Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Reviewer’s Top Three for Indie Authors

Today I would like to welcome Cassie McCown as my very first guest blogger!  Cassie is a book reviewer with her own blog and is a co-host on Journal Jabber, an Internet radio show that can be heard live every Tuesday at 9PM Eastern (more on that little gem in another post).

This is my very first guest blog post, so I’m really excited and kind of speechless. HA! 
After doing a couple projects for JournalStone Publishing, I was inspired to start up my own review blog, Gathering Leaves.  Within a month, I had over fifty books on my review list, and now that number has climbed to almost one hundred!  Naturally, I have taken on quite a few (actually the majority) indie endeavors.  There are tons of pros and cons to indie self-publishing, and many of these aspects bleed over into the review world.
First Impressions:  You want to have a great cover for your book, no matter what the subject matter might be.  The title needs to stand out and the whole package needs to be visually appealing.  Visually appealing does not equal busy.  Actually, I prefer simplicity.  If you can’t get a good graphic, opt for a nice photograph.  For instance, if your book is about aliens, you don’t have to have cheesy drawings of space ships and laser beams and E.T. and bean burritos and red wagons and…you get the idea.  Perhaps a simple scene with a planet and some stars, even a nice satellite photo would work.  Be careful the colors you use.  Colors conjure emotions.  If your book is exciting and lively, brighter colors make more sense.  If it’s romantic, reds, pinks, purples are all appropriate.  Greens and blues are soothing.  The cover isn’t something you want to ignore because, even with electronic books, sometimes that is really what attracts or detracts potential readers.  (Yes, I have both bought and passed up a book based solely on the cover!)
Trim the Fat:  It is extremely important that you hire an editor if at all possible.  I am not rollin’ in the dough myself, and I know for a struggling up-and-coming author a professional editor might not be in the budget.  But, if there are so many errors and inconsistencies in your book the reader cannot even follow, you definitely won’t ever be a literary millionaire!  If you can’t afford an editor, at least try to get several people (as unbiased as possible) to run through everything for you very carefully.  Perhaps you might even check with local colleges to find students that might do a bit of proofing and editing for free or a minimal fee.  At the very least, try to learn as much as possible about grammar and mechanics.  Always take a step away from your work and proof it multiple times with as fresh an eye as possible.  Always… 
Put on your Big Girl Panties:  There’s no doubt you have put your heart and soul into your writing.  It is your baby, and as a mother, I know how protective we are of those that we have nurtured and loved.  There’s just a few things any author has to realize and remember.  First, if you have done everything you possibly can to make your story perfect, you are already ahead of the game.  Second, not everyone is going to love what you write.  Maybe you write murder mystery.  A chick lit lover is probably not going to rave about forensic science and criminal justice.  In a perfect world, every reviewer would be able to put their personal preferences aside and give useful criticism based solely on the quality of the work at hand.  That, too, is not always going to be the case.  Sometimes your writing might get blasted for no apparent reason; sometimes a reader will pull it apart word by word and put you in tears. 
As with anything in life, you really have to learn when to pick and choose your battles.  Learn to take the bad with the good and use any criticism you receive to help you improve.  For goodness sakes, do not act unprofessionally toward readers and reviewers.  It is simply no good, and it gives a very bad impression of ALL indie authors.  It may be okay to ask for further explanation, but if you just can’t speak kindly, tell it to the dog…
That’s about it folks!  Readers just want a book to entertain, make us think, make us feel, transport us to another time and place…  In the end, you really just have to tell your story the best way you know how and let your work speak for itself.

Cassie McCown
Gathering Leaves

Thanks Cassie!  One of the things we indie authors want to do most is please the readers and reviewer.  We REALLY appreciate the work reviewers like you do!  


  1. Good tips there - and alas, SO true re the Big Girl Panties. But it does make up for it when a reader "gets" exactly what you're on about!
    Good blog!

  2. I wear big girl panties everyday. They r pink with sparkles. Nothing says im a big girl like sparkles. Lol.
    Great post cassie and the blog looks great Splitter!