Monthly Archives: February 2017

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bad review

What to Do With A Bad Review?

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Bad reviews — every author gets one eventually. I didn’t expect to get one so soon, and so, well…bad. I have just published my first fiction book, a supernatural suspense novella titled Salt in the Blood. It got glowing reviews from advanced copy readers and the hard launch went very well, with a pretty decent level of sales. Like any author excited to see people reading and enjoying their work, I checked Amazon daily to see if anyone had left me another review.

And there it was. My first bad review. I am instantly gutted. It wasn’t just a four- or three-star review either. It was a two. A TWO, people. That’s a D in the grade book. Could I really be a D-list writer? I needed to dissect that bad review to find the answer.

Here’s what the reviewer says:

bad review

Analyzing the Bad Review

Oh my. Well, I DO mention that the book is a fast-paced novella in the first sentence of Amazon’s description section. I’m thinking perhaps she skimmed over or didn’t read that part when she made her purchase. If she did, it might explain her dissatisfaction with the book’s length and perhaps it’s “rushed” feeling. Next, any romance in the book is incidental to the plot, not a feature of the story, so I’m going to chalk that up to “you can’t please everyone.” But she did say the characters were flat and she didn’t connect with them. While lack of connection may be specific to this reviewer, I need to look closely at my character development in case there’s a lesson to be learned. As a writer, you should pay close attention to any criticism and use it to improve your writing. While you’ll never please everyone, you may come closer by evaluating your writing through the eyes of others — something crap reviews help you do.

I’m grateful for the glowing analysis of my scene writing skills at the end of her review. It’s quite a nice compliment and doesn’t seem to fit with the 2 stars she gave the book, something others that read this review may notice and consider.

Next Steps

After analysis, action plan. First, I checked her other reviews. She’s mostly a harsh reviewer. In fact, she gave a bag of charcoal two stars. I’m not sure how a bag of charcoal gets two stars, other than to not be charcoal, but there it is. This helps me to understand her view on things in general. I’d feel a lot worse if she was generous with her reviews of other products.

Next, I made a mental note to pay specific attention to character development in future stories. Even if this is just her opinion, paying more attention to this critical skill can only help me.

Finally, I’ll relax and enjoy the compliment she gave me. Perhaps, I’ll reply to her when the next book, Blood in the Flame, is ready for advance readers and give her a copy in return for a critique. After all, we need criticism. It helps us grow. It helps us perfect our craft. And sometimes, it nails our feet firmly to the ground when we’re in need of perspective. However, don’t let a bad review break your stride or crush your enthusiasm for writing. Use it the way it’s meant to be used — as fuel for your creative fire.

See you on the next page!

P.S. Salt in the Blood is only 99 cents at Amazon. I’d love it if you’d read and review for me!



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first launch salt in the blood

My First Launch: By The Numbers

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In this post series, I’m giving you a brief look into my first launch as an indie writer. As you can imagine, it required more hands-on work than traditional publishing (although I hear traditional publishers require writers to do much of their own marketing — mine didn’t). I’m counting the launch successful, even though my numbers are small.

I want to share all the details with you. All of them. Even the ugly ones, so you won’t feel alone when your first launch happens. Many writers are hush-hush about numbers. Some of my closer friends will share their sales figures with me, but most will not. I’m not sure why. There’s plenty of readers out there for us all, and writing and publishing your own work is notoriously difficult. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially when you’re starting out.

Before we take a look at my results, you should know that I’m only moderately active on social media. I make an occasional Facebook post (I don’t really like FB, to be honest) and I tweet a few times per week. Of course, I also post here and publish some of the posts on Medium and LinkedIn. I get on Goodreads when I can, which is not often. So, I’m definitely minimally marketed.

First Launch Results

  1. Salt in the Blood was #2 in its category on the first day of hard launch. As of this writing, it’s at #408.
  2. A total of 1131 copies were downloaded during the two free days of promotion, which I think is a spectacular result.
  3. Another 28 copies were downloaded on the non-free days.
  4. I had to sign up for the 35% royalty plan in order to set my price between .99 and 2.99 (important, since this is a novella-length story).


While I’m not going to get rich with these numbers, I do have a plan in place. This book is the first of a trilogy and it will become permafree as a teaser for the other two books. Also, I will bundle the three and market them together at a future date.

In the meantime, I’m working on a selection of rather twisted short stories and will be releasing them in June. My hope is that the more work I have out there, the better my numbers will get. And I promise to keep everyone posted on the results. By sharing, we can all be successful!

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horror fiction book launch salt in the blood

Inside My Indie Book Launch: Part Two

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For those of you who haven’t experienced an indie book launch, yet, here’s a more in-depth peek into mine. When you’re ready to launch your book, take a page from my experience to keep your head above water better than I did!

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears saying again: I’m a pantser. I write stories with no earthly idea of how they’re going to end until I come barreling, full-stop, into that final paragraph. While “pantser” playfully describes a writer who writes the way I do, it has an expanded definition. I’m obviously a pantser when it comes to publishing, as well, and I’ll bet there are more of you out there!

Planning the Book Launch

Planning? If you call doing a few casual Google searches for “book launch” and seeing what surfaces, then I definitely did it. Afterward, I proceeded to ignore all the advice out there. My beta readers doubled as reviewers, too. I  distributed ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) too close to the launch date, about 3 weeks in advance, which meant some folks didn’t have time to read it and review for soft launch. I did pin a Tweet on my Twitter profile a few weeks out and changed it slightly as launch date neared, but other than that, I didn’t really “get out there”.

Crazy, right? In my “other life”, I once planned vast marketing campaigns in corporate America. Yet I take a minimalistic approach to my own marketing. What gives?

Fear of Launching

Your first book launch can be daunting. I mean truly scary. There’s so much information out there to sift through, and so many people trying to get you to buy something. This muddies the water considerably when you’re determining what items  to focus on for success. Everyone wants to sell your their promotion service. Twitter, Facebook, book promotion companies, makers of book trailers, book graphics, advertising companies and others clamor for your hard-earned dollars. Wait! You haven’t even earned your first book dollar yet. Companies want you to give up money that you don’t even have for a wish and a prayer. You have to hope you’ll recoup it once you release your book into the wild.

This pressure to spend is the real reason I conducted such a pared-down launch. It’s my first fiction book launch. I’ll have more. Being minimal as possible when spending money means when I add something to my next launch, I’ll have a good comparison. There was a lot of do-it-yourself magic in the way I approached this first try. I made my own graphic ads on Canva. I signed up for Freebooksy, a service that will shout your book out for free. At one a.m. on the day of my hard launch, I got up and sat, bleary-eyed, at the computer to announce my book on the Kindle Boards. Let’s not forget sending a mass email to anyone who ever ended up on my contacts list for any reason, whatsoever.

Just Do It.

I know that I delayed my launch for months out of sheer terror. What if something went wrong? What if I uploaded the wrong file (I thought I did at one point)? KDP said they were running my free book days on February 3rd and 4th, but what if they got the dates wrong? I must have checked those dates in my account a million times. What if a server went down? Nuclear holocaust? My mind came up with any and every disastrous scenario at there. In the end, everything was fine. Successful, even. So don’t let your own fear derail your success. Just press the button, set your prices, do what marketing you decide upon, and relax. Breathe. Nothing will be done that can’t be undone. Did you know you can re-launch your book? If the first launch has glitches, just do it again. Don’t let the enormity of what you’re doing — publishing your first book — keep you from actually doing it!

Next week, I’ll share my exact timeline and marketing tools and give you the actual numbers from my launch.  So stay tuned! And if you need something to read while you’re waiting, Salt in the Blood is only .99 right now. Get it here!

See  you on the next page!

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horror fiction book launch salt in the blood

Salt in the Blood – Inside My Indie Launch

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My new supernatural mystery/horror novel, Salt in the Bloodlaunched last week! It’s a rush writing about my book here, almost like I’m my own celebrity. The launch process, on the other hand, wasn’t such a rush. In fact, it was nerve-wracking and tense, and that’s the best I can say about it.

Like many other indies that have boldly gone before me, I published Salt in the Blood myself. I had several beta readers give me feedback and edits, which unfortunately happened after I’d sent the manuscript to formatting. This meant I had to learn how to format the ePub myself, review it, and get it back on the Kindle publishing platform. I downloaded the programs Calibre and Sigil to help tackle this. When you’ve delayed your launch too long already though, struggling with new software is not something you look forward to.

I managed to make those corrections and get everything set on KDP, but then I realized that the corrections were made directly to the Salt in the Blood ePub and not to the original file. I was at a loss at how to take my ePub back to Word (or, in my case, Pages) and then back again. Instead, I decided to re-create the document using KDP’s 6 x 9 Word template. I took my original file, corrected it, placed it on the template and added a table of contents. With fingers crossed, I uploaded it to Createspace. While Createspace was able to upload the file, was appearing as a one page file. I was devastated and annoyed. Back to the drawing board for me.

I sat at that drawing board so long, I could have written the sequel to Salt in the Blood in that time. Ultimately, I decided to pass on print for now and just finish up the other odds and ends that remained before my soft launch, which was coming up fast. What I didn’t realize was I’d have to decide between 35% and 70% royalties.

This might seem like a “no duh” moment for most of you — who wouldn’t take 70% over 35% pay? But here’s the hitch. Books at the 70% level have to be priced between 2.99 and up. Two ninety-nine is the highest price I’d want to charge for my book, which is novella length. Even though Amazon shows page count on the book’s product page, I didn’t want anyone to feel ripped off by paying too much. I wanted the final price for Salt in the Blood to be .99 and the only way to make that happen was to the choose 35% plan.

Here’s where I curse Amazon softly while pressing the little dot to activate the 35% plan.

Is it not enough that I am only making 99 cents? Now they’ve got to hog most of the money? Heck, it only costs .04 in downloading fees — I’d happily pay that to Amazon if they’d let me keep even half of my meager earnings.

That was my last task, however, before pressing “Publish”. When I got to that point I think a small, scared part of my expected Amazon to implode, explode, or send me an instant rejection letter or something to that effect. But what happened was Salt in the Blood, live, on it’s own product page, ready for purchase.

Now I wait and hope for the best.

**UPDATE: SITB made it to the #2 Spot in Horror/Occult on the first day of hard launch! I’ll consider that a win. Thanks to all of you who helped make it happen!

Help a Starving Author: Get Your Copy of Salt in the Blood Now at Amazon!



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