Tag Archives: independent authors

The Results of Judging Books by Their Covers

Some folks decided to put book covers to the ultimate test—how are they really judged? They made a game that had people judge book covers, and then compiled all the results. 3 million books had their covers judged, and then they posted up the results. It’s pretty cool.

You’ll have to head over to the original post for a breakdown on the book cover judgements, but it’s a great experiment. And it shows that the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” is completely full of sh*t. Everyone is judging a book by its cover. The cover really matters. And, that sometimes it matters for weird ways (even books that were universally slammed for design would sometimes be highly rated because it had an attractive person on the cover. Oy.).

And for independent authors, it means that the money you are investing in your cover art designer is 100% worth it. It’s foolish to imagine that just because your words are good that the cover doesn’t matter. It does. A lot. So put some work into that cover art…and be judged favorably.

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How NOT to Deal With a Bad Review

Being an author comes with a lot of challenges, but one of the hardest may be managing our own egos. Namely, having the restraint to accept that bad reviews will happen, and the wherewithal to keep yourself from trying to argue.

Because every once in awhile an author comes along, and does that, and serves as a horrific example of what can happen.

It’s like watching a train wreck sliding into the Titanic at the instant it impacts an iceberg. It’s painful to watch but you are so struck that it still is happening that you can’t look away.

His first response to the negative review (which, remember, on Goodreads means “didn’t like it,” not “literally the worst”):

“This review is not good for my business, so unless your desire is to ruin my dreams, it would mean a great deal if you could remove this review from my work and forget about it. But if it’s your desire to hurt me financially and ruin my business, then it’s understandable why you would post such a harmful review.”

In addition to responding to the review at all, this guy really screws up when he implies that this person’s review was posted out of “desire to hurt [him] financially.” What? One bad review certainly won’t be your ruin. But he’s not done. The reviewer politely responded (more politely than I would have) and explained she would not be removing her review, as is her right, and went so far as to compliment aspects of his book. But he came back again:

“Leaving a 1 star review on a book says much more about what kind of person does such a thing, and then attacks it for being “pretentious,” which is an erroneous statement that is defamation at best.”

And then it goes steeply downhill from there. Let’s be clear: a review is about the content, not the author. I mean, no one is leaving a review to just be hurtful to some stranger they’ve never met. I review every book I read; all that says about me as a person is that I read a lot, and that I like to give reviews about it. There’s no moral judgement. Also this guy has no idea what “defamation” is (hint: 100% totally not that).

This schmuck just can’t stop digging a hole, though. He goes on, for another 11 posts, with his rants getting more and more loopy. Worse, he seems to make a bit of a habit of doing this. And may have scared of this (and who knows how many other) readers from ever trying out a new, indie author. That’s just unfortunate.

Now, I commiserate with the author a smidge; I had one one-star review show up on Goodreads. It didn’t even have a review for me to nit-pick and pout over, but it had been created at the same time as like 37 other reviews. I ranted to my husband for 20 minutes, then I closed the page and went to bed and didn’t think about it anymore. And you know what? The next morning, I had two 5-star reviews.

The winds of popularity can change that fast, which is why it’s important to keep perspective. A negative review isn’t the end of the world. And even if it was disastrous for your book, remember, even failure has its values.

But there isn’t anything to be gained from acting out. In fact, it looks like this particular author’s rant lowered his Goodreads rating from a solid 4 stars to a dismal 2 (and falling) in less than two days.

This is one of those lessons it’s good to learn from watching someone else go through it.

Don’t make this guy’s mistake; have some dignity and leave reviews—especially bad ones—alone.

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Self-Published Authors Make a “Living” From Sales

This isn’t a great article–it doesn’t give much new information–but I thought I’d share it to show how the changing publishing marketplace is making headlines even outside of writers’ circles.

Five years ago, printing your own book was stigmatized and was seen as a mark of failure.

“But now,” says Dana Beth Weinberg, a sociologist at Queens College who is studying the industry, “the self-published authors walk into the room, and they say, oh, well, ‘I made a quarter million dollars last year, or $100,000, or made $10,000.’ And it is still more than what some of these authors are making with their very prestigious contracts.”

Weinberg says there is still a strong financial case to be made for publishing books the old-fashioned way, but there are now many well-known independent authors who have made a fortune self-publishing online.

You can read the whole article here.

I’m not sure what to believe, and it looks like there isn’t really clear data either way. (Here’s what I know about writers’ rates by type of publication, though.)  It’s still such a smoke-and-mirrors, get-lucky business. What do y’all think?

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