How To Get Noticed In A Downpour

It’s raining books. Yes, it is. Some three million books were published last year. Nightstands and shelves are stacked with books, digital and otherwise. A plethora of books is good news for book lovers. Choice is always a good thing. It also means a bevy of authors are busy vying for the attention of the book buying public. Most of us are struggling to stand out from the crowd, trying in vain to garner reviews which will influence all those lovely bibliophiles out there to part with their money. It’s a cut throat book-selling world to be sure. But how far is too far to go in reaching for elusive bestseller status?

Debunking The Bestseller: This post came to my attention through one of my yahoo groups. Soran Kaplan defends his decision to use a company called ResultSource to help him hit the bestseller lists with his book Leapfrogging from day one. He addresses the nebulous distinction of gaming the system versus working the system. I don’t even know what to make of this…I had no idea you could purchase these kind of services.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Novels: Susan Mallory answers questions about marketing and her decision to develop a Review Squad. Free books to two hundred of her lucky readers in exchange for an honest review. On Amazon the more reviews you have the easier it is to find you. Fair enough but, um, isn’t this a little like asking your friends or ‘a sure thing’ for a review? And aren’t these the kind of reviews we’re supposed to ignore?

Is it wrong or sketchy to influence public opinion? Or in this case lists and algorithms? It happens all the time in every aspect of life. Perhaps the real question should be do we buy books based on popularity? Of course, we do. That’s why there are lists. And Goodreads. Do we see a title on a bestseller list and figure it must be worth a little investigation because, well, it’s on a bestseller list? Do we wonder how they got there? Are positive reviews by readers just another way to pass on good news? Kind of like online word-of-mouth, only not really?

What say you?

* What follows is more preachy business about Freed to Read Week and one of my favorite authors.

The river flowed both ways.

Above is the first line of The Diviners written by Margaret Laurence. I should come clean and confess to loving Margaret Laurence to whom I was first introduced to in high school English class by way of her novel, The Stone Angel. I went on to discover A Jest of God, and The Fire-Dwellers. But it was her book The Diviners which grabbed my heart and never let go. Morag Gunn is a protagonist like no other.

Blurb:

The culmination and completion of Margaret Laurence’s celebrated Manawaka cycle, The Diviners is an epic novel.

This is the powerful story of an independent woman who refuses to abandon her search for love. For Morag Gunn, growing up in a small Canadian prairie town is a toughening process – putting distance between herself and a world that wanted no part of her. But in time, the aloneness that had once been forced upon her becomes a precious right – relinquished only in her overwhelming need for love. Again and again, Morag is forced to test her strength against the world – and finally achieves the life she had determined would be hers.

The Diviners has been acclaimed by many critics as the outstanding achievement of Margaret Laurence’s writing career. In Morag Gunn, Laurence has created a figure whose experience emerges as that of all dispossessed people in search of their birthright, and one who survives as an inspirational symbol of courage and endurance.

The Diviners earned Margaret Laurence her second Governor General’s Award for Fiction in 1974. It also drew great criticism from religious and conservative groups. They lobbied to have it banned from schools and libraries.

Writer Timothy Findley observed: “no other writer in Canadian history suffered more at the hands of these professional naysayers, book-banners and censors than Laurence.”

They hoped to ban The Diviners “in defence of decency”. I am eternally grateful they didn’t succeed.

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Manic Monday

It’s the second last Monday of August. How did that happen? Harvest is in full swing here on the prairies. Wheat being one of our staple crops with the first attempts at planting dating back to 1753. Stats like that one always make me smile. When I was a little girl I remember thinking everyone’s grandparents had come from somewhere else. Mine were immigrants to this country by way of Poland, Norway and Sweden. It wasn’t until I started school and began learning about the long and rich history of our First Nations people and that of the first European settlers coming later at the beginning of the 18th century that I realized how new our roots were to Canada.

My romantic suspense novel, Backlash, takes places in the month of September. My fictional setting of Aspen Lake, being a resort town located at the foot of the scenic Moose Mountains, would still be surrounded by farmland. Frost is on the ground in the morning. Days are still warm. Nights are filled with stars.

I love to savor the approach of autumn. Warm enough to enjoy the beach during the day and cool enough for backyard fires in the evening. The air smells different. It’s heavy with dust of harvest, the scent of ripening fruit, and the bittersweet smell of brand new back-to-school supplies. We’re mixing the daytime summer fashions of shorts and flip-flops by adding jeans and light jackets to our evenings.

And let’s not forget the stars. So bright. A startling reminder of the vastness of the universe. With the sun setting earlier we have more time to enjoy them. I never fail to look up and wonder what others in past centuries have thought about as they gazed up at the same stars.

What is your favorite part about this time of the year?

I’ll sign off with this is a snippet from page 97 of Backlash. It’s early evening in the middle of September. Chase, Lily and Jason were involved in a incident earlier in the day. Lily is waiting for Chase to come by and let her know what’s happening.

Lily led Mike out onto her front steps and lifted her face up to catch the leftover heat from the setting sun. It didn’t help. The bone deep chill remained. She rubbed her arms, wishing for a sweater.

She wondered where Chase was and why he’d sent an emissary. “So, he’s with his aunt?”

 Here’s What Reviewers Are Saying About Backlash!

5 Stars

“Chase and Lily are made for each other; they complement each other so well.”

“The description of the enforcer was so vivid that it seemed that I could actually envision the soulless enforcer in front of me.”

CozyReader at The Romance Reviews

4 Stars

Ms. Good sure spins a tale of deceit and a trail of clues that lead right to a climax I never imagined.
Need some suspense to keep you up long into the night? Why not giveBacklash a chance. Immerse yourself in the strong sense of right and wrong, with a great cast of characters.

Sunflower at Long and Short Reviews

 A Rating

Add to that, this book is fabulous on the suspense side. Lots of high-stakes danger, really evil bad guys (super-creepy spider tattoo guy), and it kept me guessing how the author was going to resolve it all till the very end. Overall this was a fabulous book and definitely one that reminds me why I LOVE to read! Perfect entertainment and escape!

Christi Snow at Smitten With Reading

 5 Stars

WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW… could i say WOW anymore? You bet! I don’t have time to write my full review now, BUT if you enjoy romantic suspense with killer sexual tension and a smokingly HOT yet tortured lead, then y’all need to read this!!

Sheryl on Goodreads

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Carnivalesque: Liking, Tagging and Moving up the Queue at Amazon

Welcome to Carnivalesque and our Travelling Blog Show! Each week Joanne Brothwell, Hayley E. Lavik, Jana Richards, Janet Corcoran and I get together to start a discussion on a topic we think interesting. This week’s topic:

Like Me, Tag Me, and Moving Up the Queue at Amazon! Should we Like and Tag books or Review books we haven’t read?

Jana: J.A. Konrath, who is quickly becoming my hero when it comes to book promotion, says “Review each other. Buy each other. Support one another. We’re all in the same boat, and we all need to row.” So I’m inclined to say sure, go ahead and tag someone else’s book, even if you haven’t read it. Hopefully someone will do the same for you. I haven’t done a lot of tagging, but I understand that it helps to categorize a book. When a reader purchases a vampire romance novel by Big Name Author, another book with the same tags by Suzie Not So Big Name Author, may pop up when Amazon helpfully suggests that “Readers who have bought Big Name Author’s book, may also enjoy…” We’re merely categorizing books based on the description the writer gives us to make it easier for a reader to find that book.

Where things get murky, at least for me, is when we give reviews on Amazon. I got caught in a review situation once. An author I know asked if I would review her book on Amazon. In return she would review one of mine. I agreed, thinking it was a great idea. The only problem was that I didn’t care for her book. But she’d already given my book a nice review so I felt obligated to do the same.

I’ve been asked to write a review on Amazon on a few occasions since then by other authors. However, since my experience I’m reluctant to do so unless I’ve read the book and really liked it. I want to be able to give an unbiased, honest review, and if I don’t feel enthusiastic about the book, I’d rather say nothing at all.

Joanne:  Liking is different to me than tagging or rating books. I might Like a book that interests me, or that is on my to-be-read list. This seems okay to me.

Tagging? Before trying to answer this question, I didn’t even know what tagging really was or what it did. So I looked it up on Amazon: “Think of a tag as a keyword or category label. Tags can both help you find items on the Amazon site as well as provide an easy way for you to “remember” and classify items for later recall. You can add up to 15 tags per item.”

Based on this, I suppose it is fine to tag items you haven’t read yet, especially if you’re wanting to use it to find or remember items. I guess the added advantage is that the author will benefit from the tag as well. I don’t know, am I the only one here who doesn’t have a problem with it? I’m curious to see what you guys think!

Janet: My quick answer? No! The long answer? I am not a reviewer or a tagger, yet I do recommend books all the time. In person, usually, or over an e-mail – I have been known to be quite bossy when it comes to suggesting book titles to friends (especially when I know they would love it based on what they love to read). And in all those recommendations, I very rarely talk about what the book is about. Yes, I’m still having nightmares about school days’ book reports! I give a brief synopsis and then explain that because they love dark and edgy, they’d love this book or because they enjoy a good romance, they’d love this book. So to review a book online – yikes – and its something I struggle with considering my friends are writing amazing books and I should be helping to promote. And one day, it may be my turn. I’ll get over that one of these days, but if you think I’m going to tag or review a book I haven’t read, then you’re wrong. I take pride in my book recommendation ability and would feel like a heel if I suggested a book I hadn’t read to anyone – friend or stranger. Can you tell I feel strongly about this? You bet I do!

Karyn: I don’t mind tagging books and liking authors on Amazon. After all, I’m hoping people do the same for me when the time comes. Amazon sells a crap load of books after all! I don’t mind helping authors classify their books, especially if I think of a tag they might have missed. (Your welcome, Joanne.) It’s my understanding that the more tags you have the better chance of your book popping up when that criteria is searched out. Tagging books helps authors like me – the new and unknown – get noticed sooner rather than not at all. Amazon may recommend you read my book if you liked this book, and so on and so on. I just wish I had time to keep up with all the requests from my fellow authors!

But I draw the line at reviewing books I haven’t read. I don’t mind writing reviews for books I’ve read and enjoyed.Thankfully, I haven’t come across a situation where I didn’t like the book! Frankly, I don’t put much stock in reviews on Amazon. Especially, if I suspect three quarters of those glowing reviews have been written by your family and best friends.

Hayley: Clearly I haven’t spent much time on Amazon. I didn’t even know this was a thing. I don’t tend to do much about books after I purchase them. I’m bad about review sites, I forget to star things on Goodreads…but I’m huge on word of mouth. If I read something I enjoy, I tell people, I give copies as gifts, and from a reader’s standpoint, I feel that matters more.
The idea of trading likes and tags with people who may not have even read your book, for the sake of ranking, feels like a lot of work for very little result. A book won’t get anywhere on the fuel of small reciprocal groups alone. Yes, those tags and likes may help new readers find your book on page 1 instead of page 5, but I still feel like the energy involved could be better spent elsewhere gathering authentic readers who would like and tag on their own, and generate word of mouth.
But then again, I don’t like or tag, so who knows?
There you have it friends. What’s your take on the subject matter? Do you Like and Tag books on Amazon? Do you read reviews on Amazon?

Don’t forget to follow along on Twitter: #blogshow

 

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