“Without a doubt that’s the ugliest baby I’ve ever seen.”
If you are a parent and have a small child or baby those words can have a devastating effect. Has anyone ever said that? In a world where people kill each other because they are the wrong race, or religion or nationality, then yes, I am sure someone has said that.
What does that have to do with writing fiction?
The other day I had a fan contact me saying how much he/she enjoyed my first book Darkwater. He/she said they gave it five stars on Amazon (and they did). He/she also wrote in the email how they were looking forward to reading book two of the series.
So I waited anxiously for their review of book two (first mistake). When I looked at the books reviews (second mistake) I saw the person gave it one star. Then I read the review (final mistake and nail in coffin). Aggh! The agony they gave my book one star. The nearly 80,000 words I poured blood sweat and tears into was ripped apart. Oh the humanity!
Fortunately, God saw that one coming (he sees it all coming) and that very night I got another wonderfully written email from a fan thanking me for writing the Xenkur series.
Still the review bothered me. If someone told you that your baby was ugly (see how I tied that in). You know it’s not true and yet that doesn’t prevent the comment from twisting a knife in your heart.
That’s what a novel is to the person who wrote it. It’s there baby. They have worked countless hours, days, years writing the novel. It is their love, their passion. No one would take the time to write a solid novel if there wasn’t a hunger to create.
When I first started getting reviews, I thought it would be helpful to read them. Possibly glean some information that would improve the book and my writing. So I read every review. But, quickly found out there isn’t really anything to help hone my craft in the reviews, (even the five star ones).
So what is a writer to do?
It’s simple: DONT look at your reviews and DONT read them.
It’s great to get reviews, especially positive ones, but I no longer believe it’s important to read them. In fact, I think it is harmful to your craft. If your reading reviews and they say, for example, “I didn’t like the Bob character, he was to wishy-washy.” You may begin to second-guess yourself and your writing. That is the death-knell of creativity.
So write it the way you want do your best to create a quality novel. Remember it’s your baby. And if people love it, great! And if they don’t? Just keep writing. What do “they” know anyway.
I’m not saying books should not get one star reviews. Just be cognizant of what you’re doing.
I’m also not saying you should not post reviews. Reviews are the bread and butter of Indie authors and will help their income.
The internet is a wonderful and horrible creation. Isn’t it? You can find literally any subject you want. Information is nearly limitless.
BUT.... (Knew that was coming didn’t ya)
Is the information true or false? You have to remember that everything is put on the internet for someone’s purpose. The purpose may to be to help others avoid the pitfalls of the author but more times than not it is to make money. Because money makes the world go round (or that is the belief anyway).
OK, then why am I posting this blog entry? I just said everyone has a reason.
The reason I’m writing this is help you understand much of the information out there for indie authors is not to help you but to sell you (something).
I will say that I am not trying to sell you anything. I’m not going to plug “Review software” or some company that looks for reviewers. So I can be completely honest about my findings. And honesty is not something easily found on the internet.
My results of five widely touted “miracle strategies” the internet is currently trying to force down the indie authors throat. Based on twelve months of trial and error.
1) More reviews = more sales
Not as far as I can tell. My first book sold well and only had seven reviews. It now has 13 and there has not been an increase in sales due to reviews. Now it is possible that sales would increase if your book had five reviews and say it now has 500. That I don’t know.
2) Bad reviews are just as good as good reviews
No. Bad reviews are bad and good reviews are good. You don’t want bad reviews. I once saw a website that said they would buy your book and post a bad review on Amazon. Saying bad reviews actually sold more books. I forget the websites name but when you click on the purchase button, it brings up a PayPal account in an Asian language and they never responded to any emails I sent, so I assume it’s a fraud.
Think of it like this. If you were going to buy, a vacuum cleaner and the first had all one and two star reviews and the second had all four and five star. Which would you buy?
3) Advertising sells books
Yes it does. But does it make you a profit? No. and sometimes if you are not careful it can put you deep into debt. Spend your advertising dollars wisely. I can tell you that advertising on Facebook is a complete loss. I tried it (it’s more expensive than many other venues) and I did not sell a single novel.
Remember that advertising has NO guarantee. If you plunk down a large sum of cash you are gambling. Bookbub (the self-touted leader in advertising books) wants nearly $600. The claim you’ll reach 1.9 million readers. BUT (there’s that word again) there is NO WAY to verify how many people your ad reaches. Maybe it is 1.9 million or maybe it’s 10 (wow that’s cynical).
4) Sales rank sells more books
That’s a definite, maybe. Amazon has many programmers working 40+ hours a week designing a system that cannot be manipulated. Add to that the fact that Amazon does not have to tell you when they change, remove, or add anything.
So what’s an author to do? You have two choices.
a) You can try one of the many procedures flooding the internet claiming they have the solution to getting a great sales rank. Many of the procedures look more like a physics problem than anything else. Do they work? I don’t know. Most are far too complicated to be worth it.
b) Don’t worry about it. My books hover in the 75-150,000 range of sales rank and sell well. In that range I’m selling 50+ books per month.
5) More books = more sales
Yes, definitely! I speak from experience. My first books sold ok. Then four months later, I published my second book. Sales of my first book went up 32%. That is a huge spike in sales.
So there you have it. My honest and not all positive conclusions to my first twelve months as an indie publisher.
Leave a comment. I would love to hear your experience.
Anyone who reads a novel (or even worse a series) and then expects the movie depicting it to be as good as the book(s) is setting themselves up for a fall.
I cannot tell you how many times someone will say to me, “Hey did you see the movie, whatchamacallit? It’s not near as good as the book.”
I usually respond with “Oh.” But what I really want to say is -- “Really? You mean the 90 minutes of film does not capture the 1200 pages of the trilogy? I find that shocking.”
Why are you comparing the two? Its apples and oranges. There is no way a movie, even an extra-long movie (3+ hours) can come anywhere close to the experience a person has reading page after page, chapter after chapter. And the real reason has nothing to do with book vs. movie. It has to do with your brain.
Your brain has an infinite capacity to create. When the human brain reads a book, it is not simply reading words on a page. It’s creating a world in which it can move freely. A world that it can immerse itself in. To date a movie does not have that ability. Granted you can get lost in a great movie but the film does not have the capacity to put you in it. Your brain and a great novel can. When you read the words on the page your mind becomes Atticus Finch, Lisbeth Salander, and of course, Harry Potter. It is your brains ability to set you into the scene. Your mind imagines the detail, it hears, and smells the environment. That is what creates the experience. No movie can do that.
So next time you are going to see the movie of a book you read and loved. Enjoy the film. However, remember it will not replace the experience of the book. Because of your marvelous brain, the book will always be triumphant.
My new novel Songweaver
will be available January 9th, 2018
$14.95 US Paperback - $1.99 US Ebook
Available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords and
50 other retailers worldwide.
You can read a portion of the first chapter here.
Let's be honest. Have you ever called anyone ignorant? I know I have (sorry whoever that was) and I would say at one time or another we all have. Now let me ask you this. When you did that, were you educating the person or insulting them? Because ignorant is not an insult. ALL of us are ignorant. ALL of us!
In the dictionary the definition of ignorant is lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular. Oh boy! Am I ignorant of a host of topics.
Ok, a third question. Do you think as a society we are more ignorant or less ignorant than our forefathers? I'm not going to answer that. That's an answer you have to come up with yourself.
(What does this have to do with fiction? What I'm getting there.)
I had the unfortunate chance this last weekend to spend some time with a person who professes to be highly intelligent (mostly from his own lips). Yet I say he is the most ignorant man I know.
I call it the Einstein Effect. Albert Einstein was a genius of that there is no doubt. Yet he failed many subjects and his mother would pin a note with directions on his coat so he could find his way home. He was a mathematical and physics genius and ignorant of most other things.
And that brings us to fiction. (It does? What? How?)
The average American reads at the 5th grade level (it used to be 6th grade so as a country were also become more stupid). So now writers are not able to create masterful works of literature like Anna Karenina, The Great Gatsby, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And it's all because of ignorance.
Writers have been forced to "dumb-down" their creations so the masses can understand and relate to the book. Some things you can't do anymore in a novel.
Put in maps or physical directions
Languages other than English or Spanish (hey no subtitles)
References from previous generations (if you put bell bottoms in your novel only 4% of the people reading your book will know what they are)
The list goes on but you get me point.
Even in this age of the "Information Highway" which needs to be rebranded as "Tarnishing Avenue" more people are ignorant of even the mundane of life.
Don't believe me? Try this; here are six things you grandfather could do that the majority of people born after 1990 cannot.
Change a car tire
Read a map
Use the library system to find a book
Make change without the register telling you the amount
Open a checking account (this one shocked me)
Fill out a job application
(side note: this blog post was written at grade level 5.2 :)
A few posts ago I said I would be advertising my book Darkwater and that I would post the results later. I thought now would be a good time. I have stopped advertising my books for now because with the publication of my second book sales have skyrocketed. (Yeah me!)
So on with the results. Keep in mind this is not a scientific study of any sort. And that there are so many variables you results could differ wildly.
DNP stands for does not provide potential reach. Meaning they don’t tell you how many people see your ad. Dollar amount are in US dollars.
dailyfreebooks.com - DNP - Cost $7.50 - Sold 1 book My Grade F
pagehungrybookworm.com – DNP - $9.99 – Sold 3 – Grade C
ilikeebooks.com – 45,000 - $10.00 – Sold 1 – Grade F
bookraid.com – DNP - $Free – Sold 1 – Grade A (It’s free!)
readfree.ly – 20,000 - $10.00 – Sold 4 – Grade A (because I actually made a profit on this ad)
genrepulse.com – DNP - $17.00 – Sold 2 – Grade F
itswritenow.com – DNP - $20.00 – Sold 2 – Grade F
bookbongo.com – DNP - $29.99 – Sold 4 – Grade F
As you can see the advertising did not go well. I spent $104.48 and sold 18 books. The 18 books netted me $6.30. That’s a loss of $-98.18.
What can we learn from this? I learned two things. First, if you’re advertising your book you will not recoup your ad costs let alone make a profit. Second, Advertising is not about making money (at least for indie authors) it’s about getting the word out. The more people that see your book advertised here, there, everywhere. The better your chance of having the book take off (assuming you wrote a great book)
I did learn one more very important piece of information when I published my second book. The more books you published the more books you sell. Publishing my second book increased the sales of my first book by 28%.
Free the Darkness (King's Dark Tidings #1)
by Kel Kade
It has over 400 reviews and most of them positive. That surprises me as I could not read past the prologue. It is so full of unnecessary words. Reading this book is like reading the dictionary. There is no heart, no flow. All you have to do is read the blurb to know what I'm talking about. Roughly every other word could be removed to make a much better story. I understand you have a Thesaurus, but please!
This is from the blurb and is typical how the book is written.
Rezkin must travel across Ashai to find the one man who may hold the clues to his very existence. His last orders, spoken on the lips of his dying Master, were to "Kill with conscience" and "Protect and honor your friends." Living in isolation from the outworld under a strict regimen of training and education, the young warrior has no understanding of a conscience or friends. Determined to adhere to his last orders, Rezkin extends his protection to an unlikely assortment of individuals he meets along the way, often leading to humorous and poignant incidents.
It hurts to read it doesn’t it? There are so many extra words, many of them words people don’t use often. Words to make the writing sound more important than it really is. Kill with conscience?? That doesn’t even make sense
I'm sorry. I wanted to like this book. The title sounds great. But after you read the title it quickly (read immediately) goes downhill. I gave it one star. And that is because you can’t give it zero stars.
Last week I mentioned I would critique the new TV show The Inhumans. So here we go.
Oh where to start with this show. First I will say that most “critics” are on the fence. But the fence is leaning towards a flop. I have to agree. With the flop that is. I am not on the fence. After seeing just one episode I have to stay clear of this show because too much bile was caught in my throat. Watching the show is like watching Charlies Angels battle the Six-Million Dollar Man.
To put it bluntly, this show is awful. And not just awful it’s shockingly awful. You only need watch the last few minutes of last week’s episode to get a sense of how badly written, acted AND directed this show is.
The last scene had to be made up on the spot. I can’t truly believe that someone was paid to write such a horrible mess. Its starts with the lead good guy and a friend walking out of a secure facility only to be met by all the bad guys in the parking lot (how convenient). Then just as the bad guys are going to win. The lead good guy grabs a random pipe that expels explosive gas (again how convenient) while the friend runs of camera (never to be seen again). Then the lead good girl shows up, Medusa played by Serinda Swan. Who by the way should quit acting, because she can’t act. She drives a 70’s or 80’s Cadillac convertible (I need a word here for Cliché’) Hits the bad guy with the door and knocks him out. Not the toughest bad guy I’d say. For a moment I thought I had been transported back to 1980 and I was watching
Dukes of Hazard. The ‘Dukes’ is possibly the worst show ever put on TV, which is until this inhuman debacle.
So if you’re thinking about watching the Inhumans you would be better off stabbing a fork in your leg. It would be more fun and less painful.
Please producers, making this show for people to watch is... Inhuman.
I’ve received a few messages asking for me to comment on several subjects. The popular topics are the Weinstein case and the Leah Remini / A&E show. This isn’t the forum to go in to detail on these topics but I will say that the cover tagline of my newest book sums up the issue quite well, “power corrupts absolutely.”
Now a different topic(s).
I have been a fan of comic books, fantasy and sci-fi for going on fifty years. I grew up in the age of Marvel Comics. I love all that kind of stuff. So when a movie or TV show with that spin shows up I have to watch it. That brings us to two I’d like to write about. The Shannara Chronicles Season 2, which I write about in today’s blog. And the Inhumans which I’ll write about next week.
The Shannara Chronicles. I hadn’t heard of the series until I saw an ad on Netflix. I watched season one and thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t any new ground breaking film making. But the characters were mysterious, strong and full of life. It was set in a unique environment and had plenty of action and little if any sex. The fact that it wasn’t laced with sexual innuendos, blatant sexual acts, etc. was something I found very refreshing. The one drawback was the lead male character (Austin Butler) was chosen for his looks rather than his skill as an actor.
Fast forward to the first episode of season 2. Uh, WTF (That’s What The Frak). First it didn’t start where season one left off. I kept thinking I must have missed three of four episodes. Once I finally got my mind adjusted to the fact that the second season had little if anything to do with season one I had to contend with the reality that season two’s opener sucked. The acting was horrible. The lines were rushed. The editing was choppy and haphazard. But in order to save ALL the actor’s poor performances the writers had a genius (read stupid) idea. Let’s put in a scene of two girls kissing. That will save the miserable mess of a show. Yes, Ivana Baquero (who?) went from being in love with the lead man to being a lesbian. That’s a fast 180 seeing as she was trapped in a labyrinth at the end of season one.
You know a show is headed for the trash can when either a) they send the crew to Hawaii for a “special” episode. Or b) they pour “controversial sex” scenes into the show. Overall the Shannara Chronicles went from “nice job, I want to see more,” to “where’s the barf bag” faster than demons can fly.
Book 2 of the Xenkur Trilogy is now available in ebook and paperback on Amazon - Kobo and Smashwords
Ebook $ .99 (for a limited time)
Paperback $ 12.95
“Honestly, me thinks, if not killing her, at the least it caused her moral compass ta shift.”
“Its not just a moral shift, the evil thing is corrupting her heart. Her very soul.” Willow was nearly in tears.
“Speak of the devil herself,” Penn said, “Here she comes.”
“I have need of some iron castoffs.”
“Over there Lady M,” Penn pointed to a large pile of scrap.
Mithavan’ara-Khan rummaged briefly through the pile then walked away without a another word.
“Be a good day to ya as well, young mage, bah!” Penn thumbed his nose.
“You see, its worse.”
Rollin wiped the tears from Willows face. “I milady, its as if she doesnt know us.”
“Or care,” Penn added.
“I fear our young friends path no longer has room for friends.” Penn lifted himself off the stool and walked into his shop leaving Rollin and Willow together to ponder the future.
The war had raged on for three years with neither side gaining an advantage for long. The Orcs would push their way across the Blackwater River only to have the Paladins and their allies drive them back a few days later. Nowadays, it was mostly a stalemate. The lines were drawn almost in the same spot as they had started at the river. Battles in the field now were almost nonexistent. All the combat was now behind the scenes. It was combat filled with deception and espionage.
The war the Orcs started, known now as the Clan Wars, had engulfed all the western kingdoms. The exception was the far north where the barbarian tribes took advantage of the ice and cold to keep the creatures at bay. There was no war in the east, but they had still been affected. Many of the western trade routes were gone. And there have been many refugees spilling into the eastern realms.
The landscape in the west had changed in both topography and in its soul. What was once a thriving agricultural land where you could live in relative peace had now become a war torn zone of pain, blood and misery. Traveling south of the Blackwater River was nothing short of suicide. That area and all the Wastelands now fell under Orc rule.
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DW is an author and an artist. He has been creating paintings and photographs for over 40 years. He lives in Eastern Kansas with his daughter, a large epileptic dog, three cats, and a barnyard of chickens and ducks.