Some Stats and What Next?

With my recent Amazon ad seeming to be a complete and utter bust, not to mention a huge waste of precious advertising dollars, I sort of feel like I’ve hit this insurmountable wall and I honestly don’t know what to do from here which is insanely frustrating and discouraging. There are all kinds of parts and pieces to my current mood and frustration with regards to the whole self publishing thing.

One of those issues is the need to get reviews (and a range of star ratings) to even get people willing to pick up your book. I’ve really debated for a while posting about this topic because it feels like I’m calling out book bloggers and reviewers and I really don’t want to do that. I’ve gotten some great response and support from some, but others… well, take a peak at my stats (yes, I’m certain the overall numbers here are way lower than what some people see, but I’ve attempted to really target bloggers that have read books that would potentially be in range with mine). I will not be naming anyone, just giving general stats.

Reviewer Stats

Requests sent to bloggers: 24
No response at all: 18
Response, but reject: 0
Agree to review: 6
Reviews written from above: 1
Of those that agreed to review, 1 is still in their projected time frame and 1 has taken the time to post on their blog notifying everyone that they are having issues (which is so massively appreciated). I’ve gotten zero communication from the other few that agreed to review, some of which are from as far back as May on their projected time frame.

Reviewer requested/provided copies (from general call for anyone wanting a copy): 2
Reviews written from above: 1

Book tours approached: 2
Tours responded/accepted: 1 (decided they may not cover my target audience after talking to them, so passed, but left open for future option)
Tours with no response: 1

Other approached review sources: 2
Envie (Previously – Writing Community Newsletter) – 1 review
BookSirens: 2 reviews (requested 10, still running, but no new readers)

Overall, I’ve approached, or been approached by, 30 different sources for reviews and I’ve gotten a total of 5 reviews (and not all have been posted to the bigger sites like Amazon or Goodreads). Is this a reasonable ratio? I have no clue. This is just my experience and numbers.

Another huge part of this is the whole networking thing. I’ve mentioned before how excruciating this is for someone as introverted as I am, but I really made the effort no matter how uncomfortable and stressful this was. I’ve even attempted to be helpful in sharing my experiences along the way. Effort or no, it doesn’t seem to do much more than make me uncomfortable and stressed.

In my last post about my ad, I mentioned the concept of books having a saturation point in the market. That you will eventually reach that point where you’ve been exposed to most of your potential readers and buyers. I’m wondering if I’ve reached that point.

I think some of my frustration also comes from having this really amazing run with my last ad and then suddenly dropping off into nothing. The surge changed some of my perspectives and expectations from where I initially started, but now I’m forced to adjust my views and goals with this and what I consider “doing well” for having self-published my one and only book.

I’m approaching the point where I’m feeling burned out with the work to reward ratio lately. With the frustrations, the poor ad performance, the struggle to get reviews and that big saturation point question, I’m wondering where I go from here. How do you recover the lost momentum? Is it even possible?

 

WTF Amazon?!

I’m going to start this with the caveat that math and I are not the best of friends. That said, even my puny abilities to work the kinks out of math problems find this beyond screwy.

While I can say the last ad did a lot for me in some intangible ways, I didn’t make a profit off it. The purpose of attempting this finer tuned version was to try and bring back some of those intangible results with the hopes of trying to balance out the profit end of the last ad. When you are talking about the low margin you get with each book sale, you have very little wiggle room when it comes to number of clicks and cost per click before you are dropping quickly into the red for the cost of the ad overall.

Last month’s test ad generated, on average across the span of the ad, an ad associated sale for about every 5.3 clicks. This did fluctuate over time, but I still had what seemed to be regular sales. You can’t see the metrics for how many of those clicks convert to KU reads, but I also had some very regular page reads throughout the entire add. For the purposes of this comparison, I’m not even going to go into the cost of those clicks, because it is that turn over ratio that is blowing my mind at the moment.

My current ad? I’ve now had 27 clicks register so far and I haven’t gotten a single sale. I’ve also only had a single, partial KU read. That’s it. I honestly haven’t a frickin’ clue what is going on, but something definitely isn’t right. It makes it all the more odd in that my click through rate is about the same for both ads.

Anyone that is familiar with statistics can look at the numbers and probably tell you way more than my brief assumptions here, but this isn’t giving me warm feelings towards spending my precious advertising dollars with Amazon. I’ve yet to see how the math works between the two different ads and why I would be seeing such drastic differences when the set up is essentially the same. The only difference is that I focused on the single genre I was getting results in and I am not allowing up bidding, every single other aspect is the same.

I get that there are millions of tiny factors that can play into these statistics, but I cannot manage to twist them enough in my head to make my current numbers make sense. I’m really kind of ticked off and extremely frustrated at the moment.

It also has me really wondering if there is a saturation point that books reach when it comes to sales and readers. Obviously there are only so many readers on the planet, so that seems logical. Are these numbers telling me that I’ve reached my saturation point? If that is the case, then why am I still even getting clicks? That part doesn’t seem to make sense, either. The whole thing is just making my brain hurt.

For all my posts about my ads so far:

Amazon Ad: Round 2
Amazon Book Ad Progress
Indie Author: Thoughts on Kindle Unlimited

On My TBR – November 2019 Edition

I didn’t get to all my books on my list last month. I made the mistake of loading up too much on the really heavy reads and needed more of a break in between. I read more than what was on the list, though I didn’t review them all. That was part of the break I needed. I’m trying to leave a bit more padding for that this month.


NetGalley ARCs:
The Other Daughter
The Other Daughter

The Other Daughter
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: November 5
(Currently Reading)

 

 


Library:
Lost You
Lost You

Lost You
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller

 

 

 

The Shape of Night
The Shape of Night

The Shape of Night
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

 

 

 

Don't You Forget About Me
Don’t You Forget About Me

Don’t You Forget About Me
Genre: Contemporary/Romance

 

 

 

 


Indie Book Reviews:
Another Dead Intern
Another Dead Intern

Another Dead Intern
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy

 

 

 

Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line

Crossing the Line
Genre: Romance
Release Date: November 4th

 

 

 

 


KU/Open Reads (No Due Date)
Blood Echo
Blood Echo

Blood Echo (Burning Girl Book #2)
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/SciFi

 

 

An Unexpected Turn On BookSirens

An Unexpected Turn is now available for free to reviewers on BookSirens.

If you aren’t aware of BookSirens, it is a site similar to NetGalley, but not nearly as large. It also focuses on both the reviewers and the books. From what I’ve been able to see so far (and I’m REALLY new at it), most of the books offered are indie or small press.

For book bloggers/reviewers, once you establish an account, you can get review copies to read for free. It also allows you to see a stats breakdown for what you’ve read and where you fall in your reading habits if you tie into your Goodreads account. These stats and the info you put into your profile also helps authors/publishers find you to invite you to read books you might like. You can see mine here for an example.

For authors or publishers, you can list your book for a small fee and it becomes available to potential reviewers to download. This is a paid service in that you pay that initial listing fee and then another small fee per download, but the reviewers themselves are not paid. You also have complete control over the total amount of downloads when you set your book up (and can change once it is there) allowing you to control the total amount you are willing to spend. Your book is then available for a 3 month period (at least at the time of this posting) for those potential reviewers. Oh, BTW… you don’t pay for the downloads per reader when you have a reader you’ve invited to review your book download it through the link BookSirens provides the author.

Since my book has JUST gone live, I don’t have any feedback either way on how successful this is as a promotional investment, but I will be writing a follow up when this is all said and done. In comparison to other options I’ve looked at, this seems to be very reasonably priced for this type of service, so I’m hopeful.

 

Another Nudge: An Unexpected Turn On Kindle Unlimited

Just posting a little reminder, or an “In Case You Didn’t Know”… my book, An Unexpected turn, is available for free to Kindle Unlimited users. A paperback version is also available for those that need a physical book in their hands.

I’m also going to offer up the ebook version to any book bloggers that might be interested in a review copy. Just send me a message and I’ll get it to you.

For those of you that have already taken the time to read this and rate or review it, THANK YOU! It warms this neurotic little introvert’s heart that you took the time to share your thoughts. Every single star and word makes a difference to a book’s success. This is exponentially more important for indie authors.

If you haven’t seen it, the blurb is below.


Blurb:

“When I take a good look at my reflection, I’m surprised that the face looking back at me in the mirror doesn’t look different than the one I’ve seen staring back at me for the last 27 years. I see the same brown hair and brown eyes, the same heart-shaped face, the same upturned nose. I feel like I should look different. That my face should show the upheaval and the weight of the last day, that it should somehow show how much has happened, how the course of my life has changed, but everything is still the same.”

Life is rarely ever predictable. It is rarely even kind. But… sometimes… just sometimes, those unexpected turns that throw you into the chaos and upheaval of loss lead you to the exact place you need to be.

This is a story about love, but it isn’t a romance. It is about holding on when it would be easier to let go, about fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. It is about finding and creating family through the unpredictable, beautiful mess that is life.

On My TBR – October 2019 Edition

The end of September got interesting for me. Between getting into the groove of the new schedule with BG’s dance, managing my Amazon ad, and getting an influx of ARCs, several indie requests and all the books I picked up that I wanted to read, I’ve kind of felt a little swamped. For the first time ever, I’ve had to create a list of all the books I have obligations for and the dates so I don’t miss out on any. Feels kind of weird when you are mood reader.

Anyway, my TBR this month will reflect that list in its current state.


Anxiously Awaited October Releases:
Heartsong
Heartsong

Heartsong (Green Creek Book #3)
Genre: Fantasy, Urban
Release Date: October 22

Shattered Bonds
Shattered Bonds

Shattered Bonds (Jane Yellowrock Book #13)
Genre: Fantasy, Urban
Release Date: October 29

 

 


NetGalley ARCs:
Traces of Her
Traces of Her

Traces of Her
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Release Date: October 25
*The only book I didn’t get to in September, in part because of the late pub date.

 

The Empy Nest
The Empy Nest

The Empty Nest
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller
Release Date: November 1

 

 

The Other Daughter
The Other Daughter

The Other Daughter
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: November 5

 

 


Library:
Lost You
Lost You

Lost You
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller

 

 

 

Things You Save in a Fire
Things You Save in a Fire

Things You Save In A Fire
Genre: Romance

 

 

 

The Missing Years
The Missing Years

The Missing Years
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

 

 

 

Archangel's War
Archangel’s War

Archangel’s War (Guild Hunter Book #12)
Genre: Fantasy, Urban

 

 

 

Stolen Things
Stolen Things

Stolen Things
Genre: Mystery/Suspense

 


KU/Open Reads (No Due Date)
Blood Echo
Blood Echo

Blood Echo (Burning Girl Book #2)
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/SciFi

 

 

Amazon Book Ad Progress

I want to start this by saying that I am by no means an expert. This is only what I’ve learned about Amazon ads from a very narrow perspective and the results from that experience.

I have been running my add for about 20 days now. I’ve learned quite a bit, but I think I still have a long way to go before I feel like I have a solid feel for how it all works. I’ve honestly been pleased even though there have been a few mixed results with it.

The type of campaign I chose was a manual targeted campaign by genre as a sponsored product. You can also do one that targets keywords or you can allow Amazon to run the direction with automatic targeting. There are a couple of different options for placement. You can be a sponsored product or you can choose to show up on lockscreens. These settings cannot be changed (that I’ve found) once you’ve begun your campaign.

Ads are based on bids for a per click price. There are lots of different options for setting this up and I won’t go into that here, but these are things that you can change at any time throughout the life of the ad.

I initially attempted to target two different genres, neither of which were what I would have said my main genre was (not sure why I missed my main one when I set it up, but… ), but one wasn’t one that is a breakdown of genres in the menu list, but something you often see related to rankings. This is something I’ve never fully understood about Amazon, but it has been where I saw every bit of my success. I would normally say my main genre is Family Life Fiction as this is the menu option when searching for books. What I tripped across when setting up my ad was Women’s Domestic Life Fiction, which isn’t in that breakdown list, but is one of my ranking categories. The most significant difference from what I could see between these two with regards to my ad was the fact that the top of the bid price range for the WDLF genre was less than half that of the FLF genre.

There is a lot to figure out with regards to bid price, how that translates into cost per click and, what isn’t something your ad metrics track, the percentage of those clicks that translate into a sale. The biggest problem I seem to have run into is trying to find the sweet spot of a price per click result that at least broke even to the amount I made per book sale. The metrics in your ad only shows you total dollars sold and total orders, so you have to do some work outside of your reporting to figure all this out (and thankfully I’m married to a math geek to help me with all that) because orders also does not equal number of books. If someone bought 5 books, it only shows as one order, so this throws things off. Every single one of these pieces vary depending on how much you make per book, which may be different for an ebook than it is for a paperback.

I still don’t completely understand the purpose of the bid range, but I did see that if I had my bid price at the high end, if not just over the max, I got a lot of impressions, clicks and at least an order per day. That is awesome to an extent. The problem is that per click price plus the number of clicks ended up being more than what I made on those orders. Some days. If I dropped my bid price to the lower end or even the recommended price, I got very little to no clicks. When you have such a low dollar profit, those click prices need to be really low, so finding a target that works for your book and has a low range are critical.

Overall so far, I’ve spent more on the ad than I’ve earned. If I’m seeing the numbers correctly, all of my sales have been because of the ad. But, the amount earned vs. spent is only one obvious part to this. Ads do other things that impact your book. When you are selling, it improves your ranking which improves your chances of being seen organically outside of your ad. It also gets you more readers that will potentially review your book (I haven’t seen this happen yet, but not everyone gobbles a book up as quickly as I do).

It also gets you reads through Kindle Unlimited and those reads do not show in your ad metrics at all so you have no clue how many of them are because someone saw your ad. These reads do get you additional payment and are quite possibly because of your add which would skew your spent vs. earned ratio. The way KU pays out, you may not know for a month or so how much you made from those reads, especially if you are new to KU.

Because this was mostly a test run, I didn’t exactly expect to see a lot of tangible results. I’m calling this a win even if I spent more than I earned at this point. I think, since launching this ad, I’ve more than tripled the number of sales I’d gotten since I released my book and that is a win all it’s own. I’ve seen nearly 4,000 page reads through KU. Again, I see this as a huge win even if I have zero clue if this number is high or low or average. It is more than zero, so… win. I have learned how to run an Amazon ad and what and how to tweak things along the way.

There are other cons to the Amazon ads. You can only access these ads if you are enrolled in Kindle Select (from everything I’ve seen). KU reads not showing as part of the ad metrics. The ad metrics aren’t live and the data could be off by 12 hours, give or take. Needing to monitor the bid pricing because these do fluctuate often and sometimes by a wide margin which is a big part of why these numbers not being live are problematic. Paperback sales tend to show up in ad metrics before sales metrics, but ebooks show up in sales before in the ad metrics, so this can throw your numbers off.

Everyone has to decide what works for them and what doesn’t. Someone in a different genre may find they have a completely different experience. There was recently a discussion on Twitter about this and several others had mention their success with a keyword campaign. I’m thinking that may be my next test if I can manage to get a bit closer to the break even point with this ad.

Looking For Book Recs Please: Light & Funny

After reading the last several books that were so heavy, I really need something light and funny, but also new instead of a reread, so I’m open to recommendations. I’d love something along the lines of G.A. Aiken/Shelly Laurenston type of irreverent humor, but am open to most anything on the lighter/funnier side. Drop your suggestions in the comments!

Okay, This Is Awesome!

I’m not normally a note taker when I’m reading. Mostly because stopping to take notes tends to pull me out of a story. Also because I’ve never found a truly convenient method of doing so where I didn’t have to shuffle my reader with either my laptop or a notepad (which also usually meant trying to find a decent pen or pencil and those are NEVER where I left them). I’m also kind of lazy and all of that is just too much work. I’d rather read.

Sometimes, though, I do need to make a note of something so I don’t forget. This was the case for the current ARC I’m reading. Then I remembered my tablet doing some weird split screen thing when I first got it. This prompted me to play around a bit and found I can split my reading window with a notes window! I can either type my notes or use the handy pen to write them. I have a feeling I’ll be doing this more in the future because it is such an easy way to take notes which makes it totally awesome.

Yes, I’m easily amused by things that make my life easier.

Situational And Emotional Representation In Books

It seems as though I’ve read a lot of books recently that I’ve hit me in a lot of personal ways. Most of the time, I can pinpoint exactly what soft spot it hit and why I reacted the way I did. Other times, it seems so much more complex. This is something that has been rattling around in my brain for a few weeks now and I’ve been trying to figure out why I seem to react so strongly.

I have also seemed to struggle to really find what I want to read the most. Something like a reading slump, but not so much that I have disliked a lot of what I’ve read. Just, I’ve wanted to find something more than what I actually found.

I finally figured out at least a part of it. I’m a deeply emotional reader. I need to have emotional connections to the story and the characters, at least to some extent, for me to really enjoy it. Those are the stories I’ve been craving, but I haven’t quite been able to say I’m looking for this very specific kind of book because I wasn’t even certain what I’d been looking for. It has occurred to me that, at least on one front, I’m looking for emotional or situational representations that reflect on me and my life experiences. I want to see more pieces of my own reality in the books I read.

The problem with that is the times I’ve run across those, more times than not, I really end up disliking the book. These are the ones I’ve had the hardest time trying to really pinpoint the why. I’m beginning to think that a big part of that is the way I want to see those emotions and situations handled. I either want to see them handled in the way I did as some sort of validation of my experiences, or in a way that I see as better and with more positive results than what I experienced allowing that character to avoid some of my own personal chaos. Rarely do I get the one I need for that specific situation or emotion and end up disappointed with the story in front of me.

If a character does something that is counter to what I need in that situation emotionally, I find it taints how I feel about that character. That isn’t to say I’m looking for perfect characters, because perfect isn’t interesting at all. It is boring. I’m looking for human flaws, but I apparently need them flawed in just the right way, if that makes any sense at all.

I’m not certain if this is just a me thing or if others have similar feelings about this. I know I have a whole lot of peeves when it comes to books, but I wasn’t aware that some of these emotional situations and how they are handled was one of them. Everyone is going to bring personal experience and bias into a book they read, but I wasn’t aware of quite how much I drag along with me when I open a book.

I adore stories about families, but those also tend to be the ones that push my buttons hard. Issues like toxic relationships, mental abuse, rejection, forgiveness for those kinds of issues and family obligations all tend to be some really hot spots for me and I almost never react well to them even though those are the very things you tend to see most often in those types of books.

Do other people have these kinds of issues with what they read, maybe with other specific topics or am I just as weird as I think I am?

Sorry if this was a bit of a rambly mess. I think I’m still working through it all and I don’t think I’ve manged to dig it all out yet.

Indie Author: Thoughts on Kindle Unlimited

When I first published my book, I spent a lot of time researching and debating with myself what would be the best place to publish. I initially thought going wide would be the best choice for me because nearly every site I ran across that talked about Kindle Unlimited made it sound like it was really only beneficial to authors with multiple books. One of the things I never really saw mentioned was the fact that if you don’t go Kindle Unlimited with Amazon, you can’t take advantage of their advertising.

When I wasn’t getting any sales on any platform besides Amazon, I decided to just try going the Unlimited route and see what happened because I wanted to be able to at least see what having access to that kind of advertising would do for me, if anything. It definitely wasn’t going to harm sales that weren’t happening.

I have now been running a very low budget ad on Amazon for about a week now and in that time, I’ve nearly doubled the total number of sales I’d gotten since I released my book. In the grand scheme of things, those are still some pretty small numbers, but my sales are paying for my ad which make this test run more than worth it. It is also ridiculously exciting to see my book selling.

I had planned on only running this ad for about a week and a half because I had a specific amount I wanted to spend on this test run. Seeing how well it is doing so far, I’m going to extend it until the end of September. The really cool thing about how these ads work is that you can pick where you want to be placed, I’m going with a targeted ad in my specific genre, as well as how much you want to spend per day. You can also make adjustments on the fly if you see something isn’t working for you, including changing the end date.

So far, I’m extremely pleased with this option. Especially the fact that I can do a really inexpensive ad (initial budget for this test run was $60) that looks like it will pay for itself if the current trend continues. A lot of other advertising options I’ve looked into are hundreds, if not over a thousand dollars. For someone with a book in a tiny genre and only one, those options just aren’t feasible for me.

With the results I’ve seen so far, this is something I would highly recommend for any indie author looking to get their book seen and improve their rankings on Amazon.

Oh… it also helps that you get paid for those KU reads as well. It looks like I’ve only gotten a couple so far, but considering I’ve JUST started this, I’d say that isn’t doing too bad.

Help! Book Club Discussion Topics and Questions

I received a lovely email from a reader today and I’m looking to help her out. For those of you that have read my book, or even anyone that has ever participated in a book club, can you help me put together a list of questions or topics for discussion for a book club? I have never been in a book club and I haven’t a clue how or where to even start to help. I think if I can get a list of questions, I’ll also be posting these on my book page for anyone that would be interested.

Thank you to anyone that can help!

On My TBR – September 2019 Edition

When I did the first one of these a few months ago, I thought for sure I wouldn’t end up being a fan and dropping it. Mostly because I am very much a mood reader and I didn’t think I’d ever really get through all the books on a TBR list. Oh, I’d read that number of books and then some, but not necessarily those specific books.

Now that I’m getting ARCs and requests from indie authors, this has actually been kind of helpful in keeping me focused a bit to ensure I meet my obligations. That and it has been kind of fun. So, I’m sticking with it.

There was only one book on last month’s TBR that I didn’t end up reading beyond the first couple of pages (really was not a fan of the writing and dropped it), otherwise, I had no problem getting to them all. I also only really put the books on this list that I currently have available to read or I’m expecting to release and pick up in that month, so it isn’t an excessively long list.

 

Anna
Anna

Anna
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Family Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evvie Drake Starts Over
Evvie Drake Starts Over

Evvie Drake Starts Over
Genre: Romance

 

 

 

 

 

 

September’s Anxiously Awaiting Release:

Archangel's War
Archangel’s War

Archangel’s War – Guild Hunter Book #12
Genre: Romance, Urban, Fantasy
Release Date: September 24, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

On Hold At The Library (should be in for this month’s TBR):

Brave the Tempest
Brave the Tempest

Brave the Tempest – Cassandra Palmer Book #9
Genre: Urban, Fantasy

 

 

 

 

 

 

NetGalley ARCs:

Good Girls
Good Girls

Good Girls
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Family Life
Release Date: October 8, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traces of Her
Traces of Her

Traces of Her
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
Release Date: October 25, 2019
*Putting this on the list because I have it approved, but may wait until closer to the release date to actually read.

Reading Peeves: Blurb to Book Difference and Problems

The entire purpose of a blurb is to get a reader’s attention and convince them to pick up that book and read it. Writing them is an art form in itself and requires a delicate balance between being intriguing with just enough information to draw a reader in while staying accurate and not giving too much away. I can say from experience, it was one of the harder aspects of writing a book, so I get that they aren’t always going to be perfect. But, problematic blurbs tend to be a pretty big peeve of mine in reading.

The first part, giving just enough information without being too much, is really hard. I’ve seen books with only a handful of very short sentences that give almost no feel for what the book is actually about. These can be intriguing, but more times than not, they just aren’t enough to get me to pick up a book. I need just a little more than that.

The flip side of that is the blurb that is so long it encompasses nearly 2 pages worth of story summary or just an overload of information and details. The point is to get the reader to want to pick the book up to learn more, not to hand every detail to them in summarized form. I really don’t want to spend more than a minute or two reading a blurb to figure out if I want to spend more of my time to read the book. If I see a really long blurb, I will often just not even bother.

This may be small, but… that blurb really shouldn’t have any errors in it. If the blurb has grammatical or spelling errors, it doesn’t give me a whole lot of hope that the book is going to have been cleanly edited. This doesn’t just apply to spelling and grammar, but to plot and story and character development. Typos and mistakes happen, but first impressions make a huge impact on readers.

I also cannot stand when the blurb contains a spoiler or includes something that the reader doesn’t even see until the very end of the book. For me, these tend to create a certain level of expectation for those parts and I’ll spend the whole book looking for it and not just enjoying the piece of the story that is in front of me at the time.

For me, I think the worst offense a blurb can commit is to not actually represent the book it is attached to. I have now read 2 different ARCs in a row that I requested because the blurbs looked amazing only to find out that the blurb and the book really didn’t match.

The blurb is the second point of advertising for a book right after the cover. Like any other kind of advertising, a blurb can fall into the “false advertising” category. It doesn’t seem to happen often, but it does happen and I really don’t get why. I feel like if you do that, it makes you look bad as an author. If I read a book with a gross level of disparity between the blurb and the book, I’m a whole lot less likely to ever pick up another book by that author, so doing this seems really counter intuitive.

I also feel like the issues with length and too much information are a lot more minor in comparison to a blurb that doesn’t match a book. At least those are being honest even if it doesn’t quite hit that sweet spot balance on just enough but not too much. There is also a difference between being coy with surprises along the way and being an outright misrepresentation of what a book is about. When a blurb doesn’t match a book it feels kind of like a lie and a breach of trust between author and reader, which is a surprisingly important part of that relationship.

 

What Do You Look For In A Book Review?

When I first started writing book reviews, they were mostly for myself in an effort to get the whirlwind of thoughts out of my head after reading a book, whether they were good or bad. Since I’ve expanded why I’m doing them, though the base reason is still mostly the same, I’m curious as to what others find are the critical pieces when they read a review. What are the parts you look for first?

I have a handful that I think are important, but I don’t see in every review. Granted, these pieces also vary depending on where that review is posted. I have certain things I expect to see from a blog review that aren’t going to be the same for reviews posted on places like Goodreads or Amazon. That is the reason I do my reviews in sections so that I can just post parts in other places.

For me, blog reviews need to have more information because that information isn’t already there, like blurb and genre. When you are on most other sites those pieces are right there up front, so having them again in every single review tends to be annoying for me. I don’t want to weed through 100 reviews all posting the blurb or a reworded summary of it when it is already there in front of you. When it is on a blog, I think this is so much more important to include.

Genre is another one I really need to see on a blog. You simply can’t always tell just from a blurb or from someone’s opinion what genre a book falls into. For me, I’m more likely to choose to skip that review if I know the book isn’t even in a genre I read. Like the blurb, this isn’t necessary in most other locations because those are just as easily found, though it isn’t nearly as annoying to have listed as a revamp of the blurb over and over again (didn’t I say this annoys me?).

I’ve seen a lot of other things that people tend to post that I could take or leave, though some have been more interesting than others. Something like a page count really doesn’t matter to me in most situations because I do nearly all of my reading digitally and those don’t always have page numbers. I can see how this would be really helpful to some readers. I do like to know if the book is really just a short story as opposed to a full length novel or even some massive tomb that is going to take days for me to read, but a specific page count isn’t that important to me.

Listing the publisher is another one that really doesn’t make a difference to me. I used to feel the same about release dates, but now that I’m reviewing ARCs I’ve started including it to make it clear that the book may not even be available just yet.

Something that kind of bothers me is when, at least in blog posts, there isn’t a link to the book. This can be a link back to the book on an author’s website, to Goodreads or any of the places it can be purchased, but I like to be able to find a book without having to go hunt it down. It isn’t all that common an event, but I’ve actually ran into some problems finding a few books I wanted to look into more because there wasn’t a link provided and a simple search didn’t bring it up without digging deeper (thank you algorithms that tell us what we want to look at rather than giving us what we asked for).

I REALLY need to see the cover of the book. It doesn’t even have to be huge or overly prominent. It just needs to be there. Book covers are nearly as important as having a blurb and leaving that out tends to make me want to skip over a review. Again, this is only a blog thing, but I do think it is hugely important. Kind of like the link to the book.

Then there is the obvious, your opinion. I wouldn’t think this would be necessary to point out, but I’ve actually seen reviews that never really get to this point. They only consist of a slightly expanded revamp of the blurb and that is all you get out of it. When I read a review, I really want to know what someone thought of it. What they liked. What they didn’t like. Did it make them laugh or cry? Where the characters dull and lifeless or did you want to become best friends with them? I’m not talking just a simple star rating either. I do think those are important as well, but it doesn’t tell you much if you don’t have the words to go with it and to back it up. I’ve never really understood the point in summarizing a book and not giving your opinion on it in a book review.

Everyone is different and look for different things in a book review. Some really like a much shorter review, some like really detailed, in depth reviews. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle and tip either direction on occasion, both in how I write and what I want to see. Is there anything in particular you need to see in a review? Are there certain tendencies that you sometimes see that bug you and wish people would just stop doing? (I’m refraining from showing my grumpy old hag mode and avoiding the topic of .gifs here) Do you have different expectations depending on where the review is posted?

Making Changes

I am in the process of delisting my book from all ebook platforms with the exception of Kindle so that I can move over to KDP select and be on Kindle Unlimited. I absolutely hated to do this because it takes away my ability to be in libraries, but I wasn’t getting even that, so I’m going to have to go where I might get more traction.

I’ve never really wanted this project to be about sales, but sales have to play a part to some extent. I’ve always been more concerned about getting it read, getting it in front of the kinds of people that would get something out of it and trying to find a comfortable balance between those things. I honestly thought that being available on more platforms would be the better option for me, but it doesn’t seem to be, so I’m making changes.

There is no guarantee that those changes will make a bit of difference, especially since Amazon has now dropped me out of even showing up in results if you search for just my title (at least for a couple of pages anyway), which absolutely blows my mind. There are some seriously random and totally unrelated things that show up above me in the results and only because they have “unexpected” buried somewhere in connection to that item. Yay for algorithms telling us what we should be looking at instead of what we are actually looking for.

I am not giving up. I am trying to not be disheartened by this whole process. I just commented on a previous post and it applies to how I feel about it all at the moment.

“As a massive introvert, this is like facing a mountain with a roll of dental floss and a toothpick to help me climb and I’m standing at the bottom wearing a dress and heals.”

I’m just going to keep sending out my requests and copies of my book and hope that people follow through (thank you to the moon and back to those that have). I’m going to make whatever changes I think need to be changed when the way I’m doing things is no longer working. I am not giving up, just changing course a little bit, even if I feel like throwing in the towel.

So… That Was A Flop

I’m a little done with attempting new ideas with regards to getting book bloggers and indie authors together for now as there seems to be little to no interest. I will post anything interesting that I find in my own search on the off chance that it helps someone else out, but for now, there will not be a listing of participating bloggers. Sorry if I got anyone’s hopes up in that regard.

Hanging My Head In Shame…

…or it could be banging my head on the desk. Right now, the two look very similar. After nearly 14 hours of non-stop data entry and tweaking what I thought I’d had in place before I lost everything with the Windows update, I had managed to get to a point where I thought I had nearly every base entry recovered. I did realize that there was a chance that my previous database wasn’t pulling my DNF numbers out of my overall books read count, so I couldn’t tell for certain what all I was missing. I had lost a lot of the smaller genre tags that I’ve created for my books and any notes I’d made, but I mostly had any new books added, give or take a few. I’d somehow lost some of my reread and DNF numbers, but for the most part I’d felt pretty good at what I’d been able to recreate.

I went to shut down the app and saw that it was somehow STILL tied to that Onedrive folder and I did not want that. I go to hunt down how to break that tie and see the folder has 4 instances of my database. All with different names and versions. Guess which version was in there? Guess what I learned about the search feature in Microsoft? It doesn’t search the Onedrive folder. Guess who was livid to have wasted nearly 14 hours of work? I was nearly in tears for the second time.

Yes, I’m thrilled to death I found my original database. I haven’t lost anything (that I can see so far), so that is a massive positive. I’m still pissed as hell because that version in the Onedrive folder had a different name entirely from the database I was using. The database I was using didn’t actually exist on my hard drive anymore because it had been replaced by that older version. This is something that should never, ever happen. Even if this had been an Office update rather than a Windows update, it should have never happened. Those files never should have been touched in any way, shape or form.

I’ve moved my active database to a different folder, hoping to prevent something like this happening again. It is in the same location I keep my photos as that is on an auto backup for my external drive, so hopefully that will mitigate any future problems.

I’m trying really hard to be grateful that I didn’t actually end up losing anything and going with the “lesson learned” mindset, but it is hard to do after the work I put into trying to fix it all. Yes, I probably (REALLY) should have found that Onedrive folder before I went to all that effort, but I had no clue that it didn’t show in search results when looking for files. I never even considered that would be the case. I do appreciate this process has pointed out a potential error in my numbers and forced me to remember my database needs to be backed up on a regular basis. None of that changes how pissed off I am at the whole damn mess.

I also need to go through all my Goodreads entries again, because I could have sworn my numbers were a little higher in my database before I lost it, so I still think the version I got was at least a few days behind, if not a couple of weeks. That means that even though I’ve recovered my data, I’m still not done having to go through it all and trying to find problems. *sigh* I just want to sit down and read!!

 

Feel Like Crying and Screaming – Technical Difficulties

I have lost a year and a half of book data from my personal database. I went to enter my latest read and something looked off when I opened the app. When I realized my dashboard didn’t have all of my latest changes I was really confused. Then I went to look at the latest entry and it was from early in March 2018.

How could I have somehow reverted to an extremely old version of said database you ask? Why Microsoft, of course! My computer demanded I update my version of Windows the other day or I would no longer be on a supported version. Multiple hours later and me giving up to get sleep instead, I log in and everything seems to have upgraded with no problem. Until I opened MS Access.

Apparently, the idiots missed a glitch that pulled information from their useless Onedrive folder (which I had disconnected from almost immediately after testing it out as it was glitchy as all hell and only useful for my grocery list, so I’m still baffled at the version I got), and OVERWROTE the database stored on my computer. You do NOT code upgrade software that at anytime EVER overwrites personal data files on a computer!!! Dipshits in QA need to have some conversations with my Hubby to learn how that shit is supposed to be tested.

I was absolutely devastated. I have been keeping track of my books for YEARS in this database. Constantly making tweaks and changes to make it better, easier to use and pull the kinds of information I’m looking for. I do also keep track of my books on Goodreads, thank goodness, but I keep so much more information in my database that I can’t keep track of in Goodreads (personal notes and where I reviewed it for example) and is why I kept using it after I found Goodreads. It doesn’t help one tiny bit that I’m a bit of a flake sometimes and forget to enter a book in both locations. Yes, I can probably recreate what I’ve lost, but it is going to take me hours if not days and I’m most likely not going to be able to get it all.

I’d also made some significant changes in the last year. New reports and summaries I was keeping track of. All of it is gone. I could absolutely kick my own ass about the whole thing as well because I JUST got a new external hard drive to back up all my important stuff, like my photos, and somehow I managed to overlook backing up my database, otherwise I would have only lost maybe a week or two of books. Believe me, I have dug and searched all through my computer and my version no longer exists in any form.

I’ve slept on my grief over the loss and I’m still infuriated and frustrated, but the only thing I can do is whatever I can to rebuild it. I’m trying to see the positive side of this in that I didn’t get a version that was years older than the one I got, but it’s incredibly hard to see any loss as positive. I’ll be getting my review  written and posted, but then I’ll be buried in my Goodreads and Amazon records working to get it all back. I can only hope it doesn’t piss me off any more than I already am or my computer may grow wings and fly out the window. Whether that window will be open first remains to be seen.

 

On My TBR – August 2019 Edition

The bare bones of my August TBR list, as always, I’ll probably read way more than this, but this is what is waiting to be read:

Shadow's Bane
Shadow’s Bane

Shadow’s Bane – Dorna Basarab #4 (yes, this one is a hold over from last month)

Genre: Fantasy/Urban

 

 

 

 

Fated
Fated

Fated – Book #1 Alex Verus

Genre: Fantasy/Uban/Paranormal

 

 

 

 

 

The Scribe
The Scribe

The Scribe

Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Crime

 

 

 

 

 

 

August’s Anxiously Awaiting Release:

The Blacksmith Queen
The Blacksmith Queen

The Blacksmith Queen – Book #1 in The Scarred Earth Saga

Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Comes out August 27th
Requested via NetGalley

 

 

 

 

On Hold At The Library (should be in for this month’s TBR):

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romance

 

 

 

 

 

Caged
Caged

Caged

Genre: Mystery/Suspense