Monday, June 24, 2013

Picture Book Workshop #19: Help An Author Out

If you're like me, you are an author who has a few books out but none of them are RUNAWAY hits.  You are a mid-list author.  Or perhaps, you have your first book coming out.  Or, perhaps you're not a writer at all, perhaps you're reading this because you know an author.  In any case, let me tell you a published author secret: Having a book published is great, but having a book published and no one caring about it is pretty embarrassing.

I'm talking reviews people.  And not Kirkus, Booklist reviews.  Not New York Times reviews.  People reviews.  Reader reviews.  Amazon reviews.  Your reviews.

They matter.

A lot.

When MONKEY ONO came out I had big hopes for it.  It got good reviews from Kirkus, etc. Yay!  It got a very good reader review on Amazon right away.  Yay!  But it only had 1 review for months.  Not Yay.  Not Yay at all.  The Amazon numbers were not good.*  So I had to do what I see more and more of these days, I had to swallow any pride I had and ask friends and family to go online and review my books.

I felt like the Queen of the Losers. 

Since I have done this, two other writers I know have also done this.  I'm sure many of us have done this.  I can speak only for myself, but it doesn't feel good.  It's humbling and embarrassing and super icky.

So here's a suggestion to all of us, myself included; if there's a book you really like, go write a review about it.  (I just posted a 5 star review for C. J. Omololu's INTUITION which I just finished and loved!  I also tweeted about it.  And here I am blogging about it.  And it has cost me nothing but a wee bit of time.)

Perhaps you'll say, But Julie, I don't really know how to write a review.  

Let me help.  As a consumer of books I want to know a couple things. 
1. Did you, the reader, like it? 
2. What's the vibe?  Romance?  Thriller?  Zombies?  Teen-age Civil War vampires? 

That's basically it.  There's always an editorial blurb that sums up the plot, so no need to rewrite that.  If you want to comment on the writing: slow paced, fast paced, lots of details, that's cool.  Go for it.
Have a favorite part that doesn't spoil anything?  Tell me about it!
But short and sweet with a nice juicy 4 or 5 stars and BOOM - you're done.

Julie, what if I didn't like the book.  Should I still leave a review?

NOOOOOOO!  You want to help your author.  Not hurt.  It's not a malfunctioning microwave, in which case I think a negative review is OK.  It's a book.  It's subjective.  If you can't say something nice ... you know the rest.

Julie, what if I didn't like a book but I still want to help this author out?

Well, write something like, This book is perfect for someone who likes A, B, and C

Julie, is this whole post about you begging for more reviews, you sneaky monkey?

No, I swear it's not.  It is so difficult for authors to get published in the first place, then when they do, the sales numbers matter.  When the book comes out, the game changes for us.  It is no longer about sitting at the computer and crafting a story.  It is about climbing every mountain we can find and putting a billboard up there.  We have to blog, tweet, pin, interview, etc. and try to let people know our books exist, which is not something a bunch of introverts who work alone at computers want to do.  So I try to help my fellow authors out when I can.

That said, if you'd liked MONKEY ONO and you'd like to leave a review, I'd really appreciate it.  :)

*FYI There are more numbers than the Amazon numbers.  But authors don't get them right away.  Amazon numbers are immediate so I think I can speak for many when I say, we check.


Anonymous said...

Oh wow, this is such a good post! Makes me want to run and review all my recent 5-star reads. Mission accomplished, Julie!
PS I think you know how much we love MONKEY ONO in our house!

Julie_c said...

I do. THANK YOU! And you already left a lovely review on Amazon so THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

Leandra Wallace said...

I just bought Monkey Ono through your link on the side! =) Do you think Goodreads reviews help sales all that much? That's where I do most of my reviewing, I don't think I've ever done one on Amazon...

Julie_c said...

Yanno Leandra - I'm sure it doesn't hurt. The thing about an Amazon or a B&N review is that someone is there b/c they're shopping (most of the time.) If I'm looking to buy a book, I usually don't go to Goodreads. I go to Amazon or to a bookstore. But let's just say I'm on Amazon and I'm looking at a book. Before I buy, I check the reviews. If they are good, I'll probably click BUY. Because it's easy and I'm lazy.

That said, I do use Goodreads and I write reviews there as well. I have a few people with similar tastes to mine on Goodreads and I check books that they have liked if I'm looking for suggestions.

THANK YOU so much for buying Monkey Ono. I really hope you like it!

Mirka Breen said...

Every author out there knows of what you speak, Julie. (Perhaps save the super-stars, though I suspect best-selling authors have their own sphere where they feel their kind of angst and fret about their numbers also.)
In your case this is tripled, because PBs for the very young can't have their direct audience reviewing on Amazon. I would hope teachers would speak up when they come across a book this adorable.

Julie_c said...

Yanno Mirka - I think it's just a matter of people being busy and not thinking of doing it. There are so many things that cross my mind while I'm driving in the car, then I get home, and I forget.
People might also think their reviews don't really matter.
I can't help people to remember to write a review, but hopefully I can convince them that if they do, it does matter.
Thanks so much for your comment.