Let's talk about reviewing a book and why it is so important to a self-published author. Reviews can make or break an author in this business. As an avid reader, I appreciate a review whether good or bad. It helps me as a consumer in determining where I should invest my hard earned paycheck. Reading is my primary hobby. I devour books to the tune of three to four a week. I love a good story that can take me temporarily into a world and help me forget the world I am in, if only for a few days or a week.
Now while I can only estimate how much I have spent on ebooks in the last few years, I can confidently say I have spent roughly $2,000 on ebooks. Yikes, and I have a funny feeling I am seriously low balling that number. But I state this because I want to prove a point here, the key decision maker in my purchasing a book was not the marketing or popularity of the book, or the author for that matter, it all centered around reviews!
Here is how I determine if an ebook is worth buying:
1. How many reviews has it received?
2. What is the average star rating of the book in comparison to how many reviews?
3. Can I sample it?
4. How big is the sample?
5. What are the reviews saying?
Okay, so if you are still hanging in there with me at this point, let me explain these one at a time.
1. How many reviews has it received? - The most important part for me. If a book has received many reviews that tells me it's a good seller and at least worth looking into.
2. What is the average star rating of the book in comparison to how many reviews? - This is the part that gets interesting. If a book has say 4 reviews and has a 4 star rating, well I'm not going to give that much credit. The book has yet to reach a wide audience and receive more unbiased opinions of it yet. Now, if the same book has say 40 reviews and still has a 4 star rating, well then that is saying something. That tells me there is a wider audience that has read it and that has an opinion of it.
3 & 4. Can I sample it? How big is the sample? - I know it may sound silly, but I'll let you in on a secret. The total number of sample pages of an ebook is roughly 8 - 10% of the total page count of the book you are about to buy. Now, take out about 10 pages that are generally dedicated to the cover, about, dedication, copyright, dedication, author's note, acknowledgements and about the author pages. The number you have left is readable sample material. If the sample you download has 23 pages, the book you are about to buy has 230 pages roughly.
I want my money's worth. If I am going to spend say $14.99 that is the same price for the writer's hardcover book inside of Barnes and Noble, then I want a book that's a least 400 pages. But if I see the sample is say 23 pages and the price point is $14.99, well then that is not a good deal to me.
Sometimes, you will find a GREAT deal. For example, when Author Samantha Towle had her book "The Mighty Storm" on sale as an ebook through Barnes and Noble I downloaded the sample. The sample was 157 pages long. I was like "Wow, this is a great story, and this sample just keeps going!" By the time I reached the end of the sample, I wanted to read the rest of the story. I checked the price and it was $1.99, so I bought it. When I opened up the full book after it downloaded I gasped in shock. 1557 total pages. And for $1.99...are you kidding me! That was a deal! It was like I was getting 5 ebooks for the price of one! And I would like it stated that it was single spaced with no paragraph spaces either!
5. What are the reviewers saying? - This is important to me. I look for like minded individuals to express their opinions like myself and that helps me gauge whether or not I'll enjoy it. Not every review will be favorable I understand, but what assists me in my decision is what they are saying. Things that will turn me off to a book will be key words like "poorly edited" or "story line drags" or "poorly developed characters" or "this character would not stop whining" or "this book has too much foul language in it" or "I didn't appreciate the rape scene" or "when the story got the point where beastyality was introduced, I bailed" or "this author totally ripped off author..."
Now there is such thing as a professional review of a book. For Barnes and Noble book ereaders, there is a separate tab where a professional editorial can be showcased. I tend not to read them because they give away the story and have too many plot spoilers in them. They are also biased due to that the author requested or paid for the review. Paying for reviews in my opinion is unethical. Now, there is such a thing as a blogger's review. The writer is required to submit a request to a blogger and the blogger then posts the review of the book if they have read it. This can be hit or miss, but it is a readers opinion and I'll only read them if I can surmise quickly that the story won't be completely given away.
Hopefully by now you understand my logic in buying an ebook and I would suspect for some of you, you may share the same parameters. But I promise you, many other readers share these same parameters, and this is WHY reviews are so important to an independent self published author like myself.
I am of the belief that if a book is worth reading, it's worth reviewing. Posting a review of a book is easy and it not only helps in the decision making process for other readers, it helps the self published author like myself SELL MORE BOOKS! If you support the independent self published author, then do two things to support them. First, buy their book. But secondly and more importantly, review their book!
Okay let me just state right out of the gate that I am NOT anti books by any means. There is nothing like holding a book, smelling the pages (the smell of a library book is like no other) and placing the bookmark in place to mark where one left off and to signify the accomplishment of having read that far.
However, with the advent of the ereader device in 2007 and the subsequent tablets now on the market, ebooks are a great economical way to buy a book, share a book and not have the worry of where to store it later. There's also the convenience of not lugging around a heavy book through an airport while traveling!
I originally started out not a fan of the ereader device. I loved the feel of a good book, the satisfaction of purchasing one in the store and walking through the mall with the bag in my hand subliminally telling other shoppers "You have clothes, I have a brain...neener, neener, neener."
My first experience with an ereader device was actually through a gift I bought for my friend Shirley for Christmas. An ereader is perfect for Shirley because she is a minimalist. She doesn't like a lot of clutter, and you will never see her home cluttered with nick nacks, papers or books. Now, Shirley is one of the most well read people I know next to my mother. She loves a good book and reads a ton of them in all genres. So when I gifted her with a Barnes and Noble Nook she was very intrigued and more importantly started using it! It was the greatest gift I have ever given someone.
I purchased my own Nook about two years ago and have become a certified "Nookie"! I love my ereader. There are over 3000+ books now downloaded onto my device. I can only imagine that many books taking up space in my tiny apartment. I also have an issue with giving up my books, I covet them like I would if they were my kids. I still have original hardback copies of Stephen King's earlier works...jealous?
Through my coveted ereader I have discovered authors I never would have taken a second look at if inside the book store or library to be honest. But through Barnes and Noble's recommendations, I have discovered some amazing authors that I am now a big fan of and stalk mercilessly through the search engine on the bn website.
Typically ereaders like the Nook or the fantastic Kindle that I'm also a fan of are relatively inexpensive and well worth the money that you do spend. If you are thinking of investing in one (for my book of course) you are looking at spending anywhere between $59 to $200 depending on the model you get. These devices are designed for book readers, but all come with great apps like games such as Angry Birds, Scrabble etc. I also use mine to watch HULU and many newer models allow you to download movies through Netflix. It's a wonderful investment and one you won't regret.
For those of you that already have tablets or smartphones, both Barnes and Noble and Amazon have reading apps that are FREE that can be downloaded to those devices. You then just set up an account (also FREE) and begin downloading what you want to read and read it from your device. If purchasing books (like mine) you'll need to link a credit card to your account to make purchases from. In addition! Google Play Books now comes standard with most android tablet devices. Also, if you receive a FREE epub copy of a book from an author, you can download it to your device and read it through Google Play Books. It's wonderful!
For those of you glued to your laptops or PC's, there are apps for you as well to read books from. My Kindle app is on my laptop as I do not have a Kindle, but a Nook.
I hope I have made the case for becoming an electronic book junkie like I am and I look forward to your reviews of my first novel Redemption available NOW!
My obsession with Australian Authors began with a free
Nook. I was still shocked at myself that I was even reading this genre, let alone buying the next after I finished the borrowed copy of
Fast forward to around 2012 and I purchased my Nook and began exploring. I needed to see what this genre was all about. Up until that
After reading her contribution, I became a fan. Her writing has
Now, how did this particular author reach mentor status in my mind? Two words: Love’s Rhythm. You all know the story of how Redemption came to be, but what you may not know is that I was a bit stuck on how to continue the story, further develop all the characters I created and keep you all interested and hooked for the next installment. Enter Lexxie
I’m jumping ahead a bit, because while I had “Love’s Rhythm” downloaded on my Nook for reading, I also had strictly Rock Star Rogue Sub Genre authors downloaded as well. Like me, they stick to one type theme where authors like Lexxie are better-rounded and write several sub-genres. So I read their books first and while entertained, I was a bit disenchanted. The characters were a bit one-dimensional. What was going through my head was how do I make rock stars grow up? Do they want to?
Back to “Love’s Rhythm” and Nick Blackthorne who has never forgotten his first love and desires to grow up, but not without her. These characters had depth and she made it so that you fell in love with them during the story and were cheering them on in the end. I believe that’s what every writer strives for, and she gained this with me.
I have read every book in this series afterwards and fallen harder and deeper in love with these fictional characters. This world she has created is one I’d love to hang out in. I found myself caring about these characters and when she would release another in this series, I did the happy dance, pre-ordered if I needed to and then absorbed her wonderfully written words.
Through Lexxie along with a few other amazing writers, my rocker series developed more than I had ever hoped it would. For a new author such as me who is still learning the ropes, reading another’s stellar work is a valuable tool.
Read it for yourself. If you are tired of the same old rocker meets groupie and they instantly fall in love thing, then please check her work out and give it the same consideration you do mine. You too are going to fall in love with all things down under!
Just finished watching Sons of Anarchy finally, and yes, I know I’m probably one of the last people on the planet to have done so, but, I don’t own a television set and spend my free time as a writer. I’m doing a little research for my next project, and finally gutting it out and choosing to watch this series just made sense.
While and after watching the brilliance that is Kurt Sutter’s creation, I kept asking myself, how did he know he was onto something with this? The answer of course was logical, he’s a Hollywood screenwriter. You know when the pilot is picked up and the network continues buying seasons. How they come to that determination, other than watching it for themselves of course, is the reviews for the show.
Ah, now you’re all figuring out my real motivation with this post, aren’t you? I am pleased beyond words that as a romance/suspense writer that my work has been accepted and loved by so many people, at least, that’s what my sales are lead to make me believe. However, the chasm that exists between how many people have purchased my works and that have left reviews makes me wonder.
Why do writers constantly nag on this subject? Why are we constantly on bended knee asking for them? Because bottom line, we have no other way of gauging if what we’re doing is worth it. That six-letter word all writers come to depend on eventually becomes are nemesis. We grow to ache for it to a point, where we eventually hate it, due to it never showing us any respect.
Yes, we smile when we’re told on social media how much our stories are loved and that you want more and for a time, it motivates us to keep going, but eventually, the lack of true love in the form of a simple review will eventually kill our dream.
Food for thought the next time you finish a book.
Want to know what’s in my head when forming a review? Well, here you are:
The other day one of my favorite authors who I stalk mercilessly on Facebook and Twitter posted a meltdown she was having that day. I won't quote it specifically, but in a nutshell, life was piling up on her and she was beginning the ultimate freak out of not being able to release her next book on time. Now I commented on her post by telling her that I was pouring us both a shot of Grey Goose and to just breathe. I then noted the other comments to her post and something started nagging this writer in the back of my mind.
Two things amongst many that Author Kendall Grey and I have in common is that we are both self-published writers and series writers. So while the supportive comments she was getting that were along the lines of "Just push the release date out, we'll live...." I know in my heart, this isn't a possibility for her.
Being self published comes a crap load of accountability to one's self. Our self imposed deadlines are just as important as if they were imposed on us from the big publishers. How are we to discipline ourselves unless we set our own deadlines and stick to them? How will we ever become that New York Times Best Selling Author that we all want to be unless we put professionalism into our craft?
When a self published series writer like Kendall or myself push out dates, it causes a ripple effect. That means the next book will be delayed, then the next one, then the next one and subsequently, it's our fans that suffer.
I know Kendall was just having a bad day and I know she'll adhere to her own deadlines because she is a professional. Throughout the last few days the nagging in the back of my mind has been "Why haven't you set a release date for Book 2 yet J.S.?" It all comes down to commitment and accountability to ourselves. So I grew a set of lady balls and set one, finally. Granted, I want to throw up right now, but the date is set, and my second book will be released on this date come hell or high water.
Kendall, I am writing this blog post on Mother's Day 2014. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family today. Mother's Day should be a day of celebration for our mothers and honestly for ourselves since we are also mothers, however I know you are laying to rest your beloved grandmother and this is so hard for you right now. Know you are in my thoughts.
Kendall Grey is a writer I strive to be when I grow up. I have stated in all of my reviews of her Hard Rock Harlots Series books that "she grabs you by the balls and doesn't let go throughout the entire journey." I can only hope that one day I have the impact on my readers like she has on hers and especially me.
Have you ever read a villain in one of your favorite author's works and thought to yourself, "Where did he/she come up with that?" I have often wondered to, until I became a writer myself nearly 10 months ago and figured it out. I derive my villains from the same place my hero Stephen King derives his from, my fears. Now my fears are not based in the paranormal by no means. Translation, I do not believe in ghosts, vampires, monsters, zombies, things that go bump in the night, but instead I believe in those things that can be stopped but sadly aren't stopped in time. I believe in real monsters. Pedophiles, rapists, gossip mongers and the criminally insane.
My first villain, Vic Davone for instance is a psychopathic child sex slave trafficker. There is nothing more scary than people that pray on children and use them in a horrific and vile manner to benefit their own pocketbooks. What is even scarier to me? It's happening right under our noses.
Now as I am writing book two in my series, it's time for a new villain to be introduced, and the fear, the rapist. Not just any rapist, but a rapist you married thinking he would protect you, cherish you and love you always. I was inspired by the movie "Sleeping with the Enemy" featuring Julia Roberts. To be trapped in a marriage where you are beaten for no reason what so ever, have every thought, feeling and action controlled by someone you loved and are forced to endure it day after day.
I write these malicious monsters to also remind myself at how blessed I am in my real life. I was never abused sexually as a child, was never raped then or now as an adult, have never had someone post a blasphomous article about me or have I been attacked for no reason by a criminally insane person. But just because I am blessed, doesn't mean these things can't happen. What's even sadder to me, they are happening.
Molding a villain like this into a story for me is setting the scene. We are all products of our environments. We all act and carry ourselves the way we do from the environment hence we came from. In other words, the next time you come across someone in your life or in your workplace and wonder why they are the way they are, take a moment and ask yourself, "What was their past like to make them like this?" and maybe you'll be more empathetic and less judgmental.
The villain also sets the tone for the HEA in my opinion. I like nothing more than to read that the villain got theirs because the one thing the villain always forgets in their selfishness for world domination is this, karma. It's biblical folks. What you put out there comes back to you ten fold. I love seeing a villain finally get what's coming to them, it's a feeling of satisfaction like no other.
I wrote a review on Sylvain Reynard's third book in the Gabriel Series along these lines. I didn't see the need for a third book in this series, the first two were excellent and could have ended there. But the theme throughout, especially towards the end was that the bad guys were going to get theirs because they masterminded it by putting out bogus stuff to begin with. Love it.