Tag Archives: Author

Types Of Bad Book Reviews And What To Do About Them

 

picard_ashamed Picard got a bad review on a Captain’s log entry

We’ve all chimed in on this topic and there are differing opinions on how to handle it when it happens. What do you do about bad reviews? This is a tough question to answer. In fact, it doesn’t have one answer. It depends on the situation. Unfortunately, receiving a bad review sets off a chain of emotional responses that don’t lead to clear thinking. Especially for self-published authors, because they rely so heavily on reviews and having just one negative one can hurt sales in the beginning of a book’s life. Let’s start by exploring the types of bad reviews and how I would respond to them.

The I bought the book by accident – Yes, people leave bad reviews for books if they bought it and didn’t mean to. They probably don’t think about the consequence of their review.

How to respond – Leave a reply offering to refund their money.

The it’s not my genre – These people bought the book, apparently not reading the description. Not sure how it happens, but they still leave the one star review.

How to respond – I would be tempted to ask why they bought it in the first place, but I would hold back. I’m not going to offer to refund this person. Tough break on the review.

The grammar and spelling complainer – Let’s face it, there will be errors in our work and someone will find them. Some of the people that find the errors will let you know about it, though they may sprinkle it in at the end of a decent review of the overall book.

How to respond – Thank them for pointing out the error (chances are we already knew about it) and let them know you have corrected it. Don’t offer money back on this one.

The this story doesn’t make sense or the flow is off – This type of review is probably legit. Sometimes the organization of our books makes sense to us, but not to the readers. If one notices, chances are that others have as well.

How to respond – I would thank them for reading and letting me know about their concerns. That’s it. At this point, there’s nothing we can do about this type of complaint.

The dreaded, this is a self-published author and it shows – Some people just do NOT like self-published authors, so whether the work is good or not, they will find a way to point out you are self-published. They may be right. Certainly there is less professionalism overall in the indie scene. Face it, teenagers going through love spells can publish a book. They may also be wrong and chose to leave a bad review simply because it’s self-published.

How to respond – Thank them for reading and let them know you are working to improve your work daily. They’ll feel like they did a good thing and you come off as a decent person. 

The I know this author and they are horrible review – Ever pissed someone off in your lifetime? Will anyone be envious of the fact that there’s a book out there with your name on it? They might very well leave a bad review just to get back at you. If they drop to the level of actually slandering you personally, it really hurts.

How to handle it – Don’t respond, especially if you know or suspect it’s from someone you know. They will make you eat any response you leave, even if you respond positively. They may even hunt out other places to slander your book if they know they got your attention. If I see a review like this for a book I’m scouting, I always find the author more dignified for not responding.

*One caveat – If the reviewer says something like, “This author hits puppies,” and the review gains traction or gets a response from other people thinking about buying your book, you should probably respond. Do it calmly and politely, explaining the situation. Address it once on the review site and then maybe on your social networks. That’s all you can do. Unless you really hit puppies. Then I hope you lose your house.

The this book sucked review – This person hated the book from top to bottom and it’s clear from the review that nothing will change their mind. Maybe the content sparked their little fingers to chop your book, maybe it was the fact that they didn’t like your name. You may never know.

How to handle it – I think this one should be left alone. It’s not your fault they didn’t like it, so don’t offer them their money back. Responding to a review like this would likely provoke another response from the reviewer that will make you look dumb. It’s like when I was teaching – as soon as I engaged a student in an argument, I lost no matter what the outcome was.

No matter what, if we see a bad review pop up, we’re going to hate it. We spend so much time getting our books ready to publish and are so proud when it finally hits the shelves (digital or otherwise) that hearing someone didn’t like it hits us in the gut. We get attached to our characters, so an attack on them it like an attack on our siblings. Heck, I recently got slammed on Reddit for my ideas about women writing science fiction. What I thought was a completely thoughtful blog post actually pissed some people off. That bothered me! I want everyone to love what I write, but I do admit that we can learn from bad review, especially constructive ones. It just sucks to get the bad review.

Bad reviews will happen and often we had nothing to do with the reasons. Many times the people leaving the bad reviews simply don’t think about the damage they could be doing. We have to live with it. Ultimately it is up to you to formulate your response plan, but be careful and think first. Let the review sit in your mind overnight before you choose to respond or not. No matter what, we should always work to improve our work. Also, as indies, we always need to help out our fellow self-pubbers

Have you gotten bad review? How did you hand them?

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Your Indie Author Mission Statement

Being a self-published author, or indie author, does not simply mean that you write books and hit the publish button. Without the power of a publisher behind them, indie authors are forced to become much more than just writers. They have to become business men and women. They need to have great communications and marketing skills and they have to be relentless in their quest to get their books seen.

Indie authors have to do it all. There is no outside help. Sure they can, and should, hire an editor, but that comes at their own expense. They have to develop, or at least hire someone to develop, a quality cover. Another expense that a traditional publisher would normally cover.

You know what it sounds like an indie author is? A business in itself. Yes, an indie author is a person, but that person is their own business. Does that make sense? Yes. Okay, so now what?

Indie authors have to treat every day like a business day. They need a plan and they need to stick with it if they want to be successful. They need goals and they have to keep producing. They need quality material that never wavers and they need to gain and keep their readers. Treating it like a business will ultimately lead to success. What constitutes success for an indie? I wrote about the differing meanings of success for indie authors. Success depends on the author. Ultimately, though, it means having your books read and making a little money for it. It’s a business. You know what all businesses have? A mission statement.

What is a mission statement?

Mission statements are used in many different fields. Business, education, law enforcement, and churches. They provide for their stakeholders, or many times shareholders, to see that the organization has a clear direction with goals and growth in mind. They provide the employees or members of the organization with a constant reminder of the reasons for what they are doing. They usually discuss the values of that organization and try to distinguish themselves from the competition. Here are some examples of mission statements from various fields:

McDonalds CorporationMcDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which center on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion. We are committed to continuously improving our operations and enhancing our customers’ experience.

Google Inc.Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Columbia University – Columbia University is one of the world’s most important centers of research and at the same time a distinctive and distinguished learning environment for undergraduates and graduate students in many scholarly and professional fields. The University recognizes the importance of its location in New York City and seeks to link its research and teaching to the vast resources of a great metropolis. It seeks to attract a diverse and international faculty and student body, to support research and teaching on global issues, and to create academic relationships with many countries and regions. It expects all areas of the university to advance knowledge and learning at the highest level and to convey the products of its efforts to the world.

And here is one from a field more closely related to us…

Pelican Publishing CompanyPelican Publishing Company has been committed to publishing books of quality and permanence that enrich the lives of those who read them since 1926. With a backlist of more than 2,000 titles, Pelican produces art and architecture books, travel guides, holiday books, local and international cookbooks, motivational and inspirational works, business titles, children’s books, and a growing number of social commentary and history titles.

Even though those four mission statements come from different types of organizations, they all have common themes. They tell the stakeholders what they do and where they are going. Google is the exception. They followed their usual minimalist approach and stuck with a simple, yet powerful, sentence. It still tells you what they do and is probably more along the lines of what Sir Richard Branson would like to see from a mission statement.

Do you know any indie author with a mission statement? I don’t. That’s not to say there aren’t any with one, but I still haven’t seen them. As we strive to make self-published authors more respected, I think this could be a huge step in the right direction. We are all our own business, so we might all have different mission statements, but it will help. We will have something that tells people who we are, what we do, and where we are going. It will provide a promise to us and our readers. It will be a promise of quality and commitment. Does this mean that we can only focus on the indie scene? Heck no. Most of us have other jobs or are father and mothers. That still doesn’t change the value of having a mission statement.

Here’s my first draft:

Allen Watson is a self-published author dedicated to creating quality content for his readers. He has experience in politics, education, law enforcement, and emergency medicine and is an avid science fiction fan. He hopes to use his experiences and passions to write works that will engage a global audience and allow them to explore new worlds and ideas. Allen wants his work to inspire readers to become creators and allow their imaginations to run wild.

I’m going to print this out and tape it to my computer so I see it everyday. I’m going to put it on my blog under its own heading. I want people to take me seriously because I take my work seriously. I’ve written before about gaining respect from readers, and this is another way to do that. Professionalize yourself and it will transform to your work. If self-published authors work hard to ensure that they put forth nothing but quality work and they stick to a strong value system that their readers can appreciate, we will all be better off. At some point the people that refuse to read any self-published work will realize that they are really missing out on some good reading and the publishers will have to transform their methods even more than they already have. 

Don’t worry about making your mission statement perfect right away. Heck, I’ll probably change mine at some point. Just be sure to make one. Take a minute and do it now on a scratch piece of paper. You’ll discover something about yourself in the process.

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Please share your mission statements in a comment!

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Guest Post: Author David Eccles – Shout This Book Cover Design Secret: You Don’t Need Photoshop!

I’m honored to have friend David Eccles, author of Darke Times and Other Stories, guest posting on the blog today. Getting into the indie author scene has given me a chance to network with some amazing people, and David is certainly one of them. From Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, David has an eclectic reading and writing mind. I’m thoroughly enjoying his new book and am happy with the topic he is discussing today, as it is an important one for all self-published authors. Enjoy!

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Before I begin my article in earnest, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Allen for inviting me to guest on his blog, and for providing us indie authors with much needed and much valued information and guidance.

I know that Allen has plans to feature his cover artist, Jennifer Jordon in future articles, because a beautiful cover can and almost certainly does affect a reader’s decision to purchase an author’s book. One would be wise to read Jen’s articles which will give us all an insight into how a true professional goes about the task of creating a pictorial masterpiece from our literary efforts.

In most cases, it would indeed be wise to shell out money and have a cover artist produce your cover for you, but what if funds are tight, you’re a stubborn so-and-so like me (I’m also broke, by the way) and you feel that you have the necessary skills to produce a decent cover yourself? There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a go at designing your own!

Ah, but Photoshop is expensive, I hear you say. No problem! You don’t need it!

It’s true that while Adobe Photoshop is probably the most well-known and the most widely used piece of software when it comes to image manipulation, there is no point in parting with hundreds of dollars of your hard-earned money if you can achieve equally good professional-looking results using non-proprietary software that is open source, cross-platform, and free!

I’m a huge lover and frequent user of the Gnu/Linux platform, and I dual-boot my computers with both Microsoft Windows and Ubuntu Linux so that I can make the most of what software is available.

For image manipulation, my software of choice is the GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program), because it’s cross-platform and freely distributable, it’s packed with features and can do nearly all that Adobe Photoshop can do. Screenshots here. Using a plug-in called PSPI increases its functionality and enables the GIMP to use lots of Photoshop plug-ins too!

It is way beyond the scope of this blog to go into any sort of detail as to what one can achieve with GIMP, but there are multitudes of forums and tutorials on how to use it, there is a comprehensive separate installable user manual, and there is a very active community who are always working to improve and develop the program further. The learning curve is quite steep, but after only one afternoon of playing around with it I managed to produce some surprisingly good results, including the cover of my own book! It’s not perfect by any means, but it was good enough to pass the manual review at Smashwords and be accepted into their Premium Catalog!

I blogged about GIMP on my own website in an article called Digital Painting on a Budget, also mentioning free 3D rendering software Blender, and followed it up with a sequel, Digital Painting on a Budget, Part 2, where I introduce another free program designed for creating vector graphics, Inkscape, and a low-cost alternative to Wacom graphics tablets from a company called Monoprice.

This short article is meant merely as a primer to give the reader a little information about freely available alternative software that in the long run will save any author who wishes to go it alone and design his/her own book cover a lot of money. Please keep your eyes open for a detailed in-depth look at cover design in future articles by Jennifer Jordon on Allen’s site.

Click the cover image or the text link to be taken to the Amazon website where you will be able to purchase my book, Darke Times and Other Stories, a collection of fourteen pieces of flash fiction and short stories in genres ranging from general fiction to science fiction, bizarro fantasy, horror, horror erotica and full-blown (if you excuse the pun) erotica.

Darke Times and Other Stories is also available on Smashwords, Kobobooks and at all of the usual places that Smashwords distributes books. I’ve been fortunate enough that since my book’s launch date eleven days ago on the fourteenth of July, every review has been a five-star review, including glowing reviews from horror author John F.D. Taff and YA author M.C. O’Neill, and I’ve been guest blogger on John’s website, with more guest appearances to come elsewhere on the web in the very near future. It’s a great time to be an indie author! Thank you for your support. You can be sure that I’ll give you mine!

  Eccles DarkeTimes


If You’re Truly A Writer

Then write.

 

Write because you have to,

And write because you want to.

 

Write because somebody told you you couldn’t,

And write because somebody told you to go for it.

 

Write because your heart it broken,

And write because it’s starting to heal.

 

Write because you love your life,

And write because your life exists.

 

Write because of the bumps in the road,

And write to soften their blow.

 

Write because you lost your temper,

And write because we have, too.

 

Write because you’re an accomplished individual,

And write because you’ve got more to give.

 

Write because a relative died,

And write because they would want you to.

 

Write because your child was born,

And write because they’ll need your sanity.

 

Write because you can’t express your emotions,

And write because your emotions can’t handle anymore.

 

Write because you’re hungry,

And write because the hungry need you.

 

Write because you’ve tasted your tears,

And write because those tears are temporary.

 

Write because you’re rich,

And write because your wealth doesn’t define you.

 

Write because you’re fighting with your best friend,

And write so you don’t say something you’ll regret.

 

Write because you’ve hit the bottom,

And write to build the steps back up.

 

Write because you have a story,

And damnit, write because your story matters.

 

Writers lead different lives than the rest. Their words often come out better when they aren’t spoken, and that’s okay. Writers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders. Every writer has a different reason for writing. They all have different inspirations. Their reason for writing doesn’t matter, and their reason might change. What’s important is that they keep writing no matter what the situation or challenge.


Can Women Write Science Fiction?

Uh oh. It makes me cringe to think of how many people that title just offended. Honestly, it was meant to get you in here. Yes, I’m still going to talk about women writers in science fiction, but in a completely respectful way. Some of what I discuss might make you mad, but trust me, it makes me mad as well. I’m going to talk about the male slanted bias in science fiction and I’m going to be completely honest about what my thoughts are about women writers in the genre.

Until I opened up Destiny Allison’s book Pipe Dream, the only female science fiction author I recall reading was a Star Wars book by Christie Golden and Suzanne Collins. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have gotten Golden’s book if it wasn’t the next in a series that I had already started or Hunger Games if it wasn’t so popular. Why? Well, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I have had an unknown bias towards reading male authors in the science fiction genre. I didn’t even know it. Seriously, it never dawned on me that I hadn’t read anything by female authors, but I obviously subconsciously avoided them.

It wasn’t until I was sitting with my good friend, Dr. David Powers, that I even mentioned it. We were going about our usual pre-Bible study routine (talking about science fiction, super heroes, and other things religion usually doesn’t like) and I asked him if he could recall having read a sci-fi book written by a female. He couldn’t. Following up with him for this blog post he said, “I have personally never read a single novel that I can recall by a female science fiction author, unless of course you count the Hunger Games trilogy as such.”

Dr. Powers went on to say that he doesn’t have a bias against female sci-fi authors, just that he hasn’t come across any or know of any. He truly wants to read some from them and is open to recommendations. Some of you might call Dr. Powers and I stupid. Some of you know how many great female sci-fi authors there are out there, but it really is saying something that Dr. Powers has missed out on them. He owns what is probably the largest comic book collection in the South East and is one of the biggest sci-fi nuts I know.

Let’s face it, the genre has a male slant, if for no other reason than the time period it became popular. Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas, though certainly not the first to come up with many of their ideas, were the first to bring it to the forefront of popular culture. When these came out, particularly Star Trek, women were just beginning to push into the work force and get away from their male created shackles. Thank goodness for the progressive movement. So, while both Roddenberry and Lucas both tried (come on, a black and female bridge officer in the 60’s?! Gene be crazy!) they were writing and producing in a male dominated world.

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Science fiction pretty much stayed the course as far as portrayals were concerned. Males dominated with the occasional powerful female showing up. Even then, the females eventually became sex focused. Seven-of-Nine, as bad ass as she was, never wore anything but skin tight suits. Imagine Captain Janeway wearing that every episode (well, don’t imagine that). Heck even Star Trek: Into Darkness had the very unneeded scene of Dr. Carol Marcus stripping down in front of Kirk. Come on, she’s a doctor. I didn’t see Bones throwing off his clothes. And this is all coming from J.J. Abrams, a man known for wanting powerful female characters (Judging by the photos below, I’m guessing the next Star Trek movie will involve an NC-17 Rating?).

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So, why haven’t I read female science fiction material? I honestly don’t know. Okay, fine. I’ll admit it. I think I did purposely avoid female sci-fi authors. I didn’t think they could do it as good as males. I apologize. Really, I do. I debated not telling you, but there it is. I’ve amended my brain waves.

Is the genre still crawling out of its male centered culture? I don’t think so. In fact, attending the X-Con in Myrtle Beach, I honestly think I saw just as many females as males, so the perception and fan base has changed. It’s no longer just a boys club. Shows like Eureka, Warehouse 13, and Falling Skies all have great females in lead roles (though only one, WH13, has a female writer).

I’m willing to bet that female authors can do better with females characters. As hard as I try, I will never be able to tap into the emotion and mindset of the female characters that I write. I just don’t have the right body to understand the mindset of a female. No male does, no matter how much they think they do. Look at Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games. We fell in love with Katniss, a strong lead, female character. If those books had been written by a male, I really don’t think we would have gotten such great material. Katniss Everdeen made girls everywhere proud. There is no doubt that Katniss needs no male to get through her challenges and survive. She can make it on her own. If a male had written the character, Katniss would have eventually needed a male to live. Not once did I think, “Man, Katniss would have been better as a Korey.” Not sure Peeta or Gale could handle that anyway.

I’m reading a great book right now. Pipe Dreams, by Destiny Allison, is turning out to be fantastic. Now that I am consciously reading a female science fiction author, I keep catching myself thinking about whether or not I would write the same things she does. As a female author, she brings a different perspective to every scene (She will also be a featured guest poster on this blog tomorrow, so be sure to check it out). That’s what we need in the genre. A new perspective. We can still have our male heroes, but instead of it being the sexy, obligatory female with them, they can have a true partner that is just as capable of saving the day. I think the best way to get there, and to gain complete respect for female sci-fi characters, is to have more female sci-fi creators. 

Guys, if you are still on the fence about picking up a sci-fi book written by a female, then do it for your relationships. If you are as big of a science fiction nerd as I am, then you have probably had a hard time balancing your love life with your love for the genre. Science fiction controls us, but it’s not our fault. Use the genre to your advantage. Read female authors, learn this new mysterious perspective on sci-fi life, and you will begin to connect better with your partner. Maybe you can convince her that, hey, maybe this science fiction thing can be super cool for girls, too! Good luck!


What Your Support Means To Indie Authors

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Authors have many different reasons for taking the self-publishing route. Maybe they’ve tried traditional publishing but got rejected. Maybe they didn’t get rejected but realized the possibilities present in self-publishing that might not be there from traditional publishers (percentage of profits). Maybe the authors simply want a way to share their work without having to go through the long process of submitting and having it sit at the gatekeepers desk for months or years.

No matter what your opinion of self-publishing, I think we can all admit that there is some seriously good work out there from the indie author scene. If you don’t think so, then you likely haven’t bought any indie work. As I’ve said before, there are many pieces of bad work out there, but who cares? Just like in music and movies, there will always be less than par work that gets into the mix. It honestly doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t make my work look worse. If an author spends the time and puts forth a professional effort, as we have advocated, then the work will stand out. Many self-published authors take the time to do it the right way. I know that there are still some of you who will argue that unless a traditional publisher has vetted the work then it can never be as good. Fine. I promise that you are missing work that is often of higher quality than what is on the shelves of your chain book stores.

So, what should we do when we find work that is fantastic come out of the indie author realm? Well, we owe it to the author, and to ourselves, to let as many people know as we can. I’m talking, Tweet about it, Facebook about it, and tell your friends. Most importantly – LEAVE A REVIEW!

As I was reading some indie work yesterday, my main thought was about how much of a difference we can make in each others lives. 99% of self-published authors are nearly broke, but took the time to get their work out to the rest of us. It means something to the author, and if we find that it means something to us, we can truly make a difference in that author’s life. Let me do a little story and some math for you. Now, this may seem like I’m only writing this to make profits for indie authors. I’m not. I want you to know what a difference your support can make (because often, other indies don’t support self-pubbers).

Let’s say Ralph (nobody in particular) puts out his science fiction self-published book. If it had been printed, it would run about 300 pages, the normal size for a science fiction book at the local store. Ralph has two kids, a wife, and works 50 hours a week to support his family, but has always had a passion for writing science fiction. He decided to take the plunge and write a book. He writes it, re-writes it, gets it professionally edited, re-writes it, gets a professional cover done, gets it just right for Kindle (or other platform) and finally hits the publish button. Any of that sound familiar to anyone out there? He took the right steps to give us his story.

We buy Ralph’s book for $2.99, less than a gallon of gas or a cup of coffee. We start reading it and quickly realize that, dang, this Ralph guy has written a really good book! Upon realizing this, we should now have a responsibility to Ralph, particularly because he is an indie author. When we finish it, we need to review it. It needs to be a quality review. Something more than “Awesome book.” Write a paragraph encouraging others to buy Ralph’s book. Send out a link to Ralph’s book on your Twitter and Facebook pages. Even if only one or two of your friends pick up a copy, that is still a few extra dollars for Ralph. Let’s say that twenty people pick up Ralph’s book on day one and Ralph gets about $2.05 per copy sold.

20 x 2.05 = $41 – Ralph can take his family our for dinner or pay more on his credit card.

Now let’s say that each of those 20 buyers gets one more person to buy Ralph’s book. Now he has sold 40 copies.

40 x 2.05 = $82 – Ralph starts to feel good about his work and starts a second book, as well as pays down some more debt.

Now let’s say that some reviews start to give his book a boost and all the previous buyers get one more person to buy Ralph’s book. Maybe Ralph gets up to 250 copies sold

250 x 2.05 = $512.5 – Ralph used this to make his car payment, allowing him to possibly spend some more time with his family instead of at work.

How many of you would have your lives transformed just by having an extra $500 or so? All of us.

Most indie authors aren’t looking to become rich. They are looking for just a little extra to help out around the house. There are so many ways for people to make a difference in the world. In fact, because there are so many ways, many people get overwhelmed and do nothing. Instead, let’s play to our strengths – writing and communicating. We are in the indie author scene! Let’s use it and make a difference for our friends and fellow authors. 

When we find great indie work, we CAN absolutely ensure that the author gets that little extra to help them out. Imagine if Ralph’s book hit one of Amazon’s best seller charts for a day because of your help and he sold 2,000 copies. Suddenly he can take a vacation. You helped Ralph take a vacation and all it cost you was $2.99 and some tweets. The indie author scene can be transformed by all of us taking simple steps and recognizing quality work. We may not all be the next Hugh Howey, but dangit, we can still make a difference around the house. Take care.

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Your Indie Author Mission Statement


More on the Importance of Editing for Indies

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Wow! Haven’t made a post in a while. I apologize, but I have been busy working on the second book in my series as well as a short story. It’s been one of those, ‘If I write something else now, I’ll lose train of thought’ weeks.

I’m on here today because I got back the fourth of five edited copies of my first book, Journey of the Kings. I gave it out in late March to my five gracious editors. As I said in a previous post, editing for self-publishers is definitely the most important things. No, I do not mean you reading it through one time. No, it does not mean handing it to your wife/husband. No way they will give you completely honest feedback. For indie authors to ever get on the same playing field as authors that go the traditional publishing route, they have to become their own gatekeepers. Self-publishing should not be a shortcut to getting your work the readers. It should involve just as much work. Write it, rewrite it, edit, edit, edit, rewrite, professional cover, beta readers, etc. Whew!

Editing, again, is the most important of all of those. It needs to be done by a professional. This is, unfortunately, where you will have to fork over some dollars, if you have some. Maybe you’re lucky enough to know an editor, but make sure they are good at what they do. I have been lucky enough to connect with some great professionals in my area that actually do this kind of work. Now that I have four copies back, I have begun the process of going through book one and making the necessary changes.

What is the point of me telling you this story? Well, I want to tell you just how different some of these copies are as far as what they found and what it means for you. Before I gave the copies to my editors, I went back through the book and read it very slowly and very carefully, making changes the entire time. Now, of course I knew I wouldn’t catch everything, but even I was surprised at how many errors I let slip through. I mean, I did well in undergrad and grad school. Very well. Looking at my edited copied, you wouldn’t think so.

Even funnier was that, out of the four I have back, each of them have caught different errors. Sure, they all caught the obvious ones, but sometimes each would find something different on a single page. Each of them had stylistic differences, but some of the things they found differently were legitimate errors.

So, I wrote the book and then re-read it very slowly to check for errors. That’s two times through. Now I have four more times through from the editors. In each of them, different errors were found. Are you seeing the overriding message here?

YOU CANNOT DO WITHOUT SERIOUS EDITING! If you think you can, put your work-in-progress down and stop calling yourself a serious indie author. I know it sounds harsh, but if we don’t work to professionalize and get others to do the same, we are destined to fall victim to the naysayers. You know they’re out there, so let’s edit and work hard to prove them wrong. 


Why Indies HAVE to Read and Review Self-Published Work

Karma

If you’ve self published, you know that the hardest part of the process is certainly not writing the book. In fact, writing it is the enjoyable part. Marketing it is the bane of indie author existence. After all, you’re authors, not professional marketers. Most self-published authors certainly aren’t rich and definitely can’t finance a marketing campaign, but we all know that without people finding out about your writing, simply hitting the ‘publish’ button online won’t mean a thing. You could have a work of art. You may have written the next Harry Potter series, but if nobody reads it, you’re done. Your work gets buried in the glut of other books. It will be hidden in between the work by a ninth grader and some fitness book that your thousand pound yoga instructor wrote.

That is where other self-published authors come in. Since trying to merge into the scene, I have met some incredibly great people that read, review, and share other people’s work when it comes out. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. It takes more than simply spamming my Twitter with yours or somebody else’s work (more than 10 spams an hour gets an unfollow). It takes a commitment on the part of all of us. I would like to think of the indie author scene as a group of colleagues. We can be the gatekeepers of the self-published world.

The first step is actually buying other colleagues work. Come on, will $2.99 really kill you? You spend more than that in gas to get in your car to go to the store. It will certainly make the day of the author when they see the sale. Second, if you like the work, review it and let everyone else know why you liked it. A book won’t sell without reviews, and we have to review each others work. Karma. Don’t expect your book to get read and reviewed if you snob it into the digital without bothering to help others out along the way. If you don’t like a book you’ve read, simply don’t leave a review. I know this is controversial, but guess what, someone outside of the self-published world will leave a bad review. As colleagues, we don’t need to hurt each others sales figured by posting bad reviews in public forums. My take on this is a key leadership principle – praise in public, criticize in private.

My personal goal is going to be to read and review one self-published book a week. If I like it, I’ll make sure to let everyone know. I’ll tell them on Twitter, Facebook, and I’ll post the review here on my blog. If I don’t like it, well, then I’ll let it slip quietly into the Delta Quadrant (maybe the crew of Voyager can check it out). We need to leave the bad reviews to the professionals, which most of us aren’t. The thing is, once we see good reviews, we should take the time to buy the book. Again, as Hugh Howey would say, they cost less than a cup of coffee. Anyone willing to put serious work into writing an entire book deserves at least that much. I have not published my own book yet, but when I do, I hope people take time to do the same. Take care!


Can you be successful without a young adult audience?

Think about the latest science fiction/fantasy to really take off. What has been the most popular in the last year or so? The following are what come to mind for me-

Hunger Games – dystopian sci-fi

Twilight – vampire fantasy

The Avengers/All Marvel – comics/sci-fi

Percy Jackson series – fantasy

What do those things have in common? None would be nearly as popular without the young adult audiences. Sure, a few would hold up without the young girls and boys to fuel them, but they would not be nearly as successful. So, what does that mean for prospective science fiction authors?

Well, I think they need to seriously consider who their audience is going to be. Of course, they already do that. When writing a book or short story, an author is always conscious of who will be reading their material. Some set out from the beginning as young adult authors, some do not. An author will tone their book to the intended audience. Foul language and sexual descriptions are likely to be left out of books geared towards younger audiences.

Pandering to both young adult and adult audiences is hard. Many people I know won’t go near the young adult/teen section of a book store or Kindle store. Why? Not really sure. Maybe it’s psychological. Maybe they think they are less of an adult if they pick them up. Some adult sci-fi readers just prefer adult stories. As a writer, I love reading young adult books books. My reading mind has never really left childhood anyway. Heck, I’ll pick up Dr. Seuss if it helps my creativity. I read the Hunger Games and Percy Jackson books very quickly. The thing about well written young adult books is this – sure, on the surface they have kids in them, but the things those kids are dealing with are pure adult situations. They teach acceptance, responsibility, courage, and leadership. Those lessons are great for youth, but even better for a forgetful adult generation.

Can an author hit both audiences? Many have. They are the ones that have been most successful so far. To do this, the author can’t make it seem like a young adult book at all. I think it has to be an adult book that has some aspect in it that young adult audiences will respond to. Having a young adult being a main character in the book is a good way to do this, though I know how hard it is to integrate kids into an adult plot while ensuring they remain a vital character that can be taken seriously.

I guess success in science fiction is measured based on the needs and wants of the individual author. Some have no interest in catering to the young adult audience. Those authors should also be prepared to not reap the success that can happen if the younger ones go crazy over something (a la Bieber, One Direction, Hunger Games, etc). They bring a new meaning to viral. Of course, Stephen King and others manage to do well all on their own. Us indies have seen Hugh Howey explode to success without many young adult readers. So, it is possible, just harder.

I can’t wait to see how the new movie After Earth does in theaters. Sure, its a movie, but it can be a good case study. Will Smith, a favorite among almost all age groups, stars along side his son, Jaden Smith. Jaden is fourteen and will attract the younger audiences even though the plot and trailer make it seem to be a completely serious film (meaning, not geared towards younger audiences). It looks like the movie will revolve around those two, so it should be interesting.

Will Smith                                                            jaden-smith-300

After Earth trailer here!


Chapter One of my Book – Part 2

I posted part 1 of the first chapter the other day, so be sure to check that out as well (reading one without the other won’t make a difference though). This book is a sci-fi thriller. No, there is really no way to tell this is a sci-fi book from the first chapter, but I don’t have a problem with that. The first chapter is a thriller and is used to establish one of the protagonists. Again, comments, suggestions, and criticism all welcome! Thanks for reading and have a great day!

Journey of the Kings – King’s Series, Book I

Part One – Earth

Chapter One – The Agent

June, 2039

Following Yasef Masam was the easy part. Seth had been studying the man’s habits for a few weeks. The markets of Damascus had been mostly unchanged for the last few hundred years. Crowded and noisy with hagglers, tailing someone with a daily routine was basic agency training. Langley taught them how to disappear in the open, and Seth mastered that task a week into training. He may have been the youngest recruit, but he was definitely the smartest. He wasn’t the most physically demanding specimen, but that didn’t matter. He had proven that there was no situation he couldn’t think his way out of. If thinking his way out of the situation failed, he certainly knew how to kill his way out.

Yasef turned left at the dealer hawking live chickens on the corner. The same place he turned everyday. Seth had to wave off the carpet dealer that had no customers. There were few things in the world more annoying a Muslim marketeers. Business must have been slow if the man wanted to talk to the one person clearly not there to buy anything.

Turning the corner about twenty seconds after Yasef, Seth saw him heading for the stairs about forty yards away. Today was going to be different for both of their routines. For the last few weeks Seth never had followed him up those stairs. There were too many locals in the hallways of the run-down apartment complex that they led to. The complex housed a darker crowd that might notice him if he entered.

Unfortunately, he had no more time to tail him. He knew that Yasef was a lower ranking member in the Syrian Freedom Group, but he never seemed to lead Seth to any higher ranking members within the organization. The group likely organized much like Al Qaeda did before the US destroyed them. No single layer of ranking led directly to the other. It was a safer, if less efficient way to conduct business. It was time for Seth to find out who Yasef reported to. Maybe then he could at least move to someone a little farther up the food chain.

Seth held back a little bit, but never let Yasef out of his sight. He went up the stairs about ten seconds after the Syrian, but immediately slowed when he saw a group of shady looking locals gathered. They all stopped talking and looked right at him. Seth had grown out his beard and had gotten a considerable tan, to the point where he would easily blend into the local scene of Algeria or Morocco. He hoped it would be enough for this part of the Syrian city. Much of his career with the CIA had been spent undercover in the Middle East or India, so looking the part was usually not a problem. Any Westerner would never suspect that he was actually an American.

He knew he might encounter people such as this today, so he dressed in trashy clothing and rubbed some dirt on his arms and face earlier in the day. He needed to look like he belonged. If these guys were thieves, he didn’t want them thinking he had anything to offer. Apparently they came to that very conclusion, because they quickly resumed their conversation. As he passed by he overheard them talking about a policeman that had been killed the night before. They were speaking in Arabic, but Seth had spoken the language fluently since he was nineteen. He figured these men had something to do with the death, but he was not going to stick around to ask. He saw Yasef head up the stairs at the end of the narrow hallway to the right. He needed to speed up a bit.

He was too far behind. By the time he got to the next floor Yasef had already disappeared into one of the small apartments. Seth figured that he would have only had time to get into one of the first three doors. Any other day would have proven harder to figure out which door he went in, but there had been a small sand storm the previous night and there was only one door in which the sand in front was disturbed. Seth approached the second door and listened. He heard a chair being moved and knocked.

Less than five seconds later the door opened. No wonder this guy was so low ranking in the organization. He didn’t even check to see if there was any danger lurking outside before he opened the door. Seth was inside the tiny apartment before Yasef knew there was any danger. He had him on the floor and the door closed less than two seconds after entry. Yasef would have screamed for help if not for the silenced .22 caliber pointed in his left eye. Seth quickly scanned the place and noticed only one other exit; a small window that probably dropped to a back alley behind the complex.

In Arabic Seth said, “Say a word and it will be your last. Stay quiet and answer my questions and I will be gone in three minutes.” Yasef looked at him with terror in his face, but quickly nodded his agreement to the demands. Seth took about thirty seconds to tie the Syrian to the chair with the para-cord he had hidden under his tunic.

“Okay. I’ll make this quick. Who is your contact within the SFG?” Seth knew he what the response would be.

“I do not know,” Yasef said. Seth knew he didn’t know. None of them knew the other members. Sure, they may see each other at a drop every now and then, but other than that, for all they knew, their coworkers and neighbors were also members of the terrorist group. It was meant to be that way. Their organizational structure made it incredibly hard to wipe them out. If one member was captured, they couldn’t give up more than one other person.

Seth had to show some anger or the guy wouldn’t believe his threats. He pushed the chair and Yasef over on his left side. Yasef hit the floor with a loud thud, but to his credit, didn’t utter a word of complaint.

“Where do you receive your orders?” Seth didn’t need to know exactly who the person was, just where they would be and when.

Yasef didn’t want to give up this information. He said nothing. Seth didn’t have the patience for this so he put the gun barrel against Yasef’s leg, the one pressed against the floor, and pressed it into his femur. Yasef still didn’t answer. The sound of a silenced small caliber pistol shot filled the room and Yasef screamed out in agony. Seth had to hurry in case someone heard the scream.

“I will not ask again. If you want me to leave this place with you still breathing, tell me where you get your orders,” Seth pressed the barrel into the new wound, causing Yasef to wince in extreme pain. Tears were rolling down his dirt stained face. Poor kid, thought Seth. He was probably recruited from the streets and given this opportunity because he had no other. He didn’t look a day older than twenty. Such was the desperation of the area, Seth thought. He knew that until poverty was eradicated from the area, there would always be people like Yasef to recruit.

“I pick up messages from a man every Tuesday,” Yasef mumbled pathetically, “right after mid-day prayer in front of the new coffee shop near the market entrance.” He knew that even if he made it out of the apartment alive that they would kill him when they discovered he had divulged this information. It was only Wednesday, so he thought that maybe he could get his leg fixed and get out of the country before they knew what he had done.

Seth had everything he needed. It was not much, but he had more information than he did four minutes before. The only way he knew to infiltrate the SFG was the start low and move up the chain of command. Picking off the lower ranks like Yasef would be easy, but it would certainly get harder as he moved up.

Seth got up before the blood pooling under Yasef’s leg could reach him. He didn’t want to draw attention to himself by having fresh blood on his clothing as he walked back through the hallways. He untied the young man and tore off part of a shirt nearby on the floor and told Yasef to wrap it around his leg to stop the bleeding.

“Thank you, Yasef,” Seth said. As the Syrian began to wrap his leg, Seth took a few steps towards the door, angled himself a bit for a clear shot, aimed at Yasef’s head and pulled the trigger. His body fell with a small thud. He was already on the ground so he didn’t have far to fall. Seth walked out the front door and back down the stairs, past the hallway thieves, and into the market. He had six days to figure out how he would approach his next target. 


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