“Emily’s Stories” AudioBook: Thanks for the great reviews

I never know what combination of good luck and synchronicity brings a batch of nice comments and reviews to one book and not to another. Bottom line, whenever a reader leaves a review on Amazon or on Audible, I’m thankful they took the time to say what they thought (especially when they liked the book).

Emily’s Stories has some great reviews on Audible, for the story and for the audiobook’s narration. Seeing this makes my day.

Here’s what people are saying:

  • I recommend this audiobook more than any other
  • What a beautiful, beautiful story
  • A sweet YA paranormal fantasy story
  • An excellent book for young adults and others
  • Touching, great fantasy/paranormal stories

And those are just the titles for the reviews.  At present, Emily’s Stories has a 4.5 average rating.

Here’s the review from AudioFile Magazine:

Kelley Hazen’s spirited delivery enhances Campbell’s descriptive writing in these three stories about 14-year-old Emily Walters. “High Country Painter” present a talkative Emily and a realistic-sounding bird that directs Emily to magically draw obstacles to divert a grizzly bear. In “Map Maker,” Emily meets an eerie-sounding ghost who helps her save a sacred forest from developers. In “Sweetbay Magnolia,” Hazen captures Grandma Walters’s elderly voice as well as her persistence and wit to perfection. Young listeners will enjoy hearing Emily explain about TMI–too much information. Hazen’s skill at creating believable bird and ghost voices adds to the listening pleasure. S.G.B. © AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine [Published: DECEMBER 2017]

Perhaps the young adults in your family will enjoy the stories as well.

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

Where have all the reviewers gone?

Small press and self-published authors have noticed over the past year or so that their books are getting fewer and fewer reader reviews on Amazon and B&N. Meanwhile, the big books that don’t need any reader reviews to survive, often have a thousand or so people saying they loved the book. Here is my response:

Meh, too much trouble.

Where have all the reviewers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the reviewers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the reviewers gone?
Big books have picked them everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the big books gone, long time passing?
Where have all the big books gone, long time ago?
Where have all the big books gone?
Gone for big publishers everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the big publishers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the big publishers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the big publishers gone?
Gone for conglomerates everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the conglomerates gone, long time passing?
Where have all the conglomerates gone, long time ago?
Where have all the conglomerates gone?
Gone for Amazon everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where has Amazon gone, long time passing?
Where has Amazon gone, long time ago?
Where has Amazon gone?
Gone for a billion other products everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have the billion products gone, long time passing?
When have the billion products gone, long time ago?
Where have the billion products gone?
Gone for a monopoly everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where, then, have the small presses gone, long time passing?
Where have the small presses gone, long time ago?
Where have the small presses gone?
Gone to graveyards, nearly everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago?
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to amnesia everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the reviewers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the reviewers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the reviewers gone?
The void has picked them everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Copyright © 2019 by Malcolm R. Campbell

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the comedy/satire Special Investigative Reporter.

I spend more time tinkering with stuff than writing stuff

Some time ago, I read a post in the late Pat Conroy’s blog in which he thanked his publicity team from his publisher. No wonder he sells so many copies. His team was bigger than my neighborhood.

Most of us don’t have a publicity team, so we try to do it ourselves. Frankly, we like to think that our strong points as authors are the books we produce. Our weak points are creating ads, blog posts, and scintillating website copy. But we try.

I just finished reading an author’s book that came out several years ago from a sizeable publisher. When I checked her website, I was surprised to see that it had been more or less dormant for three years. Maybe she can afford to let it go until her next book comes out. But most of us can’t. So, if we have blogs, we try to post often. If we have websites, we keep tinkering with them in hopes that visitors will be lured back with fresh stuff to read.

Sometimes we have real news. I recently announced the new hardcover editions of Conjure Woman’s Cat, Eulalie and Washerwoman, Lena, and a collection of short stories called Widely Scattered Ghosts.

A few days ago, AudioFile Magazine posted a favorable review of the Audiobook edition of Lena.  Sometimes we have to rely on back-up materials, in my case, I often post pictures of the Florida Panhandle where my books are set and recently posted an opinion about the bankruptcy of white supremacy. Frankly, once we were out of the Jim Crow era, I didn’t expect to see it again.

Lately, tinkering hasn’t been enough. Book sales have been down for a while for many self-published and small-press authors. I’m glad it’s not just me, but knowing that doesn’t tell me what to do to fix it.  Some changes have hurt us. One is the fact that Amazon has changed its giveaways so that they work less well for small-press and self-published authors. GoodReads giveaways used to be free; now they cost over $100. Sure, both sites need to make money for what they offer, but they are doing so at small-press authors’ expense. That means, I can no longer afford to run giveaways on either site, and that’s a great loss of exposure.

Fewer people seem to be posting reviews of small-press authors’ books these days. Needless to say, this looks bad when prospective readers come to a book’s listing page on Amazon and see almost no reader comments. On the plus side, people are leaving more reviews on Audible than before, and that helps generate interest in our audiobook editions.

Some authors ask for reviews on their blogs, websites, Facebook, and Twitter. I don’t like doing that. For one thing, it seems amateurish. Well-known authors certainly don’t try to shame readers into posting reviews on GoodReads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Frankly, I don’t think readers should feel an obligation to post a reader review. While I wish they would, I don’t fault them for not doing it.

In the last year or so, many book newsletters that promote books on sale have been charging more, expecting a larger number of Amazon reviews, and–in spite of that–have brought lower sales. I won’t say this sales method has dried up, but it seems that way. Yet, telling readers I can’t get into newsletters because they aren’t reviewing my books seems wrong.

I do fault many media sites who talk about the best books of the year, post lists of upcoming books to consider, and in late summer start creating their top books of the year lists. Most, if not all of them, ignore small-press books. So what you have is the best books from publishers like HarperCollins, Penguin, and Hachette. Most publishers and their books are off the radar. These lists offer a lot of exposure throughout the year, though I have to say, they are promoting books that don’t need any help. Those books that could benefit the most from, say, a list of the best beach reads or best books of the year (so far), aren’t even considered.

To some extent, I think many small-press and self-published authors are in a hurry: the books are printed as soon as they’re finished and edited. Instead, they should have advance copies ready for review sites that expect to see prospective books four months prior to publication. Mainstream sites require this. Then, the hardbacks need to be issued first–which is standard–followed by Kindle editions and then many months later by paperbacks. Why? Because this is the way big publishers work and when we don’t do things this way, we lose exposure and look like also-rans.

What this all means for small-press and self-published writers is finding ways to cut back. Cutting back, of course, reduces their books’ exposure. One of the first things to go will probably be the website. If it costs more than an author makes from royalties in a year, it’s not pulling its weight. And of course, none of us wants to run in the red. In other cases, small publishers may close their doors because the time and expense of reading, editing, formatting, and publishing new titles are no longer viable. I think this is a sad thing for many reasons, among them, being allowing the conglomerates to publish/control the books we read rather than having a strong grassroots competition from indies of all kinds.

I read a larger number of books every year, most from BIG PUBLISHERS. Why? Those are the books I hear about and those are the books with a lot of Amazon and GoodReads reviews. Perhaps most of you find your books the same way. What I hope, though, is that when readers find a small-press or self-published book they like, they will tell their friends about it, mention on Facebook that they enjoyed it, say something in their blogs about it, and consider posting a review on Amazon, GoodReads, and Barnes & Noble. This support helps authors stay in business and write more books that will also catch your attention. And, it keeps the conglomerate publishers from controlling everything we read!

As those old two guys on the old Bartles & Jaymes TV wine cooler commercials used to say, “thank you for your support.”

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People often ask if authors compete with each other

Sort of, kind of, maybe, if we’re up for the same award, but usually not.

In fact, if Amazon (or some unbiased guru) tells me that if I like book ABC, I will probably like book XYZ, I’ll probably take a look. Sure, I know Amazon wants me to buy more than I can afford to buy. But, if another author is writing books that Amazon thinks are competing with mine, I will probably want to read them. Why? I write the kinds of books I like to read, so if anyone else is doing it, I want to find their books.

Sometimes I’m surprised. I was looking for magical realism books this morning and found one on Amazon that came from an author I’d never heard of from a publisher I’d never heard of that had almost 4,000 customer reviews. After getting rid of a few initial feelings of jealousy, I wanted to find out how they did this. Usually, 4,000 customer reviews is something you expect for titles by famous writers. So how does somebody “come out of nowhere” and get that kind of response?

Unless one is a very avid magical realism reader and buys every new release, I doubt that my books are competing with this book. I have a feeling that I’m going to read this book. But first, I want to know how 4,000 people found out about it and took the time to post a review. Most people don’t review the books they read, so if 4,000 is a fraction of the book’s total number of readers, wow!

As writers, our first duty is telling stories. After that, the whole business falls into the black hole of marketing and promotion. So, when we see somebody who is successful, we want to know how they did it. We learn from each other, sometimes at conferences and panels and workshops, and sometimes through information on authors’ websites and interviews. Chances are, we will never be able to duplicate another author’s road to success exactly–or even inexactly. What s/he did, is probably so closely linked to who they are, where they are, the hundreds of choices of a lifetime they have made, that there is no way to “become them” and “do what they did.”

Perhaps we’ll learn one tip or a hundred tips. If so, we’re a little better off than we were before!

Malcolm