At the end of your eBook, place a link(s) that directs readers to where they can buy additional books of yours. This is one of the best tips I’ve read recently online (apologies for not remembering where I read it), and it makes complete sense. Readers are most apt to buy a book of yours if they’ve just read one and loved it. I can remember lots of times when I closed a book, leaned back and thought, Wow, that was good, and went to the bookstore to check out more things from that author (Dan Brown comes to mind). The best way to capitalize on that high in the eBook world is to have a link at the end of your eBook that brings readers to a book retailing website — Amazon, for example, if it’s a Kindle book. This way, they can buy another one of your books immediately — sort of like an impulse buy at the supermarket checkout, the well-I’m-here-anyway-so-I-may-as-well-buy-it kind of thinking. Chances are if readers really like your book, they will find their way to Amazon or Barnes & Noble on their own, but there’s nothing wrong with pointing them in the right direction.
Today’s Debut Author Q&A features a very special writer to me and to this blog. Julia Munroe Martin has been a supporter of Baby Grand and Making ‘Baby Grand’ for as long as I can remember. It is a privilege and an honor to have her here today to talk about her debut novel, Desired to Death. Her answers to my questions made me think about my own fiction journey – our paths are very similar, our ideas for our novels formed many years ago. So without further ado, I bring you the world’s newest mystery writer.
Name: Julia Munroe Martin (writing as J.M. Maison)
Name of book: Desired to Death (Book 1 of The Empty Nest Can Be Murder mystery series)
Book genre: Mystery
Date published: April 29, 2013 (ebook); paperback in about 3 weeks
Where can we find your book: Amazon
What is your day job? This is it! I am a journalist by education, worked as a technical writer for about 10 years, then as a freelance writer. Now I focus almost exclusively on fiction.
What is your book about? This book answers the question: What am I going to do with the rest of my life? After her daughter leaves for college, former-SAHM Maggie True is faced with an empty nest and doesn’t know what to do with herself. Never in her wildest dreams does small-town Maggie imagine the answer will come in the form of a middle-of-the-night call for help from an estranged friend who has just been arrested for murder. But it does, and as Maggie solves the mystery of who killed A.J. Traverso, a sexy kickboxing instructor, she also solves the mystery of what to do for the rest of her life.
Why did you want to write this book? This idea came to me after my son left for college, when I wondered what the future held. It was a very tough transition for me, especially when a few years later my daughter left for college. Going through that transition, from stay home mom AND writer to “just” work at home writer, wasn’t easy. I’ve always been the kind of person who observes and watches everything and, clearly, makes up stories about it all. And my loose ends led me to ask the question “What if?” or maybe even “If only.”
It’s bound to happen — the dreaded bad review. Authors get them all the time. Find your most beloved book on Amazon, and you’re bound to come across someone who has called it “a colossal waste of time.” Hey, it happens. When it happens to me, I try to adopt a “grin and bear it” attitude, although, truth be told, even after twenty years as a freelance writer, rejection — as much as my rational mind knows it’s a part of the business — still stings. Over the years, though, I’ve seen writers respond to bad reviews in all kinds of ways. Here are 10 of the most common:
- The Egotist: “Obviously, this person has no concept of good writing or storytelling. I can’t fathom why Amazon even would allow this uninformed and uneducated opinion to be shared.”
- The Conspiracy Theorist: “Obviously, this person has not read the book and is totally out to get me. I read The New York Times. I know what’s going on with all those bogus reviews. I have a good mind to flag this review and report this reader to the authorities.”
- The Wimp: “Oh my god, it’s true. I have no talent. What was I thinking? I should have never left plumbing school.”
- The Teacher: “It is impossible for me to take seriously a review that is so chock-full of grammatical errors and/or illogical conclusions.”
- The Overreactor: “I should have had more women under thirty represented in my book? Well, I’ll show you! My next book will feature fifteen women who are under thirty, all with variations of the same name!”
- The Overthinker: “What exactly does it mean that my book ‘stretches credibility’? Does it mean that my plot isn’t believable, or that my characters are not? Or is it referring to both? Or does it mean that my plot and characters are totally fine, but the problem is in my interpretation? Or maybe…”
- The Explainer: “This reader just did not understand what I was going for, so I am going to plead my case to this reader in a comment under her review, and I will continue to plead, explain and cajole, in as many back-and-forth comments as it takes, until I have gotten her to change her mind!”
- The Wise-Ass: “Hmmm… so my characters seem inauthentic? And, like, I’m sure you’re qualified to make that judgment based on what? Your many years of creative writing teaching? As if.”
- The Martyr: “I spend YEARS and YEARS of my life trying to capture the human condition, and this is what I get?”
- The Ignorer: “Oh, sorry, I never read my reviews.” (Bullshit.)
How do YOU handle a bad review?
Create a Goodreads giveaway. In addition to my weekly writing tips, I’ve decided to toss some marketing tips into the mix as well, since I have been living and breathing promotion for my debut novel, Baby Grand, these past five months — I’d like to think I learned SOMETHING along the way. :) Since today begins my month-long giveaway on Goodreads, I thought I’d get the ball rolling there:
As readers of this blog know, I participated for three months in Amazon’s KDP Select program, but did not like the idea of giving away my book en masse as part of those free promotion days, so I didn’t use them. Key word(s): en masse. I have nothing against doing small-scale giveaways — in fact, I think they’re a great way to spread the word about your book. My Goodreads giveaway has only been underway for about 16 hours, and already more than one hundred people have entered. What’s more, the number of people who added Baby Grand to their “to read” shelf doubled in that same time period. Not bad for the first day!
How will this translate into sales? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure. Not only are the most successful giveaways a result of reaching as many people as possible, the most successful books are as well.
Well, it was bound to happen.
After 37 straight five-star reviews on Amazon in nearly four months of publication, and a string of four- and five-star reviews on Goodreads, Baby Grand got its first clunker. A two-star review. Basically, the dude thought that my book was boring, smelly, ugly, totally gross, and that its mother dressed it funny. (I’m paraphrasing.) No, seriously, it just wasn’t for him.
Hey, it happens. I knew my good fortune would come to an end eventually — it’s just the nature of criticism. My daughter, who was reading the review over my shoulder, asked, “Are you okay?” Surprisingly, I was. Stung, of course, but okay. My reaction reminded me of when I was in grad school and I had been getting straight As class after class — something you can certainly get used to — and a professor finally gave me a B+, breaking my streak. I remember thinking for a moment, Oh, darn. But then life went on. I thought that perhaps, being a professional writer, I’ve gotten used to rejection — editors not liking queries or articles, editors requesting changes. After all, Baby Grand was rejected some ten times last year by traditional publishing editors before I decided to self-publish and make a go of it on my own in January. Writing can be a very humbling profession.
But I think it’s just that I know, deep down, that bad reviews happen. Here are three things that I try to keep in mind when I get them:
1. Even universally beloved books –from the classics to contemporary favorites — have bad reviews. Author Ellen Meister, whose new novel Farewell, Dorothy Parker will be published in February, and I discussed this when she came out to East Hampton to appear on The Writer’s Dream recently. Pick a book, any book, that you absolutely loved. Find it on Amazon, and I guarantee you that there will be bad reviews for it. So if Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami and Stephen King can deal with it, so can you.
As I write this, my kids are mourning the end of summer and preparing for their first day of school tomorrow. So before I head off to wipe a few tears and pack a few lunches, here is this week’s featured author in my Debut Author Q&A series: AG Fredericks.
Name of book: The Troy Standard
Book genre: Literary fiction
Date published: May 5, 2012
What is your book about? This is always the most difficult question for me, because the book touches on so many themes and topics, and I just want to get into all of them. The proverbial “nutshell” is never adequate enough for an author, and it’s always tempting to give away too much. But I’ll give it a stab.
The book follows the life of Troy Mulligan as he works hard at achieving a perfectly honest and noble life after an awakening of sorts. In his search for fulfillment, he slowly realizes that he has been at the mercy of the world around him, and he desperately wants to be in control of his own life. As part of this search, he donates his time and money toward charitable projects. Over time, he develops a belief that the base form of finance, the U.S. dollar itself, is unstable and could potentially lead to dangerous circumstances that people just haven’t realized because their heads are just too far in the sand.
A billionaire philanthropist/rogue investor approaches Troy with a plan – to establish a new global currency using a solid base of precious metals. Troy is intrigued and feels that this project may very well be his calling in life. But there are a lot of powerful and ruthless people standing in their way who do not want to relinquish their control over the status quo. Hilarity ensues. (Not really, I just love saying that.)
Why did you want to write this book? I am deeply disturbed when I look at our country’s political and economic situation and the way we arrived at where we are – from both sides, left and right. In particular, I am fascinated about the history of money and its current state in world affairs. The “history of money” seems like it would be a very important topic for everyone to understand. Yet not many people do.
My goal for the sponsorship was to introduce Baby Grand to readers who have never heard of the book or of me or my blog — to connect with complete strangers who might enjoy a good thriller. And, hey, if I could make a little money too, even better.
Kindle Nation Daily is a popular promotional choice for Kindle authors (when I purchased the sponsorship back in June there were only two dates left for August). KND offers all kinds of sponsorships, including daily and weekly options, as well as packages, that run from about $30 and up, and their newsletters and websites connect with tens of thousands of readers.
The sponsorship I purchased, eBook of the Day, is priced at $159.99. A bit steep. So right off the bat, I knew there was a good chance that I might not recoup my investment since I had planned on selling Baby Grand at the promotional price of $1.99 that day, which meant that I’d need to sell about 270 books (since Amazon offers 35 percent royalties for books priced under $2.99) to break even.
Yesterday was the last day of my three-month exclusivity agreement with Amazon’s KDP Select (Baby Grand made its debut as part of the program on May 23). For those who don’t know about the program, when you sign on to KDP Select, you agree to sell your eBook only in the Kindle format (you can continue selling your paperbacks anywhere you wish). In exchange for this agreement, you are given some marketing assistance, including several free promotional days, where you can basically give your book away, and also your book is included in the Kindle Lending Library — every time an Amazon Prime member (and there are oodles of them) “borrows” your book, Amazon pays you a royalty.
When I agreed to participate in the program, I looked at it as a limited release of my novel, much like an independent film might be first shown in New York and Los Angeles before going wide, and as a way to cultivate a following in the Kindle community while taking advantage of additional promotional help from Amazon.
Overall, I was satisfied with the results of KDP Select, particularly with a mass email intended for thriller lovers that included my book. Yippee!
But, in the end, I decided to leave the program after my first go-round. Here’s why:
One of the most important — and challenging — aspects of publishing a book today, whether you self-publish or traditionally publish, is marketing. Getting the word out. I just came across a sobering article that says that half of all self-published authors earn less than $500 a year. Holy cow!
That’s why when my novel was published last week on Amazon, I revved up the marketing machine immediately and reached out to bloggers to see if they might need some help writing posts this summer (as a blogger, I know how difficult it can be to come up with new material regularly) and would like a guest blogger or an eager interviewee. The response has been wonderful.
Today is the first stop on what I’m calling the Baby Grand-palooza Blog Tour. Thank you to Belinda Frisch, who was kind enough to interview me. You can check out the interview here and here. Of course, while I’m looking to promote my debut novel, I also want to be able to provide useful insight into the writing, editing and publishing process. Hopefully, I succeeded. :)
It’s finally here! My debut novel, Baby Grand, is available on Amazon Kindle for the promotional price of $1.99.
It will be available on the Nook and other devices and as a print-on-demand paperback later this year.
Right now, I am completely overwhelmed and exhausted and excited and cannot think of anything clever or interesting to say. Just know that this book is what it is because of your support over these past two years — through all the writing, procrastinating, editing, more procrastinating, promoting and more.
Thank you. Truly.