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Archive for the tag “Amazon”

How to Write a Quick and Painless Book Review

I review nearly every book I read. But only because the Goodreads app on my phone makes it nearly impossible NOT to select a number of stars when I’m marking a book as complete. As far as a written review? I—probably like most people—only take the trouble when I either love or loathe a book. So, please don’t think I’m up on some high book review horse when I say this because I’m as guilty as everyone else.

Pinup reading

Reviews help readers find books to love and to avoid the stinkers

I’ve nixed dozens of books because someone had pointed out that it was a mess of grammatical and spelling errors and I feel like I dodged a bullet. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

But here’s the other thing: reviews help writers more than you know. The little guys, the big guys, the unknowns, and the darlings of the New York Times. Every writer wants, needs, and loves reviews. Yes, even Jo Rowling and Stephen King want and need your feedback. Because knowing how you feel about their work is what keeps them writing.

We indie authors are especially reliant on the review system. We don’t have a marketing machine to run ads or publicists to book us on talk shows.  The only way anyone is going to consider our work is if they hear about it from a friend or they happen across it in their Amazon browsing. And the more reviews a work has, the higher it will rank in searches.

Here’s the thing: two minutes of your time can make a world of difference in a writer’s life. That’s how long it will take you to review a book. Seriously.

I know, I know what you’re thinking.

But I’m not a good writer

Guess what? You hardly have to type these days. Look how easy makes it for you. Just click some buttons, poke a star and boom!

Super helpful

But I don’t remember everything that happened

So what? No one expects you to summarize the plot. In fact, that’s super annoying in a review.

But I didn’t really like the book

That’s totally okay. Authors appreciate you taking the time to review their book, even if it’s not a glowing endorsement.

But I don’t have a lot to say about the book

No problem, sparky. Your review could be one sentence–or a fragment!–and still let the world know how you feel. Here are some examples of perfectly worthwhile, super short book reviews:

“The detective character made me laugh out loud.”

“I felt like the ending was rushed.”

“Way too much sex.”

“I loved the part in Las Vegas.”

full review

But I can’t think of a headline

Yeah, I hear you on that. But guess what? You can skip it. Just leave it blank and hit “submit” and the world keeps turning. Cool, huh?

Click a few buttons, choose a star, and type a few words. Easy peasy, right?

Here are things to avoid

Personal attacks

“The author is a vengeful slut and couldn’t plot her way out of a paper bag.”

Remove “is a vengeful slut and” and you’ve got yourself a review, cowboy!

“The author’s support of anti-gay campaigns make him a piece of shit”

Be that as it may, that isn’t about the content of his book.

Genre attacks

“I’m not really a Sci-Fi person and all the space stuff and names without vowels really grated on my nerves. There’s no such thing as an anti-gravity grenade!”

“Dragons. What is the deal with dragons? And everyone just walks through the entire book. Hello? BORING?”

If you know you don’t like the genre, don’t rail against the tropes of the genre. It’s like complaining about the heaving bosoms in a Harlequin romance. Which I have totally done.


A customer review on spoiled the ending of Gone Girl for me and I nearly didn’t read it because of that. Don’t be that guy. Just don’t.

So, go ahead and make good on that promise you made to your writer friend (so, so many promises). Take a moment and write a couple pithy phrases about the book you read on the plane. Authors and readers alike will thank you.


B.Y.O.P – Be Your Own Publisher

I’ve been blogging about my trials and errors in this writing thing for a couple years now. From a post about discovering Kindle Direct Publishing and unearthing a long-lost novel, to crowdfunding a research trip, I’ve shared the journey with my blog readers.

BYOP Cover

If you’ve found my writing tips interesting or helpful, I’m collecting them into a short non-fiction book on writing, publishing and marketing your own book. If you’re a follower of this blog, some of it will be familiar but a lot of it is new content.

Why am I doing this? Because two years ago I hadn’t written any fiction in nearly two decades and hadn’t published a damn thing. Since then I’ve published four novels and a short story and have had a crash course in indie publishing and marketing. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve learned some tricks, and I’d like to help writers get past the doubts and inertia and get their book out into the world.

Look for B.Y.O.P this summer!

Free eBooks for Christmas

Christmas wishesI’m feeling pretty jolly, how about you? Let’s see what Santa Trixie has in her…um…sack.

First, thanks to Amazon Kindle’s MatchBook program, now when you buy Schooled in paperback, you get the eBook for FREE. Amazon allows authors to set the price on the MatchBook, and I’ve selected “Free” because Ho Ho Ho.

This is one of my favorite reviews of Schooled:
“This book is filled with great characters, and a twisty-turney perfect murder mystery plot. It also nails the feel of working in the game industry in a perfect way.”

Pick up the paperback right here: It’s currently $6.29.

Next, you can get the short, sexy, funny holiday story I Saw Lexy Kissing Santa for FREE when you subscribe to the Team Lexy newsletter. Here’s how it works: You click here to subscribe to the newsletter and you receive a .pdf of the story via email. You get the cover, too, because who doesn’t want Brett Parson artwork?


A couple things about the newsletter: I don’t have the energy to spam you because I’m trying to finish writing Lexy 3. When I do send the newsletter (once a month or so unless I have spectacular news to break), I give Team Lexy members inside news about the next book, new formats, and even weird stuff like alternate names (Did you know Detective Mike Malick was originally “Roy Malick”?) Super bonus: In the next newsletter I will be revealing the title and cover for Lexy 3!

Or if you don’t want to bother with newsletters, I Saw Lexy Kissing Santa is a whopping 99 cents to purchase, so there’s that option. You can make that happen right here.

My book comes out tomorrow and I’m calm

calm-before-storm-1Tonight around 11 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time I will begin the brief process of uploading my crime novel Pwned to Kindle Direct Publishing. Within 12 hours (usually only an hour or two) it will be available to purchase on  Why am I not bouncing off the walls? Because I learned a few things the last time around–which was just this past November.

1. The internet is not going to explode with excitement.

2. I am not going to sell 100,000 copies on Day One.

3. It will take time for people to read and review it.

4. Most readers won’t bother to review it.

5. Many people who say they ‘can’t wait’ for it to come out won’t even read it–heck most of my own family won’t read it!

6. 90% of ‘review copies’ will go nowhere.

It looks a bit sobering, doesn’t it? It’s actually not. I’m still enchanted with Lexy Cooper and am 4 chapters into Book 3. I’m also planning a holiday-themed short story (a.k.a. shenanigans at the Xenon Xmas party–criminal and otherwise). This time around I only gave review copies to media outlets that reviewed the first book. I gave away dozens of review copies of Schooled to people who were really just too cheap to pay 7 bucks, and felt angry and resentful when they didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Not this time.

Other than that, the only thing that’s changed are my expectations, and my sense of entitlement. Just because someone says they want to read it doesn’t mean they will. Mentioning someone in the book is no guarantee they’ll even re-tweet your announcement that it’s available. I have accepted that people owe me nothing, and will or will not read, review, or support my books at their own whim. And that’s okay. I finished writing Pwned back in February, so it’s been a long wait to introduce readers to Lexy’s second adventure in sex, murder, and video games.

That reminds me…I need to go write the description!

Review Schooled and become a character in my next book!

I declare that May is Review Month! Or you could call it “tit for tat” month, which is appropriate considering we’re talking about Lexy Cooper.


The Set Up

Writing is a lonely-ass profession. Reviews, comments, and feedback on the words we write are the fuel that keeps us going. Reviews –even negative ones– offer us acknowledgement that someone else is experiencing the alternate reality we’ve created in our head. Your feedback is confirmation that we exist.

The Pitch

I want your reviews. Good, bad, and ugly, I want to know what you thought of “Schooled.” And here’s what I’m willing to do in exchange for the time you take to write a few words about my book on Goodreads or Amazon: I will name a character after you in the as-yet-untitled Lexy Cooper Mystery #3. I can use your first name, last name, gamertag/username, nickname…whatever you prefer. Everyone likes to see their name in a book, but for whatever reason, people don’t get around to writing reviews.

The Deal

To be crystal clear:

  • Review of Schooled must be published on Amazon and/or Goodreads in the month of May. That’s between May 1 and May 31, 2013.
  • The review must be the honest opinion of a human being who read the entire book.
  • Your name in my book has no monetary value; nor does your review of my book. So let’s not go there.
  • I cannot guarantee that the character who shares your name will be like you, a decent person, or alive by the end of the book.

So please! Get your review on! If you read the book and haven’t felt compelled to review it–here’s your reason! When  you’re old and crusty you can show your great-grandchildren that there’s a character with your name in a mystery novel!

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