Goodreads’ Policy and the New Path for Authors

Untitled-1Times are different for writers. An author gives everything to their writing and sets aside many things to make sure it’s presentable. Only to realize the gut-wrenching writing was the easy part of the process.

The hard part comes next: marketing.

Moving away from past authorship

In the past authors relied on editors, agents, and publisher to promote their books. However, with more books published and less money for each author, the industry pushed the marketing on the authors.

This transition has caused problems for authors.

Before the digital age authors’ access to reviews was limited. Reviews were written by the media or spread by word of mouth in local book clubs. Readers spent time in book stores reading back covers and asking employees for suggestions. Since authors couldn’t influence the reviews their time was devoted to their craft. They wrote and that’s it.

Moving into modern authorship

Now, every blogger, reviewer, and socially active person has the ability to write a public review of books. Couple that with authors promoting their own books and it spells disaster.

Here’s the issue, writers need good reviews to sell more books. No longer do people need to join a local book club or wait for Oprah to announce the next best read to find a book they’ll love. They just open their favorite site and see what’s good.

So if those reviews are negative then book ratings go down, people pass over the book, and sales tank. This concerns the author/marketer who needs those reviews to sell books, a dilemma.

We need reviewers but we don’t want the negative reviews. Yet, reviews are subjective based on many factors in a reader’s life. Maybe when she went to the library that young adult paranormal romance sounded perfect, but by the time she finish she wished it had been a horror fantasy and felt disappointed. Or maybe he bought the book because his buddy recommended it but he couldn’t connect to the first person present tense and abandoned the book.

Not everyone will love our books. In fact, only a small niche is going to enjoy it at all. Negative reviews should always be expected. How an author reacts to it is important.

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Our behavior affects our product, especially when that behavior is public on sites such as: Goodreads and Amazon. Readers are the customer and how we treat our customers will impact our sales.

Authors and the entrepreneurship phase

I understand both aspects of this problem since I’m writing a book and I’ve worked in the marketing industry. We are artists of words, not of convincing strangers to love our words. However, with this new environment many authors seem to forget the other aspect of the writer’s life: entrepreneurship.

Owning a product for sale means authors take on the roll of manager: professional, helpful, understanding, complimentary, and willing to make the customer happy. A bad manager is someone who stirs up conflict with their customers and says or does negative things toward them.

A public figure needs to accept the negative personal comments and focus on the positive. Then learn from it and make the product better the next time.

Goodreads to the rescue

Untitled-1I’ve seen Goodreads struggle in the past few months with authors and reviewers clashing about reviews. The site now warns authors how to respond to reviews. ←

Goodreads announced a new policy that essentially tells reviewers to be nice to authors. Though, this is intended to keep the peace, the management should treat the site like any other product review site.

When an employee of a company acts irresponsibly the customer calls that bad customer service. The book reviewer is the customer and the author is the owner. The person who needs to make the experience pleasurable is the author. The reader reviews and gives feedback.

Reviewers are intelligent and can spot a review that reads hate instead of reasonable and they will ignore those reviews. Goodreads should let the market sort out the problem instead of intervening. Though I’m sure it’s hard to have people complaining on both sides.

Customers need encouragement and assurance that their experience will be pleasing even if they say something that might hurt someone’s feelings. It wouldn’t be wise for Bill Gates or Jack Welch to go on a review site and complain about the bad reviews. In the same way, it isn’t a good idea for authors to respond to negative book reviews. This is an issue customers can handle and the authors need to adjust to.

Limiting reviewers ability to be honest also leads to posters making a point in this fashion:

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I hope in the future this policy goes away or at least isn’t enforced. It’s bad for business.

P.S. I intended to do a character post, but I read Goodreads’ new policy about reviews and the responses from many book bloggers. I wanted to add my opinion. I’ll post this other topic soon.

Did you know about the Goodreads policy and what is your response?

I love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading my blog

A.G. Zalens

These 4 Popular Writing Techniques Baffle Me

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A new popular book, praise of the highest quality, amazing cover, compelling synopsis, and a short time to read. I start and realize the style doesn’t appeal to me. Disappointed, I try to read it, but usually abandon it before I finish.

Others love, love, love these stories and the authors have reached the perfect audience. I just don’t qualify and I wondered what aspects lost my attention.

I’ve narrowed it down to four styles that I tend to stay away from.

One Drama Packed POV with Little Action

I enjoy teenage angst in stories; it validates those awkward and emotional years. However, at some point the validation becomes excessive, and turns from “I know that feeling!” to “Make it stop!” A small portion of rich angst flavors the whole story, any more chips away at its beauty.

For me, a story coated with drama feels like my best-friend has taken over my mind for several days. Even though I anticipate the time with her, I’d rather not hear her every thought summed up in 100k words or less.

Another POV introduced into the book breaks up the internal voice and adds a new viewpoint. Especially when it’s from the perspective females worry over the most. The guy.

For example the girl might think this: He’s mad at me. I know it. He walked in, saw me, nodded, and kept talking on his phone. He only does that when he’s mad.

And then the next scene we get the guy’s perspective: Oh, there she is, I wish I could talk to her. At least I get to look at her cute dimpled smile while I finish convincing this difficult jerk to take back his crappy product.

Multi-POV, it’s the way to go.

Stylized and Figurative Language

You know, the books overwhelmed with metaphors, similes, accents, or stutters. In sporadic intervals this language brings a new angle and intrigue. The overuse becomes so predictable I can foresee the next metaphor before it pops into the text.

I understand the desire to include them, that transition to creative mode, clichés rejected, perfect comparisons found, and satisfaction of a show well done. However, every scene should include more dialog, internal voice, and action than metaphors, similes, and accents.

It’s perfect for back-story or short chapters of an alternate POV, but an entire book without a change is less like Shakespeare and more like a stuffy neighbor showing off.

Romance For No Reason

It’s possible for intended romance to lack romance; if the book is a romance than that’s a problem. All other books can do without the romance, especially if it doesn’t work out. The reader knows when it’s forced. I would rather its exclusion than its confusion.

Several issues with romance includes: the characters don’t know each other, no dialog has taken place between them, their dialog is always negative or disrespectful, it happens too fast, no redeeming qualities are present in one or both characters, or there is no evidence given that the characters actually like each other.

Romance requires a lot of care, preparation, and development. Anyone who writes romance should read at least ten romance novels before they include it. Knowing love doesn’t always transition to writing amazing romance.

History For The Sake of History

I know people enjoy their historical fiction. If the story takes place in Paris, readers expect abundant details. If the year is 1969, then Woodstock, hippies, long straight hair, and peace should appear somewhere in the story.

However, when the book’s theme doesn’t relate to the age, events, or structure of a building, it probably shouldn’t be included. Any past war that is irrelevant to the modern-day story should be brief in description, if described at all.

Just because the main character is reading a historical book about birds, it isn’t necessary to include a five-page quote from the book, unless your book is about birds. No matter how beautiful the text, the history of birds doesn’t belong in a science fiction fantasy romance.

Short descriptive and quick transitions move me through the story. The irrelevant history stalls it and I skim those parts. Any book that isn’t a historical fiction should exclude multi-chapter history lessons, unless it’s of a new world and the history provides substance.

What styles have turned you from a book? Are they popular or a rarity?

I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my blog!
A.G. Zalens