What’s your take on ‘Paid for Book Reviews’

If you haven’t been over to the World Literary Café’s Facebook page you’ve been missing out on some good conversations.  The latest’s being a post about “Paid for Reviews.”  A FB friend found this New York Times’ Article (Look over to the right under my Tweets), The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy,  from the Business Day section and started a conversation at WLC’s FB page. Here’s my opinion of the news.

Here we are the self publishing, indie authors, who have either been shunned by or haven’t tried the traditional publishing route. We go at it alone, without the backing of major advertisers. In this piece it discusses five star reviews, the paid kind, and how there are  paid reviewers out there giving five stars reviews and they haven’t read the books.

Wait did I just write that right. It was the part of the article that stuck out for me. You mean I’d be paying someone to give  false reviews of my baby. Wow what does that do for customers? I’ll tell you what it does, it harms the reputation of all indies. They won’t come back and buy another, possibly from any indie author if the review falsely gives it five stars. This is not fiction.

Just imagine that you’re the one with the most fascinating, well written novel capable of being the number one best seller of all time and you can’t get the attention because some self serving person(s) out there saw a way to make a buck and thought it was a good idea to post bogus reviews, not seeing the bigger picture, that eventually led to the abomination of all indies. Our credibility. It feels very close.

I’ve been a part of writers groups and have read some extraordinary works, stories I had to finish reading right then and there. Seriously could not get off my laptop pieces that I would, without second guessing,  give a five star rating. Novels of such should not be overlooked because the author took the self publishing route.  We’ve come to a new age in publishing.

In self publishing infancy, where we are now, we need a program or a plan that assure indie’s are getting recognition without destroying the overall reputation.  False reviews isn’t going to do.  Ask yourself seriously is this the route you want? Wouldn’t it be better, more satisfying to have an honest review and then if need be, improve on your skills, perhaps take some writing courses, become a master of fiction with great reviews and recognition a hundred years from now?

We have fan pages, FB pages, author websites, and so on that reach, for the most part, us. We need to reach the everyday consumers out there, readers who by word of mouth can recommend our novels.  We need well written, edited works, with  great book covers, that knock the consumers off their butts, stories they can’t resist or stop talking about—and we need to advertise. I encourage authors out there to start looking into this avenue. Me, I’m going to take my local library up on offers of giving them a copy of my book, and if they love it…

Yes they will take and review indie books! They’ll know if its suitable for their shelves.

Once accepted I can then start my own little advertising campaign.  What’s your thought? There’s more to the article than what I picked up on, where should indies go from here? How do we assure our spot as an equal to the traditionals?

Value Your Work, Value Literature

As DOJ, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Apple, and the like battle it out over eBook pricing here I am, a self publisher of one novel, thinking of my decision to price my book at 6.99. Good decision? I think so. I could have priced it at .99 cents… wait are you kidding me? I put a lot of work into that book! It’s not a short story, it’s a full novel. In my opinion there’s a fair market for short stories at less than a dollar price range. I recently read one and was pleased with my purchase. But should a full novel go for a buck? No! Authors! Do not sell your hard work out like that! A three hundred page novel should not sell for the price of a thousand word story.

I considered pricing  my novel at 2.99, a good price range for  new authors trying to attract the attention of readers I think, and I’ve watched many new authors sell a lot of books at 2.99. But what about the value of each? If a hundred thousand people purchased a book at 2.99 based on good reviews wouldn’t they do the same at a 6.99 price? I think so. I would, shoot I’d pay 9.99. So I ask, why price your book at 2.99? Ah yes, to get people purchasing, it’s a tough market out there. I feel you!

So why did I price mine at 6.99? I think it’s a fair price for a new author. I know it’s a fair price for the work I put into it. If people like it they will purchase it, if not they won’t, nothing secret about that.  I, like everyone else can make many assumptions on what the eBook  pricing wars outcome will be, but the responsibility lies on us, the self publisher, to NOT devalue our work. I have never walked into a bookstore, you know where the traditional (published) books are and purchased a new novel for 2.99! Paperbacks that have filled shelves for years still go for 6.99! That’s where my fair price thought came from, let me explain.

If you feel you have a voice, a good story, something for a large population, or a select genre, whatever your fancy, don’t price your brand new voice, your talent for story telling, your place in the literary world-dirt cheap-for the sake of selling as many copies as possible for a quick buck.  Have faith in readers! They will find you at more than 2.99 a copy. The real challenge in self publishing is not with pricing, it’s with marketing. Letting readers know you have a product they will enjoy. For me self publishing also means we must keep the value of literature in its glory.

New Fiction Exciting for Author

I’ve been writing The Genealogist’s Guests. A new novel I’m very excited about, mostly because it’s about ancestors, paranormal activity, or apparitions appearing through the handpainted family tree the main character has in her home office. Here’s a little of what I’ve wrote :

The whispers began immediately. The tree lit up
brilliant as the apparitions made their way to the kitchen, and in there chats
of company arriving in the spring began with enthusiasm. Liz wrapped her hand
with gauze fussing with herself for being careless. In the winter weather it
would take emergency personnel at least an hour to get to her. Aggravated with
herself she made her way to the staircase. She heard something downstairs and
froze, listening. Whispers, she
thought, there’s someone whispering down
there
.

Now Liz is expecting her family to visit from Virginia. After four years of waiting it’s all she can do to remain calm, but no worries she has other family there to support her.

Originally I thought about an October 31 release! Yeah, I’m still holding to that date!

Borrowed Dreams

Recently there have been talks about a website called LendInk. I was concerned about it myself. I also wrote LendInk and requested my title be taken off their site. That same evening, after more discussions, I went back to the website to gather information on how the site operates but could no longer view it. My Norton antivirus screen popped up with its warning about the site.  I have since learned the owner took the site down after recieivng complaints. This link was sent to me to shed some light on the subject:

http://aprillhamilton.blogspot.com/2012/08/congratulations-you-killed-lendink-and.html

Perhaps some education on lending policies would ease tensions. I do not have the scoop on this subject, but what I do have is an opinion. Some would shine a positive light on the use of such “lending” sites. I’m certainly not opposed to getting my work out there to readers. In fact that’s why I give it free to begin with, I run the special to get interested readers with the hopes of a review or two. The review hasn’t happened but I keep hope, maybe even pray someone takes the time.

Getting back to the point, I want readers but, go figure a but right? I’m not in the know of how the, “lend,” sites actually work. For instance, there was no actual purchase of my title in the eBook format when my book appeared at the LendInk site. I know because being new to self publishing I obsessively check the stats! However, there were free purchases, my doing of course, I put the special out. I’m guessing this is how my title was picked up and sent to LendInk as a title that someone can borrow. Ok, I’m still not opposed to reaching readers. As a self publisher, not having the marketing support of a traditional publishing company, I, and all indie’s have to watch for ourselves.

So here comes the fear, My book is being lent to a thousand people and I haven’t sold a single copy, OMG! Do you feel me? How am I as a self published author to know just how many sites my title is being offered for free at, one, two, one hundred…more?

It’s a hot topic and I want to learn more about “lend” sites. If they are a benefit to authors, (self published), what are the true benefits? Is this program a good way of getting our works out there to readers, much like us giving them out for free? If so sign me up! But if I haven’t sold a single copy and my book is being borrowed a hundred times over without, and here’s what’s tearing at my gut, without a single review from any of the borrowers, I’m the loser.

I’m not savvy in developing these type of websites, but if I were, I’d without a doubt create one, but try and get retailers like Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, etc., to provide a link to authors/publishers to my “lending” website where they can monitor the the borrows, maybe check off the total they allow to be borrowed, have borrowers leave a review for the author and future customers with a link back to the retailer (Amazon, Smashwords, etc.) where the review can be seen.

Now that’s lending/borrowing sense. But right now, self published authors are operating clueless, we don’t know where our books have landed in the world of borrowing, or the number of sites offering them. And if you’re a brand new author, new to self publishing, like me, it’s troubling.

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