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Avoiding Bad Reviews

Hello friends,

I’m excited that award-winning author & experienced editor (and also my editor) Christina Kaye has agreed to write another guest post for my blog.

Thanks, Christina!

Avoiding Bad Reviews by Christina Kaye

“Not a bad story, but the editing is virtually non-existent!”

“It was a struggle to get through this book.”

“Editing was poor…grammar, spelling, and punctuation was so bad I could not get past page 5!” 

“It felt like I was reading a first draft of a book written by a middle school student!” 

These are a few sentences pulled from actual reviews left for real, published books on Amazon. They are painful to read, to be sure, and I feel badly for the authors who got these reviews. However, they could have easily been avoided. None of these reviews mentioned bad plot, character development, etc. They all referenced the lack of editing specifically. 

No one…I don’t care how proficient a writer you think you are…can self-edit and catch every mistake. Hell, even editors miss some things when working on your books. The commonly accepted industry standard is that we’ll miss about 5% of your mistakes, no matter how thorough and meticulous we try to be in our work. 

That’s why my advice to all authors, especially new ones, is to find an editor BEFORE you even think about self-publishing. I know, I know. Editors can be expensive and not everyone has $500 – $1,000 lying around to invest in their book. But keep in mind,  you get what you pay for. By seeking out bargain basement prices for editing services, you risk hiring some random person who just up and decided to be an editor one day, rather than an experienced, educated editor with the right background and the credentials to warrant their rates. Not to mention, nowadays, many editors (including myself) offer and accept payment plans for their fees.  True, you’re still paying that “high” amount, but keep in mind the risk versus reward payoff. 

Risk – if you do not hire an editor, you might possibly wind up with reviews such as those listed at the top of this post. Sure, you may sell a few books here and there to friends and family who support you and your dreams, but once reviews like this are posted, especially when it’s more than one, you will see that your sales suffer.

Reward – if, however, you invest in a quality, professional editor, yes, you have put up some money in the beginning, but the odds that you will get much better reviews and thereby higher sales and more royalties increase exponentially.  You are investing in your book and though nothing is guaranteed in life, you certainly stand a much better chance of succeeding with a professionally edited, polished book.

Once you have found a brilliant editor, my advice is to go through the MS one last time before you turn it over. Why? Isn’t that like cleaning the house before the maid comes over? True. But I can’t tell you how many books I’ve edited that are in such poor shape, I wind up basically ghostwriting rather than editing. Going over the book one last time before turning it over will help you and your editor. Keep in mind, a lot of editors (including me) will charge less the better shape the book is in. So, you could potentially help yourself by simply taking a few hours to go through it one last time. 

So save yourself some embarrassment and do your book a favor…hire an editor before you publish your book and while I cannot guarantee your book will be a best-seller, I can guarantee you will be more likely to avoid these kinds of negative reviews and you may even see that your sales and royalties are much higher than they would have been had you not hired one.

For anyone interested in learning more about how to find the right editor, how to work with an editor, or what to expect during the editing process, please reach out to me via email. You’re never bothering me. I’m here to help.

And anyone interested in speaking to me about my editing services offered, rates, payment plans, or reading testimonials, please visit my website at www.xtinakayebooks.com and reach out to me ASAP as my schedule books out usually 2 months in advance.

Thanks and good luck!

Talk soon.

Christina Kaye

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Ugh, why did I do that?

Ugh, why did I do that?

The first thing I do (after getting ready) in the morning is to check my emails and my book sales.

Yesterday, I got an alert in Createspace asking me if I wanted to move my paperback title over to KDP. I thought, “why not?” because then I’d be able to track everything in one place. Man, am I kicking myself for that decision now.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The paperback title shows that it has no cover. Ugh, why did I do that? Whhhhhhyyyyyyy!

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I guess it’s partially because I keep hearing that Createspace is going away. I also thought it would be a smooth transition. And that it would be so nice to track my sales all in one place.

Now I’m worried everything is jacked up. I was so happy with the way my paperback turned out with Createspace. Now there might not be a cover on my paperback. Who knows, the formatting could be all jacked up, too. Or everything could be fine. I hate not knowing. I emailed KPD, and they’re usually extremely helpful, but I’m worried I’m going to have to do everything all over again. And that I’ll have to pay for more proof copies to make sure they are. What about any book sales that come in while I’m experiencing issues while I’m waiting for an answer from KDP?

“What about any books sales that come in?” 😂 😂 😂

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Oooooh, that’s funny! Okay, I’m working on the marketing portion and someday the book sales rolling in will actually be a concern of mine. 🤣 🤞🏻 🤞🏻 🤞🏻 I’m stubborn, and I have no doubt I’ll figure out how to be a productive sales(wo)man one day.

Okay, back to my issue. I’m always doing things where I mentally beat myself up and ask, “Ugh, why did I do that?”

I wish I hadn’t moved my book over to KDP. I’m not even going to dare do a google search on the topic because I’m sure there are numerous blogs saying, “Don’t do it! Stay with Createspace!” and I’m going to feel like an even bigger idiot. But I know that I’ll figure things out. I’ll feel like an idiot for a while, but soon I’ll be wiser. I’ll know how to use KDP and I’ll be happy that I can track my titles in one place. I’ll love the fact that I can create my future titles’ paperback and ebook versions in the same place. There will only be one customer support that I’ll have to contact for help the next time I’m kicking myself and muttering, “Ugh, why did I do that?”

Eh, I’m making mistakes, but I’m learning. By the time I’m dead, I just may be wicked smart.

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Haha! Someday. Right now is not that time. Oh well. I have to feel like a dumb@$$ for a day or two. Then I’ll move on and maybe feel proud of what I’ve accomplished for a day or two before doing something else I’ve never done before and falling on my face.

But for today, I’m trying to keep in mind that I’m doing, I’m trying, I’m learning, I’m working to accomplish my goals. And while all my failures suck for a while, someday I might find myself winning.

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**In the time it took me to vent and write this blog post, everything is back to looking the way it should again.** Ahh, I feel so much better.

Anyway, if you’d like to buy my book, ASTER THE SPIRIT TALKER, it’s available by clicking here. 😁

 

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Traditional publishing vs. Self-publishing

Hello friends,

As you all know, I’ve been sticking it out in the querying trenches, and it’s been hard on my heart. I know I need to develop a thick skin and over and again I’ve heard, “Remember, this is a subjective business.”

Yes, I know. I completely understand that. I know market trends matter. And I also know that nothing makes sense. Seriously.

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Listen to this…

I have a friend who works as a literary intern. So basically, she wades through piles of query letters to sort through those the agent may be interested in and she also reads manuscripts for the agent as a screen before the agent reads them. Here’s an example of what I mean when I say I know that nothing makes sense. My friend read a book that, although it wasn’t her favorite genre, she couldn’t put down. It was a page-turner and was incredibly well written. She passed the book on to the agent who said that she really gobbled it up but wasn’t going to take it on. Why, you ask? Oh, because the author had approximately 11 books published through small presses. The agent actually called him a hack even though she agreed the writing was very well done. But it doesn’t stop there, friends. The intern asked if he could publish under a pen name. The agent said he definitely should but still wasn’t going to take him on. In the same conversation, the agent asks the intern to read another book. The agent had already read it and said it was “a mess,” written by a debut author. A MESS people! And why was she willing to take on a manuscript that is a mess? Well, because the author was a District Attorney. Goodness knows no one can write things unless it’s true to life. Good thing when I wrote my middle grade fantasy about witches, I really was one.

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So here’s the point of this blog post. I’m starting to think it doesn’t matter what I do or how many years I spend writing new books. I can continue querying agents until my heart cracks one too many times and just becomes a pile of dust ready to be blown away like a fart in the wind.

Since I started this blog and started working hard on my social media presence, I’ve had countless people ask me where they can read my writing, tell me they enjoy my blog, and ask me when they can buy my book. Am I missing out on sales and sharing my work because I’m so wrapped up in worry about the stigma associated with being a self-published/indie author? One, who by the way, makes 75% of royalties rather than 15 or maybe 35%. It’s no secret that authors have to do their own marketing whether they’re traditionally published or self-published. Does it really matter that my book isn’t available in a bookstore? I can’t remember the last time I went to one anyway. I buy everything on Amazon.

Just out of curiosity I did a poll asking whether or not people buy books from self-published authors. While it isn’t a large sample, I was surprised by the results.

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Most people said they do or would read a book by a self-published author. I tried to think back to the time before I thought about publishing any of my work at all and wondered…did I have any bias against self-published books? No, I didn’t. Not at all. If I perused books on my kindle, I would pick whatever sounded interested. I didn’t care who wrote it. I didn’t check the publishing house. I didn’t even look to see if it was a self-published book.

So where did I get this idea that there was a lot of bad stigma surrounding self-published authors? I realized it was from other writers, authors, and traditional publishing.

As I query and collect rejection letters, I’m reminded again of all the times someone has said to me, “I love your blog, where can I buy your book? Or do you have anything else I can read?” And I’ve had to say no. Why? Oh, because it’s sitting on my computer where–quite possibly–no one will ever see it.

I know that there are quite a few (especially romance) indie authors who have done quite well for themselves. So why don’t I try?

I know I need to

  • Pay for proper editing
  • Pay for good cover art
  • Pay someone to format things correctly
  • Invest in marketing myself
  • Maybe hire a PA

But two of those things I’m going to have to do anyway. I’m not going to slap some poorly crafted, first-draft turd up on Amazon and call it a day. I’m going to work hard to showcase my work in a way that I can be proud of. Something that when I sell, I get to keep a large portion of royalties for myself, to invest in myself and future projects. I’ll also have more control over…EVERYTHING.

Yet here I am. Still questioning what I should do? But why? Perhaps it’s the validation. Maybe it is me wanting to be accepted by other authors as a “real” author. But I can tell you, I’ve read a lot of self-published, indie press, or yet unpublished work that I have adored and I’ve read traditionally published crap that I couldn’t bring myself to finish.

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I would love to know what you all think. Please leave a comment below.

And as always…

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