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Thread: Be Kind to Indies!

  1. #26
    Trying to learn new tricks JDKinman's Avatar
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    As a private pilot, I'm held to the same standards and rules as the pilots who fly for the airlines when we're both in the air at the same time.

    When we publish work for the general public's consumption, it doesn't matter whether we charge for it or give it away--it's out their for review, both good and bad.

    I'm fortunate, in one sense, in that I come from the world of Madison Avenue where you either develop very thick skin in a hurry, or you get eaten alive.

    For me, writing is a business. I keep score with money and not reviews. As such, I agree one-hundred percent about ignoring reviews--good ones or bad ones. That seems to especially apply to Amazon.

    There is another facet that can be equally harsh and that is e-mails sent to you via your website or blog or publicity page. I've learned to just delete those without even opening them. They are the perfect Forrest Gump example of a "box of chocolates" considering most chocolate candies come filled with nuts. . .

  2. #27
    Writing! Writing! Writing! Requiescat In Pace
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDKinman View Post
    There is another facet that can be equally harsh and that is e-mails sent to you via your website or blog or publicity page. I've learned to just delete those without even opening them. They are the perfect Forrest Gump example of a "box of chocolates" considering most chocolate candies come filled with nuts. . .
    You don't even read them? Do you think you've lost readers because you may appear aloof? I'm not saying you need to develop a relationship with every person who contacts you, but if someone has gone out of their way to contact you, it seems logical to at least acknowlege their time and effort. Why put contact information out there if you don't plan on reading responses?
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  3. #28
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    I reckon if a reader writes a review, his audience is other readers. Not the author. There is no onus on the reviewer to give constructive criticism to improve the author's writing, any more than someone reviewing a shirt needs to tell the dressmaker how to make the hems cleaner or use a different type of thread. "It is uncomfortable and hangs funny" is all other shirt buyers will want to know, so that's all the reviewer needs to say.

    But if a reader directly contacts an author, then they do want to say something directly to the author. Sure, the author can ignore them, but I think that equates to poor marketing.

    I've occasionally emailed and author and said "I happened across your book "Title", read it, loved it, and would like to buy everything else you've ever written. Can you give me a list of your other titles?" No reply means lost sales.

  4. #29
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merrihiatt View Post
    You don't even read them? Do you think you've lost readers because you may appear aloof? I'm not saying you need to develop a relationship with every person who contacts you, but if someone has gone out of their way to contact you, it seems logical to at least acknowlege their time and effort. Why put contact information out there if you don't plan on reading responses?
    An author has no responsibility to answer e-mails from his fans, period. Agent, Editor, Publisher, and his mother, yes, fans no. I visit lots of author websites and many of them will tell their fans that do to the volume of email received, they do not respond to email as a general rule.

    GRR Martin has a twitter page with tens of thousands of followers, but he does not follow a single fan and he does not even respond to twitters posted. So far, it has not hurt his sales or relationship with his fans...

    I have also read about some authors who have been sued for plagiarism, because of an email they received in which someone sent them a sample of their work. This is why some well known authors will not review other writers works, will not accept copies of other authors works and will not work for hire editing other writers books. While they may win in a court of law, the expense and hassle is just too much...

    All kinds of reasons writers do things that seem negative to fans or other writers, but really, they are just protecting themselves. That or they are just antisocial...
    Knowledge is learned while wisdom is earned.

    Currently working on...

    From, The Tales of Netherron,
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    Book 2, Pawn takes Queen,
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  5. #30
    sometimes woefully inaccurate Nimram's Avatar
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    If you have 500 people calling you a genius and 5 people calling you retarded, yes, ignore the 5. If you don't have the 500 who think you're a genius... I would not quit my day job just yet.
    Last edited by Nimram; 04-12-2012 at 05:07 AM. Reason: Ironing
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  6. #31
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post

    I've occasionally emailed and author and said "I happened across your book "Title", read it, loved it, and would like to buy everything else you've ever written. Can you give me a list of your other titles?" No reply means lost sales.
    From my experience, the best way to contact an author you are uncertain about, is to snail mail a letter to them, care of their publishers. I have gotten dozens of responses from some pretty well know authors this way. Plus, I don't lose those responses when I change computers or programs...
    Knowledge is learned while wisdom is earned.

    Currently working on...

    From, The Tales of Netherron,
    Book 1, A Game of Pawns
    Book 2, Pawn takes Queen,
    Book 3, Pawn's Gambit,

    In the pipeline,
    Children of Netherron, follow up trilogy
    Guardians of Netherron, prequel trilogy

    http://nickanthony51.wordpress.com (on hiatus)

    Nick Anthony

  7. #32
    practical experience, FTW JustJas's Avatar
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    I've read in the past about several incidents involving authors who responded to negative reviews and swore that would never be me.The moral of the story: when you get a bad review move far away from the computer until you have cooled down. Do not respond under any circumstances. This has been a cautionary tale.

    Even though pretty much everyone has disagreed with my approach I've just been reminded of how much combined wisdom there is on this site. Hopefully next time I'll heed it before venting.....
    Last edited by JustJas; 04-12-2012 at 05:46 AM.

  8. #33
    practical experience, FTW JustJas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    Why would you expect the average reader to have any understanding of the publishing industry, or to understand the difference between the Big 6 and small press, between small press and vanity press, between vanity press and self pub? Why would the average reader even look at the name of the publisher? And "free" is no longer a sign of "lesser quality". Nowadays, publishers often give away for free older books or short stories to entice readers to buy those authors' newer releases. (And this is hardly a new innovation; Baen has been doing it for a decade or more.)

    IMO, if your books are available at the same venue that commercially published books are sold, then it's only reasonable to expect that all books at that venue are going to be judged by the same criteria. The onus is not on the reader/bookbuyer to learn all about the publishing industry and then identify which names are trade publishers and which are hobbyists. If this was such "common knowledge" then you wouldn't have tens of thousands of hopeful authors falling for scams like PublishAmerica each year.
    You're right - people don't understand the difference between the big 6, vanity presses & small presses, and that's why they get so upset when they buy something that doesn't live up to the standards they were expecting eg.it's riddled with grammatical errors and typos.

    Is one solution for this that self-pubbed authors books should have their own section on Amazon so that people are aware that this book may not have been professionally edited etc? Is it ethical or fair to readers to throw all books together and expect them to wade through them all, or do we still need some sort of standards to be applied? (I've heard stories about people who get their first three chapters only professionally edited to sell their books, so you can't rely on 'look inside' to guide you when it comes to quality).

    Should Amazon play more of a role in ensuring that at least basic standards are met when it comes to quality?

    Amazon is making so much money from self-pubbers that they are unlikely to do anything to jeopardize this. As a self-pubber (not indie, I now know the difference!) I love the current set-up, but I do see from a readers point of view how frustrating it can be when there is so much out there, and it's only going to get worse as more and more people discover the joys of self-publishing.
    Last edited by JustJas; 04-12-2012 at 06:20 AM.

  9. #34
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thothguard51 View Post
    I visit lots of author websites and many of them will tell their fans that do to the volume of email received, they do not respond to email as a general rule.
    Sure, that's fair enough. But if an author doesn't state that, and provides an email address on their website or publicity page, but then refuses to read fanmail, it's a bit of a mixed message.

  10. #35
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thothguard51 View Post
    From my experience, the best way to contact an author you are uncertain about, is to snail mail a letter to them, care of their publishers. I have gotten dozens of responses from some pretty well know authors this way. Plus, I don't lose those responses when I change computers or programs...
    Well, any time I've emailed an author and expressed interest in buying/reading more of their work, they've always replied.

  11. #36
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustJas View Post
    Should Amazon play more of a role in ensuring that at least basic standards are met when it comes to qualit?
    Do we ask the same of Borders, B&N or any mom and pop book store?

    Amazon is a vendor and not a publisher...
    Knowledge is learned while wisdom is earned.

    Currently working on...

    From, The Tales of Netherron,
    Book 1, A Game of Pawns
    Book 2, Pawn takes Queen,
    Book 3, Pawn's Gambit,

    In the pipeline,
    Children of Netherron, follow up trilogy
    Guardians of Netherron, prequel trilogy

    http://nickanthony51.wordpress.com (on hiatus)

    Nick Anthony

  12. #37
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    Well, any time I've emailed an author and expressed interest in buying/reading more of their work, they've always replied.
    Did not mean to imply my way is the only way, or that all authors are like those I have written to...
    Knowledge is learned while wisdom is earned.

    Currently working on...

    From, The Tales of Netherron,
    Book 1, A Game of Pawns
    Book 2, Pawn takes Queen,
    Book 3, Pawn's Gambit,

    In the pipeline,
    Children of Netherron, follow up trilogy
    Guardians of Netherron, prequel trilogy

    http://nickanthony51.wordpress.com (on hiatus)

    Nick Anthony

  13. #38
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustJas View Post
    Should Amazon play more of a role in ensuring that at least basic standards are met when it comes to quality?
    IMO: Amazon, like any bookseller, decides what they will and will not stock. Readers, like any type of consumers, will learn over time which vendors they prefer to shop at. Readers who want the huge variety and accept the range of quality will shop at Amazon. Readers who accept less variety to ensure quality will shop at ebook retailers who only stock books from commercial presses (e.g. B&N, BooksOnBoard, Kobo).

  14. #39
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    IMO: Amazon, like any bookseller, decides what they will and will not stock.
    Amazon "stocks" anything with an ISBN, or anything that someone wants to upload -- including the equivalent of spam, automated scrapings from Wikipedia, and other amazing things. They aren't going to pause and read the stuff that folks are uploading.

    Readers, like any type of consumers, will learn over time which vendors they prefer to shop at. Readers who want the huge variety and accept the range of quality will shop at Amazon. Readers who accept less variety to ensure quality will shop at ebook retailers who only stock books from commercial presses (e.g. B&N, BooksOnBoard, Kobo).
    B&N has its own sources of self-e-published material; their PubIt program and Smashwords. Kobo also accepts Smashwords uploads and, while those are vetted for basic formatting, I don't know that they reject anything because of content.

  15. #40
    practical experience, FTW JustJas's Avatar
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    The thing about Smashwords is that it's very clear that these books are not produced by trade publishers so readers are aware of what they're getting.

    Do you think if Amazon made this distinction that there would be a significant inpact on sales of self-pubbed books?

    Again, I'm not endorsing this approach as I do love the current set-up, but it's something I've been thinking about lately as I ponder the current self-publishing "gold rush" and the future of publishing in general.
    Last edited by JustJas; 04-12-2012 at 08:02 AM.

  16. #41
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Readers want gatekeepers.

    Eventually new gates will arise, and there will be people keeping those gates.

  17. #42
    Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. kaitie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustJas View Post
    The thing about Smashwords is that it's very clear that these books are not produced by trade publishers so readers are aware of what they're getting.

    Do you think if Amazon made this distinction that there would be a significant inpact on sales of self-pubbed books?

    Again, I'm not endorsing this approach as I do love the current set-up, but it's something I've been thinking about lately as I ponder the current self-publishing "gold rush" and the future of publishing in general.
    Here's the thing: You've just basically said "self-published books aren't as high quality as commercially published books." While that's true the vast majority of the time, I can see a couple of problems with this. Writers may not want to have their work relegated to the kiddie table. Especially when you consider how many self-published authors are working to dispel the opinion that their work isn't as good as a commercially published book.

    It also means that the authors who are fighting to be true professionals would have their works mixed in with the hobbyists, as you called it. Also, what about commercially published authors who choose to self-publish backlists and so on. Those are technically self-published, but again, not hobbyist works. And those authors would want to be grouped with the self-published "non-professional" titles. They'd want their backlists to be found right there beside their other titles.

    To be honest, I think if you want to be a hobbyist and give your work away for free without the stress, you would be better off just posting the work on your website. Random internet-goers would know that you were just doing it for fun and not expect the "sales" aspect to mean that you were trying to be on par with the commercially published books.
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  18. #43
    practical experience, FTW JustJas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaitie View Post
    Here's the thing: You've just basically said "self-published books aren't as high quality as commercially published books." While that's true the vast majority of the time, I can see a couple of problems with this. Writers may not want to have their work relegated to the kiddie table. Especially when you consider how many self-published authors are working to dispel the opinion that their work isn't as good as a commercially published book.

    It also means that the authors who are fighting to be true professionals would have their works mixed in with the hobbyists, as you called it. Also, what about commercially published authors who choose to self-publish backlists and so on. Those are technically self-published, but again, not hobbyist works. And those authors would want to be grouped with the self-published "non-professional" titles. They'd want their backlists to be found right there beside their other titles.

    To be honest, I think if you want to be a hobbyist and give your work away for free without the stress, you would be better off just posting the work on your website. Random internet-goers would know that you were just doing it for fun and not expect the "sales" aspect to mean that you were trying to be on par with the commercially published books.
    Yes, there are many problems with this, and a lot of self-published authors would be opposed to it for good reasons. I think it's great that the publishing power structure is being challenged and good books that just aren't commercially appealing enough for publishers to take a risk on are now getting a chance to reach readers. I'm just thinking about the long-term future of publishing, and whether the current state of affairs is sustainable. I think we are in a bit of a 'golden age' for self-publishers which may not last long (I hope I'm wrong). It's definitely an interesting time for publishing and it's going to be fascinating to see how things develop over the next few years. I agree with the comment that eventually new gatekeepers will arise, but where they come from and what form they take remains to be seen.
    Last edited by JustJas; 04-12-2012 at 12:31 PM.

  19. #44
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    I think that the new gatekeepers will be trusted reviewers and curated lists: The same things that snatch the occasional worthwhile story from the Pit of Voles.

    Also, I don't think that commercial publishing is going to vanish any time soon. More on this later.

  20. #45
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    I think that the new gatekeepers will be trusted reviewers and curated lists: The same things that snatch the occasional worthwhile story from the Pit of Voles.
    I just love that Uncle Jim knows about the Pit of Voles.

    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    Also, I don't think that commercial publishing is going to vanish any time soon. More on this later.


    It sometimes distresses me (when I'm at a weak/low point) when someone talks about the Death of Commercial Publishing, even though I know it's not true.

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    The first draft is a huge pile of clay that you've laboriously heaped on your table, patting it into a rough shape as you go along. From the second draft onward, you'll cut away chunks, add bits, pat and punch and pinch, until you finally have a gorgeous figure of, oh, Marcus Aurelius. Or a duck. But a damn fine duck.
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  21. #46
    starting over Marian Perera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bearilou View Post
    I just love that Uncle Jim knows about the Pit of Voles.
    Uncle Jim knows about the God Awful Fan Fiction forums too.

    Uncle Jim knows pretty much everything.

  22. #47
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Queen of Swords View Post
    Uncle Jim knows pretty much everything.
    QFT!
    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    The first draft is a huge pile of clay that you've laboriously heaped on your table, patting it into a rough shape as you go along. From the second draft onward, you'll cut away chunks, add bits, pat and punch and pinch, until you finally have a gorgeous figure of, oh, Marcus Aurelius. Or a duck. But a damn fine duck.
    Quote Originally Posted by KTC View Post
    1) Write like your face is on fire.
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  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustJas View Post
    I have just received my first bad review for my very first indie short story (the words "unbelievably retarded" figured prominently in it, so you get the idea).

    It's really made me question why people feel the need to get so nasty on Amazon and if it has gone too far. At the moment it's Lord of the Flies out there and it seems to be particularly bad for indie authors.

    This is only partly sour grapes talking. I've been wondering for a while if people need to realize that many indie authors are hobbyists and stop holding them to the same standards as traditionally published authors, particularly when we are giving our work away for free. Should readers be a little more kinder and lenient towards indie amateurs, or should every author be held to the same standards?

    (I've written about this in greater length in my blog entry Indies Are People Too! if you're interested).
    Sorry, but as an indie author too, I don't agree that we should be treated any differently--however, that goes both ways. Sometimes it feels that readers scrutinize an indie book much more than they would a book from a traditional publisher. They expect to find errors, so they look until they find them. (and very few books are perfect). Slap a traditional publishers name on the same book, and the reader might give it an entirely different review.

    Anyway, while the OP might be a hobbyist, many of us are making earning a living with our indie books.

    Oh well.

  24. #49
    practical experience, FTW JustJas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMcDonald64 View Post
    Sorry, but as an indie author too, I don't agree that we should be treated any differently--however, that goes both ways. Sometimes it feels that readers scrutinize an indie book much more than they would a book from a traditional publisher. They expect to find errors, so they look until they find them. (and very few books are perfect). Slap a traditional publishers name on the same book, and the reader might give it an entirely different review.

    Anyway, while the OP might be a hobbyist, many of us are making earning a living with our indie books.

    Oh well.
    I am serious about my writing too but just don't dare call myself a 'real' author yet when I'm making so little money....

    I started this thread to unwisely vent about a bad review for my self-published short story. It was my first real taste of the terrible lows of a bad review, but today I'm happy to say I've experienced the high side of writing through a 5-star review from Mrs Condit Reads Books for my novel Pleasure Island (Siren Bookstrand).

    It just goes to show you should never get too upset by a bad review because there is always another review around the corner, and when you get that good review it makes it all worthwhile.

    A friend also sent me this article that argues that bad reviews can actually boost sales. I know if I read about a book that has really bad reviews it can sometimes make me more curious about the book, so there may be some truth in it. Take heart next time you get a bad review, they are not the end of the world and may actually be good for you!

    Good reviews, as expected, increased sales across the board, with gains from 32% to 52%. For books by established authors, negative reviews caused a drop of about 15%, on average—also not surprising. But for books by relatively unknown authors, bad reviews caused sales to rise, by an average of 45%. This held even when the criticism was extreme: After one particularly scathing review, for instance (“the characters do not have personalities so much as particular niches in the stratosphere”), sales more than quadrupled.

    The reason? Our analysis showed that by making consumers aware of a book they would otherwise not know about, even the harshest review can be a boon
    Last edited by JustJas; 04-15-2012 at 05:53 AM.

  25. #50
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    JusJas,

    Me, I tend not to read reviews at all, for one reason, so many are fake reviews that I am not going to waste my time trying to figure out real from fake. Besides, there are just too many self published books to wade through and if I read every review of every book, I will never get to read a book.

    I prefer to read the blurb to see if I would like the story and then read a sample or two to see if I like the authors style.

    Don't sweat the reviews, everyone is different.
    Knowledge is learned while wisdom is earned.

    Currently working on...

    From, The Tales of Netherron,
    Book 1, A Game of Pawns
    Book 2, Pawn takes Queen,
    Book 3, Pawn's Gambit,

    In the pipeline,
    Children of Netherron, follow up trilogy
    Guardians of Netherron, prequel trilogy

    http://nickanthony51.wordpress.com (on hiatus)

    Nick Anthony

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