Let’s talk about… Star Ratings

Book reviews. What do they really mean? Unlike most products out there, books aren’t reviewed for whether or not they function properly, books are reviewed through the opinion of a reader which is entirely different…

The word ‘subjective’ gets thrown around a lot in the literary world, Agents will cling to it when rejecting a query and many other reviewers will use it as an excuse to give good or even bad reviews of stories.

Above the sacred book review is an often overlooked factor of governance, the Star Rating which is the subject for discussion because on at least 3 platforms I know of in the book reviewing world, it differs..

Goodreads

Is Goodreads Free?

Goodreads (the Facebook of the Book world) takes their stance on the star rating system as follows…

More on caveats | lucinda sans

Now I’m pretty satisfied with most of their definitions and let’s face it, the only thing available to review on Goodreads is books so it’s pretty specifically set for them, that is until it comes down to the 2 star and below. To me 2 stars is less than OK for a book…

The truth is, I’ve never rated a book below 3 stars on any platform mainly due to the fact I just haven’t found a read like that yet; I am quite picky and know whether or not I am going to enjoy a book, so I see the star rating as a score out of 5 and anything below three isn’t a pass… (this is just my opinion folks)

Amazon

More Amazon delivery restrictions are coming | TechRadar

Amazon, arguably the most important place for authors to get reviews as it is where their work is sold exclusively from, like me. There appears to be a little difference between their rating and Goodreads, now Amazon have done the Amazon thing and I can’t find anywhere reputable throughout the Google that tells us straight up what each star in their rating system means. This could be because they don’t know, they don’t want us to know or maybe it’s a combo of both. So let us look to the 2 star review as an example:

beam me up

This ‘review’ is taken from my super hero comedy novella ‘The Teleporter’ and as you can see it’s not only a negative review but a DNF review also which is hardly in line with the Goodreads 2 star review of ‘It was OK’.

When comparing probably the two most important book reviewing platforms they contradict one another and that is without another major factor; personal preference which is what Mr Beam me up decided to do with his/her review because even if you put out guidelines, whether or not they will be followed is another thing and this reviewer didn’t then hop on over to Goodreads.

Reedsy Discovery

reedsy

You can expect my very first Reedsy Discovery review tomorrow and it’s a good one trust me! Now their rating system is strict compared to others. They feel that you don’t need to give every book a 5 star rating and of course save that for the truly exceptional reads.

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As you can see from their emoji heavy rating system that it agrees with me in principle. Anything below 3 is a ‘not for me’ but this also makes things tricky going upwards because of their stance of 5 star reviews, one has to find a truly exceptional book to use that rating.

Personal Preference

I don’ think there is one true way to rate a book using the above platforms and their own star rating systems. They differ too much, even without us realising. A four star review from Goodreads could mean something entirely different on Amazon because of the personal preference of a reader or because the guidelines aren’t particularly clear.

Personally I might have been way to generous in the past but arguably the books I’ve read had an effect on me and motivated me to rate them the way I did. The journey these authors have taken me on has led to what I thought of them and I pride myself on the support I give. The 5 star rating I give might not be for a truly exceptional once in a lifetime story but for the effort they put in to write something, to do research or even help me escape this world for just a while.

Authors view reviews as gold dust or even currency these days and it’s big business trust me. If it wasn’t for reviewing books, this very blog would be a ghost town.

What do you think of the star rating system for books? 

Scarred by Damien Linnane – Review

A brutal tale of justice blinded by revenge…

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Scarred is exactly what the title suggests and Damien Linnane has carved a unique story telling path by bravely going to some violent and graphic places. It isn’t for the faint of heart but the places readers are taken make for a great story.

You have the historically abused and damaged vigilante in the form of Jason Ennis who leads the story while residing on the fringes of society. He’s the quiet type who could be Batman one day and then in the same breath a cold blooded killer, even though his motives could possibly be justified – the conflict which is genius in this story and that being whether or not Jason’s motives are the right thing to do? He’s complex and haunted by a childhood of abuse, his back story like all of the other principal characters is explored and told through the eyes of whoever is leading the scene. The view even switches in some scenes which is a credit to the author’s execution and work to achieve.

We also follow Howard who is at the other extreme end of life’s scale. He too is haunted by a dark past and uses it as a fuel on others sometimes brutally and graphically. In between the violence and sometimes depravity is a reason to go there, not for the shock factor but for the the greater good of a story which I eventually couldn’t put down.

There are so many messages within the story such as revenge not always being the answer and the true morality of justice. My only real critique comes from the writing style which chooses more often to show as opposed to tell – a rather cliche critique in book reviews and for this book the ‘showing’ works most of the time to immerse one in the depth of backstory and to get into the thoughts of characters.

For those who don’t mind some violence and graphic content, you’ll appreciate a story that goes to places of darkness and scarring to tell it while a few ‘bad guys’ get taken down in the process.

 

5 Stars – I enjoyed this immersive and sometimes brutal tale. Thank you to the author for reaching out! Reviews left on Goodreads and Amazon (UK) 

A guide to book promotion

The thing about life and doing stuff means that sometimes you gain experience. And to be more specific, when it comes to writing books (I currently have 2 published with 3 in the pipeline) I have learned all sorts of crazy, funny and sometimes important things. I’ve dabbled many times in sharing my experiences all things publishing and this post is indeed another branch from my resources section.

This is my guide to book promotion…

First of all the results I got from my various endeavours is subjective and dependent on a lot of things. This includes: the type of book you are promoting, the state of the market, timing, pricing, quality of product and how it looks, how many reviews, yada yada yada.

A lot of things have to align pretty well for any book to sell, even thought there are snake like marketing tactics to trick people into buying things. You wont find any here, just honest experiences, ideas and tactics.

STEP 1 

Firstly you have to decide what you want. For me personally and my two books, I wanted people to know they existed, quite simply. Thousands of sales would be great but I realistically want to shift enough books just to know they are being read. A majority of 2017 I spent trying to figure out the best way to promote both of my books and truthfully my sales were god awful. (Basically near to zero).

I went from near enough nothing to a maximum of 600 plus sales in 1 day! Hell we even hit number 1 in the occult charts at one point. And there’s no proven secret, you just need to do your homework and that’s the next step.

STEP 2 – RESEARCH 

Now where did I do my homework? Goodreads!

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There are hundreds of discussion boards/groups amongst the grand depths of goodreads full of mostly up to date and historic information. One particular group I joined; ‘Support for Indie Authors’ is packed to the rafters with stuff. And for the first time in my writing life, I knew I wasn’t alone.

This group is full of not only valuable tutorials but it is run by people who have been there just like you, their books haven’t sold either and they discuss it, vent and share. This is the wonderful thing about the modern age we live.

There is a section dedicated to book promotion, and so I got to work deciding how I would go about promoting my books. I wanted people to know my product was there so how would I do that?

I was willing to part ways with some money, not a lot mind, say around £50. How would I know my money was being put to use, I consulted the discussion boards where people tell you results and now here I am.

STEP 3- DECIDE 

I put together a short list of promo service providers. Websites and companies who specialize in promoting books via websites and mailing lists. Some of them promised over 10,000 eyes would look over their newsletters alone. I made contact with ones who looked genuine; many of them have a process such as a form making it all the more easier. I will list my results further down.

STEP 4 – IMPLEMENT 

I timed my booked promotions with a view to eventually give the e-book of Open Evening away for free. I enrolled in KDP select for both books and set up dates for them to be free (5 days in a row). (I only intended Open Evening to be free but Darke Blood was also for a time). Everything was organised and so I waited for the promo dates to roll by.

STEP 5 – TRACK SALES AND RESULTS

Book sales began to trickle in. And so here are the results and who I used:

Before books were free: 

Book Doggy – Cost $10 – Book sales – 21 (not bad huh?)

Bargian Booksy – Cost $43 – Book sales – 21 (somewhat pricey compared to above..)

Fiverr – Cost $5 – Book sales – 3 (Probably not worth it again, but lesson learned)

The 5 days my e-books were free:

Bookwerm – Cost $10 – Book sales – 10

And then things went a little crazy, by day 2 I had sold 83 books and then that number kept growing until my final day of being free. Open Evening was downloaded 629 times. We hit number 1 and many post downloads came in after! oe 1

So there it is, Open Evening officially arrived and I was only just touching the surface in terms of promotions. But this is the beginning.

The good thing about kindle is that you can also track pages read, and so here are my results…

people are reading

As you can see people are reading my book. Which is what I wanted from this, just to let people know it exists. When it comes to promotion of books, the job is never done. And there is always someone who has been in your situation.

Darke Blood Goodreads Giveaway

It’s time for a Giveaway! Yes free stuff alert, because I have began a Goodreads giveaway for my latest book Darke Blood…

You can get your hands on a signed copy of my latest book by entering the giveaway for free here! In order to enter you can sign in to Goodreads through Facebook making this whole deal a lot easier than signing up to a site you may not use often. I am asking for an honest review in exchange of entering the giveaway because it’s all about reviews, reviews and more reviews! Over 100 people have entered so far!

With publication day and the release of Darke Blood behind me now its up to the rest of the world to help spread the word about the book. Reviews are what sell books and must I implore you to leave one on either amazon or goodreads  or both; even if you are only a portion of the way though Darke Blood, every review helps! 

And some of you have been fantastic in showing your support, the #darkeblood selfie movement has begun which is massive in getting the book seen across social media.

Logan Review

I don’t think anybody knows where the actual timeline of events lies with the last few X men films but I can happily say that’s not relevant. As a matter of fact I myself have never seen a bad X men film and so I went into watching Logan with rather high hopes.

If you have read my reviews before I do my best not to include major spoilers so consider this a warning if you haven’t seen Logan.

logan.PNGThe year is 2029 and quickly we are introduced to an older beat up Logan. Hugh Jackman fits into an older wolverine well considering he is older now. Walking around with a limp you immediately believe Logan has seen better days. The mutants we all know too well with this universe are nearly all but gone. That is apart from the Professor himself (Patrick Stewart) who brings probably his greatest performance of Professor X I have seen.The wheel chair bound genius is reduced very much to his somewhat demented thoughts and is reliant on medication.

For the first time in these movies we see the pinnacle icon characters for who they really are, and without being poetic this film about mutants has never been so human. Wolverine is literally floating down at the bottom of the barrel and trying his best to keep Professor X above water. The likes of Storm, Rogue, Cyclops and the school for the gifted has long gone making the premise of Logan dark and even desolate in some places.

The story soon enough unfolds which is; survival of the mutants. The mostly mute and brilliantly cast Dafne Keen plays a young girl caught up in the full on extermination of her kind. It is up to Wolverine and Professor X albeit their conditions to bring her to safety. Action is woven in and out of the plot and feels relevant at all times even if this is an uber violent version of an X men film. We see the very graphic repercussions of what clawed hands actually do to a man in a somewhat Tarantino style. Paired with this is the swearing and a lot of if which is no complaint to me, it just adds to the humanistic realism.

The bad guys come in the form of Boyd Holbrook a bounty hunter type and later on the twisted doctor played by Richard E Grant who are equally great and convincing. They do their best to track down the final mutants some of which are very young kids all in hiding.

As much as we could predict from the trailer this film did feel like a final send off for an era of great films.Anything that did happen wasn’t predictable and even came out of the blue. I must give full credit to Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stuart who both in my opinion put in oscar worthy performances. Both of them were really emotionally attatched to their characters and you get a well invested performance across the board, even the minor characters felt like they were well thought of.

As much as its uncomfortable to see X men favorites in such a position it has given them a brand new angle and relevance. Emotion, brutal struggle and coming of age are the words I would use to define this film which was watchable all the way through.

Other news about books n stuff

Ok so I have been looking for more ways to get eyes upon Open Evening (my first book) and may have actually found a little inch of success and a few sales. Over the past few weeks I have been running a few giveaways.

  1. Amazon giveaway to people of the US – Over 500 people signed up and glanced upon Open Evening, that competition is now closed and books are on their way to the winners.
  2. Goodreads – Giveaway runs until the 21st of March 2017, currently 555 people requesting 1 of 3 signed copies. Link here 

Both giveaways have helped immensely in terms of follows, facebook likes, and tweet people following me. I have even sold some books over in the US. Thanks to all who have taken part, got themselves a copy and have joined me on this journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open Evening Goodreads Giveaway

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! WHY NOT HELP AN INDIE AUTHOR BY GETTING YOURSELF A COPY OF OPEN EVENING FOR $3 

Thank you for everyone who entered, much love LH!

March is officially here and is officially the month of giveaways! As some of you who are in on the social media loop will know at the beginning of the week I initiated an Amazon giveaway allowing the people of America to enter with a chance to win one of two copies of my debut book Open Evening. The criteria is simple, follow me on the tweet machine. So far over 400 people have entered!! That’s some great visibility

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Well that’s good news but the even gooder news is I am now running another give away, this one is available to all those who live in the following countries;

United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cambodia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Isle of Man, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and United States Minor Outlying Islands.

Entry Requirements

All you have to do for my Goodreads giveaway is be a member of the site, it’s free like my giveaway and then you will be in with a chance to win 1 of 3 signed copies of my book. Now a review would be nice if you are a lucky winner but it isn’t mandatory. The competition runs from now (02/03/17) until 21/03/17 so it’s now closed….

 

Other News

In other book related news, I have heard from my editor Nicky and the edit of my next novel DARKE BLOOD has begun! I’m looking at a May release for this one so watch this space.