Our readers are the foundation of what makes indieBRAG unique. They not only select the books to become the next B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree but give feedback to our authors. This feedback is important not only to the authors but to the reader as well. Readers carry a lot of weight in what we regard as quality in self-publishing. Not only that but how readers see author’s platforms and performance on social media. Today we are talking with Lisl.
Lisl, how do you find books and what do you think of social media and books?
I often find books in a series of links, that is to say reading one work might lead me to another. But I also browse bookshops and libraries, or see books mentioned online or by people in real life.
Do you go to an author’s website or social media when looking for a book or do you usually pick a book based on a search on sites such as Amazon?
I almost never take up any recommendations put forth by Amazon, though it has happened that I’ve seen a book there that ends up on my TBR. However, this is in the minority of instances. Also, I don’t ever go specifically to Amazon to look for possible good reads, though I will say this is mainly because to do that generally isn’t on my radar.
I do go to author websites, though how often simply depends on the time I have to do that at any given period of days.
If you search books retail sites such as Amazon or B&N, how important is the cover, title and synopsis?
Oh the title, cover and synopsis are very important. Like most others, I have favorite genres and like to be led to them, though if I have an idea what a book is about that isn’t within those parameters, the title and cover could possibly draw me in. As for the synopsis, this definitely plays a key role, as it basically must give me not just the gist of the plot, but a solid reason why I should follow up and read the book.
Does it turn you off when an author promotes their book on social media a lot?
It depends how they approach it. I do understand the need and desire of authors to promote their works, but if it is done in a drive-by fashion and they don’t otherwise engage in the group, I find it turns me off.
There are a lot of authors I don’t actually converse with on a regular basis—simply because the one big group I’m in has quite a lot—but I see them around often, read their comments, and this gives me the chance to appreciate them as individuals apart from what they’re selling, and I value that. Being a part of the group, even if I don’t actually “talk” to them directly very often, their contributions communicate a desire to interact with us and not just see us as sources of revenue.
When going to an author’s blog or Facebook pages do you hope for more than just promotion of their book?
Oh, definitely. I like to see even small details about them that essentially show us how we are alike—we’re all from someplace, have favorites of something, particular hobbies and so on. Some authors put funny or interesting memes, statistics, facts and so on up, and I like this sort of engagement. It kind of brings us closer.
Does it make you more interested in an author’s books if you feel like you have gotten to know them a bit more?
Much of the time, yes, though there are, I confess, some topics I really have very little interest in and even getting to know the author more won’t change that. For those who write topics that appeal to me, though, getting to know them is a distinct advantage in terms of becoming more familiar with their books.
By offering free short stories or pieces that expand on their characters, do authors make it more likely you will look at the books they offer?
I suppose this contemplates the idea of whether people who haven’t read, say, a particular series and are given a short story featuring one or more of the characters in that series are just as or more likely to purchase books versus someone who already knows them. I think the answer would be in whether the characters are strong enough to draw one in in a short piece, enough to want to know them better.
Do you depend on reviews on sites such as Amazon and B&N? If so do you suspect that they may be padded with friends or members of an author’s writing group?
I do and don’t depend. I write reviews myself and don’t look at reviews for those works before I’ve read and reviewed them. However, for other books—yes. I read at least a few reviews to get an idea of what people think, but more along the lines of what they got out of the reading. I have passed on books every reviewer adored and, conversely, purchased some that didn’t have great reviews, based on the synopsis and how much it appealed to me.
I don’t think that most authors pad their reviews, although statistically speaking, it probably does happen. But by “padding” I probably should clarify that I wouldn’t necessarily see someone from a common group as part of that. Many authors these days, specifically indie, “friend” people on FB in order to widen their readership—it has become a necessity. So someone may be FB friends with an author or within the same group as the author and write a glowing review, but that alone doesn’t make me suspect padding. Suspicious reviews are to me ones that say the book is the best thing since sliced bread but give no real “evidence” of what makes it so. Sometimes the writer’s voice seems off, as if they are coming from a place of favoritism rather than great reading experience.
Yes, it’s true that not all people are skilled in writing sophisticated reviews, but one needn’t be scholarly to cite such qualities as “emotional” or “funny” or even “I couldn’t put it down.” It’s been my experience that the vast majority of readers are able to convey what they liked, even if it is within only a couple of sentences, and even if you can see by how they write that they aren’t used to writing. The honesty comes through.