Thursday, October 08, 2015


Random stuff that's bugging me lately.

1. Emails from newbie authors asking if I want to review their book.

Look, I'm a writer. I know how hard it is to get reviews. In years past, I've asked readers who follow me on Goodreads if they'd like to review my books. I may have even asked readers who have signed up for my newsletter if they were interested in reviewing me.

But I don't spam people.

I don't know what list I got on (Maybe because I used to be an Amazon Vine reviewer? Maybe someone compiled a list of top Amazon reviewers?) but I get asked to review free books every day.

You might not think it's spam because you're offering a free read, but if it is unsolicited, if I have no idea who you are, if I never followed you on Twitter or Facebook or Goodreads, then it's spam. If it annoys me, it most certainly annoys others, and if you keep doing this you're going to get some really unflattering reviews. Not from me; I don't cut down my peers' books, and I pretty much stopped reviewing on Amazon. But a friendly word of warning; some reader is going to get annoyed and the only person you can blame is the one in the mirror.

2. James Patterson's Masterclass.

Maybe it's awesome and helpful and will teach a whole new segment of writers how to write a 60,000 word novel in just 150 chapters. Maybe, if you pay extra, you can co-write Jim's next blockbuster. I don't like a lot of the stupid things Patterson says in public, but I don't begrudge him his success, and if he can buy another summer home in Languedoc-Roussillon with the extra money he makes from this endeavor, more power to him.

But get out of my cookies, man!

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, your browser stores data known as cookies which can carry info from one website to the next. So I click on Patterson's class once, and see ads for it everywhere I go, unless I delete the cookies or use an ad blocker. Which annoys me.

To recap: I'm not mad that Patterson is getting even richer selling hope to the clueless, I'm ticked he paid for a website that infects my browser with his face every time I try to surf porn.

Also, my free advice to newbies; writing tips, books, websites, and classes can help you become a better writer. But they don't beat reading and writing. When I taught writing, I always told my students they should be home, writing, instead of being in class.

3. Amazon sales figures.

In a previous blog post about KU 2.0, I wrote about Amazon sharing sales data with authors (this carried on into the comments). Amazon knows where readers stop reading, if they ever pick the book up again, how many borrows per pages read, and other figures that authors could really benefit from, but they aren't sharing.

They don't have to share that stuff, and I'm not going to reiterate that debate. But I would like to have access to cumulative sales figures, which is a much more reasonable and rudimentary request. This hit home the other day where I wanted to see how many unit sales, and how much money, a particular title of mine had accrued over the years, and I realized I had to add it up month by month myself.

Come on, Amazon! I should be able to press a button and generate a spreadsheet that lists all the sales data for a title for any given time period. Can we have that option, please? I've been asking since 2009. It irritated me that I couldn't just pull up those figures. It's not like they're top secret, or that it would require a lot of work for you to do. Just let me know how many damn ebooks I've sold.

 4. Pinheads who claim ebook sales have plateaued.

I shouldn't care about this, because one person's misconceptions are another person's opportunities, but I admit that it irks me whenever some publisher or survey or periodical crows about how ebook sales aren't growing. Even ignoring the burgeoning global market, ebook sales are destined to grow. Younger generations have learned to read without paper, and they're going to consume nearly 100% of the written word electronically as they age. My generation will be retiring in 15 to 25 years, and we grew up reading novels. We're going to defer to them when we have more free time.

Technology keeps getting better, and cheaper, and we still haven't tapped the hidden potential of ebooks as a unique, and superior, storytelling device. I'm working to do some tech stuff with my new horror thriller, WEBCAM, that should enhance the reading experience and make it more fun because ereaders can do more stuff than dead trees. Plateaued? Ebooks haven't even gotten started yet.

Okay, rant over. Now stop reading blogs and go write something.


  1. Geez Joe. Damn. I hope my free audiobook wasn't one of those crappy happy emails you are talking about. Truth be told I just thought you'd enjoy it since it has OzValt Grant the cop character we shared with Cop Killer. Later man!

  2. Heh, no Bryan. We know each other, and I've bought your books.

    The spam I'm getting is from authors who don't even know that I'm an author too. My hunch is that someone compiled a list of Amazon reviewers and is selling it to newbies to solicit reviews. It has to be that, because I removed my email addy from my Amazon reviewer page; which I did because I thought that was how newbies kept soliciting me. But the offers keep coming.

  3. Wow! ( I say as I wipe sweat off my brow). LOL! Now back to my new novel Repoing the Dead. You'll like this one. It's a combo repo man meets George Romero. Later!

  4. I stopped introductory freebies long ago because there is a whole community of people who never buy anything. They brag about scoring freebies, and seem to dislike authors. But it was leaving poor reviews that stopped promotional freebies from me.

  5. I've seen the list you're talking about. Don't remember who was selling it though. I know I don't like getting emails soliciting me, so I don't do it to others. I just hope I can get reviews the old fashioned way of writing something good enough that someone wants to review it.

  6. Anonymous10:17 AM

    When I log onto your site Joe I get a message saying, 'This site uses cookies.' :-)

  7. I've always tried to live by the Golden Rule. I don't want my inbox spammed, therefore, I aim to not spam others. I will likely never hit the "big time" because of this. I'm not pushy enough. Or maybe it just means it will take me longer. Either way, I'll stick with my path of "organic growth" and echo Mark's comment above that if my stuff moves people to write a review, I've accomplished one of my goals.

  8. For indies seeking reviewers, there are gobs and gobs of book bloggers out there who welcome those emails. And websites like Tweet My Books that have lists of them. I agree: spammy spam is not the way to get the word out.

  9. I received three requests this week from unknown authors. I did read an excerpt from the first because I was curious and procrastinating. The first chapter described a violent rape. I also emailed him and asked for his mother's addy. He said up front that he got my name from a review I did for a friend. That kind of desperation is sad.

  10. I haven't been ballsy enough to ask my favorite authors if they'd like to read my book in exchange for a review, but I have seen it touted as a great marketing technique lately. Something about how it never hurts to ask famous people to read and provide a quote, because you might just make a new influential friend. All I know is, I'm a relative nobody, and I get requests from other authors to read their stuff, so I can imagine how many requests more successful authors are inundated with. As a rule, I tend to claim that I'm too busy to get to it in the allotted time (which is usually true), but I'm also trying to avoid the uncomfortable situation of being obligated to review what could possibly be a terrible book. Then I'm forced to either hurt someone's feelings (because most of us have thin skins when it comes to reviews under four stars) or rave about something I felt lukewarm about. I'd much rather buy it on my own if it looks interesting, then review if I feel motivated to do so by the quality of the writing.

  11. I don't normally solicite for reviews but not long ago I did contact the great writer Joe R. Lansdale to see if he might be interested in reading my novel Pizza Man. I did this for two reasons, one because I felt he would really enjoy it, and also if he wanted to do a burb I wouldn't stop him, but I also wasn't asking for one. I simply wanted to see if he would he interested in reading it. To my surprise Lansdale emailed me and asked for a paperback copy. He would read it when time permitted. He also agreed to download a free copy of my audiobook, The OzValt Grant Collection. This was a two for one with one of my favorite authors. Now Lansdale hasn't done the blurb yet but here's hoping.

  12. I've never clicked on Patterson's course, but I see it advertised all the time too. And I also get requests to read, review, and blurb, typically in the sci-fi area. No time, man! Writing my own books!

    But hey... Joe. Could I send you my new book for free to review?

  13. "I'm ticked he paid for a website that infects my browser with his face every time I try to surf porn."

    Now there is an image that once imagined, can never be un-imagined. Thanks, Joe. ;-)

  14. Joe, I was just getting ready to solicit you to review my new book, How to get JA Konrath to review your book on Amazon, when I saw your post.

    Perhaps you'll consider it if I act fast and offer a Pocket Fisherman?

  15. It works far better to ask for a read if you already have a RELATIONSHIP - remember those?

    I've been reading the blogs, including this one, for over four years (okay, I'm a very slow writer).

    I started my own blog in 2012, joined Wattpad a bit later.

    Over the last two years, I polished live - and posted scenes every Tuesday.

    During this time I met and corresponded with and commented on the writing of many lovely writers, and gathered my own tiny contingent of readers.

    Over this last week, I asked four of those who left comments if I could USE THEIR WORDS, already in those comments, as part of my blurb.

    All four said yes - and I think the excerpts are a perfect addition to the description of the book.

  16. Inari6:11 PM

    I never clicked on Patterson's Master Class ad, but I keep seeing it on Facebook. Patterson is stalking me! that a novel idea I smell? Never mind, something is burning in the oven :S

  17. Ebooks may continue to grow, but it does seem that the business of selling books is getting tougher as the biz matures.

    Everyone expects it, and I still think things are pretty darn good.

    But in my genres, competition is heating up, getting a lot more sophisticated. There are better and better authors, more accomplished--flooding into the game and also some who've been in for awhile are getting smarter, too.

    Staying a step ahead may become more difficult in the near future!

  18. Anonymous8:17 AM

    I'm glad I solicited you before Konrants ever became a word. Close one! (almost 10 years now, can you believe it?) RJ J

  19. So, if you randomly walked by my booth where I was hawking my books at a craft show in a small resort town in Wisconsin and were kind enough to stop, chat, and buy my whole oeuvre out of the goodness of your heart that means we have a relationship, right? RIGHT? And I can ask for reviews and blurbs and. . .
    Joe? Hey, Joe? Are you there? Can you hear me? JOE?

    Damn. Lost another one.

  20. robert bucchianeri9:22 AM

    Jeez, and I thought Patterson was only stalking me. I was playing hard to get but now I feel so cheap.

  21. For the last year or so it's become my compulsion to cover up all Patterson books at my local grocery store (on average about 9 individual titles, it takes a while). Sorry, Joe. I guess as a result of my efforts, he got desperate.

  22. Been a long day. Thanks for the Konrants.

  23. Anonymous2:06 PM

    Your comment about seeing those course ads all over the place gave me a giggle, but almost any serious e-commerce website is doing that these days. It's called retargeting (Google calls it re-marketing) and it's done because most people don't buy on the first visit, but some do once they keep getting reminded. For example, Amazon does it all the time for physical products. One day you'll be looking at a product, neglect to buy for some reason, and then see the ad again in your Facebook feed or on a banner somewhere else. In fact, abandoned shopping carts are the biggest missed opportunity cost for online businesses since the web surfer showed a decent amount of buying interest. Instead of getting mad, would you be happy if Amazon was making an effort to re-target visitors to your kindle books and making, lets say, 15% more sales for you at the risk of "annoying" people with such ads?

  24. I feel your pain when it comes to being asked for reviews. But I have seen the other side of the coin. I once sent - absolutely unsolicited - a copy of one of my supernatural thrillers to the late great horror writer James Hebert (The Rats, The Fog etc). To my everlasting gratitude within days he sent back a delicious blurb that I have used ever since. A real gentleman and a generous spirit.

  25. Anonymous9:05 PM

    Great rant...You're write!

  26. I hadn't thought of it before, but now that you brought it up, I have this impulse to send you my novel when it's finally done. For whatever.

  27. I spit my beer all over my keyboard with the porn comment! you rock!


Thanks for the comment! Joe will get back to you eventually. :)