Its April 18th guys! Unless today is your birthday (if it is, happy birthday!) today won’t have much significance to you. But today is the day, I promise. It’s the day “The Monster of Selkirk Book I” became available. The day my husband has declared that I am “officially a published author”. People can get touchy about telling people their debut book is out. I don’t often call it my “debut” book just because it often has a negative connotation, as if I am preemptively apologizing for something and I’m not. I’m really proud of the work I’m putting out there and really excited that it’s finally available to you all!
This experience has been an incredibly humbling one. I’ve worked in marketing and advertising for years, I’m used to doing promotional things and selling things… but you can’t really do that with your own book. I mean, sure you can. Facebook and so on let you run ads to get people to hopefully buy your products or give you their email. I’ve done that (obviously). But when you’ve created something, it’s not so much about the traditional advertising as it is asking the people you know and your networks to support your dreams and read your book, buy your art, listen to your music, whatever it is you’ve made. You are reaching out to these people and asking them to read something that even if it’s a fantasy book, is still very personal and makes you really vulnerable as those people who are your friends or friends of friends can turn around and say they hate it. Which they are allowed to, any sort of creative work is subjective like that, not everyone will like it. But that doesn’t make you feel any less vulnerable.
That’s the stage I’m at. Learning the art of asking. Of asking people to give my work a chance. If they liked it (or maybe not, but I’m hoping everyone loves it like I love my book, obviously) to leave it a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Interacting with your work and supporting your art is seen as a favor to most people (even though they’ll dish out $90+ to see their favorite famous band in concert) so writing a review after can feel like a burden.
I get it, I didn’t used to write reviews for books either. I didn’t see the point. I bought the book, shouldn’t that be all that matters? They got my money. But in the age we live in, where people look at those star ratings for everything from restaurants, dentists (yes, I looked a dentist up on Yelp to check reviews before going!), video games, movies, and books to decide if they should eat something, go somewhere, or read something, ratings and reviews become super important. If a product has no reviews, no one else buys it because they suddenly don’t trust it, just the same if a product or service has only a 1 or a 2 star review.
But that’s also where Amazon is unique. On Yelp, the written reviews are not as important unless you want to know what’s good to eat or why the service was so terrible. On Amazon, consumers treat the star reviews the same as anything else, but Amazon prefers the written review. You can have thousands of ratings that are just star reviews but if some kind soul hasn’t actually written you a review, Amazon won’t send out your book in its newsletters or up your book to the next tier of advertising support. I did not know that until I got serious about this career!
Did you know books need at least 50 written reviews before they get to that next tier of advertising support? I didn’t! They could be simple two sentence reviews too, or you can give a book a five star rating and then say all the terrible parts in the written review and it still counts.
That’s why this whole experience and this day, while exciting and exhilarating, is so incredibly humbling. You want to jump around and feel like a rock star, but at the same time, you have to ASK people, friends and strangers alike, to give you a chance and accept that they can, and will, say no and that they have every right to. But I don’t think people realize how important written reviews actually are, either. I didn’t until recently so I have been trying to be better on leaving a written review for everything and hope karma returns the favor.
So happy digital launch day, friends! The paperback version will be available May 1st in case you don’t have a Kindle or the Kindle app on your iPad. I’m so excited to hear what you think of “The Monster of Selkirk”!