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.