Surprise! You Can Buy a Review!

Writing a book, doing your own editing, self-publishing, and finally marketing isn’t a difficult task in some respects, but leaves me terrified in others.

Marketing is most definitely a downfall. I’ve already accepted my failure in social media, although I may revisit that later. I’m not good at asking family and friends to buy my books. I don’t post notices about my books on other sites or use a signature line for promotion. I guess this is where some of the satisfaction factor comes in. It will be nice if the books sell, but I’m really just so tickled (as my grandmother would say) to have written and published a few books with the hope of a few more to come. I realize there’s a fair amount of hubris in this self-publishing thing we do, and I find myself laughing quite a bit at my own folly.

Reviews are where the real terror comes in. I read reviews where the reviewer has used phrases such as “compelling characters” and “unforgettable read” or “page turner” and “extraordinary achievement.” Ha! I’m terrified for the day when one of those reviewers will stumble upon one of my books. I know what my books are, and I don’t present them as anything other than a light mystery, with a little humor, and a little romance. So how do you find the right people to guide them to your books? The people who will enjoy an easy, breezy read that will entertain them?

Last night I was perusing blogs. There is some fun stuff out there. Most people probably know that, but this is all pretty new to me. I actually love the voyeuristic quality of blogs. People from all over the world share and show us aspects of their lives, and it’s easy to get lost for hours jumping from one blog to another.

I happened onto another indie publisher’s blog. I don’t know enough blog protocol to know if it’s acceptable to mention another’s name in a blog post, so let me just say when I read these words in respect to publishing a second book, “Maybe I’ll be able to move on then… maybe not. Jeez, this sounds pitiful,” I knew I liked this person right away. It’s hard sometimes to move forward and sounding pitiful works itself in there, too. I clicked on the link for their book, and read the description. I was intrigued. But then I noticed the reviews! Professional reviews. One 4-star and two 5-star. I looked at the site for the reviews and was amazed. When you jump headlong into this like I did, it doesn’t take long to realize how much there is to learn.

The site gives free reviews. You only pay for them if you want them expedited. They publish 3-stars and up. If your review is one or two stars, they offer constructive criticism. The best part is the person who will read and review your book already likes the genre you submit. I wouldn’t have to worry that a person who prefers to read a vampire thriller will get stuck reading and reviewing my blonde-run-amuck story.

I’m going to try to carve out a bit of every day so I can blog-hop. I know there is more yet to find that will help me. Has my writing taken a hit since I starting blogging? You bet. But I am still writing, so I’m not too worried about it yet.

Oh, about the book from the writer I stumbled upon yesterday … I bought it a short while ago. Not only will I enjoy reading it, but it’s a small way to say thank you for pointing me in a direction that might help me in my self-publishing efforts.

Social Media Made Me Crazy

At least it did for a week.

I never had time for Facebook or Twitter. I was busy from morning ‘til night, and although I did my fair share of surfing and reading random things online, to actually devote time to something that might require minute by minute attention was too much for me.

Then I became an author. The general consensus for marketing your book online is social media. I set up a Twitter account and started searching hashtags for like-minded people who might be interested in reading something considered a beach read – a book you take to the beach for an easy, breezy, read.

I was quickly overwhelmed. I saw authors who seemed to tweet for hours at a time, readers who couldn’t possibly have time to read because they were tweeting all day, and massive amounts of people creating a cacophony of words across the tweetscape. It was like going down the rabbit hole.

I still haven’t made a single tweet. I did learn something new while I was hanging around there. I ran into an editor who tweeted about words that drive editors batty. “That” being one of them. It made me laugh – really laugh. When I thought I needed extra word count, “that” was one of the words I thought would work well for filler. We use it so often in our own speech, so I thought it would sound natural. Now that I know, I’ve tried to use it more judiciously.

Some of the other words she shared were: just, really, very, so, immediately, suddenly, oh, anyway, little, bit, then, only, and look.  This may be writing 101 to many people, but since I’ve never taken that course, it was good to know.

Facebook was next on the list. I set up my page, but really didn’t know what to do with it. I made a few likes here and there, added information about my books, and tried to think of something to say. This was going nowhere fast. I realized I’m a dolt when it comes to social media.

So many of my writing ideas pop into my head at the most absurd times of day, and that’s how my blog came to be. I didn’t want to blog. I’m actually a private person, and I don’t want people to know about my personal life, but the idea showed up one day, and it was kind of a loud thought. I searched for reviews on blog sites, and WordPress came up often. I put it off for a couple of days, but the noise was still in my head. Being an author is new to me, and I really did want to chronicle the adventure, so I gave in and joined the WordPress community.

I told my family I was blogging because it was all the social media I could manage at this time. It brought laughter and more head shaking. Will I be embarrassing them? You bet I will.