This past week has been the week from Hell in a lot of ways. As my last post noted, a dear cousin passed away. Add to that my son having his first wreck — and totaling his truck — and, well, you get an idea of what my life’s been like. Add in the 350 mile drive each way to attend my cousin’s funeral (which was held on the anniversary of my dad’s death — not that her family realized it when they planned the service). So today I’m trying to play catch up, at least some, even as my brain and body are begging to go back to bed.
First off, for some business matters. The website store will be back up either tomorrow or Tuesday. Probably Tuesday. I’ll announce it as soon as it’s live again.
Also, Dave Freer’s collection of short stories — The Goth Sex Kitten and Other Stories — will be available for purchase when the store goes live. It will take a couple of days for it to show up on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. We are now publishing directly through BN, just as we are Amazon. Of course, you can still find us on Smashwords and through their affiliates as well. Naturally, all our books and short stories are available through our site as well.
Okay, a couple of items of interest. The review process for Amazon has come under fire again, specifically because people can rate books — and ebooks — without reading them and that their ratings can be based on anything. The issue has been around for a long time but has been gaining notoriety after the agency model pricing of e-books came into being. What is happening now is that a number of folks are giving 1-star reviews to e-books when they cost as much, or more, than the hard cover books. This happens almost exclusively to e-books published by those houses under the agency model. The hard cover prices can still be discounted by Amazon and are. However, the publisher sets the price for the e-book. This often means there is little or no difference between the cost of the digital copy and the cost of the hard copy.
What some people see as the crux of the matter is that Amazon allows customers to post reviews whether they’ve read the book or not. As with other on-line retailers, all you have to do to post a review on Amazon is have an account with them.
I understand the concern over these negative reviews. But to require Amazon to police the reviews so that only someone who has read a book can post would mean they would have to buy the book from Amazon. That would prevent someone who borrowed it from the library, or who purchased it elsewhere, or who received it as a gift from ever posting a review. That’s not the way to do it.
In my opinion, what Amazon needs to do is simply add another section to their reviews. Rate the book for content and quality and then rate the book for pricing. Most folks who give negative reviews for books due to their cost, say so in the body of the review. That leads me to believe they would be honest and simply mark the cost/value portion of the review if they were offered that option.
But let’s face it, these reviews are anything but reliable. If you follow any of the e-book boards, you will have seen instance after instance where authors (or their friends or family) have created multiple accounts to post glowing reviews for their loved one’s book. This isn’t something unique to just Amazon. So, if you are relying on the reviews by customers, you need to take them with a grain of salt. Or at least you need to look at what else that reviewer has rated. Often, you will find that they have never reviewed anything else.
In the meantime, remember that the review you give can and will impact an author’s sales. So, until there is a way to show up front that you are marking the book down because of price, limit your review to what you liked or didn’t like about the contents of the book, not just the price. Oh, and let the publishers know if you think the price is out of line.
Going hand-in-hand with the above is this article from the NY Times. With the availability to look at, touch and play with e-book readers in such places as Walmart and Target this holiday season, there is the potential for the e-book market to really soar. Will this be the tipping point? I don’t know. But it will be one giant step toward it, in my opinion. With the explosive growth of e-books sales over the last couple of years, the lower prices for e-book readers, the wide availability of PC/Mac versions of the kindle/nook/sony/kobo, etc., programs so you can read on your computer, laptop or cellphone, e-books are no longer only for the technically inclined. It is going to be interesting to see how the figures pan out over the next few months.
Finally, for the writers out there. I recommend you take a look at this entry from Lucienne Diver’s blog. Not only is she an agent with the Knight Agency, but she’s a wonderful author in her own right. (Vamped and ReVamped) Earlier this month, she had a post that really hit home with the writer side of me:
I suppose that the long and short of what I took away from this is that publication has never been easy…not the path to it or the continuation of the journey. It’s never been painless. No artist of any stripe has ever been universally loved or acclaimed. In order to reach out and grab readers by the throat, authors have to be able to throw open the doors and windows to the soul. Unfortunately, in letting their creativity out, those open doors allow for stiff, bracing and sometimes stormy winds to sweep through as well. To me it’s a comfort that the literary greats went through the same vicissitudes we do today. They survived. Their names have gone down in history and, perhaps more importantly to them as writers, their works have remained in print. We read them today, often thinking that they must have been aware of their own genius and been gratified by their success, while the truth is that authors do not sit back content with the accomplishment of their last release, but are constantly struggling with the new and wondering whether they’ll be able to live up to or exceed expectations. I’m not sure whether there’s an actual saying that you’re only as good as your latest novel, but I do know that that’s how all writers feel.
So, for those of you battling toward attainment of your dreams, whether they be of initial or continued publication, take comfort in the shared pain and find compatriots with whom to celebrate your triumphs. Appreciate them when they come and pull out the memories of them to get you through the hard times.
And, with that in mind, I leave you to the rest of the weekend.