Friday, June 8, 2012

Book Tour: 77 Days in September Guest Post By Ray Gorham

A New Author Looks at Reviews

Being a first time author, I’ve come to realize how important reviews are in so many ways for a writer. Prior to publishing, I would read through the message boards that Amazon provides for the writers who publish there. A lot of the stuff was on the technical elements of writing, but I was surprised by how many threads were posted by writers who were either celebrating a new review, or trying to solicit a fellow writer to provide them with a review.
“Don’t be so needy,” I would think. Then I published, and waited for the reviews to come pouring in. Didn’t happen. My first customers were friends and family, so after a few days I sent an email out saying it would be helpful to see a review (how long can it take you to read my book was, I think, the underlying message). Nothing. “I must stink as a writer,” I thought, “or everyone would post a review.” Then it happened. A friend posted a review. It was short and sweet, but 5 stars, and said good things about the book. Maybe I do have value as a writer.
Over the next weeks and months that one review has grown into a wonderful library of customer feedback. I’ve been blessed with some very kind readers who have encouraged me to continue on with this new endeavor, and I’m extremely grateful to them. As the process has unfolded, I’ve learned a lot about the value of reviews.
First and foremost, reviews give great encouragement to the author, especially self-published writers. I don’t know that JK Rowling obsesses over reviews, but from my experience and based on message board posts, I promise that self-published writers do. Reviews give legitimacy to a book. Sales of my book started at a trickle (to be polite), but once there were a dozen or so reviews, sales started to pick up. Reviews inform potential readers about the book. When authors submit their work to Amazon, we are limited to how much we can blurb about it (both by Amazon and good taste). A good review can give prospective readers information an author can’t.
I would like to make some suggestions for readers who consider posting reviews. The fewer
reviews a book has, the more valuable each one is. If you post a review for a book that only has 2 or 3 reviews, you’ve made the author’s week (1 & 2 star reviews, maybe not). If you’re going to post a negative review, try not to make personal attacks. It is a lot of work to write a book, way more than I expected. The author has invested a lot into his/her project, so be tactful with how you address criticisms.
Weigh posting 1 and 2 star reviews carefully. Bad reviews can kill sales, especially if there aren’t many reviews posted. If it is a bad book, bad reviews are legitimate, but if you just didn’t enjoy it, or it didn’t mesh with your worldview, don’t be too harsh. Reviews can be weapons and can do a lot of damage. My most negative reviews are from people who disagree with my perceived political views, and so they hate my book. Had they been the first or only reviews posted, those reviews could have been very damaging. Again, if the writing, editing, and story are bad, it likely deserves a single star. If the writer is pro-choice and you aren’t (or some other sensitive issue), be
Be informed before writing a review. I was reading negative reviews on another first-time author (he only had a handful), and the reviewer criticized an aspect of the story as being bogus. Problem was, the author was spot on. I’ve had some feedback stating that a certain scenario in my book is impossible, despite the fact that thousands of people have done that thing in the past. Remember, most writers do their research, and if you’re not an expert, they likely know more than you.
Finally, just do it. Post a review, especially if the author has less than 20. It really helps. I did the numbers, and for me, right around 2% of my buyers have posted reviews, which, despite the low number, is actually a pretty good rate. Do it! Authors will love you for it.

77 Days in September
By Ray Gorham
On a Friday afternoon before Labor Day, Americans are getting ready for the holiday weekend, completely unaware of a long-planned terrorist plot about to be launched against the country. Kyle Tait is settling in for his flight home to Montana when a single nuclear bomb is detonated 300 miles above the heart of America. The blast, an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), destroys every electrical device in the country, and results in the crippling of the power grid, the shutting down of modern communications, and bringing to a halt most forms of transportation.
Kyle narrowly escapes when his airplane crashes on take-off, only to find himself stranded 2,000 miles from home in a country that has been forced, from a technological standpoint, back to the 19th Century. Confused, hurt, scared, and alone, Kyle must make his way across a hostile continent to a family he’s not even sure has survived the effects of the attack. As Kyle forges his way home, his frightened family faces their own struggles for survival in a community trying to halt its slow spiral into chaos and anarchy. 
77 Days in September follows Kyle and his wife, Jennifer, as they are stretched past their breaking point, but find in their devotion to each other the strength to persevere. 

About the Author
Ray Gorham was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1966. Prior to settling in the United States in 1991, Ray had the good fortune to live in a variety of locations around the world. Years in Australia, England, Lebanon, Japan, Canada, and the United States all helped shape his background, worldview, and appreciation for other people and cultures.

Upon graduating from college with a degree in Accounting, Ray decided he couldn’t foresee spending a future studying tax law and sitting in front of a computer all day, so he took a management position with Wal-Mart and spent the next 10 years in retail management where he had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of employees and thousands of customers on a weekly basis. After growing tired of working for large corporations, Ray next opened and tried running a restaurant but decided after a year that the restaurant business wasn’t for him either. From there, he found a small, log home business for sale in Montana in 2006 and settled in for what he hoped would be a long-term career.

When the construction industry slowed down in 2008, Ray knew he was going to have a lot of time on his hands, so he determined to cross off one of the items on his bucket list—writing a novel. After thousands of hours of writing and editing, he had the final draft of his first novel, a 108,000-word story of a husband struggling to return to his family after a major terrorist attack incapacitates the country. While agents and publishers have passed on his efforts to this point, Ray has found significant success in digital format, selling over 10,000 copies of his work.

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