Authors and potluck cooks have a lot in common. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately, especially since I set Volume I of The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything, as permanently free.
How does any author know who actually reads our ebooks, much less appreciates them, as opposed to going by assessments based on the raw numbers of how many people now have it on their ereaders? Do sales figures really equal popularity and does popularity actually correlate to appreciation? How could we possibly know that?
image from: http://1000awesomethings.com
I, as a cook, would bring a homemade dish to a potluck feeling a mixture of pride, anxiety and hope, my mind brimming with questions as I lay my dish on the table: Will anyone take any? Is it pretty enough? Does it taste good enough? Who will like it? What if there are others similar to mine, but theirs are taken while mine is left mostly untouched?
image from: http://www.allfreecasserolerecipes.com
This Changes Everything now has about 2000 combined sales and free downloads since its release in December, 2013. However, it only has a dozen or so reviews (mostly positive, especially by those who actually read the entire book!). Unfortunately, sales/downloads and positive reviews of Volume I do not seem to be leading to sales or reviews of Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, which released for $3.99 in early June (after selling in pre-orders for half-price for two months).
People at a potluck line up to look at the food offered in casserole dishes, baskets, pans and plates. Rarely does anyone list ingredients or even names of the food/dish, so it’s all a guessing game. Hungry, we ask: What is it? What is in it? Will I like this? Will it taste good along with the other things I’m taking?
Furthermore, knowing that the cook will rarely, if ever, know what I think of his/her contribution, I can safely leave it on my plate after one taste if I do not like it. Likewise, readers who download ebooks never have to report to anyone, much less an author, whether or not they even looked at the ebook, much less offer their opinions after reading an entire book.
The remains of potluck dishes’ portions taken and not eaten are not evaluated: they are invisibly trashed. Similarly, ebooks on ereaders can be stories that the owner never reads or only glances at, but the author will never know. Readers may like the ebook, even love it—eat it all up (I’m liking this metaphor) and even share it, rave about it to friends—if we’re lucky, they’ll review it. Or, readers, like potluck eaters, may feel any of a dozen ways about what they take in but never say a word to anyone about their reactions.
Yes: I’d very much like to sell a lot more books, but even more importantly, I’d like to have a lot more reviews, enjoy the positive comments, interactions and feedback from happy readers, be certain that at least some owners of my ebooks are glad to be in possession of my creations.
I “cooked” for you: I want to know if you tasted my concoction. How much of it did you ingest? Tell me what you think of it. Will you come back for more “food” from this “cook”?
image from: http://www.towriteastory.com
A plea to readers
If you like a book, PLEASE respond to what you read. Put comments on Goodreads, rate/rank the books, post reviews on book sales sites (Amazon, nook, iBooks, Kobo) or Shelfari, BookLikes, etc. We authors (cooks) will be forever grateful to hear your opinions, even if you don’t like what we create. You help us become better “cooks.”