This post is my refection on how the e-book market has been changing, based on my own experiences and those of my fellow authors—both new and established.
Warning: I’m going to be straight with you.
IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE!
It’s no surprise that the book market has become saturated with new titles within the last few years. It seems like writing has become a contagious disease and the act of self-publishing is the antidote. Now, not only do I have to compete with the big guys—by big guys, I mean traditionally published authors with a full support staff: editors, designers, public relations, advertising, extended distribution, street teams, Goodreads groups, dedicated bloggers and other authors in the company, who all show a preference to sharing each other within their imprint, but I have to stand up against a throng of my fellow indies just to maintain my fan base.
WORD OF MOUTH IS BEST
I’ll admit, word of mouth seems to be by far the strongest way to have your book spread like wild fire. Need I remind you of the Twilight and Fifty Shades phenomenon? I have much love for the peeps who share my books with their friends, family and fans. It’s like a big pat on the back that reminds you, when you’re feeling less than inspired by the changes in the book world, that some people really do enjoy your writing and find it worthy of sharing with the rest of the world. Because, let’s air this truth now, it’s clear the market is changing.
As of February 2015, there were over 3.2 million e-books on Amazon. What’s this mean to me, you might be wondering? The size of the market has easily tripled since I entered the publishing world, which—let’s face it—on the grand scheme of things wasn’t very long ago! This also means that I may potentially have to divide my profits by three, if all of those books are being competitively marketed. And trust me, I’ve felt the cut on Amazon where I used to focus my efforts and drive the majority of my sales. My only saving grace seems to be that many of these new authors in my genre got into the game much too late to make any real market impact. Other than that reality, all I can really do is keep writing and publishing with my fingers crossed.
WHY REVIEWS ARE IMPORTANT
This brings me to the matter of reviews. “Oh boy,” you’re thinking. “Here we go again.” But this needs said. Not only is this next bit important to me, but to every fan out there who has a hope of reading their favourite authors in the future.
When a reader looks at a book on Amazon, that person makes his or her decision based on the cover, blurb, rating and reviews available within a matter of minutes, and sometimes seconds, thanks to the one-click option. When they’re deciding between two books that appear to be of equal quality and content, do you think they’re going to pick up the book with a couple hundred reviews or the one with twenty? What would you do in that situation? Come on now, be honest. You’d pick up the book with more reviews. I know, it’s bad, I used to do that too. It doesn’t mean we’re picking up the better story, just that we’re allowing other readers to decide for us. It’s a crying shame, is what it is.
Here’s the truth, people. I’ve enjoyed books with less than fantastic ratings and I’ve enjoyed books with fewer than twenty reviews. You might be taking a leap of faith by purchasing those stories, but isn’t that kind of what you’re doing every time you take a chance on any book written by any author? Quite frankly, I’d rather leap into a pool of unexpected awesomesauce than leave the party with a sour taste in my mouth because a story wasn’t to me what hundreds or even thousands were saying it would be.
Fact: People purchase books based upon others’ recommendations.
Fact: Reviews equal book sales.
Fact: My new releases are selling, but those readers aren’t leaving feedback.
I know many of you, my friends and fans, have read my books. The truth is, though, I have very few reviews posted on Amazon/Barnes and Noble. On Goodreads, where ratings are a simple click of the button, I have better standing, but even those numbers have seemed to hit a standstill lately. That leaves me wondering. What do I have to do to get a reader to leave a review?! Seriously, please tell me! You have no idea what reviews mean to an indie author. How’s about I tell you.
MY TAKE ON REVIEWS
People who absolutely love a book so much they might die if they don’t share the news, have to leave a review. Love those people. Every time I get a review like that, I have a good, smiley day. At the other end of the spectrum are those readers who absolutely detest your story, your message and your delivery. Those people always manage to get their say as well, and they don’t leave their personal triggers out of the mix. That’s always going to be all you—the author’s fault—for hitting that point without warning the reader in the synopsis, in the front matter, on the front cover for God’s sake.
If your reader is having a bad day, that often becomes your problem when they leave their one star—DNF—wish there was a no star option, because that’s what this book really deserves, even though I haven’t read past the free preview I downloaded on Amazon. Really? You feel that strongly about a piece of romantic fiction? Unfortunately, I see this on Goodreads all too often. Even when it’s another author taking the hit, I feel it in the gut. This, my friends, is why every author needs a whole whack of supportive guys and gals who read, review and share the love of his or her work. There are actually readers out there who seem to thrive on writing the most horrific reviews that stab at an author’s pride, joy and voice, tearing them from their already rocky existence in the author world. Okay, I think I’ve already driven home the point about nasty reviews. Lol.
Back to the numbers’ game. For authors with fewer than one hundred reviews on a book, we are basically allowing these nice and nasty readers to set the stage for all future purchases. We’re allowing them to voice their individual opinions and basically decide for all future readers whether a book is worthy of purchase or not. What I’m saying is, the more the merrier. Especially with Amazon’s latest sales tactics (paid advertising) of thrusting their select bestsellers on you, who’s deciding what we read next?!
As luck will have it, there are people like me who always read critical reviews with caution and knock four or five-ish FIVE STAR reviews off the top of every book on account of close friends or family. I know I’m being unfair to some, because there will be writers out there—like me—where no immediate family has left reviews on their work. And while my local friends all support me by buying and reading my books and sharing important news, as you can imagine, the nostalgic sense of knowing a published author fades rather quickly, no matter how much fun it was the first time around. Now that I have six books out, I couldn’t possibly expect EVERYONE to buy and read them ALL. But I will take this opportunity to give a special thanks to those who have hung around for the long haul.
Please, if you’ve read my book, review it!
I’m saying this not only for myself but for all authors. We’re not asking for your last born child. We’re not asking you to write an elaborate blog post about what you love and hate about us and our books. All we’re asking is that you, the reader, form as little as one sentence to describe what the book made you feel. Does that sound difficult? I hope not! ❤
READERS SAVE AUTHORS!
Did you know “Loved it.” is now an acceptable review on Amazon? You don’t even have to leave any text on your Barnes and Noble review, and you can even remain anonymous! All you have to do is log in to your Amazon/Barnes and Noble/Goodreads account, locate the book by author name, click a star rating and tap a few keys on your keyboard in the review box. It’s as simple as writing a status update on Facebook.
Random Acts of Kindness
Please, if you’ve enjoyed any one of my stories, take two minutes of your time to leave a review. Go on, I’ll wait here. No, really, it’s that easy. You can be jointly responsible for my success, and help me reach my goals, or you can close this window and act like you never read these words. No matter what you decide today, I thank you for taking the time to read my post.
If you’re new to my blog and have become curious to read a piece of my work, I have a steamy little book for free on all distribution channels. –>> Just click that book right over there and pick up your free copy today!
If you’ve already enjoyed one of my books in the past and simply cannot afford to purchase another one, I’d be happy to provide a kindle copy to you in exchange for an honest review of the book you’ve already read.
As always, feel free to contact me on any of my social media sites about anything! I’ve been known to be a good listener from time to time and I’m happy to help you any way that I can. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your day. Until next time!