Tag Archives: Review

Give A Little, Would Ya?

Lately I’ve found myself sharing my experiences with other writers as though I’m some sort of “Johnny Appleseed” of indie authors, planting my advice wherever I can. Let’s get that idea debunked now: I’m not an expert.

But what I am is a person willing and eager to share my experiences with the hope they will help someone else. My experiences might not be the most relevant or the most powerful, but they are mine not to keep to myself, but to share with others.

germ-2871773_640I belong to several indie author Facebook groups where new and experienced writers can exchange their stories and learn from one another. I’ve taken it upon myself to answer a lot of questions from the newer authors because if I were in their shoes, I’d want someone doing that for me.

It’s paying it forward and we need more of that.

Navigating the often difficult path to indie writing and publishing can be daunting without the proper guidance. I’m not going to say I know it all or I’m an expert by any means. My mistakes and low sales are evidence to that. But I do have experiences that if shared, can help others after me grow faster and possibly sell way more than me. And I’m cool with that.

I don’t see indie writing and publishing as a cut-throat scenario where I’m gonna keep my successes (and failures) to myself so others will be at a disadvantage. I want us all to rise up and be better. As fellow writer and all around good-guy Brian K. Morris says, “A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats.” If I succeed, I want other writers there with me.

There are always unscrupulous people out there in every facet of life; indie publishing is no different. Sometimes the advice or experience I share might benefit them too. It’s a price to pay for being willing to open up with others.

I hope you’d consider sharing your experiences, good and bad, with other writers and people in your life when you can. We should all be learning and growing. Our advice and recommendations may make it easier for others and might help them surpass our own efforts.

Cool, bring it on. Let’s all grow better together!


ForgottentrilogyCoverLast week I posted about reviews. This week, I’d like to ask for them.

My boxed set of The Forgotten Chronicles: The Complete Trilogy is chilling on the various ebook retailers all alone without a review to accompany it. Would you be willing to leave an honest review? If you bought the boxed set or read the trilogy on its own, you can leave a review for it on Amazon. For the other retailers, you’d have to actually buy the trilogy. So…if you could help a brother out, that would rock. I plan on running promos in the near future and as I posted about last week, many services need to see a certain number of reviews before they’ll promote your book.

Thank you!

 

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All Those Reviews…All of Them!

Book reviews are like gold for authors. We all want them. They’re the “social proof” our books are being read by readers. But…how important are they? How many do you really need? What’s their point? What do we do with them?

how-to-post-a-book-review-memeEarning reviews on books helps potential readers decide if the book is for them or not. I worked hard to earn 50 reviews on my book The Selection. I joined groups for reviews.

I started a Facebook group called The Review Circle where a bunch of authors would agree to read and review the book of another author while also being read and reviewed by a third author. It works like this: Author A reviews Author B. Author B reviews Author C. Author C then reviews Author A. I didn’t want review exchanges, but the freedom of the author to read and honestly review a different book knowing they were not being reviewed by that same author. The concept works and we’ve done many “review circles,” but it was difficult to keep up with, especially when the same authors signed up and we avoided (as best we could) having people review authors who have already read them.

With all that work, how important are reviews? It depends on what your goals are.write-a-review

Many book promotion sites require a certain number of reviews before they’ll accept your book. Many need to see at least 10 reviews, others less. It’s funny because the largest and most effective book promo site, BookBub, does not have such rigid requirements. I understand why some of the services do. They want their readers to know the books they’re promoting aren’t hack pieces and have some legitimacy to them.

How many do you need? I guess this depends on what you need them for. If your book sells even though you have few reviews, maybe you don’t need that many. Or, maybe you could use more to increase those daily sales. If you want to schedule an email blast promo, you’ll need as many as they require for you to sign-up.

Why do we crave reviews, what do they do for us? The easy answer is that they let us know we’ve somehow touched the reader with our book in a way that compelled them to leave a review. It’s one of the most gratifying experiences to read a positive review of your work. At the same time, it’s crushing to read a negative one, though if taken as a learning tool, it can help sharpen the writer’s skill for future works.

I welcome any and all reviews, as long as they’re honest. If you’ve spent your money on my books or picked them up for free during a promo, I fully expect that your time will not be wasted in my words and my hope is that you’ll leave an honest review of my work. If you don’t, that’s cool too. It’s your call.

I’ve retrained myself to always leave a review of the books I’ve read, especially if it’s a fellow indie author. My hope is that it will encourage them to continue or maybe give them just enough to book a promo they’ve wanted to do. And the great thing is, it doesn’t have to be a long in-depth review. Just a few words saying “I really liked this book” or something like that works too.

What’s your take on reviews? Do you think they carry more weight than I’ve described above? Do you leave them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Have you followed me on BookBub yet? If not, click the image below enter into a drawing where two lucky winners get a $100 Amazon gift card. All you have to do is follow me to enter. Gain over 80 additional chances by following the other scifi and/or fantasy authors as well.

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Want my book The Selection for free? Grab a copy when you sign-up for my email list through the Birthday Book Party giveaway. While you’re there, check out all the other free scifi and fantasy novels!

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Review: “Fire Eyes Awakened”

The book Fire Eyes Awakened: The Senturians of Terraunum Series (Book 1) by author R.J. Batla is an exciting, thrilling read from start to finish.

The book follows the tale of young Jayton Baird who has his superpowers (my words, not the authors) “awakened” only to find out they are more than he expected.

He bands together with others who’ve been “awakened” to go on a quest to save and reunite the world.

Fire EyesI thoroughly enjoyed this future dystopian world where humans with new powers can manipulate objects and nature itself. The setting was vibrant and exciting. For the most part. the characters were well written and engaging.

The book is written with various POV’s. For some, the switch between third and first person POV might be jarring. The switch isn’t mid-chapter, but some chapters are third while most are first. I didn’t mind it at all. I followed the story easy enough and didn’t have a problem with the alternating POV’s.

Another issue some might have is its blatant Christian overtones. Again, not something that bothered me in the slightest, however I can see how some readers might be turned off by the language. To me, it’s the author’s world and I have no issue with it at all.

I enjoyed Ryan’s writing style. Jayton is written as a witty 20-something and he’s approachable. I liked his banter with the reader and felt it added to his character. The cast around him worked for me. Their various powers complemented each other and helped the quest progress.

One of the only knocks I can say is that as much as I liked the characters, some of them didn’t connect with me. The cast is so huge, it was hard to feel empathy for all of them.

If you enjoy The Reckoners Series by Brandon Sanderson, this might appeal to you. I highly recommend the book and look forward to the sequel.

Review Circles for Authors

Are you an indie author or an author looking for more reviews? Well, let me help!

I’ve created a private Facebook group to address this and hopefully help us all as we work on our promotions.

Let me get this out there to be clear: THIS IS NOT A REVIEW EXCHANGE! We will NOT review book for book. You will not be expected to review a book from an author who is reviewing you. That would make for a dishonest review (or at the very least, the temptation to leave a higher review since you’d expect them to give you a higher review). I don’t like how that works and I don’t condone it.

In it’s most basic form, it works like this:

Review Circle

 

Here are a few guidelines to consider:

All authors will be expected to buy the book they’re reviewing as long as it’s $1.99 or less. If it’s over that price point, I want the author to gift it to them or send the reviewer a free copy.

I prefer reviewers buy the book to give the review the “Verified Purchase” tag. But I also want people to stick around and if they gotta keep paying more than $1.99 per book for something they may or may not normally read, I feel it’s asking too much.

Reviewers will have two weeks to read and review the books. All authors participating must not argue with the review received. These are honest opinions and if your work isn’t up to par, work on it first.

All reviews are honest. If as an author you get a review lower than what you expect, please do not argue with the reviewer. By submitting to the Review Circle, that’s the chance we take. That’s what an honest review is. This is not an opportunity for us to hand out five star reviews “just because.” It’s meant to help each other gain honest reviews of our work. Honest doesn’t always mean pleasant. Again, please do not argue with the reviewer.

Reviewers, though you are tasked with leaving an honest review, please be courteous. We’re not trying to discourage our fellow authors with negative remarks. You can voice your opinion in a thoughtful and constructive manner. Please do not crush your fellow authors.

For the book you’d like to have reviewed, please make sure your book is well constructed and edited, preferably by a professional. This is not a Beta reading circle. We are working under the assumption your book is a final product. What we read is what any reader would read. Make sure it’s the best representation of your book.

Try to keep all books requesting a review under 350 pages or less. Since this is a fairly quick turnaround of two weeks, longer books won’t work well. If your reviewer is OK with a longer book, go ahead and submit it. If not, please consider a different book.

By participating in the Review Circle, you must be ok with reading various genres. I will try to assign reviewers according to their tastes but I can’t guarantee it’s gonna be in your wheelhouse. If that happens, please keep an open mind and review the book on its merits as a story, not on if you like the genre. We can all learn when reading outside our specific genres.


So that’s it. I’ve run something like this in a Facebook group I’m part of, but I think it’s time to branch out and start a group based solely on this premise. If you’d like to join and are ready to be reviewed while offering your honest reviews, please send over a request to join the Review Circle for Authors Facebook Group. Thanks!

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

Hey everyone, I wanted to share a few reviews with you today. I’ve never commented like this on reviews so let me know if I’m committing some faux pas.

For writers and authors, reviews are the lifeblood that pushes us forward. They can also make us cringe and get all defensive, though retaliation is a horrible thing to get involved in. It’s much better to suck it up and deal with the review as a learning tool, as a means of improving your craft. You gotta take the bad with the good and balance it out.

Anyway, here are three reviews I received recently for my book The Selection.


File_001I loved this review! So many great comparisons. I’m a bit humbled by them to be honest, but there’s a lot going on here that makes me think I nailed the feel and tone of the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 


File_000 (2)This review further emphasized to me my tone and feel of the book was what I hoped it would be. It’s so tough to know how people will react to your work until you start seeing the proof in the reviews.

 

 

 


File_002

So this was my latest review and I love the honesty. The end of The Selection is pretty tough to take and I wanted a big hook to make the reader want more. So far, for the majority of readers it has gone over like I wanted. There are some who don’t agree with how I ended it and that’s perfectly fine.  I wouldn’t argue with any review that said the end sucked (or about anything in the book for that matter). That’s the opinion of the reader and I respect that.

 


 

There you have it. Three of my most recent reviews. I’m still in awe every time someone reads my work and feels compelled to leave a review. It’s fulfilling to know what I present to the reader is being accepted and enjoyed.

If you want to see for yourself what all the chatter is about, you can get The Selection on Amazon for only .99 now through August 31st. If you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free to read. When you do, please consider leaving a review. Honest reviews are the best ones, even if you hate it.

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Review: Nonlocal Science Fiction (Issue #1)

There are numerous excellent science fiction and fantasy journals, e-zines, and magazines out there for consumption. Publications such as Fantasy and Science Fiction, Azimov’s, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and others offer exciting and well written stories by proven and up-and-coming writers. There really isn’t a lack of options when it comes to great science fiction and fantasy.  So where does Nonlocal Science Fiction add to this already well represented field?

Nonlocal Science Fiction is a quarterly anthology published by 33rd Street Digital Press. According to its website, the primary focus is to “expand the science fiction genre by working mainly with new and independent authors and giving them a legitimate outlet for their work.”

At first glance, Issue #1 (published in March of 2015) comes across as a well constructed work. The cover art is tremendous and the formatting and general look of the inside is high quality. I was quite surprised on opening the anthology at how well it looked. Though it was their first offering,  it didn’t suffer from lack of organization or direction. It was clear a lot of effort was put into it.

Going beyond the aesthetics, the writing was pretty darn good as well.

I’ve fallen victim to the pretty book cover of an indie author only to be disappointed by stories with flimsy plots or barely intelligible prose. However there are those moments when I find an indie author and instantly have a new favorite writer (Luke Smitherd, Teresa Lo, and Jennifer Wells just to name a few)

Nonlocal Science Fiction brings a platform to expose new authors to those who might not find them otherwise and they do so for less than a cup of coffee at most places.

The stories range from space exploration to westerns to time travel to world building. The diverse stories provide an eclectic yet interesting mix of voice from emerging writers. This first volume also includes two serials which are sure to keep readers coming back for more.

A few stand-out stories include “Marigold’s Memories” by Reva Russell English about wanting to remove certain memories, “Shoot the Devil” by Nicholas C. Rossis; an interesting time travel piece, and “Catalyst” by Aaron Hamilton; a creation story with a twist. The writing is crisp and the stories engaging.

Not to say that Nonlocal Science Fiction will soon be the “it” place for writers, it does hold its own as a viable, affordable source for great writing by authors unknown to most readers. For the cover price of $2.99 per issue, it’s hard to say it’s not worth it.

You can find issues of Nonlocal Science Fiction on Amazon or through links on their website.

Give it a try. You might find your new favorite writer!