My Book Re-release Fears

My Book Re-release Fears

I don’t yet have a release date for When Stars Die, but that doesn’t keep me from being nervous about its re-release. I’m both excited and terrified, excited because my trilogy is getting another chance, and terrified because I’m worried about how successful it’s going to be the second time through. Here are some of my top fears:

  1. Sales. How are the sales going to be for my book? Are they going to be worse? Better? I want this book to be so much more successful than its initial release.
  2. Reception. Is the book going to be well-received? There are going to be new readers who will jump on board, and I’m nervous about whether or not it’s still going to receive good reviews and ratings. I know it’s such a shallow thing to concern myself with, but how the first book does will determine the course of the rest of my trilogy.
  3. Platform. Is my platform better built to help engage new readers? I know it could be better. I know I should be regularly blogging at least three times a week on WordPress and at least once on Tumblr–even though I have been uploading picture teasers on Tumblr almost daily. You always feel like you could do better, of course.
  4. Spikes. Will my book have any moments when there is going to be a sudden spike in sales? WSD unfortunately did not have that opportunity with my last publisher, but I’m hoping with my new one, it’ll see spikes in sales throughout the year. Some months your book does bad, and other months it picks up. Seeing a dramatic spike in sales from time to time is encouraging.
  5. Events. My publisher actually attends events and brings its books along. Will my book do well at events? Will it attract new readers? How’s the traffic going to be for each one? If I’ve learned anything from my job as a marketer, it takes really good foot traffic to get even one sale. And bravery.
  6. Excitement. Am I going to be able to drum up more excitement this time around? It may seem like I’m just after the sales, but I want the sales because I want people to read my book, to be able to enjoy it, to be able to take something from it. We authors don’t write for the money. We can’t. We do it for the love of the craft and the warmth we feel when a reader has enjoyed our work, wants to interact with us, and wants to become a fan. I truly want my book to change readers’ lives in some way.

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***NEWS***

  • I’m writing a short story called “The Treacherous Flame” that I plan to publish on Amazon and hopefully Smashwords. It’s going to take place in the Stars universe so that way you can get a general idea of what to expect for The Stars Trilogy.
  • I plan to blog three times a week: one post talking about my writing life, chatting about my favorite books, and a critique of anything I find in the world of writing. I can’t set any days, as I have to blog around my work and ballet schedules.

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What I Hate About Being An Author

What I Hate About Being An Author

I don’t know if there are many authors out there who have written what they hate about being an author. Don’t get the wrong idea. I love being an author. I truly do. Yet, there are parts about it that I hate.

  1. Reviews. Yeah, you’ve got a book published, it’s selling, and that’s probably all that matters to you. At the same time, readers’ opinions are probably more important than anything else. If your book flops as far as ratings/reviews are concerned, readers might not be as inclined to buy the next book, especially if this book is in a trilogy. Luckily for me, When Stars Die has 91 ratings with a 4.31 star rating. That’s pretty darn good.
  2. Publication. Just because you’ve got one book published doesn’t mean you’ll easily get another one published. Take my book, for example. Since being orphaned due to the closing of my publisher, it hasn’t found a home yet since I started searching in January. Granted, it did land a contract I’m still sitting on, and the full is with another house whose owner said they’ll get to my manuscript this month–and hopefully a contract. Thus, published authors are in the same boat as those not published. The only difference is people are actually reading their sweat-blood-and-tears books and making some money from it, but that’s it, really.
  3. Publishers Folding. This sucks badly. When AEC folded, I saw it as an opportunity for my novel to start anew. I have to think this way so I don’t succumb to despair. It is true that it’s a fresh start, but what’s also true is that it sucks that AEC folded. AEC didn’t fold due to monetary reasons, but that doesn’t make it any less sucky. After all, the sequel to my novel was almost ready to be made into an ARC that I could send out to readers for ratings/reviews. It had the cover and everything. I was just a few chapters shy of completing final proofreads. But this is the risk authors take when they decide to not get published by a Big 5 house. Even then, those published by the Big 5 are in danger of losing their jobs, too, especially if their agent decides to quit and can’t hand you over to another one. Or their editor decides to quit and the others don’t want your book.
  4. Not Finding a Publisher. Okay, so this doesn’t have anything to do with me, as I don’t have a literary agent, but I do know a few authors who once had literary agents. Those agents could not find a single publisher to take on their book. In the end, one decided to self-publish the rejected novel, and the other few dropped their agents altogether to start self-publishing their titles–with some success, of course.
  5. Sales. This is probably the aspect I hate the most. My novel did somewhat okay in regards to sales, but it’s still nail-biting torture when you receive your monthly statements. Some authors, even with good small presses, may not sell any books at all during a single month. This is incredibly disheartening, as we authors want people to read what we’ve written. We didn’t get published so we could finally call ourselves authors. We wanted our books to be published so we could share our stories to those interested in the types of stories we’ve written. So it’s no fun when you’ve had a bad month of sales–and you WILL have at least one bad month, which is subjective depending on previous sales’ records.
  6. Cover Art. Okay, so both of my novels have gorgeous, gorgeous covers. It was exciting to know what my cover artist could come up with. Even so, it’s a process I both loved and hated. What if I hated the cover? What if the publisher and I couldn’t come to a compromise on the cover? What if readers don’t buy your book because the cover is so obviously crap? What if it doesn’t even have anything to do with your book? Authors with smaller presses tend to have more say, but that doesn’t mean your options aren’t limited. But feel bad for the authors with the big guys. They don’t have a say at all. Some don’t want a say. But there are horrendous book covers out there because the authors didn’t have a say.
  7. Blurbs. Once your book has been accepted for publication, you still have to write the back cover blurb. This is a process I hate, as I’m not great with them. You think it’d be easy after writing a query letter and synopsis, but the blurb is something completely different. Query letters and synopses entice agents and editors to take on your book. Blurbs entice readers to buy your book; thus, the blurb has to be different because it’s about reeling in readers.
  8. Being Stranded. When the house folds, you’re stranded again. There aren’t many publishers out there willing to take on a previously published book. Thankfully, there are some presses out there that will. Nonetheless, having that book previously published will not give you a leg up. Having great sales and even reviews doesn’t give you a leg up. If the editor doesn’t like what they’re reading, no amount of sales or great reviews are going to change that editor’s mind.

These are a few things I hate about being an author. It doesn’t get any easier when you’re published. In fact, it only gets harder. Regardless, I love it. I can share my story with the world. I can show off my baby through platforming, like reviews, interviews, maintaining social media, ect. I can proudly say I’m an author, and people will think that’s awesome. I can have book signings. I get to have physical copies of my book to give away. My book could potentially be in bookstores. Librarians will buy my book with interest from just one person. Local bookstores will definitely stock my book. I get to have cover reveals, interviews with blogs and online radio shows, create picture quotes, tug on the excitement of readers with teasers, have a book trailer, and sit back and realize how remarkable it is that all the months or years it took me to write that book finally paid off.

There are more things about being an author that I love than hate. Right now, I’m simply an author on pause.

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Book Review: Jordan Locke’s ‘The Only Boy’

Book Review: Jordan Locke’s ‘The Only Boy’

untitled (17)In spite of the waning dystopian genre, Jordan Locke’s ‘The Only Boy’ breathes new life into it. I found this book on Twitter through this cover alone. Jordan Locke actually created this cover, and I must say, Locke did a fantastic job.

The main crux of this book is there are no more men in the world, as they have been wiped out by a plague called the Cleansing. Thus, it is only women that remain–or so Mary thinks.

Mary has never seen a boy in her life. She lives in Section One, which is a crumbling hospital with plenty of other women. Pictures of men have been removed from all books.

Then there is Taylor, whose dangerous secret is, of course, that he is a boy. In order to remain in Section One, he must pretend to be a girl; however, this is not an easy feat. The threat of death looms above him should he be found out.

Taylor wants to leave Section One because of the Matriarch. Her idea of safety is to keep Section One under totalitarian control. Even so, Taylor doesn’t want to leave Mary behind. But what will happen when Mary finds out just who and what Taylor is?

Upon seeing the cover and reading the description, I knew I had to snatch this book up right away. I love the dystopian genre, but the dystopian books in my bookstore are beginning to sound the same. They’re not even drawing from The Hunger Games. The most recent ones are being drawn from Divergent, because they all involve some sort of test, and it’s getting very tiring. In fact, Locke had to self-publish this novel because it couldn’t find a home due to the “waning dystopian genre.”

But this book manages to be its own dystopian.

There aren’t too many YA books with a male perspective. What’s even more interesting than a book with a male perspective is that Taylor, as for as he knows, is the only male alive and must live among nothing but women. I love how Locke doesn’t fall into the trap of believing that girls and boys are completely different from one another. This book shows they are not, and even Taylor himself learns that they are not.

So what is it like being the only boy among women? For one, he has to hide a razor blade in order to keep his face shaved. For another, he has to wear baggy clothes in order to hide his obviously-male figure. And last, he knows that if he were found out, he’d be killed because the plague killed men more quickly than women, and if there are/were any remaining men, they’d likely be carrying it. However, Locke instills an interesting secret within Taylor’s genetic code itself, and you’ll just have to read to find out what that is.

I love Taylor’s development. I love how he looks at the oppressive structure of the compound and realizes that women can be just as cold and violent as men. There is no touching allowed at this compound. Or affection. Or comfort. They avoid touching one another due to the plague, and affection and comfort are the same way. In fact, if a child is crying, the women leave that crying child alone. Thus, Locke presents a different side to women, one that isn’t so nurturing. In our culture, it’s a common-held belief that only women are capable of being nurturing. But this book shows that one’s environment determines one’s true behavior. In an environment based on pure survival, women will do what they need to do to survive.

I can’t forget about Mary, either. Her perspective is interesting because she has lived in Section One all her life under the oppressive rule of The Matriarch. She is a curious girl and wants to know what life was like before the Cleansing, but the Matriarch will allow no such knowledge. In fact, The Matriarch has made it so that men are unneeded. The women in Section One don’t need men to reproduce, not when all babies are basically genetically modified. So…GMO babies!

And so Mary is constantly getting into trouble, being put in the pit, sometimes with another, sometimes by herself. One can be in the pit for days or weeks at a time. Oftentimes those in the pits survive on water alone. This conveys just how dictatorial The Matriarch can be.

Even more interesting are The Earthers, people who are looked down upon by those who live in The Compound. In fact, Mary is convinced The Earthers killed her mother…with a gun. However, The Earthers have no such technology, so draw your own conclusions from there.

The Earthers live off the land alone, but I can’t give away too much about these people. All I can say is that the world building is fantastic because Locke delves well into Mary and Taylor’s perspectives. Doing so allows Locke to delve into the many layers of the characters’ worlds, and the characters themselves. Locke also does a fantastic job of making readers sympathize with secondary characters, such as The Matriarch’s daughter, who happens to be the bully of the compound. When I learned that The Matriarch showed no affection to her daughter, even as an infant, I really began to empathize.

Overall, I give this book a perfect 5.

Buy the book.

Visit Jordan Locke’s website.

Authors Commenting on Own Reviews

Authors Commenting on Own Reviews

untitled (14)Recently an author commented on a review I wrote on a book this author had written. It wasn’t mean or anything, but I found it a little unprofessional. The author wanted to clean up some misconceptions I had, ones that were based on my own experiences with what happened in this particular book, so they weren’t exactly misconceptions. The author simply had a different experience from me, but my experience was more common, not just with me, but among a variety of other people, so I wouldn’t exactly say I was misconstruing anything. I know I’m being vague, but this is to hide the identity of the author and the work. Even so, the author appreciated the review and thought it was the best one. And I, of course, replied, taking the author’s own experiences into account. But it was still unprofessional, considering the author’s experiences were rarer than this author was led to believe. Doesn’t make them any less legitimate, but when I comment on something in a book that seems inaccurate in terms of realism, I often go by the average experience, not the exceptional.

In any case, I do comment on reviews, but it’s simply a thank you if it was given as an ARC. It is never to correct things I feel they didn’t get, or even correct things they might have gotten completely wrong. Reviews are for readers, not writers, and because there is this ability to comment on reviews, let the readers do that. Let the readers clear up misconceptions, or agree or disagree with the review.

That’s the great thing about Goodreads. It opens up a discussion on these books, a practical forum, and I like that, so hopefully When Stars Die will get to the point where readers do want to open up with discussions on these reviews. I won’t be reading them, of course, but it will just be a neat idea to think that readers want to talk about the book in some way, be it negative or positive.

Now I’m going to admit that I take 3 star reviews and use these reviews as my invisible harshest critics to help shape the sequel of a book I’m doing in a series. Yeah, beta readers and crit partners are great, but most of them look at the manuscript as a writer, not a reader, and I want to think about readers when writing. To be frank, I wasn’t thinking a whole lot about readers when doing revisions for When Stars Die, besides the edits given from AEC. I wasn’t thinking, ‘What would they like? What would they want to see? How would they react?’ It’s still creating my story, but I also believe thinking about readers ultimately creates a book that you’d love even more. So I hardcore think about readers during revisions, which is what I did with The Stars Are Infinite and am now doing with All Shattered Ones, which isn’t in The Stars Trilogy. It’s a standalone contemporary fantasy. So, if anything, 3 star reviews have taught me to really, really think about readers.

In any case, I posed this question about authors commenting on their own reviews, and here are some answers:

Tanya Gaunt: “Reviews are what readers do authors get feedback.”

Nazarea Andrews: Unless it’s a ‘thank you!’ I don’t. Even from friends, I stay away.

Maria E. Wilson (My PA Extraordinaire): “Unless it’s to say “Thank you for taking the time to review my novel.” I don’t think authors should comment. If a reader wants to talk to you about your book, they will contact you. The reviews are not there for the authors, but for other readers.”

Nazarea Andrews (again): Fwiw I don’t use reviews as a crit for how to go into my next book. That’s what CPs and Betas are for. IMO.

Glenn Harris: “Other than a simple thank you, an absolute no-no. If it’s a bad review, you sound defensive and if it’s a good one you sound self-congratulatory.”

Rashad Freeman: “It’s a lose lose.”

Megan Moffat: “It’s awkward and I hate it. I had an author comment on a review before when I gave their book one star. They weren’t very happy to say the least and basically tore me down, saying I didn’t know anything, didn’t understand their work, demanded more answers as to why I gave it the rating I did, etc. I have never replied and don’t intend to. I found the author’s comment rude and intrusive.”

Sebastian Starcevic: “Even saying “thank you” lets all the reviewers know that you’re there watching, assessing what they post. Just stay away. You seem obsessive otherwise.”

Joey Paul: “I agree with other people saying that it’s not something you should do as an author. Read the reviews, sure, smile when you get a 5 star and frown when you get a 1 star, but do not, under any circumstances, comment. It will only end badly.”

Barry Koonstachin:Under any circumstance, an author should never comment on the reviews of his/her book.”

Wendi Starusnak: “I don’t think they should… it seems unprofessional in my opinion.”

Kimberlee Fisher Sams: “Fine, as long as they’re either basically saying “thanks for the review” or “glad you enjoyed the book”, or correcting blatantly wrong information (ie “You must be thinking of a different book. My book, “blah blah title”, does not contain a single swear word. My editor and I are meticulous about this.”

DeAnna Chapmann Kinney: “I’ve done it, but only if it was a great one and I just had to thank them for it.”

Gregory Lamb: “It can be a slippery slope with lots of unintended consequences.  Letting the readers have a dialog without interference is the strategy I go by.”

Cheer Stephenson Papworth: “Just be very careful!  Stay classy!”

Hopefully I spelled all these names right. Let me know if I haven’t. Some were a little difficult.

What do all of you think about authors commenting on their own reviews?

Next post will be an interview I did with Jenny Torres Sanchez, author of The Downside of Being Charlie and Death, Dickenson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia.

“The Truth About Publishing”

“The Truth About Publishing”

The title has been borrowed from Ian Irvine’s website, which all of you should thoroughly read.

So a lot of writers go into publishing believing they have realistic expectations (I am not talking about the ones who go in and think they’ll be bestsellers or millionaires because they’re with a major publisher). I, too, thought I went into publishing with realistic standards, until I realized my standards weren’t realistic at all, which did depress me for a few days–but I was also depressed about something major that happened in my ballet life; however, rest assured, I haven’t quit ballet, and it didn’t have anything to do with my questioning whether or not I was good enough to continue on doing ballet. So two depressing things thrown at me made me feel depressed again–and heartbroken, mainly a bunch of pointe shoes stabbing my heart. Monday and Tuesday, I didn’t even get out of bed until 10:30, and I just could not bring myself to write. I’ll tell you that ballet was the biggest part of it, though. Publishing was only a small factor. But this post is not about ballet. (I know I deviate a lot, don’t I?)

This post is about having to almost severely lower our standards for what we should expect in terms of book sales and publishing itself: with both small and large presses. I know I have had to lower mine, and I have found myself being able to accept selling X number of books per month; however, I do expect that as I go on, I should be selling more. I have high expectations for a reason, so that way I can strive toward where I want to be. Thus, I am going to use Mr. Irvine’s article to highlight some major points about the truth in the publishing world, a truth that even veteran authors seem to have become jaded to. So you can read the article, but I’ll just make it easier for you by highlighting the major stuff.

  1. You’re not considered published until you’re in print. Sadly, a lot of authors get their hopes up that when an editor falls in love with their manuscript, that they are considered published authors. I think I considered myself a pre-published author upon inception to AEC because I knew any number of things could happen, like, for whatever reason, they could drop the project. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But, in short, and this is for both small and large presses, if your editor gets fired or leaves the job, and your manuscript is passed on to another who hates it, don’t expect publication. Having an agent or a publisher doesn’t guarantee anything. I know one person whose agent never found a house for her book. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard from this person in a while, so I’m not sure what happened, but her book seemed awesome. In any case, I want you to be downright realistic upon landing an agent or a publisher because ANYTHING can happen that could lead to heartbreak, for whatever reason. Sometimes an editor puts too much hope in a manuscript and the sales department thinks it’ll be a liability, and, just like that, your chance at publication is gone. Read Lesson 10A for more detail.
  2. Print runs. I can’t say too much on this because I have no idea how much Lightning Source prints for my book, but even with a major publisher, you’re an unknown author with no platform, so don’t expect a large print run. A great author could get a 200,000 run, and you’ll receive an astonishingly low number. Read Lesson 11 for more detail.
  3. You might hate your book. This often isn’t so with a small press, because author, cover artist, and publisher work hand-in-hand to create a cover that satisfies all parties. My former contract manager had her own ideas, my publisher had his own ideas, and I had my own ideas, and all of our ideas copulated and made something wonderful and awesome. Unfortunately, for those at a large press, you generally have no such input on the cover art process, unless you’re a big-time person, like John Green, who is a RARE commodity in publishing. So there is a chance you might hate your cover, and essentially you’ll be embarrassed by it and absolutely terrified to have it on the shelves–or anywhere, for that matter. Read Lesson 12.
  4. Uh…promotion. For big presses, your book might only end up in a book catalogue as far as promotions go: for a newbie author with no established sales record. If a publisher can’t stock your book in a bookstore, chances of sales are low. Remember, there is limited shelf space, and it costs money for your book to be in stores. If you are stocked, book quantities may be low, and your book might be facing spine out. At my B&N, bestsellers make up the brunt of the YA shelf space–or bestselling authors, at least. For a small press, the only person who is probably going to make it in a bookstore is someone who is a bestseller, often with a big publisher previously, because that bestseller alone bolsters that small presses’ brand. But don’t be impressed. Until a small press can get a non-bestseller book into bookstores, then, in my opinion, you can be impressed. Read Lesson 13.
  5. Read Lesson 14. I can’t explain this point that well.
  6. Book reviews. Veteran authors like to tout that books with big presses are going to get reviewed by something big and awesome. Unfortunately, a good amount NEVER get reviewed. Even a great review usually doesn’t bolster sales. Newbie writers simply don’t have the audience to warrant a review by some big newspaper or other review source. One review in a big-city paper could bolster sales, but that’s no guarantee. Really, it’s an ego boost. Read Lesson 15.
  7. Sales. Drop your expectations. Now. Especially drop them with a small press. 15,000-40,000 of mass paperbacks are good with a big press, but most books aren’t going to sell that much. With a small press, selling 1,000 in a year is basically an invitation to a ritzy party. There is also some myth out there that says if you write a trilogy, by the third book, you should be doing well. Not true, at least for some. Your second book will probably not sell as good as the first, at least until you can get a lot of people to love your first book who will then read the second, love the second, and will buy the third. Otherwise, your series will be in trouble. I mean, you can make more sales combined, as well as money, but you ultimately want a successful trilogy. Believe me. I have this fear. I have 51 reviews so far for When Stars Die, and most love it, but there are a tiny few who will not stick around for the sequel. Read Lesson 16.
  8. Literary awards. If your book is literary in nature, really, don’t expect great sales from this because it doesn’t fit with popular tastes. In fact, and I can’t remember where I read this, bookstores were reluctant to stock John Green’s TFiOS because of its pure literary nature. So having a literary award is great and all, but, again, it’s simply an ego booster, not really bought by the public but those in academia. Read Lesson 21.
  9. Years. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not one of the lucky 5% whose book ran out the gate as a bestseller. It’s especially harder with a small press. Even so, you can still find success. It just takes years. Stephen King took years. Look how big he is now. The authors that persist and sweat despite the initial lousy sales are the ones who make it. I had to remind myself that yesterday because I was frustrated with my own sales. And years can pass by much faster than you think. I mean, I don’t want them to because I don’t want my days to speed by, especially because every moment in life is precious, but, again, years go by us at light speed. Before you know it, your persistence could make you as big as Stephen King. Read Lesson 22.
  10. Success. When you do become successful, that’s probably more stressful than being not successful, because now you have to work even harder to stay successful, to make your fans happy, to make your publisher happy, and so on and so forth. Read Lessons 22, 23, and 24.
  11. Royalties. Holy monkey riding a banana. This is my first time reading this, and I am now BLASTED happy about my royalties. Granted, this takes into account possible agents in other countries. Also, I’ll admit that I wished the chart showed more, such as how many books sold to earn said royalty amount. In any case, read lesson 30. Net profits are a good thing with a small press. Trust me on this one.
  12. Just read lesson 30A.
  13. Changing publishers. After reading this, I realized sending ASO off to another publisher isn’t exactly as great of an idea as I thought, especially because I don’t have a good reason, other than AEC having their hands full with The Stars Trilogy (and they probably won’t get the book until 2015–or 2016–anyway!). My PA wasn’t going to talk me out of it, but she thought it strange, too. Now, however, I understand. The explanation presented in Ian’s lesson isn’t why I think it’s a bad idea. It’s just my own reasoning, and why I think it is a bad idea for newbie authors or those with small presses. My publisher is a brand. My book is under that brand. People who subscribe to AEC and are supporters of AEC and buy my book under that brand will expect more from me under that brand, especially if they become my fans. If I publish my book under another brand, there is a high possibility that it could do worse because it is not under my publisher’s brand, nor will it be in their newsletter. For example, if I got accepted by Spencer Hill Press, they’ll include my book in their newsletter; however, my fans will not know I have this new book under a new brand unless they’re actively seeking new books from me that are not in my trilogy. Readers can be fans of a trilogy, so they might expect something similar from an author for another book, as each publishing company caters to a certain taste. For example, I loved Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty Trilogy, but I haven’t bought another book from her since that trilogy, because her other books are not in my range of taste–although I will buy The Diviners eventually because it’s closest to her first trilogy. It explains why there are authors who have books with different publishers, but one book is doing a lot better than some other book. It also explains why a certain press has a bestselling author whose book isn’t even selling in the midlist range. Those fans probably just don’t know about it because that brand isn’t in a bookstore! Anyway…for the other reason, read lesson 31.

After reading all of this, especially Ian’s entire article, if you’re discouraged and want to give up, you probably weren’t meant to be a writer. In fact, this article encouraged me because it made me realize that I AM NOT ALONE. And that is always heartening, isn’t it?

I have no idea what my next post will be, but consider me The Dancing Writer, Undercover Agent for All That is Publishing.

Proper Etiquette for Writing Reviews on Goodreads

Proper Etiquette for Writing Reviews on Goodreads

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First off, I know I said I was going to do a post on my love for marketing my own book, but, well, I decided this one needs to take precedence.

I was reading the reviews on a favorite book of mine that I received as an ARC from Spencer Hill Press, and my heart broke into a million pieces upon reading one review. I will not name the book or author, as I don’t want to embarrass her, but hers is a book I hold dear to my heart because SHP publishes books that bigger houses may not pick up because they are so different and new. While it’s the only book I have read from SHP, I will be following them to see what other books they produce. In any case, I fell in love with her book upon seeing the cover and reading the description. I didn’t even care about the reviews because it is the kind of book I read: dark and eerie. That’s my thing. And I totally GOT the book. I have some strong literary analysis skills, and while the book wasn’t perfect (what book is), I was able to analyze the characters and situations to understand why they did what they did–and it all made perfect sense, given the threatening environment they’re in. I so wish I could name the book and author, because hers is a book I support fully, but I sadly can’t.

But the review I read was so nasty and so despicable, and while it attacked the book, the attack on the book also attacked the author, and I was so enraged that I felt like posting a response, but I held back, knowing it would do better on my blog.

This reviewer was deplorable. It isn’t that she gave it a 1 star–my book has several three star ratings, but they are so thoughtful and so considerate and they’re rooting for me to grow as a writer, which warms my heart. I even asked one reviewer for some tips on making the sequel shine.

Her review was not thoughtfully written, and, in fact, it was nasty–and included an AGGRAVATING gif. I hate gifs posted in reviews on Goodreads, even if the review was good. I don’t fault her for her opinions, as I felt they could have been written in a more thoughtful, intelligent manner, but then she said this at the end of her review: Fuck you, book. To me, this is also an attack on the author as well, as she is the one who wrote this book, who worked hard on it, who poured her heart into it, who wrote the book she wanted, and that SHP worked really hard on it for her too. Behind every book is a human being who worked REALLY hard on that book, and I feel like sometimes reviewers forget that. You take a risk when you buy a book, knowing that you might love it or hate it, so take some responsibility, too.

I don’t like, *ahem*, asshole critics. I HATED Simon Cowell on American Idol. I don’t know why so many loved him. I also hate some of the critics on some of those cooking shows. Sure, hate can sometimes inspire one to get better, but for many, it just tears them down and makes them want to give up on the one thing they love. Constructive criticism, people. Is that so hard?

So the ‘fuck you, book’ doesn’t sound too bad, but then it gets worse with the people replying to the review. I’m not going to quote them word for word. Some said they wanted this book burned. Another comment in the review said the book was so stupid, that it made her teeth hurt, and a commenter wanted to keep this review, even though he/she had never read the book. Someone wanted all the characters to die–in fact, the person’s brain broke just reading the review! Some thought the review was hilarious. Others thought the book would give cancer to those who read it (ableism much?). Some wanted the reviewer herself to burn the book, even though this commenter HADN’T READ IT! So many people who replied to this ONE STAR review had never read it. I think one star reviews should be taken with a grain of salt more than the other stars in the rating process, simply because most one star reviews are poorly written and are filled with so much assholery that I’m surprised people take the review itself seriously. This is why I often retreat to three star reviews, because they are mostly unbiased.

I’m not saying people aren’t allowed to post one star reviews, but I think they should do so intelligently and explain, really explain, why they feel the way they do about this book instead of forgetting that there is a human being who wrote this book. Like I don’t like Twilight, but I would never go on there and be so mean and nasty about it. In fact, I just rated it a one star and left it at that because sometimes it is hard not to get nasty when you feel like you’ve wasted your time reading a book you didn’t enjoy. So if you feel like you are going to get so nasty that you inevitably attack the author, DON’T WRITE A THING.

When you write a review, especially if you have some criticism to give, make it constructive. Make it so that it encourages the author to become better, even if it is a one star review. We writers do want to get better with each book, and readers need to realize this. As I’ve said before, I’m taking my three star reviews of When Stars Die and applying them to the sequel so that the sequel is MUCH better than When Stars Die–that’s the hope, but I know I can’t please everyone. If I read a book, and I didn’t ever want to read a book from that author again, I would still want the author to keep writing, and I would hold on to the hope that the author got better so that maybe one day I could go back to him/her and see what he/she has out now. Stephenie Meyer is my least favorite author, but this doesn’t mean I want her to quit writing. I hope she continues to get better, in fact. She deserves the success she has gotten because she did work REALLY hard on that book, and I know that because agents make you edit the crap out of your book. Editors at houses make you edit the crap out of that book. Even if the book still doesn’t seem publishable, editing, at the end of the day, is a little bit based on opinion–except for the grammar parts, of course.

So how do you feel about nasty reviews?

Tomorrow, I’m going to blog about how much an indie author can make, because, while I love this blogger, I also laughed at her “realistic” numbers she was posting, and I have something to say.

Posting Book Ratings Below 4 & 5 Stars…Among Other News

Posting Book Ratings Below 4 & 5 Stars…Among Other News

This post was inspired by Shannon Thompson’s.

Apparently there are authors out there who don’t want readers posting reviews that are less than 4 or 5 stars. This is something that I don’t understand because it is pure deception and doesn’t allow readers neither a fair nor balanced view of the book. Low-star ratings are not inherently bad. 3 star ratings sometimes inform my decision over whether or not I should buy a book a lot better than 4 or 5 star ratings. 4 or 5 star ratings have the potential to be heavily biased by only pontificating on what that reader loved, instead of pointing out weaknesses in the book. In fact, a small amount of my 5 star ratings for When Stars Die do manage to point out a few weaknesses, but the weaknesses were apparently not enough to knock it down a star. But most 4 or 5 star ratings are not going to be this way. For me, I only give 5 star ratings to books that are flawless with no visible weaknesses that I can find. If they aren’t flawless, they’re usually 4 or 4.5 stars. If they don’t hold my interest as much as they should, they’re usually 3 stars, if they’re outright dull, 2 stars, and if they’re just plain bad in both writing and story, a 1 star. But since I am an inherently picky reader, very few books score below 4 stars for me.

In any case, one of my reviewers did give When Stars Die a 2 star rating. She was even gracious enough to ask me if she should post it. You know what I told her? I told her she should because I don’t want to censor her opinion of the book. She did all that work of reading the book for me, a book she didn’t enjoy, that she has every right to post her opinion on it. I have zero right to censor that, none whatsoever. I want people to be able to read her opinion and decide whether or not the book is for them. Sometimes the things that readers don’t like in their reviews are things that I like. For example, some readers don’t like overly emotional characters. I love overly emotional characters mostly because I am an overly emotional person, so I relate best to those types of characters. And I will admit that Amelia is a very, very emotional character, but it’s because part of her is borne from me.

To not allow people to post reviews lower than 4 suggests that the author has little confidence in him/herself or his/her work. Not all low-star ratings are nasty or snarky, either. I tend to ignore the snarky ratings because they’re just plain rude. Some low-star ratings are, in fact, very polite and critical and have a certain amount of sensitivity toward the author of the work. Some readers who write low-star ratings also want the writer of the book to become better. I had a 3 star review, and I frankly loved that review because there was so much sensitivity toward me and the writer of the review knows I am only going to continue to grow as a writer. I was touched by it.

The point is that low-star ratings are not inherently bad. They don’t have to be.

So what do you think about this trend of not posting any ratings below 4 or 5 stars?

In other news…

When Stars Die has a release date! OCTOBER 22ND!WhenStarsDie-3-1

I have also been gathering up all my reviews and guest posts and putting them on one page on my website. You can find all of those here. In fact, I still have more to come, and I will hopefully continue to have more coming my way.

Here is an awesome review from one of my e-ARC readers named Jordan. It’s very detailed and analytical, which is why I’m posting it here.

Also, do not forget that I am giving away a Game of Thrones book box set via Rafflecopter.

You can also vote for your favorite book cover. The winning author will receive a small promotional package that includes an author/book feature on varying blogs and a Twitter interview done by my assistant (Mariah Wilson) and I.

There is a lot that will be happening between now and the release date of When Stars Die, so keep your eyes peeled! Also, enjoy this screen cap of my Twitter interview with #WritersKaboodle.

https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=1bc1f81570&view=att&th=14119a59d4746595&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_RnM9ec_yJabVTe3hCqMz-&sadet=1379170510973&sads=X8u36BxzWDKkGV0l-7yeNhRx6Nw

When Stars Die ARCs

When Stars Die ARCs

The ARCs are ready! I am currently looking for more reviewers to do a review for When Stars Die (because, well, some e-mail addresses were wrong and some people never got back to me). You can e-mail me your address at thedancingwriter@gmail.com or leave it in the comments below. Once I have that e-mail, I will forward you the various electronic formats ASAP. There are only a limited number of print books going out for review, so I would prefer reviewers who would be able to do electronic (PDF, Kindle, ePub). 

Why Amazon

Why Amazon

Image representing Amazon as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

I had a reader ask me why the Amazon…

 

via Why Amazon.

 

 

This article by Shiloh Walker pretty much explains why I press for Amazon reviews in regards to the people I seek out to do potential reviews for my ARC. Have you ever noticed that high star reviews often show up in your book feed? As in, the feed that says if you like this, you’ll like this? That’s where I want my book to be when people look up books similar to it.

Blog reviews are great. Fantastic. They can help loads, if they are high traffic blogs. But having five reviews on Amazon isn’t going to get me as much attention as having 50 reviews on Amazon, especially high-rated reviews–and I’m not begging for high reviews. I’m simply trying to point out the importance of doing reviews on Amazon and not just blogs. You also get deals to receive even more attention. They are a big deal, and I wish people wouldn’t shy away from doing reviews on Amazon. I did a review for Shannon Thompson’s book on here and copied and pasted that same review on Amazon because I know that the star rating matters and can get her more exposure.

Don’t shy away from Amazon. Those reviews matter, especially if your blog doesn’t receive a whole lot of traffic. If your blog receives like 20 views a day and only 5 are unique, that isn’t going to help me much. I will appreciate you to death for choosing to do the review, but I also have this expectation that it will be put on Amazon, where it will likely receive more traffic. Your review on Amazon can help someone’s decision to buy the book. In fact, my review on Amazon for Shannon’s book helped someone decide whether or not they wanted to buy it, and Amazon will let you know. And I felt pretty awesome knowing my review did that for someone.

Plus, I am making an entirely separate list for people who do just reviews on their blogs, and these are generally high traffic blogs. Now this isn’t me talking about people who buy my books. They are under no obligation to rate. This is me talking about all those who will be receiving an ARC. I would love reviews on both Amazon and blogs, really. I would appreciate them to death.

 

 

 

What Writers Owe Readers and Vice-Versa

What Writers Owe Readers and Vice-Versa

tumblr_mmvohvsRXb1rnvzfwo1_500Okay, so I’m really sorry, but I don’t remember where I received the link for an interesting Huffington Post article I read yesterday that was essentially a rant more than a column (it’ll probably show up in my related content feed, so you’ll probably find it at the bottom). However, I can give you the gist. The writer of this article I read believes readers owe writers nothing and writers owe readers nothing in return. The writer feels this way because of a FEW entitled writers angry that reviews aren’t being left for books readers have read. Now, in this light readers really don’t owe writers anything. The book is there for their entertainment, not for the purpose of being reviewed or to help a writer’s career. So if they want to buy a book at a second-hand book store, that is their business and not the author’s.

However, I believe we writers do owe readers a good book, but we also don’t owe them the book they want.

In any case, I found a flaw in the article. It was very hateful, to start. Essentially we writers should be left to our own devices to drown in our careers. Sure, we can posit all we want that readers owe us nothing, but then when does that stop? Mid-listers and small press authors and indie authors depend on reviews to be noticed, depend on reviews for sales, depend on reviews to make money. If we impress upon readers they owe us nothing, they really will owe us nothing and then it’s very possible our careers as writers will flounder. Then we won’t be writing and readers won’t be reading.

I have 40 interested reviewers for my book so far. I am allowed to expect that they owe me a review or a quote in exchange for a free ARC. Does that make me entitled? I don’t think so. I am depending on reviews, word-of-mouth, to really push my book out there, and if I’m not getting those reviews, I’m going to be upset. You just got a free book. Write even a one sentence review. I don’t care if the review of my book is bad. Even bad reviews can still garner sales because readers can read that review and still discover something in that review that they like that the reviewer didn’t like. I’m not going to be hurt. I’m not going to attack you. That is your right as a reader. I am just going to be grateful you took the time out of your schedule to give my book a chance at all.

Now outside of giving free books in exchange for reviews, readers don’t owe us anything. They bought our books. That should be good enough. I am going to be grateful to every reader who buys my book, even the ones who bought it and discovered it wasn’t their cup of tea. They gave me and the book a chance, and that is enough.

The mentality, too, that writers owe readers nothing is a little dangerous. Sure, we owe them nothing insofar as to what we want to write, but we owe them a darn good book because a darn good book will help our sales. A fantastic book is the best way to ensure good sales, along with an expanding base of followers THAT YOU INTERACT WITH. A darn good book will also foster literacy and hopefully inspire people in their lives and affect a change in their lives. I certainly want my book to inspire someone.

I don’t write for the money. Period. But if I spend years pouring everything I have into a book, I expect compensation of sorts. You wouldn’t expect a chef to give you a free meal without some sort of compensation so don’t expect a writer to give you a free book without some sort of compensation either.

The arts seem to be the one thing where receivers of art hold this entitled attitude that we should starve for our work, while all other vocations are expected to receive compensation. We need to put more value into our arts than that.

 

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