I went to help those poor Indie Authors with a well-needed review, but they didn’t need it

Yeah, so I’ve been beating the “Leave a review” drum in the past few posts, and I decided to go back and review some of those free books I’d read a few years back. After all, free = Indie and they were clearly self-published from the errors and editing mistakes I saw.

I pull up the first one, and its got 1200 reviews.

Okay… guess they don’t need my oar after all. They appear to be doing very well. Plus, reviewing the book to do a review would take a bit of time, and I don’t want to do that. I go on to the next author. This one definitely would need my help, his stuff was simply sloppy and needed a lot of help, and some developmental editing, and… had 900 reviews.

And the people reviewing it loved it. Not a critical review to be seen. (scene?) No mention of the homophone problems, or the amateurish content, nothing.

I guess… I don’t need to review this one, either.

And then I concluded that these people had managed to hop on wagon during the 15 minutes when free books garnered lots of readers, before they would have been subsumed into the slush-pile of barely adequate books. The free-wheeling wild west of e-books is… well, it’s changed. Used to be, you could put out a free eBook and the masses would consume it. Nowadays, your free eBook is just one of many, and it has no reviews. Why would I bother?

Another thing I concluded was that they’d done well with their sequels, which they charged for.  The entry book was just the hook, and the the sequels were the money makers. This is a standard business model, but for them it worked, and I was surprised at the bare adequateness of it all. The books were not elegant examples of awesome craft. Yet, thousands of sales. Go figure.

My wife says maybe the readers are just easy, and not used to quality, and give easy 5 stars to a book because they don’t care about spelling and grammar and plot.

She might be right. If she is, can I get them to buy my books?

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10 thoughts on “I went to help those poor Indie Authors with a well-needed review, but they didn’t need it

  1. Pretty true fact here. I certainly am growing to realize that the ‘free book’ hook isn’t that much of a hook at all. Truthfully, my only free book right now is still only free because I am waiting to get it fully reedited before I feel right about charging for it.

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    • It’s kinda sad, but then there was a period of time when you could advertise your book on Twitter and people would actually buy it instead of blacklisting you forever. What’s the price going to be on your formerly free book?

      Liked by 1 person

        • The .99 to maintain it as an introduction piece for your writing, correct?

          This is a crazy business. You can’t give away good content, and people don’t want to pay new writers, but they’ll shell out 30 clams for Stephen King, even though at this point, he doesn’t need it. The rich get richer, and everyone else just keeps doing what they’re called to do.

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          • That would be the idea, but I’m starting to think that I might not need to do that, or even limit myself to $2.99.

            The book of mine that is actually published through a professional (if small) publisher, charges $6.99 for my book and it (while no best-seller) is doing better in the rankings than my cheaper books, so … who knows?

            You definitely don’t write books for money. You do it for the passion of the writing.

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            • Yeah, I see that. I like the idea of having something of mine out there, as well. For all the times I read someone’s book and thought, “I could do better,” well, here’s my chance. Get out there. Write a better book than that.

              It ain’t so easy, is it? This is the moment where I get some humbling. Sure, put together a few scenes and you’re golden, right? Wrong.

              Why do you think your published book is doing better than your indie books? I’m curious as to what the reasons might be.

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              • Well, it’s hard to say really. The addition of a support structure, though, is a real godsend. I don’t have to save up hundreds of dollars for professional editing (it’s paid for) or book covers (paid for). Superior formatting for the print editions are a plus. Having other authors in the stable, to turn a phrase, backing you up is nice as well. That’s before promotional support, audiobook production, book trailers, and so on … all without paying out of the pocket.

                For a Starving Author who is barely getting by, it’s an amazing set of pluses that could contribute to success, even if it removes the stress from having to pay for it all. 🙂

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  2. There may be so many good reviews but one-line reviews wouldn’t make me buy a book.

    As for the odd typo I am fine with (wasn’t fine with it before but am noticing it more and more these days) but if the book is not readable due to all the flaws then I wouldn’t give it a high rating.

    I think a lot of writers ‘hook’ people in with a free or cheap (0.99) cost book. And they get a loyal fan base. I think it also depends on the genre of the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Logically, you only get a loyal fan base if you’re writing something that is adequate for them or happens to be the sort of stuff that they like. This mystifies me – I think you may just be right that they do have a loyal fan base, but I’m pretty sure that loyal fan base must have low standards.

      Thus, if I write a book with exceptional standards, it ought to translate into lots of money.

      Do you think the people following different genres have different standards for overall quality? Do fantasy readers give their author more or less slack? Sci Fi? Hard Sci Fi? Romance? Contemporary? Historical Fiction? Historical Romance? I can’t think of other categories?

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      • I do think it probably does depend a bit on genre. I think contemporary fiction, perhaps comedy even doesn’t have high standards (although I have to say I don’t like saying ‘high standards’ because it really depends on what you expect from a book). The odd typo or something isn’t too bad in a book, it’s easy to overlook it when you’ve re-read the same piece of work but I don’t think anyone is really happy with extreme grammatical errors and things like that.
        Having said that though, I do think that genres like fantasy or sci fi have people reading them who like to think a lot and sometimes the clever subtle messages in these types of novels can be ‘lost’ on some people. It can also be the simple case that many people just didn’t learn the correct grammar/spelling of certain words.

        So perhaps there are standards but a book that has none of these obvious flaws may still not generate a lot of money. If you’re an unknown author and nobody knows about your work then people are reluctant to part with even an extra pound/dollar. It’s very weird but reviews really do seem to matter. I didn’t know how important they are until last year.

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