik Brundrett This is hysterical!

  5. dan says:

    A mention from Naomi Klein is great. She is super awesome. Her Shock Doctrine is well researched and systematically depressing. You should read it.

  6. poppymama says:

    Seriously?? You didn't know who Naomi Klein was? Really should do your research before you try to take someone on. A Twitter war is SO not what she's about.

  7. jaltucher says:

    Well, I typically don't research before GOING TO WAR. I'm not different from any other warmonger.

  8. jaltucher says:

    I specifically didn't put the title actually. I didn't want the article to be promotional for the book. But I will post more articles here!

  9. jaltucher says:

    Sri, thanks. Just read my articles here is all I ask.

  10. jaltucher says:

    Sara, I find there's a lot of angry people out there. Its been a tough decade. The internet provides this great platform for people to take out their anger anonymously on others. Its a good test for the rest of us.

  11. jaltucher says:

    So you say!

  12. Claudia says:

    I have never googled a reviewer before but I guess in the cutthroat field of Amazon reviewing that’s the sort of thing that happens

    HA HA, cannot believe I am still laughing! "cutthroat field", HA HA HA

    I mean seriously! is there a "field" of Amazon review comentators?

  13. Jake says:

    I agree on at least one point- you look exactly like Tupac, from the photo.

  14. jaltucher says:

    Some people come up to me in the street and say, "Tupac?"

  15. sally says:

    The Devil’s latest ipo is profit guarantee! Buy Buy Buy! Investment not making profit, Sell Sell Sell! Disown your children, sell their property, and let those promising to be unaccountable, untransparent and greed driven take care of them and it for you! You’re stupid! Ugly even!

  16. Very entertaining blog. Thanks.

  17. sally says:

    The Amazon reviews are spot on about one thing: your shitty grammar. Ugly is a choice when it comes to people, but ideas are another realm. If you want ugly, watch some commercials- you need it. If you want uglier, make a monopoly- you have to. Or you can avoid it all together and continue masturgazing for greedy narcissists (an oxymoron, I know), as if corporatizing governance and speculative intsta-in/divesting are at some point somehow actually good for someone.

  18. jaltucher says:

    Thanks for the comment. I will look up "masturgazing".

  19. Claudia says:

    Wow, I see that the type of misdirected anger that sprouts in Amazon can sprout anywhere really… sad.

    I am big fan of how you manage James

  20. jaltucher says:

    In the past 10 years I've encountered haters from every angle. Anonymous, public, private (via emails), etc. The one thing I always try to realize is: these people are going through their own pain that has nothing to do with me. There's so much anger and sadness out there – particularly the past few years when the historical icons of American stability have been stripped away with nothing left to replace them. Claudia, I now use as my mantra the phrase I always here you use when you encounter a hater. "God Bless You".