I’m looking for some folks who’d be interested in swapping a free digital copy of my newest novel Exodus in exchange for an honest review at Amazon. Reviews are more important to authors than most people realize. For example, until I hit the 25th review, Exodus won’t show up in the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” or the “Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed” sections. Also, to do any sort of promotions or giveaways, I need a minimum number of reviews. That minimum varies from place to place, but it’s there.
So whataya say? I’ll give you a copy of Exodus, you read it, hopefully like it, and then head on over to Amazon to leave a review. A brutally honest review. If it sucked, say it sucked. The review doesn’t have to be long or perfect. It just has to be. And of course be honest.
In case you forgot what Exodus was about…
At the height of the Great Depression, thousands of families who have lost everything are left with no choice but to make the pilgrimage westward in search of a new life. Some will find what they’re looking for. Some will not and will then be forced to make the long journey back home. Then there are the others, those who never make it to either place because they made a stop along the way in a town called Exodus, an abandoned silver mining town in eastern Arizona where nothing good ever happens and most folks never leave.
If you’re interested, you can let me know at kimberlyabettes(at)yahoo(dot)com. Thanks in advance!
A friend once asked me how I keep all the different characters in my stories straight, how I keep from getting them all confused.
My reply came swiftly.
You have more than one friend, right? Of course you do. You probably have many friends. Each of them have very different lives with many different things going on. Do you get them confused? Do you mistake one friend for another or forget which friend is going through what? No. You keep them all straight. You remember that Pam got a new job while Brian is battling cancer and Joe just got a divorce. You remember these things because they’re real people with real lives. That’s how I see my characters. I created them from nothing so I know everything about them. If I live to be a hundred and create a thousand characters, I’ll always keep them straight and be able to tell them apart because to me, they’re real.
Earlier today, I was perusing the social media and came across an author who was complaining about receiving 1- and 2-star reviews for their book. So I decided to give a little advice to any other writers feeling down about bad reviews.
Reviews aren’t there to fill the dead space on our Amazon profile pages. They serve a purpose. Well, they actually serve a couple of purposes. And though you may feel that one of those purposes is to make the author cry, you’re wrong. That’s not one of them.
Reviews are there to help readers decide whether or not to buy the book.
Reading a book is a huge investment of the reader’s time. In a world where there are so many other things competing for their time, you better make it worth their while. There are far too many good books out there waiting to be read for them to waste their time on a bad one. If they read a bad book, they get upset about it. Angry even. And understandably so. Some of those readers are willing to take a little more of their time and warn other readers to stay away from your book. It happens. You can’t keep them from having an opinion, but you can change their opinion. How? By writing better books.
Reviews are there to help the author better their writing.
If you, the author, are reading your reviews, then you should be learning from them. Did the reader find a lot of typos? Hire a proofreader and get those suckers fixed. Did the reader find a major plot hole? Fix it. Did the reader think you use a certain word too much? Stop doing that.
Now hear me out. I’m not saying do what each and every review says. Reviewers are giving their opinion, and sometimes their opinion is wrong. BUT–if several readers say the same thing, then there’s probably some truth to it.
When I first started out, I got some bad reviews. Hell, I still do sometimes. And yes, it bummed me out a little bit. No one wants to hear that the thing they created from nothing and spent long hours and possibly years working on is bad. But after looking at the reviews of some of the best in the literary world–Koontz, King, etc.–I saw that even they get bad reviews. Yes, even the giants have critics. That made me feel better. Then I remembered the old saying you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
So yes, you are going to get bad reviews from time to time. Even if your book is perfect and flawless, there will be someone who doesn’t like it. You have to learn to deal with that. Do the very best you can and let the rest happen as it will.
As more people become aware of who I am and what I do, I’ve noticed a few things about them. This is no surprise; I’m an observer of all things human. If you’re picking your nose because you think no one is looking, rest assured I see you. If you’re checking out some chick from the corner of your eye so your wife won’t catch you looking, I see that too. I see it all. It’s not that I’m a stalker or that I find you so friggin’ fascinating. It’s just a part of the job. I can’t exactly write about people, give them unique characteristics if I have no idea how the humans operate, now can I? Before I stray too far from the path here, let me tell you what I’ve noticed as of late.
Anytime the subject of conversation is my books, someone is always there with I’m gonna write a book. Oh are you now? You think you can just slap down some words and boom, awesome book that everyone wants to read? Okay, sunshine. You go ahead and do that. Let me know how it works out for ya.
Don’t get me wrong. If you’re a writer, you can do it. But if you’re the average Joe who doesn’t even know when to say My brother and me and My brother and I, then you can’t. I’m not saying writing a book is rocket science or brain surgery, after all we are just fiddling with the alphabet, but I am saying that not just anyone can do it. Real writers know this. Wanna-be writers do not.
But if you want to give it a shot, by all means do it. Don’t let me stop you. Sit down at your computer one day and start cranking out this masterpiece of yours that the world is waiting for with baited breath. Spend hour after hour trying to get what’s in your head onto the page without losing anything. Then, months or years later when you’ve purged yourself of the story, spend the next thousand hours or so going over it and over it, looking for typos and misspellings, proper word arrangement and grammar. Then when you’re done with the first round of editing, take a deep breath and hit it again, harder this time. Don’t let the fact that you’re getting tired of reading the same story over and over stop you. No, you’re a writer and this is what writers do. Polish that story till it shines, then polish it some more. And when that story is finally done and out there in the world, immediately start your next book, just in case you’re a hit. But don’t be surprised when your book flops. Unless you’re Stephanie Meyer, the chances are good that your first book will fail miserably. Here come the reviews. Oh look at that. Negative reviews with one star and a nasty attitude. Wow. They said some pretty mean things about you and the fruits of your labor. Oh don’t let that discourage you. You’re a writer and that’s part of it. Keep writing. After all, it’s easy and anyone can do it, right?
There are some people out there who really do have the gift of writing and haven’t yet got started. To them I say, GET GOING! Life is too short to wait. Don’t worry about whether it’s going to be good or people will like it. Just write.
To all the people who think writing is easy and anyone can slap down some words and call themselves a writer, I say try it. Instead of telling people you’re going to write a book, just write it. You’ll know within the first few pages if you’re ready to fiddle with the alphabet.