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Rants: OT & OTT > Reviews openly for sale

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message 1: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Reviews are openly for sale. I just stumbled across this in another forum:

message 2: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (patriciasierra) | 2388 comments Disgusting.

message 3: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
For five bucks a review -- split how many ways? -- I don't imagine they read the books they "review".

message 4: by Joo (new)

Joo (jooo) Whether they do it or not, they say on their FAQ page:

"Who are the reviewers?
Our reviewers are keen readers who have volunteered to give their personal opinions on the books they read. These readers give their honest assessment using all the material at their disposal with in addition to your book might be your biography and other reviews they have looked through in getting a general appraisal of your general works.

As these are honest reviews, no guarantee can be given that they will be favorable. If you don't want an honest opinion of your book, then please don't use our services. "Free Review " reviewers accept your book for free and review it with no obligations attached to the author. The same applies for "Fast-Track" reviewers with the exception that they get paid a small fee for their commitment to review on time."

message 5: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Thanks, Joo. That CYA statement makes everything perfectly clear to anyone who wants to read between the lines, or indeed in them: "using all the material at their disposal with in addition to your book might be your biography and other reviews they have looked through in getting a general appraisal of your general works..."

message 6: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments For all the indignation that was expressed at the news that some best-selling authors had used paid reviews, it still seems to be well-accepted by a lot of authors -

(although they still like to complain if the reviews are not in their favour).

It's all part of the "we-want-to-be-at-the-top-and-we want-it-now!' attitude. The big sites like ENT and PoI won't take books without at least 10 reviews and a higher than four-star rating, and they are seen as the way to make it big quick.

I'll stick to the slow and steady way, I think!

message 7: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments I wish I had the mind-set to fast track...or the money.

I think, if I had the money, I'd keep it.


message 8: by Daniel (last edited Sep 21, 2012 09:46PM) (new)

Daniel Roberts (Daniel-A-Roberts) | 467 comments Paying for a review isn't a new and unknown thing. Consider how long Kirkus has been doing it. As in all things, you get what you pay for.

I can go to fiverr dot come and purchase 10 five dollar reviews for fifty bucks. I don't because these guys are wholesale five star reviews and won't reflect the reader's true reaction to the novel.

Kirkus asks for five hundred or so bucks. The reviewer can trash it or love and everything in between. If the novel is loved, and with the author's approval, can get put into a reviewer's magaizine that's published for industry insiders. It's a place where producers will buy rights to a novel to make it into a movie, or where a trad publisher might pick up international publishing rights if the review is favorable.

One is a vanity review mill, the other a standard investment. The real question is... where do we draw the line, if any?

I've never paid for a review. However, I'm considering sending Defenders of Valinthia to Kirkus sometime next year. I am not sure yet, depends on my level of funds.

How do you all feel about Kirkus?

message 9: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments I'm too impoverished to have an opinion.


message 10: by Patricia (new)

Patricia (patriciasierra) | 2388 comments I didn't know Kirkus charged for reviews. I'd never go along with that business model.

message 11: by Sharon (last edited Sep 22, 2012 01:24PM) (new)

Sharon Tillotson (storytellerauthor) | 1802 comments When I first published my book and was looking for reviews, I found several sites that charged for reviews. I deleted them from the list to send to. Still, it is difficult at best for an indie to get a review, especially for a niche book.

Most if not all of the 'Awards' sites charge to have a book considered. I don't see anything wrong with the concept of paying for a fast track if the book is guaranteed to be read and honestly reviewed, but I personally would never trust that any review paid for could be guaranteed to be honest. There are just too many holes in the notion.

Kirkus has been around for a long time. If it is still viable and respected by the industry, then I see nothing wrong in paying for a review; in this case it could be considered a form of advertising. I don't even mind that they give you a choice of the review being published. It's not so much different from my choosing not to review a book I would not give at least 3 stars - sometimes it's just not my cup of tea, sometimes it is just plain bad. Either way I figure the book will likely succeed or fail on its merits in the end. This is one reason I buy all my books (often for free, kench). I make no promises, either implied or given and I think I only once let an author know I was reading their book, which I knew from the first third would get a good rating. (I'm not likely to do that again, either, puts too much time pressure on).

message 12: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Many of my books have Kirkus reviews, gained in a time when they didn't charge. Now that I've learned that Kirkus sells reviews, I shan't be quoting Kirkus any more. Whether a prostitute charges five dollars or five hundred, and even if she was once a duchess, I don't consort with whores.

I think you'll be wasting your money, Daniel. I have never seen any evidence that reviews sell books, or that the lack of reviews hinders their sale, or that good reviews drive sales. My STIEG LARSSON book is into its third year on the Amazon bestseller lists, and the average of reviews is three stars, with quite a few angry one-stars from unsophisticated readers who expect hagiography and then find my brand of literary criticism too strong for their stomachs. IDITAROD, with so many hugely flattering reviews, a book people really love, though also a bestseller, has a fifth the sales of STIEG.

message 13: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Roberts (Daniel-A-Roberts) | 467 comments Andre Jute wrote: I think you'll be wasting your money, Daniel

That's all I needed to hear, bro. I posed the question because deep down I felt something was a little off, even with an establishment as old as Kirkus. Thank you for justifying my instincts. If it feels off, 99% of the time it is. I appreciate it. ^_^

message 14: by Andre Jute (last edited Dec 23, 2012 07:08PM) (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Looks like it worked for you, Ricardo.

In principle what we are discussing in this thread is true. But that trusted people speak up for Kindlebookreview makes me wonder whether I didn't pick the wrong example to kick...

Thanks for the headsup.

message 15: by Marion (new)

Marion Stein | 20 comments I'm not going to pretend false outrage at this. It's not surprising. As a consumer, I think my b.s. radar is pretty sharp, and besides, I would NEVER, EVER buy a book based on customer reviews of people I didn't "know" (even if only via social networking/forums/etc.).

It's awful because it makes readers that much less likely to buy my books because they'll automatically suspect all good reviews on indies.

I think part of the problem is a certain (let's face it) desperation sinking in. For a while it felt fantastic, like Amazon had leveled the playing field and anything was possible, but now that the population of "indie authors" far exceeds the population of likely readers, there's a feeling it's all gone to hell. Frankly, my books did much better when I could plug in the Amazon forums -- or at least put my name in a signature link. It wasn't just free advertising, it was a way to directly (and honestly)put yourself out to readers. Now there seems to be a lot more author services -- not just the straight out cheating of bought reviews, but the soft b.s. of "electronic book tours" that take your money to get you blog reviews, and tons of "editing" services making big promises to newbies along with numerous other "publicity packages." It's really turned SP back into the vanity press with the difference being that a lot more people are doing it.

message 16: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Marion wrote: "now that the population of "indie authors" far exceeds the population of likely readers"

Good god. Do we know this or are you speaking hyperbolically?

message 17: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments It certainly FEELS that way.

Which is why I love B&N. The 'majority' of newbies stick to Amazon.

I'm going to have to root my Nook so I can run the Kindle app and keep up on the books my friends write.

message 18: by Matt (new)

Matt Posner (mattposner) | 276 comments I don't honestly knew if we indies outnumber potential readers. I know as a person who interviews authors fairly often that there is never any trouble finding one to interview. I know that books are announced with such frequency on Kindleboards that one's announcement vanishes within minutes. I wish there were not so many indies. I recently advised an unpublished writer to go ahead and self-publish, but not to expect much to come of it other than getting experience marketing and beginning to "learn the ropes" (which I continue to do two years in). My reasoning: the market is so crowded now that it is immensely difficult to "stand out." Within the circles of writers I move in, I find tremendous talent, people more than good enough to go trad. Some of them are formerly trad, while others, like me, got fed up with trying to go trad, and some few feel they can do better on their own (Joe Konrath disciples). And if there is such talent within the circle of a few dozen indies I mix with, and if I can go online and meet four or five excellent writers in the course of an evening, then how deeply is the market divided?

Of course, readers read more than one book, so more than one of us can profit from each reader. Also, I do find that some indies I know develop very strong followings and have sales way better than I have. But it does often feel like there is an "indie writer lifestyle" that is more socially than economically productive.

message 19: by Daniel (last edited Dec 24, 2012 06:20PM) (new)

Daniel Roberts (Daniel-A-Roberts) | 467 comments Folks, don't let the growing number of Indie authors get you down. In fact, be grateful they are rising. Many of them will write crap. Many others will write OK. Some of them will write novels that are fantastic reads. Readers now have a market to pick through. Once they find a writer they like, they get hooked.

It's called building your brand. We maybe Indies, but deep down, we're also business owners. We produce a product and put it into the market. No more will the Traditional Publishers bully the market. Their days of superiority are over. Right now, they're trying their damnedest to stay profitable. If they don't adapt their business model, our superior business model will bury them within the next two years.

You brand is important, which is your name and your writing style. Do not be discouraged, anyone, if you feel over-saturated.

Let us look at another marketable product. Pizza. You know what it is, how it's supposed to taste, but do you want Pizza Hut? Hungry Howies? Papa Johns? Or one of the hundreds of myriad independent pizza shops that populate just about any city? You choose your brand, and you stick with it because that's what you like. No pizza shop is overly worried that the other boys in town will steal their business. They make a great pizza, they will have customers.

You write a great book, you will get readers. The key is to never stop writing and producing novels. Keep going, do your thing, and write like there is no tomorrow! One day in the future, your name will be discussed somewhere. You won't know who the talkers are. Then more will talk. Before you know it, one of your novels will go best-seller. Then another. If your brand is well liked, pretty much everything you produced before will see a rise in sales, just as much as anything you provide in the future.

Build your brand, folks, and those who like what you do will stay loyal. That's regardless of how many Indies are out there. ^_^

message 20: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Bunn | 160 comments I don't know, Daniel. You're too optimistic for me. True, there are quite a few options for pizza out there, but the number is miniscule in comparison to the vast deluge of indie authors. A grain of sand versus the stars in the universe.

Writing a good book, even a great book, does not necessarily get readers. Life owes us nothing at all. Good people, quiet heroes, loyal spouses, you name it--most of them go unnoticed and unsung, and then they die. I estimate the same holds true for many great books.

Conversely, as the prophet once queried God, why do the wicked prosper? Many dreadful books do quite well. Do fabulously well. Just take a quick spin through the bestselling lists on Amazon.

And that, my friends, is the life of books. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Sometime the just die of pneumonia. Sometime the unjust merely unfurl their umbrellas and stroll off to a cafe for an espresso and a nice pastry.

message 21: by Kevis (last edited Dec 28, 2012 12:19PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) I'll have to pass on the saccharine-laden prophecies of a utopian paradise where every author gets his due. No well-worn proverbial axiom or declaration from high by well-meaning scribes can alter the reality that no one really knows anything about this business. You can build it. But will they always come?

If the rumors are true that 50,000 new books are published every month at Amazon alone, doesn't this diminish the odds of a book's discoverability? How many good books will fall through the cracks to make room for the next wave of S&M or vampire books riding the coat tails of a best seller?

I'm not sure anyone can make any real prediction of how things will shake out over the next 5 years of publishing. It seems to me there are just too many players and shifting pieces to say with any certainty that just writing good books is enough. Maybe what an author needs is to catch some sunlight on their backside or even a trusty rabbit's foot. Maybe even a bowl of black-eyed peas will do the trick. One can only guess.

message 22: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider (bearmountainbooks) I've read for years that good books always "rise up" and get their due. I never believed it because I have read (and continue to read) books that remain obscure and unknown. There are simply too many books for all the good ones to be noticed. I don't believe all the good ones even get published (self or otherwise). The laws of the universe demand that randomness play a role--in books as it does everything else.

message 23: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Bunn | 160 comments Yep and yup.

message 24: by Katie (last edited Dec 28, 2012 06:35PM) (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments What you say makes complete sense to me, Christopher. There are some absolute rubbish books floating at the top of the lake and it's frustrating.(They keep saying cream always floats to the top, but so do bloated bodies.) But I have to admit to getting a buzz when I discover a conversation on Twitter where one person is telling another person that another person has recommended my book to them, so perhaps they should try it, too. That's the only way books get noticed unless you've got a bottomless purse to pour into advertising or you're willing to sell your soul and do it the less-than-honest way. It's slow and unpredictable, but I'm grateful for the few books I do sell.

message 25: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Roberts (Daniel-A-Roberts) | 467 comments I'm optimistic for a reason. I'm still riding an adrenaline rush. Ok, I'll explain what happened, and how it reshaped my opinion.

I was on the Renderosity website. They have a flash chat. I was looking at the functionality of a hair design for one of the digital models I was going to use for a future book cover. I wanted to ask a few questions, and they have people who use the products all the time in the flash chat.

So I joined as Oberdan and asked my question, and it got answered quickly. So I sat there, reading what they were talking about, unrelated to the products... movies and the directors who made them. Somebody mentioned that some directors are better at following novels than others, when translating them onto the big screen.

So I say, after I was silent for awhile, "If I got an email from Peter Jackson saying he would make a movie out of my Valinthia series, but I get no royalties because I'm a nobody, I'd let him do it in a heartbeat because I like his style."

I was waiting for the generic "What? You wrote a series?" Nope, that didn't happen. Instead, I saw this pop up... "Wait... are you Daniel A. Roberts?"

Mind numb, I replied, "Yup, that's me."

Then I got to see this next, "What a coincidence! My best friend just lent me a copy of Defenders, said it was a great book. He's a picky reader, so I'm starting it tomorrow."

My response? "Whoa"

I can't tell you what a headrush that was, so my optimism may have been inflated.

But, I realized something. All it takes is one book. If you plan on writing 20 novels, and only produce 19, what if that 20th novel was the catalyst that sparked massive interest? Customers would have a literary buffet to pick from with your name on it, versus writing something that when and if it goes up on the charts, you have maybe two, or three books to look through. If you give up too soon and don't write that future novel that generates the spark, then you could very easily doom yourself to the obscurity we all fear.

There are many catalysts out there, one of them is word of mouth, and it's totally underrated. Sure, there are lots of crappy books popping up on best-sellers lists. Don't you forget one ever true reality. Best-sellers lists are about sales, not writing skills. You don't see any 'Best-Written" lists anywhere, and if we did, a significant amount of my friends who populate this board would end up on them. Yes, I'm looking at you. And you! And you! *points*

So go and put on a layer of anti-despair and don't sweat it so much. Readers may seem scarce, but that is a only what we can see from our limited view of the Internet. I can't see stats for a lot of retailer's daily hits on certain books, I doubt anyone else can, either.

Amazon is losing chunks of market shares for ebooks. Last I heard, in 2010 Amazon did 90% of the ebook market sales. In 2011, it was down to 60%, and 2012 figures won't be available for a awhile yet. That is second hand knowledge though, as I intend to ask Mark Coker sometime next year where his sources are, but I believe him today as it is. The man loves to measure stats every chance he gets.


message 26: by Andre Jute (last edited Dec 28, 2012 09:58PM) (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Amazon essentially created the mass-market end of e-books. Apple and the others were happy to service the gadgeteer and top end minorities in a pretty lacklustre way but no marketer I know believes they had credible plans for growing the market. But it was always on the cards that Amazon, having created the mass market with the Kindle, would lose some of it. That's simply how markets work. Amazon would have lost some of it anyway as new competitors, attracted by the smell of profit, sprung up. But Amazon's presumption in trying to grab the entire market for their Kindle with cheap indie books caused Apple to react sharply, and Google's attempts to steal everyone's backlist, coming on top of their Android OS being a cheap rip of Apple's iOS, probably added to the motivation by their tie-in to Amazon on the later Zon tablets, and drove Apple and others to smarten up their book services and take steps to expand them enormously. Such competitors are very hard to resist.

However, I see no reason Amazon' natural share of the ebook market shouldn't stablize in a few years around 30-40% of the total, which will still be enormous clout because it is a growing market overall. The reasoning I use here is that selling books is a big part of Amazon's business, whereas to Apple, the most dangerous competitor out there, books will always be an adjunct to something else (hardware, music, video); as far the rest, none of them will ever have as big a share of the ebook market as Amazon.

Still, in a future in which more of the ebook market is out of Amazon's hands than in, those indies who took the trouble to place their books elsewhere could in the not too distant future look prescient. I also think Mark Coker is on a winner with Smashwords, if he can just hang on long enough; Amazon too know this, which is why they're trying to obstruct him.

Anyone who thinks Amazon will let Smashwords distribute through them is living in cloud cuckoo land. Amazon would instantly lose their leverage over the indies, which is worth money to them, because the effectively powerless indies are the blunt instrument Amazon has used and will use again to gain and maintain market share.

message 27: by Dave (new)

Dave | 65 comments Katie wrote: "What you say makes complete sense to me, Christopher. There are some absolute rubbish books floating at the top of the lake and it's frustrating.(They keep saying cream always floats to the top, bu..."
Yes, bloated corpses flat to the top as well. Nice imagery; would you have clotted cream with that corpse, sir?

What do you mean with selling your soul and a less than honest way, Kate?

Advertising has been in use since people at markets started crying to praise their wares, and gave others coin to spread the word. If people wish to put money into advertising and all sorts of gimmicks to get their books noticed, it's an investment just like deciding to tweet, be active on boards and facebook etc. The one is en investment in time, the other in money.

The publishing industry in the old days didn't guarantee quality either, nor that the cream would rise to the top. Best selling authors would turn out generic crap but get valuable shelf space, while new talents would not get a contract because some excellent books would be a hard sale.

I also think we (aspiring in my case) authors are perhaps too dismissive and/or elitist in our view of readers and what we consider bad books. The current reader is less interested in going with the flow created by literary agents and critics, and unabashed in professing their love for more generic, and less innovative writing.

A lot of people are just looking for more of the same, and why shouldn't they? Cheap romances, cheap thrillers, horrors and sword & sorcery books etc. have been selling well for decades, and it's not something to dismiss.

I have just reviewed a fantasy novel here in GR which is cheap, is selling very well and got good reviews. The book is cliche, the characters are cartboard cutouts, it contains horrible infodumps and very few plot twists, but I could see why it is selling well. Does that make it a good novel, or a good writer, in my view? Perhaps not, but I guess it also depends on your definition of good. That book has made a lot of readers happy, and I am sure that author giddy with every nice review he got. Kudos to him. He did something right, although this doesn't mean that something arbitrary like luck doesn't come in to play.

So I guess that it's a given that not only cream rises to the top, but we should also realize that not everybody likes cream. Many of us would be more fascinated by seeing a bloated body...

message 28: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Evidence for Dave's thesis is all round us, most strongly in publishers paying six-figure advances for unabashed rip-off, me-too fan fiction.

But I have no problem taking the "elitist" view that a novelist should write something novel, invent his own characters and milieu, write something original, and do it well. I don't care about readers who want crap, more of the same.

One has to adhere to standards, and I know what mine are.

Cats who don't like cream have zero breeding.

message 29: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments Dave, I wasn't implying that advertising is wrong. I've paid for advertising myself, though not in vast amounts and without success. I've paid for a promotion that worked well. When I said, less than honest, I meant buying reviews, glove puppet reviews, gifting books to lift rankings etc.

You're right. Some of the 'floating bodies' are what people want to read. But I get really annoyed (maybe I'm wrong to get annoyed, but I can't help feelings) when someone starts jumping up and down about their great sales and it turns out they've jumped on the erotica bandwagon. Sad to say, someone close to me buys this stuff on his kindle and admits it's rubbish, but it's titillating and that's the only reason people buy it. That's what I meant by selling my soul. (I should have written 'selling your soul or doing it the less than honest way'.) For those people, it's about making money and nothing else.

That's not to mention the stuff that gets to the top and isn't even readable because they don't know basic grammar or punctuation!

There, call me judgemental, elitist, whatever you like. That's how I feel.

Of course, if I get to the top, it will be because I'm brilliant. No other explanation will be entered in to! :D

message 30: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Hear, hear, Katie!

message 31: by Katie (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments PS. Dave...I just checked out the book you mentioned. He's had over 250 reviews on Amazon in 18 months. How does someone DO that? Even my best selling book only has 16 from 12 months of effort! :(

message 32: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments I've always wondered how people get scads of reviews in no time. I've always figured they bought half of them.

No matter.

I might write romance, but that doesn't mean I'm going to write erotica. In fact, I'm switching genres to hit the YA ZA market. At least with one story.

message 33: by Dave (new)

Dave | 65 comments How, do you mean, you can't help feelings, Kate? You're British! Stiffen that upper lip and repress them! :-)

I guess this industry is roughly divided between those who see it as a business, and those who see it as an artistic endeavor. And yes, I realize this is black and white, and there's a lot of grey in the middle.

But when you decide that you don't want to compromise yourself and your writing, and not make changes to make it fit certain markets, appeal to a wider audience etc. in order to stay true to yourself, then do not bemoan the lack of reviews or sales. You made a choice, deal with the consequences.

I guess I am saying that it's comparing apples and oranges.

(I'm not targeting anyone specifically here, but the general I am an misunderstood, unappreciated, poor artist vibe quite a few writers seem to cultivate).

message 34: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Bunn | 160 comments I don't think art and business are incompatible. We all know the real trick is melding them successfully. Of course, that's easier said than done.

I'm also tired of reading about huge sales and then discovering its the erotica genre. I view that genre as an anomaly, a type of writing that appeals to baser instincts and that operates more closely akin to a narcotic than story (requires multiple fixes, etc). I realize that's a politically incorrect thing to say, but that's what I believe.

The problem with repositioning one's writing to appeal to a broader market is that the broader markets tend to be driven by lower denominators (see McDonald's cheeseburger). Rather, I think creatives have a responsibility to assume that there are better angels within men's natures, or, at least, the possibility of better angels, and therefore write (create art) that calls men to something better.

Perhaps that view won't result in as many sales as E. L. James and her cohorts, but profit has to be weighed against other things.

message 35: by Kevis (last edited Dec 30, 2012 02:19PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) K.A. wrote: "I've always wondered how people get scads of reviews in no time. I've always figured they bought half of them."

Well, there are other ways to get scads of reviews during the first few days of a book's release besides paying for them. That's what ARC copies are for. But I do agree with the overall sentiment that an author should write what he or she enjoys writing rather than chasing after trends.

message 36: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments I sent out 20 ARCs a couple of weeks before I released the book. Never heard back...sigh...good thing I've got such good and honest friends here. I'd have given up long ago.

message 37: by Katie (last edited Dec 30, 2012 08:02PM) (new)

Katie Stewart (katiewstewart) | 1099 comments Dave wrote: "How, do you mean, you can't help feelings, Kate? You're British! Stiffen that upper lip and repress them! :-)

I guess this industry is roughly divided between those who see it as a business, and t..."

No, I became an Aussie fourteen years ago, an operation requiring complete removal of the stiff upper lip. ;)

Why won't you just let me wallow? Oh, no, wait a minute. If you'd let me wallow, I'd still have a load of manuscripts on my computer and be complaining about publishers who didn't want my books. It's so much better now. Now I know that nobody wants my books.

I'm joking, I'm joking!

Back to editing the next one...

Edited to add: I've just tallied up my sales for 2012. They're pretty well 10 times what they were for 2011 - with two extra books. It's not world-shattering, but it's hopeful! :D

message 38: by Kevis (last edited Dec 30, 2012 10:15PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) K.A. wrote: "I sent out 20 ARCs a couple of weeks before I released the book. Never heard back...sigh...good thing I've got such good and honest friends here. I'd have given up long ago."

I sent out about 100 ARCS for my last book and only got back less than 10 reviews. To say that I'm jaded by the experience would be an understatement (I wish I could get back all those hours I wasted looking for reviewers). Truthfully, I think getting reviews is one of those feast or famine events. Some books seem to get all the reviews while others languish with nary a comment by a reader. Maybe the trick IS to pay for reviews. But then that takes us back to square one. Sad, isn't it?

message 39: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments Katie - Yes, there was a great uptick in sales for me, and income as well. Not enough to get a steak dinner every month, but it's something.

Falling off the cliff in September was disheartening.

I've got charts to make for sales and income this year. I'll know more when I'm done.

Kevis - It's hard to figure it out. For today, I give up. I'll get back to it later. LOL

message 40: by Sharon (last edited Jan 03, 2013 08:44AM) (new)

Sharon Tillotson (storytellerauthor) | 1802 comments Christopher wrote: "I don't think art and business are incompatible. We all know the real trick is melding them successfully. Of course, that's easier said than done.

I'm also tired of reading about huge sales and th..."

Well said, Christopher...

Katie said: "...I've just tallied up my sales for 2012. They're pretty well 10 times what they were for 2011 - with two extra books. It's not world-shattering, but it's hopeful! :D"

Well done, Katie! You are a star to us!!

Kat, it is nice to see your hard work pay off...

message 41: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments Yep, I've got enough money to get a copy editor for my next e-book...and maybe a spiffy cover.

message 42: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Owen | 36 comments Love the word of mouth story, Daniel. How amazing that must have been.

I like the encouragement of persevering - writing the 20th book instead of quitting at nineteen. I apologize because I can't recall who said it and I can't figure out how to flip back on this mini iPad (self-gifted at Christmas) and find out.

The world of publishing will continue to evolve I think. I just emerged from KDP Select. It's like giving up sugar or a good drug. I'm on to ensuring my books are everywhere and moving away from the lure of rankings and free.

Just the other day, I had a comment on my website from a gal in Sydney, Australia, who bought my books at a bookstore, because we share the same name. Ha! How cool is that? My three self-published books selling in print on a bookstore's shelf in Sydney. Thanks to Lightning Source and some bookstore owner for ordering them and some woman seeing my name the same as hers compelled her to lay out some cash for my books. #loveit #mustkeepwriting
All of you.

message 43: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
Katherine wrote: "Love the word of mouth story, Daniel. How amazing that must have been."

Our Daniel has a natural talent with words.

Congratulations on your Australian convert, Kathleen. It's amazing how much Australians read, actually. I met some of the best girls I knew in bookshops.

message 44: by Marion (last edited Jan 11, 2013 02:06PM) (new)

Marion Stein | 20 comments Good god. Do we know this or are you speaking hyperbolically?"

Hi Andre, just checking in again. I admit it's (probably) hyperbole though it feels that way. I used to be where Dan is, really thrilled to be playing in something resembling a level playing field -- even if what made is level was the ability of indies to sell books cheap. I'm now feeling a lot of frustration (coupled with self-pity, never a good combo).

I'm just seeing how hard and how much of a time suck "marketing" has been and how few pay offs it has had. I'm still desperate to get my work into the hands of readers who aren't also writers, and still nearly ballistic when I read forum comments suggesting that self-published writers are only getting praise from friends and family. I can't even discuss how I published my novel with friends and family without seeing a look of pity on their faces and no they haven't even read my stuff. As one of my friends (a librarian) said (without thinking) "I don't even have enough time to read published books."

message 45: by Andre Jute (new)

Andre Jute (andrejute) | 4851 comments Mod
My indie experiment has now been running two years and I agree with you. I have a list of all the things my publishers and agents did for me that I now have to do for myself, and being your own master doesn't even begin to make up for all the time, that you once spent writing, that you now waste on inessentials, like "marketing".

message 46: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Beard (jabeard) Considering that prior to the current version of self-publishing, many writers spent years getting to the point where they got any sort of decent sales and, thus, spent years doing day jobs and what not that took up all their time, I don't really know if I'm particularly bothered by the current state of affairs.

I mean I'm reminded that the previous advice was write a book, query it, and then work on other books while you were spending on the query-go-round and what not.

Seems like a variation could be, publish a book, work on the rest and just get them out there. After all, if it's an ebook or a POD it isn't as if it has to sell right away.

There's no sending the book off for its electrons to be pulped.

After all, if one's frustrated with the indie scene, there is always the trad path, which, of course brings with it all it's own frustration.

Plus, the current trad path involves a lot of waiting and no particular guarantees of success after all. Frustration one way or another

As for the other stuff, there are always going to be forum comments that are annoying, no matter what your circumstances are. The most critically acclaimed and commercially successful authors have legions of internet forum critics ready and willing to explain just what terrible, awful, and overrated hacks they are.

If you were trad published, then it'd just be people complaining about what you write or your style.

Heck, I've more than a few denunciations of ALL fiction. I've even seen literary agents that deal in novels basically suggest that fiction is second-rate (this is a semi-common theme of the relatively recent meme that self-publishing is dangerous because it encourages a non-advance model that will apparently keep us from having a bunch of big advance-funded epic non-fiction works that required years of research*).

It may be that I'm very, very patient, I suppose. I haven't been able to write much until very recently because of my life situation (since somewhat remedied by a job change and a cross-country move), but whenever I thought about success, I always thought in terms of 5-10 years because that's basically the same plan I had when I first started looking into publishing.

I have no particular belief that the "best" will automatically rise to the top or anything, but rather just the belief if I get out more material over the years, I have more chances to be discovered by readers.

Another way to look at it is like the internet in '99 vs. '01. Yeah, the days of sticking '.com' on anything and automatically doing well are gone, but plenty of success on the internet after that, including some ridiculous stuff.

Here's the thing though. If one feels that the indie path isn't working, why not experiment? Try going with an agent with a novel or a smaller press with another? We're past the point where merely deigning to try and publish anything without walking the trad path doomed one's trad chances.

I mean there are so many variations and possibilities if something isn't working for whatever reasons, are always other options.

*Which is a semi-valid argument at the margins, but every agent and editor I've seen raise this argument invariably cites some piece of non-fiction written by some well-established non-fiction authors who, typically, also has some other ridiculously well-paying day job and track record that would assure that they A) wouldn't have to rely on an immediate advance to support themselves B) obviously don't spend all their time just writing because they are running around doing everything else associated with their non-fiction platform. I've yet to see any of them offer an example that was some out of nowhere piece of non-fiction that some nobody produced after scraping by on their meager advance for years or whatever.

message 47: by Daniel (last edited Jan 11, 2013 02:27PM) (new)

Daniel Roberts (Daniel-A-Roberts) | 467 comments @ Katherine - Thanks, it was a huge boost to self esteem, which always wears off over time. Something unexpected like that does make the world a touch rosier, though deep down, we know how un-rose like it can be. ^_^

@ Andre - Your compliments aren't lost on me, bro. Thanks for the kind words. :)

@ Marion - I completely understand how you feel, and how the time-sink seems to be astronomical, and "that" look you get when you mention 'self-published', because most people don't know the difference between us and those who pay for Vanity Publishing, which isn't what we do, by a long shot.

@ Everyone:

Lets take a look at something that's popular today. A Game of Thrones, written by George Martin. Today, it has a TV series. Even a comic book is done about it. This epic fantasy that everyone seems to love got some heavy handed reviews when it was first published... back in 1996. But it's popular today, as in right now. It wasn't so popular way back then, and it has been around for 17 blinking years.

We have to look at what we do today, very much like if we took one penny, and doubled it every day for 30 days. It's not very exciting. 2 cents tomorrow,4 cents the day after, then 8 cents, then 16 cents, then 32 cents, and we can be like, what? How is this good? It takes time. By the end of that 30 days, you're looking at a little more than 5 million bucks. That number doesn't get impressive until the last week.

Unlike that analogy, our time frame isn't set. We can dribble in the readers, the meager sales, but this planet has 7 billion humans on it who wouldn't mind some entertainment. If only 1 percent of that total bought a 99 Cent novel from you tomorrow, all at the same time, you wouldn't know what to do with all of that cash. But it's not going to happen in the beginning, or even near the middle, years and years down the road.

All of your work, time and efforts will pay off. Like that penny being doubled, it look like it's going to amount to nothing. People have been known to give up well before that penny can even become 1 dollar.

We're smart folks. We do for ourselves now, what big publishing houses used to do when we were at the typewriter. Only this time, when one of us here happens to see the spark flare into something bigger, it may not happen tomorrow, or next year, or even in a decade. But that blaze can happen, as long as you all keep the sparks flying.

I've never read a bad book from any author here. I wish I had the time to even finish some of them, but like Andre has experienced in the last two years of being Indie, time is a serious resource, and we must not stop writing amid it all. One of your titles, and hopefully one of mine, will go nuclear. We'll see a money bomb we will never forget. But, and I mean a one T but, not the double T type, that we are ultimately the only force of original material the world has left. Original stories, original characters, and we create them with a unique, fascinating process, in a literally brutal world.

It will happen, and your efforts will be rewarded if you don't take yourself out of the running. Keep at it. I love what we do, and I refuse to let something like hard work and low expectations knock me down. ^_^

If you're not inspired after all of that, go out, get smashing drunk, then re-read what I wrote. If any of you give up, especially after what I've read among you all, and if I die before you, (city buses are out to get me, I swear) then I will haunt you. Simple as that. And I have the imagination to make such a haunting one that will leave the Priests laughing their asses off.

Hooah! Forgive any typos today, I know I wrote another novella post. I can't proofread after doing 4 thousand words in my current project just before I got here. ^_^

message 48: by Dave (new)

Dave | 65 comments J.A., I think your patience is commendable and the right approach. Today's society is too much focused on speed, instant results, instant gratification and short attention spans. But that doesn't work well for everything.

I have an 84 year old colleague, who has been a lawyer in the days when you got an handwritten letter. He'd leave it unopened for a day or two, then read it and set it aside for a week to allow himself to digest and ponder a response, which he would send one week later. He has moved with the times and uses e-mail, but he refuses to answer important mail the same day. He claims that sleeping on it for a night helps processing matters and discovering new views. I found out he is right.

Daniel, not to nitpick, but A Game of Thrones was doing very well before the TV series. It won a Locus award and Nebula award and already in the early 2000's, G.R.R. Martin was dubbed as the American Tolkien. The series was huge and well known in (epic) fantasy circles.

I agree that the popularity has grown over the years, but has as much to do with success of the second and third book in the series, published in 1998 and 2000. The fourth novel was already no. 1 on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestsellers list back in 2005.

That doesn't detract from your point, perhaps, but it's more than just the book being around for 17 years. The subsequent books have a lot to do with it, so the other lesson - known to everyone here - is that you got to keep on writing and getting titles out there.

message 49: by K.A. (last edited Jan 12, 2013 10:39AM) (new)

K.A. Jordan (kajordan) | 3042 comments This is a game of rollercoaster-endurance. The ups and downs are mind-boggling. The ups make one giggly and the downs make us scream. Kench!

I made $0 my first year, 2010. 2011 - I think I made $48, $12 a quarter. This year? Not sure yet, but I'm going to have to claim it and pay taxes on it.

The sheer amount of time it takes to market/network is a huge time-suck. But I wouldn't have missed meeting everyone. The only other place I've seen such a variation of people who are friends is in 12-step meetings.

PS - 'Swallow the Moon' is holding steady at about 100 copies out per day (2460 total). It's sitting in the middle of the Free Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Best Sellers lists. WHEEEEEEEEE!

message 50: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Tillotson (storytellerauthor) | 1802 comments What was the topic again?

I love ROBUST!

Just drifting on by, enjoying the convo, nothing to add...

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