LIVING THE DREAM, Part 25: “What’s Going On with ‘da ‘Zon?’

August 1, 2018

When FROM HER MOTHER’S ARMS went live on Amazon in August 8. 2017, the reviews — mostly five-stars with a couple of respectful four-star ones thrown in — filtered through my ‘author IV’ almost daily.  With the wisdom of one checking a pot of water put on to boil, I checked the numbers once a day, celebrating each new reader I met and review I received.

About two months ago, I began to see a drop in the number of reviews by one or two at a time followed by another one or two. So I typed the Amazon Customer Review Team an email in the box they provided. So I referred to the general reasons that reviews are removed. In order to shorten the list, I have grouped them together, as follows:

  • obscene or abusive language
  • threats
  • off-topic reviews
  • self-promotional material

None of the reviews I read fit any of those categories. So, I wondered what was going on, and asked my fellow authors if they were having the same problem.

The other day when I was reporting this issue to someone else during a phone conversation, she and I agreed that Amazon should not be penalizing authors for reviewers’ errors. Not only is it not fair, it’s downright dirty. She told me that another author she knew actually calling a representative of the Amazon Customer Review team on the phone and addressing his concerns about the matter. All he was told was that someone would ‘check on it’. I, too, have voiced my concerns to Amazon. After a few days, a team member would send a list of general possible reasons.

We authors endure labor pains as do mothers-to-be, only our deliveries last months and years instead of seconds, minutes, and hours. My labor over FROM HER MOTHER’S ARMS began as a larger work as I was on a plane over Port Aransas, Texas, in January 2009, on the way home to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and culminated in August 2017 — nine years later with a shipment of glossy, green copies of my book.

Our books, the fruit of our imaginations, are as precious, in their own way as the ‘fruits of our loins’, a.k.a our children, are in theirs. Only in the movies do authors become instantly ‘stinkin’ rich’ upon the publication of their books. For the most part, many — if not most — of us also feel that reviews trickle out like drops from a clogged hose.

Let’s face it. Life gets in our faces every day. People get busy with families, jobs, vacations, or hospital stays. Although, in ‘the heat of the moment’, as they are clutching our finished efforts that they promise to read and review, the truth of the matter is that they soon get on with their own lives. It happens to all of us.

Has it happened to you? Below is a link that should lead you to the page where you can type in a short customer review. Once you arrive at that page, scroll down until you see a yellow customer review button to click for leaving a review. It does not need to be long or of professional quality. After all, customer reviews are not book reports. Rather, they are a few words about what you liked about FROM HER MOTHER’S ARMS.In order to leave a review, all Amazon asks is for you to become a verified customer. If you don’t have an account with them, you can set one up for no charge.,

I love meeting my new readers! Thanks, in advance, for your support. I look forward to hearing from you.

What’s coming up next? Who knows? I’m working on several ideas. Any one of them will be a pleasant surprise!

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LIVING THE DREAM, Part 21: Reviews — Balancing Praise with Honesty

June 21, 2018

Do you remember writing book reports for school?  Well, if you were like I was, your paper was a blow-by-blow ‘he did, she did’. And, most likely, you dashed it off, in full-out ‘panic mode’ on the night before it was due at the beginning of your first-period class. Ratchet that tension tenfold if you had to read it in front of the whole class.

Now that I’m an author, I appreciate the value of leaving customer reviews of fellow authors’ books as a means of supporting them. I now understand the importance of positive (preferably five-star) reviews of my book to make it more visible than other books in its genre. When I’ve asked new readers to follow up by leaving a positive review of FROM HER MOTHER’S ARMS, if they enjoyed it, I’ve watched their faces blanch and their eyes glaze.

Sometime, somewhere, I have perceived that some are translating  ‘book review’ as ‘book report‘, causing them to run screaming to the four corners of the world, never to be heard from again.

What does a customer review of a book consist of?  Basically, it’s the reader’s brief assessment of the book tempered with praise and honesty.

Speaking of honesty, Beth Barany, a Creativity Coach, Creator of the  Writer’s Fun Zone website and Author of  “How to  Write and Get Great Reviews — with Examples of Book Reviews” recommends looking for one, two, three, or four-star reviews in order to look at the “worst” parts of a book before punching back with the best. Pointing out the worst and following up with the best is rather like a boxer’s “one-two punch”  only with different numbers. After enumerating her steps, Barany offers tips for writing good and honest reviews of books they read and examples of great reviews.

Barany’s advice to the potential reviewer is comprised of the following six points to include in a review:

  •  types of booksthey usually read
  • the mostpleasing part and the feelings they  got while reading it
  • element or elements (such as character, plot, etc) that worked for them
  • the least pleasing part FOLLOWED BY the most pleasing part (that made them forget the parts they didn’t like)
  • who might like this book

Remember, longer doesn’t equal better. According to Barany, reviews should be limited to  300-500 words.

If you need examples to back up these points, see the rest of Beth Barany’s article on  “How to Write and Get Great Reviews — with Examples of Book Reviews”. While you’re at it, browse the whole website.

Until next time, stay tuned for the next LIVING THE DREAM segment.

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