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Mommy, Where do Free Books Come from? or How to Help Feed an Indie Author

When an author and words love each other, they create a book. But a free book comes from a special place.

It’s trite, but it’s true.  Nothing in life is free.  Book giveaways are a way for authors to promote their books and there is an etiquette for it.  There is a tacit agreement when you accept a freebie book in a giveaway that you will help out that author. You see, in all honesty, we are hoping that the free book recipients will be appreciative of our giving up our precious work for absolutely nothing by reciprocating in the form of a review or word of mouth advertising. If you receive a free book from us, we get nothing for it unless you help us get the word out about our works. We hope you love it so much you want to tell everyone you know about it, and then they will tell their friends and family about it, who will then tell everyone they know about it… You see the pattern, so that’s enough of that.  The point is, word of mouth and reviews can grow and spread exponentially, especially with social media, unless you keep quiet about it, in which case, the possible momentum of a great (or even mildly enjoyable) book dies with you.

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Consider this: A few months back, my husband and I and a friend of ours were out shopping and beginning to consider a place to grab some dinner. We just happened to walk past a restaurant that was doing a practice, pre-opening night and they invited us in for a free meal.  The food was amazing and experience and atmosphere was impressive, so we told everyone by posting on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  By the restaurant (MShack at St. John’s Town Center in Jacksonville, FL) hosting this free dinner night they got free advertising and were able to practice making and serving the food, as well as get feedback from us and the other lucky free dinner recipients that evening.  Written reviews of free books do the same thing as they not only spread the word and inform those searching for a good book that this is one to take a chance on, but the author also gets to read some feedback.

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Tell your friends, neighbors, coworkers, the girl ringing up your groceries. Write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, or basically any social media outlet you choose.

Do you know many authors?  The majority of us are not rich off our royalties.  In fact, the number of authors able to live off the income from their books alone is minute, as one grain of sand on the beach or a single screaming girl at a One Direction concert.

We can write our hearts out and produce a masterpiece, but unless someone voices to another how extraordinary the book is, nobody else will ever know and it will die in obscurity.

So help a brother or sister out!  Read it. Review it. Let the author know how you feel.

If you’re interested in helping this starving artist click here.

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No Publicity is Bad Publicity: Mixed Reviews

I cannot believe I’m putting this out there, drawing attention to it.  Part of me wants to sweep it away under the dusty bed skirt where the broom and vacuum don’t even reach- but it would still be there.

The unthinkable has happened.  Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages got a review of 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.  My first C on a mostly A report card. Gasp! (Thankfully, my Amazon rating is still excellent)

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This was a reminder of what I told myself before I released the book, yet I had forgotten.  You cannot please all the people all the time and this world is made up of people of all different opinions and preferences.  It was always only a matter of time before it happened, especially once my readership began to grow. I should be thankful for that part.

I know I had much to learn from the experience of publishing this book.  I was totally on my own when I did it and really a bit clueless.  I’ve learned much since then that will help me improve for the next, and criticism has to be a helpful part of the growing experience.  We learn from mistakes, right?

Most of the issues mentioned by the reviewer were merely matter of opinion.  She didn’t connect with my character or like some of my choices in style, seemingly thinking I had done them by mistake when I had been quite purposeful.  Many adults have read my book and enjoyed the nostalgia factor, but my true target has always been tweens, so if an adult didn’t connect with Drew, I can live with that.  My reviewer didn’t like that the book seemed like short stories all tied together, but I told the story in vignettes on purpose to follow the fashion of a memoir, since that’s what the title says it is (though a fictional one).  All this means is this particular person just didn’t connect with the book.  Not everybody will.  I knew it would happen eventually.  Not everyone likes chocolate or dogs either, and though I cannot fathom it, I accept it.

The funny irony about this particular review is that it came from someone who won my book as a giveaway I did in order to call some attention back to the book on Goodreads while I prepare to release the next installment. I’m glad winning the book didn’t make my reviewer feel obligated to give a five star review if she didn’t believe in it though. Seriously, I can respect that, but I do have two genuine complaints that I hope anyone else planning to review any author’s book will keep in mind:

1) A 3 star review isn’t bad because it keeps the ratings well-rounded and shows people are being honest; however, if you give someone a review over one or two stars, instead of only highlighting what you do not like about the book, try to find a few positive things to say as well.

2) It was mentioned that there were errors in grammar and such, but if there were it was likely done purposefully (the title alone is incorrect).  In the early editions of the book I did find a few typos that horrified me, but I (and others) went back though it meticulously in various formats so as not to miss anything. That is the former English teacher in me coming out. I cannot say it is 100% perfect, but at least 98%.

My last bit of advice today is to other authors out there.  Use my lesson to learn to also accept what you cannot change.  Even if I rewrote the issues this reader did not like, there would always be someone else out there who wouldn’t like it.  Not everyone will love your book, but do you love it?

Regrets?

There’s just today left for my free ebook promo for Memoirs of an Ordinary Girl: The Middle-ish Ages.  Yeah, I feel a little cheap just giving the book away like that, but I have to believe everyone will still love and respect me once they actually read the book.

I did the math, and it just didn’t make sense.  Normally I get a 70% royalty on an ebook sale, but 70% of zero is nothing, right?  I was always more of an English girl than a math whiz, but I know I took a risk with this.  And I went back and forth on it, like Gollum.

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Me:  But it’s my precious.

Other Me: Well, nobody will be able to read it if they don’t know it exists.

Me: How will I feed my husband, myself, and my dogs if I give it away for free?

Other Me: Maybe people will love it so much they will all write up awesome reviews on Amazon.  Then it will be more visible to shoppers and sales and ranking will increase.

Me: Do you swear it?

Other Me: I swear it on the precious!

Yeah, it was all really creepy.  In the long run, Other Me won and now we both wait to see if it is correct.  This whole self-promoting stuff is all new for me and each decision I make is a new risk.  I don’t like to think of being a writer as running a business, because it’s art, but if I want people to read my art, I have to promote it.  Giving away freebies is a classic technique in bringing in business, right?

Go ahead and take a chance with me and download the book for free this one last day.  Then if you love it, or even just mostly like it, please take a minute to write up a review for me.  Maybe this will encourage me to finish the sequel faster.  My goal is to have it ready for Amazon by Christmas.

I can’t have regrets.  I have to keep moving forward.