Why My Book is Free and Writing and Reviewing With Integrity

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AUW_ebook_1875x2500_72dpiAbout every 9-12 months I feel the need to rejuvenate my writing and my writing goals. I reached that breaking/building point about a month ago. I realized that while I’ve been writing, none of it was coherent, connected, or progressive with regarding to developing my craft or my career as an independent author. I made some promises to myself about what I wanted do. I said these things out loud, which I believe will press me to be accountable, and I’ve set deadlines, so that I will be accountable to myself.

I believe that deadlines are essential.

One of the things that I have decided to do is join the Story Cartel program, wherein I offer my book, An  Unproductive Woman, for free for a period of about three weeks. Each reader who reviews my book is automatically entered into a drawing for the chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card. StoryCartel will choose the three winners. I first heard about this relatively new program via a newsletter and then later in a podcast by K.M. Weiland (http://www.kmweiland.com/wp-content/podcast/storycartel.mp3). K.M. Weiland placed her new book in this program as part of her new book launch to drum up interest and fresh reviews.

Before making the decision to try out Story Cartel, my intention was to lower the price of AUW on Amazon, open it up on other outlets and then forget it existed. But, I started to think about my WIP and what I would need to accomplish to do a reasonably professional publication and launch. As cheap and easy as self-publishing is, some of these tasks will cost money. I am guesstimating I will spend about $600 to $1000 in the process. This will cover the cost of an editor and a cover artist and possibly someone to format my WIP for Kindle. (I formatted AUW for eBook myself but it wasn’t fun and I’d rather not do it again.)

My hope? That I will make a few dollars on my current novel and use those proceeds to fund my current WIP. I’m hoping that more reviews will make this happen for me. Hoping.

I’ve made AUW free on Amazon before via their KDP program, and I have given away many free copies as well. I have a nice number of reviews (totaling 45 prior to Story Cartel) but I was hoping that if I can manage to double those reviews I’ll light up within Amazon’s complicated system of algorithms and garner more attention and possibly more sales. Also I will have access to the email addresses of all of the people who have signed up to download, read and review my book. They can be added to my newsletter list for my next book launch. It is a win-win situation.

I think that most of us know why honest reviews are important, especially as a self-published author. Though our situation has improved over recent years, many readers still have the sneaking suspicion that our writing will be sub-par. In truth, it sometimes is.  But sometimes it is not. Sometimes our writing and our stories are phenomenal and just as good as any traditionally published author, which brings me to the topic of writing with integrity.

This morning I saw a call-out on Goodreads wherein one member  offered book reviews for five dollars each. She stated that all one has to do is send her a synopsis of the book and the five dollars in exchange for her review. While not surprised, I am ecstatic to see that everyone who responded to this call-out, called this person out for attempting to offer such a dishonest service. Kudos indie authors! Keep living and writing with integrity.

So, this is why my book is currently free. Please put the word out on my behalf. Tell anyone you believe might be interested in a good free book. Check me out at StoryCartel, http://storycartel.com/books/464/an-unproductive-woman/. Click the link and tweet about it or post it to your G+ or Facebook. This indie author would appreciate your support.

What do you think about paying for fake reviews?

Is there ever room for them?

Would you respect or read an author you knew had received fake reviews?

What do you think of authors who review their own books?

I would love to know what you think.

Endings Keep Running Away From Me

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I use Grammarly for english proofreading because if I didn’t you’d be reading this post in Martian.

I’ve been working on a story for nearly three weeks now and I’ve hit a wall.

It started with a character I created a few months ago for another project. Her name is One, which is short for Onesiphorus. She has a dilemma. She’s come into possession of a book and that book is forbidden. I followed her through her day to day life. I’ve gotten into her head and heard her thoughts. I understand her. I’ve given her something to sacrifice and fight for. I’ve challenged her current situation. I like her.

I had a vision when I started this short story (an off-shoot of my current novel length WIP) of where she would end up. In my vision, One is looking out over the walls of her city into the vast barren plains that constitute the hinterlands. She is contemplating self-exile.
The vision ends there. I’m not certain how she gets to this place or how things went so badly. I realized that the ending, in particular the journey my character travels to get to the end, eludes me.

Endings, no matter the story, elude me. I almost always know where I want my protagonists to be in the end, but the just before is this mysterious place I can’t seem to get to. It scares me too because this is part of my craft, a huge part of what I want to do and somehow I feel like I’ve run into a wall every single time

I had such difficulty when it came to the ending of An Unproductive Woman. AUW came to me in effortless linear waves. There was never a moment when I felt stuck, when I had to go back and fill in any gaps. And I did this all without an outline. But when it came to the ending, I choked. And this is evident in the reviews that AUW receives. Some of those reviews site an unsatisfactory ending.

How do you know when a story is finished? What constitutes a satisfactory ending to you?

I Have Done My Job

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Idealised workspace, 2011

A a writer there are very few things I want more than to have my writing read. That sounds simplistic, but it does touch on the general gist of what I mean. Certainly I want my readers to like what they’ve read, to write stunning reviews, tell all of their friends about me, thereby causing my sales to skyrocket, causing me to make lots (not insane amounts, just lots) of money, so that I can pay off my house, give in charity, give my children a great life and quit my day job so that I can create more tales that people want to read, BUT none of that is as important to me that my writing is actually read.

I would be a writer even if I never made a single penny doing it. (Which isn’t that far off the mark right now.)

Like most writers, I have something to say. As an introvert, since I rarely actually say these things out loud, writing is my mode of expression. I write the kinds of stories I would like to read, stories that resonate with me, and that hopefully have deeper meanings. I’m not trying to convert anyone to my way of thinking or teach anyone a lesson, (preachiness in fiction is a big no-no), but I do hope that when readers have completed my tales they walk away with lingering impressions about the characters and situations, that they continue to think about the story for days or even weeks in an effort to suss out the deeper meanings, or at the very least because they’ve grown attached to a character and they miss her.

Recently I received a very unexpected heart-warming email from a woman who had just completed my book. She’d downloaded it for free during one of my past Amazon KDP promotions. She said:

“I have subsequently told friends about An Unproductive Woman and what a wonderful insight into another part of the world and culture as well a message to all of that we are so very alike in so very many ways.”

and

“While not a Christian, I do believe in a power greater than myself.  The absolute everyday faith depicted in your book caused me to download the Qur’an too, I have my reading cut out for me for some time to come!”

The very fact that she took away the message of ultimate sameness across cultures and faiths from my novel despite the supposed divergences there appear to be and that are played up by our media absolutely took my breath away. Even more, in spite of the fact that An Unproductive Woman is not a religious read, the fact that she made the conscious decision to learn more about people (Muslims) who are often made to seem other and alien is the greatest validation and the greatest payment I could ever receive for my writing.

When I received her message I nearly cried. It let me know that I have done my job.

*****

Thank you for the email S.V. You made my year… probably my career as a writer.

Thank you Kindle Buffet for posting my book on your site so that people would know I exist.

Thank you to anyone who has ever honored me with the time it took to read my book and write a review… even if it wasn’t favorable.

Happy Ramadan to EVERYONE!