What does an author have to do?

Perhaps a better title would be Who does an author have to write about sleeping with to get noticed? Haha. I do my best thinking at night, the middle of the night, to be precise. Subsequently, that's also the time when I'm most creative and the magic happens that I call 'writing'. I began as a journalist. I still write articles, but I've moved on to books because I'm just full of stories. Well, I'm full of something, and since I can't sell that inside a book cover, I sell stories instead. The good news is, my stories don't stink. They're actually really good, but in today's self-publishing market, there is a veritable sea of excellent authors all vying attention.

I began as an Indie published author. I still am although two of my series are under a small boutique publisher, Beau Coup LLC. They are pretty darn awesome, but publishers run into the same difficulties as independently published authors, i.e., navigating those seas full of other authors. Honest to God, it's like that scene in Titanic after the ship sank and all the passengers are just dog-paddling trying not to drown. So what must an author do to get noticed? How can we get our books out to the general public so that enthusiastic, avid readers might find us?

There is no simple answer to that question, but there are definitely routes to take, and routes to avoid.

The one thing I see a lot of are services that offer to review your book (for a substantial price). These services say they will read your book (if they accept it, and often, they won't unless it has a particular number of reviews already), write up a review, and with no guarantee that the review will be a professional critique, favorable at all, or even any kind of a guarantee of refraining from a complete hack job. I say if you have to pay someone to review your book, you're traveling the wrong route.

What every author wants are organic, real reviews from readers who've taken  an interest in, and the time to read your book. Hopefully, these readers are not persons who have nothing better to do than write up a trash review, but that's the risk all authors take. I've read some trash reviews and you can always tell when it's from someone with nothing better to do, and probably didn't actually read the book in the first place. Anyone with basic reading comprehension can tell the difference, and will mentally discard that review and move on. I actually had one that gave my book two stars because, and I quote, "It had too many paragraphs." Uh, yes. It's a book. It has a LOT of paragraphs. My apologies for not including pictures.

HINT: Never engage (respond back to) a trash reviewer. It never ends well. It's best to just ignore it and move forward. I did.


Then there are those who seek to swap reviews author to author. This is another bad idea. What if the person's book you're asked to review is not good? What if it's really bad? Then what? You can always focus on whatever good you got out of it, but how honest is that? How does it help an author to be told their book is good or even okay if it's not professionally edited, if it's clear that English is not their first language, or the story is full of holes? Then you just feel bad, and no one gets what they really need. Worse, the other person either hates your book and says so while you're hesitating writing a review for them, or they simply do no review at all after you've taken the time to do one for them. It's a bad deal. Walk away.


Giving someone a FREE book in exchange for an honest review. Sometimes this works. Sometimes you get an actual review that says what the reader loved, and what they didn't. This is fine except for one problem. On Amazon, reviews by persons that cannot be verified as actually purchasing the book don't count in their ranking algorithm. Well, that sucks!

So authors are left trying hard through social media to advertise their books to a public already flooded with advertisements of all kinds, and then crossing fingers and toes that readers will take the time to review what they read. With the changes going on over at Facebook, achieving organic reach in substantial numbers is no longer possible. They want your ad dollars, and even then, there's no guarantee that your page is reaching the demographic your books target.

Blogging helps, but again, the internet is overflowing with authors with blogs trying to find YOU, the reader. Yes, you. The person reading this now. Sadly, independent publishing is a double-edged sword these days. If you already have name recognition, you're golden. Amazon will put you at the top of their list because with name recognition comes sales, and they love sales. Don't we all?

I remember back in 2011 when I first ventured into self-publishing with my horror/sci-fi short, Harvest. I had no idea then that I would be bitten by the writing bug and go on later to produce several series. No, sir. Then, I published out one small book, didn't even advertise it (because I knew nothing about such things then), and it sold over 400 copies in one month. That was when Kindle was new, and there weren't many authors publishing yet.

Now, I'm lucky to hit numbers like that after several consecutive months, and only with endless work marketing. So how in the world can an author get lucky enough to have someone like Oprah read their books? Or one of the awesome reviewers from HuffPost Books, Washington Post Reviews, New York Times? Well, I don't have an answer yet, but I'm working on it. And when I find a path in that direction, I'll be sure to blaze a trail and fire a flare so you all can follow.

Oh, and DO join other author groups. Cross-promoting with each other does help increase reach, and everyone learns from each other what works, and what does not.


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