Briefly

Just Briefly

I’ll be brief today. I’m getting ready for a reading/signing at Auntie’s Bookstore in downtown Spokane, WA, on Sept. 15, 7 pm. I hope lots of folks in Spokane and the surrounding area come to hear!

From Sept. 21-25, I’ll be at the Montana Book Festival in Missoula, MT. They’re still putting the schedule together. If you plan to attend, or will be in the Missoula area during that time, please check in and look me up! The schedule on the link above should be firmed up in the next week.

Both Sudden Mission and Nasty Leftovers (as reported in the previous post) are available in print now. You can even order print copies from Amazon (see the links). The print copies are not via CreateSpace, but Ingram, so shipping might take a couple more days. For some reason, Amazon isn’t showing the cover image for Sudden Mission, but it may show up soon.

There is a new review of Sudden Mission on Amazon by an old Madras High School friend. She was a couple of years behind me and married one of my classmates. I attended a combined reunion this summer and had a lot of fun catching up with old friends.

Any time authors or artists can get ratings or reviews is a blessing. Today’s market is so crammed with content and content providers, it is hard to get noticed any other way. So, when you read something put up a star rating if you can. Good or bad, it all counts and it all helps.

Subscribing to this blog is a good thing. Really. I don’t share your email or info with anyone else. You get updates and posts right away and won’t miss anything. I may use the mailing list in the future for contests and giveaways. If you are already subscribed, great! Thanks. Share the information with friends and family. The more subscribers, the more we’ll use this for fun stuff.

So, that’s everything, briefly.

Keep writing.

 

Short and Sweet

Short and Sweet

There is a new review of Nasty Leftovers online. Laura, a high school student, posted up a review today. She also reviewed Sudden Mission last week. She is in the age range of the books’ target markets, so these are important reviews. See what she has to say. I am so glad she liked both books.

I’m busy getting some other events and activities going. Check the Events page to see the new entries. I will also try to set up something in the Seattle area soon. An event coming in a couple of weeks is a visit to a middle school in Southern Idaho. It’s a career day and I’ll talk about writing and publishing. What is special is that two of my grand-nephews attend this school.

Another event is part of “teen week” at Barnes & Noble in Spokane Valley. This is a promotional event that takes place just as schools close for the summer. The bookstore sets up events for teens to get them involved in reading for the summer. Since it is Barnes & Noble, I’ll be on a panel or two with some local and some “a-list” young adult writers. This should be interesting.

I also need to knuckle down and get some writing done. Life, travel, grandchildren all conspire to keep me away from the keyboard. I’m working on it, though.

Keep writing.

 

Reviews revisted

Reviews revisited

Sudden Mission is a novel for middle-grade/young adult readers. This is a problem when trying to get promotional blog tours and reviews. It isn’t a cute story with a lot of illustrations and deals with some serious topics for young people.

It’s also a Christian-themed novel. This can stick in the craw of some reviewers and writer/reader bloggers. It also limits the bookstore shelves Sudden Mission might get on, or library collections that may include it.

The other challenge for Sudden Mission is getting reviews. Almost all the reviews so far are not from the book’s primary demographic (middle-grade to young adult). While it’s nice to get kudos from my peers (adults), it would be fantastic to get feedback from young people.

I do have some feedback on the back channel from young people who read Sudden Mission and loved it. But it isn’t public feedback. It turns out that getting a twelve- or fourteen-year-old to post a review on Amazon or YouTube, is like getting him or her to volunteer for a dental appointment.

Granted, a reader in the primary demographic probably doesn’t have an Amazon, Nook, or iBook account or a YouTube channel. However a parent can take this opportunity to help. If your young person read Sudden Mission, ask them how they liked it. Have them give you a couple of favorite things they liked about the book, or something they didn’t like. Write up a two or three sentence statement and post it for them, with their cooperation. Don’t force it. Make it an educational opportunity.

If it’s more convenient, post your young person’s review in the comments section here.

While back channel feedback is welcome, I usually get it second or third hand and get few details about what he or she liked or disliked. And I don’t get an opportunity to discuss the thoughts or criticisms. I’m pretty thick-skinned, so I can take criticism. One adult reviewer didn’t like the ending. I can see that and I respect that person’s opinion. That was also an adult’s view of things.

I would love a twelve- or fourteen-year-old’s thoughts on Sudden Mission. If you, your child, or grandchild read the book, please take a few minutes to post a rating or review. It’s appreciated more than you know.

Keep writing.

 

Just So You Know

I don’t pay for reviews or ratings, or encourage reviews or ratings that are not honest.

While I may know some who reviewed Sudden Mission, the reviews or ratings they provided are honest. The readers base the reviews on their own reading of the book and their own opinion of the writing and of me as a writer.

This thing with the fake Amazon book reviews is nothing new or unknown. Fake reviews are a fact of life and not just in the book area. It is an issue on iTunes, Barnes & Noble and other venues. Music, apps, games, books–every product sold online–are all subject to fake reviews. There is a pretty lucrative side business that has sprung up to support lame or bad products.

When you look at a product online and see the reviews, it is important to critically read and examine them to get a feel for the real value of the product. You can see where the fake reviews fall flat and the real reviewers come forward with experience and evaluation.

Online merchants are taking steps now to try to stop the fake reviews, finally. They will still have fake reviews, though. They cannot stop all of them. That leaves it up to you the consumer to use your critical thinking skills and weed out the bad reviewers and find the good nuggets. Do not depend on Amazon, iTunes or other online merchants to completely police the fake reviewers. It just isn’t going to happen.

So, I’ll tell you now that I will never buy or seek a fake review for any of my work. It stands or falls on its own merit. If you like it, I hope you give it a rating or honest review. If you don’t, I hope for the same thing. Feedback from the audience is important and should never be marginalized by hacks and thieves.

If I talk about a product, book, or anything else it is because I bought it, use it, read it, tried it. I buy my own books, tools, and apps and will give honest ratings and reviews on them when the situation requires it. I expect the same from fans, readers, and reviewers.

While part of marketing involves providing advanced readers copies (ARCs) of books, reviewers who read and review books from these usually state something to that effect in their review. That is the role they play in the marketing engine and is not unethical. What would be unethical is if the reviewer gave a dishonest review (positive or negative) and didn’t reveal getting an ARC.

Thank you for your kind attention today and reading this far. And if you read Sudden Mission, give it a rating or review when you get a chance. I value your feedback.

Keep writing.

 

Reviews

Older movies and some older TV series, centered on New York City, often portray artists (playwrights, writers) as living and dying by the reviews of the local newspapers. Sometimes those stories are set in Los Angeles, too.

But, this is today. Yes, I want to see reviews. Lots of them. But, I don’t live or die by them.

When Sudden Mission launched in mid-August, we started a blog tour and got some bloggers to review the book. So far, the reviews have been positive. Generally short. But positive. That’s good to a point.

Then you get to Amazon and there are reviews there. One is especially good and from someone very close to the demographic Sudden Mission is written to. That same person posted her review on Goodreads and couple other sites. She is a voracious reader and does a lot of reviews.

The rest of the Amazon and Goodreads reviews, so far, are by adults and friends who like to read YA and young people fiction. Just because they are friends, though, doesn’t mean the praise is fluff. They are professionals and don’t mince words about story, writing, and quality. So, I’m thankful for their feedback.

This brings us to a review we tried to get earlier, but I just found on Tumblr. The reviewer, for some reason, didn’t get the review at the time promised. But, here it is and it is generally positive.

4amusingmuses Review

So, the reason for the late appearance isn’t because she didn’t like it. She did take me to task on one area. Character description. Fair enough. Some people like more, some like less description. I’m on the side that wants to leave the reader more latitude, or give them room to put themselves into the main character role. Still, she had some valid points and those are things we worked on in the editing process.

But, I’m not dying and will take the constructive input.

I’m sure there will be more comments and reviews that dislike one part or another of the story, my writing style, or some other aspect of the book. There may even be reviewers who trash the book due to a difference in philosophical views. That will be expected. It is the world of today and the anonymous reviewer has a lot of leeway in what they can say.

I don’t live and die by the reviews, though. Any attention, comment, rating, or review is good. This is especially true on Amazon. I think people use the reviews to determine if a book is something they want to read. The blurb helps, but the reviews can be the better tool.

I know I use them when trying to make a purchase decision on Amazon or other online retailers. I read the good ones and the bad ones. Then I make a judgement. I know I’m not alone.

If you are a reader, put up a rating on a book you read. Even if you don’t comment or review, the rating is a metric for what people think of the work. It helps other readers.

Keep writing and reading.