Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Post: Pity The Book Blogger by Renee Harrell

In the ninety minutes or so it takes me to write this Guest Post, at least another 50 self-published/micro-niche books will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and the like. These days, it’s fairly easy to publish anything you’ve written.

It’s not as easy or as cheap to do it right, so some of these new arrivals will arrive a little rough around the edges. Doesn’t mean there isn’t a diamond or two among the pebbles, and please know I’ve found some lovely s-p’ed books I’ve truly enjoyed (Angelfall by Susan Ee, The Fiddler’s Gun by A.S. Peterson are two that come to mind), but it’s hard for a writer to get noticed when every day brings another flood of newcomers to the party. One way to rise above the crowd, however briefly? Find someone with a following to review your opus.

Let me share with you now, this isn’t as easy as it seems. I know because my book, The Atheist’s Daughter, comes out today, too.

Oops, let me back up a little. My name is Renée Turner, my husband is Harrell Turner, and when we write together, we use the pen name of ‘Renée Harrell’. Separately or together, we’ve written and sold articles, short stories, a work-for-hire novel, and almost worked for ABC Television (a tale for a different day) but our words have yet to make us rich. Or even moderately well-off. Or even...well, two levels below “financially stable”. In other words, we’re not about to quit our day jobs.

Although we had some other options, we decided to bring ‘Daughter’ out on our own. After all, we’d dabbled in self-publishing before, had a fine time and met some lovely people, and we truly enjoyed the process. We planned to promote our book through book reviews. To this end, Harrell contacted our favorite book bloggers.

Melissa and Spellbound by Books was contacted on the very first day and this was, more or less, Hal’s pitch: Despite the title, The Atheist's Daughter isn't written for a religious audience (just as 'The Exorcist' wasn't written for theologians). Our heroine isn't beautiful or popular, she can't find a job, and she desperately wants to move out of her mother’s house. Kristin is cursed -- or blessed, your call -- with an ability to discern a certain kind of evil. She doesn't have a magical Kung Fu Grip with which to fight the evil, she only knows when it's present. She's no smarter, braver or stronger than anyone else.

There are some very Bad Creatures in the story but they're not any of the standard beasties. We've grown tired of the same old frights and decided to invent something new. Our monsters aren't sexy, they're monsters! We’re hoping strong characterization and a fresh story will help us find a readership.

Yes, he actually used the phrase, “magical Kung Fu Grip”, while soliciting a book review. Which may be why the other four book bloggers never answered his request. In the days to come, the next five didn’t respond, either. Of the ten bloggers that followed, one said she was overwhelmed with requests and couldn’t help. The other nine were so overwhelmed, they never got back to us.

We don’t blame them. We love book bloggers, we visit their sites frequently, and we know how many writers are begging for some small scrap of attention. We’re here, too, jumping up and down and trying to be seen, knowing the really good reviewers have someone knocking at their e-door several times a day (which is why we were so pleased to hear from Spellbound By Books).

Frustrated, Harrell even contacted a company that specialized in blog tours. Until three weeks ago, we didn’t even know there was such a business! The outfit came highly recommended, their website promised a dozen reviews...

And even they passed. A paranormal romance novel, certainly, they were positive they could have helped us. But a supernatural thriller one of our beta readers called, “Buffy Summers meets FRIGHT NIGHT”? Well, they weren’t sure they could find enough interested reviewers.

Or any interested reviewers.

The good news? After another dozen requests, we have one more possible book review in our future. A positive step, you bet, but not really the kind of attention we’d hoped to attract. After all, how can a reader find our book if s/he doesn’t know it exists? So, with Melissa’s permission, we’d like to make you, dear reader, an offer.

Want a copy of Daughter? If you have a website, a blog spot, a Twitter account, or just visit forums to discuss fiction, we’d love it if you’d read our book – and we’ll give our story to the first dozen people who ask. Just wander by our website – – and use the contact form to reach us.

In return, we’d like it if you shared your opinion about the novel online and provide a mention of Spellbound by Books. Because our favorite Aussie reviewer deserves some kudos, too.


Renee Turner

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