Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reviews & the Indie Author

Today I'm decompressing after a very long week of terror, worry, and just running flat out at full tilt. I posted a little blurb about my husband earlier in the week. Nothing like making applesauce and lemonade as a career choice.My launch of "mr. Goodbar Goes to the Hospital" is delayed for a week while I do this. I've been catching up on blog reading, 600 plus emails, social marketing, and forgetting about tweets past. I just can't juggle that fast.

In my emails today, I found two-five star reviews on Smashwords for my nonfiction pamphlet, "The Author Business: a practical guide to the business of being a self-published author." I was thrilled. It really spurred me on to completing the full length book. This got me thinking about reviews we get as authors. What do they mean to us?

Just plain and simple... it is an affirmation of what you wrote is worthy of being read by others. While these reviews were great, I wondered about what the other 1,000+ people who downloaded this book thought. The same goes for all my books. "Escape from Second Eden" has received two reviews on Smashwords and one on Amazon, and that's out of several hundred copies sold! The others which have sold close to 1,000 copies combined...nothing.

Oh, I take that back...I did receive an awesome review from Thomas Wilson on "Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption."

All of these have had review copies sent out. I know I'm probably just impatient. None of these reviewers do this for a living. It's their time and their dime. I understand it can take months to even hear back from some. I know I'm not the only author in town touting their book.

This past week I broke down and bought a WiFi Kindle. Yes, another huge step for this old dinosaur being brought into the 21st century kicking and screaming. It was lighter to stick in my purse with a small reading light than a book at the hospital. As I was searching Amazon and Smashwords for possible downloads to pass the time, I was amazed at how I chose what I wanted to read. I've had tons of people ask me to buy their books or recommended books over the past year and my first thought was to look them up which I did. But I'm the educated shopper. I rarely buy on impulse, but after much thought and consideration. I tend to look at all the factors and know that I'm not alone.

The deciding factors on my purchases...

1) I already knew recommendations from others were the top of my list to look at. Word of mouth advertising is the best. The key is getting your book noticed so it can be a word of mouth thing.

 2) Reviews by others who had read the work.
I found myself reading all the reviews other readers had posted.  Now, I take EVERYTHING I read with grains of salt. Everyone has an opinion...good, bad, or indifferent. I remember the movie "Mystic River." It got rave reviews, a great cast, interesting plot line, but in my mind it wasn't worth the price of the admission ticket at the theater. I know others will argue this point with me until the cows come home, but that's beside the is my opinion. Isn't that what reviews basically are? Opinions?

3) How much it would cost.
 Money is a big issue with me these days as an semi-retired person and mounting medical bills.  Now, with that in mind, I'm not opposed to spending $7-15 for a actual physical book. I got a copy of the "Taste of Home Annual Cookbook" in the mail yesterday and contemplating the $30 cover price. But this is a nonfiction with value so probably not a great example. But a downloaded copy, I found myself biased by price which surprised me. As an author, I know how much work, time, creativity, and talent goes into producing a book for sale. Part of my mind focused on these items while my pocketbook screamed at paying $9.99 no matter how great the reviews were. I also know I'm not alone in the money crunch. There are millions of us out there.

I know I've said it before, but please if you've read one of my books, feedback is always welcomed. Even if it's a stinky review. I'd rather have a stinky review pointing out the bad points than none at all. That's one of the true downsides of this business of being an indie author...lack of feedback. If the book is truly stinky, it shouldn't be on the market...say seven out of ten say it's stinky. People read genres and they read authors.

I tend to look at things in ratios. It's the financial/marketing side of my brain working. Even if 1 out of 100 posted a review of my books, I'd have about twelve reviews so far not three. Maybe in my mind this ratio is overly optimistic at 1 out of 100. Maybe it should be 1 out of a 1,000? That's closer to the norm where this author is concerned. I guess in today's world where everyone is voicing their opinions about everything else...I figured I'd get a better response. I hold people up to the same standard I hold myself to...if I read it, I post a review. Am I wrong?

So how would you, as an author, react to a bad review? 

So in spite of it all, I...
keep writing and loving the Lord.

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