When You Think You´ve Seen It All ( incl. screenshot show )

Just when you think you´ve seen it all some questionable person comes along and proves you wrong. And boy, was I proven wrong. What I witnessed just takes the cake. No. It takes the cake to a new level of “You kidding me?!“.

I´m going to skip the formalities and ditch any kind of etiquette for this post because what I´ll show you just shows how much respect us book bloggers are given when it comes to wanting to read ARCs ( Advanced Reader´s Copy).

If you don´t approve or accept profanity then I kindly suggest you ignore certain words or just… leave my blog. It´s up to you. I don´t feel like wasting my time trying to come up with a replacement for the word “fuck”.

You all know ( or probably not ) that I´m not new to the book blog world. I´ve been in this business for close to a decade. I was there when the big book blog boom happened. I saw the births of many book blogs and also watched these either grow or collapse.

Trust me when I say: I´ve been there. I´ve done that. I bought way too many shirts.

This is by no means me being an arrogant little turd. This just means I´ve witnessed a lot and lived through 9 years worth of book blogging stuff. Especially when it comes to the Indie – Self publishing community. Nothing should surprise me anymore.

Right now, I´m living the easy going book blog dream. I´m having as much fun as possible. I buy books, I accept ARCs and I request ARCs. Then I review.

For those of you who aren´t familiar with requesting ARCs:

You can do this by using a popular platform that offers ARCs ( Netgalley ) or you can request ARCs directly from the publisher OR (!!) you´ll see an ad somewhere on social media from an author / PA, specifically looking for book bloggers who are willing to read said book.

From all 3 options, I´d say Netgalley and publishers are the easiest route when wanting an ARC. There´s no hassle. You request a book and you either get approved or you don´t. Indie / self published writers seem to make more of a fuss over the whole I´m – looking – for – readers – who´ll – review issue. There´s never a guarantee a book blogger will receive a requested ARC of a book they´re interested in… but it´s always worth a go. You never know if you don´t try, right?

And I fully understand WHY Indie / self published authors go the extra mile with their ARCs. Some of these folks have no clue about marketing. They have no idea how to spread their work and gain footing in the writing business. So, they´ll use whatever worked out for a befriended writer or they´ll copy whatever they´ve seen. TOTALLY FINE.

A few years back I lived for social media ARC ads. Those were simple and easy to manage ( Not easier. Just easy. ) Author X was new and needed exposure and reviews. So, what happened was:

  • Authors/ uber cheerleaders of the author would create a google document ( a sign up form ) for book bloggers interested in ARCs to fill out. This was / is done to keep track of book bloggers and their reviews but also to have a clear overview on how often / far a book would travel. A standard process.
  • A Blog Tour would take place within a certain timeframe and during this time signed up book bloggers would upload their reviews for said book / author. This is also standard. The only problem with this was ( and still is ): Some people aren´t reliable. Life gets in everyone´s way at some point and because of that reviews have often been forgotten or were uploaded late.

And in the end… everyone´s happy. A book blogger was able to read a not yet released book and an author received reviews. A win win situation. All you had to do was fill out a simple google doc. Insert your name, your blog name, blog URL, social media URL and click the box saying you won´t forward the ARC.

Sometime after this authors / PAs / book promotion sites began including little informative guidelines for ARC reviewers.

“If you are unable to rate this book with 3 or more stars then we will assign you to do another post.”

Meaning: If the ARC I so badly wanted to read turns out to be a 2 star rated book then I´m not allowed to participate in the blog tour with my review. I´ll be given something else to post, e.g. cover reveal, excerpt, author interview.

To be honest – This pissed me off. Authors asking for good reviews only? Nice try. Not going to happen, hombres. I eventually quit the social media ARC ads. Almost every author wanted the same thing and none of them were ashamed to ask for it.

Some of my reviews were never included in the book promo tours because of this issue.

The bottom line here is: I believe no author is in the position to demand good reviews only. This marketing strategy makes these authors look desperate. It´s a turn off. I don´t care how bad or good the book or future books will be… I will refuse to support people who take these steps.

I was pretty damn successful in ignoring Social Media ARC ads. Until I saw something on Instagram.

So, authors were using Instagram to look for potential reviewers? Okay. That made me smile. Instagram- out of all social media sites….. Seriously? But hey- I´m not here to complain. So much time has passed. Maybe indie / self publishing authors turned back to being humble and…. excited that anyone wanted to read their books.

And with my luck, the ARC ad I spotted was for a book that actually interested me!

Wonderful!

All I needed to do was comment, take a screenshot of the ad and post it on my Insta feed. Yuck! Why? Why post it on my feed? ( don´t answer that. Lol. I know WHY.) Why force someone to show how MUCH they want the arc? Aren´t PMs and google docs enough? Apparently not. Okay, fine. I was game. As I´ve said- It´s been years since when I requested my last ARC. Shit, I was excited.

This is where I knew I made the biggest mistake in my book blogging career.

Beware! This is a full on screenshot show ( from my own phone ) of the google sign up form from the ARC I requested. Names and book titles will not be revealed because I´m not a complete asshole. This is to show you to what lengths people will go to for exposure.

  1. Ooookay. This is actually a standard opening. Although- the line about not being interested in first time reviewers does leave a bad taste behind. Shut down before having a chance. Outch.salt

2. So far so good…. No. Forget that. They require my age? Since when is this important to review an ARC? Why? What will my age tell them? I´m not afraid to say I´m 36, but… this is weird and in no circumstances appropriate. Who the fuck cares? If you don´t truly need my age then why ask for it?

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3. * SCREECHING TO A HALT * Excuse me? Why I did click on the google doc link in the first place? Because I was interested. And YOU determine ( after making me read a sample of your book ) by my response if the book and I are a good match? HAHAHA. I´ll be the judge of that one.. right after I read the book. At this point I wasn´t even interested in reading the damn book anymore. Such arrogance.

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4. Please DO NOT ask me to post a link from a different book to one of my reviews on Amazon. To a review that has NOTHING to do with the ARC I´m requesting. For fuck´s sake! What is wrong with these people? This is not only disrespectful towards me but also towards the authors who´re already struggling with Amazon reviews. I see what this question for what it is and I find this a pathetic attempt to spread the word. And I don´t care if there´ve been difficulties with Amazon. You want to see if I´m able to post reviews on Amazon? Try going there and finding mine. Or, take my word for it.

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5. Hahahaha. You sleazy….. To which Goodreads review shall I add the link? To the one review I did for a NYT Bestselling author or are you okay with me adding the link to a self published author who only has 5 fans? I will not do this for ANY author. But I will give my Instagram and blog URL.

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6. First I will steal one of my daughter´s color books and color out a picture of a squirrel. Then I will add your name and frame it. Then I plan to remove all my clothes and make a beeline towards the huge trampoline outside and hop on to that and jump the soul out of my body, while holding the picture frame and screaming your name from the top of my lungs. If that doesn´t attrack enough attention I can try roller skating ( naked, of course ) down at the football club and scream and shout. That´s my fan art promo. And if that doesn´t do the trick I could do cartwheels… even with one hand… I might break a few bones because of my AGE… but hey, I´m trying to be creative and shit. If my enthusiasm doesn´t excite you then I might have to sell my body.., all for the sake of promoting the book. WHAT DO THEY THINK A BOOK BLOGGER DOES WITH BOOK PROMO? IS WHAT WE DO NOT GOOD ENOUGH? I find this questionable beyond words. I will promote your book but I won´t bend over backwards for you without being paid. Since I´m positive you´re not willing to pay I´d say you warm up to the idea of me being naked on your behalf.

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7. Am I okay with a PDF file? * sigh * I actually prefer PDF files, yes. But after all this I´m being offered a PDF file? I was sure, after such a questionnaire, they´d give out hardcovers that have been dipped twice in gold. My soul and undivided attention is worth more than a PDF file, ladies. To the how many reviews I write in a year – You have my blog URL. Go and check out the review repertoire if you´re really interested. Stop being lazy demanding shits. Back in the day we worked our asses off for others and other returned the favor. And the read / review pace – You afraid I won´t upload quick enough?

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8. I don´t want to be apart of a super cool super secret FB page. Why? Because your group / street team probably has super many guidelines and outrageous rules. Who knows, you might want to know what my morning routine looks like or how I hold my book when reading.

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So, that was the google doc sign up form. Surprised? Shocked? Or are you not surprised because this is the new normal? Well, it shouldn´t be if it is. This is appalling. I wasn´t applying for a job at some top notch firm. I requested an ARC.

And the worst thing about this is: There are people who will oversee the wrong side of this approach. It´s wrong on so many levels. We´re not at a circus event.

Oh, and if you´re wondering why I haven´t exposed the author – I don´t want to be that person. I´m not out to destroy someone´s career because they made a huge mistake. It´s not my choice to crush someone´s dreams. I´m fully relying on karma.

A google doc sign up form for book bloggers should NOT look like the above. It is NOT right to be picky and exclude first time reviewers. They are willing readers and will do the job just as an experienced book blogger would. Authors have no right to be picky. How dare they?

There is no reason for someone to include their age. I´m not sensitive when it comes to this but I also see no logic behind the request. I´m older. Now what? Will I be sifted out because I don´t fit some pattern?

If the author and people behind the google doc want to see if there´s a match with the book and the reader before hand… then there shouldn´t be any sort of exchange happening. If you are willing to give out advanced reader´s copies then you just have to trust. Because it IS a huge risk. You and I are aware of that. But I have to be the one to lay out all my cards just so you can sleep better at night? You simply cannot cover all bases and think you´ll come out safe by demanding information that shouldn´t be asked.

About the posting “the link” to my Amazon reviews. This should be forbidden. I despise this tactic. It tells me that the author is ready to cross all lines just for the sake of “getting out there”. Every other excuse doesn´t make sense.

Let´s tackle #6. This is ridiculous. Book bloggers are marketing experts. We KNOW what to do. We don´t need to give you a list of things we do to promote books. That ARC ( just as any other ARC ) is never a top priority in life. This sounds harsh, I know. But we´re keeping it real here. I love to book blog and take ARCs seriously. Don´t ask me what I´m willing to do and THEN decide if I´m good enough to promote the ARC. You´d be better off asking straight off the bat for what you´re exactly looking for.

I´m not in any way offended by this. I´m appalled. Because some authors have become picky. I get that ARCs are risky business but this takes the biscuit. I also don´t think the creators of this google doc meant any harm. For them, this was the best option to keep an author from being hurt. But they didn´t think of how this doc would be perceived. Authors usually want to keep things light and fun, just as book bloggers do. But this really isn´t acceptable. Doing something like this shines a bad light on the author. It makes authors look desperate, lazy and entitled.

If you are not ready to accept the fact that you have to work hard for your dreams then you´re not ready to approach them.

I would appreciate if authors wouldn´t take this approach. It´s just too bizarre.
I would appreciate if book bloggers would use their heads and not fall for this.

But above all- I would like for people in the book blog community to know about this. To maybe learn from this mistake and take a different route- A much more blogger friendly one.

Because an author wants something from a book blogger. And a book blogger is ( most of the time ) willing to provide that something for the author.

PS: I wasn´t lucky enough to get my hands on that ARC. Lol. I´m betting that my answers weren´t acceptable.

Now you know what a book blogger goes through sometimes.

I would like to know: Have you had a similar experience with a google sign up doc for an ARC/Blog Tour? I would love to chat about this.

I hope you found this slightly informative or even helpful.

Dear bookish Padawans…. I wish you a wonderful day. ❤ Don´t forget to share the book love. ❤

Take care and be kind.

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Book Editing Ignored

I´m in no way a writer. I have never studied anything that comes close to literature, nor have I spent my free time trying to be overly intelligent in any way. I write about books because it´s a great thing to do that doesn´t require any qualifications at all. Anyone can blog ( apparently…* giggle * ). But not everyone can edit a book.

Self-publishing might have alot of perks but it does have one major downside: Self-publishing writers have to edit their stories themselves before they put them up for sale

read the pro´s and con´s for self-publishing here.

 

And it often shows.

Many self-published authors fail to see the importance of a proper, professional book polish. Why?

Well, money is an issue. Some authors can´t afford a professional editor. Some authors are too cheap to invest in a professional. Some think it´s not important at all. Some believe they can polish their book themselves. For whatever reason… it´s wrong not to have a book looked over by someone who can work book magic.

Here´s how it usually works with self-published authors who want to sell their books. They often chose a path that´s more convenient for themselves ( mentally and financially) and depend on other sources:

Step 1 ) Author writes a great story

Step 2 ) Author wants to publish said story but wants it polished before they hit the upload button.

Step 3 ) Author checks out pricing for editors and has a near death experience because they find out how much editors cost

Step 4 ) Author becomes frustrated and searches the internet for someone who´ll edit for pennies or who´ll edit for free ( because they want their books on the market ASAP).

Step 5 ) Author tries to edit without help, becomes impatient then hits a fan/ blogger up who gladly offer their non-existing services as an editor ( Or, blogger / fan offers to edit ).

Step 6 ) Impatient author blindly trusts the so-called- professionals and hits the publish button.

Step 7 ) Author waits for a miracle to happen.

Might I add that not all sel-published authors go down that road but many do. I´ve seen it happen. Not only once, but hundreds of times throughout a 7 year blogging career.

Ever wonder why the book you spent money on had tons of typos and mistakes? Yeah.

I´m not criticizing self-published authors for wanting to save money. In fact, I understand why. Professional editors are expensive. I´m only criticizing the fact that I´m paying for books that are poorly edited. Because, at the end of the day, it´s my money I´m spending.

And when I´m distracted by more than 10 editorial issues while reading a story then I´ll become an unhappy reader. An unhappy reader who´ll write a review and gladly point out the mistakes.

But most self-published authors don´t realize the importance of a readers opinion ( should a reader ever publish their opinions ). Most self-published writers have their focus on making money and maybe make a living off of writing. That´s the dream and it will unfortunately stay a dream.

I´m sad to say- That´s not how it works. Yet, I do know how it works….

Crappy edited story = High risk of receiving negative feedback

Negative feedback influences sales.

My best advice for newbie writers, or self-published authors who rather not invest money: INVEST money in a professional editor ( or someone who has years of experience in editing). And if you can´t invest then start saving money. It´ll hurt, for sure, to spend all that money on someone who „only“ polishes a book, but in the endgame… it´s worth it. The money invested will be well spent, because there´s nothing worse than having people notice unwanted issues.

No one ever said that self-publishing would be cheap. An author has to invest anyways because every stinking detail that´s connected to self-publishing costs money. Print, paper quality, book cover, print size, ink, etc etc… Why not save up for someone who can help to fulfill a dream?

As for the bloggers who offer their editorial service… They fascinate me. Not only do they write reviews, they also host blog tours, manage book signings, work as PA´s for authors AND they have the ability to edit a book. All for free.

Those bloggers who do want money for their non-professional work aren´t doing self-publishing authors any favors. They´re not doing me any favors either because I demand a better edited book if I´m supposed to pay $12- $16 for a paperback.

The struggle is real and I see it. But what about a readers struggle? Reading can be an expensive hobby, especially for avid readers. Alot of readers have a book spending budget and when they purchase a 350 page book for $12.00 and get a poorly edited story then that´s just rude. That´s called ripping someone off.

Bottom line is: No one can polish a book better than a professional editor or someone who has years of experience in editing and knows their way around the profession. Multitasking bloggers don´t have that know-how. Fans don´t either.

Authors should shine through their work. Not look like fools who want to make a quick buck.

Next up: Weird Book Heros

Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Part One

To self publish or not to self publish.

That´s something I never had to ask myself because I´m not a writer, but many others have undoubtedly asked themselves if they should dive into self publishing or not.

Writers from all literature corners have, at some point, thought of the idea of publishing their own work, whether through traditional publishing or through self-publishing.

Both routes are fully acceptable these days, but before any writer choses a path to take they should definitely have a closer look at the pro´s and con´s of both traditional publishing and self publishing. Let´s do a quick breakdown to show the differences between the two and include pros and cons for both traditional publishing and self publishing:

Pros for Traditional Publishing

  • Marketing
  • Reach a wide audience, more exposure
  • Publishing houses often offer a financial advance
  • Publishing houses take care of edits, covers, etc.

Cons for Traditional Publishing

  • A writer hardly ( if at all, depending on the publisher) has a say ( in all areas)
  • Marketing runs at a snail’s pace
  • Royalty rates suck
  • It´s hard to get out of a contract

So basically, a writer´s hands are bound.

 

Pros for Self Publishing

  • You call the shots. You´re your own boss.
  • Publication is almost instantly
  • Royalty rates are higher
  • No rejections ( other than maybe from readers)

Cons for Self Publishing

  • No professional book polish ( no editing, no suitable cover image)
  • You have to do major self marketing
  • Potential for publishing a shitty book
  • Literally, anyone can self publish

It all comes down to having all the freedom in the world but also investing an outrageous amount of time doing self promotion because.. since you´re your own boss you have to do every stinking thing yourself.

If I was in a writer´s position I would definitely go with the traditional route. But that´s just me. Since I´m not a writer it´s not important what I would do, right?

A simple fact is: It´s hard getting a deal with a publishing house and it´s easy as hell to self publish.

Doing business with hundreds of self published writers did reveal an awful lot, but what the years of observation have shown was that many self published authors struggle.

And the struggle is real.

Some authors don´t know how to market themselves or they find it extremely difficult.

Why is that?

Well, for one… most writers who go into self publishing and want to make a name for themselves know that they´re going to have to deal with marketing but they don´t know how hard it is.

Imagine you wrote a book and you set your mind of self publishing. Great. But what steps need to be done?

Is your book edited? If not, it should be. You don´t want to sell crap and no one wants to spend money on crap. A harsh truth alot of self published author´s don´t want to hear.

Is the book cover image eye-catchy and is the quality of the image good? If not, you might want to invest some money and get something that´ll make a reader want to buy your book. Many readers judge a book by it´s cover. ( read my article on book covers )

Once your book is properly looked over and the cover ( incl. the quality) is ready you still need readers.

Do you have fans? Without fans you have little to no sales. And without fans you have no one but yourself and maybe your mother to spread the word about your book.

Your book can be a genius piece of written art or a possible world-wide bestseller but that´s worth crap if you don´t have any readers.

You need a plan. A large one.

From what I´ve been able to learn was that self published authors NEED to interact with people. There´s no way around it. Writers must use the tools they´re given and start interacting with all sorts of people in order to get the marketing ball rolling.

Social media is the best place for that. Millions of book lovers hang around Facebook, Twitter & Co. and are dying to get their hands on a new book. Befriending authors is also a step in the right direction because other, more accomplished self published authors have the know-how and can help with fulfilling a dream of becoming a known writer. Contacting book blogs is another way. Us foot folk know how to spread the word in an effective way.

It sounds so easy. But then again- everything seems easy in theory. Contacting strangers is not always easy. It´s acutally awkward.

„Hey, we don´t know each other but I have a book and ( after a full-blown social media investigation) I know you like to read… So, do you wanna read my book?“

Yes. That´s awkward but with a little more tact there is a high chance of gaining potential readers that way.

When a writer has to do their own marketing that means nothing other than having to sell their own product. In this case, it´s their book. Selling a product involves having to interact with people.

A nightmare for introverts or moody artists.

Another thing most self published authors forget is that self marketing never stops. It´s a constant, never-ending cycle. Once the self marketing slows down or stops then that´s it. Everything else stops too.

It also doesn´t stop at the interacting, either. There´s a whole lot more to self marketing than a writer´s eye can meet. Writers need to become creative and find ways to keep the ball rolling. This can be done with simple posts of teasers from their book or maybe a graphic quote or possibly through another author promoting a new writer. Something that engages other people. There are ways to make self marketing fun and slightly easier but the key is: interaction.

It also can´t hurt to mention how much time self published writers need to invest on self marketing. Yes. Many writers would appreciate a day with more than 24 hours.

The reality of self publishing is completely different from what people might think. It´s not just going on some self publishing platform and uploading a story with over 60.000 words and calling it a day.

Of course, writers who chose the traditional path and get taken under the wings of a publishing house have it bit easier. They don´t have to worry about self marketing because that´s included in their package. All the fun( insert sarcasm) with having to deal with emotional stress, interacting with strangers and working on spreading the word falls in the hands of competent people who know how to work the book mill. It might not always be what the writer had planned but it´s one less thing to worry about.

Self publishing is hard work and we´ve only just scratched the surface of how hard and frustrating self publishing can really be. The only advice I can give to writers who are unsure of which publishing path to take is: Collect as much info as possible and weigh your options. See what works best.

Because if we´re honest- not everyone is capable of marketing themselves or their work. Not everyone is a social bunny. But if a writer wants to self publish then there´s no way around having to do some self marketing. But when someone is good at marketing themselves then self publishing can be a joy and fun all around.

Coming next: Self Published Authors, Part Two: Book Pricing