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message 1: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Hi all!

I wrote a prequel(Swept Away) to my first book(Survuval Tactics) and it is currently permanently free everywhere. I was previously charging 299 for the prequel, but due to low sales I decided to just make a permanently free and hopes of gaining readership. People are downloading it, but no one is reviewing or rating it. And when they do rate it's only getting one or two stars, three at best. It's part of a series and the full length novel gets four and five stars so I'm at a loss on what I can do to solve this issue. I fear that the low ratings on the prequel will kill sales on the full-length novel which deals with the same characters. Also, when these one star ratings get left the people that leave them don't explain why they rated it so low so I can at least try to fix whatever problem they had with the story. Any advice? Thanks



Erica


T. K. Elliott (Tiffany) (t_k_elliott) Firstly, you're doing the right thing in recognising that you have a problem that needs fixing.

Having looked at the blurb for the full-length novel and the novella, it's not clear to me what purpose the novella fulfils.

The novel, it's pretty clear: Daphne has met Evan, at first everything seems great, but then little things start making her uneasy...

The novella seems to be telling how Daphne and Evan met - but, what's the actual story?

Unless there's something that's not in the blurb for the novella, the real story happens in the novel (i.e., Mr Perfect turns out to be Mr Not-So-Perfect, and how Daphne deals with it).

So what happens in the novella? Where's the journey and the resolution? (Or, as I was told in primary school, where's the Beginning, the Middle, and the End?)

If you, the writer, don't know - then that might be the problem. If you do know, the problem might be that it's not clear to the reader.

If you still don't know what the problem is, then I'd say it's time to get it read by someone whose book judgement you trust - and who will be willing tell you straight what they think the problems are. Ideally, this needs to be someone who can read analytically enough to actually put into words what they feel about the book. "It just didn't work for me" lets you know that there is a problem (good) but not what that problem is (bad).

Having people be nice feels good at the time, but if they aren't telling you the painful things you need to hear, that's no good for you in the long run.


message 3: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments I appreciate your response. I am one of the rare few that actually likes constructive(not cruel) criticism. I can't fix it if I don't know what's wrong. I will look at the blurb again and work on that first. I may have to restructure the book some, but not knowing what the problem is, is the real problem. I look forward to all and any comments in regards. I am also going to see if anyone wants to read it for honest feedback.(although I already asked people of this in an interracial romance group and didn't get many takers, so I will have to try again after I fix the blurb) Sometimes we are too close to our own projects, I guess. Can't see what is wrong even right in our face.

Thanks!


T. K. Elliott (Tiffany) (t_k_elliott) Absolutely. Our book is our precious baby, and it can do no wrong...!

My writing group tends to swap books about; I'm just finishing one, then I've got another one in the queue to critique. Getting someone else's take is vital; one of us is writing a historical novel, and my first comment was "Delete the first chapter". After the author's first horrified reaction, he agreed that I was right - the first chapter wasn't doing anything useful, so the story was much better started in chapter 2.

If the worst comes to the worst, it may be that the novella is best off de-published, or just put on your website, if it doesn't have a story arc of its own.

Sometimes that happens: you have stuff you'd like to tell the reader, but because it just doesn't have enough "plot" in it, it ends up staying in your head, or being published as an "out-take" on your website.

If you get no takers, I'd be willing to give it a go, provided you're not in a hurry (see above, regarding the queue...!). Contemporary romance isn't generally my thing, but I do know the rules.


message 5: by Anthony Deeney (last edited Jun 12, 2016 01:56PM) (new)

Anthony Deeney | 437 comments Hi Erica,

My thoughts:

Glancing at your ratings and reviews.

Your first two works are receiving generally very good ratings, so you are doing something right.

How attached are you to the novella? It is damaging your brand. The reviews are unhelpful, but suggest that the readers are following up a happy read of the novel.

Ditch it. fix it, if possible. Rename it. Go back to your beta readers and ask them specifically to criticise it. If they have no criticisms, you need more critical betas. You may find some here.

I suspect it is "not a story." The novel is the love story of these characters. At best this is a complication.

e.g. Harry Potter, I tired of the Professor Snape: is he bad, or good... or bad...

Star Wars: another death star,, but bigger and badder, but still another weak spot!

The Matrix... quite brillliant. The Matrix two?

If you can't fix it. Ditch it!


message 6: by L.S. (new)

L.S. May | 55 comments Another potential problem is that the book isn't interesting for people who don't know the characters.

I've read novellas that come with series, and the fun part is the questions I was asking that they answered, or the foreshadowing that's kind of like an in-joke for people who've already read the series. Otherwise, they paled in comparison to the main story.

If it's available free, people might be checking it out first when it's more of an 'extra.' Since you aren't charging for it anyway, it might be the kind of thing to have available on your website instead of for 'sale' - you can link to it from the back matter in books in the series.


message 7: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments I actually wrote this novella somewhat after the first full-length novel came out. That decision was made because a) so many people liked the characters in the novel that they wanted more and b)they were wondering how my main character got mixed up with this enemy in the first place. The novel was released in March, the prequel novella in October. My third book is completely different from the first two and was released in December. I was thinking about taking the prequel down, but only if I really can't fix it. I don't want to admit defeat, but maybe it really is broken and needs to go. In all honesty, the prequel was somewhat designed to be read after the first one. But in the same token, I was hoping the prequel would pull people in and get them to read the novel since sales are slow(on all three books, well...not on the free one of course:-))I also thought about including the novella in with the novel(make it as one story perhaps or include it at the end?) will see what I can do about it. This one-star thing has me second-guessing putting out my next book(which I am currently working on, and hoping to finish over the summer)and I don't want to stop writing. I like, as we all do, for people to enjoy my stories and I hate to fall short with readers. But I am willing to do what I can to make it work. Thanks again for the great feedback!

Erica;-)


message 8: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Taking a look at the rating, and what your blurb says, the following thought occur to me:

1) There is no evidence of a problem. On GR, you have some 1-star rating without reviews. That is meaningless. Those people may have gotten the "wrong book" or they may be reacting to the blurb (it's content) or anything else. A few ratings on GR mean nothing.

2) Two reviews here on GR are not informative. Again, no evidence of a problem.

3) The book has 2 reviews on Amazon, both verified purchases, one 4 ans one 5 star. Those matter. They also saying something useful about the book.

Bottom line, where it counts, this book is being rated 4 & 5 stars. So I have to disagree with the comments above that you need to look at your book again or worry that is it damaging your reputation. Amazon reviews far outweigh GR reviews (which is not taken serious as a rule), and GR ratings mean even less.

To me, this seems like a classic case of meaningless rating causing doubt about a book , and why ratings should be always ignored, good or bad.

My advice is: Ignore it and keep moving ahead.


message 9: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4270 comments Mod
Well...

There are people out there that will grab a free book even if it isn't a genre they typically read, just to have it. So, it's not unexpected that you'd see lower ratings. When people fork over money for a product, they're more likely to check it over closer to make sure it's what they want.

I wouldn't worry about drive-by low ratings (ratings with no review or a sketchy review). Savvy readers ignore those, so they shouldn't do you any real harm.

Have you seen a significant decrease in sales on the other book(s) since you made the novella free? An increase? Has it stayed the same? Unless you've seen a real decrease, I wouldn't worry about the free book affecting your sales.

If you suspect there may be something wrong with the book internally, don't wait for readers to tell you what needs to be fixed. Do a couple more edits on it yourself. It's quite possible, though, that there's no serious issue and the story just wasn't what those readers were looking for.


message 10: by Anthony Deeney (new)

Anthony Deeney | 437 comments Owen wrote: "Taking a look at the rating, and what your blurb says, the following thought occur to me:

1) There is no evidence of a problem. On GR, you have some 1-star rating without reviews. That is meaning..."


LOL! Owen and I have disagreed on the value of reviews quite a few times. The usual outcome is that I modify my initial response. We don't disagree, in general, as much as the statements would suggest.

Owen seems to hold steady along the line of "Don't worry about the reviews."

I am about to modify/clarify my advice again. Grrr!
I agree with Owen that a single or couple of low star ratings mean very little and time will tell if the book continues to pick up poor reviews.

You could ignore the one star review and wait to see if it is a random blip or a reason for concern.

This is probably good advice, but I am of the opinion that GR and amazon reviews do slightly impact sales and that recovery may be slow.

As Owen and Dwayne suggest it may be just not the right reader for the book. Or a fly-by troll etc. If, however it continues to net poor reviews, I would stand by my original advice.


message 11: by Ben (new)

Ben Jackson | 86 comments The biggest problem with free books is that they attract people that aren't really interested in the book, more than they just grabbed it because it was free.

If people are reading it out of order it could be a problem as well. Does the book stand alone well, or do you really need to read all books in the series to get the true value out of them?

I'm currently writing my first fiction book for myself, I have written two for other people based off their outlines, but mines been on and off for two years. Non-fiction I foud quite easy, kids books the same, but my fiction book terrifies me.

Coming from no true literature or college background, I'm scared shitless the book is rubbish! It's going to be part of a series but who knows if it's worth the effort I have put into it. The book is about a virus which sweeps the world and a communities survival efforts, god knows how it's going.

I have had friends read it that said they loved it, but I will be looking for other authors opinions soon myself.


message 12: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments I can see how a free book could be a kick dog, a scapegoat, riding an initial wave of contempt by lack of perceived value. For some people, perceived value is everything, even if it's stitched together with spit and electrical tape.

Bad reviews are gonna happen though, and the only thing you can control is your response.

Let it beat you down, starting a cyclical downward spiral that will trap you like a fly in glue;

Or dust yourself off and use it to fuel the fires of determination to become better than you were yesterday.

Negative emotions are normal in these situations, and can be productive if focused in a positive direction.

You can't change reviews, in that sense you should not worry about them. But you can't ignore them either; I wouldn't dismiss them, or let them drag me down. I take everything to heart myself, no matter how many walls I put up to block shit out. The trick is learning to channel things in a positive direction and keep getting better than you were yesterday.

tl;dr version: Buck up, little camper!


message 13: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4270 comments Mod
Charles wrote: "Buck up, little camper! "

Charles. Please run for president with this as your campaign slogan. I'd vote for you.


message 14: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments Are bad reviews better than no reviews? I haven't had many at all lately, even when I give away hundreds of copies through promo.


message 15: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Dwayne wrote: "Well...

There are people out there that will grab a free book even if it isn't a genre they typically read, just to have it. So, it's not unexpected that you'd see lower ratings. When people fork..."


The novella wasn't selling in the first place, which is why I just made it free. None of my books are really selling, which is pretty bad. I get a sale here and there, and that's mostly my fault for not knowing how to market it.


message 16: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Anthony wrote: "Owen wrote: "Taking a look at the rating, and what your blurb says, the following thought occur to me:

1) There is no evidence of a problem. On GR, you have some 1-star rating without reviews. Th..."


This book was marketed to interracial romance readers(which is what my book is)and I was hoping to get it in front of many eyes interested in the genre. I guess they have a right to their opinion, but again, I wish I knew what they didn't like. All I can hope is that my future ones do better as I learn and grow as a writer


message 17: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Ben wrote: "The biggest problem with free books is that they attract people that aren't really interested in the book, more than they just grabbed it because it was free.

If people are reading it out of orde..."


the novella is kinda meant to be read after reading the novel, but you COULD do it the other way too. I hope your book works out! I have no background either and didn't even finish college, but I will still keep trying.


message 18: by Joe (new)

Joe Jackson (shoelessauthor) Erica,

Have you tried enrolling Survival Tactics in Kindle Unlimited? With a good one-line hook, a #kindleunlimited tag, the book cover, and a couple of related hashtags on Twitter, you may be able to drastically improve your exposure. You can get all that without going on Kindle Select, of course, but don't underestimate the #kindleunlimited hashtag. It can be very powerful when your tweet is a good hook. Just some food for thought.

Good luck, and don't give up!


message 19: by A.C. (new)

A.C. Salter (httpwwwamazoncoukdpb01bqmjjys) I've had a book on Kindle since Feb. It did really well at first, selling a few each day, but some of these sales were by friends and family. It's down to maybe 3 sales a week now and anywhere from 10 pages to a few hundred on Kindleunlimted, yet the only marketing I do is on Twitter.

I published the 2nd in the trilogy last week so I'm hoping that the people who read the first will buy it. Fingers crossed.

I'm still getting to grips with Goodreads, but what I've read from other comments and conversations is that we need to market from every platform possible and if your book is good enough it will eventually get noticed.

Cream always floats to the top.


message 20: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Dwayne wrote: "Charles wrote: "Buck up, little camper! "

Charles. Please run for president with this as your campaign slogan. I'd vote for you."


Charles wrote: "I can see how a free book could be a kick dog, a scapegoat, riding an initial wave of contempt by lack of perceived value. For some people, perceived value is everything, even if it's stitched toge..."

lol...me too!


message 21: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Joe wrote: "Erica,

Have you tried enrolling Survival Tactics in Kindle Unlimited? With a good one-line hook, a #kindleunlimited tag, the book cover, and a couple of related hashtags on Twitter, you may be abl..."


I had it there for over six months and barely made a sale. That's when I went over to Smashwords and tried to extend the reach. It's not doing much better there. The thing that gets me with all of my books is that people that read it, and haven't written their review, rave about it once they give it a chance. I can't get them to understand how important it is for a written review to keep a book from dying. I am a real noob with all of this. I use hashtags and they don't really get sales, even though people come and look. I have no mailing list, despite signing up with mailchimp and doing what they said to increase web site traffic. I feel like I am doing all of the right things but not really getting the response. I wish I could afford to pay someone to market my books for me,(ie. someone with vast experience in this)maybe on fiverr.com or somewhere that isn't going to be too expensive. I will keep trying and do what I can.


message 22: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Erica wrote: "Joe wrote: "Erica,

Have you tried enrolling Survival Tactics in Kindle Unlimited? With a good one-line hook, a #kindleunlimited tag, the book cover, and a couple of related hashtags on Twitter, yo..."


Is kindle select and kindle unlimited the same? I know for sure I had it on select....is there a fee for listing on unlimited?


message 23: by Joe (new)

Joe Jackson (shoelessauthor) Kindle Select is what we publish under, Kindle Unlimited is what the readers know it as, so it's the same thing, yes.

One other avenue I can recommend you check out is Booksgosocial - they offer a money-back guarantee, so if their promotions don't work, at least you get your money back. But they seem to be pretty good, depending on your genre.


message 24: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Joe wrote: "Kindle Select is what we publish under, Kindle Unlimited is what the readers know it as, so it's the same thing, yes.

One other avenue I can recommend you check out is Booksgosocial - they offer a..."


I'll definitely check it out. Thanks so much for the great ideas(and support/words of encouragement) everyone! I am probably blowing it all out of proportion, but I am one of these 'eager to please' types lol


message 25: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Joe wrote: "One other avenue I can recommend you check out is Booksgosocial - they offer a..."

I'm actually going to give a warning on Booksgosocial. They are huge @ spammers on Twitter and every time in of their accounts is closed for spamming, they open another and keep right at it, annoying people with unsolicited ads. I'd caution that they could be hurting more than helping since a lot of people don't differentiate between the spammer and the product they are spamming.


message 26: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Christina wrote: "Joe wrote: "One other avenue I can recommend you check out is Booksgosocial - they offer a..."

I'm actually going to give a warning on Booksgosocial. They are huge @ spammers on Twitter and every ..."


Wow...good to know. I purchased something similar once and they tweeted about the book, but I think they overtweeted which annoys some people lol...thanks for the headsup!


message 27: by Joe (new)

Joe Jackson (shoelessauthor) They do tend to tweet more often than I'd recommend. Some people swear by their methods; I haven't seen much difference when they're running their promo. Like everything else in indie pub, it's YMMV.


message 28: by Anthony Deeney (last edited Jun 13, 2016 01:28PM) (new)

Anthony Deeney | 437 comments Erica wrote: "Dwayne wrote: "Well...

There are people out there that will grab a free book even if it isn't a genre they typically read, just to have it. So, it's not unexpected that you'd see lower ratings. W..."


I had an interesting experience that relates to this:

I had not long launched my first book. It was rating well a few 4-5*.

I ran a 10 book Goodreads giveaway(huge waste of money IMHO). I contacted the winners over GR to congratulate them ask them if they wanted me to sign the book any particular way etc. This is frowned on by GR, but I didn't know that then!

Anyway one winner, 'B,' was 'delighted' to have won the book.
She 'couldn't wait' till it arrived etc.

It was some time later, months I think, she rated the book.

1* - no comment.

This was my first 1*. I knew it was a GR winner, so she did have the book. She seemed so pleasant and enthusiastic, so I didn't imagine that she was a 1* troller (Yip they do exist).

Did something I wrote offend her? Was she philosophically opposed to something in the book? I have learned that readers can take meaning from your book that you never intended.

It pulled my lovely '4.something' rating right down. I could only guess. I didn't try to dialogue with her.

Time passed and my book continued to collect mostly 4 and 5* reviews but a couple of three star and so on, it's a bell curve thing!

She returned and must have looked at the book ratings, because she upgraded her rating to two star and posted. I'll copy the entire post in;

I Have Recieved My Copy of This Book For Free Through Goodreads Giveaways~ (Although it has been quite a while since I actually received it...)

I may be an outlier in my opinion of this book but, I didn't really like it all that much. I wasn't really intrigued with the characters, or the plot and I found the book quite boring. It took me some time to even get through 100 pages of it, and then I decided to just give up on it.

I suppose, since I am an outlier in my opinion on this, this book could've very well just not been my genre and it definitely isn't something I would've picked up had I not won a giveaway for it. (less)


Enough said!

Anyway, I had no one star ratings, yay!

Five days later a new post: 1* no comment!


message 29: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 780 comments Anthony wrote: "Erica wrote: "Dwayne wrote: "Well...

There are people out there that will grab a free book even if it isn't a genre they typically read, just to have it. So, it's not unexpected that you'd see lo..."


I have a similar experience. My latest book has two 1 star ratings and very slanderous and inappropriate reviews by trolls(both are the same person). I know this because the person was in a group I was in and read my other work and didn't like that so just to be a troll and get enjoyment they rated and reviewed my book with no intent to ever really care about it.

To tie this back to the topic at hand, do not let these 1 star ratings and reviews get to you or put you down. There are plenty of more readers who enjoy the genre you write in and will likely enjoy your book so you should have no worry about any low rating as eventually if you get enough ratings and reviews you can boost that book right back up.


message 30: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 780 comments As for the whole permafree thing I am no expert as I have only recently started considering it and learned about it myself but here's my take. Making a book permafree as we mostly all know is to get people interested in a series or to gain a reader's interest in your particular writing style. So you make the book permafree and the idea is it gets you followers, readers of your other work and reviews..well at least you hope they are considerate enough to leave a review.

The thing to consider here is this..how well put together it your permafree book? Is it one of your actual books or was it thrown together to attract more readers to gain one of the things I mentioned? Either way the book needs to be solid. Great cover, error free and formatted properly. One thing you could also do is offer a discount to other books if the permafree book is in a series or you can list a link to a secret Facebook group. Add little incentives to the permafree book to make the person feel like they are getting some good value.


message 31: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 108 comments I think authors need to establish properly why they make their books permafree.

why should a reader care about your book? there are thousands of free books out there. why should a reader choose yours over another?

don't lose sleep over ratings . . . in fact low ratings are a good thing. if you have only 4/5 star reviews, it gives the impression that you have bought those reviews. people would get suspicious. even the most popular authors still get 1 star reviews, let alone a 'nobody'


message 32: by Justin (last edited Jun 13, 2016 02:13PM) (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 780 comments Segilola wrote: "I think authors need to establish properly why they make their books permafree.

Agreed. Plans need to be put in place so that the permafree book acts as a focus and the authors done what they can to make sure people care that their book is free.

why should a reader care about your book? there are thousands of free books out there. why should a reader choose yo..."

Well for one, because it's free. Someone above stated that lots of people get books for free simply because they are free. Again to state what I said above if the author has done themselves justice and really promoted their book an put out the info needed to build interest then that's the main reason they'd choose your book over someone else's.

if you have only 4/5 star reviews, it gives the impression that you have bought those reviews. people would get suspicious.

Who's "people"? I think when it comes to GR's these 4/5 star reviews that the "people" are trolls and they are the ones who get suspicious which promptly makes them decide to rate a book 1 star just because they don't think a book had legitimate 4/5 star reviews. I get what your saying though, if an author has 10 5 stars reviews then yes but it's really hard to tell what those ratings and reviews are.


message 33: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 108 comments yes and no . . .

just because a book is free doesn't mean someone should care about it. once the author knows what he/she wants to achieve for making the book free and sets a plan in place and has made the book the best he/she can possibly make it then people can care about it

(we're both saying same thing in different ways :p)

Maybe I'm a troll? I am suspicious of things that have only good ratings. I find it hard to believe that absolutely everyone who buys something loves it. someone has to have something they didn't like about it

I think it's past my bedtime . . . not sure if what I wrote made any sense

goodnyte all


message 34: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Joe wrote: "They do tend to tweet more often than I'd recommend. Some people swear by their methods; I haven't seen much difference when they're running their promo. Like everything else in indie pub, it's YMMV."

It's not the frequency, but the direct tweets, thousands of the same exact ad being sent directly to a Twitter account, that is cause for alarm. Aside from being annoying, that practice is in violation of Twitter's terms of use. Not to mention that they don't even look at who they're spamming with what. I've blocked and reported them every time they've decided I 'must read' some new international thriller or other genre that I have zero interest in.


message 35: by Joe (new)

Joe Jackson (shoelessauthor) Hmmm, I haven't seen that myself, Christina. But either way, I do think their tweets go out too often. Even once a day seems like a lot when they're pushing it through 5-6 accounts. And, as I said, I'm not seeing any results.


message 36: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Anthony wrote: "Erica wrote: "Dwayne wrote: "Well...

There are people out there that will grab a free book even if it isn't a genre they typically read, just to have it. So, it's not unexpected that you'd see lo..."


wow....she really took you through it, huh? No one is obligated to like a story, but then don't rate down and not at least say why. Again, can't fix the problem if I don't know what the problem is. I don't think I would hold a giveaway this early, but maybe in the future when I have more of a readership. If I can fix this novella, improve it, then I may go back to charging for it again. I certainly don't want people to download my book just because it's free and then rate it down because they are not the right reader for it possibly.


message 37: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Joe wrote: "Hmmm, I haven't seen that myself, Christina. But either way, I do think their tweets go out too often. Even once a day seems like a lot when they're pushing it through 5-6 accounts. And, as I said,..."

I am very results-oriented, so I do things with that in mind. I would be annoyed if nothing at all came of things after paying to get promotion. I hope things will naturally pick up now that the summer is coming. Lots of readers to get through a long, hot summer so I feel that we all have a shot lol


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