Every author that sells books on Amazon has got to come to terms with a couple of things. First, you’ll have to promote until you’re blue-in-the-face, everywhere possible, leading necessarily (no matter if you’re a private person down deep) to lots of emails in your in-box(es). Second, you’ll need some reviews. Most of these, you’ll have to ask for. Here are a couple of recent tips I fell into…the hard way, of course.
1. If you swap reviews with another writer, be sure to read excerpts of their work first.
Not every Independently Published author is as serious about the quality of their finsihed work as you are. Some are in a hurry to publish, others’ stories are terribly derivative, others never passed their fourth grade English class, etc., etc.
2. Don’t read from manuscript, read from the actual book — even if you have to buy it.
You can’t review a book from a page of type online. Not possible. Really.
I recently made an agreement. The other writer purchased my book ($11.95 on Amazon), read it, and left me a really good review. He writes very good reviews.
Now, I’m 5 chapters into his novel( more expensive than mine, but I digress…). It’s not terribly thick (good) and it’s in 12 point type (also good), but within the first four chapters, the POV changed four times with no warning, characters’ dialog appeared out of thin air, and the puctuation/capitalization is horrendous! And I’m a guy with the comma disease!
To add insult to injury, it’s typeset (shudder) justified instead of Rag Right, so every page is filled with rivers and streams of vertical white space making reading near impossible. Here’s one way that mainstream publishers usually creat a better product: They can afford to have a book professionally typeset. Using the best of the newest typesetting softwarte and fonts, it is possible to set a page with justifed margins, that doesn’t also have terribly inconsistent word spacing, rivers and streams of whitespace running vertically on every page. It’s very difficult to do this with the level of softwarte and fonts most Indie Authors utilize. Better to set your book flush left, ragged right, to speed reading and prevent holes in your prose, but I digress…
I promised the guy a review, but it’s going to be difficult. What I’m going to have to do is give him a free edit and make up "notes". A deal is a deal. It’s a good thing that with POD, a published book can be easily edited, because if his sales were slow, up to this point, a few changes may make a world of difference.
The real shame of it is that the story is a good one, and the pacing and characters would normally make it a fast, fun read! So…
Don’t get caught in this situation yourself, and never, never, never put another writer in this situation. Do your homework, make your book as good as it can be, first…before you publish. That way, when agents and publishers start to go on and on about the garbage that self-publishing and POD foist upon the public, you can beg to differ honestly.
And be sure to read a book before offering to review it.