Reviews – The Good, The Bad, and the Confusing

Posted on Updated on

If you publish with Amazon, you can be pretty certain that at some point or another you’re going to get a review that will make you scratch your head in confusion. The thing I like the most about these odd reviews is that it’s considered very bad form to ever answer one – I would hate to ever have to answer a rotten review. It’s not a good idea to answer any review for your book whether good or bad actually. Amazon reviews are a free forum type thing, and anyone who has read your book should be free to say what they thought about it without any fear of either a rant or a lot of fawning gratitude from the author. Poor old Hannah. One of the first reviews that my Fly Birdie got was a two sentence one star clonker, where the reviewer said, “I was disgusted by the actions of the “heroine” of the story.” After the initial shock wore off after reading it, I had a good chuckle because it didn’t make any sense to me at all, and I realised that now I really was part of the scribblers club – you have to get bad reviews now and then. It was a rite of passage that all of us writers have to go through at some point or another, traditionally published or indie. Stephen King gets one star depth charges all the time, like this one for The Stand – which was one of the best books I’ve ever read by the way. 1.0 out of 5 stars BORING AND SICKLY, LIKE A NEVER ENDING BAD DREAM, December 28, 2013 By Detective – See all my reviews This review is from: The Stand (Kindle Edition) Why so many 5 star ratings is a mystery to me. What this book reminded me of was a series of bad dreams like you get after eating too much bad food and trying to sleep it off in an over heated bedroom. Problem is this bad dream (book) doesn’t end at dawn, instead it goes on and on and on forever resulting in boring and sickly never ending reading drudgery. Makes me feel better to know that it’s not just me who will be blasted, although I think that possibly the above guy should eat more veggies and invest in aircon. Still, I take what reviewers say very seriously, and any valid point (valid to me that is) that they make about any of my scribbles that they don’t like, I’ll do my best to work on in future. I also think that it’s fair enough to say so if a story grosses you out that badly, so I’m not likely to get all Stanley about the whole thing. But if you’re going to give a negative low review, at least make sure you have your facts straight, because these low stars bring a book’s overall ratings down, and tossing them about willy nilly is irresponsible. In Fly Birdie, an ancient, massive tree is totally ripped up in a storm – roots exposed to the air, and left dangerously hanging over a house. Never mind the rest of the story – although Hannah’s sadness and helplessness at the death of the tree was fairly obvious when the story got to that point, but it’s absolutely not possible to save a tree in that state, that old, or of that size, no matter how much you want to. So this review started out as a bit of a head scratcher to me. 3.0 out of 5 stars An unkind woman, September 21, 2014 By marcia riley – See all my reviews Verified Purchase(What’s this?) This review is from: Fly Birdie (Kindle Edition) Everyone loves how kind she was to the bird, but what about the tree? When she learned the tree had feelings and went out of its way not to harm her, she let it be chopped down anyway. She showed no compassion whatsoever for the stately tree. That was not something a nice person would do. For shame…… But then it occurred to me that the story had actually got to this reader. Maybe not in a good way – it clearly upset her. All of us writers want our readers to be emotionally invested in our books, so maybe this isn’t really a “bad” review after all. Everyone has strong feelings for different things. And many people – myself included – have a deep and abiding love for certain types of life, be it trees or dolphins, or any other critter. My judgement has often been clouded in the past by these feelings, where logic hasn’t even come into the equation before the words come out. So to me, even though this seems to be just a negative review, what I get from it is that the reader was moved enough by what she read about that poor old tree to have some pretty strong feelings about it – and that, I reckon, is a very large compliment – when anything you write evokes such a reaction. So – I’m happy with it.

To Fiver or Not to Fiver

Posted on Updated on

From one of Terry Pratchett’s books, when someone says to you, “May you live in interesting times.”, it’s not said to wish you well. It’s the fleas of a thousand camels infesting your armpits kind of wish. I’ve been having one of those interesting times kind of week. I’m way too sleep-deprived to go into details though – this is just by way of explanation, and apology for my brief and sporadic appearances over the last couple of days. I’ll be back on form after an extra long snooze, a snooze which is fast approaching now I think.

I’ve always said that if I can’t give a book a five star review, then I won’t post a review. I’ve also always said that I reserve the right to change my mind about anything at all at any time too. So. I hereby announce the changing of that rule. As most of you will know, I joined the Rave Reviews Book Club a little while ago. I’ve since been accepted as a member of the board. I’ll be cheering on and supporting our authors in the Spotlight chairs. I’m not the only one, and those authors really do get the most amazing support from everyone, so it’s actually a lot of fun too. Like a really big party.

Anyway. The reason that I’ve changed my five star rule, is because there is no way I would ever be willing to tack my name on to a review and give it a fiver if I don’t honestly believe it does deserve five. I’m generally quite good at buying books that I know I’m going to like at the very least, and there are loads of books on the club’s list to choose from, but once I’ve picked a book to read and review – apart from honesty being the club’s rule – I can’t then not leave a review, and I also can’t leave a five star review if I don’t think the book warrants it. So there it is.

I haven’t decided yet whether or not to post less than fives for my non Rave Reviews Book Club reads. It would be a lot easier if I wasn’t a writer myself. Today I’ve seen two one star reviews left for authors by other “authors”. Before I published I thought that a peer author review wielded more clout – because, being in the business, the reviewer knew their apples from their monkey nuts. But. A lot of reviewers these days seem to be leaving reviews more to attract attention to their own – apparently – fine writing, than to honestly critique what they’ve just read. Non-writing (but also literate) readers are much kinder with their reviews, and also less likely to pick up flaws that they probably wouldn’t even notice if they’ve never self-published anything. That’s why when I do leave reviews, I always ask myself if I would have noted a particular oops if I wasn’t a writer myself.

I have a three star review on my short story – The Visitation, from a reader who said that she really enjoyed, and got into the story and then it stopped. Even though that was my original intention – to make the ending shocking and abrupt, I think about that reviewer quite a lot, and I’ve been scribbling away at adding to that book for months now. I’m not planning on changing the original short, but I’m going to tack a novella in after it about what happens after my abrupt ending, with a note about what it is, why it’s there, and a little thank you and dedication to that reviewer. Because that was a good three star review. It was honest, and not in any way unkind, but at the same time, I do have readers who like that sort of short, so the novella has to be an optional read.

My one star review for Fly Birdie doesn’t bother me at all because it makes no sense to me personally, but I accept that the reviewer just didn’t like it, and I can only hold thumbs that she never reads any of my other scribbles, because she’s not likely to like them either, and if she took such umbrage to poor Hannah, she’ll foam at the mouth if she happens upon Suzette!

Review Horror

After all that waffling I’m still undecided whether or not to post below fives on my non-club choices, so I’ll just be moving along then. I’ll leave you with the second Rave Reviews Book Club Newsletter though. Things are really getting exciting too – writing competition ahead! Have a wonderful Sunday lovely people.

Later addition to this: Having had a re-read of this post, I’ve decided that I will post less than fives on my non-club reads from now on. Fair is fair, and a four star is much better than nothing at all.

Before You Say You Suck

Posted on Updated on

Before I started writing I read all the time. Not having a book to read filled me with dread. I’ve been known to read the backs of cereal containers, toilet paper blurbs – anything. My writing trip started very recently, but it really is all encompassing now. I live and breathe my book worlds. Just lately there have been all sorts of troubles with fake, nasty, and jealousy induced reviews popping up. This really pains me. If you look at my reviewer profile you’ll notice that I only ever give five star reviews. This doesn’t mean that I’m a sycophant. If I think a book is worth less than five stars I don’t leave a review at all. I just really, truly believe that as a writer – and a newbie writer at that – it’s really not my place to trash and burn any other scribblers efforts at all.

I take more notice of a book review written by someone who has never so much as scribbled an essay than an award riddled author. I’ve been a reader all my life, and I have hero writer guys who I would defend to the death, regardless of typos, weird characters, or outrageous plots. Hello Robert Rankin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you are an indie author – and not Stephen King – be careful who you trash. Not purely for the possibility that the guy – or girl – who you rain turds on might have a staunch following and squish you like a bug on the old world wide web, but because it’s just not cool.

It’s really true. Everyone’s a critic now, but think before you leap into the fray as a writer. You know how hard it is to pen a book, and you know how painful it is to be told that you suck. Think before you head under the four star train smash. Sometimes it’s kinder to just shut up.



Posted on Updated on

I’m not a professional reviewer, and I only read for my own pleasure. Being a scribbler myself, I don’t ever leave a bad review, so it’s just as well that I’ve loved the last three books I’ve read. I gave them 5 stars ***** – every one! Here they are:-

Fantastic Tale, September 18, 2013
By Jo Robinson
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: The Fall of Onagros, Sage Book 1 (Kindle Edition)
This is the best fantasy book I’ve read in a very long time. Marian Allen created a world I got totally absorbed in, to the exclusion of all else until I’d read the last sentence. I loved the way the thread of this story is woven, and the clever way the connections between the characters become clear. The parts played by mysterious, mythical creatures introduced at the beginning of the book is revealed in unexpected and delightful ways. A truly fantastic read. I’ll definitely finish reading all the books in this series, and any other book I come across by this author. She’s the real thing – a true story teller.

Delightful!, September 18, 2013
By Jo Robinson
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Red Gone Bad (Kindle Edition)
This collection of short stories surprised me all the way. Lucy Pireel has taken traditional fairy tales and made them her own with dark, tragic, and sometimes hilarious twists. Absolutely absorbing – I loved every single tale. I don’t want to give away any of these clever plots, so I’ll just say that I recommend this book to anyone, regardless of your preferred reading genre. This author is not only clearly very clever, but has a unique and enjoyable way of sharing her tales.

A Superb Story!, September 18, 2013
By Jo Robinson
This review is from: The Hangman’s Replacement: Sprout of Disruption (BOOK 1) (Kindle Edition)
I won a paper copy of this book in a competition. It’s quite a long book, but at no time did I get the urge to stop reading it. I loved every page! Having lived in Zimbabwe for eighteen years, I was fortunate enough to be able to picture exactly where the hero was, and that just made an already immaculate story all the more real and enjoyable for me. But regardless of that, I would have liked this anyway. I love this author’s obvious keen intellect, and his dry sense of humour. I absolutely recommend this book, and will buy every other story this author ever publishes. Fantastic book!

I’ve got a couple more reviews to do, but that will be next week, because I need to get back to a bit of work instead of lounging on the couch reading and stuffing my pie hole. These were all fantastic reads, and I’ll be revisiting all of these awesome scribblers one at a time on my blog in the future. In the meantime if you’re in the mood for a really good read, I totally recommend them all.

How Hard Is Too Hard

Posted on Updated on

There are million-selling legendary authors, like those genius scribes of such modern literary classics as Duncton Wood, or Clan of the Cave Bear. Not to mention the not so literary but still million-sellers, because not all readers enjoy literary books. There are bloggers that have so much cool stuff to talk about that they have tens of thousands of followers. There are Google and SEO geniuses, like Guy Kawasaki. There are marketing wizards that could sell ice to an Eskimo. There are huge publishing houses, crumbling a little now, but still – who would refuse a contract with one of the big five? Wizard computer technicians. IT specialists that have actually studied the subject. People are Twitter heroes with thousands of adoring fans, hanging on to their every tweet. People with Facebook pages that are so “Liked” that I wonder how their owners ever find the time to read all the comments on them.

And then there are the Indie Authors. They have to be all of these things. I think that any sort of gentle, creative soul would have difficulty facing any one of these things, but if they want to succeed, and be one hundred percent independent, they have to not only face, but conquer every single one of them. Even though Amazon really is still young, in the last couple of years millions of books have been loaded on to their site. I think that the marketing strategies of even one year ago might not all be effective any more, purely because of the sheer volume of people all doing the same things. The next great marketing idea hasn’t been found yet. In the beginning posting your book links on Facebook, in groups or events, would probably have got you lots of sales. Now I doubt that you would get many at all that way. Constant hard sell drop and run indie authors confuse me a little. I very seldom click their links, purely because I don’t like having things constantly lobbed at me. Hard sell marketing is a dodgy way to go with any product. Sales people who do that for a living are generally taught how to go about that sort of strategy, and it involves a bit more than just constant bombarding of the same people with the same book link.

Now there’s just mainly a white noise of millions of book links flying around, and only a handful of true success stories. New authors jumping on the bandwagon now are going to have to find new ways to market themselves and their books. The old channels are all clogged up, and I’m beginning to wonder if we’re not heading back to the way things were before the advent of self publishing, with a lot of the books on Amazon seen as “submission to agent”, to languish there until, or if, it’s ever spotted by someone who loves it enough to start a fever of sales. Word of mouth praise is your best marketing tool after all. No matter how well your book is written, there is still an element of luck involved in it gaining real readership. Thousands of books downloaded on free days are never actually read by those who download them. Thousands of books have brilliant reviews. But. Not all of those books deserve all their praise. If these reviews have been written by friends and family, who at the end of the day are never going to give you a crap review, and then people buy your book on the strength of them, and then don’t like what they read, they are not going to buy any more of your books anyway. So it seems to me that no matter what people say about how important having loads of fantastic reviews up the minute you publish is, the best way to get them is to wait for them to come in from people who have read your book, liked or hated it, and get the urge to leave their opinion of it honestly. I could very easily ask all my buddies for honest reviews and get lots of them posted in days, but I won’t, because I know how difficult it would be to tell a buddy that I really didn’t like what they wrote. At some point the real honest reviews will come, good or bad. Maybe a little worse than they would be if someone has been misled into buying a book by glowing buddy reviews that maybe aren’t entirely true.

That’s just my opinion, and I’m more than likely going to get shot down for it. I could be wrong anyway. Indie publishing is a journey of learning, and I’m still taking my first steps. Either way. I’d rather be patient, get my books into the hands of potential readers as gently as I can, and hope that some of them will like what they read enough to want to read more. That doesn’t mean I’m going to recline on the couch eating grapes. As an indie writer, it’s my job to sell my scribbles. Of course I’ll carry on learning all I can about getting those scribbles under new eyeballs, I just won’t camp out on doorsteps, and leap out of bushes waving any of my tomes under unsuspecting nostrils, and yelling, “Oi, you!!! Buy my book!” The only platform for that sort of hard sell is possibly Twitter, but even then, it’s not going to work if all you do is post your links. I honestly believe that without a bit of support from Lady Luck, it’s not reasonable to expect overnight bestseller status anyway, no matter how hard you work. At the end of the day, if what you’ve written is liked by those who read it, you will eventually achieve some sort of success, big or small. And if it’s not, you won’t, no matter how often or how hard you wave it under nostrils. Just saying.


Reviewing Amazon Reviews

Posted on Updated on

It’s considered “uncool” as a writer to give nasty reviews the time of day. But. When I got my first (so far only, thank goodness) one star review for Fly Birdie it hurt. Fly Birdie is a little tale very close to my heart, and it baffled me that anyone could find gentle Hannah “disgusting” in any way. The hurt gave way to wondering if the reviewer had actually read the story. I always find one liners that say nothing at all about the story a bit suspect in any review. Then I felt terrible that she had actually been so grossed out at anything that I’d written. I really hoped that it had been a free download and that the poor lady hadn’t actually forked out .99 cents for it. All of these emotions were gone in an hour, and then I started laughing. I realised that I’d had a very sharp spike in sales since the posting of that review, so I sort of started to like it. Of course not everyone is going to like what you write. One three star review for The Visitation I have totally taken on board. While the reader really enjoyed the story and got into it, she felt that it ended too soon. She wanted more. Excellent feedback as far as I can see. I loved that she liked it, and I’m grateful for her suggestion. While that is originally exactly what I wanted to do with that particular short story – I wanted it to be short and shocking – I am now considering fattening it out a bit and sending that lovely helpful reader the new version as a gift.

Ignoring bad reviews isn’t going to make them go away. I for one am not ever going to try and hide a bad one. I trust that genuine readers are intelligent enough to decide for themselves whether a review is worth taking into account or not. If you want to sell books on Amazon you have to have reviews. Anybody can post reviews on Amazon whether they’ve bought the book or not, whether they’ve read a book or not, and regardless of their credentials as far as commenting on literature is concerned. These are mostly real opinions from real readers. Some are fairly obviously not real, and nobody with half a brain is going to be swayed one way or another by lonely onions in petunia patches. I spend a lot of money on books. I buy loads every month regardless of the fact that I don’t have much time to actually read them. I will get to all of them at some point in my life. I only started looking at reviews when I first published Fly Birdie. I still don’t often look at reviews, but when I do, spotting a really vitriolic one star review often has me hitting the buy button. I read the blurb, have a look inside, and then I decide whether I’ll buy the book or not.

As far as reviews for my own books are concerned, I hope that everyone who reads my scribbles will leave a review for me, to tell me what they thought. Good or bad, all of these opinions can only help me. Why announce rave five star reviews from the rooftops, and ignore the bad? From now on I’m going to take note of all reviews that I get. That’s the beauty of publishing on Amazon. You can fix problems. Bring on the reviews I say! I love every one that a reader has taken the time from their lives to give me. Thank you, lovely guys. To be honest, I haven’t actually roared too loudly about my five star reviews, so you might wonder why on Earth I’m going to share my really crappy one star review with you. Well. Because I’m sharing a couple of one star reviews from some really famous and outrageously wealthy authors, and I’m thinking that it’s only fair to tack mine on at the end. So – for all my lovely author friends that have ever got less than a five, here’s to let you know that you’re in the illustrious company of book selling rock stars. Rock on reviewers! If reading rotten reviews offends you, stop reading now, otherwise join me for chuckles. I’m very seriously compiling a little book of the worst reviews ever written. It will get loads of rave five star reviews and earn me millions. Ha haaaaa!

Till next time friends. xxx

Stephen King – Night Shift
(MY COMMENT: I LOVED this book – I would give it 5 Stars)

1.0 out of 5 stars One of the most horrible books I ever had the displeasure of reading., September 25, 2008
E. Adam Galmor – See all my reviews
This review is from: Night Shift (Hardcover)
I am a Stephen King fan. In fact, my most favorite book to date is his masterpiece, The Stand.
But the stories in this book are just pointless, uninteresting, uninspiring and downright awful.
I am simply dumbfounded at how this became a #1 best seller, or why it has such great reviews on this website. Rarely have been so utterly disappointed in a book.

Maeve Binchy – Lilac Bus
(MY COMMENT: I loved it as much as all of Maeve’s books – 5 Stars from me)

1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible, February 10, 2013
hope sank – See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lilac Bus: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Awful book not up to authors standards. As if she didn’t finish it. Nothing came together. Don’t read this one.

Hugh Howey – Wool Omnibus
(MY COMMENT: Still on book one, but I really like the way Howey writes, and everyone I know who has read it, loves it)

1.0 out of 5 stars A complete dud. Seriously??? Five stars?, March 13, 2013
HouseofG – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga) (Kindle Edition)
It’s easy to see why the author self-published this book- his very poor writing style, dull plot, and weak characterization would have been rejected by editors a thousand times over. Having said that, I surmise that his success derives from one thing only: the originality of his general storyline, however poorly executed it was. The overall dystopian concept of an entire civilization living in an underground silo has apparently not been done before, and is the only reason I can give this series even one star. We can only hope that Ridley Scott, who surprisingly optioned the film rights, can turn this lumbering, slow-paced read into a compelling cinematic experience. I suspect that was what he had in mind.

J K Rowling – The Casual Vacancy
(MY COMMENT: Haven’t read it yet, but did buy to see what all the fuss was about, so $17 in JK’s pocket anyway)

1.0 out of 5 stars 100 shades of “meh”, October 2, 2012
Amanda Richards (Georgetown, Guyana) – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: The Casual Vacancy (Kindle Edition)
Man down
In little town
Council seat
Nothing more
What a bore

This tedious, overstuffed, character-heavy story takes you through the machinations of finding someone to fill a vacant council seat in a little town. After countless repetitive chapters about the lives of the unlikable characters, each stuck in their own personal imbroglio yet linked in one way or another, you may feel the need to take a break to watch the grass grow on your front lawn.

The main problem with this book is that the most interesting character physically leaves the scene in the first chapter, and by the time you finish dragging yourself through the painful ordeal of completing the book, you’ll feel that he’s the luckiest one of all.

Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg – Nightfall
(MY COMMENT: Speechless!!)

1.0 out of 5 stars Blah, November 27, 2000
Shane Tiernan (St. Petersburg, FL United States) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Nightfall (Mass Market Paperback)
I haven’t read the short story but I would recommend it – even if it’s terrible at least it’s short and terrible, not long and terrible like this waste of trees.
It’s everything you would never want in a novel: boring, repetitious, filled with generic writing and dialogues; and all this is heaped onto an idea that probably would have made a good short story – oh wait from what I hear it did.

Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games
(MY COMMENT: Not read but really wish I could sell as many books)

1.0 out of 5 stars Panem is Snoozeville., March 2, 2012
Alex – See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, Book 1) (Hardcover)
I’m seventeen, and everybody and their mother told me to read The Hunger Games, because “it’s incredible!”. I finally decided “Why not?”, despite the fact that I have long given up on Young Adult novels. Sure, I’ve come across some good ones, but The Hunger Games is a prime example of why I don’t shop in that section anymore.
For what was advertised to me as an “awesome, fast-paced adventure”, I was bored out of my mind from start to finish. With every turn of the page, I thought it’d get better, thinking surely something interesting had to happen or else people wouldn’t be so obsessed with it. Twilight should have taught me that people can go nuts over poorly executed literature, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt.
The book is poorly written, in the POV of the main character, Katniss. When I say “poorly written”, I mean both in the construct and execution of plot and characters, AND the writing style (e.g., Lots of cliche ideas, like “it feels like I was just dreaming”, and one line I remember reading was “the saltiness of the soup reminds me of my tears”. I find that ridiculous, like some moping Emo-stereotype) And, because the story is in first-person, I (*spoilers*?) started the book KNOWING that she wasn’t going to die (not to mention, two books follow). I didn’t feel any danger for her and I didn’t like her. While, admittedly, I like the CONCEPT of the book, I didn’t enjoy anything about it while reading. The characters and plot are one-dimensional. It was painfully predictable. Cliche. Boring. Immature.

The sad thing is, I think teenagers like this book because it requires no thought–it has no sustenance by means of developed characters or intricate plot. If we want people my age to start reading, should we really settle for feeding them empty stories like this one?

E L James – 50 Shades Of Grey
(MY COMMENT: Not read – or bought, but reading EL’s reviews is a hobby of mine. They’re hilarious. Good for her causing such a stir!)

4,884 of 5,134 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the worst I’ve ever read… No, wait. It IS., March 6, 2012
Ebeth822 (Tx) – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Fifty Shades of Grey (Kindle Edition)
I downloaded the book to my Kindle because it was on the best seller list and had 4 stars overall rating on Amazon. I wish I’d taken the time to read some of the reviews. As it turns out I agree with the negative.
I found myself thinking “Twilight, plus some spanking, minus the sparkly vampires.” Here, I’ll save you all some time (SPOILER ALERT):

Once upon a time…
I’m Ana. I’m clumsy and naive. I like books. I dig this guy. He couldn’t possibly like me. He’s rich. I wonder if he’s gay? His eyes are gray. Super gray. Intensely gray. Intense AND gray. Serious and gray. Super gray. Dark and gray. [insert 100+ other ways to say “gray eyes” here]
I blush. I gasp. He touches me “down there.” I gasp again. He gasps. We both gasp. I blush some more. I gasp some more. I refer to my genitals as “down there” a few more times. I blush some more. Sorry, I mean I “flush” some more. I bite my lip. He gasps a lot more. More gasping. More blushing/flushing. More lip biting. Still more gasping.
The end.

The bad:
It was an interesting concept – for a “romance” novel. However the story is weak, the pace is slow and awkward, the characters come through as more schizophrenic than complicated, the “romance” is a jeuvenile and dysfunctional crush, and the “erotic” scenes alternate between “Penthouse Forum” and something that sounds like it was written by a painfully shy and sheltered 13 year old. I have now read through some of the rave reviews and I have to assume that these were posted by people easily shocked and/or titillated. I can’t imagine what fans are comparing this to when they describe this as “good.”

The good:
Nice cover art.

Jo Robinson – Fly Birdie
(MY COMMENT: Erm…..)

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wasted my time, March 3, 2013
Linda Hutson – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Fly Birdie (Kindle Edition)
Grade school quality SHORT story. Not enjoyable at all. I was disgusted by the actions of the “heroine” of the story.

Van Gogh pd book

Indie Waffle

Posted on Updated on

My Facebook cut-back is slowly working out. I still have a pile of things to catch up on, but it’s getting smaller now, and not always growing like it used to. My internet signal is still pretty rubbish but at least now I know my regular catch ups will be doable, and at this rate I should have at least one foot on the ground in a few weeks. My excessive reading lately, of things related to SEO and the best ways to market books as an indie author has also led to me reading other related things.

Random House has changed in the royalty payment department, making it appear to be much more author friendly and, for some, make the decision to go indie a little harder. Facebook has been shutting down pages where giveaways are happening, and Amazon now appears to have removed the “Like” button on books. I think that you can “Like” a book if you buy it legitimately though. I’m sensing winds of change coming. Some indie authors who have been working their little backsides off are saying that they’ve had enough of it all. They’re tired. I’ve seen one or two get off the merry go round in the last few weeks, and been very sad to watch them go.

I’ve read articles with opinions on self-publishing that are polar opposites. Some say that reviews are key, and to be obtained at all costs. Others say that reviews have to be honest and freely given – never asked for. Some say that free promotion days are key, and the more books you give away, the more you’ll grow your readership base. Others say that the free days are killing the industry, and that if you wait long enough, you can get any indie book you like for free anyway, so why pay for it in the first place? Some say that books downloaded on free days don’t count as “sales” and should never be taken into account when talking bestseller status. Other’s say a sale is a sale even if the price is $0.00. I’m nowhere near finished my research into all of this, but I’m slowly starting to form opinions. I try never to say never, so they might – probably will – change. I haven’t yet implemented these opinions yet. I’ll wait a little till I’ve read through my whole pile.

With the Amazon search engine, your tagging when you load your book is important. It’s a good idea to have keywords in your product description, and if you can, also your title. This will put your book ahead when anyone searches for a genre or name. Don’t use the names of other already famous authors though – Amazon doesn’t look fondly on this. Or on any other obvious ploys to get good tag words into your title. You need to be clever about the whole thing. Indies are, so you’ll figure it out I’m sure.

My opinion on reviews isn’t properly formed yet. I haven’t actually asked for reviews yet, but I’m thinking that I will, as long as they’re honest. On that subject, and while I’m here, if anyone would like to review Shadow People, please give me a shout, and I’ll happily and speedily send you a copy. Still on the subject, if you spot a typo it’s nicer to tell the author rather than announce it to the world. Typos can be fixed in a jiffy, and a heads up in that department is always appreciated. Even the big guys have gremlins in their e-books – I’ve spotted them in quite a few. Unless a book is absolutely riddled with these little devils, I always focus on the story when I do reviews.

As far as free days are concerned, I do believe that they are very important for indie writers to get their scribbles out to the public. I don’t believe that you should make all your books free though. Short stories are brilliant as freebies, to give readers an idea of whether or not they’d like to read more of what you write, and maybe have one novel, or first book in a series, that you regularly give away for free. There’s not much point in putting in the amount of work that it takes to write, edit, and publish books, if you’re going to give them all away for free.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Facebook shouldn’t be used for hard marketing of anything, including books. Being a writer in a writer’s world, I will share my author friends books and freebies on occasion, but personally, I’m going to use it for what it was created for – socialising. Groups are good for writing talk, but mainly I’ll stick to the friendly waffle on my newsfeed, and use my pages for book related posting.

Twitter so far for me, is the best marketing tool a writer can have. I’ve found friends and readers there, and picked up on a lot of information that I would never had come across anywhere else, or even thought of looking for. I love the 140 letter allocation too – it makes for lots of funnies, and keeps most chats light and easy.

I’m just sticking my toe into LinkdIn groups, and PinInterest and the other social sites are still on my To Do list, so no opinions there yet.

Google right now is a lovely, friendly place to be, and even though there is book marketing going on, it’s not encroaching on our happy chats and posts. The +1’s there are working towards getting our book and blog links out there in the public stream, which is something Facebook can’t do, so that is indeed a bonus. I enjoy socialising on Google, and I love the friends I have there. What we have done is create a community that is all about readers getting to have one on one chats with authors and bloggers if they want to, or even just hang around in the background and watch our antics. Watching writers in their natural environment must be fascinating for “normal” people. Free days and promotions there can only be good, because books and writing in all its forms is what that community is all about. I have a feeling though that us indie authors should be wary of flooding Google, or any other site for that matter, with only book link plugs. Interaction is the key and I believe we’ll get where we’re going there.

So. Tagging and patience seem to be the way to go for right now. Tag the crap out of everything you put out there, and be patient. Some books will never be successful and make millions of dollars. Very few have overnight success. Not many authors hit star status, but quite a lot live very comfortably from the sales of their books. What you put into your marketing campaign is your personal choice. I know that some people set out to write something particular, in a specific genre, specifically to make lots of money, and not necessarily for the love of story telling. And they do make lots of money. You can pay for marketing, you can buy reviews – good ones – and I’m very sorry to say, bad ones too. I read lately that this method of nobbling the competition is not at all uncommon. Most uncool! You can even arrange for thousands of books to be “bought” to lift you up in the rankings – only to be returned shortly afterwards. Again – this is not right. With Amazon and other places apparently trying to level the playing field, I’m sure that new ways of getting readers and sales will be found.

Personally, for now, while doing everything I can to become visible to first time readers of my scribbles, and carrying on with my big digs into how to sell e-books in general, I’m taking the patient route. I want people to want to read my next book, buy it, and with a bit of luck review it. All I’ve picked up from the madness so far, is that apart from doing all you can with the technicalities of search engine optimisation with tags on Amazon, Google, blog and Twitter posts, and being active on Goodreads and related readers sites, the things most beneficial to indie authors are genuine and friendly interactions with your readers, and patience. I’m thinking that slow and steady wins this particular race. Oh – and have more than one book out there, so you can keep some to actually sell, and only one or two for the free. That’s my opinion anyway. Now to get to doing all of these things myself.

Till next time friends. xxx

Van Gogh pd book