Publishing – Setting Out on the High Seas

Monday, May 14, 2012


Writers are among the bravest people in the world. More so, those who self-publish. My regular blogging buddies know that I took the plunge into self-publishing in September, 2011. This, after having been published traditionally. The book (Don't Get Mad...Get Even) hasn’t sold very well, but that’s okay because I didn’t do much in the way of promotion. 

Since that time, I’ve become part of several Triberr groups, and made the story collection free. To date, there have been 16,200 downloads, the book has been in the No. 1 spot a couple of times, and I’ve gotten some good reviews. I was confident they would be positive because the stories I submitted to the national creative writing competition medalled, and on that basis, I included three of them as part of the collection. However, it meant little when I decided to put my work up for public consumption. 


Recently, I checked out a book by a blogging buddy, which I haven’t read yet. The reviews were good and there was the usual one-star review by one reader. You see where I’m going with this topic?  I know that no matter how good a book a writer produces, not everybody will get it, nor will everybody be honest enough to say ‘I didn’t get it’ and move on, minus the one-star review. In cases where I don’t understand a book, or think it needs work, I won’t write up an Amazon review. There are enough people who enjoy spreading misery. I’m not one of them. 

That review I looked at has me thinking about something I’ve mulled over for a while now. The subject of my next novel is relationships. Some of them include adulterous ones or arrangements where people use each other for mutual benefit. I know that not everybody will get to the end of the book and see the subtle and not-so-subtle themes and their implications, but I’m hoping for the best. 

The one thing I can say about many writers I know is that they have the ability to give constructive criticism regardless of their personal opinion on the subject matter, characters and sexual orientation of said characters of a book. Not all of us can do this.

The Kindle Direct Publishing route that allows enrollees free promo days is a wonderful thing. It gives readers who want to try out a book the option to download it without paying. I’ve noticed though that once this happens, it also opens the door for people who clearly don’t read the book, and never would have bought it for anything over $0.00, but feel obligated to produce a negative review. 

I’ve seen this done to books that have fairly decent reviews and some of these books have been written by established authors. Far be it from to say that every famous writer produces books that are all of stellar quality, but I do raise an eyebrow when I see a trashy review posted for a book that I thought was an interesting or good read. 

Source
But to get back to courage, I lift my hat to each and every writer, whether self-published or traditionally published. It takes talent and guts to enter the public domain, knowing that putting out a book is like taking a journey by boat on the high seas, without so much as a paddle.

47 comments:

  1. I too get a little confused at those reviews. What compels these people to make the effort to put something down? There just doesn't seem to be any point to me. Good luck with your self-publishing endeavor. I think it's very brave!

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    1. I don't get the point either. It only makes me wonder at the motive when I take time to look through some of the more positive reviews. I don't think I'll ever get it.

      Thanks for your good wishes. I like challenges and wanted to know if I could do it and I did, with lots of help, of course.

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  2. I don't get those type of reviews either. If a book isn't for me, I stop reading and go on. I don't go and leave a review or anything like that. Some people like to complain, I suppose.

    I think we're all brave for publishing--no matter how we publish. :)

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  3. Thanks for this post. Much to ponder about. Self-publishing, giving away free copies, and writing in general.

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    1. Peaches, I used to hesitate when I thought about giving away books, but the up side is so advantageous that it's an easy decision to make.

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  4. I'm trying not to be bothered by reviews. In fact, I'm trying to learn from the reviews so that I can make a better book second time around.

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    1. That's a positive attitude. I do agree that there is merit in reviews, so writers have no choice but to look at them as being useful. Those that leave me stumped are the brutal ones.

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  5. Why people spend all that time to bash a book is beyond me. That is not constructive criticism!

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    1. Dunno either and behind each book is a person with feelings.

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  6. I've had that happen to me. Made me crazy, I mean, it's not like they couldn't do the "Look Inside" feature to see if they actually wanted to read it.

    But then all the reviewer did was complain about how bad my book was, no plot, bad grammar, she even compared me to Mary Balogh (in that I wasn't her). So I followed her trail back to her other reviews. Come to find out, she gave a bunch of bad reviews to everyone but...Mary Balogh.

    There's no accounting for stupid people. I just chalked it up to experience and keep praying it doesn't happen again.

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    1. Anne, I don't think people realize that doing that feels almost like a blight on the quality of your writing. I guess it's especially hard when you KNOW you've written a good story. It's worse when you have evidence that there's a pattern to this sort of behaviour.

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  7. I love your writing. I got zinged with a one-star review from some douchebag that felt the need to say he didn't like spirituality in his sci-fi and he obviously didn't like the gay main character. So yeah...no one is immune.

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    1. A writer friend of mine (who's good at what she does, by the way) got one such review because she has a gay character in her book. We're all entitled to our own opinion, but I realize there are those of us who can't separate our personal feelings from the writing/storyline long enough to take a balanced view.

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  8. I remember when the Dark CARMA crew came out. It was cool seeing them support each other on the Indie path. Then, one after the other, Dark CARMA hooked up with other Indie authors and they've formed The Indelibles. I like that. Helping each other on the high seas of self-publishing.

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  9. Yeah, that's pretty cool. It does help a lot when we have other writers who help us feel that we're not alone.

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  10. You're right. Writers are such hard working people. Those Amazons can break a person, but I think that self published authors need to do a lot more editing at times. I rarely read an ebook I couldn't improve on. Not that I'm perfect,(it's easier to pick someone elses' mistakes) but as I check spelling/grammar/typos every day in my job, it's hard to miss glaring mistakes in the most charming author's works. Of course I'd never write anything but a positive review.

    All the best with your new venture.

    Denise

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    1. Thanks, Denise,

      All of this makes me thankful that I'm neurotic when it comes on to editing. When I do find errors in ebooks and I know the writer, I send along a list of things I caught. Most times, it's appreciated. Sometimes not.

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  11. Thanks JL for a very informative and insightful post.

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  12. Thanks! It also takes a lot of support from family and those close to you to make things happen.

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    1. That's for sure, Stephen. I've been absent while in the same room so many times, just hunched over the computer, oblivious to the world.

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  13. You are so right, JL! And that's why we all need each others' support--other writers, I mean. We're the main ones who understand what this journey is like. How it feels, etc. If we don't support each other who will?

    All best to you! :o) <3

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    1. I don't think we could do what we do without support from like-minded people. :)

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  14. Wonderfully insightful and personal post. It's so hard putting yourself out there so anyone in the world can say what they want about something you've put so much time, effort, and soul into. The support from other writers and bloggers makes it just a little bit easier. :)

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    1. Thanks, Michael.
      What we do makes me think we're all a little crazy,. It's kind of like exposing ourselves in public.

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  15. Beautifully written!

    The thing about reviews of books is, they can be more a reflection of the reader than of the story.

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    1. Dora, thanks, long time. You're right about that. I have to admit that sometimes when I see really brutal reviews, I'll take a minute and look at what else the reviewer has read and commented on.

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  16. Great points, J.L. I can see how someone would download a free or discounted book when it's not their kind of book, then bash it.

    Sometimes I don't get a book--it's either not my type of book or not a genre I care for--and I leave it alone by not mentioning it, especially publicly.

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    1. Medeia, thanks. I'd feel stupid saying that a book is not my kind of book and then give a one-star rating. If I don't get it, I just don't and I'll leave it alone. I'm not so arrogant as to think that I'll understand the substance of every book I read.

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  17. Wonderful post! You are so right when you say it takes courage to be a writer. Our works are like our children, and when we send them out into the world, we want good things for them. I don't know why people feel the need to trash a book. It's entirely possible to explain why a book didn't grab you without having to denigrate it or the author. But, like you say, there is always that one reader out there. I suppose it has to do with having the chance to say something, anything. :-)

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    1. Hi, Elizabeth,
      True, I've read books that I didn't enjoy, but that didn't give me to right to talk the book down. I always prefer to assume that I'm that person who just doesn't get it out of what may be many others who've enjoyed the same book and think it's the best ever written.

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  18. I really like what you had to say here. I've always tried to live by the sage advice "if you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all." However, I will admit that I enjoy reading a variety of points of view and reviews about a novel as long as those opinions are polite, gentle, and respectful. Even if someone does not connect with a novel, that person's take on it may be interesting as long as the reviewer recognizes that the his or her review is simply his or her opinion.

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    1. Cythia,

      Same here. When I'm bout to buy a book, I take a sampling of all the reviews. If the bad ones strike me as generic or mean, then I'll probably take a chance on the book. We all stand to learn from reviewers/critiques. Criticism is so much more palatable if it's done knowing that you're dealing with another human being, who has feelings just like you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  19. I agree. It takes so much courage, drive and determination to put your work out there. Sometimes the reviews I've read are just horrible. I don't get it but so many people are cruel that way. Great post.

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    1. Thanks, Mina,
      We writers do have a big helping of those three. It's amazing that we can go on despite some of what's dished out to us.

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  20. We'd all like for everyone to love what we do, but realistically they won't. If a bad review contained something I could pick up and work from, that would be great, but like you I can't understand the point of just slagging something off. My natural instinct is to say nothing if I don't have anything to offer, the same as if I don't like a blog post or just couldn't relate to what was written.

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    1. Hey, Nick,
      That's a good starting point - recognizing that not everybody will like our writing and that we definitely won't 'get' everything that's written.

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  21. Wonderful post. And so true that it takes courage to be a writer.

    Riya

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  22. So true. I guess that's why I plan never to read reviews to my book on Amazon.:-D

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    1. You'd be really strong not to give in. You gotta at least check and see if there's a crumb of useful advice in there. :)

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  23. I can sooo relate to this. I think all stages of writing requires courage.

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    1. So true, Lynda. Even having writing buddies look at something we're unsure of can be daunting.

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  24. Hey, I've tagged you for the Lucky 7 meme. Check it out at my blog! :)

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  25. I don't think too much stock can be taken from reviews. I know it's great to read them, especially if they are good, but so many people do just go on to rubbish people. It's like a kind of sport for them. Stories are subjective as well. Some much loved books can be disliked by people simply because it isn't the kind of thing they like.

    Mind you, I'm saying not to take much stock in reviews, I'd like to see me take that advice if I ever have the opportunity to be given a review!

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, Rebecca. Reading is such a subjective thing. Books I like, others don't.

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