Posts Tagged GoodReads

Reviewing ‘Indie’ E-books and Goodreads

Since starting my own adventures in e-publishing I’ve started reading more self-published e-books. I’ve been doing this for two reasons:

  • I want to see what types of thing people are publishing
  • I want to support other writers in the same way that I’ve been supported

Taking the second point – the best way to support self-published authors is to give them a review. It doesn’t have to be a full-on 5 star rave about the book – just a few words to show that the book has been read and enjoyed (if you have enjoyed it, obviously).

A while ago I read and reviewed something which I enjoyed. The book had held my attention from beginning to end and I looked forward to picking up again each night (I generally only read at bedtime). There were some formatting errors in the text but they didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the narrative. So, when I left my review I didn’t mention these errors, I concentrated on the book’s literary content.

Now a comment has been added to my review, indicating that I should have pointed out the formatting problems and downgraded my star rating accordingly.

My first reaction to this was anger that someone had dared to criticise my opinion and I had to restrain myself from commenting back and thus getting into a public argument.

Now that I’ve had chance to calm down and think about it, I realise that I was probably wrong not to mention the formatting issues. However, my review was the first one for that book and I didn’t want to give it the kiss of death – but I did want to leave a comment to say that I’d enjoyed it.

What would you have done?

I’ve recently tried another book and found it contains several punctuation mistakes. So, I’m not going to leave a review at all, regardless of the quality of the story, because I don’t want to get a reputation for dishonest reviews.

I’ve learned a lesson from all this – ‘Look Inside’ or download a sample of the book before buying to ensure that formatting, punctuation etc. is up to scratch.

Talking of books and reviews, My two short story anthologies and I are now enrolled in Goodreads. You can see us here.

Any tips on getting the most out of Goodreads, either as an author or a reader, would be gratefully received.

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Sell Your Books! Part 2

In my last post I introduced you to Debbie Young – book promotion guru. And this post concludes her sage advice:Sell Your Books! by Debbie Young

Many writers worry about the time-consuming nature of maintaining a presence on social media. What is the best platform (blog, Twitter, Facebook etc.) to concentrate on?

All of these do different things, so it’s hard to say that one is better than the other. 

With a blog, you are totally in control. Running a blog on your website will increase its standing before search engines, so I’d recommend it to all authors – and writing blog posts is a great exercise for honing your writing skills, too.
Twitter allows you to reach people you’d never meet in real life, who share your interests and passions – so select the right people to follow and they’ll be naturally predisposed to liking your book.
Facebook is good at keeping your progress before those you know, and for getting friends to “share” your posts with their friends – a kind of pyramid selling! You can also create a Facebook  page specifically for your book, rather than putting it on  your personal Facebook page.
GoodReads is a great way of networking with people who are, by definition, all avid readers (and a lot of writers too).
But social media can be hugely time-consuming! It’s a question of discipline, self-knowledge and honesty. Be firm about what you want to get out of these things, and only use them to help you reach those goals.
How can a self-published author gain national publicity for their book – local papers and radio stations may be willing to promote a writer from their region but how does a writer move outside his own geographical area?
Social media is the biggest opportunity, because you can make contacts with people from all over the world. But there are other, more traditional opportunities too. I’d recommend not touting your book to get national recognition, but coming up with interesting comment and valuable expertise to gain you coverage as a person – as a commentator or programme contributor – from which more awareness of your book will follow. I’ve often listened to an interesting discussion on the radio between anonymous voices and heard at the end the names of the people and the books they wrote. I’ve gone off and bought the book on the strength of it.

On Radio 4 alone there are plenty of magazine shows that need topical, expert material for their programmes – Woman’s Hour, Money Box, the Today Programme, PM. Your book and the knowledge or experience that enabled you to write it might give you viable ideas for an article, or an engaging comment to follow up a programme.

Approach your target programme’s production office with a well-thought out idea, backed up by your credentials as the author of a book on the subject, and you may get lucky.
(Other national outlets can also be approached in this spirit – the nature of your book will dictate what should be your priority, e.g. a special interest national magazine in  your field.)

Whichever media you approach, always have the media coverage you’ve had to date, your sales figures, and your reviews at your fingertips. When you put it all together, you might surprise yourself with what an impressive portfolio your book has.
Keep track of current public debate relevant to your genre. Get involved in national discussion via old-fashioned letters to the editor, comments on blogs or radio phone-ins. Always quote your credentials as the author of a relevant book, this will make it clear that you are an expert with something interesting to say about the subject.
Be opportunist. Manufacture your own luck. If you want to win the lottery, as the old joke goes, you have to buy a ticket…
Thank you for the advice, Debbie and there’s lots more great information in Debbie’s book and on her blog.


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