Thursday, January 16, 2014

What's your vote?

I've been thinking about voting for a number of reasons.  One is that I'm a volunteer registrar for the State of Illinois, so I can register new voters, do changes of address, etc.  I've done shifts where all I do is register new voters, both at the high schools I sub at, as well as the local junior college.  One exciting new change for 2014 is that young people who will be 18 by the time of the general election in November, now can register and vote in the primary as well.  This is huge!  My second son attended the Iowa caucuses as an observer in his senior year of high school when he was taking his Government class.  But because Illinois wanted to be one of the pivotal states to elect its local son to the Democratic ticket, the date of our primary was moved up to February and my son didn't turn 18 until right before the original date in March.  He was very disappointed. Not an issue anymore.

I've also thought about voting because two of my books were in the top 10 books of 2013 at the Smile Somebody Loves You review blog. I sent out a blast asking friends, both real-life and internet-based,  for some votes.  I got a few, but not nearly as many as the books that won.  Do I have less friends?  Less motivated friends?  Or just less reader-fans?  Years ago I nominated my own books (everyone does it, so don't laugh) in the Preditors and Editors website's yearly book contest.  I got quite a few votes then, but also not enough to be a winner.  Does any of that reflect on my books, on my skill as a weaver of fictional tales that allow the reader to temporarily escape mundane reality?  Or just on my ability to get enough enough folks galvanized to click on the link and vote? Yet imagine my surprise and my joy when I clicked on the link to Harlie's review site to discover that she had chosen For The Love Of His Life as her top pick in contemporary romance in 2013! For free!

How can one convince readers to give an unknown author's books a chance? I've tried most of the free and low-cost options that I can find, and paid for a few more expensive ones in the misguided belief that if I pay more for the promotional effort, it should be more effective.  But my experience was that the two review tours that I paid for had little to no effect on readers.  I got a few reviews, but with both organizers there were sites that never bothered to put up anything about my books, so I didn't get what I paid for:terribly sorry, don't know what happened, they are always so reliable, there was a death/illness, etc. But at the sites where my review request catches someone's attention, where someone actually reads my books, I usually get at least a 4 out of 5 rating, and sometimes I get 5s.  Should I value those votes more because I didn't pay for them?

What do you think? Does paying for promotions get you better results? Or is it all just a matter of luck?  Just as most of us will toil for our entire lives at boring and tedious jobs that, as George Carlin said, "pay us just enough so we won't quit," will most of us writers spend our time feverishly producing stories that few will read? Is is a part of the publishing zeitgeist, that quality is no requirement for or prediction of popularity? What's your vote?

For links to reviews and other information about any of my contemporary erotic romances, please visit my website: http://www.fionamcgier.com


Harlie Reader said...

Hi Fiona! I'm not sure that blog tours garner reviews. My debut last year toured and I got maybe 3 reviews. Now that the book has been out over a year, I'm touring again and guess what? I already have 4 reviews with more to follow.

Honestly, I don't know. As a blog owner I'm finding out that posting a review to Amazon is more golden than being on a blog. It boasts your ranking and more people actually see it. Plus, with Amazon, it can be a recommended read based on what a customer has already bought or clicked to view.

Its weird. I blog/review and some books are better received on the blog. Now, when I post a review on Amazon...more people click on the review and find it helpful.

Promo/reviewing is a hit and miss in this business. Some books that are runaway best sellers garner alot of reviews but then you have the books that are nominated for awards, they don't get the review love.

I love your books so I will keep reading them and reviewing. :)


Tina Donahue said...

Good for you for signing up voters. Just hope they vote for the people's interest and not the corporations.

jean hart stewart said...

I'm struggling now trying to figure out why from getting lots of reviews I'm getting almost none. Really a problem to me right now. Any answers much appreciated....

Fiona McGier said...

Thanks for your insights from all sides, Harlie. You are a reader, a writer, and a blogging reviewer. I guess I need to ask more friends to put up a few sentences of review at Amazon. Maybe if I offer to buy them a drink?

Tina, I don't ask the kids who they prefer, nor do I do any electioneering. I point out to them that the only 2 times anyone can legally ask you if you are a Democrat or Republican are when you are registering to be an election judge (they want to have the judges be 50/50, so all will feel welcome. Independents don't matter to anyone!); and when you are voting in the primary, since you can only vote for one ticket's representatives.

I point out to them that on the records I'm down as a "swing-voter", because I study the issues and vote for the candidate I feel most accurately represents what I believe to be the right course of action. People on both sides who foam at the mouth and yell loudly to make their points annoy me.

My late father used to say that if you can't argue your opponent's views better than he/she can, then you don't really have an opinion...you're just parroting what you've been told to believe. You must study any important issue in depth, truly understand why each position is viable and feels right to so many, before you can look within yourself and decide which feels more right to you.

The problem is that today kids aren't being taught to have the patience to do that--although considering how few adults do it, I'm not sure it was ever in fashion to teach that. It takes work and time to think things through. So much easier to just listen to the loudest yelling person and agree with him/her. Problem solved, no thinking involved, and you can go back to viewing extreme porn on-line, or drooling on yourself while you catch up with the Kardashians. Sigh...

Redameter said...

I usually vote for what the man himself believes in and how he feels about issues. It's like us as writers, if we pay for a review by advertising, then have we gained anything. No, not really. The only place I advertise much any more is on the TRS parties. I like them, I think they have a lot of readers and those readers can reach out to you and tell you what they think. It would be wonderful if we could personally have a conversation with a politician that we are thinking of voting for to feel him out, to see if his views are on track, according to how we feel about the issue, ourselves.

Voting is important, whether it is a book or whatever. But I feel as writer that our work will stand by our sales more than our reviews and advertising dollars. Once you establish a few novels, then the readers gets an opinion of your work and usually writes a review or comment. Not all reviews are positive, however, I have learned that even these reviews help because people are curious and want to make up their own minds. The same is true with a political candidate.

Fran Lee said...

Congrats, Fiona! And thanks for sharing...