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XI. Misc > Need advice--Is this a good idea?

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message 1: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee | 15 comments I have a new book coming soon, and I could use your input. I'm a detailed author. And I thought that at the end of the book, I would invite readers to tell me certain things about the story if they so choose. I like to know what part of the story they liked, what part they didn't. Did they have a favorite character other than the hero and heroine? Were they surprised at any point? You know, the kind of things they talk about in a book club?

Do you think that's a good idea?


message 2: by Lenita (new)

Lenita Sheridan | 1010 comments Yes, it's a very good idea. It's kind of like a book study guide, or you could make it one.


message 3: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee | 15 comments Thanks, Lenita. Good idea.


message 4: by Jim (last edited Aug 10, 2015 01:45PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic | 1075 comments Groovy wrote: "I have a new book coming soon, and I could use your input. I'm a detailed author. And I thought that at the end of the book, I would invite readers to tell me certain things about the story if they..."

Groovy,

There is nothing wrong with an author directly requesting opinions from readers; however, since such a request meets the criteria for solicitation, a reader, electing to post a review of the book on a literary website, would be obligated by the FCC (Federal Trade Commission) to include a disclaimer stating so. Some consider solicited reviews to be questionable.

Since you already have a growing following, I suggest you not include the request and allow the novel to garner input from readers on its own merits.

Whatever you decide, I wish you success.


message 5: by William (new)

William Soppitt | 14 comments Different.
I think as long as you keep it friendly and not as a questionnaire then some readers may get involved. Anything different from the masses is worth a try.
It may work better for your genre than others.
Be good to find out if it works for you.


message 6: by R.F.G. (new)

R.F.G. Cameron | 443 comments If you pose it along the lines of questions or comments about the story readers would like to pose to you directly and have them addressed to your author email, it's not the same thing as soliciting a review and so no need for disclaimers, depositions, last-will-and-testimonial, or anything else.

I was working on the last leg of a series when reader questions prompted me to write the zeroth or prequel, in order to address valid questions without rewriting three different books.

Have fun with it.


message 7: by Groovy (last edited Aug 10, 2015 02:52PM) (new)

Groovy Lee | 15 comments Yes, that's what I was going to do. Not ask for public reviews, but give my email and have them contact me to let me know things in detail. Thanks for all your advice and support.


message 8: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Stuart | 108 comments Your website could safely feature questions about your book; they wouldn't be reviews.

It might also be a way of getting email addresses that are invaluable for staying in contact with readers, with their agreement obviously.


message 9: by Sarina (new)

Sarina Rose (goodreadscomsarinarose) | 22 comments Groovy wrote: "I have a new book coming soon, and I could use your input. I'm a detailed author. And I thought that at the end of the book, I would invite readers to tell me certain things about the story if they..."

I think it is a great idea. I will use it too. Thanks.
The Relentless Brit
Vintage Romance
Conflict sets the pace
Romance rules the Day
Sarina Rose
Smashwords.com - Promotional price: $0.99
Coupon Code: XA44V
Expires: August 15, 2015


message 10: by Tom (new)

Tom (tom_shutt) | 87 comments Sarah wrote: "It might also be a way of getting email addresses that are invaluable for staying in contact with readers, with their agreement obviously."

Sarah makes a good point about getting those email addresses to keep in contact with readers for future use.

Another thing you could do, Groovy, is to solicit ideas and suggestions from the fans and then write an alternate universe version that is "As Written By The Fans". You would take their ideas and flesh them out in your own hand of writing, and while the stories themselves wouldn't be canon to the main series, it would be a sort of professionally crafted fan fiction guided by the readers and written by the author.

Of course, that's more work for you, but it's the ultimate way of getting readers engaged in the story. But maybe put the ideas up to a vote on your website, so that you don't end up having to write absurd tangents where Character X (who died in Book 1) is now alive and well and getting married to a bionic version of Character Y.

One warning about taking in too much reader input in the main canon series: readers like to be surprised and entertained, and if they already know more or less how the story is going to go, it'll be that much harder to keep them engaged. Follow your vision for the story—it's what got the fans hooked in the first place.


message 11: by Bill (last edited Aug 10, 2015 07:15PM) (new)

Bill Jacks (BillJacks) | 23 comments No, I don't think so. I assume the purpose of this would be to tailor your story to reader preferences. If you try to please everybody, you'll end up pleasing nobody, and furthermore, will sacrifice your individuality. Write what YOU want. What does anyone else know about YOUR story? Even if you had success with this, you'd only have a successful BOOK. If you close out the world and run your own show, and succeed that way, you'll have a successful BRAND.


message 12: by Bill (new)

Bill Jacks (BillJacks) | 23 comments But yea...ditto on the emails--get those addresses.


message 13: by Groovy (last edited Aug 10, 2015 07:51PM) (new)

Groovy Lee | 15 comments Actually, I just want to know if I write true to the genre--suspenseful. I know my romances aren't any surprise to the readers with their HEA themes. But with my suspense novels, I want to know their reaction to certain parts of the book. Surprise, sad, didn't like this character, but loved that one, etc.,

My daughter is never surprised when she reads my work, and I'm sure it's because we hang around a lot, and she knows my line of thinking. (I'm proud to say I did surprise her once) But what about the readers? Did I stump them? If not, how can I do better in my next suspense novel?

What Tom and Bill said gives me more to think about. A "written by the fans", but in my own way. Thank you.

And thanks to Sarah for the email tip.


message 14: by R.F.G. (new)

R.F.G. Cameron | 443 comments At times reader questions show enough interest to prompt the back story


message 15: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee | 15 comments Thanks for your advice, everyone. I'm going to do it. Also, I've thought of another way of advertising my books. Car Magnets. They've just arrived and they are beautiful. I'll let you know if it worked. I'm sure it will even in a small way.


message 16: by Michael (new)

Michael Lewis (mll1013) | 128 comments I've seen a couple of people post on here that you SHOULD collect emails. Yet, on other threads, I've heard people say you SHOULDN'T contact readers. Perhaps the difference is that by getting an email, they've made themselves accessible to you.

However, I worry that collecting emails may be a slippery slope to losing fans. I absolutely HATE getting marketing/sales emails. Getting them from an author could turn me off very quickly.


message 17: by V.W. (new)

V.W. Singer | 141 comments Michael wrote: "I've seen a couple of people post on here that you SHOULD collect emails. Yet, on other threads, I've heard people say you SHOULDN'T contact readers. Perhaps the difference is that by getting an ..."

It depends on how you got the emails. If they gave it to you knowing who you are and what you do, that isn't intrusive. Use them for personal messages and not mass mailers.


message 18: by Lady Echo (new)

Lady Echo (ladyecho) | 38 comments The feedback you are looking for is exactly the kind that beta readers provide. If you aren't using any, I wonder why. No matter how politely the request is phrased, it may come off as unprofessional to paying readers.

My suggestion would be to create a general forum on your own site to open a conversation between yourself and your readers. Susan Elizabeth Phillips has done a splendid job of this, and her fans provide plenty of input WITHOUT being asked.


message 19: by Michael (new)

Michael Lewis (mll1013) | 128 comments Lady Echo wrote: "The feedback you are looking for is exactly the kind that beta readers provide. If you aren't using any, I wonder why..."

Here's why I haven't used beta readers... There is a flood of authors in the self-published space, and from what I can tell, not enough readers who are willing to take the time to read books critically and provide feedback, especially in any sort of timely manner once the beta draft is released. How does one go about finding beta readers? And how much time do you typically allow for receiving feedback ahead of publication?


message 20: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee | 15 comments I've always been hesitant about contacting my readers, even to thank them for a good review. I was always told in very bold letters NEVER TO CONTACT THE READERS unless invited to do so. Now Michael just confirmed it.

Don't they keep up with you anyway to find out when the next book is released? Maybe someone should open up a thread and poll them to see the responses:)


message 21: by R.F.G. (new)

R.F.G. Cameron | 443 comments Consider, if an author says she/he is open to comments via email but isn't directly asking, then the readers who do initiate contact do so of their own volition and in essence invite a reply.

Per Michael's query on where to find Beta Readers, one place is the following group. Some are free because they love to read, some are paid. Timeliness is something I don't know about, as I haven't had test or alpha / beta readers in a while.
https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

The route LadyEcho suggested is another viable route for feedback, as long as the author has a site up.


message 22: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) | 324 comments Quite honestly to have an author ask for feedback at the end of their book would turn me off the author and I probably would never buy another of their books. It screams "amateur writer".

To me it would be another self-published author ploy to get reviews, add email addresses, or make contact with readers/reviewers. The guidelines regarding contacting readers/reviewers are very clear. It's frustrating for me as a reader to see authors constantly finding new ways to twist those guidelines, and then rationalize why their great new idea is okay.

Write your book, get all the feedback from editors and proofreaders, polish the work and put it out there. Then let it go and write the next book. If its a really good story, it will soar all by itself.


message 23: by Groovy (last edited Aug 13, 2015 08:25PM) (new)

Groovy Lee | 15 comments I wonder how many readers feel the same way you do, Christine? And how many don't really mind?

It has been my experience that those who buy your books are the ones who will most likely give a rating or review. But the ones that you give your work away to for free, won't bother.

I don't know if anyone can understand this, but I would really like to know the details of the story from their POV, like a book club discussion. I'm going to see how author Susan Elizabeth Phillips does it while at the same time, not irritating her fans.


message 24: by Michael (last edited Aug 14, 2015 04:53AM) (new)

Michael Laird | 10 comments "It has been my experience that those who buy your books are the ones who will most likely give a rating or review. But the ones that you give your work away to for free, won't bother."

I can second this!


message 25: by Michael (new)

Michael Lewis (mll1013) | 128 comments Groovy wrote: "It has been my experience that those who buy your books are the ones who will most likely give a rating or review. But the ones that you give your work away to for free, won't bother."

I certainly don't disagree with you. I made my first novel free, and it has gained "exposure" by a factor of 100x in this way. The reason I put the word exposure in quotes, is because while the book is getting downloaded, I have no idea how many actual readers there are.

That said, the catch-22 here is that there are a bazillion of us indies out there. In order to sell books, you have to be a known author... to be a known author you have to sell books. It's quite the conundrum.


message 26: by V.W. (last edited Aug 13, 2015 11:27PM) (new)

V.W. Singer | 141 comments I have the opposite experience. Of course I don't give out free books blind. I pick people I've developed a rapport with (for example) in the groups in GR, I ask if they would like a free book, and I always specify that no review is necessary. And yet, I have never failed to receive a review.

Yes, I don't get hundreds of reviews as some authors aim for, but the ones I get are thoughtful and detailed.


message 27: by Lenita (new)

Lenita Sheridan | 1010 comments I guess I'm the exception. When I get a free book, without any strings, I review it as a kind of "payment." That is if I've liked it enough. I've had some books that were so trashy that I've had to throw them out. Conversely, if I buy a book, I don't feel obligated to leave any review, especially if it was particularly expensive.


message 28: by Eric (new)

Eric Klein (WHEELGUYERIC49) | 13 comments I have never read a bad book so far


message 29: by Jim (last edited Aug 14, 2015 09:16AM) (new)

Jim Vuksic | 1075 comments Michael makes a good point in message 25. The number of times a free book is downloaded does not necessarily correlate with the number of times it has been read.

I personally only read traditional print books, either purchased or borrowed from the local library. However, my four adult children often read e-books. When I asked, they all admitted to downloading scores of free books, but said they actually read very few of them. When I asked why they even bothered, they replied, "Because they're free. I have nothing to lose."

I believe that so many authors consistently make their books available at no cost, for whatever reason, some readers may have adopted a philosophy of "Why ever pay anything for something you can get for nothing".


message 30: by V.W. (new)

V.W. Singer | 141 comments Jim wrote: "Michael makes a good point in message 25. The number of times a free book is downloaded does not necessarily correlate with the number of times it has been read.

I personally only read traditional..."


Exactly. The trend of free or .99 cent books is hurting the indie authors the most. The big time authors still charge full price. Only the indies get beaten down. All my books are sold only at full price. Judging your success by sheer numbers regardless of the price is silly.


message 31: by Groovy (last edited Aug 14, 2015 10:59AM) (new)

Groovy Lee | 15 comments I agree with all of you. And that's why I don't do free promotions anymore and never will. Number one, I don't feel it's fair to those that buy your work. Number two, like Jim mentioned, readers treat it as a something for nothing product. I work too hard on my books for them to be treated that way.

When I first started out, I did the free promotions. My books were downloaded into the thousands the first day (One book was being downloaded so much, I had to stop the campaign) Anyway, I thought, great, now I'm going to get some needed exposure. I learned a big lesson. Like all the other free books readers download, it's just sitting in obscurity, and will probably be eventually deleted for the next load of free downloads.

My prices are at $2.99 right now because I'm trying to get my name out there. Which I hope is not considered hurting indie authors. Hopefully, I'll be able to raise the price, but not by much:)

Oh, and I've taken the advice given here and will not add a request for reviews at the end of my book. If readers want to give a review--thank you. If not--thank you.


message 32: by R.F.G. (new)

R.F.G. Cameron | 443 comments Groovy, unless it's a novelette / novella then you've got the lower end of the right pricing.

The last comparison I checked indicated paying readers take e-novels in the $2.99 to $4.99 range more seriously than free ones, as in they paid for it so they will read it.

If memory serves $0.99 for shorts and $0.99 to $1.99 for novelettes and novellas.

On freebies I give them out if I'm contacted and asked, especially if prior or current military. Reviews (good, bad, or indifferent) are up to the reader, as they tend to help other readers. When someone who was (or is) in the trad line says my work is decent, it's nice as a kind of validation I can pound a keyboard to good effect.

As for reader contact, I list an author email address in the front-matter, and so far nobody has used it to complain, point out a typo, or tell me I'm completely full of male bovine feces.

Best of fortune with the upcoming launch.

Semper Praesto


message 33: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee | 15 comments Thanks, R.F.G.


message 34: by Amber (new)

Amber Foxx (amberfoxx) | 246 comments My thoughts on a few of the topics this discussion spread across:
1.I give readers the option to sign up for a new release mailing list, but I don't e-mail anyone who has not signed up for that list, and I make sure they have an unsubscribe option. The mailing list is pretty short right now, but that's okay. People have other ways to keep up with me if they are interested.
2. I don't expect this to be a source of reader feedback.
3. I've found that having a free short story prequel for my series has definitely helped sales. I can track results from promoting that short story and see distinct upswings in sales of the whole series. The free story has few reviews but it has enough that people can tell what they're getting.
4. Beta readers and critique partners! I found mine through my membership in Sisters in Crime, an organization for mystery writers. The support and education on all things related to writing has been outstanding. I suggest that any new writers who need feedback join a writers professional group like this--not a GR group, but an organization like SinC for mystery or RWA for romance, whatever the organization for your genre is.


message 35: by Lenita (new)

Lenita Sheridan | 1010 comments I don't have beta readers, but I do meet regularly with a writers' group that helps me edit my book.


message 36: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2189 comments I think this is a good idea. One thing you could do is do what I did and create a Facebook group for the book or something of similar nature. I use the group as a place where the members helped me with the book, get exclusive details about it, are entitled to a copy and can even talk about it and give me feedback.

In your case you could set up such a group but use it as a feedback group and see what people thought of your book.

Just a suggestion, :)


message 37: by Groovy (new)

Groovy Lee | 15 comments Yes, that is a good idea.


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