I got an email this morning, which I will answer later today, about why I’m not going to do Mitch’s Win anymore. Now, most of you are probably aware of the short piece I had written called The Keeping of Greg Wilson that was about 14,000 words. Mitch’s Win was supposed to be the second one in that series, so it was bound to be another short.
And the fact of the matter is, people (overall) hate my shorter works. I know this because of the emails and reviews I get on places like Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc. I got two 1-star reviews on The Keeping of Greg Wilson on Amazon because ‘it was too short’. Though I priced it as low as I could at $0.99 and warned people that it was only 14,000 words (and gave the approximate page count), they still complained about the length. It might have averaged 3-stars on B&N. I’m not sure what it did anywhere else because I don’t make it a habit to go to every online bookstore to check it out. Even though the book was free at B&N, I was still getting written reviews that said, ‘1-star because it’s too short.’ I also average low on the short stories ‘A Cowboy’s Wish’ and ‘A Christmas Play’ because those are ‘too short’, even though they’re free.
Those aren’t the only books I do horribly on in reviews. An Inconvenient Marriage, An Unlikely Place for Love, Romancing Adrienne, and The Cold Wife all average 3 stars on Amazon. Why do you think I took those down to tweak on? It wasn’t just the one woman’s complaint. It was because those books have all taken a continual beating over on Amazon. I can’t bring those books to a 4-star average as they were, so maybe I can do that by modifying them from historicals to contemporaries since the main complaints stemmed from the whole ‘too modern’ angle. With Romancing Adrienne, I kept it a historical but had to change the name in order to take it out of the Virginia series since Trevor (Sue’s brother) didn’t exist until around 2010 when An Inconvenient Marriage is now set on the timeline.
So yes, authors do pay attention to feedback, and we will gauge whether or not to pursue a project based on it. Mitch’s Win will have received low ratings because it would have been a shorter piece of work. It would have to be because it’s second in a series, and contrary to what people might think, few people will buy a compilation of shorter works. They’d rather have something more substantial. And doing free hasn’t made any difference. So I’m ditching all shorter pieces. Cherish Evermore was also on the list but it’s removed. That was Irving Spencer’s story (Irving was from The Wrong Husband).
From now on, I’m only doing full-length novels because those are the only books I write that I have a chance at getting an overall good review on.
There are authors who rig the system. They get into groups where they review each other’s books under pen names and review their own books under pen names. They give each other and themselves 5-star reviews because (guess what), reviews do impact sales. Negative reviews don’t kill sales, but they make it so that a book doesn’t sell as well as it could be if it rated higher. Why? Because people see 4-star and 5-star average books and think, “Good book.” They see a 3-star average book and think, “Eh.” They see 1-star and 2-star average book and think, “What’s wrong with it?”
And you know what else some authors do? Go to other authors’ books with their pen names and give those authors 1 and 2-star reviews in hopes of decreased sales on those books. Authors can either be the most helpful friends in my life or they can be the most petty and sleazy people I’ve ever met. You want a dead giveaway on whether an author used a pen name to review another author’s book with a 1 or 2-star review? Look for put-downs on the ‘editing and grammar’ of a book. That is a dead giveaway. You see that in a review, and it’s from an aspiring writer or a published author.
So why do authors need their fans to give them 4 and 5-star reviews so badly? Because they are coming up against other authors who are trying to sabotage their sales.
Look, I don’t review my own books under pen names, I don’t solicit reviews from other authors by flooding their inbox. I don’t go around in an author group to give a lot of authors 5-star reviews in order to get 5-star reviews. (These authors don’t read each other’s work. They either get a synopsis or read a sample. So this is a bogus review system. Every book I review are books I’ve actually read, and my policy is to never trash another author’s work, so I won’t give anything less than 4 stars. So if I don’t like a book, I don’t review it.) I definitely don’t use pen names to give authors 1 and 2-star reviews on their books.
I find all of that behavior unethical. They are misleading the reader, and they compromise an author’s integrity. Look, I have no problem with readers giving out 1 and 2-star reviews as long as they’re legit and not the same person trashing the author over and over again, which happens a lot. It’s happened to me on An Inconvenient Marriage and The Cold Wife on Amazon.
Authors who have integrity take a beating from authors who don’t. If we get a good review, it’s because they’re legit and we earned it, but we don’t get a huge amount of 5-star reviews in a very short period of time. It takes us time to build those up, and in those, we also have the 1 and 2-star reviews coming in. So when our fans take the time to give us a good review (4 or 5, esp. a 5 to help offset the 1-stars that accumulate pretty fast), it means a lot to us because it shows us that our fans like that type of book and want more like it (which helps us know what to write in the future) and it shows us that while some hate the book, others like it.
So for your favorite author, whomever he/she may be, I ask you to go to Amazon (where most of our sales come from) to leave a 5-star review or two on a book that isn’t doing so well on the star rankings. So if their book is averaging 3-stars, give them a 5 to help them out. You already love the author and the author’s work, so you wouldn’t be lying. And no, you don’t have to do my books. I’m just asking that you find one of your favorite authors and help them out. 😀