I Write My Own Damn Books, Thank You Very Much

Back in January, I unofficially announced that I was “taking a step back from publishing.” I feel there has been a lot of misconception on exactly what I meant by that. A lot of my readers took it to mean I was no longer going to be writing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In all actuality, I have the next two books in the BTSR series ready to go to print, and am currently working on book 7 of that series and I’m plotting out what could turn in to another paranormal NA series. So, if I didn’t stop writing, then you maybe wondering exactly what I meant when I said I was taking a step back from publishing.

If you haven’t read my blog post Can We Just Real For a Momentthen I strongly suggest you take a look at it. This post helps identify a lot of what is currently wrong with the self-publishing industry right now. For all intents and purposes, Amazon has basically become the get-rich-quick poster child for indie publishing at this point. It’s the new-age MLM (multi-level marketing) scheme that thrives on hiring cheap ghost writers off of fiverr and other websites like it, shoving the atrocious books up on Amazon as fast as possible, putting them up on KU among other “stuffed” books (books that are actually several books bound together to look like a single book done so to max out the number of pages that KU allows so instead of getting a few pennies off of a 200 page book that legitimate, honest authors are making, they are raking in upwards of $15 per book for each KU read because the book is 3000 pages long), and running up the click bids on AMS ads (Amazon Ads) so legitimate authors can’t afford to run ads any more. So when you do a word search for popular categories such as romance, paranormal romance, paranormal fantasy, vampire romance, shifters, alpha romance, etc. all you get shoved into your search results are unedited pieces of drivel with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of fake 5* reviews also purchased off of fiverr.

It may surprise a lot of readers to know that such horrendous, bestselling books by the likes of Bella Forrest, Amanda Hocking, and Melissa Foster, just to name a few, have been padding their books with fake 5* reviews for years. Some of these authors have been known to hire ghost writers as well so they could push out more and more books each year, resulting in an over saturated market that has made it increasingly harder for legitimate authors to be seen on Amazon. Then we have the Chance Carters & Cassandra Dees of the world stuffing books and getting awarded All Stars bonuses from Amazon even though he is reported to have used click farms to artificially inflate his page reads. Let’s not forget the whole fiasco with Faleena Hopkins for trying to trademark the word “cocky” and force authors who had been using the word in their own book titles to re-brand books that had literally been out for years before Faleena even decided to start writing. And now we have #copypastecris going on where a self-proclaimed USA Today bestselling author (she’s not, by the way. You can actually search the list and her name has never appeared on it despite the fact she claims to be a bestseller) plagiarized at least five books by Nora Roberts and dozens of other books where she basically hired ghost writers to Frankenstein some books together for her using large sections of other, popular books that had been copied and pasted directly.

Guys, the list of the shit going on in this industry is endless.

So, let me make this as clear as possible. Every review you see on my books, and heaven knows they aren’t many, are all legitimate reviews from regular readers or a variety of beta readers that literally signed up through BookSprout to review the book. I do not hire ghost writers. I have a degree in business management and work a full-time 45-hour-a-week job. I agonize over every single last word that I write down. I have to foot the costs of editors, proofreaders, and graphic art work out of my own pocket. Taking all this into consideration, this is why I only manage to hammer out two books a year.

And nothing is going to change that.

Because I actually give a damn about the books that get published in my name. I’m not out to get rich by shoving out as many half-assed books as I can a week and dupe unsuspecting readers into buying them because I hired a bunch of click farms to buy the book, thus raising my ranking on Amazon, and I certainly do not buy a bunch of fake, 5* reviews to make readers think they are getting a good book. I’m a real person, with real social media accounts. I go to book signings. I’m not a nameless, faceless stable of ghost writers hiding behind a fake persona on Amazon. I post pictures of myself, I post pictures of my kids, I tell funny stories about what happened to me.

I am a real person, writing real books, at a real person speed. And I’m not going to apologize for that. When you follow me on social media, what you see if what you get. When you read my books, you know I worked my ass off to write them, and that **I** actually wrote them, and then had them polished by editors before they were published.

So, when I said I was “taking a step back from publishing,” I meant just that. I am still writing, and from here on out I am no longer going to sit idly by and let the Bella Forrests and the Chance Carters of the world ruin the industry that I’ve busted my ass in for the past thirty years for. When I see shitty tactics going on, I’m going to start calling bullshit, just like Nora Roberts.

Because I’m sick and tired of getting shit on in this industry. And that’s exactly what is happening to good, hard-working, legitimate writers. We are being told to stop rocking the boat, we are being forced out of the industry, we are having our books targeted by backstabbing, bitchy writers whose scams we are threatening.

Well, enough is enough. I’m going to continue to write, and at the end of the year I will once again begin publishing after I’ve got a few more books written.

And from here on out I am going to start calling a scam a scam when I see it.

I am Nicola Chey Matthews, and I write my own damn books, thank you very much.

Bad Marketing Ideas: Reviews, Not Endorsements

Continuing on with our theme of bad marketing ideas, guest blogger Brian Wilkerson weighs in on the topic with his article “Reviews, Not Endorsements.”

This article originally appeared here: http://trickstereric.blogspot.com/2014/01/reviews-not-endorsements.html and is being reposted with the written consent of the blog’s owner, Brian Wilkerson.

First, a disclaimer: I don’t have anything against quick or short reviews. My style requires a lot of time and I understand that few people want to spend their leisure writing an essay about their reaction to a book. What I dislike are reviews that sound more like advertisements than reviews.

When strolling through Amazon, I find reviews that disturb me. They’re all composed of the same basic phrases: “couldn’t put it down”, “when’s the next one”, “recommend to all age groups/everyone/anyone that likes reading.” In three paragraphs, it’s easy to overlook them but when a review is one paragraph and made entirely of these phrases it raises a red flag. I think “Is this a paid review?” or “Did this person read the book?”. When I gush about things, I go into detail. I avoid spoilers or warn of them, of course, but I want them to know exactly what I liked about a book so they will understand how great the story is and read it themselves. Generic reviews are a waste because they contain nothing specific about the story and so they could be copied and pasted any number of times.

A reviewer isn’t doing an author any favors by turning their review into a endorsement. It sounds fake. Often times, it sounds cheesy. Posing questions that the novel ‘answers’ or saying that it bucks trends or some such; you don’t sound like a reviewer you sound like a promoter. Nobody trusts a promoter because the promoter is biased. They’re looking for an honest and informed opinion.

When I write a review it is long and it is thorough. If I dislike something about the book then I am sure to include it. I give A+s sparingly and even then I don’t sound like “OMG! This book is awesome!!!!” It’s a point of professionalism. Even for books that are not review requests, I follow the same format. Three sentences of generic praise may bolster the rank but it doesn’t help the reader (at least, it doesn’t help a reader like me) decide on whether or not to read the book.

I use bland language for this reason. Poetic lines are not professional because you sound like you’re trying too hard to impress. By using such language you’re trying to turn your review into something that is more than your personal opinion about a work; you’re trying to make your review into a work itself. I find that silly and arrogant. Reviews are not supposed to be read like a book or a poem. They’re supposed to inform a potential reader (and customer) about the book from the perspective of another reader and customer. Nobody cares how witty or enjoyable your reviews are because they’re interested in whether or not you liked the book. (I recognize there are exceptions: newspaper columnists and bloggers etc can have fan followings of their own, but in that case, what they’re reviewing is less important than the review itself.)

Genuine reviews are more effective promotions than promotions pretending to be reviews because the former has substance. It is unique. A promotion will not be unique and so has no substance. It’s little more than literary junkfood.

http://trickstereric.blogspot.com/2014/01/reviews-not-endorsements.html