Ask KJ, Self Publishing

Quick and Easy Ways to Support an Author

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If you have a friend or family member who’s an author (or even if you’ve enjoyed a book so much that you wished you knew the author), there are several ways for you to show your support or appreciation for his/her work.

Doing just one of the things on this list is guaranteed to put a smile on the targeted author’s face. And making it a habit to do several or all of these things consistently could lead to increased success for the author.

Become a Facebook Fan

Liking an author’s Facebook page is probably the easiest way to show your support. However, if you really want to make an impact, be an engaged fan. What does this mean? Like, share and/or comment on the author’s posts.

A lot of Facebook users aren’t aware of how restrictive the site is when it comes to fan pages. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Posts aren’t shown to every fan of a particular page. I’m not certain how Facebook determines whose feed a post initially pops up in, but it is said that for every ‘like’ a post receives, 10 additional fans will see it.
  • Posts are also boosted when they are commented on and shared.
  • If an author mentions the words ‘share’ or ‘like’ in a post, Facebook downgrades the post and won’t give it the usual boost.

Follow the Author’s Blog

In order to follow an author’s blog, all you have to do is click ‘follow’ or type in your email address to subscribe. Then you’ll receive automatic updates when your friend or family member posts new content. If you have time, comment on a post every once in a while or share a post on social media.

Follow the Author on Goodreads

Goodreads is the perfect outlet for increasing an author’s visibility. If you aren’t familiar with the site, it’s a Facebook-like platform for book lovers. When a user follows an author, the action shows up in her feed, which is shown to all of her friends (just like a Facebook wall post). Goodreads also allows users to categorize books by placing them on different shelves, the most common being the ‘to-read’ shelf. Categorizing a book is another action that shows up in a user’s feed, so adding an author’s books to your to-read shelf is another great way to introduce her work to others.

Promote the Author

It isn’t easy for authors to promote themselves or their work, but it’s a necessity. Help by telling co-workers, fellow book lovers or even random strangers about your author friend’s work. You could even suggest your friend’s book to your book club. Ask for promotional items (such as bookmarks, business cards and pens) to distribute.

Attend a Signing

I know it might seem weird to attend a book signing event for your friend when you probably already own her book and when she most likely won’t have a lot of time to socialize with you. But trust me, your presence will mean the world to her. Plus, a book signing is the perfect place to spend some time promoting your friend’s books!

Purchase the Author’s Books

I have no desire to make money off friends and family, so I typically offer free copies of my book to anyone I personally know who expresses interest in my work. The other day, a friend of mine refused to take a free copy of my new YA novel. I can’t tell you how much it touched my heart.

If your author friend somehow slips you a free copy of her book (which I’ve successfully done a few times), consider purchasing an additional copy in a different format or as a gift for someone else.

Read the Author’s Books and Write Honest Reviews

Whenever I discover a new review, I feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Whether they’re long or short (good or bad) I appreciate each and every review that my books receive. Keep in mind, reviews don’t have to be lengthy – a line or two expressing your opinion is sufficient. Also, it is extremely helpful if reviews are cross-posted on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble and/or LibraryThing.

What other things have you done to support an author?

Click Date Repeat, Self Publishing

Coming to Terms With Ratings

My book received a new rating on Goodreads yesterday. Three stars.

Goodreads Rating Scale

5 = It was amazing.

4 = I really liked it.

3 = I liked it.

2 = It was okay.

1 = I did not like it.

While three stars isn’t a bad rating, it still hit me hard. I can’t help it. Anything less than four stars pushes my self-critical nature into a tailspin and my mind into overdrive.

After seeing this particular rating, questions flooded my brain for a good 15 minutes.

  • Why didn’t this reader include a review?
  • What didn’t she like about my book?
  • What is this person’s average rating on Goodreads?
  • Does she normally read books like mine?
  • To what other books has she given three stars?

Craziness, right? Don’t worry. It was only temporary insanity.

When the reader in me finally spoke up, I started to come to my senses.

  • Maybe she didn’t have time to write a review or maybe she never writes reviews.
  • Maybe the main character annoyed her. (Chloe Thompson is unnecessarily picky at times, you know.)
  • This person’s average rating is completely irrelevant! You have given plenty of three-star ratings, and your average is currently 4.14.
  • Whether she normally reads books like yours doesn’t matter either! You read all sorts of books, and genre never influences your ratings.
  • No two books are exactly alike. HONESTLY. Let. It. Go.

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And when this entire thought process came to an end, I reminded myself that most of my favorite books have gotten three-, two- and even one-star ratings. All of them. Even books like The Hunger Games, Cutting for Stone and Charlotte’s Web.

I wonder if Suzanne Collins ever obsessed over a less than perfect rating.

Book Reviews

To Read or Not to Read?

When choosing books to read, I rely heavily on reviews. Sure, I also consider covers and blurbs, but in the end, it really is what’s on the inside that counts.

Why do I read multiple reviews when choosing a book?

Reading a variety of reviews increases the odds of me choosing a book that I will enjoy. I can’t stand feeling ripped off after investing time in a book that didn’t impress me, even if I got it for free.

Another reason I read reviews is simply for enjoyment. To be honest, I’ve come across a lot of reviews that are more entertaining than some of the books I’ve read! (Check out the one- and two-star reviews for Fifty Shade of Grey to see for yourself.)

Review Snippet

What do I consider when looking at reviews?

Breakdown of Ratings – I understand that people like different things. As my stepmother always says, “That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream.” With that in mind, I never dismiss a book simply because it has one- and two-star reviews. However, if more than 50 percent of a book’s reviews are lower than three, I won’t read it unless a Goodreads friend with similar reading interests gave it a positive review.

Length – I ignore one-sentence reviews that give zero insight into why specific ratings were chosen. I at least need to understand why a person liked or disliked a book. Did it move too slowly? Was the dialogue realistic? Did it end with a cliffhanger?

Mention of Typos – If a reviewer mentions the need for more editing, I generally won’t read a book. I can handle a few errors, but if there are so many that a reviewer feels the need to mention them, I am likely to pass. I might make an exception if I notice that the author has responded (in a non-combative way) to the reviewer asking for help locating the typos or simply stating that the errors have been/will be rectified. I’ve even seen authors offer to provide a refund to reviewers who mentioned being distracted by typos. Seeing authors reach out in this way tells me that they are passionate about providing the best possible reading experience to customers.

Disclosures – If a reviewer mentions being provided with a free copy in exchange for an honest review, I take the review seriously. The fact that someone is disclosing this in the first place tells me that the review is likely to be genuine.

Reviewer History – If a book doesn’t have very many reviews (or if a particular review strikes me as bogus), I investigate the histories of reviewers. On Amazon, this can be done by clicking on a reviewer’s name. In most cases, I can tell if someone’s review is genuine based on his review history. For example, if someone has only completed one book review (for the book I’m trying to decide on), then his opinion doesn’t mean much to me.

Is Amazon my only source for book reviews?

No, but it is the source I refer to most. If a book has very few reviews on Amazon, I also check to see what people have said on Goodreads and certain book blogs. I have seen books with only a few reviews on Amazon and dozens of reviews on Goodreads, and vice versa.

How important are book reviews to you when deciding what to read?

Ask KJ, Self Publishing

Goodreads Giveaways: Good or Bad?

When I published Click Date Repeat, one of the first things I did was create a giveaway on Goodreads. As a newbie to the world of self-publishing, I was ecstatic to have found a way to advertise my book and garner some reviews.

goodreads_icon_200x200-8b5b322a54ffbe04db26585de0830763 As the days passed and entries accumulated, I began poking around on Goodreads (which is a wonderful site for both readers and writers, by the way). I happened to stumble upon a forum thread where people were (are still) debating the effectiveness of giveaways. After reading through several posts, my stomach became queasy, and I started to regret setting up my giveaway. But then I did what I typically do when something doesn’t sit right with me, I pressed on in hopes of finding some positives. By the time I’d read each and every post, I didn’t know what to think. Are Goodreads giveaways an effective marketing tool or not?

Here’s what I gathered from the lively forum discussion:

Cons of Goodreads Giveaways

  • Book resellers make up a big chunk of the people entering to win.
  • Some people enter simply for fun or because they want to win something. They may not even be interested in your book.
  • If someone who isn’t interested in your genre wins, they might leave a bad review.
  • You might receive a bad review from a winner who reads your genre but simply didn’t care for your book.
  • Goodreads does not require winners to review the books they win.

Pros of Goodreads Giveaways

  • Hundreds of people see your book.
  • Hundreds of people shelf your book as “to-read” when they sign up, which means anyone they are friends with is likely to see your book too.
  • You might get some reviews.
  • Winners who enjoyed your book, might recommend your book to others.

So what was the outcome of the Click Date Repeat Goodreads Giveaway?

Duration of giveaway: 4 weeks

Number of entries: 701

Books delivered to winners: 5

Books Fedexed back to me at my request: 1

(Book reseller discovered by Goodreads one day after I mailed out the book. They chose a replacement winner. Thank you, Goodreads! Story for another post!)

Number of Reviews: 3

Number of people who have it marked as “to-read” as of the date of this post: 326

As for the two winners who have not reviewed my book yet, one still has it on her to-read shelf, and the other doesn’t have it on any of her shelves. Could she be a reseller? Sure. Or maybe she accidentally removed it from her to-read shelf. (There I go again, looking for a positive explanation.) Either way, I just hope someone reads that particular copy someday!

So, are Goodreads Giveaways good or bad? I say good, but I am a glass-half-full kind of girl.

Based on my results, what do you think?