Tag Archives: ebook

Do You Want Your Self-Published Book Reviewed?

book

In my short career as a self-published author I have published two e-books. The first, was an autobiographical look at my experience wasting time as a member of a Star Trek message board. The second, was a novel I wrote based on an attempt to write a novel in 50 days about a thirty something male who hated his office cubicle work life. Come to think of it, there was a nice chunk of autobiographical material in that one as well.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE SELF-PUBLISHING EXPERIENCE

Although neither one of these books set the world on fire, I did learn quite a bit during the process about writing, self-publishing and attempting to market them. The first lesson I learned was that writing and self-publishing a book requires time, effort and some (although not necessarily a lot of) money. It should not be surprising that writing a book requires a good deal of time and effort if one is concerned about creating a quality work product. As far as the money part goes, the actual publishing of the book is not that expensive. You can spend a bit more on editing, book cover design and marketing if you want. Personally, I would not suggest doing this if this is your first e-book or if you do not have a following of some kind. Because the truth is, you will probably spend more money than you will make in the process. All that considered, I still think the creative process of writing and self-publishing is a good experience. My advice to any newbies is to try to spend as little of your own money in the process.

The second lesson I learned is that once the book is published it can be challenging (to say the least) to get the book read and reviewed. My experience being a self-published author and milling about the various websites and forums that cater to self-published authors is that there are many people who have written books and are desirous of other people to read and review their work. Some are desperate. They want this for two reasons. The first reason is premised on the dream that their book will turn into a best seller and free them from their day job. Reviews are one way to boost the profile of the book on Amazon (or other self-published distributors) and the higher the profile the more theoretical sales they will make. The second reason most likely arises once the dream of self-publishing a best seller evaporates. This reason is the desire for some form of validation. The author has put all this time, effort and money into the process and although he or she has given up the hope of recouping that investment, he or she wants some form of acknowledgment. Another person (who is not a friend or family member) reading the book and writing an honest review can provide this validation.

THERE ARE MANY SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS WHO WANT THEIR BOOKS REVIEWED

When I look up the two books I self-published on Amazon I see that they are both ranked in the 2,000,000s for their particular genre. This means that there are at least 2,000,000 other people (and probably far more considering all the possible genres) who find themselves in this position. Most will never have their book read, let alone read and reviewed.

But this then means that there are millions and millions of people who are motivated  to get their books reviewed and the obvious solution (at least to me anyway) is to have these people read and review each other’s books. However, the problem with this solution is that if two authors read and review each other’s work there will be a motivation to provide a positive review in the hope that the other reviewer will do likewise. Conversely, there is a fear that a negative review will invite a similar negative reprisal. This dynamic calls the honesty of these type of review swaps into question and is probably why Amazon and other review platforms frown on the practice.

MY SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM

My solution to this problem is simple. Create a matching service that introduces self-published authors to each other in a non binary or non reciprocal manner. That is, create a system whereby Author A reviews Author B who reviews Author C who reviews Author A. In this way there is no longer the motivation to provide a falsely positive review. This is a simplified version of the process but it articulates the philosophy that if Author A reviews Author B, Author B cannot review Author A.

This is the service my website www.binderreview.com provides. For $5 you will be introduced to an author whose book you will review. In addition, another author will be introduced to you to review your book. Note, www.binderreview.com is just an introduction service. Once introduced, it is up to you and the other author to arrange the book’s transfer and decide on which review platform you want the review to appear. None of this is transacted through the website.

THE SALES PITCH (SORT OF)

Of course there are paid review services. Most of them cost over $100 and take a month or two for the book to be read and reviewed. Moreover, the review will generally appear on the paid review’s website and not on Amazon or another book selling website. But if a person has already sunk some money into their project do they really want to sink hundreds of dollars more into a project from which they will probably never seen any monetary return on investment? This is why the cost of www.binderreview.com is priced so low. My thinking was that $5 is a nominal amount to pay to be introduced to a self-published author who will review your work. Your review of another person’s work helps to defray the cost. If I could, I would provide the service for free because I understand the psychology of a self-published author in this position. But at the same time, I would like to recoup the cost I paid to develop the website and pay for hosting, etc.

The truth is, most self-published authors will never make money off of their effort. But I believe anyone who takes the time and effort to write and self-publish a book should at least have a chance that their book is read and reviewed by another person. This is the service I want to provide with www.binderreview.com.

ONE MORE THING

The only way to get this website to work is to have a certain number of people sign up to create a viable and available pool of people. I am also a little unsure as to whether the website is intuitive enough for a person attempting to use it. For this reason, for the first ten people who do sign up, in addition to being matched through the service, I will personally read your book and give it an honest review for free if you send me a copy. Also, please give me any feedback you might have on the website. My goal is to make it as user friendly as possible given my current resources.

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How To Write About Painful Topics (Interview)

Here is a link to an interview I had with Gary Smailes of Bubblecow, a company based in the UK that provides editing and publishing assistance for self-published authors.

In this interview Gary asks me about writing honestly about painful topics as it relates to my first self published eBook “Shame and Internet Trolling.”

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To Any E-Book Author Needing a Book Review… I will Review Yours if You Review Mine

I recently wrote and published an eBook entitled Shame and Internet Trolling and am looking for an independent reader to write an honest review on Amazon and Goodreads. I have noticed that there are many services available on the internet offering to review independently published books for a fee. I assume there are a lot of authors out there who are in my situation but do not want to pay for a review. Here is what I propose:

If you are an independent author who has recently published and want a review please contact me in the comment section below. I will read and review your book if you read and review mine.

I am looking forward to hearing from any other independent authors!

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How I Wrote and Published My First eBook

In 2013 I read a book by James Altucher entitled Choose Yourself. I had been a regular reader of his articles and books and at the time I was going through a major life transition on all levels. I had lost my job and moved in with my parents in 2009. I was able to find part-time work but was not making enough to move out. I was desperately depressed, my marriage was on the rocks and my life seemed stuck. There were many things that helped me to ultimately turn my life around but one of them was James Altucher’s book. One of the things he talked about that really stuck with me was the idea that the 9 to 5 corporate cubicle jobs that disappeared in the recession of 2008 were not coming back and the ones that remained would probably disappear eventually as well. The only way to survive ultimately is to become an entrepreneur — to choose yourself.

Somewhere in his book he also mentioned that he was interested in what motivated internet trolls. Knowing a thing or two on the subject I sent him a long email explaining my experiences and what I thought were my motivations when I trolled. To my surprise he responded pretty quickly and asked if he could use what I wrote for an article. I agreed.

After his article was published (thinking along the entrepreneurial lines he espoused in his book) I asked if he was interested in collaborating on a book about trolling. Graciously he encouraged me to write what ultimately became the book I recently published entitled Shame and Internet Trolling. He told me to make it personal and embarrassing and said he would connect me with an editor when I finished.

For a year I woke up at 5:00am gathering old blog posts relevent to the subject and writing new ones all of which are available on this blog. I then consolidated and edited all this information into a first draft manuscript. When I started this project my marriage was failing and I worked from home out of my parents’ basement in Connecticut. By the time I finished my marriage was great and had moved to North Carolina. The process of writing the book was incredibly therapeutic for me.

I approached James and told him I was finished with the manuscript. He introduced me to a person named Zach Obront who works with people who publish ebooks. For about $2, 500 he offered to edit and help publish and market my work. I agreed thinking at the very least this would be a learning opportunity on the process. He then assigned an editor to read my manuscript. Based on the editor’s really helpful comments I spent another couple of months rewriting and editing. Having an editor read and comment on my writing was definitely a crucial part of the process. Finally I had a finished product.

Zach suggested I use 99 Designs to set up a competition to design the cover artwork. It cost around $250 and took a few weeks to fully play out. Using their service I set up a contest where artists submitted book covers which I rated and gave feedback to. Then there was a final round where the best contributors competed for the final design. In the end I selected a winner who received a cash prize.  Once the cover art was completed Zach suggested I use Bookbaby to digitally convert my manuscript into an e-book and then distribute it to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other outlets. This also cost about $300. I would definitely recommend both of these services.

Once the book was distributed Zach provided a list of blogs, podcasts and other media outlets I could approach to market my book as a guest writer. This, I found to be the least helpful part. Most of the outlets he mentioned specifically did not want their guest writers marketing their books and many of them were not really on point with the subject of my book. So if I had to do it over I would have skipped the marketing aspect and would have saved myself about $1000. Probably books on more marketable subjects would benefit more from the research Zach and his people provided.

So that’s my experience of writing and publishing my e-book. I am still in the marketing phase so I will probably have more to say on that subject as I figure out what I am doing.

 

 

 

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