I just spent two hours watching a webinar about book reviews. Not writing them…getting them. This is just one of the many things about being a writer they don’t warn you about. Even though I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, it’s only in the last two years that I became active in trying to sell my work. When I was young I sometimes wrote for fun, but more often I wrote because there was something spinning around in my head that just needed to get OUT and it wasn’t going to leave me alone until I put pen to paper and expressed it. I still have some of those early efforts in a wood box I built for keepsakes in my middle-school shop class.
Then, as a young adult in Montana, I was heavy into the horse business and I started writing short articles about horse care and training which evolved into a newsletter called “Horse Bits” that I distributed first to my riding students and later to local tack and feed stores. Imagine my surprise the day an unsolicited check arrived in the mail from a reader in New York who had picked up my newsletter while vacationing in Missoula and had enjoyed it so much that she wanted to subscribe. Up until that point, it had never occurred to me that someone might actually PAY to read the meanderings of my silly mind. (Some would say insane, but that’s a topic for another time…)
It wasn’t long after that, that I developed a mailing list of readers who paid a small fee to cover the cost of postage to read Horse Bits. And then one day, my phone rang. It was the editor of a small Equestrian Newspaper who wanted to interview me for a feature article. I was flattered and thrilled, of course, and in the midst of the interview he admitted he wanted to offer me my own column…which soon turned into TWO columns: One for my articles, the other for reader Q&A.
But that was decades ago and times have changed. Now everything is online and if a writer wants to be read, you need to be on the internet. And if you want people to read your work on the internet, you need a following. If you want a following, you need reviews. It’s a catch-22. Nobody wants to read an unknown author with zero reviews and yet you need readers to GET reviews. And you need those readers to take the time to visit your website or Amazon page and write a review. Which is much more difficult than I would have ever imagined because I’m a good reviewer. Amazon always sends out those emails inviting you to review books you’ve purchased and I’m one of those people who will click on the link and write a review. I did that even before I knew how important reviews are to authors because as a reader I find reviews are helpful when I am book shopping. But now, as the author, I’ve come to realize just how rare people like myself actually are, which makes me eternally grateful to every single one of my readers who has taken the time to post a review on Amazon.
So consider this a huge shout out THANK YOU to every one of you who has taken the time to post a review on Amazon about Dust of Earth or Days of Chaos!!! I cannot express how much I appreciate all of you!
Looking back over the years and all the endless hours I’ve spent staring at notebooks or typing paper, and now computer screens, I realize that wrestling with sentence structure, struggling with plot-lines, and resisting the urge to vilify annoying acquaintances in print, (okay, maybe I don’t resist that urge as well as I should…)—writing the story is the easy part. It’s learning about dull things like formatting and search engine optimization that are the most difficult and challenging. I gave up on learning to build a website and farmed that task out to the very capable Melissa at designbound.com, without whom I would be lost. And then there’s marketing and sales. UGH.
Y’know, I could’ve sworn there was a rule book somewhere that says us creative right-brain types aren’t required to do left-brain tasks like analyzing sales data to do target marketing for optimal results. Icky spit poo!!!
Oops, I didn’t mean to say that out loud…