Self-Publishing: Reviews

Now here’s a thing. I don’ know if this is a unique issue for me, or if it effects everyone. I have found with every single book release I have done, I have tried offering digital editions to you, my subscribers and followers, for free. Inevitably the Amazon freebie hunters always end up with copies and always, usually on Good Reads, they leave me a negative review.

Capricorn got a bad review for being weird fiction, January got a bad review for being just groaners and Spiders got a DNF review from someone moaning it was just jokes. In each case, I have been left scratching my head asking, if they could read even half the book, why couldn’t they read the synopsis? Go figure. To quote a Huffpost article:

Don’t trash the book because it wasn’t what you expected. Unless the book was misrepresented, it’s your responsibility to understand what you’re buying before you buy it. Trout Fishing in America isn’t really about trout fishing, and Fear of Flying is not for nervous travelers.

The Do’s and Dont’s of book reviewing on Huffpost

Anywhos! For the book writers out there, this time I asked you, the subscribing rabble, to leave a review every time I posted about the free book offer. I got twelve reviews on Amazon. Currently at 4.8 stars. The one negative review I got was from a freebie book hunter, complaining about it all being puns. On Good Reads, there’s more freebie hunters and fewer people who know me.  If it wasn’t for Jan’s review, I would have 2.5 stars. That’s the difference you guys have made. Thank you.

For those 11 reviews, I gave away around one hundred free ebooks on Kindle over five days. I don’t recognize more than half of the people on Good Reads who currently have me listed  ‘as reading’. So I don’t know how many freebie book hunters got my book and how many subscribers got my book.

Sales wise, I have had one sale either paperback or digital every day since I stopped offering it for free up from one per week before Spiders release. Water could be muddied there as I didn’t do an ounce of promotion for the prior three months dealing with my home issues. Then I suddenly did five days of heavy promotion. There’s also a mix of books being sold. It seems January and Capricorn have had a wee bump in sales from Spiders release.That makes sense and I have heard from a lot of authors, you need at least three books on sale before you get regular and consistent sales. For something as specialized and super niche as the Little Fears presents books, I believe a sale a day is good. My books are expensive. I am not yet famous. I can’t offer novel value prices of $2 a book.

Prior article, Self-Publishing Earnings on Amazon:

There’s something else to learn from one review. Richard Yates questions whether what I do is flash fiction or a cartoon. I don’t know myself, to be honest. For those that followed my stories before I created the Little Fears, I wrote stories on their own and drew completely unrelated doodles and posted them elsewhere. There never used to be any connection between them. I know flash fiction circles hate jokes being called flash fiction. Y’all know I’m not gonna listen to that crowd’s opinion though right?

Richard did make me think. Now both January and Capricorn are released from Kindle Select I am looking for expanded distribution for them both. Maybe I should be turning my attention to the digital comic distribution platforms instead of just book platforms. Good thinkin’ Richard!

Do you take anything from this?

I don’t know if any of that is either helpful or relevant to any of you. I do know I have a lot of people hoping to self-publish who read this blog though, so I figure any data or experiences are helpful aye?

If you want to read a few reviews, there’s a couple more below.

Ashlee G from Creative Writing Review:

Richard Yates review: on Read A Damn Book:

If you want to buy any of my books, hop on over to Amazon.

USA Editions:

UK Editions:

And if you have any questions, y’all know I try to help by email or comments. Ask me anything about my book writing and publishing process and I will try to answer.



54 thoughts on “Self-Publishing: Reviews”

  1. A side note, here, and (almost totally) irrelevant. I do not do business with Will your books ever be available through any other venues? Or are they, and I’ve just missed the link?


    1. I’m hoping to expand a bit next month. Lookin up Kobo, CreateSpace, Google Books and Smashwords. Between Smashwords and Createspace that will go out to most online book and ebook stores. 🙂


  2. I don’t like goodreads – I find it attracts trolls that usually don’t even read the books, they only thumb down and leave bad reviews. I’m not sure why?
    I have my books there too, yet I never go look, it’s usually hurtful 😦


  3. In a world filled with trolls, I don’t think there is a book, song, or any other product in existence that doesn’t have a bad review or two. Next paycheck, I will definitely check out your book. I’m sure it’s a very good read, based on your posts on WordPress. 🙂


  4. Some people just want others to fail. I’ve had some reviewers never read my material and just post nonsense.

    Can’t please them all I suppose.

    Love that Huffpost article quote.


    1. I might put the next up for 0.01$ and broadcast it to my subscribers. Free edition on release is intended as thanks to my subscribers, who usually end up buying my shirts, art prints and paperbacks anywho’s. I am pretty sure the Good Reads lot get notified about free books on Amazon and just grab them regardless.


  5. I agree with George, you put time, sweat and work into the projects. Even if only 99 cents, if you’re confident enough to accept reviews on it, then I think you should be confident in charging something, anything for them.

    Also, I think charging for them will increase a person’s investment and being more careful about what they’re engaging with. If nothing else, I’m surprised/impressed people actually left reviews. I have plenty of people picking up digital and hard copies of my self-published stuff, but the hit rate for people leaving reviews is less than 1%.


    1. Ahh, now I ask for reviews only from my subscribers. I do not give away free editions for reviews. Not sure if that changes your opinion.

      Free edition on release is intended as thanks to my subscribers, who usually end up buying my shirts, art prints and paperbacks anywho’s. That’s also how I believe I got such a good kick start with the reviews. They come from the people who visit daily and enjoy what I write then get my tales in a book format. I am pretty sure the Good Reads lot get notified about free books on Amazon and just grab them regardless. I may try 0.01$ next time and broadcast that to subscribers, see if it keeps the freebie hunters away.


  6. Goodness, that’s a shame there are always those book trolls out there. I agree with what the others said: keep on trudging through and perhaps make a very low price instead of free (.25 etc) to kind of remove a lot of the trolls. I wish you the best of luck!


    1. That could be the way forward. By the comments I have had on social media, I don’t get it anywhere near as bad as other folk have. Many stories of blogged drafts ending up being rated on good Reads as final edits. Yeowch!


      1. Hmm… Yes, that is quite true. I feel all authors receive rude comments and reviews in one way or another. At least you don’t get the really cruel ones!


  7. Great post, thanks for sharing your thoughts! So helpful for those of us who self-publish. Your work would probably better be classified as free verse – flash fiction usually is a very very short story geared to those with the attention span of a gnat. As above commented, I too dislike goodreads – a most inconvenient site. Sorry you’ve had less than positive reviews there. You should write a Little Fears about trolls. I may do a Mob Haiku about them. 🙂


    1. Howdy Michael. I’m afraid I don’t offer books for free either intentionally for review or after the first five days of release. The free books are intended as a thank you to the subscribers here. I also have some really awesome, helpful and generous subscribers who will pay for the books either way. Kinda feel it’s a bit disrespectful to give a book away for free a second time after some of them have paid for them you know?

      Next book is due out in October, I shall probably be doing a penny sale giveaway for its first five days. 🙂


  8. Try Draft2Digital for publishing outside of Amazon. They put your book in most markets free of charge. They also do Audio and Paperback books. Less hassle than Smashwords. Good luck. Shrug off those bad reviews and move on.


  9. A sale a day is very good for an unknown indie author with 3 books out. Congrats! I’ve always heard the 5 books is where you actually get momentum and could get profitable. I definitely have more consistent sales with 4 out, even though 2 are under my name and 2 are under my pen name.
    I haven’t yet reviewed your book because I haven’t yet finished it…Not a fault of your book, just a matter of time management for me. I’ll add to good reviews soon.
    The good news, I have also heard that Amazon search is simply be numbers of reviews not by weather or not they are favorable. I get you’d like your star-rating to be high, but visibility is helped by those confused ‘haters’ at least.
    If a book has at least 4 stars and I think it looks interesting. I actually read the bad reviews to see what people didn’t like. Often they show that those people missed the point or hate the genre and so I buy the book anyway.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and observations about the indie book biz so candidly. It helps all of us trying to climb up by our bootstraps out here. So many good writers and so hard to get visible. Cheers!


    1. CHeers Sheri. I think I am currently doing well because I have a total following of about 65,000 and for the 5 free days, I promoted the crap outta it. Not sure how long this will last for. The haters all end up on Good Reads, not my Amazon heh. I did chuckle when I saw Lord of the Flies is something like 3.4 on Good Reads and Hunger Games has 5 stars. I know Hunger Games is good and I know Lord of the Flies has its faults, but man, haha!


      1. Yup. It’s funny, the more you talk about Goodreads you find authors either love or hate it. Never an in-between, and usually hate heh.


    1. I teach a few free courses on Skillshare (link at top of blog). Once I have been through publishing on Smashwords and Createspace fully and in depth, I shall be writing a long course for each platform.


  10. I found you by your gravatar on another blogger’s post– Wanderlust I think. I love your little figure! (fear) I skimmed through your little characters and love them all. In fact I admire anyone with such creativity. I will never understand the narrow mindedness of a person who cannot read a book to understand the book for itself. Otherwise why read at all? Maybe it’s more of a power trip for them. Me? Books are adventure, mostly though as my mom taught me, books are friends.


    1. I don’t mind people not fully reading or understanding books, but when they don’t even glance at the synopsis or preview, that’s just plain daft. 🙂


  11. Whoa, it’s a very intriguing idea to offer free digital versions of your books to draw in readers (in addition to this website/author’s page, of course)! Sorry to hear you’ve gotten some negativity about your stories.

    I remember once hearing that it isn’t really fair to criticize a writer’s story if you don’t understand the creative process, or what goes into creating that type of work. Not to mention there is a difference between constructive and other types of criticism.

    Anyway, good job on responding to the whole situation with such a positive outlook!


    1. Howdy Grace. Giving away the digital edition is intended as a thank you to my followers with a request for a review. I have so many people that will pay full whack for the paperback edition and buy my art prints and tees, it makes sense to me.

      Constructive criticism is often hard to come across heh. Cheers Grace! 🙂


  12. That’s the dilemma with free goodies. People just don’t appreciate free stuff. Sometimes a little paywall keeps the gremlins away, true fans will understand!


  13. […] Fears.” Each story is VERY short, sometimes more of a long-form pun, and the author wrote a blog post about how people who buy his books get mad that they are filled with “jokes” instead…. Except that you are exactly right … very short fiction is often built around a joke or gimmick […]


  14. Hmm.
    Since I’m Zen about both writing and sales, I find the obsessive quality about the negative reviews rather curious. To be frank, in your milieu, you should be seeking a slightly different goal – a much deeper bookshelf. Since your shelf is so narrow, a few negative reviews are going to matter to you, considering the quantities you sell. But a deep shelf – anywhere from fifteen to twenty books, all common to your theme – makes you something else. You become a brand name.


    1. Ahh, now I am not obsessed with them, and a negative review doesn’t bother me. Negative reviews can come with constructive feedback. Negative reviews can help you improve your writing. Negative reviews can steer people in different directions. Bad reviews do none of that. A low rating review accompanied by the line ‘it’s not my sort of thing’ doesn’t help anyone. Especially when there are enough pointers and preview options to demonstrate to the reviewer that it’s not their sort of thing before they have even picked the book up.

      Though if I reviewed my own post here, I would say it’s badly written. The responses that I have received are not in line with the intent of the post, which was meant to be a process display post.


  15. Man, isn’t self publishing fun. I have done the giveaway option with Goodreads, I did get two positive reviews from that. When I did a free promotion with Amazon, nothing. The promoting aspect of this is hard. Thank you for sharing, I needed to read this post today, (funny how things align in life) to know I am not alone in pursuing this writer’s life.


    1. Ahh man, we all go through it! By the horror stories I’ve read online, I get off real easy! Funny how people gravitate towards reviews on Good Reads or Amazon heh.


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