Seven months ago, I began a perilous journey when I decided to enter the revolution.
I’ve earned my living as a writer for more than a decade. Now I’m working longer hours, opening myself to the whole world, and earning just enough to pay my overhead.
In these seven months, I’ve started two blogs (Living Lightly Upon this Earth and Writing Tips, Thoughts, and Whims), which are steadily growing followers. I follow dozens of blogs, too. I start each day with my coffee and my blogger friends. I love leaving comments and receiving them in turn.
I’ve gone from twenty twitter followers to almost 1,600 and enjoy tweeting and retweeting my fellow tweeters. I’ve also learned a new language. I’ve grown my Facebook fan page and enjoy all the supportive writer groups.
I published my first ebook on amazon.com in May, and then the roller coaster really took off. I’m learning everyday about promotion and marketing. I learned this week that no one knows what really sells these books. That actually made me feel slightly better – I thought I was just a slow learner.
Between actual sales and promotional days on Amazon, more than 25,000 folks have downloaded Live from the Road. It stands to reason not everyone will be a fan, but I wasn’t really prepared for my first bad review. I reeled for a few days but managed to put it in perspective. Then a discussion ensued on the review when several folks came to the book’s defense. That brought others in and the discussion became less about my book and more an indictment of self-published authors.
None of the critics have read Live from the Road. The reviewer admitted she’d only read a portion (approximately 20 percent based on her comments). While I’m not crazy about the comments being on my Amazon page, I do offer a prayer of gratitude to them.
After hanging my head for a few days, I addressed the criticisms. They said my previous reviews were meaningless because many of them were written by “shills” or “sock puppets.” I said I was learning a new language, remember? There are some 5-star reviews written by folks who know me and have never written any other reviews. When they finished the book and contacted me to tell me they liked it, I said “If you feel like it, leave a review on amazon.” Now I understand that this is a bit like asking your mother to give you a job recommendation. However, even the majority of these were done without my asking so I don’t know how to stop that.
A couple of the reviews come from reviewers who give only 4- or 5-star reviews. Before they read the book, all of them told me the book had to meet their criteria for at least a 4-star review, or they wouldn’t give a review. At the time, I considered it fair and was pleased my book qualified under their criteria. Now I’ve discovered these are meaningless too. The rest of the reviews are from folks I’ve never had any contact with except when the review appeared on my page.
So I’m attempting to educate myself on the review process. I’m researching how to find “legitimate” reviewers who will give an unbiased view of the book and my future books. I’m prepared that not all these reviewers will like the book, but I hope they will at least give constructive criticism that will help me become a better writer. Giving the book a 1-star review without finishing the book doesn’t do much to help me although I appreciate the reviewers attempt to give her honest opinion.
Jade Kerrion, one of my fellow bloggers, wrote an excellent post on “Post-publication Reviews.” Her insight and detailed account of her ebook journey is superb. Another valuable site is Amazon’s top customer reviewers. Then I downloaded The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages ($3.99) on my Kindle. I’m slowly going through all the listings and finding those reviewers who enjoy reading my genre.
I’m still on the roller coaster, but most of the time, I’m managing to enjoy it.
What about you? Any advice or comments on your experience?