Profound Appreciation for Your Time

Time2-150x150First, I would like to offer my most sincere appreciation for all of the people who have taken the time to read and review “Red Clay and Roses”. As busy as life is, to know that these 23 people took time out of their hectic schedules to read the book and write thoughtful reviews warms my heart and highly motivates me to continue to write passionately.

There are 20 five star reviews and 3 four star reviews and I can’t even begin to describe the joy found in pleasing a reader with my literary work. I won’t reprint them here, but you can find them here at Amazon.

I don’t know how Amazon decides what should be on page one, but you can go to the bottom and see Newest First. The most current reviews may reflect better the work effort of the edit and revision made in October, 2013.

On Goodreads, the ratings fall from 4.9 to 4.3 and there are 2 three star reviews with the remaining ones being four and five.

Today; however, two things or three things occurred that were most disappointing, but I am not taking it personal.

1) A reader returned a book. I know that it could have been an accidental purchase or a dissatisfied reader. Either way, I was sad to see it.

2) A Goodreads person left a 1 star review. There were no words, just a rating, so I do not know why this reader was dissatisfied. There are sensitive issues in the book from the very start, so it could have been not to her liking. There may have been issues with the negro speak in the three chapters about Moses Grier, that bothered her, as I have read many reviews on other books that spoke to this as an issue. I am speculating and probably don’t need to go there. I am most grateful, that although she was dissatisfied, she did not trash talk the book and I know that she is most certainly entitled to her opinion. I can appreciate that she was honest. I also don’t know if she was able to read the entire book, and for that, I am sorry. I am also disturbed that she is from my home state, as I thought being a regional piece, it might be better received there. Reflecting a brutal past in that area may have been disconcerting. Still, I am grateful, and feel I have been slightly anointed with the realities of authorship.

3) A couple of weeks ago I was turned down for a promo on BookBub. They would like to see more editorial reviews and more reviews in general.  I have encouraged people who have read the book to write reviews. That is as much as I can do about that. I have eight copies out to people that have indicated that they would like to read the book in exchange for an honest review, so those are coming.

Now, on to editorial reviews. Unless you have an in with a famous author, or traditionally publish and get recognized by a worthy newspaper or periodical, you have to PAY for these editorial reviews.  You do expect for them to be honest and professional. I broke down and submitted to Kirkus, although the expense of doing so appalls me. They do have a stellar reputation and I suppose, even though people have told me that they mostly read the reader reviews not the editorial reviews to make up their minds about purchasing books, this was an inevitable necessity if I want to continue to promote in broad reaching venues.

I also submitted to Awesome Indies: an additional expense. I am concerned about that one in as much as I have read their criteria and knowing that I don’t have a, “Clear and Concise” protagonist, and may not meet other points on their check off list, this list being quite long and IMHO, not necessarily “all telling” about the quality of a read…well, it is a risk to take.

Finally, I submitted to Reader’s Favorite. Less expensive at $200.00 for five reviews. This one really sent me to a place that I did not need to go. The first three that have come back have been five star and one has been a four star. I should be happy and quite satisfied. It was disturbing to read one of the five star reviews though and I will tell you why:

For those of you who have read the book, you know that the beginning is set in 1992-93, and the bulk of the story takes place in the 1950s-60s.

I took extra care to provide citations to dates of historical events that affected the everyday people…both in their personal lives and from the larger historical/political events of the times, and described how those were interrelated. They were a significant part of the plot and storyline. Dates clearly marked dozens of passages.

************Possible SPOILER ALERT************

In the bulk of the story that takes place in the 1950s-60s, which is mentioned in the book description, the effects of WW II and the Korean War were explained. Also, these modern people were riding around in convertibles and fancy automobiles and trucks, listening to record players, radios, watching T.V. and going to skating rinks and drive-in movie theaters, they were reading Playboy, Sybil opens a hair salon, Nathan graduates from medical school, Trent has a pawn, radio, bicycle repair shop. Women were just being introduced to the birth control pill. Sybil goes into a treatment facility for alcohol and depression. Her husband is jailed after an encounter with the FBI and the IRS.

These are hardly things anyone would encounter a hundred years earlier, in the 1850-60s. I am thinking pre-Civil War, horse and buggy days.

But one of the reviewers, whose review I had to question through customer service, wrote the following:

“Red Clay and Roses by S.K. Nicholls is a story based on Southern America during the time of slavery.”… and went on to say … “It all takes place during a time when blacks were slaves, the Jim Crow Law was in place, women were often seen as the inferior gender, and racism was very strong.”

The 2 paragraph five star review was very beautiful and eloquently written. When I contacted customer service about the very obvious issues here, they contacted the reviewer, who apologized and said she, “Thought it was about 18*50s-60s”…………………PLEASE…………………….and offered to correct the review. She insists she read the book.

Now I know that people read and put a book down and pick it up again. I know that people are reading with their own experiences and education supporting their thoughts while reading. But there was no mention of slavery, except when Moses was telling of his father’s birth as a free man on the same farm his grandfather had been a slave on. Moses is 86 years old when he is telling this, and there is NOT ONE slave in this book.

The book is about the issues that propelled the Civil Rights Movement, and touched on women’s reproductive rights and responsibilities in the 1960s.

Needless to say, I have lost my faith in editorial reviews. Most of them appeared to be synopses of the book blurb.  Maybe I need to work some more on the book description so editorial reviewers will have a better grasp on what to include in their very flattering reviews. Perhaps NOT ALL editorial reviews are of this nature, but this one was shameful. I do hope the young lady learned something.

And to think,

Advertisers are insisting on these!

I am feeling like I should have just stayed in my comfortable little place of having sold a few hundred books and called it quits on the extensive promo attempts.

They offered to refund me and give me the reviews anyway and I declined.  I was not looking for free, just honest. So I will take her correction, and post the reviews that I feel most positively and accurately reflect the material in the book. GEEZ.

What a journey. Please be aware that I am writing this, not out of spite, but to share my experiences as a writer/author in hopes that my experiences can help others. I am sure other authors have had better experiences with editorial reviews.

Welcome to my bipolar moment.

Perhaps I was just a wee tad overzealous.

49 thoughts on “Profound Appreciation for Your Time

  1. There is nothing wrong with being overzealous. You are trying to look for new avenues for advertisement and increasing the sales of your beautiful book.
    Keep on doing what you think is best… I wish you good luck.

  2. Your book is absolutely awesome. That book that was returned? Probably someone who accidentally bought both hardbound and kindle copies. (I’ve done that by mistake.) And the one-star troll? Probably Shelby, who does that to everybody. You just have to laugh, pity, shrug and move on.

    • It was Shelby. LOL. Weird. I looked at her reviews and she mostly gives three stars.

      Can you believe this editorial review though? I so hope she learned something about honesty and the difference between the times of slavery and times of Civil Rights. A hundred years maybe.

      • Oh no — the review sucks. But so does old Shelby Troll. In past ten days, for example, the prolific Shelby has “read” over a hundred books that she’s “rated” one star. It is, of course, abuse but the system allows for that.

        • That is one of the biggest problems with Goodreads, how could anyone read over 100 books in ten days? I have been told that people do that on Amazon also, post for the sake of posting…what a boring life it must be. I recall the prank phone calls as a kid, and wonder if that’s what these are, bored teenagers without a meaningful life or activities.

  3. Wow… just wow… talk about catching them not reading the book. And they got paid! I would love for people to pay me to read their book. I don’t think you were overzealous at all. You should have been a judge, the truth and nothing but the truth, lol.

  4. Your honesty is refreshing. That concerns me about the Readers’ Favorite review. Having read your book, it seems clear he/she didn’t. Let’s hope that’s an exception rather than the rule.

    I had a one-star rating pop up on Goodreads with no review written. My skin is thick enough now that it didn’t really bother me, but I would have appreciated knowing what the person didn’t like about it. Then again, maybe I wouldn’t… 😉

    • That is how I felt about the one star. They could have been mean and spiteful and said nasty things. I suppose they are concerned for their reputation on Goodreads. That is a plus. Maybe they were the same person who returned the book. I’d like to think so. Just couldn’t get into it, and that’s okay.

      The editorial review still appalls me. I have one more review coming from them. Like I said, the review was beautifully worded and very eloquent…now that she has corrected it, it is a fine review that one would feel proud to display. Only, knowing what I know about it…I think I would be ashamed to to post it.

  5. Now I feel bad. My reviews really don’t talk much about the content of the books. I’m always afraid I will give away too much of the story. Maybe I should go back and edit my review to fill it out more.

    • Oh please don’t feel bad. I love you and I love your review. Your review is just fine. Yours is is one of my favorites. I even love the oneliners. Just say you enjoyed the book and recommend it. Another favorite from a total stranger says simply, “I was captured by this story from the very beginning. Very well written and believable. I wanted it to be true. I highly recommend it especially to people born in and before 1950.” I love my readers and all of my reviews. ALL of them! I was dragging about the EDITORIAL REVIEWS…the ones you pay for from sources that are supposed to professionally critique a book. These are used in a totally different area on the Amazon page. Many people totally disregard them. I do. I don’t even read them when shopping for books. I want to know what REAL people have to say, not PAID reviewers. Why they carry so much weight is beyond me. They are primarily for people who are too snooty to read anything not recommended by some big corporate review outfit that is supposed to be ABOVE the standard review. Seriously. I only sought them because BookBub required it and I thought. What the hell, I’ll give it a try. The reviewer obviously did not read the book. That makes me feel cheated.

      • As you should. I rarely read reviews while choosing a book. I would rather get a recommendation from a friend of just read the description. Books are very personal. What I like, you may not.

        • I feel the same way. Often, if a book is recommended to me or a fellow online author has one for review, I don’t read reviews until AFTER I write mine. That way I am certain my words are not influenced by what I have read. More original that way. That is also what I love about ALL of your reviews. They are original, and honest.

  6. Congratulations on all of your great reviews! The person who wrote the “editorial review” was extremely unprofessional. I wonder who the reviewers are? I’ve only written non-fiction, traditionally published books, so I have no idea about the things you describe. For professional journals reviewers usually have to have a Ph.D. or be a Ph.D. candidate who has published. I would think paid reviewers would be expected to have expertise–and would have read the book!!! Most of my books have received good reviews from other scholars, but the Amazon reviews are mixed. Some of the comments I’ve seen though are just stupid. You just have to let it go. It sounds like you are doing everything right. Good luck!

  7. Your candor is admirable, Susan. This piece is like a flashlight shedding illumination on the path ahead for anyone, like you, with the moxie to brave the pitfalls of publishing. I agree with Merril, “You just have to let it go” and concentrate on the 5-star reviews. Best wishes.

    • Funny thing…this review about slavery was a stellar five star review, beautifully worded and flattering…it just wasn’t honest about the material in the book. The book was NOT about slavery, no slave appears in the book. That may be off-putting and very confusing to a prospective reader thinking about purchasing the book. I certainly can’t possibly use it as an editorial review. I am certainly glad that the company gave me a choice, some don’t…they just post them.

  8. That’s a lot of money to invest. I’m curious to see what comes of the Kirkus review. Just disregard the Goodreads review. There are all sorts of 1-star ratings out there; especially, since ratings have no comments, there isn’t much you can do but shrug it off—if the person had something to say, he/she would have.

    I’ve never heard of BookBub asking for editorial reviews before; I wonder if it’s particular to the nature of your book, and hoping to get a neutral opinion without having to read it themselves (you can imagine them seeing a controversial topic, perhaps, and wanting to be conservative in their recommendations). I’ve also heard authors get rejected once, but accepted for the same book months later.

    • I read some things about BookBub on other sites. They had recommended the site Alexa to check on the traffic on sites BEFORE you spend money to place ads on them. They went on to say that BookBub has criteria, like number of positive editorial reviews, number of general public reviews, sells ranking and so on. I was declined by BookBub. Not having any editorial reviews, I thought I would give it a try. Newspapers have been reluctant because it is not traditionally published…so they say. I admit, I am nervous about Awesome Indies…their criteria seems so strict. I am curious, also, about Kirkus, but you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to. They give you a choice, but Awesome Indies doesn’t.

  9. I see you have a lot of encouragers out there with detailed analyses. Here’s something I found recently on Facebook: “Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.”- Zig Ziglar

    • Hahaha! The one star with no comments did not disturb me at all on Goodreads. Like Carrie said, Thank goodness; perhaps, they chose not to say anything. When I see three stars or even two stars with nice CONSTRUCTIVE criticism, it does not discourage me from buying a book. When I see trash talk written beside a review, I recognize it for what it is.

  10. I’m sorry to hear you are experiencing this . I do think that in any market people will exploit others unfortunately and it sounds like some of these services are just that. I’ve also found so far that some of the more expensive marketing options don’t seem to happen expeditiously so that has been disappointing. All I can say is your book is superb and that for what my opinion is worth, as a reader rather than obviously a professional, your book is one of the best I have ever read and that includes both traditionally and independently published works. 🙂

    • You make me cry…happy tears. I am so grateful for lovely people like you. Your opinion means the world to me. I love your writing and your poetry speaks to me like none other I have ever felt, and I do feel it, not simply read it, that is how it moves me. I thank you for your kindness and support.

  11. Susan, Love your honesty and that you give us the scoop, no matter what. I doubt that it is too late to get your refund and they are lucky you don’t cause them problems. So not okay. Thanks for sharing the good, the bad and the ugly:>)
    Patti

  12. I just want to thank you for sharing your experience. I, too, am trying to feel my way through the thicket of how and where to promote. Every new piece of information helps.

  13. How can these people sleep at night charging real money for a book review? I have always done mine for free, and will continue to do so. I just don’t get it.

    • The EDITORIAL reviews are the ones that are SUPPOSED to be professional critiques and highly regarded in the reader community.

      The editorial reviews are supposed to be more highly regarded by some than the average everyday reviewer. Many book clubs won’t review a book without one. I was in one like that briefly.

      Kirkus has been around for generations, but now they have Kirkus Select, that you MUST use if you are self-published. Some advertisers will not take your money for paid ads unless you have a Kirkus review posted.

        • LOL! I know…seems silly. I should be focused more on writing than promoting. The book is what it is. My friend Nancy in Texas, who encouraged me to publish this book, was staying with me for a month during the time it was published. She was in awe at what we go through to get a book out there to readers. If she only knew the rest of the story.

  14. I think honest and not tacky and not obviously overstated reviews from friends that have read the book are just fine for amazon and free. I mean I don’t know if Joe Wilson is chairman of English Dept at Princeton or a plumber. One fellow who really is very good has dozens of reviews written by professionals in the market as well as college academics and it is obviously a very contrived campaign and does not impress me. I read Coonts, Cussler, Brown and their reviews at least on book jacket and amazon are only 2 or 3 sentences. Perhaps it is not the number of reviews but the number of avenues to get them out. Often free copy to book editors newspapers (try the local papers as they look for hometown folks to showcase)get a review in paper for free and build review portfolio for ads.

    • Most newspapers are owned by the larger newspapers nowadays, and you cannot get editorial reviews through them unless you are a New York Times bestseller. Small town papers even, like the one in my hometown in GA. Personally, I never read editorial reviews. I go straight to the real people reviews. It is the advertisers that want to see them…somehow, they feel if you have these, the books has established quality. HA! What is a quality read to some might be trash to others.

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