Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Puncture Wounds

While I am still on pain meds (and incapable of doing anything really useful)... it seemed like a good time to review my Amazon critiques for the two current books. I do actually read them all and take all the opinions into consideration while planning what to do next. The sequel for Totally Tangled will be out very soon - and as soon as I can see again, I will list it for pre-order, I promise! It is called "Yoga for the Brain". And then... I need to start working on the NEXT idea!

 There are 40+ really fantastic reviews for Totally Tangled - and yes, I did recognize many of your names - thank you SOOOO much! But the small handful of negative ones stick in my craw (what is a craw anyway?) I'll re-print them here for discussion. Really, I do welcome your comments and will promise not to be as thin-skinned with your words since I know you basically like me. :-)

4 star review, but negative:
At first I was disappointed in the book as it seems to be more about showing her work than about learning. I went to numerous websites to learn before going back to her book to look at putting things together. It is more of an occasional reference book. With that, the author does awesome work.

3 Star Reviews for Totally Tangled:
I just received this book and it looks like it's a good one. But, seriously?? $16.99 for a 50 page 8"x8" book??? 

I think, a few months ago, I would have loved this book, but I've been tangling for several months. So I think I should have bought the sequels. But I didn't know about them until now. So I will go buy them now. For beginners, this book would be wonderful. I'm going to get the next two or three or however many there are. Love tangling. 

Looks ok but it recommends you buy Zentangle cards to do the artwork on. My local art supplier (which is a big chain) has never heard of them. 

2 star review:
I thought this book would be a learners guide to the art of 'tangling'. The description seemed to imply that. I expected more instructions and detailed steps Instead this book is more of a compilation of work which is admittedly very beautiful. How to get there is still a mystery to me. The book is not very logically laid out so I would not recommend it for total beginners at all who are looking for a step by step approach. For example the author spends time talking about tools needed and then just jumps into showing you images of tangles with no guidance on how to start at all. I found that frustrating and I struggled to make head or tail of what was going on.
However if you want to add to your collection of ideas or get inspiration, this book might be good. But you need to know the basics first.
I'm rating this as a 2 star from my point of view, as a total novice.
I cannot say how helpful this book would be to a more experienced person as the patterns are truly gorgeous and inspiring. In fact I am considering keeping this book just for the prettiness factor of the designs and getting a beginners guide to learn the basics.
But I do think the product description needs to be more explicit and less misleading. 

There are fewer reviews for AlphaTangle because it is more limited distribution.

It's a small book in size, but is packed with tangles. I'm a novice and find it advanced for me, but one day!

The ideas in this book are good, even interesting to browse. I just think that this book was overpriced considering its size: it's a size of a large matchbox!
I still plan to use these zentangle alphabet ideas in my own drawings and writings. They look interesting. Every letter is drawn on its own page. It is tiny enough to take with you anywhere you want if you need a doodling help while travelling or elsewhere.

In self-defense, there isn't much I can do to defend against the people who gave me low ratings because of price. AlphaTangle is self-published which means I pay out of my own pocket to have it printed. So it is kind of like a nicely printed 'zine. Totally Tangled is full-color printing and that is expensive... but consider, even if TT were available as an e-book (wouldn't that be COOL!!?) it would still sell for about the same price. If you have purchased online versions of other books - even "text only" (no artsy pictures) the books cost almost as much as the hardback printed versions. 

So, if anybody has any insights into these above critiques that might be useful for future books - I would really love to hear them. And if anyone has been thinking about leaving bad reviews for other books they have read, please consider returning the book, or contacting the author directly if you have useful advice. And for everybody who left me sunny, happy reviews, keep on keeping on! And don't you happy people forget to tell me what you would like to see for future works too!!


  1. I have to take issue with the person who complained about the price for the size of the book. You crammed so many tangles into your book that I consider it a bargain! It seems that some people think books should be priced by the square inch.

    There are some comments that just have to be chalked up to personal points-of-view. "For beginners, this book would be wonderful." "...I would not recommend it for total beginners at all..."

    I can't wait to get "Yoga for the Brain"and I hope you are healing nicely!

  2. I'm a beginning tangler (two weeks) and the first book I bought was 'Totally Tangled' and find it very useful. I haven't had a bit of trouble using it. I love everything about it. And just a couple of days ago, I ordered 'Alpha Tangle'. I'm really looking forward to this one because of it's size. I expect to carry it in my purse wherever I go. Keep up the good work! Hope you feel better soon.

  3. Hi Sandy ~ Your poor eye and face! Do take it easy and heal up quickly! Hope you are back 100% soon.

    I have both your books and love them and your work! When it comes to feedback on Amazon, however, you need to take a deep breath and let it go. If you look around Amazon, there are very few books, no matter how wonderful or how many thousands or millions they have sold, that don't have a few nay-sayers. That is part of the author game. You need to toughen up your skin if you are going to continue as an author. If people sent back books, like you said, and never left their negative feedback, then the feedback system would have no value. I want to be warned if there are real clunkers out there! LOL

    As a speech and debate coach, when kids got feedback forms back from their tournament performances, we would tell them to look them all over. See if there are any kernels of helpful truth in the negative critiques. If so, put it to use. If not, chalk it up to opinion and go on.

    In this world it is impossible to make everybody happy. Celebrate the HUGE proportion of positive feedback you got. Study the less positive ones - use them if you can - and forget them i you can't.

    Prayers for healing, Karen

  4. You could try to find useful criticism in the negative comments. Or you could let the loud chorus of "we love you and your books" from all your blog readers drown them out.

  5. I also bought your book, and though I love the book and there are lots of tangles to try, I also thought it would be a bit more geared to the novice. I would like to see some step by steps as one person commented on. Perhaps taking one of the more complicated tangles and breaking it down into steps would be good, so we can see how you got there. Also, maybe some novice projects to get us going, there could also be challenges for beginner, intermediate and advanced tanglers.

  6. I love both of your books and can't wait for the next one, so hurry up and get well!! LOL I do see, however, how TT might be a bit difficult for a left-brained beginner (like me), but certainly doesn't deserve any negative reviews. It is really a wonderfully creative book with lots of lovely art. It really speaks creatively to the creative person.

  7. I love your book, I´ve bought it at amazon, but didn´t leave a comment.
    It has a great style, really good to understand (I´m a real beginner!). Can´t understand the "bad" recommendations.
    Hope you get well soon!


  8. i just started tangling about 2 weeks ago and showed my husb the basics and he's now tangling too! i have been painting my whole life so i have an artistic background--- did my zentangle research online etc and took to it right away...we ordered your book "Totally Tangled" and love it... my husb understood the book very well w/o me explaining anything (he tangles in his MAN ROOM LOLOL and i tangle in diff rooms aroung the house) and he has NO art background---there are diagrams and TONS of ideas! if you put out a real "beginners" book i most probably would NOT have gotten can learn the "basics" online but your TT book is quite inspiring ... looking forward to the next one :)
    in life, u can't please everyone so just move forward and most of all GET BETTER QUICKLY :)


  9. For what it's worth, I saw a single post on Zentangle last October, went to the library and reserved your book. Then I was off to the races. Maybe it isn't enough for "everybody," but it was certainly enough for me! I am now signed up to go to the CZT workshop next month. Thanks, and don't try to please everyone or you'll end up pleasing nobody.

  10. As a teacher I know that no matter how good you are at your job, someone will be unhappy with you. I find, as a novice tangler, that your book and the tangle patterns website have been invaluable. I used some of the tangles from your book immediately, in my first few zentangles and have continued to refer to your books regularly. Having since bought another author's books, I can say that Totally Tangled and AlphaTangle have been much more use to me.

    Follow the advice others have given you: realize that the comments are overwhelmingly positive and read the negative ones only to discover any constructive criticism. The price is a nonissue. They are inexpensive given the number of drawings and the paper quality of Totally Tangled is wonderful. I can't wait for the next one!

  11. If people were asked to review God, there would be bad reviews. Your high percentage of good reviews is proof that your book was excellent. You are one of the best tanglers out there.

  12. I know I mostly follow quietly from my corner, but I want to say:
    1)I LOVE Totally Tangled and I'm really looking forward to Yoga for the Brain!

    2) Don't let the b*******s get you down!There's no way to make EVERYONE happy. I know that some days you feel like you can't make Anyone happy, but you DO!!

    3)I'm sending powerful Healing Energy in your direction.

    Continue to recover, and Take Care of YourSelf!

  13. I really enjoyed Totally Tangled and only regret that AlphaTangle isn't listed at Amazon in Canada. I had no difficulty picking up your book and working away immediately. For those who assumed it would suit a complete novice, perhaps they should have read the description more thoroughly. If you wish to pander, you could add a brief "basics" on a page or two at the start in future printings (yes, I think this will become a Zentangle Classic with a place in EVERYONE'S library). All in all, the positive overwhelms the negative - SO LET IT! *G* Hope you keep healing well and quickly!

  14. As far as price goes, it might interest you to know that my brother, who gives seminars on self-publishing, felt your books were priced just about right, maybe on the low side.

    As far as the criticism on being too advanced or hard to follow, I think it goes to the audience. It sounds as though those people wanted a school-book. There wouldn't be anything wrong with a school-book approach, but it wouldn't be nearly as entertaining, inspiring or enjoyable as "Totally Tangled".

  15. Hi Sandy, I recently bought "Totally Tangled" as well. I don't think you should allow any of these comments to hurt you. As a writer myself, the first rule is you can't please everyone. I am not new to tangling, but with so many things going on in my life, I don't tangle every morning as I use to. But I always have time to browse through my TT book, which keeps me inspired. As far as the price, it is a very fair price for an instruction book, a "how to" book. I have purchased art books in the past that have cost almost $100.00. It's like buying a pair of shoes or lipstick. They may seem expensive at first, but look how many times you will wear both the shoes and the lipstick. Totally Tangled is a book that one can go back to time and time again, as a newbie or a seasoned Tangler. This book has very good instructions regarding how to Tangle a specific design. You also go on to explain Tangle terms, like Grids, Contrast, Depth, Shading. You share and recognize the other artists, their contributions, and their sites, so it is not just a book to "show off" your designs and finished Tangles. One book can not promise the ability to make the reader an instant Tangler, although my opinion is "Totally Tangled" comes very close to doing just that. I agree with Molossus, these people are looking for a school book, one that will make them a Tangle expert in 5 easy lessons. I love my "Totally Tangled" book, and I bought the "Zentangle Kit" first. Your book easily slid me into the next level of Tangling. Even if I don't have time to Tangle, I can look through your book over and over again and learn something new each time. You put so much work and love into these publications, how can anyone not be inspired by that. Most, if not all, of the comments seem to imply that they have browsed through the book. Perhaps if they sit down and read it, try some Tangles, and learn the "Tangology", they would know what a "Tile" is, and where to get them. As the proud owner of "Totally Tangled", I want to say thank you for your tireless devotion to Tangling, and the time you spend sharing with others so they can Tangle too. Get well soon, and put me on the list for "Yoga for the Brain".
    Take care, Dayle Mathis

  16. Hi Sandy,
    Hope you are contining to feel better day by day. I just wanted to say that when I saw the comment left on Amazon by Divya Malhotra back at the beginning of January, I posted a comment to try to help her realise that Zentangles were not actually hard to do and that infact on page 6 of your book it does actually explain how to do one from scratch. Looking at some of the comments here today, it appears that there is still a request for step by step instructions? I find this hard to believe as your book is chock a block full of STEP BY STEP instuctions. Perhaps not everyone actually reads the books that they buy. Maybe they just look at the pictures. Even so if this is the case I'm still amazed as I counted over 90 brilliantly detailed step by steps in your book. The only thing I can think is have the links been mixed up with links to your AlphaTangle book, which I know doesn't have step by steps,but then Alphatangle isn't sold as being so instead is it? It's a delightful showcase packed full of wonderful eye candy. My Mum always used to say to me 'there's nouts as queer as folk' and you know she was right. Always remember we love what you do and thank you for helping us to enjoy and create fabulous Zentangles ourselves.
    Warmest best wishes,
    Su Ward


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