Sunday, July 22, 2012

Indie Authors: Your Sales are Your Fault

Okay, I had a number of other blogs set to post before this one. But, I just got wind of what appears to be a huge war between select authors and some reviewers. To sum in up, there were probably some snarky reviews written, and there were probably some authors who were not happy about it. The whole thing got ridiculous. I mean, really, it's a mess. As I am not supporting the harassment that has been associated with this reviewer/author war, I am not linking to anything that would drive traffic to further this abuse.

That being said... on to what made me want to write this blog.

There have been a thousand blogs (probably) written about how to take negative reviews. But, this really has little to do with reviews and more to do with what any indie author should expect and their consequential behavior.

I was disgusted when I saw a friend of mine smeared on one of the links I clicked on. I must admit, what she said was a bit snarky... when taken out of context. But, I know her. I've had coffee with her. She is snarky, full of commentary, but completely sane and non-harassing. Her reviews are intelligently written, and she always gives a justified response for why she didn't like a book. And even most of those are accompanied by "it didn't work for me. This doesn't mean it won't work for you." I've put books on my "to-read" shelves that she didn't care for at all. And this is someone who was slandered. I'm a bit baffled.

Let's take this one step further. This reviewer has seen the first couple of chapters of my book. She wasn't impressed. Honestly, I'm thankful for that. Why? Because I know not to dare try publishing it yet!

I can almost guarantee this whole war was started by indie authors. How do I know this? Because the public relations departments at publishing houses aren't going to condone or represent this type of unabashed harassment from their authors.

What You Need To Know:
If you are an indie author, you need to be prepared to not make any money. More likely than not, you will be "in the red" due to all the costs to get a good looking, readable book. This includes money spent on editors, book cover designers, formatting, and whatever else you want to do to make your book beautiful. (Yes, I know it is possible to publish without these expenditures, but let's not get into that.)

So, before you plunge into publishing indie, you need to know that you might lose money on your book.

That's only item #1. Let's continue.

You've heard it before. I'm sure you've had plenty of readers tell you that your book is phenomenal. Then a well-known or well-followed reviewer comes along and gives you a bad review. This makes your sales drop. And for those of us who make money this way, that can be quite a challenging thing to ignore. But, you must. It's called integrity. In today's world of instant access to whomever we want, this is even more important. I have no interest in reading books by authors who have tarnished their own reputation by coarsely disagreeing with reviewers. There are plenty of books out there that are not surrounded by a shroud of sketchiness.

To those of you who only write the "good" reviews, shame on you. In a way, I somewhat appreciate it. But, in a way, you are encouraging crap to continue floating around out there. By posting a bad review, you are not dashing someone's dreams on the rocks. There are ways to post reviews that would be called "bad reviews" but are really critiques on where the author failed to perform.

Did you read that last line thoroughly? It's where authors failed to perform. So the fault is really with the author. Sometimes, this is okay! Really! How can a religious author please an atheist? How can can a YA author please the erotica reader? (Sure... I'm sure you're saying it can be done, but really most authors tend to aim to please their audience.)

I'm not telling you how to take your reviews. You can take them however you want. But, take your complaints and gripes offline and out of sight of other readers. Because, in essence, reviewers are readers and by dashing a reviewer, you are dashing your readers. This is obviously a bad idea. Your sales will surely will drop.

So, to recap point #2: Don't hate on people who took the time to read what you wrote. It comes across as being insecure or entitled. Until you are a household name, don't act that way. Most household names don't act that way, why do you think you can?

Also, authors, if these reviewers wanted to interact with you they would probably go to your blog/website/Facebook/Twitter and make contact that way.

Seriously, folks. Publishing a book does not guarantee sales, and reviewers are not really the reason why your books aren't getting sales. Truth is, most people didn't like your book enough to rave about it. It happens. Get over it. Move on, and get better.

These reviewers may end up being the indie world's version of trad pub's gatekeeper. So, in my experience, getting mad at the gatekeeper doesn't do you any good. If anything, make friends, follow their reviews and figure out what it is that they have to teach you, the author.

As a side note, I really think that this boils down to the fact that indie authors, not all, are getting self-righteous because they have finally figured out a way to say, "screw you!" to the agents and publishing houses that have had control over this industry. Well, guess what, by removing agents and publishing houses, you've only redirected the power from the highly funded marketing super engines into the hands of the readers. Authors will never hold the power... we will always be at the mercy of our readers. Don't forget that.