Patience is a virtue. Supposedly. Well, I guess. It always brings me back to the old printed poster we saw in the “head shops” of the early 1970’s.
I know we celebrate our nation’s birth with the signing of The Declaration of Independence on July 4. Actually the delegates endorsed it on July 2, 1776. Congress adopted it on July 4, 1776. So, this little celebration I’m launching will cover these days–which includes my own birthday.
July 3 is an important date throughout history. For example:
- 1035, William the Conqueror became Duke of Normandy;
- 1863, Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg;
- 1890, Idaho admitted to the US;
- 1962, Jackie Robinson inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame;
- 1996, the Stone of Scone returned to Scotland.
So, yes, there is reason to celebrate and here we go.
Still, you all are the ones getting the gifts.
If you already have the ebooks, you can gift them to friends. You can also share this post with others. I’ll link on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, so if you are on those platforms, you can share the information there. And, please do so.
The Amazon e-book edition of Carolina Dawn goes on sale–a countdown sale–starting today. It starts at $0.99, shifts to $1.99 later on July 3, then goes back to the regular price of $2.99 at midnight on July 4. That’s Pacific Daylight Time, if you’re in another time zone.
If you already have it, again, you can gift it to others at these prices. As above, share this on the social media of your choice.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m always trying to find more reviews for Spirit Missions books. If you take advantage of this celebration, please take a few minutes to post a review or rating on Amazon. Anything helps.
So, let the celebration begin!
Reviews & Reviewing
I don’t mind getting reviews from others, be they readers or writers. I learn from them no matter how critical they might get. But, writing a review of someone else’s work … that can be a minefield.
Fortunately, the folks involved in the round-robin are honest and direct, and give good reviews.
I wrote a couple of reviews so far and they were honest, constructive reviews of stories that I liked. They aren’t my normal reading fare, but it never hurts to explore new material. I posted the reviews, then crawled into a corner until the authors responded positively to the comments.
I’m well into another book that I’m enjoying and will review it soon. In addition, I have some new reviews for Sudden Mission, both on Amazon and Goodreads. In this next round, I hope to see more reviews of Nasty Leftovers. This round-robin works out well, and my reviews are increasing.
Granted, the new reviews are by other authors and not my target audience (teens). But, getting teens to review on Amazon or anywhere else is very difficult. I used a little meme on Facebook a couple of times to prod folks to review.
The rules are simple, if not completely accurate today. I know Amazon has changed some of their rules for reviews. For example, they usually do not accept reviews of books by friends of the author, or family members. How they figure that out is beyond me.
As for Rule #1, that is true. But, if you buy the book and review it, you get a “verified purchase” tag on your review. That might impact the “algorithms.”
Rule #4, though, is the most important. Authors need reviews. More reviews move a book’s status in the rankings on Amazon. They make the title more visible to other readers. They help other readers make decisions on what to choose to read.
Sure, not all reviews or ratings are five-star. Not everyone likes the same thing. My books aren’t everyone’s favorite genre. But, a review is a review and I appreciate every single one I get.
Some comments in reviews can inflict pain in the author. That’s part of growing a thick skin–which we need to survive. No one is perfect, no author writes a perfect book. Accepting that and moving on is important.
I try to keep that in mind as I review other author’s work. No, the book isn’t my cup of tea. Maybe the book needs an editor. Maybe there are issues with the story. But, I can address that with constructive, positive comments. I made the mistake of being too blunt and critical in a review once. It hurt a relationship. That’s the minefield I mentioned earlier.
Care. You write and you read. The only way this business can get better is if we all care and comment positively and constructively.
Here’s the trouble with writing something different, unique. As I try to get reviews and marketing attention for Sudden Mission, Nasty Leftovers, and Carolina Dawn, I often come across the question “Are these like the Harry Potter books, or The Hunger Games?”
And, that’s a problem. I can’t piggy-back off the success of other authors by claiming if you like The Hunger Games, you’ll love Sudden Mission. I’m not throwing shade on The Hunger Games or Suzanne Collins. She is a very good author and I loved her books, as I did J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
But, the Spirit Missions series–I think–is unique. It’s a teen Christian fiction series that incorporates some science fiction, fantasy, role-playing gaming, and a lot of spiritual elements. You won’t find anything like it on the shelves at a Christian book store–unless that store gets some copies of Spirit Missions.
Of course, it all started when I set out to write something I wanted to read. For Christian fiction, I stumbled on Ted Dekker’s work. I found it fascinating and dealing with characters that weren’t cartoon simulations. That’s where I wanted to go. Write about real characters, facing challenges in the real world (okay, mostly real world), incorporating their relationship to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit during their journeys.
That’s where I went. I didn’t expect glowing reviews (but I got a few), and I expected a lot of knock-back due to the spiritual nature and some violence. I even expected harsh challenges to the Christian doctrine I chose to follow, and some shock with the way I handle aliens in Carolina Dawn.
What I got was positive feedback from friends who said their non-reader teens couldn’t put the books down. I just wish those teens would get on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and post reviews. I also got a couple of Spirit-filled Fiction awards and I hope Carolina Dawn earns one, too.
Since my former publisher closed their doors in 2016, I’ve struggled with the marketing and promotion. It’s not easy when your product is so different or unique. I got some great help from fellow authors on the net and from friends and family around the country. I also received good advice from Rachel Thompson and her 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge.
So, I keep plugging along. Maybe someday someone will publish something and make the claim that “if you liked the Spirit Missions books, you’ll love <new book title>.” It’s a nice dream.
But, I rarely see an author in a bookstore promoting his or her work, or sitting as a table signing copies. Some local independent stores go out of their way to promote authors, but that usually involves top tier authors with agents and/or one of the top five publishers.
Independent authors are a gamble and, honestly, most bookstores don’t play that.
I had some success with a local independent bookstore, and some Barnes & Noble stores who have aggressive managers. But, that isn’t the norm. Sometime in late 2016 a bookstore somewhere bought eleven copies each of Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers. I had no idea what store bought those. IngramSpark (the company that does the print-on-demand paperback editions of my books) cannot/will not divulge that information and the bookstore didn’t make any contact with me about it. This web site URL (universal resource locator) is on the back cover and I’m not hard to find on the Internet.
As it worked out, I ended up buying back all those books. As an independent author, I have to guarantee buy back of books for bookstores to have access to my books. This could be a short route to bankruptcy if a lot of stores bought a lot of books and didn’t sell them.
It’s worth the risk, though.
I don’t know how else to reach bookstores across the country. I can only plead with fans, readers, and other authors. Here’s the deal:
If a bookstore buys some of my books (or any other independent author’s books) let me or that author know via email, website, Twitter, whatever.
I, for one, will guarantee that I will put forth my best effort to let everyone know that you have my books in stock at your location(s). I will use my social media, newsletter, and street team to get the word out. If you have media in your area and want to arrange an interview, I’d be happy to participate. If at all possible and practical, I will make every effort to arrange a visit to your store for a reading, signing, or other event. No additional cost to you, the bookstore.
I can’t speak for the other independent authors, but I bet if you (the bookstores) contacted indy authors when you make an order of their books to let them know, they may make a similar effort.
So, I’m asking all of you to pass on this information.
For Spirit Missions, an independent Christian bookstore might find this approach appealing (I already know that LifeWay bookstores aren’t interested in my books). But, some Barnes & Nobles may be interested. They like teen books and many don’t have a problem with Christian-themed material.
Sometimes a local connection, like where I lived in the past, can help. Like Twin Falls or Boise, ID; Great Falls, MT; Moses Lake, Spokane, Bellingham, or Bothell, WA; Bend or Madras, OR.
If you are a bookstore that stumbled across this page, contact me here.