Screamcatcher; Web World-NOW FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED And $.99, Compliments Of Melange Press, Fire & Ice! (N.N. LIGHT BOOK AWARD WINNER)

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Screamcatcher-World-Christy-J-Breedlove-ebook/dp/B07QDK5M75/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Screamcatcher+web+world&qid=1554941996&s=books&sr=1-1-spell

Here’s a Little Taste Of What’s Just Jumped out of the Dream Catcher World. There’s a Storm Brewing…It’s Going To Hurl You Off Your Feet And Twist You Into A knot. You Best Name Your Beneficiary. You’ll Be Toast.

            When seventeen-year-old Jory Pike cannot shake the hellish nightmares of her parent’s death, she turns to an old family heirloom, a dream catcher. Even though she’s half blood Chippewa, Jory thinks old Indian lore is so yesterday, but she’s willing to give it a try. However, the dream catcher has had its fill of nightmares from an ancient and violent past.  After a sleepover party and during one of Jory’s most horrific dream episodes, the dream catcher explodes, sucking Jory and her three friends into its own world of trapped nightmares—a place where there’s no color or electricity, the houses are derelict, and the streets are filled with murderers and thieves.

The Web World IS Not For Humans–Sometimes Dreamcatchers Can’t Hold Anymore

            They are now trapped in the web world, where every nightmare and evil spirit has been kept in quarantine, and these spirit beasts will stop at nothing to halt Jory and her friend’s passage through the realm.  Jory leads her friends through the web maze, following the clues of her ancestors.  She’ll have to decipher the strange footprints, path markers, and a mysterious riddle.  It all leads to the burning light that sears a hole through the middle of the earth.  But is that the tunnel of light where people really go when they die?  Or is it the Indian light of salvation—the circle of life—the hole in the web?  She soon discovers that she is the key and that none of her friends can escape this upside-down world unless she summons the courage to make the first step.

Tag/Blurb:

Four sleepover teenagers get sucked into a nightmarish world when an ancient dream catcher implodes and lands them in a realm of demonic and monstrous entities. They must search for the light, the center of the web, the opening where all good things are allowed to pass through. Their survival depends upon it.

SCREAMCATCHER: WEB WORLD HAS JUST TAKEN FIRST PLACE IN THE N.N. LIGHT BOOK AWARDS CONTEST FOR BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL!

RANT to Mr. Marketing Guru

Hello, Mr. Sales Marketing Guru. (I’ve got a bone to pick with you).
Since you continually besiege me with your adverts, I thought it was time I responded to your claims and declarations.


As an opening salvo, I will tell you right now that I’m not interested in any pay-for-review services. No matter how you disguise or slice it with claims of guaranteed reviews and sales, you cannot convince me that your costly services are worth these extravagant amounts you are asking for. Calling it “fast-tracking”, “special social media services” or individualized marketing plans, will not alter the fact that what you are proposing is a cost-for-service advertisement which preys on gullible and desperate authors.  


You will have to convince me that eager reviewers are alive and well out there, ready to review books. After 1,650 personalized and custom book review requests (pitches), I received 160 requests for my recent release. Out of that acceptance total, I have, so far, received 34 Amazon (foreign and domestic) reviews, and this has been over a five-month period, soliciting for eight hours a day, 24-7, with no let up. BTW, a great percentage of reviewers are buried, quit or have rebranded themselves. You’ll see that notation on their contact or review request page. Most of these listings are not currently tagged as such.

   
Simply listing a book as available for review on a database or promo site (for one day in most cases), is GROSSLY ineffective at the present. The one-week or one-month programs are equally ineffective if you lack precise targeting. We are experiencing a swarm/glut of new books in numbers that have never been reached in the history of this industry. If there are willing reviewers out there, I have had to seek them out and then go on a TBR pile that is higher than K-2–backed up two, three and four months or more.
There is no way you can guarantee one review, let alone several, for any book at this time.

The last bastion of hope is to give away books to accumulate a half-way decent rank on Amazon, and those are not sales—those are freebies—not deserving of a “Best Selling” connotation. All of these listed (*) below companies have failed in click-throughs for my book when it was priced from $4.99 to a drop of $2.99. After trying again, I garnered no better results at my current KU and .99 cent stage. I can attest to the fact that my book has a great title, cover and hook/blurb—AllAuthor stats are through the roof at over 3,040 views and about 550 clicks in four months, and a first place contest win. Not too shabby, considering it is the first in a series. I’ve had 18 full-length interviews and several guest spots—more ink than a dozen octopi.


Supply has eclipsed demand, plain and simple. AMT is on a southern slide, FB and Twitter booster ads are completely glossed over by readers and ineffective, while the Amazon, FB and Twitter book clubs and genre sites are flooded with the same solicitations—a “buy my book” barrage from thousands upon thousands of members. It is even difficult for GoodReads to keep up with such a relentless showcase of author’s books, stories, series and collections. GRs is for readers anyway.

 
People are not buying reading devices like they are buying books, as you so stated. The only way readers can make room for new book purchases (or freebies) is to wipe their inventory of accumulated books they will never get around to reading anyway. Unfortunately, this also seems to be a standard practice for many reviewers who need to “clean house” so they can choose titles for the next year. Out with the old, in with the new.  

 
I am the owner/poster of Guerrilla Warfare For Writers, an advocacy writer’s/blog site aimed at watching the industry, and I have been doing this type of analysis for 14 years, out of my 30-year career. Roughly (35%) of the current listed review site/blogs are now refusing to review self-published authors. They profess to be swamped. This was not the case two-three years ago. I’m not even an indie author (only a hybrid), but this trend has come around to bite all those who believe that writing to market with quick release has always been the answer to garnering sales and a reader base. I blame not the Indies. I’m upset with a program that allows the world to publish, when we don’t have a world to read the published material.  


The largest feature and most expensive ads on BookBub, are now showing a slow decline in conversions because of a traffic jam to gain access into the program. Albeit, BB still seems to show returns on investment, which is astonishing in itself. Other ad groups have raised their prices and modified their guidelines. Some of these major marketing sites do work—all is not completely lost—but you have to find them first.  
SOME OF THE PROMO AND REVIEW SITES I INVESTIGATED AND USED: (Forgive my misspellings).


Fiverr*Fussy Librarian*Bargain Booksie*Robin ReadsKindlebooks ReviewBook Barbarian*Booksends*BookDealioEbook DiscoveryE-Reader IQEntBook Reader Magazine*Just Kindle Books*Pretty Hot Books*


Those sites marked with a “*” brought zero results to me—hundreds/thousands of engagements and NO conversions, prompting two of them to refund me in full. Out of pocket loss = aprox $550 before refunds which were in the neighborhood of $70.00. Granted that my price was a straight $2.99, and I was told this was the reason for the lack of interest/response. However, when implementing the Kindle Unlimited and .99 cent strategy and applying it again to several sites, there was zero change in rank and reviews. My sales continued on a flat line. I’m not alone in this festering no-man’s-land.

Why are book tours collapsing now?—Just recently I had two tours cancel on me. There was a time when book tours were popular and worked.  Answer: there doesn’t seem to be enough tour participants to carry an author through an extended promotion period, and that was the reason I was given for the failures. Sure, it depends upon who you are using. But you better have a long gap between appearances with any one given site because you can’t sell to the same readers who’ve already picked you up.


The largest book tour sites are not only expensive and claim to garner successful results, but express the opinion that nothing is really wrong in this slow market, it’s just that the timing and individual book may be the culprit for the lack of sales and reviews. This blanket statement is tired, worn and continuously used as an excuse. Blame the cover, the blurb and the sample pages, or even the author for that matter. That’s much easier to say than we’ve overpopulated the system. What was next on the hit list? “NO SALES? YOUR KEY WORDS ARE RESPONSIBLE!” So now we have apps to hunt down super-selling keywords, guaranteed to get that lost audience you somehow missed. Or was that eager-to-buy audience really there to begin with?

  
I hired a promotion manager/PR director who has tried everything humanly possible for sales, but has come up with limited results—prompting us to change our tactics and come into social media circles from a different angle. BTW, this is no fault of the manger whatsoever—she is fighting it out with her own competitors. Again, the problem is glut.


The author population has grown by the millions and the number of books listed with just Amazon are staggering and increasing every month. This is a saturation issue that will not go away and only get worse. We have NOW reached the tipping point.
 Personal reading devices across the board (globally) are overloaded with free books (hundreds or thousands) per device and there is just no room for new books even with the most severe low-cost offers. (Readers jammed up their devices when the freebie gold rush hit—this begat the age of Indie superstars, and this constant rotation has never stopped). Now authors are currently offering complete books for .99 cents and lower for an entire series. Many of the A-list Indie superstars and high-ranking mid-listers are reporting 50% cuts in revenue in the past few years. If this is happening to the best-selling brand name authors, what is happening to the rest of us? In the day, Wall-Mart was cursed for providing loss-leaders. Now we understand their reasoning. Sacrifice. For profit.

 
There are so many books listed for free (no gimmicks), via the small trade publishers and Indies, that it is not necessary to purchase a high quality read or audio book anymore—the reader has only to put themselves on a waiting list when the book hits a free or discounted status. This desperation is playing out full-tilt in front of us, forcing authors to compete with each other for even the slightest name brand exposure. We never had a world of “Permafree” before this massive influx. Welcome to costless books, the wave of the future.

 
Giving away free books is the surest way to dilute and saturate your reading fan base. And yet you claim this is the ideal strategy. Those who might have bought your book already have it because of free and borrow offers. Your solution: pick another loss leader until you’ve run through your entire inventory. Then what? Write to market with faster releases. Really? Call novellas that are 20.000 40,000 words long, “books.” Give away as many books as you can to draw some type of word of mouth or organic sales. This strategy gives legit Indie authors a bad rap. They can’t sell their books for true value. Small trade publishes can’t recoup their investments on give-away prices.

 
Mr. Marketing Expert, I sincerely hope that you address this problem and make some type of arrangements and/or policies that will show some, or any type of success, regarding the horrid situation we are (collectively) encountering at the moment.

I am not a crepe hanger or doom peddler. These are indicators which cannot be swept under the carpet or displaced by claiming this is a cycle or a normal glitch in the book sales industry. If you would like to discuss this matter with me, I would be happy to engage in a truthful and honest disclosure. I feel terrible when I see my fellow authors wallowing in despair because they have no sales or reviews for their midlist or even new titles.


The real crime is author/writers spending money on worthless campaigns that produce zeros on a royalty invoice or check. The newest, debut authors are the worst hit. Their despair is tangible when they express their desperation in the writing groups and forums.   
Sincerely,
CJB

Contests and Awards

I’m celebrating an unexpected victory at the moment. Trying to grasp what happened. I was just informed that my book Screamcatcher: Web World took first place in the N. N. Light Book Awards contest for best Young Adult novel of 2019. Not a huge event, nor a teeny one either. I must have been auto-entered in this running because I had no idea such a platform was part of their yearly program. I take it that about 1,750 books in 25 categories/genres were considered because of their highest reviews. I wasn’t even forewarned as a finalist position. Since this was a no-pay entry contest, it made it all that more significant and relevant to me. I really attribute most of this to luck and timing.

This is the third time I’ve won or placed in anything literature related in 29 years. I think we all know how impossible the odds can seem. Yet when it happens, you sit there in a stupor and wonder the why of it, rather than the whole “Oh hell yes!” of it. Needless to say, I’m humbled and grateful to be called out for a little book that I thought was nothing more than a little slammer beach read. The heck with me—this is a win for the First Nation’s Tribe, a salute to our North American Indian cultural history.

I would encourage others to adopt the feeling that this could happen to you too when you least expect it. And isn’t that always the way it seems to work? Victory always seems to sneak up on you with no pre-warning. I’ll have fond memories of this day and time in my life. It felt like somebody wrapped their arms around me after a long period of loneliness. And in the writing world where rejection is 99% of our existence, these are the moments that make it all worth the insufferable effort to accomplish and carry on. On the upside, this contest required no payment or commitment to enter. These types are far, few and in between. Many of them are small and barely register a blip on the “who won what” radar. Yet even the smaller ones can have a huge reader base and attract the curious. 

THE DOWNSIDE OF CONTESTS AND AWARDS

J. A Konrath, the successful Indie guru, is noted for saying that contests “aren’t worth sh.t.” That they have no relevance or significance when it comes to notoriety or impact on sales—particularly sales. He goes on to say that they are a gimmick or scam at best. Nearly all of them. He has a point, to a certain extent, and I don’t and can’t disagree with his logic and opinion. Our senior population is a favorite target of contest campaigns because the contests come in so many venues and guises, covering a multitude of subjects.

Contests and awards can be an enticement, and yet they can be an entrapment. Ergo an addiction. This, by the way, applies to just about every contest or award out there for a multitude of products and services—books, jewelry, appliances, gift cards, cars, vacations, artwork, poems and the like. There’s no end to the array of prizes and circumstances by which you can enter with the possibility of placing, becoming a finalist or winning. Wouldn’t you know that many of them include honorable mentions as kind of an afterthought. The more divisions to win in allows the host to pander and cater to many more participants. First, second and third placements are the most common winning sequences, with sometimes a hats off to the overall grand prize winner of the entire field. Honorable mentions usually bring up the rear, and make no mistake about it, those little wins won’t go unrecognized by participants and can be just as important as the larger award positions. What’s important is that you got ink!

We definitely have some legitimate and noteworthy contests that can pull in lots of interest from industry professional watchdogs. These contests are mostly free but require nominations to be included in their lists. They are considered premium awards and are usually sponsored by huge organizations and companies each year. Among the best known book awards and competitions are: (Including fee entries)

General Book Awards Contests

1. TCK Publishing Readers Choice Contest

Website: http://www.tckpublishing.com Contest details: www.tckpublishing.com2019-readers-choice-awardsFee: Free

2. Benjamin Franklin Awards

Website: www.ibpabenjaminfranklinawards.comContest details:www.ibpabenjaminfranklinawards.comentry-formFee: $95

3. Best Book Award (American Book Fest)

Website: www.americanbookfest.comContest details: www.americanbookfest.comamericanfictionawards.htmlFee: $69-$89

4. Beverly Hills Book Awards

Website: www.beverlyhillsbookawards.comContest details: www.beverlyhillsbookawards.comrules-beverlyhills-book-awards.htmFee: $75

5. Colorado Book Awards

Website:www.coloradohumanities.orgContest details:www.coloradohumanities.orgprograms/colorado-book-awardsFee: unpublished

6. Georgia Author of the Year

Website: www.authoroftheyear.orgContest details: www.authoroftheyear.org/faq/Fee: $60

7. Hollywood Book Festival

Website: www.hollywoodbookfestival.comFee: $75

8. International Book Award Contest

Website: www.internationalbookawards.comContest details: www.internationalbookawards.com/2020callforentries.htmlFee: $69 ⁠–$89

9. National Indie Excellence Award

Website: www.indieexcellence.comContest details: www.indieexcellence.comentry-formFee: $75

10. Nautilus Book Awards

Website: www.nautilusbookawards.comFee: $165–$185

11. NextGen Indie Book Awards

Website: www.indiebookawards.comFee: $75

12. Reader’s Favorite

Website:www.readersfavorite.comContest details:www.readersfavorite.com/aboutFee: $99 – $119, discount on multiple genres/book

13. The National Book Awards

Website: www.nationalbook.orgnational-book-awards/submissions/Fee: $135

14. The Wishing Shelf

Website:www.thewsa.co.ukContest details: www.thewsa.co.uk/enter/Fee: $89

15. Woodson Book Award

Website: www.socialstudies.orgawards/woodson/nominationsFee: unpublished

16. Rubery Book Award

Website:www.ruberybookaward.comFee: unpublished

17. 2019 Foreword Indies

Website: www.forewordreviews.comContest details:www.publishers.forewordreviews.comawards/#why-registerFee: $89

Children’s Book Awards Contests

18. The Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards

Website: www.moonbeamawards.comContest details: www.moonbeamawards.com38/guidelinesFee: $55

19. The Royal Dragonfly Book Awards

Website: www.dragonflybookawards.comContest details: www.dragonflybookawards.compurple-dragonflyFee: $60

20. The Golden Kite Award

Website:www.scbwi.orgContest details: www.scbwi.orgawards/golden-kite-award/Fee: unpublished

21. Mom’s Choice Award

Website: www.momschoiceawards.comContest details: www.momschoiceawards.com/applyFee: unpublished

22. The Purple Dragonfly Book

Website: www.dragonflybookawards.comContest details: www.dragonflybookawards.compurple-dragonfly/Fee: unpublished

Christian Book Awards Contests

23. Cascade Contest

Website: www.oregonchristianwriters.orgContest details: www.oregonchristianwriters.orgcascade-writing-contest-2019/Fee: unpublished

24. Illumination Awards

Website:www.illuminationawards.comContest details:www.illuminationawards.com/entryformFee: $85

25. Christian Indie Awards

Website: www.christianaward.comContest details:www.christianaward.comeligibility-guidelines/Fee: $45

26. Christian Book Award

Website:www.ecpa.orgContest details:www.ecpa.orgpage/cba_1_overview?Fee: unpublished

27. Carol Awards

Website:www.acfw.comContest details:www.acfw.comcarolFee: $45 for members, $115 for non-members

28. The Inspy Awards

Website:www.inspys.comContest details:www.inspys.com?page_id=1183Fee: Free

29. Christianity Today Book Award

Website:www.christianitytoday.comContest details:www.christianitytoday.comct/2019/may-web-only/nomination-instructions-2020-christianity-today-book-awards.htmlFee: $40

30. CPA Book Awards

Website:www.catholicpress.orgContest details:www.catholicpress.orgpage/CPABookAwards?Fee: $36 for members, $76 for non-members

31. The Christy Awards

Website: www.christyawards.comContest details: www.ecpa.orgpage/christy_submissionsFee: $175

Self-Published Book Awards Contests

32. The IndieReader Discovery Awards

Website:www.indiereader.comContest details: www.indiereader.comproduct/indiereader-discovery-awards-entry-2020/Fee: $149

33. The Best Indie Book Award

Website: www.bestindiebookaward.com/live/Contest details:www.bestindiebookaward.com/submit/product/best-indie-book-award-entry/Fee: $50

34. Foreword INDIES Book of the Year

Website: www.forewordreviews.coContest details:https://publishers.forewordreviews.com/awards/register/Fee: unpublished

35. Indie Reader Discovery Awards

Website:www.indiereader.com/enter-discovery-awardsContest details: www. indiereader.com/product/indiereader-discovery-awards-entry-2020Fee: $150

36. The Independent Publisher Book Awards

Website: www.ippyawards.comContest details: www.secure.independentpublisher.comcart/?program_id=4Fee: $75-$95

37. The Eric Hoffer Award

Website: www.hofferaward.comFee: $60

38. Next Generation Indie Book Awards

Website: www.indiebookawards.comContest details: www.indiebookawards.com/enter/guidelinesFee: $75

Crime and Mystery Book Awards Contests

39. CWA Daggers

Website:www.thecwa.co.ukContest details:www.thecwa.co.uk/the-daggersFee: unpublished

40. The Edgar Awards

Website:www.mysterywriters.orgContest details:www.mysterywriters.org/edgars/edgar-submission-information/Fee: unpublished

E-book Book Awards Contests

41. ELit Awards

Website:www.elitawards.comContest details:www.elitawards.com/entryformFee: $70–$90

42. Global E-Book Awards

Website:www.globalebookawards.comContest details:www.globalebookawards.com/instructions-for-entering/Fee: $4.97

43. Digital Book World Awards

Website: www.digitalbookworld.comContest details:www.digitalbookworld.com/dbw-award-formFee: $59

Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror Book Awards Contests

44. Bram Stoker Award

Website: www.thebramstokerawards.comContest details: www.thebramstokerawards.com/submissions/Fee: unpublished

45. Fanstory Horror Writing Contest

Website:www.fanstory.comContest details:www.fanstory.com/contestdetails.jsp?id=105611Fee: unpublished

46. Hugo Awards

Website:www.thehugoawards.orgContest details:www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-categories/Fee: unpublished

47. Nebula Awards

Website: www.nebulas.sfwa.orgFee: unpublished

Business Book Awards Contests

48. Axiom Business Book Awards

Website: www.axiomawards.comContest details:www.secure.independentpublisher.comcart/?program_id=1Fee: $75-$95

50. Financial Times

Website: www.ft.comwork-careers/business-book-awardFee: unpublished

Other Book Awards Contests

51. TipTree Award

Website:www.tiptree.orgContest details: www.tiptree.orgabout-the-award/the-processFee: unpublished

52. Spur Awards

Website:www.westernwriters.orgContest details: www.westernwriters.org/spur-awards/Fee: unpublished

53. WILLA

Website:www.womenwritingthewest.orgContest details: www.womenwritingthewest.org/willaCurrentFinalists.htmlFee: $65

54. Royal Dragonfly

Website: www.dragonflybookawards.comContest details: www.dragonflybookawards.comroyal-dragonflyFee: $60-65

55. Stonewall Books

Website:www.ala.orgawardsgrants/awards/177/applyFee: unpublished

56. Living Now Book Awards

Website: www.livingnowawards.comContest details:www.secure.independentpublisher.com/cart/index.php?process=product_detail&product_id=5Fee: $95

57. Green Book Festival

Website: www.greenbookfestival.comFee: $50

58. American Fiction Awards (American Book Fest)

Website: www.americanbookfest.comContest details: www.americanbookfest.comamericanfictionawards.htmlFee: $69–$89

59. PEN/Faulkner Awards

Website:www.penfaulkner.orgContest details:www.penfaulkner.orgaward-for-fiction/submission-guidelines/Fee: unpublished

60. AICP Cookbook Awards

Website: www.iacp.comContest details: www.iacp.comawards/cookbook/Fee: $150–$200

Among this list are free contests that carry a lot of weight—the Hugo, Nebulae, Booker Prize, Pulitzer, Bram Stoker and other such notables. However, take note of the fees associated with most of them. Name your category or genre and you’ll probably find yourself eligible in one or more of these offerings. Some are for unpublished manuscripts. How deep are your pockets? What are your realistic expectations?

BUT LOOK AT THOSE ENTRY FEES!

Do you think for one minute those sponsoring agencies are losing money by bestowing huge cash prizes and publication upon you? You would be wrong. They are making money hand over fist. The question you have to ask yourself is…is it worth the expense and nail-biting to anticipate or expect a win of any kind in any of them? With thousands or tens of thousands of applicants, tabulate your odds of picking up a win. It’s worse than a crap shoot in Las Vegas. If you are a contest chaser and think that you can even your odds by entering many or most of these contests, you’ll end up sitting on the curb with your hat in your lap begging for living expenses. If you happen to feel good about your odds in a certain competition, it doesn’t hurt to enter. Just do so with the full knowledge that everyone has the same hopes and dreams and the playing field is level. 

I’m sorry, but I can’t see myself as a wunder talent since I might have edged out a runner up because of a dropped run-on sentence or a POV slip. Final decisions could be that close.  

 
How much does talent have to do with copping a win? Fortunately a great book will stand out whether it is picked by a panel of judges or a reader’s poll. It is subjective and a matter of personalized opinion. Yet the wheat will win over the chaff. Every time. 

There are and have been instances where an applicant can actually sway the votes by using huge marketing campaigns (more expense) aimed at fans, readers and relatives. This happens a lot with book cover contests. Get somebody to click on you as a favorite and wallah! You start stacking up the votes. This happens. It’s a little desperate, but if the cover really is great, it’s justified. People can go to extreme lengths to win—you’ve heard of those authors who have bought thousands of copies of their own books to hit the NYT, USA Today and Amazon top-seller lists. The same thing happens in the contest and awards arena. 

What’s in it for you if you pick up a substantial or even moderate win? Besides publication and a cash prize (if it’s offered), you have bragging rights. Sometimes you get permission to wear the contest badge, usually a star with the logo displayed prominently on your book cover. Does it help? Money and publication is fine. Wearing the badge? That’s up to you. A little gold star might give you a second look. It is NOT a guarantee that your sales and reviews are going to skyrocket. Your win is not an earth-shaking event and, except for the most prestigious awards, don’t expect front page news, radio interviews or TV spots with the major networks. This kind of news goes over with fans, friends and relatives more than other segments of the populace.

So you won something…consider it a personal best. Take pride, include it in your diary and remember it fondly. You certainly did something right and, no, it really wasn’t all luck. It was pluck and you just happened to be there with a beloved book that made an impact on somebody who cared enough to draw you out of the crowd. Good luck with your future entries, and may we all have our 16 minutes of fame!

Opposite Gender Pen Name?

There are so many instances of neutral initial pen names, also called non de plumes, that it’s rather ordinary and taken as a normal happenstance in the literary world. Jo Rowling is perhaps one of the most famous examples. C.S. Lewis and D.L. James come to mind. Pretty ordinary stuff here. What about a gender flip-flop though? During the last generations of literature, dozens of women have taken on male pen names to approach a reading crowd that might not have given them the time of day had they revealed their true gender Identity. They were certainly justified in adopting this theory. Nothing wrong with that at all. It worked out for them. They could adventure, crash, bang and boom with the best of them. We didn’t care. That’s the point. We loved them and became one with their universe.

Robin Hobb–she’s a gal

George Eliot is a gal

Isak Dinesen is a female

Alas. Leigh Greenwood is a guy! And so is Jessica Blair!

These authors chose a gender flip-flop pseudonym, and their reasons were varied: identity cloaking, privacy, restart failing careers, outright deception (a few), testing purposes–insert your reason. A few didn’t have to change their names–Nicholas Sparks, being one of the talented male authors who writes very believable female leads and characters, had no reason to cloak his real identity. He had the experience and formula down and the women readers readily accepted his talent. Such wonderful things happen when you get it right, and you more than often than not, should get it right consistently. Because if you stumble, it might raise suspicion about your motives. You have to feel very comfortable with the switch and feel justified in your decision to use it. Now Rowling and King used a different approach, swapping gender author names to test the waters as a new, or unknown talent. They wanted to distance themselves from their famous brands. It worked for only a little while until they were found out. Their questions were answered, though.

I wanted to write as a female because of the genre I wanted to specialize in–YA fantasy and paranormal. I needed to distance my real name from my SF and adult thrillers. I even wrote an erotic romance that went belly up when I used my real name. I was switching my category, changing to all female leads and using a unique or catchy new name. I settled on Chrisy J. Breedlove, because my first real name was in the mix and I just happened to love the last name Breedlove. I’d first heard the Breedlove last name in a move decades ago, and if was called Hamersmith is Out. A sub-character in that movie was called Billy Breedlove. There I had it.

My reasons? I wasn’t hiding under a skirt and pretending to be a woman. That would have been easily discovered by my group display site fans and friends. With close to 5,000 followers on FB, who did I think I was kidding? I would be found out instantly because of the hints and bios plastered all over the Internet. If you played cross-the-links in my profiles, it would be more than easy to find me out. Most did. Some, however, did not and refused to believe I was not a gal writing gal characters. They were in the minority, though. Ninety percent of the reviewers and readers really didn’t give a flying you know what. “Oh, is she strong, with great leadership capabilities, courage and brains. She also has athletic prowess! What a woman! We love her! She is my favorite in the whole story.” What a wonderful reception. Almost like a vindication.

I always had a gut feeling I could write the female side. It did come naturally for me and I never had any complaints about it. Well, except for being dog-piled on my erotic romance. Oh, I didn’t hear the end of that one. It served me right. I’d always written sweet romance in all my books. Taking it too deeply into the sexual desires of women drew a lot of fire–machine gun fire. Even though the book was co-written and passed muster with a female co-author, I still took the brunt of harsh critiques, EVEN BEFORE THE WHOLE BOOK WAS READ. That’s another story, though.

My motives were simple and logical, to my mind. It was a business decision as well as anything. It’s true that nearly 65% of all books bought and read are by women. Romance has dominated the genres since forever, it seems. Just like the male writing fraternity, the sisters had a close group of reading fans, only much larger and just as discerning. I only planned on spontaneous sales, those who looked at the cover, read the blurb, blitzed through the sample pages and adored the title. That was a primary hook. After that, I didn’t care who outed me. The point was, I had a better chance of discovery. I’d always thought that women possessed more of a realistic and emotional accuracy in writing YA fiction. I don’t have to name the super blockbusters for you–you know them, have read them and certainly heard of them. I so wanted to tap that market without being intrusive or offensive. How could I do it honestly and what was the secret?

Men have a female side and women have a male side. They can delve into it and explore anytime they want. Yet, the MOST IMPORTANT ingredient was and always has been the fact that they are both human beings. They have the same likes, desires, fears, needs and feelings. They are basically the same animal. They have only nuances and traits that are specific to them–microcosms of separation. In other words, there are certain things that men and women don’t ordinarily do. Yet this is highly subjective too! Why? Because we have the basic human being as the main ingredient, and then we have the individual who calls out to be recognized. These are personality traits. You can explore all this territory without being stereotypical and sexist. Just remember: Human beings.

How has it worked out? That’s the big question isn’t it? For such a bold move, one would expect bold and unforgiving mistakes. Christy is only about six months old so I had to look at it with stats in mind. I’ve never had more reviews, clicks, raves, sample reads and other kudos. Sales came a little heavy in the beginning. (Of course, you have to stay on the marketing and promo wagon). As far as popularity, it has out-shined the other books. It’s only the fresh beginning. I don’t know what I’m on to, but I’ll let Christy take the spotlight. But more importantly, I want the story to take the spotlight. Judge ye not the author, but the story that he or she tells. The story is the real driving force for any author, and the end game is for the reader.

Chris J. Breelove–“Blue shift to me. Or check out the second star on the right.”

Internet–Harsh, Cruel Words

Hello, friends. This post is rather atypical of what I usually write about. But I thought it was very relevant in our associations with people on the Internet–particularly in a social setting.. In a roundabout way, this would apply to communicating with other writers, agents and publishers. I thought it was important because I see so much of it. I’m sure you do too.

Drawing a comparison to penpals and dating sites: 

So you found somebody you like on the Internet. That other person likes you. You just started something wonderful that excites and fulfills you. You might even develop a symbiotic love for each other. A man might be searching for that electronic girl friend. You know, a cyber cutie–an email female–that pixel princess? A woman might be looking for that goofy Gmail guy, that Internet intellectual, that cuddly computer hunk.      

Why is it that we can say the meanest and most cruel things to each other in Internet emails? Words that sting, doubt, question, threaten, accuse, belittle–name your poison. It’s because we think we can spout off and avoid any confrontation. We don’t need to own our words. We are detached. Even phone calls to potential mates can become heated and cause disagreements, ending in short or long-term rejection. The calamity can happen quickly, unexpectedly. It can happen as a result of a simple miscommunication. A few words interpreted the wrong way can start a firestorm of anger and hatred. You can commit a word-slip and hurt someone’s feelings without knowing it. So it is with a social media setting. Only it could involve regular posters, comments, and private messages. We’ve all been attacked in one form(um) or another. I know that I have taken some insufferable abuse online. I’ve been stalked–hunted down like some dog that needs to be shot. It tore me to pieces. Being critically ill, the last thing I need is misplaced and deliberate damnation from a friend or even someone I hardly know.

 It helps if you remember that people always look for the best in others regardless of most circumstances. All human beings seek peace—they all want shelter, sustenance, good health and a loving family. These are universal expectations and truths that every human being on this planet strives for. We are all connected, like an umbilical cord that has not been severed. Like a mother and baby, we can feed off each other and attain the nourishment of life. The more we feed, the more we grow.

Here’s no surprise: people deal with each other exceptionally well face-to-face. They are too busy scoping out characteristics and admiring the presence of another, hopefully seeking out an interesting human being. They are polite and respectful, and desirous of learning and becoming close to the other person. They oft times want to share and travel. They are curious about the wonders of life’s nature and feel comforted when they search out the wonders together. BTW, nature is a prime magnet for discovery. Wonder and discovery brings people together in such an innocent vein.  People don’t do so good when they are physically detached from each other. There is a massive hole in the relationship. The love and respect core is missing. The Information Highway can have some disastrous head-on collisions.

 
Contra-wise, there is a certain thrill upon meeting your virtual friend/s face-to-face. It is the last step in the process of bonding together, and it is necessary to complete the cycle. It is crucial. True, unconditional love cannot flourish unless two bodies meet and merge in a slow and mutual relationship. People can read magical compatibility in the eyes of another. The eyes never lie. Without meeting in the flesh, you are blind and unaware of spiritual truth. “What God has brought together, let no man separate.” That means a physical union where it is eventually intended, friends. And guess what? Two souls can merge into each other and plug up some very big holes. Disputes can be settled easily if a calm dialogue is opened up.

Some of the worst case insults and fights I’ve seen are in the comment sections on the YouTube movie or documentary channels. Take your pick, it could be any movie network or discussion site. I’ve never seen more foul and racist language than I have on these commentary sites. It’s the lowest, dirtiest swearing I’ve ever seen/heard. It can be two groups of posters–the pros vs the cons. It can be group swarm attacks on a few or individual posters. You could swear that the floodgates of hell have opened up and let loose. What kind of damaging effects can this have on someone’s psychological persona? It can have a devastating effect, even terminal. We have all heard of the cyber-bullying that has taken place within the younger crowd and resulted in suicides. This is how deadly the freedom of speech issue can evolve. Notwithstanding, the depression and anxiety it causes can contribute to existing terminally ill afflictions and depression.   

My suggestion to all of you on the electronic airwaves is to be kind, understanding and tolerant of your friend/friends, even though they might raise the bristles on the back of your neck. If things begin to break down because of suspicion and mistrust, stop right there and discuss the problem honestly and out in the open with gentle, soothing, kind words. Discussion is the triage for minor or major differences. Or would you prefer a major trauma when things have gotten too far out of hand? The choice is yours.  If you don’t confront your differences in good spirits, you might lose the potential love or friend of your life. The other alternative is to ignore the comments completely, and this is sage advice for bad reviews and nasty comments on Amazon. Us poor writers!

Sending explicit photographs through the airwaves is a whole different ballgame, but it falls within the territory of censorship and invasion of privacy. Just don’t do it. Both women and men use this tactic to draw favoritism, in such a twisted way, that it is insulting, crude and lewd. This isn’t the kind of example adults should set for the little ones or the underage.

Try laughter and jokes to salve some of your disagreements. Humor takes the edge off and delivers some needed comedy relief…Or else? Or else you might end up needlessly heartbroken and feeling alone. Learn to forgive and heal. Redemption is a precious commodity that everyone can afford. It costs nothing to put love and kindness first over mistrust and negativity. Remember the song: “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative”, theme from Blast to the Past.  Yeah, corny.

Live easy and love hard.

Young Adult–Naughty or Nice?

Young adult books are generally aimed at readers in the 12 to 18 year-old age bracket. However, it can vary sometimes by a few years either way. There is also a sub-classification of “upper” and “lower” YA. Lower might be 12 to 17 years-old, whereas upper could be around 14 to 19 years-old. Young adult books are not really age oriented as much as they are content categorized. I lean toward the upper young adult level of 14 to 19 years-old. There are no fast and hard rules about this. It’s a generalization because there is also a huge crossover appeal to adult readers. Look no further than the Harry Potter books which started out as middle-grade, then slid upward to young adult and then shanghaied the adult audience.

LENGTH

YA books can be shorter than adult books and get away with it. I’ll shoot for around 200 to 300 pages. I feel comfortable with that; I plan it that way. Only because I want to appeal to younger readers who do not feel trapped into reading a long and detailed tome. They have lessened attention spans. YA books can be of the novella size, which are shorter still. As much as the term is not widely worshipped, I write what I consider “beach reads.”

SEX DRUGS AND ROCK ‘N ROLL

Generally, with adult books you can pretty much let it rip. I think you know what I’m talking about. If you go too far with mentions of physical sex, drugs, multiple partners, adultery, violence, foul language, suicide, law-breaking and other stark and unsavory topics, you’re entering ghetto, punk or erotica territory. Graphic adult romance is nothing new, although there is the sweet variety that is very popular—more so than the other type.

The same applies to young adult books only you have to be very careful of what you include in the text and story line if you want to keep it clean, safe and non-threatening. After voluminous reads and research in this category, I would think that holding hands and kissing would be the best way to go without offending scruples, religion, or the adults who might be the purchasers of such books for their teens. Anything more could be a turn-off to one of the largest audiences and purchasers of young adult books—the librarians. They recommend books to all manner of sources, but particularly to schools. Such books have to pass muster with the teachers. It’s definitely a form of censorship. It is not the type of censorship that violates freedom of speech rights. It is more of a checks and balances of morality with what might be considered appropriate and sane. Notice I said “sane.”

There are some publishers and reviewers who have stated, in words to the effect: “I don’t go for the sweet and innocent portrayals of teens that are unrealistic and status quo. Rip my face off and tell the blunt truth about how real teenagers act, live, believe and talk. To be sure, these preferences are in the minority. But there’s a heck of a lot of gray area too. There are some things you can get away with, and ride the fence, and there are times when you’ve crossed a boundary line. The question is, how much naughty can you get away with without drawing fire, yet still remaining true to the characters and real life circumstances?

Not much—it’s limited. You can touch upon taboo subjects from afar, or hint or make reference to them. Even then you should to careful. When you start painting images via innuendo, it will show itself in the eyes of an on-guard adult reader. Believe me, condemnation is more prevalent when you’ve crossed the naughty line as opposed to receiving praise for telling it like it is in all its naked glory.

I’m very conscious of what I write in young adult books now more than ever. It does not take much to set somebody off. When you start crossing lines you have word-of-mouth critics to contend with. Anything that is negative about your written word can go viral and dash a book to smithereens. Never mind your reputation. That was the first thing that went!

Example: I’ve made mention of drugs before in my books but kept them out of use. I’ve had older teens take a few sips of alcohol under stress. Such scenes were over before they began. I dropped the F-bomb and several other swear words about a dozen or more times in the length of a book. I had my main characters witness a copulation scene from a hundred yards away, and forget about it in the next moment. I’ve had some unintentional nudity in scenes, but there was no emphasis on it. To me, these scenes and subjects were relevant to the plotline and situation. I had to strive for realism. Even if it was borderline. The result was, 90% of the readers took it in stride. The other 10% were offended by it and voiced their opinions. Nothing can destroy your review rank faster than a reader who blatantly disagrees with your subject matter. I know, I know…to hell with that bunch. (hey, I used a swear word)

The balancing act between naughty and nice is skewed toward the nice. That’s hardly unexpected with young adult books. Remember those librarians and teachers? It’s not a good idea to lay it all out there if they’re going to grab a copy of your book. They are a credentialed gatekeeper. They have a heck of a lot more experience with literature than you or I. If they are young adult book librarians their expertise is magnified three-fold.

Chris, what about sex behind closed doors? Teens indulge in this activity whether we object to it or not. It’s all part of the growing up process. It’s instrumental in every facet of their passage into adulthood.

I wouldn’t. The characters might talk about it. Leave it be. It’s giving the green light to underage sex. Stay away from it. At 18 years-old plus: knock yourself out, or knock the boots of your characters (doh). Although use a little moderation. In case you haven’t noticed, the NA (New Adult) category was created for one of its most primary reasons—permission to lay and get laid. Never mind college. Think Spring Break, wot?

So what the heck can we get away in this very subjective analysis? I can only guess and give you some borderline examples of what you or your reader might find inoffensive in this analysis. Remember, everything in moderation. You will have to ultimately decide where your comfort zone is.

Fondling

Nudity

Alcohol consumption

Drug use

Bullying

Extended suicidal depression

Dirty jokes (not kidding)

Groping

Gross violence

Physical and mental abuse (particularly toward female characters)

Animal abuse

Murder

Marriage (this one requires parent’s approval depending upon the country or other facts)

I’m learning more and more about moral turpitude in this category. My sister even advised me to have characters marry before sex. Not a bad idea. Didn’t Stephanie Meyers hold her characters back for three volumes before anything happened? I can’t remember. It’s a great hook technique—keeps the reader guessing.

Christian young adult fiction usually abstains from sexual activity before it is morally and legally appropriate. That goes for other religions and cultures.

But, Chris, doesn’t your views make you an unrealistic prude? Not really. I was a teenager once too, although some will dispute this! I know what goes on. The trick is to read between the lines where there is a lot more there to discover about messages than you think. I’m lucky enough to pull off this kind of subterfuge. I just can’t get away from blundering on occasion. That happens to all us scribblers. I hope you don’t blunder.

Just remember, there are not only some speed bumps that you have to consider in writing young adult literature, but there are some barriers which are best not crossed. The parents and librarians will never need to wipe sweaty brows or unclench a fist after reading your story. If…you are mindful.

Happy travails. I’ll red-shift outta here….

Celebrity Endorsements

Celebrity endorsements, also called blurbs, are those little quotes that appear on your book’s cover, or in the front matter of the pages. Example: “This was a riveting ride from start to finish”–Stephen King. You might get one or several.

Celebrity blurbs can be a real minefield for the new-up-and-coming author who is about to release his/her prized tome. Even some great mid-listers can get caught up in this hunt for star approval. BTW, soliciting for a blurb should take place about three months before release. There are many Big 5 houses that start a marketing campaign six months in advance! Catalogs and free e-copies start raining down on the reading public, with the purpose to entice, tease, dare and suck anyone into anticipating the new wunder child’s masterpiece. These promos can also be galleys or ARC copies of the book. Just make sure you leave enough time to get the blurb on the cover or in the front matter before it hits retail. The earlier the better, because this little admiration/vindication blip can be used to boost pre-order and future sales. Otherwise, if it’s post-release time and you haven’t done anything, it could cost you or your publisher a small fortune to send out trade or hardback copies in order to catch up. This has happened to me. Then there is an additional print cost.

So who should be solicited for a gold star blurb? Unless you know them, please refrain from contacting the current heavy hitters–Charlaine Harris, Stephanie Meyer, Veronica Roth, Susanne Collins–and certainly avoid King, Rice and Rowling. You aren’t dust underneath their shoes (in a figurative sense–no one hates you). But…they don’t know you; they likely haven’t got time for you and you could be a bother in the middle of their busy lives. Please don’t send them copies cold. You can ask first if you are intent on it. That’s the reality of it. While we’re at it, you might pass on the self-published heavy weight stars because they are also in demand and loaded down with time constraints. Believe me, I went that route and I knew a few of them personally. At this very minute they might be using my book pages to clean up pet spills. These are busy, busy people.

The self-published crowd definitely has to do the soliciting themselves. They might even be better at it than any trade-published author! In fact, I think they get real good at it and have more success in their contacts within their own ranks. The indie community is huge and tight-knit.

Now who should send out copies for blurbs? Aside from some exceptions, not you right yet (indies excluded). Successful mid-list and recent breakout novelists just might give you the time. If you personally know a fairly successful author, give it a shot. I can speak from experience and tell you that I’ve lost a half dozen hardback books that cost $30.00 apiece, countless trade paperbacks and a truckload of ARCs. I knew these high-profile authors from some venue or another. They knew me. Circumstances got in the way–it happens.

In 1990, Ralph Nader agreed to do the foreword in my auto repair book. My editor told me the great news. I was delighted with the prospect. Little did I know that my publisher paid $4,000 for a page of comments (Foreword) and then they took that amount out of my royalties. DO NOT PAY-FOR-PLAY BLURBS. Ever. That goes for pre-order reviews, too. Read your publisher’s contract and make sure they don’t have the right to pull royalties or advance money from you for a celebrity endorsement, or any promotion or marketing efforts.

What can go wrong with hunting down blurbs? Those star authors don’t have the time to read your book–they’re way too busy. Your solicitation could be construed as a sign of desperation. They might think your publisher is beneath them, or that your publisher trademark is really a disguised self-published label. They read it and hated it (or very unlikely that they read it). You’re a bothersome intrusion into their privacy, even if you’re a fan. They can get free copies this way without payment or risk. It happens. You’ve nudged them too often and annoyed them.

Your publisher will solicit blurbs. Seen from the eyes of the celebrity author (or whoever), it is more respectful. The publisher is not as obviously biased or as desperate as an inquiring author. There is more weight behind a publisher request–more status–more importance and dignity. You might get the email or home address of the author wrong. The publisher marketing team, not you, will know who to send copies or books to in advance. This is their expertise –they’ve done it They probably have a marketing and sales department, and a publicity manager loaded for bear and ready to get you a shot in the lime light. They also have a tried and true list of contacts, and they certainly know how to target your book better than you do.

If you are determined to be proactive, go ahead. Coordinate with your publisher, though. You don’t want submission repeats to the same source. If you have landed numerous celebrity blurbs by your own hand without your publisher’s assistance, you’ve performed a small miracle. If you have a repeat celebrity author giving you grand endorsements, then you are locked in. I doff my worn fedora to you.

Just be careful. Target celeb authors who write in your genre. Don’t send a contemporary romance to Clive Barker or Dean Koontz.

Never mind if you’ve bought a truckload of books and tossed them every which way in sundry. There’s no reason to go into dept before your book is published. Sure, send some signed paperbacks out there, but purchase single copies and not cases of your book.

A neat little plan that works is to join some fan clubs of your favorite authors or even movie stars. Be sincere with yourself and choose those persons that you truly admire. Be active with your comments on their pages, and once in awhile you will actually get responses, likes, semi-recommendations, re-Tweets or even followers. This kind of association can take you off the dirt road and place you on the major highway. It can be effective in building your name brand. This move takes a while to cultivate. You can’t rush it. You can’t (or shouldn’t) come right out and ask for favors in a comment section or PM. If you appeal to the celeb in any fashion, trust me, they will contact you. I can attest to this because I’ve done it.

Red-shifting out of here. Happy blurb trails!

Reviewers–Our Lifeblood (Part 2)

In case you haven’t read it, there is a part one article on this subject. I just needed to touch it up a bit and add some more basic information, including this time, what an author might try to avoid, or experience an author/reviewer confrontation.

Just as a recap, and as I noted before, reviewers are PEOPLE on the end of your submission email. Personalize your subs to each individual, follow the guidelines precisely, check out their “About” section and read some of their reviews. Target their genre preference. Ask before sending a review copy. Make no demands, abide by their time constraints, and do NOT expect public reviews of your book just because they’ve asked for a copy. Things happen. Reviewers get ill, have emergencies, or must go on forced hiatus.

Trigger warnings are about your content that might be objectionable. You would know this beforehand by investigating your reviewer. They might be a stalwart Christian, or other denomination, who gives notice of touchy subjects that turn them off. For YA, I have to watch out for sex, drugs, suicide, underage drinking, needless violence and gore and other related topics. Yet again, if you have an erotic romance, it will not sit pretty with a reviewer who prefers sweet romance with HEA endings. Be careful and be up front. List your possible trigger warnings and listen to the opinion of the reviewer. If you have a reviewer who is borderline in reading your book, politely decline. You don’t want to waste their time. If you force the review, you’d better be prepared for any type of rating. Most reviewers don’t pull any punches. You’re getting a reader’s feedback. BTW, reviews are for readers–not for you unless you take notes and realize you can improve your writing by understanding their analysis. What’s not to like about a free sub-editor or proofreader? If you have enough review comments that all state the same problem, then by yiminee, you just might have a major problem!

Try and keep track of the individuals you have sent your submission to. Some require form subs and sub prefer email. I have used six major review sites, and it has been a tedious chore just to keep track of individual reviewers. These persons might be listed in multiple sites and you don’t want to send repeats. It can get very confusing for you if you have sent out hundreds of requests. My sent box serves as a small database, but it does not track the form submissions. If you are unsure of a repeat request, add a disclaimer right up front. Here’s mine:

If this is a repeat review request from me, my sincerest apologies. Shirley’s List, Indie Authors Reviews and Book Siren (among others) have merged their contacts together, and it’s been almost impossible for me to know where everyone has appeared. If I’m a repeat, please just flick and swish and make me go away!

Lots of reviewers answer their emails starting with the oldest and work their way through the list. Others make immediate contact with you. The point is, don’t send reminders unless they state that you can. Usually only one. Personally, I won’t send a follow-up. I don’t have any desire to clog their box anymore than it is. I just move onto the next sub. You are apt to get questions back, and you’ll need to take the time to answer them honestly and accurately. Understand that they are feeling you out as a person, as well as an author.

For gawd’s sake, don’t reply or comment on a review unless you are just being thankful. Your story will get some harsh and, seemingly, personal criticism. Do Not lash back at a reviewer in any forum. You don’t even need to explain your version of the story and how the reader got it all wrong. These other eyes are not yours. They may see things quite differently than you. It’s quite possible that it’s you, not them, who have screwed the pooch. After 15 straight years I broke this rule, but did not lash out. I had to inform the reviewer about a gross inaccuracy that hurt and damaged me so badly, I had to inform her about a cultural tag she took the wrong way. The word “racist” was used as an identifier in her review. I’ve had other mentions that have made me sick to my stomach and have thrown me into a deep depression. These things are going to happen. It comes with the territory. But there is a limit.

With some reviewers there is a slip of the word like a slip of the tongue. I’ve had the following words in my review and they were more than pointed at the story line. They were pointed at me:

Mysogynist, Identity thief, transvestite, plagiarist, racist, fataphobic, woman-hater and other such monikers. They were grossly false and most of my fellow authors knew that right away. I mean, when you’ve been hosed and trashed in a public forum, one of two things or both can happen; either you run away and hide, or you go ballistic. If you lose your temper, calm down and contact the accuser in private email. As an ex-federal police officer with an upstanding record, I won’t stand for personal comments like those. I warn you, you are going to reap a whirlwind of my opinion about what you’ve done. Count on it. It’s reverse honesty. Otherwise, I’m fine with low review scores, even if I have to scratch my head over them.

REVIEWERS: Watch what you are saying. You can’t take those words back once they hit the social media universe. They are cemented in time and place. Go ahead and rant, but do it with a little sensitivity and humor. It’s more digestible that way. Never, ever insult or humiliate an author with dangerous words or profanity.

AUTHORS: Betcha didn’t know that even the long-time seasoned reviewers are nervous and anxious about how their writing will be accepted. They are responsible to a reading public. They get the jitters too. You’re both getting the jitters. Hopefully, and most of the time, things work out great for both of you. When there’s lots of comments, it means the review was exceptional and really nailed it. That’s great for the author too. It leads to sales clicks. ETA: don’t ask the reviewer to buy your book. Are you nuts? They might want you to gift them a copy, and that’s really to your advantage because it boosts rank and earns royalties.

Some of your reviewers will be members of, or have access to, Amazon, B &N, Kobo, Apple, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, FB, Twitter, specialized groups and the like. You’re talking about a full boat here. Some may have less contacts or only a few. If you are “wide” which means your book is listed with multiple retailers, mention this in your request letter. They will respond with yeses or nos regarding which sites they can list you in. Don’t insist that they join these groups just to perk up your numbers. They follow their own policies and do what works for them.

Gosh, dang it. I think I’ve run out of words. I know I’ve missed something again but I’m agog at knowing what it is. If it takes a part 3, I’ll pitch out another article.

So I’ll say, let me red-shift out of here!

ETA: I just remembered. It’s up to you, dear author, on how many paperback copies you want to send out. You can really hit the financial skids in doing this. You’ll have to say, NO MORE. There is one country in particular that demands most of the paperback copies. I won’t name them. But I can see tiny book stores sprouting up all over their countryside when they’ve accumulated massive paper and hardback copies of books.