My current free-book promotion is doing better than any I have done before. And not only have I given away more free copies than ever before, it has already yielded one five-star review.
But you have to pour a little cold water on your head whenever you get too happy about being an author who has readers. It ain’t all bluebirds and sunshiny days.
The Pubby review exchange thingy is continuing to operate worse and worse. I am not subjecting the new book to any of that pain and squirrel poop. You break your head to read a book in only four days and write a review to earn the points you need to get your own books reviewed. And a lot of books on Pubby seeking review are written by… um, not really genius-level writers. They don’t know how to craft a scene with a beginning, middle, and end that fulfills an actual story-crafting purpose. You know, advancing the plot, building a character with depth and complexity, establishing a setting, or advancing a theme. Instead, they flood the page with adjectives and adverbs, excessive but irrelevant details, going around the scene telling you what eye color each character has, repeated cliches, and other dumb stuff. But it makes you feel mean and petty to point out in your review what specific dumb stuff made you give their work of not-really-genius only a three-star review.
And when you submit your own precious book potentially full of irritating dumb stuff, they don’t bother to actually read it before reviewing it. They write their review based on what other reviewers have said about it. And sometimes they give you a bad review because somebody else gave you a bad review with a dire dyspeptic rant about all your irritating dumb stuff. And they have no right to somebody else’s dire dyspeptic opinion if they didn’t read those things in your book for themselves to be certain the other viewer’s opinion is not based on something their dire and dyspeptic imagination saw in your story that wasn’t really there. And how do I know they didn’t read the book? Well, Pubby allows you with extra points charged to request a verified-purchase review. So, if their review isn’t labeled a verified purchase, they did not even have a copy of the book to write a review from. Pubby simply refunds the extra points you spent when the verified purchase label is not present.
Honestly, the only thing you know about the people who read your books are what comes through feedback. And you get remarkably little of that. The most important part of that is when somebody you know in real life reads your book, liked it, and tells you so. Sometimes readers will connect with your book in a way that makes them want to write a detailed review and implore others to read and like your book too. I have had a handful of those along the way, whether from aspiring fellow authors who know what the things are that you have actually done well, Twitter nudists who are literate and hungry for stories that use the word “naked” a lot without being an erotic or a pornographic writer, or fellow teachers who appreciate the many ironic, humorous, and empathetic details you have applied from your own teaching career.
I will continue to write and write and write some more. That means life to me. And I will continue to do some of the things authors do to pursue readers, because feedback grows that life. But I am old and in poor health and will not be doing this forever. If writers ever become immortal, it is not because they ever found the philosopher’s stone. At some point even Shakespeare, Dickens, and Poe had to stop writing.