Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Add Your Two Cents

"This book was excellent."
"This book turned out to be as vivid and attention grabbing as the picture on the cover."
"It's hard to put down your Kindle while reading this book."
"You can't help but like Rose and Peter and I eagerly await the next installment to find out what happens to both of them and their family."
"I fell instantly in love with Rose and I found myself being so sad when the book was over."
Those are excerpts from reviews of my ebook "Rose Of Skibbereen", posted on the Amazon Kindle site. I am happy that readers like the story and characters, and I'm glad that some of them are posting reviews.
Online reviews are like manna for an indie author. We don't have the traditional publishers behind us, with their big marketing budgets, and most of us are doing this on a shoestring. We work hard every day to get the word out about our books, and online reviews can give us a big boost.
Think about it. When you buy a book online, do you read the reviews? I do. Some of them are helpful and some aren't, but I always read them. I feel that if other readers have taken the time to write a review, I should find out what they have to say. It also gives the book more credibility when you see that readers have put their opinion of it in writing. A book with no reviews makes you pause before considering whether you'll buy it.
The online booksellers all know the value of reviews. Amazon sends an email within days after you've purchased a book from them, asking if you want to post a review of it. They know that people want to see reviews before they buy a book, so they try to encourage readers to post them.
So, I'm making a plea to anyone who buys "Rose Of Skibbereen": Leave a review. I don't care if you leave a negative review, and I don't care if it's only a one sentence review. Anything you post is appreciated, because it shows that you were engaged with the book, and you took the time to post your opinion about it. That's good for authors, good for readers, and good for the future of digital publishing (especially as it pertains to the small, independent guys like me).
Put your two cents in. Register an opinion. It helps us all.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Free For A Very Limited Time

I've waxed enthusiastic about the wonders of self-publishing in the digital age, but there are times -- thankfully not too many of them -- when the process can be frustrating. When you self-publish you're a one man band, playing all the instruments, singing the songs, putting up the posters and paying the bills. Sometimes it seems like you could spend so much time on the administrative jobs that you'd have no time to write. When you're that busy and your attention is so split up, that's when mistakes can happen.
One just happened to me. Yesterday I happened to check the Amazon sales figures for my ebooks, and I noticed that my "Rose Of Skibbereen" novel had a ton of downloads. Normally that would be a good thing, but these downloads were in the "Free Price Match" column. I surfed over to the Amazon listing for my book and sure enough, the price was reduced from $4.99 to free. So, I Googled "Rose Of Skibbereen" and clicked on all the online book retailers who had my book listed. Lo and behold, I found that Sony had my book listed for free. Amazon automatically matches the lowest price it finds online for a book, so it was obvious that Sony's free listing was what triggered the Amazon price match.
What to do? I contacted Smashwords, which handles distribution for retailers like Sony, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble, and asked them what was going on. I had to wait almost 24 hours, during which time hundreds of my ebooks were downloaded for free, before the Smashwords rep got back to me and said he would contact Sony. As of right now, which is 3:34 Eastern time on May 8, 2013, my book is still free on Sony and Amazon. Whenever Sony puts the correct price on my ebook, Amazon will match it and I can once again get paid for my creative efforts.
I don't know how this happened, unless it's that I published a short version of "Rose Of Skibbereen" containing only the first three chapters, and it's free. I did that to stimulate interest in the longer version. Maybe Sony got them mixed up, I don't know, but the bottom line is that it's cost me sales. So far I haven't gotten an explanation from Smashwords. I've generally had a positive experience publishing on Smashwords, but this is definitely not one of my favorite moments. I guess it comes with the territory if you're self-publishing, though. You just have to stay on top of every aspect of the process, or something like this can happen.
So, folks, until this gets straightened out you can download a copy of "Rose Of Skibbereen" for free and there's nothing I can do to stop that. I'll chalk it up to the cost of doing business, but maybe you could do me a favor. If you do download the novel for free, could you write a review and post it on Amazon or Smashwords? It doesn't matter if it's positive or negative, any review will do.
It would make this indie author very happy.