Friday, November 22, 2013

A Warm Welcome to Author Tara Fox Hall

Thank you so much, Sarcastic Ramblings and Writing, for having me here today! J

The Game of Reviews
“When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.” 
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
Where to promote, which book to spotlight, prize or no prize, blogging versus reviews, how much to budget for ads, which promo items to buy or not buy…if you’re an author who does any self-promotion, this litany is very familiar to you. What to do about it is the problem, in that the answer of which are the best means of promotion is constantly changing. Everyone agrees that getting your name out in various avenues is necessary to sell books. But when your budget is limited, you have to choose what to spend your money on very carefully. So where do reviews fit into this plan of attack?
Reviews are important…and yet also not important. They are a gamble in the best of circumstances, but also necessary for a writer’s success, at least when first starting their career. Here’s my two foremost cents on how much importance to give them...and how to win the review game.
1.      A great deal of review quantity relevance is based on genre and price. Reviews matter only marginally if the genre has a lot of demand and not much supply
My transgender novella Grow a Pair routinely appears as my publisher’s TOP book on PinInterest. I’m not even on there, don’t have any idea what PinInterest is about, and no one has EVER even contacted me about this novella…which has one official review and one from a reader. Yet my publisher is so excited by reader interest that I wrote and published a sequel and another is in the works.

2.      Sex sells, period. I also write erotica. My current work has only two reviews, one from a review spot and one from a friend. No one has ever contacted me about this book, either, except the one place that reviewed it, yet sales are good.

However, if you are a new author in most markets other than the two above, you’ll need as many reviews of your first books as you can get JUST to let readers know you’re worth trying AND to get your name on a lot of internet sites, PARTICULARY if you are writing a series. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

3.      Be advised that the more reviews you get for a work, the more bad reviews you’ll get, also. For books that have a glut of supply—like paranormal fantasy and romance—reviews are necessary for a new author. No one wants to waste hard-earned money on something that they won’t like, especially when they can’t return it for a refund. To get around this, a lot of authors in the last few years did free giveaways, hoping for every dozen copies downloaded someone would actually read the book and review it. The books were free, so the idea was that people who didn’t like the work wouldn’t feel they didn’t get their money’s worth (i.e., and leave a bad review). Unfortunately, this is not the way it works. I’ve had more than one bad review from a free download—and even free paperback books won in contests I paid for.

4.      Reviews are not equal to sales. People might find fault with a book, and say it was not that good. Do not think that means that they will not buy your next book, particularly if it’s a trilogy or series. I always feel more comfortable picking up a series book I thought was okay versus a single title that could be great, because I already know the characters in the series title. Additionally, most of my sales, including the Promise Me Series books, seem to come from people happy to buy the books and not review them. They want to know when a new one comes out and not have any other communication with me. They don’t care about contests, promo items, or any of that. I have to admit…I’m just like them. I never put up a review for any book in my life before I became an indie author, no matter how much I liked it. I simply put a marker on the calendar when the next book in a beloved series was out, or kept a list to check the bookstore on my monthly visit.

5.      To buy or not to buy? Reviews of today can be purchased from many sources: large companies like Reader’s Favorite or individual bloggers as part of a book tour. There are also many sources of free reviews out there. Most of these are all unbiased, in that you are not paying for a good review, just a fair one. The reason people pay for reviews is that most free review sites don’t guarantee they will review your book…and you’re usually in for a long wait even if they do, because there are so many new books all the time. But do make sure to thank anyone who gives you a good review, paid or unpaid.

6.      Trading reviews – a potential minefield. Many authors agree to review each other’s books in an effort to get more reviews. That is great…if you both love each other’s work. Be warned that if you don’t, you’ll have to explain to the author why you can’t rate their book as stellar (and possibly lower your own review score if they take offense and give you a revenge review or delete the one they did for you), or lose your integrity and submit a false good review.

7.      Remember that a two star review does not count as much as a five star one. I was feeling down about a few recent bad reviews, and told a friend, who is also a fan. She told me that she never even looks at the bad reviews for a product, only the good ones. ANY book on any review site usually has at least a few bad reviews; bestsellers have tons. People don’t really care if a few others didn’t like something; they care what the majority had to say about the work.
Summary:  Write the best book you can, then spend a day asking for reviews from places and people who are predisposed to love your work. Then concentrate on your next book. Thank people who give you good reviews…and ignore the bad ones. Above all…be nice!

Back List of Promise Me Series titles:

Surrender to Me (PM novella + excerpt from Immortal Confessions)
Promise Me (Promise Me Series #1)
Broken Promise (Promise Me Series #2
Taken in the Night (Promise Me Series #3
Taken for His Own (Promise Me Series #4)
Promise Me Anthology #1

Immortal Confessions (Promise Me Series #5 – prequel #0.5) Blurb: At the turn of the 19th century, former aristocrat turned lowly vampire Devlin Dalcon gets by on his supernatural charms until he meets bride-to-be Annabelle. Smitten by Anna’s forthrightness, intellect, and bravery, Devlin risks his life to spirit her away to Fontainebleau, France. There Devlin begins his ascent to power in a desperate bid for wealth and social standing for himself and Anna. Forging alliances with other supernatural leaders, he usurps the vampire Lord of Fontainebleau, amassing many enemies during his brief reign. Within a few years, he and Anna are again forced to flee for their lives to America. Living in hiding, Devlin is determined to amend his ways. But when tragedy strikes, Devlin’s dark side, never fully extinguished, emerges
rampant, securing him the bloody throne of America even as his malevolence and loneliness consumes him.

Excerpt: Now we were getting somewhere. “Explain this, as I’ll need to know. What are the rules in this city, besides no killing?”
            “Not many. Don’t kill humans, unless they attack you, and even then, make it look an accidental murder by stealing from them. Don’t trouble the richer citizens at all, not for any reason. Don’t bother the other supernatural citizens—”
            “The sorcerers and witches, the goblins and the faeries,” he said, bored. “There is also a family of werevultures that inhabit this town, near the edge. Them, too.”
            Werevultures? Was he kidding? “So there are no werewolves?”
            “As a rule, not here in the cities, though there are sometimes one or two that pass through,” he said with something like relief. “I’ve heard they stick to the countryside. Most weres do, as it’s easier to blend in there.”
            Weres, he called them. Hmm. “What are they like?”
            “The ones I’ve talked to say they miss the forest, or the water, or their caves—”
            “Werebats, mostly. They are the most prevalent werecreature around these parts. There is a large colony near the river.”
            “Are they off limits?”
            Quentin took a deep breath. “I’m glad you brought this up. Technically, no, they aren’t. They have an agreement with Guy, the City’s Lord, to stay out of the city, and he leaves them alone. But some stupid vampire hunter attacked them last week, killing a bunch of their women and children when he mistook them for vampires. It happens often, I’m afraid. The other werebats killed him, but they’re raging now. They are killing any vampire they can, primarily ones they find alone, in retaliation.” He looked over at me. “It’s them I need you to guard me against.”
            “Won’t that die down quickly, though? Surely the bats can be made to see it was not our fault?”
            “Guy is not diplomatic,” Quentin said with a sigh. “Things are going to get worse before they get better. Besides, at heart, he’s a coward. He knows that there are more of them than there are of us, enough so it’s close to three to one in their favor. Because of those odds, he will not make them stop. This has happened before, Devlin. The attacks will continue until the bats feel they’ve taken enough blood back.”
            I thought about that. There was a huge opportunity here for not just the means to support Anna and myself, but to gain real power. Still, I needed to understand much about this world and this city before I’d be ready to proclaim myself king of it.

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  1. So glad you could share Immortal Confessions with us, Tara.

    1. Thanks so much for having me here today Victoria :) I love the name of your blog!

  2. Thank you Tara for a very interesting post. It is indeed very hard to do your own promotion and to decide how to spend your money and your time! I decided that what I really need is my own secretary, or a PR! But of course, that's not going to happen. Good luck with your 'Immortal Confessions'. Being French, I am always interested in stories that take place in France, even for part of the book.

    1. Good to meet you, Marie :) I agree on the promotion. When you're first starting out, there is so much that you don't know...and what worked for a friend does not always work for you. I could use a secretary, LOL! Thank you for the good wishes. I hope if you read Immortal Confessions, you will find no errors regarding the French portions. I did research to be as accurate as possible :)

  3. Thank you for the helpful article on reviews!

    1. Good to meet you Michele :) I am glad to be of help. Take what you need and bless you on your future reviews! :)

  4. A very interesting review of reviews, Tara -- thank you. I guess maybe I won't sweat getting some reviews of my new anthology, after all. Being a guest on some blogs might constitute a better use of my time.

    1. Glad to help, Mark! :) I wish you much luck in 2014~ :)