Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Gathering Reviews

You've finished your manuscript, edited it to within an inch of its life, polished and preened it to perfection, found a publisher, gone through the process all over again with your assigned editor, approved your cover art and blurb, waited for what seems like eons for that release date to finally arrive, accepted the heartfelt congratulations of friends, family, and Facebook... and...

Why aren't there more reviews on the Amazon page for your book?

All those friends and family members who told you they couldn't wait to read it... did they hate your book baby?

Phone calls and Facebook posts are great - but it's the actual online reviews that get your book noticed beyond your own circle, and launched into the Amazon algorithms that may help it succeed.

My mother-in-law called me several weeks back. She'd finally read the copy of GHOSTS DON'T LIE that she'd bought and downloaded onto her Kindle. She called to tell me how much she really loved it, but that she wasn't going to leave a review on Amazon - even though it was a verified purchase - because it was "just too hard to figure out their system."

Who else has heard that from a friend or relative?

Here's another good one. My father's new wife read my books (my dad has all the signed copies I've given him and mom over the years) but then she asked me at Christmas why I didn't have more reviews for them on Amazon. "You're a good writer, why don't more people leave reviews?"

Did she leave any reviews? No. Why? She didn't buy them on Amazon, she read my dad's copies.

Does that mean people who come to our book signings and events, who buy signed books from us in person... they don't think they're "allowed" to leave reviews on Amazon because it's not a "verified purchase"?


You can leave reviews on Amazon for books you bought direct from the publisher, or paperbacks you bought at your local bookstore. Or ARCs you've been gifted from the author or won in a contest. If you've read the book, you can leave a review on Amazon. They've become the defacto review site, whether they like it or not.

So how do we as authors get more people to leave reviews? To understand it's not supposed to be a time consuming process or an eight page book report. It's choosing a number of stars, and a short reason why you liked the book - or didn't like it, as the case may be.

How pushy would it be for us as authors to follow up with readers who won books from us and ask again for a review? How pushy is it to email those friends and family when they send that note of praise and say, "So glad you liked it - can you leave a review on Amazon too?"

Obviously, I'm not very good at it. As my father's wife points out, I don't have overwhelming numbers in my review column. So I'm asking for input here - what's your strategy?

How do you go about turning readers into reviewers?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Book Review: Mugs and Monasteries by Cait O'Sullivan

Mugs and Monasteries, by Cait O'Sullivan
Published 2017 by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:
When Orchid hunter Evie Bourke stumbles across a near deserted monastery deep in the Burren, she doesn’t realize that she’s the first person alive to see it. All she knows is that her life suddenly takes a strange turn and nothing will ever be the same.

Aiden Dunne’s family has been connected to Munster Abbey for generations, he is determined to find it and to find out what happened to his ancestral relative, the former Prior. What happened all those years ago and why does Aiden seem so familiar to Evie when they’ve never met?

Together they must face the Wanderer and dispatch him back to the darkness where he belongs before he destroys everything they hold dear. Can they trust each other before time runs out?
My Take:

Okay, first things first. I am not related in any way to the author of this fast-paced ghost story, except as authors in the same publishing house. Cait lives overseas in the U.K., and I'm ensconced on Cape Cod in the U.S. We shared a laugh on Twitter about the similarities of our names and went back and forth for a bit before I decided to download her story to my Kindle. Glad I did!

This short paranormal novella speeds along at breakneck pace, dropping the reader straight into an action filled scene at the very start. Ghosts, and demons, and time travel, oh my!

Evie Bourke is in Ireland to study orchids, when she's caught out in a sudden thunderstorm. Seeking shelter, she stumbles into an odd situation, meeting Eamon, who seems to be the caretaker for a dusty, nearly abandoned house. The evening gets stranger and stranger until she passes out, only to wake up in her own room back in the village B&B, with no memories of what happened, except for the feeling that time is running out.

When she meets Aiden the next day at the pub, she feels an instant connection without understanding why. Slowly the pair put the put the puzzling pieces together, as Evie's memories trickle back. Will it be in time?

I really enjoyed this story and only wish it had lasted longer, that it had been a full length tale with all the extra embellishments that would've meant. I loved the little details about the orchids and the alpacas (yes! In Ireland!) and I would happily stay ensconced in this world longer.

If you like ghostly tales, give Mugs and Monasteries a read. Quick and satisfying, the story will leave you thinking about it long after you're done turning pages.

Grab a copy on AMAZON.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Taking it Seriously

When I first told my mother I was trying to write a novel, she was pretty excited. She was a former teacher, and a big-time reader (voracious doesn't begin to cover it) and had been telling me for years I should try to be an author. Or a lawyer. One of those things that deals with words.

Yeah, I know. I shoulda gone for the law degree and I'd be better off financially. But here we are.

And I love being a writer. I love calling myself a writer. I love talking to people about writing.

So, that first year she knew, my mom started sending me articles and books about writing. Her MO was to rip pages out of magazines and articles out of newspapers, stuffing them into envelopes on her desk with my name on it. Oh, she had envelopes for her other two girls as well. One sister is a farmer and one sister is a chef, so we all had our "things" she could rip out and stuff in there. When the envelope was full, she'd send it to us. With or without a sticky note to say hi, but we all knew who sent the jumble of articles every few weeks.

One Sunday the Savannah newspaper must have run an article about books on writing, because instead of tearing and stuffing, she called right away. "Have you read any of these books?" Of the six she mentioned, I'd only read one.

The other 5 arrived in the mail 3 days later.

One of the books was Stephen King's ON WRITING: A Memoir of the Craft. I quote it to people all the time, and I think I need to reread it this summer. If you haven't read it yet, go find a copy. Maybe some loving relative sent it to you at some point when you confessed to a writing obsession?

I've added the link to it on Amazon, but the Kindle is $12.99, so may as well order the paperback for less than a dollar more. That way you can dog-ear the pages and add stickies.

Why do I bring this up? In the last week, I've downloaded and started at least 5 books on my ereader that broke so many rules I couldn't get past the first chapter. The sixth book I read through to the end cringing the entire way. With the advent of being able to self-publish anything you want to, that's just what people are doing. And many of them aren't taking the process or the craft seriously.

I figure if you're here reading my Wednesday blog where I rant about writing, you're one of the people trying to take this job seriously. It's a job, people. It may not pay very well, but it serves an important function in society - keeping us literate and sane. Throwing sex on the page without knowing how to use commas is not writing.

I'm going to quote Stephen King here, and then leave it at that. Go forth and write, my friends, and remember to take yourself seriously.

From ON WRITING, by Stephen King:

"I'm not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I'm not asking you to be politically correct or cast aside your sense of humor (please God you have one). This isn't a popularity contest, it's not the moral Olympics, and it's not church. But it's writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner, If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can't or won't, it's time for you to close the book and do something else.

Wash the car, maybe."