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.

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! 

A “Friendly” Undeserved Rating

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Shining StarLately sales have been close to nonexistent. Eh, I wish I could say otherwise but that’s the way it is. I’m still in the process of extricating myself from Xlibris but once that’s done and settled I will reevaluate whether or not I want to sign back up for Amazon’s KDP program.

Of late, my attention has been on my WIP, hence publicizing AUW has taken a far back seat in the clutter and lack of time that is my life. Despite this, and lagging sales, from time to time I check out how my title is ranking on Amazon and also to see if I have any new reviews. I also occasionally check to see if AUW has any new reviews on Goodreads.

Today I noticed something very curious. At some point in the recent past I was awarded a five star rating, sans review, from one of my Goodreads “friends”. Said “friend” will remain nameless. I found this curious because although I don’t really know this person, I am fairly certain this person has NEVER read AUW. In fact, if I was the gambling type, I’d bet everything I own that this is the case.

So, why would this person, my “friend”, give me a five star rating?

I think I know why. A couple of months ago this “friend” published a book and dove full steam into a publicity blitz that included mass friending on Goodreads, form emails offering a favor if and when the need arose (we’re talking Goodreads friends, not lifelong since we were wee pups in the cradle friends, so it seemed kind of icky weird), a free eBook download of the newly published novel, and the opportunity to win a free autographed copy, among other things. The email was, well, kind of weird, mostly because I don’t know this person, and also because who offers strangers online an anytime favor? But I saw it for what it was, an attempt to gain exposure and to sell books. I didn’t respond and I sort of forgot about it until today.

I’m of the opinion that my five star rating was one of those selfless favors meant to, at the very least, endear me to the author and at most, oblige me to reciprocate.

I can not.

I tried to read this person’s book a while back but couldn’t complete it. I just couldn’t. The writing was, well, suffice it to say, 4% was all I could take. If I can’t turn off my internal editor when I am reading a book then that’s a sure sign its chock full of writing flubs, grammar errors, inconsistencies, editing nightmares, and plain old WTHs. Despite the major issues with the writing, this book has a number of very impressive reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, so perhaps I’m wrong or being too harsh a critic.

In light of my undeserved five star rating from this author/”friend”, I wonder how many of this author’s five star reviews were because the author is a good writer with a compelling story as opposed to a selfless “friend” willing to do favors. Of note, the author has also rated their own book. Want to take a guess?

My personal opinion of self rating is that it should not be done. Besides tacky it is wholly unbiased.

My opinion on “friendly” ratings based on anything other than the opinion of one person who has actually read my book, is that I don’t need them nor do I want them. It lacks integrity. It makes me feel like a cheat.

I don’t need friends or ratings like that.