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I have to say, over the past four years, I have read a great deal of author posts in the 'voice' section of Community on Amazon. I have watched promotional tools discussions, as well. Then, there is my personal experience which aligns with much of what is being written.
Indie Authors are discouraged – and I cannot say that I blame them. I am one, so I walk in their shoes; I bleed from a relative pen. Reviews are hard to come by from nearly anyone, much less the average consumer. It just isn't happening very much, and it is detrimental to the industry as a whole.
I read the other day about the tools placed at the end of an ebook, where the reader thinks they are submitting a review, when in fact, they are merely participating in a data collection that does not appear on the author's book listing and does not help other customers – not really.
Then, there's the Free Promotion of ebooks. It really seems to be a bust for reviews. The statistics recently exposed said that only 2% of readers will post a review. I find that people who download free books, rarely if ever make an effort to go back to the actual book listing and post a comment or review. Oh sure, if you search around on the web – endlessly – you might find a few comments here and there about a book, but it is not helping sales or rankings for Kindle or the authors. If you cannot get reviews, rankings are not elevated and your books do not get any exposure (or very little) across the Amazon structure. Readers need to post reviews. They are missing a real opportunity to elevate the industry for all.
I also found that the free promotions don't do much for sales. They do, however, offer an end around on Kindle Unlimited subscriptions, which ARE beneficial to authors (and Amazon!)
In another twist, there were the pitfalls of exposure of a book to any attention that brings out the snarks. There are those in this world that want to quell any competition, and I find that truly deplorable. Writing injurious posts about an author or a book is not productive or beneficial to any aspect of the industry. Of course, if something is really not worth of a positive review, just go by the old adage “If you can't say something good, don't say anything at all.” Not posting a review is detrimental, so that works.
Most authors seem to be reasonable about their work. They all have their own perspectives, inspirations, and goals. Sharing those in a written work is not an easy task. Giving that work away to achieve, at least, offering the viewpoint to plant seeds in the thoughts of others is not easy, either, but it offers some gratification. Most of us do not think we are writing a Pulitzer piece. Most of us offer some very entertaining work, however. Most of us are not comfortable with agents or editors that take our artistry as an idea for their own agendas and ghost write a 'product', so we self-publish, independently. We choose to remain true to our own voice. It means that much to us. Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing; All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” He was absolutely right.
So, if you are looking for good reads, and you have a limited budget, take a look at Indie Author works in the genre of your liking. You will find some true gems there, and when you finish the work, post a review on the Amazon listing for that book. It only takes a minute. You can even ask a question in one section of the page for most of them, and the author will respond. If you read a great deal, seriously consider Kindle Unlimited as an option for your needs.
Indie Authors need to support other Indie Authors through social media and buying each others products and writing reviews. Readers need to find our work and participate in the process of elevating those works. It also, might be worth challenging Amazon to re-evaluate the Free Promotions tool in support of Kindle Unlimited, as well.
All the best – S.M. Starkey, an Independent Author/Publisher