Monday, August 25, 2014

The complications of obtaining a review

Ok, so you’ve sweated over writing your story, gone through the torture of edits, navigated the tricky shoals of formatting and finally have a published story.  Now to let the world know that it exists and find folks who will sing your masterpiece’s praises.  Simple, right?  Definitely NOT!

Consider that a reviewer commits at least 1-2 hours, often more like 3-4, to read and review a particular story.  Combine this with the explosion of published and self-published titles and it is no wonder that so many great titles are lacking thoughtful reviews.  A reviewer who takes the time to give a thoughtful evaluation (more than...”I liked it” or “this story was awful”) is quickly overwhelmed by requests and sadly, the joy of having a new tale to read does not necessarily compensate for the need to actually get recompensed for one’s time. 

Start by reaching out to folks who have written to you praising your work.  Politely ask whether they would be willing to write a review for you AND cross-post it to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, the publisher’s site, etc.  You might also want to ask if you can quote it elsewhere in the event that you really like some of the things they say.  Some reviewers have their own blogs and are hospitable for authors to come by and visit, others charge to host or advertise.  Don’t forget to mention (particularly if you are participating in a blog tour that features reviews) that you have no issues with the reviewer writing a less than glowing review but would appreciate the opportunity to be notified if the review considers the story to be less than ‘good’.  Diplomatic requests to simply feature the title itself and post the less than complimentary review later should be considered if you are participating in a tour that is directing readers to that site.

In exchange, don’t forget to go by and visit those blogs that are featuring your work.  Vote ‘this review was helpful’ on Amazon, ‘like’ it on Goodreads or Barnes and Noble’s site and ask some of your friends or family to also vote.  That’s an easy way to thank someone for their time and hard work. 

Cross-posting can be pretty frustrating...logging into sites, dealing with the eccentricities of each one, fighting off (or at least learning to ignore) the trolls that sometimes appear, so be grateful when a reviewer is willing to cross-post a review.  Don’t forget to ask if they can put it on the publisher’s website as well (if applicable).  A thank-you note is always appreciated...and it is even more thrilling if the review is quoted your newsletter, on your blog...or...on your book itself.  Reviewers are thrilled to see their words being shared (you’re an author, you know how good it feels when someone likes what you have written!) and once you have found someone who obviously likes your work, try to keep the lines of communication open so that you can ask that person about subsequent titles.  Please remember that this is a time commitment and try to give a reviewer a copy of the title well in advance of when you want the review posted and then send a polite reminder a week or two in advance of the preferred date. 

Remember not to get into arguments with those who write critical or hurtful reviews, better to take the high road and either thank them for their opinion or ignore it completely but by all means, make sure you thank those who are willing to write a review with constructive criticism as well as those who are positive and supportive.  Above all, remember that every person has a different opinion so don’t obsess over what is being written.  If there is something to learn, go ahead and do so, but if somebody is being malicious, ignore it, remember that there are plenty of nutty folks in the world!  

The Wild Rose Press

Monday, August 18, 2014

“And then? And then?” by Nan

Eons ago, in the dark ages of my past, a popular comedy routine had the line, “And then? And then?” It was funny, the way they did it, but now as I edit it’s not so funny when an author uses “then” repeatedly.

So many other possibilities exist for expressing the same time framing, if it needs to be expressed at all. (Sometimes it doesn’t, really, you know.

For instance:
*He jumped into the saddle and then rode off.
Leave out “then” and what difference does it make?
Other fixes for your “then” fixation could be using words like “before,” “after,” or “following,” if you feel the need to line up action in a time-sequence order:
*She patted his hand before leaving the table.
*He went to the door after he gave the book to the boy.
*After he gave the book to the boy, he went to the door.
*Following their picnic, they bathed in the stream.

Experiment with various ways of writing your sentences to avoid using the same sentence patterns and the same word choices over and over again. Thank you!


*No examples are from manuscripts I’ve seen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Employ the five senses to provide new and unique images.

Employ the five senses to provide new and unique images. The sense of sight is overused, it’s easy to tell what the character is seeing, not so easy to tell what something feels, sounds or tastes like.

Try things like: The air tasted like pennies, tart and coppery. The monkey’s fur touched her cheek, bringing memories of Grandfather’s workshop, and the wads of used sandpaper on the floor. The air bit into her sinuses just like the Vicks Vapo Rub Mother used to glob on her chest.

How about this: Go outdoors. Stand barefoot in the grass, or on your fire escape. Close your eyes and let your senses take over. What do you hear: the rustle of daisies in the breeze? A couple arguing down on the sidewalk? What do you smell: your neighbor’s woodstove? Gasoline fumes? Breathe through your mouth. What does the air taste like: mildewy leaves? Tangy like acid rain? Is the grass damp with dew? Does the fire escape remind you of a bridge from which you’re about to fall?

Go indoors now—wait, open your eyes first.

Now, close them again and do the same as a moment ago. What do you smell: the baby’s dirty diaper in the trashcan? Do you hear the kids’ footsteps upstairs? Can you tell which kid is which by the way they run? Did you get goosebumps realizing you’d forgotten a pot on the stove?

Challenge your creativity. Everyone knows how a bakery smells, but what does it sound like?

Everyone has an idea of what war sounds like, but what does the air taste like?
Take everyday things like the rumble of your neighbor’s car on a cold morning. What visual image does it conjure from your childhood: the time you went shopping with your mother and threw up on her best coat?

Your favorite bathrobe is soft on your face, but what flavorful memory does it evoke—when you and your husband went to that B&B for your fifth anniversary and had apple pancakes for breakfast?

These are the sorts of images you should present to your readers; things they can sink their senses into; things that stimulate their memories and images. 

Cindy Davis
just released On the Hook
first in the Smith & Westen series

Monday, August 4, 2014

Playing On Pinterest

You have a Pinterest account, but are you using it for promotion.

I'm going to speak to you as an author and using Pinterest to promote your books and your brand.

First the basics. Don't upload your covers, rather "pin" them from retailers. For all images you'll use, it's a good rule to always "pin" from the internet rather than upload. You won't violate any copyrights if you are "pinning" and not uploading.

You'll start by building a board. You can "Pin" the cover from Amazon, Nook, Kobo etc. this will direct anyone who clicks on your pin to your purchase page at retailers. Another way would be to use a blog post. Put your cover, your blurb, a catchy excerpt, and at the bottom of the blog post, list all the retail links. this way you can do one "Pin" to purchase. It also gains exposure for your blog.

But what else would be a good "Pin" for this board? Where did your story take place? Let's say Times Square in New York City on New Year's Eve? Find an article on the web about what to do in Times Square. Google/Yahoo search on the best bistro in Times Square. Pin that article to your board. How about walking tours in Times Square? Anything to do with Times Square and NYC could be pinned to that board. What else could you "Pin" to your story board? What about what your characters do for a living? Is he a chef? Pin recipes you find on the net. Are they into sports? Pin their favorite sport teams. If they are into football and cooking, pin Superbowl party snacks.

The purpose of pinning is to not only build a story board for your story, but to reach "followers" who aren't necessarily looking for your book, but find you because they were looking for a recipe, a travel destination, a way to decorate their home for Christmas or how to grow tomatoes. So look at your story and pin what your characters would pin.

And build a following. Follow back, search for new people to follow. Don't just follow other authors. As you are searching the web for articles, also search Pinterest. Pin from other Pinterest accounts and begin to create connections. Unlike other social media, there is no chat or heavy interaction on Pinterest. It's a bulletin board of pictures that lead to articles of interest. So don't be scared to follow, share pins, and build an active busy collection of boards.

Questions? Leave them in a comment.