As you all know, I released my first venture into the world of ebooks a little over a month ago. This book contained the first ten chapters of my web novel, a web novel I am actively looking to convert into ebook format from now on. I made the conscious effort to keep the book free, because absolutely none of it was previously unreleased material. Every single chapter included had already appeared on the website, absolutely free of charge, therefore, I didn't see a reason to charge someone for something they could, in theory, get for free somewhere else.
(I will state for the purposes of clarification that I am in fact charging .99 for the ebook on Kindle, but this is because I have included extra content - no, it's still nothing new to the web audience, being character bios and a town history page, but coupled with the content of the book, it helps to set the stage and I view it's worth the buck).
Download statistics were, as they probably are with any free ebook, absolutely astronomical in the first few days. I amassed 300 just in the first week alone, through very little effort of my own. Sure, I put links on my FB and Twitter pages, but other than that, there were few avenues I could really pursue for pimping purposes. I was very encouraged by such a strong reception that I made what I now realize was a mistake - I assumed that every single download represented another new fan.
The mistake in my logic is simple: just because a person downloads a free book does not mean they immediately rush to their favorite ereading device to devour it. It doesn't mean they will ever do that, really, because it's not unheard of for people to hoard free ebooks, without any real intention of ever getting around to them all. Okay, maybe that's not fair to assume. Maybe they really do intend to get around to them all, but given that they downloaded so bloody many of them, it will take a good few years just to sift through the pile. This means that while my book may have been downloaded hundreds of times, by hundreds of people, this does not guarantee that any of them have actually read it...or that those that have read it have actually enjoyed it.
This is where reviews come in handy. I'll be brutally honest (no reason to put up a brave face around you guys, after all). I've made one sale on Kindle. Just one, and probably to a personal friend or family member, because I highly doubt enough random strangers know who I am to purchase my first ebook out of the clear blue sky. I've made a whopping .35 off this whole endeavor so far - which is still more than I put into it, so I guess I am still making a profit of sorts, but that is not the point. The point is, I am not making much of a profit off this. I am not really in it to make a profit, though I can't lie and say it wouldn't be ace to eventually earn enough royalties to be fairly comfortable in my decision to be a writer. But again, that is not the point.
The very belated point to this is...I am not receiving a profit off this. I am not getting much of anything out of this, aside from the pride in seeing my name as the author of an ebook. I have no idea if those that have downloaded the book have liked it, or have even read it. This is where a review would really, really come in handy. Yet, I only have one of those at this point, from Gayla, who was kind enough to give me 4 stars on Goodreads. Thank you, Gayla. You rock my socks.
If just one percent of the people who have downloaded the book would leave a review, good or bad, I would have a much better idea of how this idea is shaping up for me. I am not asking for an epic, three-page love letter to me and the book (though I wouldn't stop you if you wanted to leave one...) A few lines would do just fine, as long as they were honest and civil. If you don't like the book, feel free to tell me so - and please, please tell me why. Tell me what you disliked about it. Tell me what I could have done as the author to improve your reading experience. Tell me what you would have liked to see instead. Tell me all of these things - in a review (I can take it!) or in a private email, if you'd rather go that route. By the same token, if you enjoyed it, say so!
Independent authors tend to have a bad reputation in the more hoity-toity circles. We're viewed as inferior, because we don't have that banner of being traditionally published. Sadly, this reputation isn't always very fair to those independent authors who work their asses off both on writing and promotion...but it is still there. This is why I think it is so important to support those indie writers that you really enjoy. Leave a review for them. Shoot them an email. Don't make them have to go on their blogs, get down on their hands and knees and literally beg a word (any word) out of you, as I've just done. So many get discouraged by the lack of response, whether it's indicative of any issues with their work at all. If it is at all within your power to do so, stop this from happening. It will not take more than ten minutes of your time to click a star on the ratings chart and jot down a few thoughts on the book. It does not have to be a rigorous, time consuming activity at all - most authors, myself included, would be happy with just a few lines.
As an independent author, let me tell you first hand - your opinions matter. Don't let timidity or lack of time to give a thorough review stop you from leaving some thoughts. Often, independent authors are far more accessible than their big-name counterparts, and to let you in on a little secret, we love discussing our books! Get a dialogue going if you're more comfortable talking privately and more one-on-one. Contact the author and let them know what you thought of their book, good or bad. Trust me, we can take it...well, most of us can, anyway.
It all boils down to this: authors write to be read. Of course, we also write to write, because the story claws at the very fabric of our beings until we unleash it upon the world...but when we do unleash it, we really do enjoy hearing the thoughts of our audience. So don't be shy about it, please. Leave reviews. Write emails. Let people know what you think - you might just make the author's day.