Monday, September 23, 2013

Ryan Field Books; Paid Book Reviews; Finding Beta Readers



Ryan Field Books Facebook

On facebook, I have an author page that's been around for at least the last five years. However, I've personally been on facebook for almost as long as facebook has been around with my own name, and in that time I've built up a list of friends who are a cross between readers, family, and friends from all parts of the world.

So when I use facebook, it's not only just for book promotion. Facebook for me is also a social outlet that I enjoy daily. And what happens as a result of this is the author page, Ryan Field Books, usually suffers and my own personal facebook account is where you'll find me. And, I accept all friend requests unlike some people because I do think of that account as a place for readers, too. Frankly, I never got the concept of "Do you know this person?" on facebook. Part of the reason I'm on facebook it to meet new people, and not just stick to those I already know. It's social media. Isn't that the basic point of it? I'm supposed to turn people away just because I don't know them? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose?

The reason I'm posting about this now is because I checked out my author page late last night for the first time in months and found messages and comments left by readers who were thoughtful enough to take the time to do that. And I felt awful about not knowing this, and even worse because one of my biggest pet peeves about authors and social media is when the author is too grand and mighty to actually communicate and socialize with readers in any capacity. I see readers leaving comments on author status updates all the time and when the author never replies I get a little put off by that. I personally think it's important to at least take the time to say something once in a while.

So I will try to start updating that author page, and I will keep up with things more frequently now. But if you did try to reach me on the author page and you didn't get a response, please understand that was just me being absent minded and I always reply to everyone who contacts me. I would actually like to delete that author page, but I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea either.

Paid Book Reviews

I know I've posted about paid book reviews before here somewhere, but for those who don't know what I'm talking about I'll explain it again. This basically falls under the category of "Everyone says you should do this," and authors are always being told that reviews are the most important way to promote their books. I can't even count the number of times I've read this advice. And in the quest for book reviews some authors pay outside sources to read their books and review them.

I'm only going to link to one place right now, because some of the places where you can buy these book reviews are questionable at best. This link seems reputable. Although I'm not an expert on paid book reviews, I do know that Kirkus seems to have a good reputation in the field. But it's not without pitfalls either, as this author notes in this blog post titled, "Kirkus Reviews: Is it Worth the Money?"

Not only was I starry-eyed, but I was also impatient. Instead of paying $425.00 for a review that might take 9 weeks, I decided to fork over the extra money and paid $575.00 for the 4-6 week review.

Once the review was published, however, nobody saw it. It got tucked away three or four layers deep into the Kirkus labyrinth of thousands of reviews, and you wouldn’t find it unless you searched for it specifically.

I've personally never paid for one single book review in my life, and at this point I don't intend to do that. I'm not being holier than thou; I just prefer unsolicited reviews all the time. I also write some highly erotic gay romances, and most people tend to be discreet about leaving reviews for books of that nature. In other words, I get e-mails in private from someone who writes middle grade books telling me how much he loves my books, but I don't expect him to review one of my books on his middle grade web site. Or for that matter, to review one of my books on Amazon with his real name. And that's part of what comes with choosing to write anything highly erotic...and gay. No complaints. Everything about the genre deals with discretion and privacy...even what I post here on this blog. I self-censor all the time.

I'm also too damn cheap to pay Kirkus $575.00. I'd rather have this, or this instead.  And when I think as a business person, and I think about how many books need to be sold in order to make a paid review from Kirkus worthwhile, the numbers simply don't add up unless you're writing something mainstream with the potential to attract hundreds of thousands of people. Even in that case, I have a literary agent friend who advises his newer clients against paying that much for book reviews from anyone, and then he tells his authors to focus on social media and unsolicited reviews from readers. He's a great agent and good friend and I trust him completely.

But the general point of this post is to show that paid book reviews are not uncommon, they aren't unethical, and authors and publishers have been doing this for many years, both large and small. Of course there are a few questionable web sites out there that will review books for a fee (one for five bucks a book), but I think it's safe to say that you'll know them when you see them. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Finding Beta Readers

This is something one of my authors who contributed to The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance asked me about a month ago and I was at a loss. I know there are tons of beta readers out there, but I've never personally had one so I couldn't name anyone specific. But I think beta readers are great, and when I saw this article I figured I'd link to it for those who are looking for beta readers, or even those who don't know what betas are.

Don’t ask family or friends; their critiques are worthless. Are you part of any writing groups? You should be! Go join a few now for your next novel. I have a group of awesome friends online who have been invaluable beta readers for me. For now, go to Goodreads and find an author who writes the same kind of stuff as you. Look at the people who’ve reviewed his stuff, and consider if their reviews are accurate and insightful. Message 5 of them and ask them if they would read and critique your work. But really, fellow authors are the best because they can point out tangles in your structure and help you fix them better than readers can.

Whatever you do, don't ever pay for a beta reader. The author who asked me about beta readers mentioned a company that will read and critique your book for a fee of $200.00 and I think that's just insane. There are more than a few readers out there who would be willing to read your work and critique it for free. They love doing this, they are usually the best critics, and you'll get an outside opinion that's objective and more reliable than you can get anywhere else. In most cases, the beta reader is going to be the same type of reader who will be reviewing your book when it's published.

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