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?

 

Amazing Review of An Unexpected Turn: Writing Community Newsletter

I wanted to take a moment to do a little squeal and brag, because this came in my email today. The Writing Community Newsletter is a group committed to helping the writing community and indie authors. Both through providing wonderful articles as well as resources, author interviews, promotion and book reviews. They do this through Twitter posts and through their monthly newsletter. This month, my book, An Unexpected Turn, got reviewed and mentioned in the newsletter. And it got a full 5 stars from them. I am so thrilled and excited and all squishy over what they had to say.

A casual date with Teri’s new beau takes the most unfathomable, UNEXPECTED TURN, when events beyond Teri’s wildest imagination catch her off guard.

TJ Fox packs an emotional tsunami within the pages of this novel. The power of friendship, trust, and healing is tested by every single character when asked to take on the unimaginable.

Life hands us gifts, some come ‘wrapped in grief and pain, in tears and thorns, but it’s a gift that can’t be refused’. When it seems like all choices have been taken away, there is still the option to accept the hidden gifts. The ones meant to be cherished from the beginning.

Sometimes those friendships turn into, “Our rock, our safe spot in the storm, our home. You never let go.”

An Unexpected Turn is a novel of unquestionable depth and layers that will leave you with ‘absolute sunshine’. The kind that follows the darkest of times.

If you are an indie author, you really need to follow this group on Twitter and subscribe to their newsletter. I’d even say that any readers that are looking for new reads and authors, this is a great place to look because they not only post reviews of books every month, but they have a list of books that are new releases within the indie community.

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.

Reminder: Indie Author Book Blogger Support Project

I’m reposting a longish summary of this because I realize I didn’t get it posted in a couple of places.

This is a concept that I’ve tossed around for a while and decided, what the hell? It can’t hurt, so give it a try. If it helps someone else out, awesome. If not, it only took some of my time a little space here on my site.

I’d like to put together a listing of book bloggers that want to actively support indie authors and are open to reviewing their books. There are a few places for similar listings, but they often have more than just a listing of bloggers or the listing covers all kinds of bloggers regardless of indie interest. Those lists are still helpful and I’m not putting them down, they can just be a bit much to weed through when you are only looking for indie friendly book bloggers.

For this listing, at least for now, I’d like to keep it to only those interested in reading and reviewing fiction in an effort to narrow the focus and keep it manageable. Once I get a few, I’m going to do my best to keep it organized in a way that it is quick and easy to find what you are looking for, mostly by genre, but that could change as this grows and if there is a different need I’m not yet seeing.

If you are a book blogger that wants to help support the indie community and are willing to take review requests from indie authors, please contact me and I’ll see about adding you to my list. I do ask that you provide a link to your blog (be sure you have a contact page) and links to any places you post reviews, a link to your review policy and a brief list of the genres you are willing to read. I will not list bloggers without their express permission as I want to be certain those that are listed actually want to be a part of this.

If you aren’t a book blogger that is interested in this, but know others that might be, please let them know or share this post to help spread the word.

The ultimate goal is to create a network and partnership between indie authors and the bloggers that want to help support them. This is a project I want to do because I see a need and I have the time and space to attempt to put it together. It is something I’m offering free of charge with no expectations other than people potentially finding it useful. This will be a work in progress and I’m more than willing to take suggestions to improve and grow it as time goes on.

New Project: Indie Author Resources/Support Listing

This is a concept that I’ve tossed around for a while and decided, what the hell? It can’t hurt, so give it a try. If it helps someone else out, awesome. If not, it only took some of my time a little space here on my site.

Basically, I’m attempting to put together a few different lists of resources for indie authors, mostly those that I’ve found really helpful. There are a few other places I’ve run across recently that have some similar listings and I’ll link to those as I come across them as well. There may be some duplicates between my lists and theirs, but the more places that have these lists, the easier it is going to be for indie authors to find what they are looking for.

One of the pieces I’d really like to focus on is a listing of book bloggers that want to actively support indie authors because there just aren’t many places that have a list like that. At least not that I’ve found (feel free to point out any you may know of). The ones I have seen aren’t easily navigated in a way that makes it easy to find the bloggers that might fit your books. Those lists are still helpful, just a little cumbersome.

I want to take my list one step farther, at least for now, and keep it to only those interested in fiction. I say this because the range of subjects indie authors write in is HUGE, making that search even more difficult to weed through. The general umbrella of fiction is already massive, so any chance to narrow it a bit helps. Once I get a few, I’m going to do my best to keep it organized in a way that it is quick and easy to find what you are looking for, mostly by genre, but that could change as this grows and if there is a different need I’m not yet seeing.

That means I’m yet again asking for help. If you are a book blogger that wants to help support the indie community and are willing to take review requests from indie authors, please contact me or comment below and I’ll add you to my list. I do ask that you provide a link to your blog (be sure you have a contact page) and any places you post reviews, a link to your review policy and a brief list of the genres you are willing to read. I will not list bloggers without their express permission as I want to be certain those that are listed actually want to be a part of this.

If you aren’t a book blogger that is interested in this, but know others that might be, please let them know or share this post to help spread the word.

This is a project I want to do because I see a need and I have the time and space to attempt to put it together. It is something I’m offering free of charge with no expectations other than people potentially finding it useful. This will be a work in progress and I’m more than willing to take suggestions to improve and grow it as time goes on.

Book Bloggers and Supporting Indie Authors

Since publishing my book and attempting to get more involved in supporting other indie authors, I’ve noticed there are several issues that indie authors face. One of the biggest issues is getting exposure and reviews.

How many readers will actually pick up a book that has zero or only a handful of reviews or even just ratings? How many of you have the bias assumption that if there are only a handful and they are all good that they are reviews written by friends of the author so not legitimate? I’ll admit, I struggle to overcome this bias myself because this does happen sometimes. Not all the time, but I have seen it. This is a hurdle that a lot of indie authors struggle to overcome.

Getting book bloggers to review your book is also a huge struggle. Not all bloggers take indie review requests. Then you have to find a blogger that is interested in your genre. Then, and this seems to be a big issue with some book bloggers, is actually getting a response. I’m talking at all. Not just an agreement to read. This leaves the person requesting the review sitting in limbo wondering if their contact request got lost in the ether or at the bottom of someone’s spam folder. The second part of the blogger review struggle is sometimes actually getting that review once the reviewer agreed to do so. This is again problematic if that reviewer doesn’t notify the author they won’t be reviewing the book after all.

I’m seeing this from both the indie author perspective and the blogger perspective, so I can see how this is problematic on both sides. As a blogger, I want to read quality books in the genres I prefer to read in. Yet there is still an unfortunate number of indie authors that feel very strongly that the DIY method is perfectly fine when it comes to editing, formatting and cover design. I respectfully disagree with this stance because I do not believe that you can be objective enough to do those things for your own book. It is because of this that I can see why so many book bloggers shy away from reading indie books. As an author, even if I don’t fit that mold, I have to overcome those biases to get a blogger to read and agree to review my book. It is an interesting place to sit, that’s for sure.

I have run across a few places that are working towards creating databases of resources for indie authors, including bloggers. It is still incredibly difficult because you still have some of the above issues. So, here is a little bit of advice, from both sides of the indie author/blogger support perspective:

If you are a blogger that doesn’t want to review indie books, please make that clear on your blog so we can pass you by. We don’t actually want to waste your time or ours contacting bloggers that aren’t interested on an even basic level.

If you are a blogger that wants to support indie authors, please:

  • Have a review policy on your blog that states you are open to indie requests.
  • Make it clear how you want to be contacted and what things need to be in that contact, like blurb or a link to the book.
  • List the genres you are willing to read.
  • If you have other requirements, like the book formats you accept or anything else that may impact your decision to read or not read, add that to your review policy.
  • Please note that print copies are expensive for authors to provide. If you really don’t have a preference, please be willing to consider an ebook.
  • Double please here – respond one way or another to all requests! Yes, this can be overwhelming and a lot of work, but things do end up in junk and we never know that you actually got the request.
  • Give a rough time frame that requests will be responded to, again, because junk happens. Authors don’t want to feel like spammers for resending a request.
  • If you agree to read a book, please give a rough estimate on when you will be able to get to it. As a mood reader, I can completely understand how this is not always an easy thing to do, but even a broad time frame is better than “I’ll get to it eventually.”
  • If you agree to read a book for a review, please let the author know if for whatever reason you’ve changed your mind and can’t do so or if your estimated time frame has changed. I can’t speak for all authors, but that kind of communication is a huge stress relief because it means you are going to do what you said and not ghost us.
  • Posting on the major sites (this may vary by country) like Amazon and Goodreads in addition to your blog are massive things for indie authors, so do as many of these as you can.

As an indie author, I totally understand readers being picky. I am a picky reader myself. I can’t speak for all indie authors, but I do think that most would understand you specifying your requirements as a reader and being okay with saying no if something doesn’t work for you because we really want readers that are, hopefully, going to enjoy our work. Even if you only read one or two indie books a year because that is all you find that interest you, it is better than zero.

 

If you are an indie author looking for book reviewers, please:

  • Don’t spam every single book blogger out there on every platform they exist on.
  • Don’t expect reviewers to purchase your book. They are doing you a favor, the least you can do is provide a copy of your book.
  • Don’t send your book unless a reviewer has agreed to read for you.
  • Read the review policies of the reviewers you are considering requesting from and don’t request from them if your book doesn’t fit in their requirements. It’s okay if you aren’t certain, but take the time to see what they’ve read if their policy isn’t clear to see if you are even close.
  • If they have instructions about contacting them, follow those instructions.

 

Having a relationship between book bloggers and indie authors is really critical to an indie author’s success. This also gives readers and bloggers more books to chose from, which is always a plus. Being courteous to each other and respecting what part each of you play is just as important.