Monthly Archives: February 2011

How To Deal With Bad Reviews On Amazon

7 February 2011
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In keeping with today’s theme of bad reviews (I didn’t plan the day that way.  It’s either serendipity or cosmic alignment.  You decide.)  Starting over, in keeping with today’s theme of bad reviews, a war story about how one self-pubbed author dealt with a bad Amazon review.


If you do get a bad review, it’s worth taking a good look at it. If Amazon feels that a review is ‘spiteful or malicious’ they will remove it! All you have to do is to contact Customer Services and explain why you think the review is unfair. Obviously you can’t just ask for a review to be removed simply because a reader didn’t enjoy the book. But there’s no doubt that there are some people who go around posting malicious one-star reviews! If I do get a one-star review I always look to see what else they have reviewed, and more often than not I find that my book is the only one.

Link to How to Make a Million Dollars Writing eBooks (or How I Learned to Love The Kindle)

On Bad Reviews

7 February 2011
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This writer makes an interesting point about some reviewers being much more equal than others on Amazon and Barnes & Noble pages.  This raises an interesting possibility that an author might prefer to have no review at all from Publishers Weekly rather than a poor one.


Publishers Weekly doesn’t like my work very much. Before you roll your eyes and/or get all excited at the prospect of a classic “I can’t believe I got a bad review!” hypersensitive-author meltdown, let me hasten to add that I have absolutely no interest in refuting anything they’ve ever written about my books. I mean, I believe in my work, and “reads like a barely-dressed-up B movie screenplay” does strike me as being a bit on the harsh side, but I’m hardly an objective party here. (Also, I kind of like B-movie screenplays.) There’s no such thing as a book that every reader will like.

. . . .

A negative review is never pleasant, but PW reviews have a particularly heart-stopping quality for purely financial reasons: there’s a moment when it dawns on you, as you’re reading all about how your book’s clumsy, lukewarm, bland, awkwardly constructed, and stocked with characters who resemble cardboard cutouts, that this thing’s going to appear on your Amazon, Powells, and Barnes & Noble pages. Which is, practically speaking, frankly kind of a drag when you’re trying to move units.

Link to The Millions

The 4 Most Common Mistakes Fiction Editors See

6 February 2011
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1. Unfocused structure

This is the biggest reason manuscripts get rejected. You’re telling a wonderful, powerful, gripping, complex story… but you’re the only person who actually knows that. Everyone else sees a long, rambling, uneven tale of various events happening to various characters. Why? What makes these things happen? And, most important to your reader, why are you telling us this?

Every novel needs a focus. What’s your point? What is it that you want the reader to know? That focus is your Climax, the one part your story simply could not do without. “I died of romanticism.” “I almost got et by a whale.” “I pretty nearly wrecked my life being a selfish grinch.”

At the same time, every novel needs a really good reason for the reader to care. That’s your Hook. The reader may have picked your book up for its snazzy cover, but you desperately need them not to put it down.

And every novel needs a series of intriguing, hair-raising, addictive events carrying the reader from the Hook to the Climax. You could just tell us the Climax. “The butler did it.” But long fiction is all about the wonderful, rollicking adventure building upon why that matters.

The hardest thing for aspiring writers to believe is that all this is holographic: what’s essential for the novel is also essential for the chapter, episode, even scene. Every single one of them needs a Climax, Hook, and some type of events leading from one to the other.

Read that again. Every single one.

Link to WordPlay

The Dan Brown Syndrome: How to Untangle a Plot

6 February 2011
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Q: An agent said my novel was “dense, over-plotted and difficult to follow.” I’m not sure what to do.

A: You might have too much action and not enough content. If that’s the problem, you need to punctuate any rapid fire twists and turns with dialogue, description, and the kind of pacing that’s easier to understand and more meaningful.

Link to The Book Deal

How Writing Careers are like Snowflakes

5 February 2011
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Shrinking Violet Promotions has one of the most unique voices in the publishing blogosphere and I love their tagline: Marketing for Introverts.

Excerpt:  The fear of failure nips at our heels no matter what stage of our career we’re in. It is so, so easy to sit from the outside looking in and be certain–absolutely certain–that Author A is a raging success and has it all and their books are selling like hotcakes. But the truth is rarely that simple. The really hilarious thing is I’ve had people say that of me, and I can never hold back a snort of wild disbelief.

. . . .

So as introverts, we need to really pay attention to the fact that there are SO MANY different paths to success. We need to question the pressure we’re feeling to be online and involved in social media and understand who is pressuring us and why. If it is just because other people are doing it and think you should do it, too, or it’s because Online Guru #43 says you should, then ppfffft. Ignore that. If it’s because your publisher is pressuring you, well that’s a little different. Perhaps a heart to heart conversation with your editor is in order so you can understand precisely what they are hoping your social media presence to achieve, then you can see if there is another way to achieve that.

Link: Shrinking Violet Promotions

Publishing An E-Book: A Checklist

5 February 2011
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A step-by-step description of how to self-publish your own ebook.  I might do a couple of things slightly differently, but I tend to be a little more techy than some people.  This list will work and doesn’t require anything more technical than learning how to save a Word document as an RTF file.

Excerpt:  Get your manuscript reviewed by a professional. Depending on where you are with it, you might want to get your book overhauled – a full, structural edit – or just proofread (a copyedit). This is the one place where you’ll have to spend money. And it’s cliché o’clock at Catherine, Caffeinated, because I’m going to say that you have to spend money to make money. So spend it here.

At the very least, have a few trusted individuals read over it to check for errors. People tend to be more angry about typos when they’ve paid $2.99 for the privilege of finding them.

Link to Catherine, Caffeinated

How E-book Royalties are Cheating Authors (and Agents)

4 February 2011
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The blog entry provides detailed royalty calculations from the Authors Guild showing the difference between hardcover royalties and both agency model and reseller model royalties for ebooks.

The bottom line: The publisher makes much more under either model for ebook sales.

Excerpt: E-book royalty rates for major trade publishers have coalesced, for the moment, at 25% of the publisher’s receipts. As we’ve pointed out previously, this is contrary to longstanding tradition in trade book publishing, in which authors and publishers effectively split the net proceeds of book sales (that’s how the industry arrived at the standard hardcover royalty rate of 15% of list price). Among the ills of this radical pay cut is the distorting effect it has on publishers’ incentives: publishers generally do significantly better on e-book sales than they do on hardcover sales. Authors, on the other hand, always do worse.

How much better for the publisher and how much worse for the author? Here are examples of author’s royalties compared to publisher’s gross profit (income per copy minus expenses per copy), calculated using industry-standard contract terms:

“The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett
Author’s Standard Royalty: $3.75 hardcover; $2.28 e-book. Author’s E-Loss = -39%
Publisher’s Margin: $4.75 hardcover; $6.32 e-book. Publisher’s E-Gain = +33%

“Hell’s Corner,” by David Baldacci
Author’s Standard Royalty: $4.20 hardcover; $2.63 e-book. Author’s E-Loss = -37%
Publisher’s Margin: $5.80 hardcover; $7.37 e-book. Publisher’s E-Gain = +27%

“Unbroken,” by Laura Hillenbrand
Author’s Standard Royalty: $4.05 hardcover; $3.38 e-book. Author’s E-Loss = -17%
Publisher’s Margin: $5.45 hardcover; $9.62 e-book. Publisher’s E-Gain = +77%

Link to Ask the Agent

Unknown Author + Ebooks + Self-Publishing = Success

3 February 2011
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Another success story with self-published ebooks.

Excerpt: When I started ebooking I’d never laid eyes on a Kindle, but by the end of May I had two books up and 7 big sales. Things grew rapidly from there, and over the last six months I’ve had over 100,000 PAID ebook sales, including 26,000 in December and 38,000 in January. Most of these sales were for $2.99.

I did it all without a fan-base or a web-presence. I had nothing going for me other than determination, a pile of unsold manuscripts and a willingness to adapt.

My point is: Indies can succeed.

Link to A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing

Imagine There are No Bookstores

3 February 2011
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A fascinating thought experiment by a small publisher.


Right now there’s an enormous pressure on books to succeed on publication date, almost like a movie’s opening weekend. First and foremost, this is driven by the need to establish the book’s success in the bookstores before the books are returned by the stores. Once the initial orders are returned the book’s chances are pretty much dashed forever. But on-line, every book is available equally, all the time. Your marketing campaign can be a slow burn rather than a big bang, and for some books this is a much better approach.

. . . .

If we consider, for the purposes of this thought experiment, that the majority of books sold in this scenario will be ebooks, the book can be continually updated, and continually current. New video, new links and new features will become standard. Amazon will be selling subscriptions to books, where the new version is sent automatically.

Link to The Gatekeepers Post

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