Monthly Archives: January 2014

Writing Reviews Equals Selling Power

Going into a purchase blind isn’t something people usually do nowadays. More and more, buyers look for the stars before shelling out their hard earned cash. And rightfully so, as nothing stinks worse than spending your dough on subpar products.

However, I look beyond the stars to the review itself. I want to know why people love–or hate–a product. I want to know how it fits and how it holds up. I want to know the nitty-gritty as well as the undying lust. In short, reviews are the cyber-sphere’s version of word of mouth.

So, do your fellow buyers a favor and review the products you’ve purchased. Be honest, but not callous. Or, conversely, not all gushy-mushy. Give solid reasons for your likes and dislikes. Share whether you would purchase the product again or whether you’d buy it for your Aunt Harriet. Lastly, don’t forget to mention the reason why.

The why is the key to a good review.

  • Super cute, but the craftsmanship seems shoddy. The sole separated from the shoe within a week.
  • The skirt was the perfect length for my 5’2″ frame. Too often mini skirts on me are maxi sized.
  • The phone case actually fit my LG G2. I had to search long and hard to find one that works for Verizon’s special size. (True story, which begs the question: Verizon, why is your version a different size than every other carrier’s? Seriously.)
  • Despite keeping me glued to every page, the end of this novel was a disappointment. I didn’t like that the story had no real resolution–not unless I buy the next novel in the trilogy.
  • The mugs were broken when I received them. The supplier immediately resent new ones, which my mother-in-law loves because they are smaller than most giving her time to drink her coffee before it cools.
  • Likeable characters, but no real depth. The perfect beach read that you can walk away from when you’re done.

Solid reasons that neither gush nor shame. Rather, they have a mixture of both. Now, as a buyer, I can pick and choose which products will likely satisfy me. And so can you. But only if people leave reviews for us to sort through.

Only if you and I take the time to review the products we buy.

Do negative reviews scare you away from buying a product? What types of information do you find most helpful in a review? Least helpful? Are you a reviewer, or more of a reader of reviews?

From the author standpoint, it’s been said that it takes 20 reviews (good, bad or indifferent) to impact sales and draw readers toward your writing. How do you garner reviews for your writing?

Curious minds want to know.

Readers Are Like Phone Companies

I recently got a new phone, as my old one wasn’t functioning as well as it should–not to mention, I hated it from the start–but had to stick with it because…well, two-year contract and all.

Anyway, I love my new phone as much as I hated my old one. Sticking with it for the duration of my contract will be a pleasure, whereas my last one was a pain right from the get go.

Kind of reminds me of books…

Back in the day, I read anything and everything–always finishing what I started. Always. I was easily amused and had a lot more down time with which to fill with words.

Alas, my time is shorter now, as is my patience. Books, unlike cell phones, do not have restrictive contracts. If a reader hates the first chapter, first page, first line, he doesn’t have to keep reading. He can discard the old and buy a new one without paying a penalty fee.

As I’ve gotten older and my down time shorter, I have resorted to this method myself. In fact, I recently read–and loved–the first novel in a trilogy that everyone was raving about. Seconds after finishing the first one, I picked up the second. The writing had slipped and the characterization was a mere shell of what it had been in the debut. Yet, the storyline was enough to hold me to the end.

However, by the end, I was so exasperated I wanted to send both books and a crabby note to the author voicing my disappointment that the second book was a bridge book between the first and final in the trilogy–and a poorly done one at that. I didn’t, and I won’t. But, I didn’t purchase the last book.

My time is short, and I certainly didn’t sign a trilogy contract with the publisher. I didn’t have to stick with the story just because I had started it.

And this is what terrifies me about being an author. It’s what should terrify us all. Our readers do not have to stick with our writing. Rather than them having a contract with our book, we have a contract with them. As authors, it is our job to deliver a good story, page after page. It is our duty to fulfill the promise that engaged our readers in the first place.

Our readers are Verizon and T-Mobile and AT&T. They hold the contract. We, the writers, are bound by their expectations for the duration of our books. If we break this contract, the penalty fee we pay is in lost readership.

So, dear readers, what types of things make you break your contract with an author?

Curious minds want to know.

Call For Submissions: antibullying anthology for middle graders

As everyone knows, bullying is a topic near and dear to my heart. Nobody deserves to be broken down and beaten up–physically or emotionally–by another person. Nobody. Ever.

And yet, we let it happen with great regularity. Even our anti-bully programs have been proven ineffective for many reasons: namely, that we are targeting our audience after their behavior patterns are set. Seldom do kids start bullying for the first time in middle school or high school. More often, these children have been exhibiting poor social skills (ie a propensity to bullying others) from their earliest school years.

Knowing all this, it is my pleasure to announce that I am heading up a middle grade anthology on bullying for Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. EBP is taking an active role in the anti-bullying movement and creating a collection of short stories that will delight young readers while empowering them to be stronger advocates for healthy relationships.

Studies show that targeting children before the age of ten and teaching them how  to positively interact with each other before their behavior patterns  are set is the biggest deterrent for future bullying. So, yay to EBP for recognizing this need and pulling together an anthology specifically with an eye to helping our youngsters grow socially.

Submissions can be told from the point of view of the bully, the victim or the bystander and must be suitable for middle grade (MG) readers between the ages of 7 and 12. All stories should have a clear resolution that will help readers better understand the impact of bullying and/or help give them appropriate tools to deal with potential bullying situations in their lives. The maximum word count for stories is 2,500.
  • Submissions can be sent to my email address ( catwoods.writer@gmail.com ) with MG Anthology in the subject line.
  • Submissions are due February 15, with a projected publication date of May 5.
  • EBP will not be able to pay for a story, but they will send authors a gratis copy of the final anthology.
  • So, spread the word, send me your stories and help ease the pain of bullying.
Cat~