Tag Archives: editing

Reader Audiences Matter Most: To whom are you appealing?

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The question in the title of this post can’t always be answered.

This is not a book review, but I am taking the liberty to use The Goldfinch to make some of my points. I’m only a little more than halfway finished with this book and I usually don’t look at other reviews until I have completed the book and written my own review when I do book reviews for indie authors. I did read some of the reviews for this book when I approached the halfway mark, because I wasn’t certain I wanted to continue. I have mixed feelings. It’s well-written, and then it’s not. I’ll try to explain.

I read across many genres, and seldom post book reviews for traditionally published books. Gone Girl, The Girl of the Train, Fifty Shades, The Fault in Our Stars and other such reads, have garnered so much attention I feel less compelled to promote them. I mostly provide reviews to promote Indies that I feel I can recommend.

I’ve brought up the issue of commercial fiction versus literary fiction before. I know there are some authors who cross-over exceptionally well and have become quite popular up-market authors.

Annie Neugebauer has a nifty article here explaining the differences and providing some examples:

http://annieneugebauer.com/2014/01/27/the-differences-between-commercial-and-literary-fiction/

Her key points (which are debatable) are as follows:

1.

The aim of commercial fiction is entertainment.

The aim of literary fiction is art.

 

2.

In commercial fiction, the protagonist does the work.

In literary fiction, the reader does the work.

  

3.

In commercial fiction, the writing style is clean and pared-down.

In literary fiction, the writing style takes more risks.

  

4.

The main character of commercial fiction aims to be likable to the reader.

The main character of literary fiction aims to reveal the human condition.

  

5.

Commercial fiction follows genre precepts.

Literary fiction toys with genre precepts.

Granted, there is commercial genre fiction that has aspects of literary fiction, and literary fiction which has aspects of commercial genre appeal, but I think Annie does well to summarize these.

A side note here from SoIReadThisBookToday : http://soireadthisbooktoday.com/2015/02/07/they-are-watching-what-you-read/ Is that much of what is marketed and sold digitally actually isn’t read in the digital form of the most popular books. “With Gone Girl, the third most purchased book at Kobo, only 46 percent of the readers who purchased the book made it to the end. Fifty Shades of Gray? Only 48 percent could stomach it all the way through. The most popular French book, in terms of sales, shows “Le Suicide Français,” may have been a runaway hit in terms of sales, but just 7 percent of Kobo’s French readers made it through the book’s conclusion.”

That tells me that just because a book is trendy, doesn’t mean it was all that well received by the audience.

This doesn’t take into account paper copies sold. I’m still not sure about reviews. Seems like people who really love a book or really hate it are most likely to leave a review. Of course the trendier books will have more positive reviews.

Which brings me back to The Goldfinch, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

(19,812) Total reviews on Amazon

3.7 out of 5 stars

5 star

8,171

 

4 star

4,152

 

3 star

3,402

 

2 star

2,175

 

1 star

1,912

 

Now this book stayed on the Amazon Top 100 Best Sellers list for months last year. (Long before it became a Pulitzer Prize.) There are reviews posted everywhere. There are even full length books being sold that analyze this piece of work.

It does seem to be one of those books that crosses over to up-market fiction.

It’s artful.

Both the reader and the protagonist have to do some of the work.

The writing style is certainly risky.

There is a great focus on the human condition.

And it does follow genre precepts (primarily mystery novel).

Here’s the deal though: It is the very thing that editors are telling us all the time simply doesn’t work.

Apparently it does.

It is also 755 pages long.

As part of her Indie Authors Series , Jodie Renner tells us:  How to Slash Your Word Count by 20-40% – and tighten your story without losing any of the good stuff!

http://blog.janicehardy.com/2015/02/how-to-slash-your-word-count-by-20-40.html

Is your manuscript too long?

  • Do you have a meandering, overly wordy writing style? If so, you’ll need to tighten it up by cutting all unnecessary words.
  • Do you have long descriptions of the setting or characters, or lengthy character backstory?
  • Are there any scenes that drag, lack in tension and intrigue, or just don’t drive the story forward?
  • Have you or others noticed repetitions of various kinds (imagery, plot points, ideas, descriptions, phrases, words)?
  • In general, can your scenes, paragraphs and sentences be leaner?

 

She goes on to say that you have to “earn your right to write long”. I don’t necessarily agree with that statement. I think it is more a matter of style and what the reader prefers.

 

Most genre commercial fiction and much of what I read that was written by indie authors follows Jodie’s points. These, for the most part, are easy reads. They appeal to a modern audience that wants fast everything. But if you are looking for deeply thought-provoking literature, you are probably not going to find it in a pared down version of a story.

 

The Goldfinch is reminiscent of the greatest literature I have ever read. Jodie Renner, as an editor, would have had a field day with it. And, yet, I see her points. The Goldfinch could have probably been cut of a good 250 to 300 pages and been a much tighter, more readable novel without loosing either that value of the prose or content of the story.

 I am having a Love:Hate relationship with this book. I hope I am able to finish it.

Donna Tartt is inspired by magic, beauty in the everyday, and love…no matter what. The Goldfinch is infused with adventure, love of life, and great souls. There are wonderful passages of clever, artful prose. It appeals to my heart, spirit, and mind.

However, there is stream of consciousness that meanders all over the pages, often not making any point at all relevant to the crux of the story being told. There are miles-long sentences filled with colons, semi-colons, multiple commas that drag through entire paragraphs and will make you cringe and scream. I would like to think there is some masterful symbolism here, but it’s buried deep.

I’m 100% positive that she had to have an exclusive editor that could deeply appreciate her prose.

It all boils down to what audience you are appealing to as an author.

Do you ever really know?

I’ll keep writing my genre fiction crime novel series and maintain that bare bones writing style, but I’m not giving up on my philosophical, artful prose just yet. Maybe with enough practice in both styles, I’ll someday be a popular cross over, up-market author. I won’t hold my breath, but it’s fun to dream.

I don’t envy the parts of The Goldfinch that make me cringe and want to scream, but I do admire that Donna Tartt had the guts to write until her heart was content and put it out here for a reader audience to enjoy.

Where We Are Today

This morning's beach shot by Scott Spradley.
This morning’s beach shot by Scott Spradley.

Scott, over on Flagler Beach, gets up every morning to catch the sunrise. He posts pics almost every day. What a nice way to start the day. If you’d like to follow him on Facebook, he’s here:

 https://www.facebook.com/scott.w.spradley

I’ve been a real slacker this year, both in writing and blogging. I didn’t have any resolutions, so I didn’t set myself up for failure, but I have not been terrifically productive either. I have done no guest posts, no interviews, only a couple of promotions for others, and a couple of book reviews.

I have been busy though. I have two outlines for Naked Eye series books. I received my final edits back for Naked Alliances and have been very busy polishing that manuscript. Right now I’m on chapter twenty-five with five more to go. This last chapter has been the most challenging to get through. There was a scene that I personally felt wasn’t working as it was written, so I cut quite a lot out of it and did some rewriting. The rewriting was easier than deciding what to cut.

Knocked out for a couple of days with a broken tooth. It’s not fixed yet, but it’s not hurting either. I have an appointment scheduled to have a root canal with posts and a crown to be put on February 10th. I missed an author symposium and book signing. I also have jury duty February 5th. I try to do my Civic duty, but honestly, I’d like to get out of this one.

We’re also dealing with the stolen boat situation as best we can. It’s a tough call. The place where the man said they bought the money orders that he claims they cancelled (the ones that never made it to our bank) says it can be sixty-five days to get a refund, which is what he says he is waiting for. That would give him until March 13th to pay up. If we file a stolen vessel report and they find him, he could be arrested and not be in a position to pay (IF he intends to pay).

The attorney has basically said he is in the business to sue people and wants a $200.00 retainer and $2000.00 settlement if the man pays (That’s nearly a quarter what we are owed.). The thief has not responded to his request to provide proof of the money orders, return the boat, or pay the balance. The Lee County authorities don’t have it high up on their priority list and haven’t permitted us to file a stolen vessel report yet. They seem to want to see more of an effort to collect first, and had us send notification of intent to pursue legally (which, again, the man did not respond to).

The RS is thinking we should give him until March 23rd, and then file the stolen vessel report if he doesn’t pay at that time.  Major frustration! Meanwhile, we’re making payments with interest on a boat he’s living aboard for free.

Scariest thing is that it is a documented vessel with Homeland Security in our name. If he smuggles drugs, runs it aground, wrecks into another boat, or crashes into a dock, we’re liable.

On a positive note: We’ve been babysitting the grandkids from time to time and the grandson is not screaming for hours when he’s with us anymore. Thank God for sisters.

abbysitting 006

“Beats” and Attribution

It has been a while since I wrote about my writing. I put Naked Alliances in a drawer after my last edits following my beta reads. I wanted to give the MS time to breathe and come back and do a reread to get a fresh perspective on what else it might need.

One of my beta readers is a professional editor. He did a most thorough edit and made some invaluable suggestions on how to improve the manuscript. I have always had a handle on doing realistic dialogue well, but I have struggled with attribution tags and how to avoid them except in the most necessary of situations where more than one person is speaking. Unnecessary speaker attributions slow down your flow. Unless the speaker would be uncertain, giving no attributions makes for a faster exchange.

He suggested what he refers to as “beats” showing the speakers action at that moment. Eg. Rather than, “I think it’s time we left,” he concluded. Try, “I think it’s time we left.” His brow furrowed, his worry obvious.

There is a chapter where I felt the use of dialogue tags was necessary because there are four women talking and I did not want anyone to feel lost in the conversation. Here is a brief excerpt between two or three of the characters that demonstrates how the tags seriously slow down the read. I wanted it contemplative, yet needed something to indicate which of the four are engaged in conversation:

“So sad about Maria,” Patty said with a sigh.

“Not so sure what she saw in that politician,” Sabrina stated.

“I know what she saw and you do, too.”

“Well he’s hot for you now,” Sabrina reminded.

“He’s just a good time for me. I don’t plan to fall in love with him.”

“Maria sure did. Do you think he loved her, too?” asked Sabrina

“Hard to say. His relationship with her was politically motivated. But I don’t think Maria loved him either,” answered Patty.

“You don’t?”

“She lied to him,” Gail interjected. “She put on the act of devoted housewife and mother for his constituency. She partied with us on the sly every chance she got. I feel sorry for Tim and his loss. More than that, I feel sorry for him that she misled him so.”

 

Here is the exchange cleaned up. It starts with a couple of “beat” sentences and that’s all that is needed until another person joins the conversation and a “beat” is required.

“So sad about Maria.” Patty sighed.

“Not so sure what she saw in that politician.” Sabrina arched her overdone brows.

“I know what she saw and you do, too.”

“Well he’s hot for you now.”

“He’s just a good time for me. I don’t plan to fall in love with him.”

“Maria sure did. Do you think he loved her, too?”

“Hard to say. His relationship with her was politically motivated. But I don’t think Maria loved him either.”

“You don’t?”

“She lied to him.” Gail slammed the photo album closed and pushed it aside. “She put on the act of devoted housewife and mother for his constituency. She partied with us on the sly every chance she got. I feel sorry for Tim and his loss. More than that, I feel sorry for him that she misled him so.”

 

More examples of “beats” added to the MS:

“Jason Pauly, you don’t run,” Richard said while standing.

“Jason Pauly, you don’t run.” Richard was now on his feet.

 

“How long do you do it? A year, five, ten?” Sabrina asked.

“How long do you do it? A year, five, ten?” Sabrina’s voice was venomous.

 

“A lot of folk think bikers are bonkers,” Brandi said.

“A lot of folk think bikers are bonkers.” Brandi laughed and leaned in closer.

 

While best to have no attribution tags, when required, “beat” sentences show an action identifying the speaker when there are more than two and carry the story forward with momentum.

This is where I am today with my progress on Naked Alliances. I have cleaned up most of the attribution tags. I have a few places where I am tightening up the manuscript and minimizing exposition. Then, it’s done.

I would be out on the boat today if the weather was better, but it’s overcast and windy. Not good for boating.

What are you up to this weekend?

Any time for reading, outlining, writing, editing?

Beta Readers: The Force Thanks You, I Thank You

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Waiting is hard! So far, I have beaten every level in Angry Birds Star Wars and Angry Birds Space, (about 600 levels) including bonus levels, except for one. I can’t get three stars on Cloud City level 29. (If anybody knows how to beat it with three stars, drop me an email.) I have retrieved all of the golden eggs, and completed all of the eggbirds. Of course, when I get stuck I rely on the rocket scientist, so I have cheated a bit.

That’s what I do when I’m not writing or reading. Play with my animated friends. I’m lost in deep cyberspace somewhere out in the universe.

I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m not writing or editing or something to do with writing. I have completed two more vague outlines for future books and a lot of where I go with those will depend on where my beta readers desire to go. And whether they decide to go anywhere at all. The hardest part is waiting.

One beta reader is done and she loved the story. Did some jam up good editing with a keen eye.

Another beta reader is giving me an in-depth and thorough deep read for content editing. He’s close to the end. We’ve made lots of progress. I know there is more to come.

I plan to do a future post on just how helpful beta reads are when we are all done. Invaluable!

I have seven more lined up and am just starting to get some feedback. That’s totally awesome! I’m nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof. I feel like the nerdy guy who has just decided to ask the pretty girl to the prom.

Beta readers really rock! To give your story time and attention, when life places so many demands on them, well, it just goes to show how wonderful the world is that we live in. I can’t thank them all enough. I would do the same for them and they know it, but I feel like I could send them winning lottery tickets and it still wouldn’t be enough.

So, thanks guys and girls, for your time and attention, for your brain energy and willingness to help.

You are deeply appreciated.

Learning About Books and How to Produce Them: My Lists of Threes

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New Year’s Day I posted a brief “In a Nutshell” about my one goal for 2014: 1) to put my fingers to the keyboard and write.

I also made a 6 point list of things I had learned in 2013 that minimized the enormous amount of information my brain has digested over the past year.  This post addresses #6. “Books are books.” Honestly, it wouldn’t fit in a nutshell, so I have decided to post some of this information in hopes that it might offer to you some insights on the vast amount of information that is out here and how to apply it to the process of writing, publishing and marketing your story. ***Warning***This is a very long post. I picked just three things about each of these three aspects. I do believe this is the longest post I have ever made.

First, writing has rules. Rules offer guidance, but they are not the be all and end all of the writing process. Some of the best literature the world has ever seen breaks the rules.  So why have them?

Rules offer a foundation for getting started.  We all have to start someplace. Obviously there are books and books of rules, but these three have special significance to me. Before I list these three rules, I want to stress to you that these rules are simply someone else’s opinion. They are not carved in stone. Don’t let them cramp your own style.

1. Show not tell. We hear this a lot. I get this. Telling a story is like having it unfold as if it were a movie on a screen, whereas showing allows for more imagination in the reader’s mind to develop from your words a mental image of what is taking place.  For example: Instead of saying, “She angrily slapped his face and he reeled from the sting. He grabbed her wrist,” you might say, “Her reddened cheeks danced with fire as she looked directly into his icy eyes and drew her hand sharply across his face. He recoiled in that instant, shaking off the sting, and grasped her by the wrist.” Don’t state the emotion, but show how it plays out in action.

2. Minimalist versus eloquent prose. This is a preference thing. While the example above describes the difference between show and tell, it also introduces another topic. Details; how many do you need?

Icons, in particular, generally need no lofty description:

“He wore a long yellow slicker and a wide brimmed hard hat that draped down his back. He snapped his red suspenders as he reached for the hose. He smelled of ashes and soot.” He is a, “fireman,” for Christ’s sake, and the building is burning down while he is being so thoughtfully described.

Another:

“It was a great machine, red and covered in grainy brown dust, with yellow paint peeling back from its wheels and dry rotted tires long flattened by labor in the fields.”

Come on…wouldn’t, “Rusty old tractor,” suffice?

Is it enough to say, “Roasted pig?” Or do we need, “The porcine product lay on the silver platter with brown, crispy skin curled back to reveal the tender, moist, steaming flesh inside?”

Admittedly, this is a matter of what your reader audience prefers, but it is something to consider.

On the other hand: I would like to know what color hair she had. It occurred to me with a recent book that I read, not once did the author describe the protagonist’s hair color or features. Throughout the entire book…something critical seemed to be missing. I couldn’t get my mind around the character. Maybe the author did that intentionally, perhaps it was an oversight. But, as a reader, it left a gaping hole in my experience.

I am not saying that one way is right and another wrong, but the reader audience must be taken into consideration. Just like fifty dollar words are not going to make sense to children, an audience of forty year old rural farmers is not going to appreciate the same things that an audience of thirty-something urbanites would, or the same things that a college degreed  group of  50 year old world travelers would, or the same things that teens coming of age would. This sentence brings me to my next topic.

3. Same words.  Don’t use the same word in the same sentence…the same paragraph, on the same page if you can help it. I understand that this rule is important in preventing redundancy. Sometimes redundancy is necessary for emphasis, but nobody wants to read four sentences on one page describing the fog with the word “fog”.

The fog cast an eerie glow to the lamplight. The valley below was obscured by the fog. They walked through the fog across the bridge. The thick fog began to rise and then the fog lifted with the coming of the morning light.”

Perhaps a page that includes the following sentences, “The lamplight cast an eerie glow as morning mellowed its light,” …  “A white blanket shrouded the valley below,”  … “Wispy tendrils surrounded their ankles as they walked across the bridge,” … “Sunlight melted the mist of darkness.”

It might be acceptable to describe fog four different ways, but it might warrant moving away from once you’ve made your point. Once you have established that it was foggy outside, need you say more?

One sentence might be plenty enough for making your point. I get it. It was foggy outside.

Then again, if we NEVER used redundancy, we would not have such great classic statements as, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” (“Tale of Two Cities”).

In general, once you’ve made your point, it is best to move on; else you may lose your reader in the fog. Basically, it boils down to setting the scene and then allowing the reader’s imagination to do the rest.

Reading is a subjective experience. These are just a few writing rules that I have seen mentioned time and time again, and my personal thoughts on them. I could spend hours on the many writing techniques that are illustrated on the many writers’ blogs, but these are a few that struck me over and over again. Reading what you most enjoy is the best way to develop your own writing style. It also helps you see those methods that simply don’t appeal to you.

“Rules” can be intimidating. The best thing you can do is glean that which you truly feel might be useful to you and let the rest fall off like water on a duck’s back. Develop your own writing style, a comfort zone, and don’t let opinions and “rules” alter your style to the point that you are no longer happy writing.

I can’t stress the importance of READING enough.

Second, publishing has become a very simple process in consideration to how it has occurred in the past.  Are you ready? That seems to be the question that plagues most writers.

1. I have already mentioned that I published before I had a blog, before I was influenced in any way by all the writer rules. My writing was influenced more by the work I had read than any set of rules. I have also indicated that I would most likely have been far too intimidated to publish if I knew then what I know now.  Is that to say the writing is not worthy?  Did it require revision and editing? No, and yes. Is it my best? Probably not.

I recently reread some of the novels published traditionally by Anne Rice under the names of Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaure. Being an old lady, I have had the pleasure of watching this 72 year old author evolve over time.  I saw her come into her own. I saw her hit her stride. I have seen her falter, and I have seen her rally back.  It has been a fascinating journey. There is nothing that she has not written that I have not read. She is one of the most fantastic contemporary authors the world has ever witnessed. Also, one of the most successful.  Success did not happen with her first books, or Stephen King’s, or Charles Dickens’. The serial publication of The Pickwick Papers gave Dickens the opportunity to test his audience while he honed his craft.  Bloggers have that same opportunity.

Editing, revision, proofing…they are all necessary…mandatory!  Professional editing, copy and line, as well as having beta readers will greatly increase your potential for success. There are things that only other eyes are going to find…hear in your words.  However, picking the pieces to pieces is probably not going to help your progress.

There does come a point when you have to let it fly.  You have to do the best that you can with the knowledge you have and let it go out into that great big wide world!

2. Traditional or self-published? I don’t think that there is a right or wrong here. I am a big proponent for the sense of control that self-publishing offers, but at the same time I can see many benefits that traditional publishing provides. I won’t go into details here, but I would advise any writer to examine carefully what it is that they hope to achieve and what resources they have at their disposal.  There are risks with or without a contract.

3. When do you know it is time to publish?  If you have already edited your edits, and revised at least once, and you find that you have proofed it and it has passed…it’s probably ready to publish…as ready as it will ever be.  Perfection is not going to happen. It isn’t. If you think that it is, you are kidding yourself. Why?  Different people have different tastes, and you will never please them all.  Hopefully, you have written something that is marketable and will please an audience, but do not ever expect to make everyone happy. It is not going to happen in life or in writing.

I spent last week in a serious examination of reviews of books available online. It was almost laughable that some reviewers loved things other reviewers hated. Generally, you could see if it was a make or break novel, but it was profoundly amusing what some thought made the books and others thought broke the books.

I would highly recommend any potential author to go to the reviews and read both good and bad.  Not only will you come to understand and value the significance of being imperfect, you may also find your audience before you push the publish button.

Here is one review that I personally took to heart in consideration of my own type of writing.  It was a book written about a family of sisters who were socialites in the 1930s and 1940s:

 “Yes, these sisters are all rich and/or famous, but I found it very hard to care. Maybe because I found them boring. I’m too old to care about Paris Hilton and too young to find the era these sisters lived in very interesting.”

I found this review, as simple as it was, full of valuable information to me as a writer. There is an audience of people who prefer interesting over famous. There is, perhaps, an era in time that is neglected. People want to be able to care about their characters.

I was also amazed to see books published years ago holding a high sellers rank in the single digits, yet displaying a majority of scathing reviews. Likewise, it was amazing to see books published within the past year with hundreds, even thousands, of stellar reviews ranking around #800,000. I have yet to figure out these phenomena, but I do think marketing is a significant factor.

Finally, marketing, should it be so complicated?  I don’t know if I can answer that question but I am going to share with you a few of my ideas on the subject.

1. I don’t believe establishing a huge fan base and a reader market before you publish is necessarily going to keep selling your books.  I am not saying that it isn’t helpful, it is the greatest support a person can have in this world of many writers and readers, but even that becomes saturated…and where do you go from there? Write more books!

2. The more eyes you are able to put your title in front of the greater your success will be in getting it read.  There are 20 million plus books on Amazon alone.  We are grains of sand on the beach. If you have a fan base and a reader market already established, you are at least going to sell some books and have your material read.  Beyond that, you are going to have to find ways to get your book noticed as broadly as possible, utilizing your fan base and reader audience to promote your book.  Have blog tours, reblog other author’s work, offer guest posts, and ask for interviews.   Again, it may not sell hundreds of copies of every book you produce, but it is a start at getting your name noticed and establishing yourself as an author. The most visible authors out there have more than one book. Did I say, “Write more books?”

I am reminded of how I felt when I went from my little hometown’s bookmobile into the University library with my mother as a small child. Online bookstores are comparable to a whole world of University libraries and the search feature may not be as effective as the Dewy Decimal System if you don’t know what you are doing.  Where do you start once you have your book, your blurb/book description, cover image and all of the elements of a good product to market?

3. Keywords and advertisements.  I haven’t published thirty books, or even three, but I do know that nobody will see your book if you can’t even find it.  Before you title your book, do a search and see what comes up. If your title is too very similar to others, you may find yourself a small fish in a big pond.  I have a friend with a book that has so many similar titles that I have to put in both her title and her author name to pull up her book.

Also, while studying those reviews, look at the categories of similar reads posted at the bottom of the page.  How are these books categorized?  This is helpful information to know when selecting your keywords. If you would like more information on keywords and how they aid searches, you may start with this post, http://sknicholls.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/keywords-and-visibility-on-amazon/

And keep clicking through until you have found what you need to know to categorize your book effectively.  Selecting the most suitable genre is only half the battle.

Once you have figured out how to set your book up where it should be, just how do you get others to notice that it is there?  These are the folks who are not in your fan base or the reader audience you have established. These are total strangers in the greatest sense of the word.  How do you get exposure to a greater audience?

Book signings, independent bookstores, brick and mortar magistrates and/or newspapers if you are traditionally published or have already sold 3000 copies and published through contracted sources, online platforms, magazines, book reviewer processes, contests, offer promotions (but not too many), library groups, book clubs, online advertisements, (This link might be helpful: http://sknicholls.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/ad-your-book/), writer conventions, societies, schools, book fairs, as many of these methods as you possibly can…and few are free. Most are labor intensive and can be expensive. Some methods work better for some genres than others. Oh, and write more books!

It’s a Catch 22. The more books you sell, the better your rankings, the better your rankings, the more books you sell.

Reviews can also make or break you.  Some people are going to love what others hate and some people are going to hate what others love. You can have great reviews but few of them or you can have many reviews but they are poor.  When I reviewed book reviews, I looked for common threads/themes, whether there were many or few…both in the good reviews and the not so good. I believe most readers who are seriously looking to purchase will do the same. Pay attention. Take action. One of the glorious things about self-publishing is that you CAN easily correct things that need attention, or at least put some effort into it…or into future writings. At the same time, some of these common threads/themes may just be differences in style preferences, so don’t over react. Balance poor reviews against good reviews, criticism against praise, before you make any dramatic changes.

NEVER, EVER respond to a reviewer on a selling platform, either favorably or unfavorably. On a blog, it would be acceptable to thank a reviewer for their time and consideration, but to engage a reviewer in debate would be unprofessional and totally unacceptable. Many feel to even show a presence is somewhat distasteful. I suppose it would depend on how well you know the reviewer and whether or not you already have a relationship with them. Personally, I would not post a review if I could not give it at least three stars. But that’s just me…somebody is going to give you a one or two star review, and that’s okay. That person gave you their time…or as much as they could of it.

This is my nutshell cracked open. Did I say, “Write More Books!?”   

Writing, publishing and marketing ramblings of a mad woman. It isn’t all encompassing. I am not an authority on anything at all to do with books. These are my observations as a writer, reader, and author of one fiction book that has managed to pay for the cost of publishing it. Now, if it could just pay for the cost of promoting it and hiring a publicist, I could move easier onto the next project.

In the end, books are books. Ha!