Do Reviews Matter?

Once you publish your book, you suddenly open yourself up to the public, and that means the critics. I was always told that I needed to get reviews for my book, and of course, like any author, I hoped people would love my book, giving it five stars and glowing commentary.

However, is that truly the reality? Everyone is a critic, and human beings can be subjective. Therefore, what is a five star to one person might be a three star to another. I’ve learned not to set my standards so high to become disappointed with the four and three star reviews. In fact, what is more important, in my view, is the actual review itself.

I love to read the comments, how my book makes people feel, and what it perhaps meant to the reader. I also like to stay open to any constructive feedback, it helps me understand the psyche of my readers, and what I could learn for future publications.

However, when I say constructive I mean constructive. As an author, the reality is that there are people out there who can be brutal with their comments, and sometimes even hurtful. When you are in the public eye, this is sadly something that we open ourselves up to. What can we do about it? Nothing really!

When I say we can do nothing, that is exactly what we should do. Ignore it. Don’t respond with the same malice, and just move on. Look at any best seller on the market, and they have a wide range of reviews and commentary. Even the best of books have the worst of critics and the detractors. Stephen King, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell are among some of the best authors, and they have their share of one and two star reviews.

As an author, I would suggest that you listen to the majority of your reviewers to truly understand the quality of your work. Look at the patterns around the reviews, and specifically any comments that may be arising more than once. Unless you are consistently getting lower ratings, or the negative comments are forming a pattern, it is just part of the game, and you should not overthink it. Where you are getting a pattern of feedback, you have a choice too. You can do something about it – fix it in your current publication or in future works, or again just accept and ignore it. Either way, it means someone is reading your book, and it may spark the curiosity of more readers.

Reviews are important, but unless your book is averaging one or two stars, they are not the only thing that will sell your book. You sell your book! You are responsible for getting your book in front of the right readers, and when you do, you should expect and welcome their feedback. If you can’t handle the heat from your readers, then sadly this game may not be for you.

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Read My Mind

I’ve been a published author now for almost two years, yet I still have questions about being an author, and sometimes it is difficult to know where to turn to get the ‘right’ information.

The one true source of information that helps me is my network of other authors, a real community of friends and support who have been a wonderful source of information and advice, as well as my sanity at times when I needed a good laugh.

What is even better is that this community of authors have now embarked on a journey to share their knowledge, insights and experiences through a series of articles in a brand new FREE magazine called READ MY MIND.

Lily Amis (NasSima Design) is the instigator, imaginator and producer of this magazine, and as an author I’m honoured to be a part of this community to be featured in the very first issue, which will be released in April!

Discover new books, get the latest information on publishing, as well as articles on lifestyle, humour, travel and more. The magazine will offer competitions and other great highlights, so it’s certainly a collaboration that shouldn’t be missed.

To subscribe to the magazine, enter your details here, and be a part of this great journey with us!

SUBSCRIBE

A Question of Formatting

So the one thing I have learned very quickly about self-publishing is that there is no one format that works for all channels when launching your book on either paperback or eBook. However, if you get it wrong, it has a major impact on the look and readability of your book, and potentially the response from your readers.

Readers don’t want to figure out the formatting; they get frustrated by page breaks in the wrong spots, and blank pages, or worse, text that is ever-changing in font and style throughout an eBook or paperback. I have learned to become pernickety about how my books are formatted, and I’m still not sure I always get it right. I spend hours launching a draft, checking it page by page, and then re-doing it again, until I’m satisfied.

Then, there are the picture or illustrated books. Now that is a completely different story. It is actually easier to publish in a paperback format, as you can save any file to PDF and voila, you’re done. But… putting these illustrations alongside their text into a kindle or ePub file is another story, and a whole art form unto itself. However, I personally would not want to get this wrong. Firstly, most illustrated books are aimed at younger readers, and attracting and keeping their attention is important to a book’s success. Illustrations that don’t format well with the text of a book, is the first failure in my personal view, and will ultimately lead to disinterest from younger minds and imaginations.

I tried multiple free Internet sites to convert my books, and most of them failed miserably. In the end, I hired someone from Fiverr.com to help me with my quest, and despite the small cost, it was well worth it to know that my book would look the way I wanted it to on an eReader device.

Smashwords will quickly convert most word documents into a good Kindle (.mobi) file suitable for Kindle. If pictures are involved, it may not work as well, but generally the files if checked can be amended (just be aware it may take a few goes). Again, however, I strongly recommend hiring the services of someone who knows their formatting, especially if your book has illustrations or diagrams, to ensure that you get the best effect for your readers.

Formatting is not something to take lightly. The key simple rules I follow for any book are:

1. Chapters should start on a new page.
2. Paragraphs should be clearly defined.
3. The font should be consistent in style and size.
4. Remove blank pages (where possible).
5. Keep it simple (this is the best way to keep it compatible for all eReader devices).

As always please reach out to me if you have any questions or need further information on your publishing journey!

Why Do You Want to Be an Author?

What makes you want to be an author?

This is the question you really need to ask yourself before you publish. Are you in it for money, fame, readership, kudos, or just to ‘see how it goes’?

Once you answer this question you can then decide which route you’d like to pursue in getting your work published.

Getting yourself signed up with a ‘publisher’ is difficult, but if your work is good and its fame you’re seeking – this may be the fastest route. Money, well dependent on your contract, and how good your publisher is, that could quickly follow. However, from my own learning, research your publisher, as them where they will publicise your work, and how they will market your book. If they are a small publisher they may not have the aptitude or contacts to go beyond their regional means, which in turn does your book no favours.

Now, self-publishing is another story. However, it is up to you, one hundred percent, no going back, and your success is dependent on your ability to network, market yourself, and position yourself to your intended audience. It’s harder than you think.

However, in self-publishing, the royalties are all yours, and you control your book’s direction, whichever way you take it. You just need to decide what you want from your book, what you’re willing to invest (in either time, money or resources) and more importantly, who your target audience is, and where to find them!

More to come on this subject with future blog updates.

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Want to Self Publish?

So you have written a book? Finished that manuscript? Or maybe you are thinking of writing a book?

Not sure where to start?

Firstly, I will say that there is no one clear path for authors today.

However, I’m often asked a lot of questions by new authors and aspiring authors, what did I do?

Sadly, there is no exact science to success, but there are certainly some things you can do to give your book the best chance possible.

I have heard and seen much criticism for self-published authors. Much of this has been because of the ease of getting your book now on kindle or paperback via Amazon, Smashwords or Ingram without any vetting via an agent or proven publishing body. The thing is, if your book is bad it won’t sell. Fact! So regardless of being backed by a publisher, agent or doing it alone; the book needs to be attractive to the general public.

Without a doubt, there are some pretty terrible books on the market. However, I have seen these books represented by publishers as well as self-published authors – both of which I would never touch. From my experience, self publishing is what you make of it. If you want to be successful and you put the effort into your work and marketing it – you have a much better chance of succeeding. Like anything, nothing is guaranteed. But if you don’t try, you don’t succeed.

My advice, is to take the plunge, get your book ready, do your homework and just go!

If you would like any advice, guidance or help on your self publishing journey please contact me at mcgrathhouseltd@gmail.com

Announcing the 2016 Winners…

After hundreds of nominations and thousands of votes, the WINNERS of the McGrath House Independent Book Awards 2016 have been finalised.

Competition was extremely close in all categories and I congratulate all finalists in their categories.

Children’s – The Bee Who Sneezed, by Stephen Evans61fjf8n8oql-_sx381_bo1204203200_

What would you do if you discovered you had a new talent. Well, Let me tell you, when this cute little Bee sneezed and fell he discovered not only a new way to fly, but a way to soar.

Fiction – Horror – Little Book of Horrors, by Lacey Lane41eqeg3tcl

Four chilling tales to mess with your mind. Karma’s a Psychopath Bloodlust The Monster Within The Revenge of the Pumpkins Warning. This book contains explicit content.

 

Fiction – Thriller/Mystery The Second Wife, by Kishan Paul51msbvjqmyl-_sx331_bo1204203200_

If you want to live, you must let go of the past… 

 

Fiction – Romance – White as Snow, by Jess James51jdtpyq-ml

A playful and steamy version of a fairy tale that is inventive and very amusing.

 

Fiction – Historical The Seven Year Dress, by Paulette Mahurin510k-mwo6l

One of the darkest times in human history was the insane design and execution to rid the world of Jews and “undesirables.”

 

Fiction – Young Adult Perfekt Order, by S.T.Bende51omqxag-il-_sx311_bo1204203200_

All’s fair when you’re in love with War. For seventeen-year-old Mia Ahlström, a world ruled by order is the only world she allows. 

 

Fiction – Sci Fi / Fantasy – Atlantis After Midnight, by Lisa Kulow513ybdwobl
This is not your average tale of Atlantis. Shape shifters, aliens, and time travelers.

 

Fiction – Paranormal – The Photograph, by Grant Leishman51sctpgcael

When Tony Logan discovers an undeveloped roll of film from the 1970’s, he is excited to see what it contains  magic, witchcraft, the underworld and supernatural happenings. 

Fiction – Comedy – Unhappily Ever After, by Lucinda E Clarke61nwkh6jnpl-2

Fairyland is in chaos. A non-politically correct tale much closer to the truth than anything you have ever seen on the movies.

 

Fiction – Other – What Once Went Wrong, by Tom E Hodden51ctpzdhybl

George has just six months to live, and no chance of a happy ever after. At least not for himself. 

 

Non Fiction  I am Cancer Free, by Brenda Mohammed51wvibaptl-_sx322_bo1204203200_

A most touching and emotional true story of the author’s battle with Ovarian cancer.

 

 

But… who is the overall winner with the most votes?

Watch this space for the announcement shortly….

mcgrath-house-winner-logo

Announcing the FINALISTS

Announcing the FINALISTS in each category for the McGrath House Independent Book Awards 2016.

Over the past two months we have collected your nominations for your favourite books. The most popular books and those who received the most nominations have been included in the list of finalists. mcgrath-house-finalist

Now its time to VOTE

Which of these books should be awarded the Category Winner?
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An overall WINNER will be announced as the McGrath House Independent Author Award.

Amazon gift card prizes will be awarded to all winners.

Voting closes 15 November 2016.

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK HERE

When Indies Unite…

As an independent author, in a world where there are literally billions of books, finding your voice and visibility can be challenging.

But, what if independent authors joined forces, created one voice and united in their efforts to build credibility, visibility and readership. This was a question posed on one of the author forums I’ve joined, and from there the ball got rolling.13962590_2072535112970833_4125606326806642410_n

Rather than relying on individual efforts to get visibility for our respective books through social media platforms, we have proposed that we form a membership, focused on showcasing our books in a way that presents us as professional group of authors. We want to leverage each other, create hype, interest and discussion about our work, in a way that will build a good readership following.

Will this work? Time will only tell… but surely there is more power in unity and allegiance.

Therefore, we are introducing Indies United and any author is welcome to apply to become a member. There will be a small monthly financial commitment, which will be used to leverage promotions in a professional format. We will also be asking for input and a commitment from members to share in the efforts to cross promote the groups efforts, and the group owners will commit to ensuring that there is are regular promotional activities on behalf of all authors.

If you are an author and you are interested in finding out more, please complete the form in the link below and someone from the team will get back to you shortly.

Complete your query here…

Over time, we aim to make Indies United a major name in book publishing, and we hope to build attendance at book fairs and other literary events.

How Do You Price your eBook or Paperback?

For self-published authors there is a fine balance between looking to get your work out there for your readers and the ambition to make a profit.

Many self-published authors use the services of Createspace, KDP or Smashwords to get their book published – easy enough platforms that instantly ensure your book is loaded up with major retailers online. That’s the easy part…now you need to reach an audience who wants to buy your book. So what about the pricing?
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There is such a disparity between quality of work and price when it comes to eBooks and Paperbacks. What is a good price, for all that time spent writing, editing, creating, getting publish ready. Selling a book for 0.99c (less than a coffee) reaps a royalty payment of around 0.35c on an eBook – yet many readers want the quick bargain and it does help get your book quickly out there! But will you sell enough to get a return on your basic investment?

On the opposite end, I see eBooks advertised for $5.99 and above and paperbacks reaching upwards of $20.00 USD. As an avid reader, that is a hefty price to pay – especially for those authors you have never read or heard of before. Yet, I understand and appreciate that even at those prices, the royalties are still minimal per book.

So do you sell more at the lower price and make less, or keep your book high but sell less (if any at all)?

Having researched a little bit further into this – my best advice is to check out your competition. Who are the top authors in your genre, and what is the top ranking book selling at? Like any product, you need to be competitive. You don’t see Coke and Pepsi with major differences in their pricing mechanisms – and so authors need to have this same savvy when pricing their books.

Look at books in your genre, their page count, content, reviews and try to get as close as possible to their pricing. Or perhaps even look at ways to attract readers to one of your books to hook them into your writing. Countdown deals and free promotions are good opportunities, but I’ve also seen mixed results. It’s a constant battle and one that any independent author needs to proactively manage if they want to attract new readers.

As I tell everyone, this is not a ‘get rich quick scheme’ and the worst thing that we could do is have our readers not even bother looking at the synopsis because our pricing turns them off.