Sunday, 20 January 2013

Dealing with the dreaded 1 star review...

One star reviews are no anomaly to any book or author. Yes, they are a hit to the stomach, but it's important to remember that it's part-and-parcel of being an author.

At the moment I can't speak from experience on the matter, but I am anticipating my first one star review to arrive at any given moment. I'm not expecting it because I believe my work is trash, rather I'm expecting it because I know every author receives at least one one-star review in their lifetime.

Yes, seeing that wretched one star and reading the associated comment can be a big downer, but it happens to us all. You'll be hard pressed to find an author who doesn't have any one star reviews (if you do manage to, please pass on a link to me). Our work simply can't be well received by everyone. We'd love it to be, but it just doesn't happen.

Here are a few suggested strategies to help deal with it:

1. Read it knowing that you're not alone - this happens to every author
2. Understand that not everybody that reads your book will like it
3. Know that those who give one star reviews are often those that just didn't like the story - it's not an attack on your writing or your work. They simply didn't enjoy the story
4. Bear in mind that even J. K. RowlingStephenie MeyerJ. R. R. TolkienE. L. JamesRick RiordanRoald DahlJames Patterson (you get the point) all have one star reviews
5. Check out other reviews left by your 'hater' - you might find that they are never generous with their reviews
6. It doesn't happen often at all, but it could be one of your competitors playing dirty tricks on you. As mentioned, this doesn't happen at all - but it does still happen!
7. It's easy to say, but 'take it with a grain of salt'. You're not alone in it, and you never will be!
8. Keep writing! Negative reviews, ratings and comments can only encourage you to improve in your writing
9. Focus on the positives - generally speaking, you'll usually have far more positive (or average) reviews than negative. Most people can't justify giving books only one star, as they know how much blood, sweat and tears are involved in writing
10. Don't take the review as a personal attack. Often it won't be. Sometimes it will be, but know that readers will often know that just by looking at the review. Readers know an honest review from one that is made with the intention of provocation. They know what a review attacking the author looks like. And they are just as turned off of the reviewer as you are. If anything, it could even promote the readers to buy your book, simply to see/prove that the reviewer is wrong.

I will offer one very important, and final piece of advice:

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever (you get the point) respond to a review. Ever!
Good, bad or otherwise ugly. You are simply giving attention to the reviewer, and could very well turn off prospective readers. Nobody wants to read an argument; particularly not one between an author and a reader. A reader goes to great lengths, and often expense, to read your book. For you to attack someone who has done just that gives the appearance of being ungrateful, not to mention overly protective, to your readers, which is something you want to steer well-clear of!

If there's anybody out there with added pieces of advice, feel free to leave a comment. We'd love to hear from you!
Smile. Be happy. And sell some books!

Bye for now

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Book promoting 101

Much has been said about writing a book being the easiest part of the publishing process. Truer words have never be spoken.

Promoting your self-published title is indeed one of the more difficult aspects of seeing your work into print. Across the many discussion boards that are relevant to the field of publishing, you will find a plethora of questions and complaints regarding how to successfully market your title. Often, these authors claim to have done everything they possibly can to market their books to their intended audience. However, with an overwhelming number of advertising opportunities and marketing avenues, 'the sky is the limit'.

Firstly, get yourself on all existing social media sites. Open a 'fan page' on Facebook, a Twitter account, start a blog, a website and get yourself on and Shelfari. How can you expect readers to find you if you don't make your online presence as visible as you possibly can? Retweet any tweets about your book, but don't make all posts about you or your book. Have conversations. Participate. Get involved.

Secondly, the several book promoting services across the various social networking sites. Although with honourable intentions, such accounts will be of little benefit to you. There is a slight chance that they may help, but by how much can never be foreseen; much like any other marketing venture. The reason this style of 'marketing' will see little return is due to the very nature of the accounts. They are primarily an advertising source for other authors, and not targeted specifically to those whom you wish to target - readers. Readers will not often follow a book marketing account. This is not to say that they don't, because they do, but just how many readers are dwelling amongst those many thousand followers will remain unknown. If payment is required for such services, I suggest you stay away, as their 'following' may be comprised of a significant number more authors than readers. If services are offered for free, then what harm is there in trying?

Also a misconception is that paying for advertisements on various websites will see to an increase in sales. If considering purchasing an 'ad space' to promote your works, think carefully of the nature of the website you will be advertising on. Advertising on a social networking site will be far less effective than promoting your book on a book review blog or website specific to your field or genre. For example, a young adult fantasy novel will see a far greater number of interested readers by advertising on a young adult book review blog or website than they would see on Facebook. It is vital to consider where your target audience lurks on the web that is worldwide. Essentially, make your paid advertising efforts targeted, or audience-specific. Hunt them down, and pull them in.

One of the greatest advertising tools you have available to you is that which review websites and blogs offer you. Its costs are minuscule, and the details of your book are presented to an audience specific to your genre. Send your book to as many book review websites or blogs that are specific to your genre. Offer free giveaways on and your own website, and host competitions on what social media you have. This garners interest, and may lead to a small following. A following of any kind, small or large, is always a great thing!

Another great marketing tool is to find and participate in forums related to your book's genre. If your novel is a romance, look for forums related to romance novels and participate in discussions there. Don't post specifically about your book. Have details of it on your profile page, but do not mention your book in your posts. This may be seen as spam, and such thing is always frowned upon in any forum. For this very reason, you must keep your posts interesting and informative. All people who see interesting posts look further into the person who posts them. Thus, you can be sure that people will stumble upon your profile information and delve deeper into what you have to offer.

Apparently the greatest advertising tool open to any author is to keep writing. I am yet to experience this myself, having only released one book. It does seem the compelling point, though. My book is but one in a squillion, and for one person to stumble upon mine over all other books would take some miracle. And you've heard it before - 'the more, the merrier'!

Do you have any book-specific marketing experiences that you would like to share? If so, share it with the world by leaving a comment.

There are so many marketing options that I am hoping to further explore. I shall keep you all well informed of them as I delve into the great unknown that is marketing. 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Taking the independent publishing route

Have you completed a manuscript, but are uncertain as to what publishing route to venture down? Have you ever thought of delving into the world that is self publish-dom?

Modern day publishing, being the multifaceted entity it is, can be a complex and somewhat stressful business to delve into. There are few safety nets, if any, and your success will only ever be as great as you allow it. However many success stories you discover, it is important to note that there are many, many, many more failed attempts. There are always a multitude more that fail to get anywhere, and it may not always be to their own doing. To garner success in the self-publishing world, you must be willing to do anything and everything you can to achieve it.

So, you have an unpublished manuscript you're hoping will be picked up by one of the big publishing houses? Or even a smaller one? The chances of being snapped up by a publishing house, of any kind, are minuscule. The large publishers accept only a very limited number of manuscripts per year, and for yours to be accepted as one of those, it must be literary gold. Your greatest chance is to submit your manuscript to as many literary agents as you can - one at a time, of course. If no agent displays interest, resort to submitting directly to publishing houses, as they will generally read a manuscript only once, and no more. If all else fails, and you decide you would still like to see your book in print, consider self-publishing.

Many authors are beginning to explore publishing on their own. There are many successful, traditionally published authors who have turned away from publishing houses, and have begun to self-publish their new titles. Not only do you have complete control over what happens to your 'baby', you generally have a far greater royalty rate to appreciate. The downside is that, for anybody to buy your book, YOU have to make them want to, which can be a most difficult and somewhat disheartening thing, if you go about it wrong. Marketing a self-published title will be dealt with in a later post. For now, we'll focus on the self-publishing process.

There are far greater avenues for self-publishing than many people realise. You can have your manuscript transformed into digital format (an ebook) at little-to-no cost. Digital book files (generally a .mobi or .epub file) can be submitted to the various ebook websites, such as Amazon's Kindle, Apple's iBookstore, Kobo, Barnes and Noble's Nook and Sony's Reader Store. To do so, you can either register directly to the websites and submit your properly formatted file, or you can use what is known as an aggregator, such as Smashwords, to have them convert your file into the appropriate file-type and submit each file to the major retailers on your behalf. Aggregators are, by far, the more convenient option, but they are not always the best path to take. More on that later.

If you want to see your book in print - and let's face it, we all do - then you can also do this yourself, often for free! We call this Print on Demand (POD). The leading POD companies are Amazon's CreateSpace and, both of which are free and easy to get started, and Lightning Source, which is a paid and more complex route, but more 'professional' (for lack of a better word). I have tried the two free options, and have signed up to try Lightning Source. I will keep you posted on how I go with Lightning Source.

From personal experience, I can vouch only for CreateSpace. The quality of my printed books werefar greater with them than I experienced with Lulu. Everything about the CreateSpace copy feels professional - from the cover, to the pages themselves. I chose the 5x8" option with Creme paper. I advise against using white paper, as this has an amateur/novice appearance to it. In saying that, the creme paper CreateSpace use is not like that seen in published books from major publishing houses. This paper is thicker, and does not feel as flimsy. With Lulu, I received a poor quality book that fell apart within weeks of having received it - even though I did not read it! To top it off, the cover had a poor 'photo paper' feel and look about it, which was miles behind CreateSpace's cardboard laminate. In saying this, there are many happy with Lulu's quality - I just failed to see it in what I received.

Further posts will be made shortly, looking particularly at pros and cons of each POD, a 'how-to' guide, printing options, distribution and marketing, among other things. Let me know if you'd like to see anything in particular!

That's it from me... For now :)

Sunday, 8 July 2012

ALTOR: The Shadow Rebellion (The Chronicles of Ageron) - Now on iTunes & Smashwords!

ALTOR: The Shadow Rebellion (The Chronicles of Ageron) is now available for download on iTunes and Smashwords.
To download a copy, please visit the iBookstore or Smashwords.
The novel also remains available on Kindle, and is also available to purchase from the Diesel ebook store.

Digital copies will soon be available to download from:
                              - Kobo
                              - Nook
                              - Sony
                              - Baker-Taylor

For a comprehensive list on where to find ALTOR: The Shadow Rebellion (The Chronicles of Ageron), both in digital and print formats, please visit the 'where to buy' page.