Tag Archives: review

You didn’t write the book I wanted

Well, it’s been eight whole days since my International BookBub ad went live and I just hit 6,000 free units downloaded! Wippee! That’s more than twice of what was predicted by BookBub themselves (2,500)!

The sell-through has not been great, with just 7 full-price copies of Indiot have been purchased and the equivalent of additional 4 copies read through KU. Still, I could not wait to apply for the US distribution, and then could not believe my eyes when I was promptly rejected. But…but…why won’t you let Americans have a free copy of Shizzle, Inc? Everyone else in the world loves it!

Well, that’s not entirely true. Yes, I did get at least one new fan, who’d not only inhaled Shizzle, Inc in just a day or two, he or she immediately posted a glorious review:

And then, just a couple of days later, he/she posted a review of Indiot:

Aw, shucks…I was practically glowing, but then this one dropped:

I’m not sure who was the prince that supposedly saved Isa, and I’m also not sure what that person expected from a book with a tagline of What could possibly happen when a gloriously dippy millennial becomes the right hand of an equally clueless playboy billionaire? Of course, with any free giveaway, your book is bound to end up in the hands of people who didn’t read the description and I know I should be all cool about it by now, but my hand just ached to respond to the comment…

I slapped that hand away and undertook immediate damage control. Once again, it helps to keep this blog, because I’ve already been through the pain of a 1-star review and have written A Simple Guide to Overcoming 1-Star Review Grief. It reminded me that my hope was one day to have tens of thousands of 1-star reviews, just like the bestsellers in the above Simple Guide. So this particular one just brought me one review closer to the goal.

Suddenly, it didn’t matter so much. In fact, I wanted to share some of the other 1-star reviews of Shizzle, Inc that I hope you might find amusing. Keep in mind, these were written about a book from a “defining series of a generation!” if you believe one of the 5-star reviews:

  • “The behavior of Mr. Hue was unrealistic and quite frankly, shockingly rude. A complete douche. If this were reality, his company would have gone down in flames before it ever got off the ground.”
  • “There are just too many screwballs in this book. Everyone is a screwball or a screw-up.”
  • “Good gods, this was stupid.”
  • “The main character is an idiot, her employer is an idiot, and I think the story might be set in an alternate universe. Otherwise. . .wow. just wow.”
  • ” I’m not sure if Shizzle, Inc. can be classified as satire because it bears so little relation to the real world of corporate greed and weirdness.”
  • “Other reviewers either are being nice and writing fake reviews or they were of low intelligence to begin with and easily amused by letters and words.”
  • “Had this been a paper book, I would have burned it to save another reader the 1.5 seconds they might spend reading the title and thinking it might be worth opening the cover.”

Yeah, so other than a slight eye twitch, I’m no longer affected by those and I hope you feel a bit better about any 1-star reviews you might have gotten of late. I have just over 30 bad reviews now, across the different platforms, so still not close to the tens of thousands.

That’s okay, though – I can apply for the US BookBub in 29 days.

 

26 Comments

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

My experience with a NetGalley co-op by Patchwork Press

If you’ve seen my Super-Duper List of Book Advertising Websites, then you may have noticed my moaning about the $399 NetGalley signup fee. That’s just so you can give your book away for free to book bloggers and other professionals, in hopes that they will post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Needless to say, I was in no mood to take that big of a financial hit, until I came across another author mentioning Patchwork Press and the NetGalley co-op service they provide. Basically, instead of paying $399 to list one of your books for six months, you get to try the service for much, much less – in fact, a year-long listing through the co-op would cost only $360. You can try NetGalley for one month for just $50. It sounded too good to be true, but I can spare a fifty, so I was willing to try it.

I listed Shizzle, Inc for one month from late July to August. To simplify things, I’ve decided to break my review into two parts: my experience with Patchwork Press and my opinion of NetGalley.

Patchwork Press:

  1. First of all, the co-op is not a hoax! Yay! Shizzle, Inc was listed on Netgalley as promised (the listing is now archived). The reason you pay less is that (I assume), Patchwork Press (PP) pays a publisher fee and gets to list a large number of titles, at a fraction of a cost for each.
  2. PP has a responsive customer service – all my emails were answered promptly. There was a glitch when Shizzle, Inc was not posted on the day I wanted, but I got a prompt apology and the listing was extended as a bonus.
  3. Great customer service continued throughout, not just until I paid the bill – something was wrong with my epub file, but PP offered to sort it for me. I was given an option to provide a Word file, which they converted.
  4. PP did all the assessments of requests and chose who should or shouldn’t get a copy of my book. You may prefer to have control over this aspect of the service, but I was happy to let them use their experience and judgement.
  5. Every time a review was posted, I got an email from NetGalley asking if I wanted to have it added to the book’s page. I had to forward this email to PP if I wanted the review to be added, and they did so very quickly (in less than a day).
  6. There’s no option to use NetGalley’s marketing services, but I’m about to ask PP if that option exists but is not advertised by them.

NetGalley:

  1. I don’t know how many requests Shizzle, Inc had, but I got 5 reviews in the span of a month – 4 positive and 1 negative.
  2. Turns out that people have the option to vote on the cover. This was an added bonus, as I’ve designed the cover myself and continuously worry if it’s good enough. The cover got 9 “thumbs up” and 1 “thumbs down.”
  3. I can’t weigh in on the marketing option (which is an additional $200 for your book to be included in a newsletter). NetGalley claims to have 30,000 subscribers to the newsletter, so I would imagine it would be a huge difference in the number of reviews.
  4. You may choose not to add the negative reviews to your book listing (as I did). However, you can’t control what gets posted on other platforms, so I got one negative review as a result. Bummer. But I did get four positive reviews, including one after the listing was archived. That’s an average of $10 per review, via an acceptable and perfectly legal platform.

Overall, I would recommend trying a co-op service. Apparently, there are others out there, such as Victory Editing for as little as $40/month. If you know of any others, please let me know!

May the positive reviews be with you.

18 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing, Shizzle, Inc.

Marketing Matters: that all-important last page of your ebook

UPDATE: I have decided to exclude picture “buttons”, as they did not embed in the text. Someone with better skills may be able to advise why, but for now, I have just included the hyperlinks. Also, I chose to include only two – a link to Amazon reviews, and one to my mailing list.

~

As I’d mentioned (read: whined about) before, I have just finished re-editing Shizzle, Inc for the fourth time, this time with an American editor. It is now nice and shiny, and free of “kerbs” and “sniggering.” All the dots are within the quotation marks, and new commas have sprung up here and there. All in all, it was worth it.

Along with the commas, the all-important last page was missing from the ebook. I’ve read countless blogs and testimonials beseeching me not to waste this valuable real estate and finally decided to beseech my readers to leave a review. This is what my last page now looks like:

Final page of Shizzle

I have not yet uploaded this new version, so would love to hear what you think. In case you’re interested in how I did the buttons, those are just images with hyperlinks. For additional safety, I’ve added hyperlinked text below the buttons (I’ve read that image hyperlinks don’t always work).

As the text suggests, I will include the first chapter of Indiot after this page, with a hyperlinked “Want to read more?” at the end.

What do you think? Have you seen something else savvy authors do at the end of their books? If so, please don’t be shy – share with everyone!

Thank you, all.

 

55 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing, Shizzle, Inc.

New Indiot blurb – please help me choose!

We all know the importance of a good blurb – after the cover, it’s the single most powerful marketing tool for your book. So I don’t have an excuse for the current vague Indiot blurb. The good news, I’ve done some research and work on revising it. I’d love your help in choosing the final version. You can either vote:

or let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you like some bits of both, please let me know as well.

NOTE: the final blurb will undergo copy-editing by a professional editor, who will fix all my grammar and spelling issues. I am looking more for feedback on structure, content, and voice. Does either one make you want to read the book? Do they convey the genre and style of the funny, fast-paced, action-packed actual book?

VERSION 1.

They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but bad decisions will get you there even faster. Isa Maxwell has both in equal measure when she arrives in Delhi. Driven by the desire to help a mysterious prince and share her newfound wealth, she braves her first plane ride, and even makes two new friends—jewelry-draped Vivien and a bottle of Valium. Too bad she loses Vivien in the airport, and her passport somewhere on the way to the hotel.

Determined to find her way out of this predicament, Isa tries harder and harder to get help, only digging herself a bigger hole in the process. Things go from bad to worse, then worst, and finally to dire, as she encounters one wacky character after another, including a blast from the past.

Will Isa survive this mess with no passport or money or will it be the last chapter in this Indiot’s story?

 

VERSION 2.

What would you do if overnight, you found the wealth and notoriety you’ve been craving your whole life? Well, maybe not the whole life, but at least the first twenty years?

Isa Maxwell decided to jump on the plane to Delhi, to find a mysterious prince and help him win back his fortune from scheming uncles. Not to spend it, mind you—Isa is overcome with fantasies of helping the orphans, or poor, or whoever may need her in India. With Harden gone and everyone else nauseatingly loved up, she is also dreaming of making new friends. She finds two of those in first class—jewelry-draped Vivien and a bottle of Valium. Sadly, her drug-induced euphoria is short-lived, as she loses Vivien in the airport and her passport somewhere on the way to the hotel.

Not that big of a deal, right? The police can help. Or if not, the Embassy? Okay, the bank? Somebody? Isa hits the rock bottom, only to discover that it’s the beginning of a slide into the abyss.

Full of humor and action in equal measure, Indiot is a page-turning wild ride. Hold onto your valuables, as you meet a whole new cast of wacky characters and discover what can happen if you mix enough adrenaline with lunacy and enthusiasm.

57 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

Follow me on BookBub for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift certificate!

Yes, that’s right – I am holding a Rafflecopter giveaway for a $20 Amazon electronic gift card. Why am I doing this? As usual, there’s method to my madness, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself…

I want to get a BookBub promo, come hell or high taxes, and I am hoping that getting followers on their website would help me do just that. BookBub rejected Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell escapades Book 1) for the 4th time, despite it gathering over 40 reviews and currently ranking in top 100 of the entire Free Kindle store. The high ranking is due to a promo, which netted almost 2,000 downloads in two days. I will have a review of all my May permafree promos after the end of this month, but for now, thank you eReader News for this:

Ranking on 22 May

Still, to get to my goal of 100,000 downloads by the end of the year, I will need to catch that elusive BookBub promo prize. It alone can potentially net me 20 thousand downloads for a very reasonable $70 (chicklit category is the smallest one). So instead of wallowing over another rejection, like I’d originally planned, I’ve made an action plan of how I can win over those stern BookBub editors. I find action plans in general soothing, but this one, in particular, is Aloe Vera for my burned ego.

This is what I’ve done or will be doing over the next month:

  1. Enticing people to follow me on BookBub with Rafflecopter giveaways. Yes – more than one. I’m starting with a $20 certificate and will report on how many, if any, followers I will get. If it’s successful, I might try a $50 gift card next time.
  2. Revising my book covers to look like a series. This seems to be one of the factors people mention – professional-looking covers with great typography. I will be keeping my designs almost the same, but taking the “rip” effect across the series and getting a professional to help choose the typography.
  3. Re-editing Shizzle, Inc yet again.
  4. I’ve revised the blurb for Shizzle, Inc and the editor will check it as well. If anyone has any comments on the Shizzle, Inc blurb, I’d appreciate them!
  5. Already added Indiot to my BookBub profile.
  6. Updated my bio everywhere, including my Amazon Author Page. What do you think? It used to be one pathetic sentence…
  7. Already added a”follow me on BookBub” button to the right-hand side menu on this blog, using these directions and my own image widget directions.
  8. Added a “follow me on BookBub” link to my email signature. I don’t use it that much, but why not? Set it up once and never have to think about it again. My signature also has links to both of my books on Amazon now.
  9. Created this ClickToTweet link, which I can add to posts, author bio, etc. You can create your own on Click to Tweet website, free of charge.
  10. Will get even more reviews via the continuous free giveaway and using a NetGalley co-op.

There. I can apply to BookBub again on 10 June, and you better believe it – there is a reminder in my calendar to do it once a month.

I have a gut feeling about it. It could turn out to be gas, but once again – time will tell.

27 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

A simple guide to overcoming 1-star review grief

I briefly mentioned in my last post that free giveaways are notorious for attracting random readers that just don’t get your novel. Also, you may or may not know that the average Goodreads rating for any given book is usually lower than that on Amazon. This may be due to a few reasons, one of them being that people can rate your book without ever reading it.

So it’s not that much of a surprise that someone posted a 1-star review of Shizzle, Inc on Goodreads today. Still, it was a kick in the balls that I don’t even have, to read words such as “heaving pile that’s hard to swallow”, “poorly developed characters and an equally poorly thought out plot”, and finally “I’m sure the author is planning an equally stomach-churning sequel.” Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Normally I think of myself as having thick skin, but the review derailed me, and after a pretty good day, too – I penned 1,300 words of that stomach-churning sequel and even had an idea for another Donald Trump video spoof. Suddenly, I didn’t feel funny at all. Felt like an idiot for taking time off work to do this, and a whole bunch of other very unhelpful thoughts. I had to reverse the nosedive before I crushed. I tried watching TV, but it was all bad news, as usual. I poured myself a glass, but it only made me feel closer to tears. Then I struck onto a brilliant idea, and it worked like a charm. I decided to put it down in writing for future reference, as alas, I’m sure I’ll have even more bad reviews on my path to developing Isa into a bestselling sensation. I hope it may help you, too.

Life is all about perspective, isn’t it? I was actually pondering that just a couple of days ago, as I wrote this sentence in Indiot’s draft:

Everything is relative, and everyone is familiar with that concept – it’s the one that causes your ass to appear either huge or toned, depending on whether you’re in a yoga class or Burger King waiting line.

So for a bit of a reality check, I decided to peruse Goodreads reviews of some of the world-famous books that are known as epic bestsellers. Below are some stats on those books, complete with juicy quotes lifted from 1-star reviews:

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling. Number of 1-star ratings: 59,343. Most striking quote: “Awful in every way.”
  2. The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings #1) Number of 1-star ratings: 33,017. Most striking quote: “Tolkien can’t write. He can’t build character. He can’t advance a plotline.”
  3. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia #1) by C.S. Lewis. Number of 1-star ratings: 15,800. Most striking quote: “Well,all right.I have to say that this book is terrible…In fact I haven’t read this book before but I’ve heard from other people that this book had ruined their childhood… :(“
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Number of 1-star ratings: 96,578. Most striking quote: “If I could give this book a zero, I would. I absolutely hated it.”
  5. The Da Vinci Code (Robert Langdon #2) by Dan Brown. Number of 1-star ratings: 68,541. Most striking quote: “Whoever edited this drivel ought to be sewn in a sack with a rabid raccoon and flung into Lake Michigan.”
  6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy #1) by Stieg Larsson. Number of 1-star ratings: 47,572. Most striking quote: “This is a book so bad that it doesn’t deserve a review.”
  7. 1984 by George Orwell. Number of 1-star ratings: 35,943. Most striking quote: “Not really for me. Where’s the action, where’s the romance?”

I was going to do ten of these, but I feel a whole lot better now and would rather return to writing that sequel. I have a lot of work to do before I can earn tens of thousands of 1-star reviews.

Hope you’re feeling a whole lot better too.

146 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

The coolest marketing idea yet!

Well, at least I think so! What makes it so good is that it should help me solve several problems most start-up authors face, namely:

  • How do I get more reviews?
  • How do I generate pre-release buzz?
  • Ho do I get people to sign up to my email list?
  • How can I do that at low or no cost?

Are you excited yet? Do you want to know what it is? Okay, okay! It’s simple:

Create a permanent ARC list.

What’s that, you ask? Let’s start with ARC – Advanced Review Copy. If you want a detailed explanation, have a look at Between The Covers. It’s basically a copy of the book made available to reviewers before the release. Using ARCs to promote your book is a well-known marketing strategy, and other blogs, such as Savvy Writers and eBooks Online or Finish Your Book have posted detailed instructions on how to do that.

Oh, you say. So then what’s so special about your idea?

Glad you’ve asked! The one thing I could not figure out was whom should I send these ARCs? I’ve even started compiling a list of book review blogs, but it turned out that lots of them have gone quiet. It was frustrating to spend so much time looking through their posts to try and figure out if they’re active, if they have a following, and how to contact them. Then it hit me.

I already have reviewers.

I have my own group, who have discovered me, bought Shizzle, Inc and posted reviews. They’ve been asking for a sequel, which means that they are the most likely people to read and review any of my future stories. Eureka!

Get to the point, you say? Okay, okay! Here it is:

If you have written a review of Shizzle, Inc and have posted it on Amazon.com or Goodreads, or both, I will send you an electronic copy of all my future books for free.

I’ve created another MailChimp list using the steps explained in my previous post. To sign up, click the link at the top of the sidebar or click here. You will need to provide a link to your review – sorry, this is the requirement to get on this super exclusive list. I reserve the right to delete any applications without a valid link. I also reserve the right to stop offering subscription to this list, so get in early!

I know what you think, how crazy am I to offer the books for free, in perpetuity. I don’t know if this is crazy or genius – time will tell, I guess. My hope is that it will get me the reviews and the buzz I need to get the momentum going. It’s also a great way to say “thank you” to the people who have taken time not only to read the book, but to help spread the word. Thank you, guys!

The sequel to Shizzle, Inc will be published in May – I will email copies with Uncorrected Proof watermark to the ARC list in April, while the sequel is on pre-order.  Let me know what you think of this plan 🙂

 

20 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing, Win a free book!

It’s here! The paperback is finally here!

What a world we live in! Just last Thursday I’ve uploaded the latest files to CreateSpace, then on Friday got the green light to order a proof for review. I paid $26 to have it express shipped to Australia and it was supposed to arrive this coming Thursday. That would have been amazing, but I was not holding my breath, what with the customs and all. So imagine my surprise when the package arrived today! Five days after uploading the files!

What a wonderful, amazing world, full of possibilities!

It’s beautiful! I was worried for some reason that it would look cheap, but it’s gorgeous – it looks just like any book in a bookstore. I chose glossy cover and cream paper and I love the result. The glossy cover makes it feel quite solid, and the pages feel great, like firm paper with a soft feel – the best way I can explain it. The cover colors look just like on my monitor, not like the crappy prints I did myself. The red leather looks very realistic, and I’m once again happy I went back to the gold leaf overlay for the title. If you are interested, I will post a few photos on the weekend – it’s impossible to photograph under artificial lights.

I spent a couple of hours reviewing the interior. They say you’re supposed to read it three times, but I just couldn’t do it. I’ve had multiple professional proofreads, and the Kindle edition has been out for three months. Surely, one of the 18 reviews would have mentioned if I had glaring errors? I also would love to continue tweaking the cover art, but at one point you just have to stop. Just stop and move on, and issue another edition in the future, if need be. Otherwise, the sequel will never get finished.

So I’ve approved it for publication. The message said that it will be available on Amazon in 2-3 days. Not bad. Then I’d decided to check Amazon. You know, in case they were just managing my expectations.

I don’t know what I was thinking. Stupid, unwarranted hope. Which sometimes leads to unexpected results:

Screenshot (31)

It’s here! I mean, there, in cyberspace! It’s already available on American Amazon website and appears on UK Amazon, although not yet available to order. It doesn’t yet appear on Australian Amazon, but that’s not surprising – we are ahead of the US by about 16 hours and behind by at least 16 years. It has not yet linked to my author page, or to the Kindle edition – I would appreciate if anyone could advise how to expedite the process. I would love to get them linked in time for my upcoming 5 December promo with Bargain Booksy. That way people may read a digital edition and decide to buy a copy or two as gifts. Cause, you know, nothing beats laughs as a Christmas gift, right?

I Skyped my parents and we clicked glasses to our respective webcams. Mom cried. Dad predicted my brilliant future and tried to tell me some new jokes for the sequel. I drunk my white wine and thought about the last two-an-a-half years of writing, editing, and publishing. It was all worth it.

What a world we live in…

 

93 Comments

Filed under Self-publishing and marketing, Shizzle, Inc.

Riddle me this!

Hi, everyone,

Another day, another browse through the Amazon’s Top 100 – and I’ve noticed something I can’t explain. Can someone with more experience and insight explain this phenomena?

How can a book that is yet to be released have 1,200 positive reviews? From verified purchases? Have a look at Short Drop by Matthew FitzSimmons.

Ok, I understand the need to create pre-release buzz and actually plan on doing the same with the sequel to Shizzle, Inc – but how could there be reviews? I’d like to believe they are not fake…if so, how does one go about getting reviews on Amazon before the release day?

112 Comments

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.

Review: Shizzle Inc by Ana Spoke

Just woke up to another surprise review of Shizzle, Inc – thank you, NiaLisabeth!

The Most Sublime Things

7/10

Synopsis:

Isa Maxwell is an average busty blonde, a recent graduate of a community college, and rap-loving, gun-toting, self-proclaimed badass. More than anything else, Isa wants to be discovered, so that she can solve her financial woes and win back Brad, the love of her life.
Thanks to her clumsiness, street smarts, and an unbelievable bit of luck, Isa lands a dream job at Shizzle, Inc. Things start to look up when Mr. Hue, the playboy billionaire owner of Shizzle, Inc takes Isa under his wing. Isa even gets a number of new love interests, but all is not what it seems. In fact, absolutely nothing is what it seems.
Can Isa survive the tough world of corporate intrigue and constant looming bodily harm? Or will her efforts be the end of Shizzle, Inc and possibly her life?

First things first, I absolutely adore the cover of this book…

View original post 449 more words

6 Comments

Filed under Shizzle, Inc.