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Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

First, my books and stories are part of Smashwords’s Summer/Winter Sale this month. All of my shorter stories: “Heart of Oak“, “The Music Box“, and “Becoming Lioness” are free. BLOOD WILL TELL is 75% off, just in time for the launch of the sequel, BLOOD IS THICKER this fall. FIRE AND EARTH is 50% off. If you ever wanted to read one of my stories, here’s your opportunity. If you want to make an author happy, don’t forget to leave a review where it will count, like Amazon or Goodreads.

I’m currently working through the second draft of MAGIC AND POWER–and I’m way ahead of schedule. I expected to get through about chapter 9 this week. I’m now working on chapter 23 (of 26). I might even finish the second draft this week. Now, the second draft is a long way from a finished draft, especially for a modified discovery writer, like me. But it’s really good progress and I’m pleased.

Then I need to do some additional work on the query and pitches for MAGE STORM. My goal for MAGE STORM is still to have it ready for WriteOnCon. I’m still waiting for some of the critiques on that one, though, so I’ll probably switch back to trying to finish and polish up BLOOD IS THICKER. A finished manuscript would allow me to start taking steps to line up reviews and maybe a blog tour in advance of the launch, for a change. I need to create, at a minimum, an e-book version that I can distribute to reviewers. It would also allow me to set a publication date about three months out. Both good things.

Sometime after that, I’ll be ready to start on my next new project–my weird Oz story. For some reason, August and September do tend to be my most productive period for first drafts. I have no idea why, but I’ll just go with it.

BLOOD IS THICKER is being serialized on wattpad, but since it’s not complete, I’m only updating once a week. You can read the first chapter here.

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Well, not surprisingly, I’ve done things backwards, again. Typical.

What I’ve learned so far from my experience with FIRE AND EARTH:

Fire And Earth Cover (Provisional)

I need to start planning and taking action much earlier. I planned a month in advance with FIRE AND EARTH. Most of that went into formatting and cover art, though, so I hadn’t done a lot of preparation for a launch. With BLOOD IS THICKER, I’m going to start a minimum of three months in advance.

So, I won’t know the date until I have a finished, polished manuscript in hand. Then I’ll pick a date at least three months out from that. I’ll need to go ahead and do the formatting, for Smashwords at a minimum, and then start approaching potential reviewers in the hope that some of the reviews will be up at about the launch date (or even a little earlier).

I also need to do more in the way of a blog tour, cover art reveal, etc. Introvert me has resisted this, but I’m going to have to push myself out of my comfort zone. Well, what else is new? I knew that’d be part of learning this promotion thing, didn’t I? And that was part of the point. Beyond wanting to get my stories out there, I want to start learning the other side of this business that I’ll need no matter what path my writing takes from here.

I still have to figure out how to do my two-for-one offer of BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER together. I have a couple of ideas, but nothing’s final yet. I want it to be everywhere, not just one bookseller. And I want it to be wider than just my writing communities. For that, I may have to create an omnibus edition which can temporarily be priced the same as either book separately.

Meanwhile, I have started serializing BLOOD IS THICKER over on wattpad. If you want to see how the story starts (or continues, since this is the sequel to BLOOD WILL TELL), you can check it out for free over there.

 

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There is so much to say about reviews.

In my continuing quest to figure out this marketing thing, I’ve come to almost a full stop at reviews. They make a huge difference to people actually buying books these days, especially self-published e-books. This, I think, is the next nut I’m going to have to crack. I’m going to have to actually try to get some reviews from independent book bloggers, etc. Eek! Why is that almost as scary as the first time I submitted a query to an agent?

Reviews are so important that some authors have even resorted to paying review mills to put up good reviews of their works. Once again, I’ve lost the link, but this was a big deal on the web–at least among writers–a couple of weeks ago.

The reaction to that is another story I saw in the last few days that Amazon is now deleting reviews by authors of other authors work. That’s unfortunate on so many levels. There’s a long-standing tradition of authors writing blurbs for others’ novels in traditional publishing. Why should it be any different for e-books? 

I’m not even going to mention the trolls who seem to enjoy writing bad reviews just because they can. This new Amazon policy does nothing to address that. How about, instead, blocking people who only seem to write either disproportionately positive or negative reviews? I’m pretty sure their database could handle that.

But that’s only part of what I want to say about reviews today. Some author–and I’m sorry that I’ve lost the link–proposed an alternative to NaNoWrMo this month. Instead of trying to write a novel in a month, help fellow authors out by writing a review for a book every day in November. What a great idea!

I’m not taking part in this mainly for two reasons:

  1. Lately, it’s taking me a lot longer to finish books because I just don’t have the time to devote to reading. I love to read. But sometimes it comes down to reading or writing. I can’t always do both.
  2. Frankly, and unfortunately, I just haven’t loved most of the debut novels I’ve read this year. Not that the only novels worth reviewing are debut novels, but that’s where the reviews probably make the most difference. For the record, the big exception for me this year is SERAPHINA by Rachel Hartman. That one I loved. And I wrote a review saying that I loved it on Goodreads.  (As a matter of principle, I’m not going to tell you the ones I didn’t.)

If you want to help an author–and you really did like their work–write a review somewhere that will be seen.

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It’s a fact of life when you publish something that not everyone is going to like it. And some of them are going to say so in the form of reviews on Amazon or some other forum. Brace yourself for it.

As a writer, I just have to get used to that, the same as I had to get used to taking–and using–critiques of my work in order to improve as a writer.  And, especially when it comes to reviews, the one thing you must not do is argue about it. That only leads to a downward spiral. Doesn’t mean that’s easy, though.

I had to remind myself of this earlier this week when someone gave my novelette “Heart of Oak” a one-star review. Ouch.

Now, by definition, a reader cannot be wrong about their experience of a story. It’s their experience, after all. So this reviewer read some things into this story that I had actually tried consciously to suppress. To me, it’s a story about an outsider trying to cope with a world she doesn’t understand and a bit of a romantic fantasy (as in, yes, there’s romance in it, although not ’til the very end). This reader found an environmentalist message that had not been my intent. But that’s what they read, so I won’t argue with it.

The part of the review that stung a bit was where the reviewer referred to me as a “beginning author”. Well, yes, this is the first thing I’ve published. But it’s not close to the first thing I’ve written. I didn’t just jump in without first practicing and honing my craft, as the reviewer implies. I’ve been working at this for four years now. Believe me, the first short story I wrote (the first that actually was a story and not a vignette) won’t ever see the light of day again.

I don’t, in fact, write very many short stories. I’m more comfortable taking my characters on longer, novel-length adventures. But I wanted to put my toe in the e-publishing waters with something that wouldn’t be too complex to format. Short stories, even novelettes, don’t have things like hyper-linked tables of contents.

I selected “Heart of Oak” as my first attempt at e-publishing for a couple of reasons. Most everyone who had read it, liked it. And, yes, I do have critique partners who will tell me if I accidentally turn out complete drivel. It happened earlier this year with a misguided attempt at science fiction. I’m just not comfortable playing in that sandbox, yet and it showed.

“Heart of Oak” had been submitted to most of the paying publications that will accept that genre and length (almost 10,000 words is a tough sell). And, although it hadn’t sold to any of them, it had gotten some personal rejections and kind words. Including, from a well-respected and professional-paying market, that they liked my writing and characters, inviting me to send more stories.

Between what my critique partners said and that rejection, I felt confident that “Heart of Oak” was good enough to be the first thing I put out. If anyone found it a disappointment, I’m sorry.

Nothing will kill sales faster than a bad review. I always think about that before I post a review on a book that doesn’t work for me. Just because it’s not my cup of tea, doesn’t mean it won’t be the best thing someone else has ever read. So much depends on personal taste. (Which is a topic I’m going to take up next time.)

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