Really interesting article here on the purchase of reviews–primarily positive reviews. By David Streitfeld of the New York Times:
Tags: book reviews, marketing, self-publishing, Writing
Tags: free, free books, free ebooks, kindle direct publishing, kindle select, marketing
On June 4, 2012, I wrote a blog entitled “Going Free as a Group–Does it Still Work?” I published the blog right before I banded together with seven other great authors to gain maximum exposure for our two free days (June 4th and 5th). The event was called #Reads4Free.
Quite honestly, I was a bit skeptical regarding what type of results we would get. After all, none of us had ever organized an event of that magnitude before. Right as the event was getting ready to start, I had resigned myself to the possibility that the countless hours we had poured into preparation would not yield the results we wanted. Results that were intimately tied to the excitement we all felt about the event.
FORTUNATELY, THE DOUBTS WERE ILL-FOUNDED
What occurred June 4th and 5th was actually a bit startling. Let’s start with some of the stats. Seven of the eight books involved hit the top 100 free books on Amazon. Doug Dorow’s “The Ninth District” topped out at #5 overall. Rob Guthrie’s “Black Beast” topped out at #9 overall. My second thriller, “Allegiance,” reached #15. Elise Stokes’ second YA adventure book, “Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula,” reached the top 35. The only book not to reach the top 100 still performed extremely well for its genre–anthologies–which generally do not climb as high as individual novels.
IN ALL, WE SURPASSED 75K DOWNLOADS IN THIS SINGLE EVENT
Gulp. Yeah. Over 75k books downloaded in the first #Reads4Free event. A first event where we undoubtedly had hiccups and mistakes. A first event where kinks will be ironed out for #Reads4Free redux.
Climbing the free charts is exciting and worthwhile in its own respect. It means you got exposure. People have your book in their reading device, and setting aside debates as to whether they will read it, the first step in doing so is owning it. However, we’re in this profession for another reason, as well. To make some money. Especially as indie authors, we are juggling a job (or multiple jobs), families, marketing, promoting, networking, events, etc., so more than anyone else, we are relentless about the pursuit of our singular dream–making writing our full-time and only job.
So, it was important to track books after the free event, and how they performed once they went paid. It was painfully obvious that the heyday of KDPS had passed. With the numbers of downloads each of our books received, some of those books should have gotten into the top 50 paid books as well. In the US at least, Doug Dorow’s book was the only one to reach that level. However, fear not (at least, not yet) because there was a positive impact on most of our books. Specifically, all of us had a nice bump in paid sales that we were able to maintain with other methods such as pricing and advertising.
Here are the things I took away from the event:
- Going free on your own and doing no pre-free preparation is absolutely off the table. Won’t work, and in fact, could hurt your rankings.
- Going free as a group that works hard and works together is still viable.
- Going back to paid is a rough ride, but through pricing and particularly, with some well placed ads, you can mitigate that transition.
That’s dem apples. If you’re interested in being a part of a future event, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: best indie books, free ebooks, indie ebooks, marketing, promotion, Reads4Free
You know what I love about being indie? My world isn’t a cloistered cave of writing and talking to just my editor and/or agent. My world is literally full of thousands of other indie authors that brighten up everyday for me with their generosity.
GROUP FRIGGIN’ HUG
Okay, that bit of sentimentality aside, I’ve actually got a point here. Let’s start with Kindle Direct Publishing Select. When it started out, you could go free on your own and get thousands of downloads. But, like anything else in this (insert expletive) world, there’s no free pass to success. Honestly, some days I wish I would wake up with two things: (1) perfect vision, dammit, and (2) about 50 million dollars. I digress. So, no free pass to success. What does that mean several months after KDPS started? Going free and doing it solo–not so successful anymore. And you’ve heard it from a whole bunch of people who continue to do the same thing and expect the same results. Bottom line, those results ain’t there, so we’ve got to adapt.
What’s a way to deal with this? Think like an indie my friend. Going “solo free” (I’ll coin that term right here) is so freaking traditional author. Going free with a group of great indie authors? Now you’re thinking.
Let’s get one thing straight. Going free as a group is nothing novel. There are other groups that do free events. However, there’s no way any one organization can provide all of your promo needs. For one, it makes sense to diversify your advertising dollars. For two (can you say “for two”?), if you have multiple books, then a single organization may not have enough free events for you. That’s kinda where I was, which is why I did the following.
Through my publishing arm (haha, always wanted to say that. My publishing arm are these two hands, and when I can get his lazy ass going, one of my dogs), I have organized eight of the most excellent indie authors I know to go free as a group. Of course, I know more than eight excellent indie authors, but there will be more events. The point? We have worked our tails off to put this event together (another reason to pay the IBC their entry fee and sit back while their staff run the promo for you!) We have canvassed the entire world of indie publishing and advertising, or so it seems. The bigger point. THERE’S NO WAY YOU COULD DO THIS AS A SOLO FREE.
This world of publishing changes so damn quickly, so who knows how long going free as a group will be successful. However, we indie authors are the small tribe that can adapt to change on a dime. Let the bureaucracy of the traditional publishing world die. In the meantime, we’ll evolve, come together, and take advantage of whatever we can to sell more books.
With that being said, here are the awesome authors involved in the group event, appropriately titled #Reads4Free. You, my dear indie authors, owe it to them to go download their free books. Just as we will owe it to you when you go free.
FREE ON JUNE 4TH AND 5TH ONLY
Oh GOODNASS, don’t those books look sexy? Check them out on the webpage we built. Seriously, they look dead sexy there, and you can find out more info about what you’re downloading. Click on any cover to be transported (the click comes with a drop of acid). Or, just click on this hyperlink: http://www.rogue-books.com/#!Reads4Free/cj6w
Over and out my friends. If you’re interested in being part of an Indie Book Collective event, or another of my #Reads4Free events through Rogue Books, then just send me an email at email@example.com.
Tags: bad reviews, books, indie publishing, reviews, self-publishing, Writing
I’ll be upfront–this blog post is as much for me as it is for you. Catharsis.
My first book, Enemy in Blue, has been selling wonderfully. That means one of my goals in writing the book is starting to be fulfilled. Namely, people are reading a story about a difficult and challenging subject. What does that mean? It means that some people are getting REALLY pissed off.
Okay, no worries. I knew that would happen and am glad it has. How else can you draw attention to a controversial subject?
That said, it still stings to get bad reviews. I believe I had the honor of a recent reviewer saying my book would destroy Kindles because readers would barf all over them. Excellent.
With Enemy in Blue out a little over a year now, and having gotten a few bad reviews, I’m going to do this for you, and for me–okay?
There is No Final Answer in this Blog Post
Let me be upfront about one more thing. I don’t have the final answer regarding how to handle bad reviews. This is almost as much about me asking the question as me answering the question. Further, this is a very emotional analysis. You can’t really rationalize bad reviews, especially the really bad ones. So, understand off the bat that you may very well deal with bad reviews differently. Just like we all deal with emotions differently. That’s fine. In fact, it’s good.
Don’t Kid Yourself, Bad Reviews are Inevitable
I’ve heard this a few times. “It’s not going to happen to me.” Hold on while I choke back a laugh. If you’re selling books, even if you’re selling the best book ever written, you’re going to get bad reviews. Imagine if you went into a movie theater after an award-winning movie like The English Patient played. You think everyone in that theater would give it 5 or even 4 stars? That movie bored me out of my mind. Bottom line, everyone is going to have a different perspective.
Add to the whole perspective issue the fact that with our books, people sometimes buy our genres when they don’t really like our genres. For instance, if you wrote a romance and a person that typically reads and enjoys thrillers picks up your book, guess what, you’re behind the eight ball to start. The final exacerbating factor to getting bad reviews? Complete anonymity. People can hide behind nondescript profile names on Amazon and leave nasty reviews. Without the buffer of face-to-face interaction, there’s nothing stopping a bad reviewer from letting loose.
In short, if you’re selling more than a book a month, you are likely to get some bad reviews. So, what to do with them?
Don’t Feed the Monster!
You can respond or comment on bad reviews at Amazon’s site. Did you know that? Well, you do now. But, before you go responding to every person that leaves you a review, whether good or bad, remember this. That cloak of anonymity? If you, the author, start responding to people’s reviews, you intrude on the anonymity that people enjoy about Amazon. They like the fact that if they want to, they can leave a bad review to “warn” other consumers about a product. Similarly, they like leaving a good review when they have enjoyed a product. If you step into their space, it will no doubt get ugly.
As an example, I have heard an anecdotal story of an author that responded to a bad reviewer, got into it with the person that left the review with back and forth posts on Amazon, and then Amazon lifted that author’s book from the website. Yessir, don’t forget, Amazon cares about their customers more than their suppliers. And, rightfully so. Thus, think twice before you engage. Secondly, if you engage, I would expect that other consumers would be more inclined to do the same. Stated otherwise, your response could piss 1, 2, 3, etc. people off that may otherwise have just put your book down and not left a review. But, if they see you advocating on behalf of your book, then they may feel justified to advocate against your book.
Again, the short and sweet of this section is to take your punches and move on.
Can Those Bad Reviews Actually…Help?
Let’s just take a behemoth book for example. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. That book has a whopping 7,254 reviews! (An interesting analysis for another day is trying to determine the ratio of sales to reviews. At last count, The Hunger Games sold about 18 million copies. That means only 0.04% of people have left a review. Innnnteresting). Out of those reviews, Ms. Collins has 210 one-star reviews. You think those have hurt her sales? How about we take a classic, Pride and Prejudice? Over 1,000 reviews, including 57 one-star reviews. How about this trending book called Fifty Shades of Grey? Out of 3,360 reviews, there are 962 one-star reviews. Almost 1/3 of the reviews have been one-star! Guess where it is ranked? #1 overall on Amazon in the United States.
Our conclusion? Bad reviews don’t always spell doom for your book. Especially since we aren’t selling a high priced item, such as a tablet, people are still willing to plunk down a few bucks to give something a shot. On top of that, I have heard from readers that some bad reviews actually lend credibility to a book. When readers see nothing but positive reviews, they tend to think something fishy is going on.
So, remember a few things. You’re gonna get bad reviews. Cry, scream, throw things–you ain’t gonna change it. When you get bad reviews, don’t exacerbate the situation by responding to them. Create voodoo dolls, go for a run…whatever. Just don’t respond. Finally, those bad reviews won’t necessarily spell the end of your book. Work on getting some good ones by submitting your book to friends, family, and other authors.
There, I feel better. What about you? What do you think? Go on, comment and get a little healing yourself.
Tags: Amazon, Apple, ereader, Kindle, marketing, Nook, publishing, Writing
Very interesting play here. Microsoft is going to invest $300 million in Barnes and Noble’s Nook. Microsoft has a history of running other company’s products into the ground, so I wonder if this will be any different. If successful, however, this could change the landscape of ereaders a bit. Here’s the article:
Tags: marketing, pricing, publishing, Writing
I found this interesting because the video game industry is undergoing some of the same pricing issues that we are seeing in the book industry. Namely, the introduction of quality, inexpensive products is pressuring the traditional, higher priced products. Sound familiar?
Another very interesting article on the impact of Amazon on the publishing industry. “Daring to Cut Off Amazon,” by David Streitfeld of The New York Times.
Publishers of all sizes are struggling to survive in the face of the online giant. Where do you think the industry is headed?
With all the marketing and promotion that can go into our books, sure seems like it’s easy to forget about our craft. With that in mind, it makes sense to post a great video and article about a presentation that Ray Bradbury gave, in which he discusses the keys to being an excellent author. I guess if you’re going to listen to someone, Bradbury isn’t the worst example you could have, huh? :)
Tags: copyright, editing, song lyrics, Writing
Okay, gotta admit that I almost made this mistake. In fact, I DID make the mistake, but thanks to a small group of amazing authors I associate with on Facebook, I caught it before publishing my second book. The mistake–using the lyrics of another person’s song in the book.
In the back of my mind, I thought two things. First, I’m no mega-bestseller, so who the hell cares? Second, fair use, right? Wrong. Starting with the second point, there is no fair use for songs because they are too short. Apparently, it is acceptable to use thetitleof the song, but none of the words. Not even a couple. As to the second point, even if you’re not a bestseller, you can get nabbed for using what amounts to copyrighted material from another artist. And, removing the reference won’t necessarily help you avoid a lawsuit. Finally, citation to the song is not sufficient to cover your butt either.
In short, get permission to use the lyrics, just avoid using another artist’s lyrics at all, or write your own damn song! Good luck writing Stairway to Heaven though…
Here is a very good article I found online by Lori Lake on the topic (it spells out the legalities in more detail). http://www.justaboutwrite.com/A_Archive_IntellectProp3.html