Thursday, August 6, 2015

Free Books are Trashed by Readers

Want to know the secret to launching a book?

It's not giving it away for free anymore.

The market has been engulfed by a tsunami of indie publishing and now giving away a book to get some buzz going is most likely going to result not in buzz, but in a slew of bad reviews from which you'll most likely never recover. It's been said it takes eighteen 5 star reviews to negate a single 1 star. But if all you have are 1 star reviews, nobody will buy the book because they think it must be amateur crap. Believe me, no reviews are better than bad reviews.

I know this is true because I've given away several books for free and they have received scathing reviews. And that stops sales. Forever. My good reviews are from readers who paid money for my books. Logically they liked the blurb and sample, so they were more likely to enjoy what they were getting into. I have many writer friends who have had similar experiences.

I won't give a book less than three stars. If I really didn't like it, I won't review it. Reading is very personal and subjective. What I don't care for might be a commercial windfall. And what I like might be something no one else gets. I sample dozens of books before I find one I can't put down. Then I buy it. I don't care if it's self-published or a NYT bestseller, free or $25. And I don't read reviews of books, movies or TV shows. It's the promo that piques my curiosity.

Some people only read free books. Even if it's not in a genre they enjoy. Some people find writing bad reviews a fun sport. Some people are just mean.

I wrote THE IMMACULATE DECEPTION in three hellish weeks. The 100K word story just poured into my keyboard. Even though it's paranormal, the emotion is very real and the heroine is so close to my soul. Two more drafts and it was good enough to be contracted by Cerridwen Press. The edits were brutal but the finished product won a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award for Best Small Press Paranormal Romance. I traveled to Pittsburgh to accept the award at the Hilton.

I later took my rights back and self published the book. And made the mistake of offering it for free. Those readers trashed it. Now no one will buy it. But the immediate sequel, THE MASTER MANIPULATOR is doing well, perhaps because it doesn't have any reviews. Too bad nobody knows the beginning of the story. Because they won't buy THE IMMACULATE DECEPTION because the reviews are terrible.

I feel this is the best book I've ever written and probably ever will write. Sigh.