Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Monday, February 28, 2011

More on Reader Reviews and the Kindle Top 100

So this weekend I was busy doing "research" on my new Kindle, still trying to crack that code on big ebook sales.

There's a lot of well-known books and authors on the Top 100 (James Patterson, Tom Clancy, Water for Elephants, The Book Thief) selling for what I think is too much for an ebook. Why am I going to pay $14.99 and not even get a "real book"? But then I'm still kind of old-fashioned that way. And frugal. After paying so much for an e-reader, I don't want to pay $10 for each book I download.

So this led me to the Top 100 that are $.99. Checking summaries and reviews, many of these looked like they might be good reads, at least some value for the money. And there's self-published author Amanda Hocking, with at least 6 titles on the Top 100. That means she's good, right?

So I downloaded a few of these titles and started reading. I did enjoy Hocking's Blood Flavor-- the first one was .99 and I liked it. I liked her voice, her style of writing and didn't find too many editing errors. Overall, a pretty fun read, so I downloaded the first one in her next series (also $.99) about the trolls.

Then I read the reviews and had to laugh. They were either 5 star "I LOVED this book!" or 1 and 2 star "What are you people thinking???!! This book is CRAP." I'll still read it, but I won't order any of the others in either series because I didn't like it that much, and the rest are $2 and $3.

I'm still downloading a few .99 authors who seem popular but I'm finding that reading these books is like reading a manuscript that needs editing. There's potential, but definitely in need of an editor's touch.

So what have the rest of you found as you've been searching the Top 100 on your e-readers? Any great $.99 values? Or have you found a lot of rough stuff that somehow (not sure quite how) found an audience?

47 comments:

  1. I've actually been using Net Galley to get books and review them recentlly and I really like it. My husband and I weren't sure of Ebooks because of the price (sometimes it's actually cheaper to get the hardcover), but I like getting free review copies from Net Galley for now and I've gotten a few books from small presses as well (the ones that sell them on their website).

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  2. So far, it's been a mixed bag. Some are good and some not so good. I'm probably much easier to please than those of you actually "in the business," because I read totally for pleasure. If I like a story, I'm not all that aware of the editing. Unless, it totally makes no sense...

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  3. I haven't gotten my kindle yet. My birthday is at the end of March and I am learning a lot about a Kindle and how to search for some things so that I have a good handle on what I want when the time comes around.

    This is great information to know. I, like you, don't want to spend a book price amount when if I spend $2 more I can get the paperback edition and is much more worth it to me in the end!

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  4. While I do support my author friends I do not have a Kindle. Frugal to me is still searching the bargain shelf and actually buying a book. If I want to read it I want to own it, I'm old fashion that way :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  5. One of my favorite self-published Kindle authors is Karen McQuestion. Try A Scattered Life. I think it's 2.99 -- but I bet you'll love it.

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  6. I've read all three of Amanda Hocking's Trylle series and I enjoyed them. I went into them with the attitude of a beta reader since I'd seen the reviews complaining about typos and editing :) So to me, they they had great story and with the help of a good editor, they would be awesome. Books 2 and 3 were far superior to the first one.

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  7. I'm still learning the ropes as an indie author. I sometimes wonder if I should have priced my book for .99. However, I will give it time. I learned that many people wait until there are 10 reviews. My book is priced at $2.99 for the 70% commission. Since it isn't junk, and my reviews are good, I believe once the readers discover me it will all be good. I do plan to put out novellas at .99 when they are ready.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

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  8. Don't have an ereader yet but I'm soaking up the vibes from you guys who do and learning what's good and what's not.

    You have an award at my blog!

    Jai

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  9. I enjoyed Victorine Lieske's book, Not What She Seems. I didn't notice many typos and she's doing really well with her book. She just made the NY Times Bestseller list. :-)

    Another good one is The Merry Go Round by Donna Fasano. She is a published author who recently has put her backlist up. She used to write for Harlequin under the Donna Clayton name.

    I hope my own 99 cent book, No Good Deed, would be worth the money. :-/

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  10. Mary, Lieske's book was one of those that had the huge range of reviews from awesome to awful. I'm not done with it yet but am very curious to finish and see what I think, since it's sold so well.

    Jai, I had to get a Kindle so I could crack the code.

    Nancy, It's tough to price below 2.99 and get only 35%. Esp. for a publisher who is splitting 50/50 with the author. That hardly makes it worthwhile, and one thinks okay do they believe my book will sell or not? And if not, then why publish it in the first place? So I can see .99 as a special deal but it's pretty discouraging to an author if that's what their publisher priced it. For an indie author, you're getting the whole thing so that makes the decision somewhat easier.

    Sherrie, I think she has a delightful voice but I'm not that into vampires and trolls to read the series.

    Colette, Karen McQuestion's book is on my list. McQuestion--Really? Is that her real name?

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  11. Haven't downloaded any of the .99 books yet, although I'm with you - not paying over ten bucks when I don't even get a real book.

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  12. I don't have a Kindle and most likely will not get one. I think all your posts are so interesting and informative and I enjoyed this one even though it didn't directly apply to me.--Inger

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  13. It's a funny thing, Kindle. I've read a few books on there that would certainly benefit from a good edit... but they're selling so well!On the other hand, some really good books at a great price aren't selling so well!

    As for bad reviews, well... I think the more popular a book is, the more it attracts a broad range of reviews. Also, with Kindle, I think more people take a punt on books that may not usually be in their genre. That's my theory, anyway! Will be interesting to see how things shake out in the future.

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  14. At the beginning of last month Amazon UK had a £1.00 sale on in the Kindle store. I bought Marina Fiorato's 'The Glassblower of Murano'. On Amazon it is rated at 4.4 out of 5 stars and on Goodreads, 3.38 out of 5 stars. I'll probably give it a 3 on Goodreads. Good value at £1.00 and I probably wouldn't have chosen it if it hadn't been on a special offer. Taking a risk is okay if it doesn't cost too much.

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  15. I'm still waiting for the right time to Kindle my interest in e-books; I love the weight and feel of paper and card (and the smell of books too. :))

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  16. I'm totally with you when it comes to 14.99 being WAY too much for an e-book. I mean, in my opinion, a good e-book should want to make you buy the paper book (in the same way I might read a book at the library (for free) and buy it if I like it (most books I want to read more than once).

    I think this 99 cent and 2.99 thing isn't going to last - for the reason that I don't think many of the books are WONDERFUL (I'm sure many of them are not bad, maybe even good) - but I'd much rather pay 4.99 or 7.99 for a WONDERFUL well edited book than 99 cents for something that has spelling errors and run on sentences. But to each their own.

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  17. So far I have down loaded a few blogger's books and looking forward to reading them. I have read one book to date on my spanking new Kindle. I found it strange. It is going to take a while for me to get used to it and had to read a book, actually turn pages straight away. I am on the lookout for good reads as I will be traveling in a few weeks time and that is really why I wanted a Kindle...so regardless of ridiculous baggage restrictions I could have a few books on hand.

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  18. Ann, Haha, that's so funny, you had to hurry and go to a "real book"-- that's how I was too. Right now I feel like I'm studying on the Kindle, not really reading.

    Austin, $2.99 being the lowest price Amazon allows to still get the 70% *royalty* I think it will stay around for awhile. .99 is practically the same as free. It has it's purposes but really? That just seems like devaluing one's work.

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  19. Sad news is, you can't tell a book by its price. The e-book market is still way too new and way too flexible for authors to compete.

    J.A. Konrath sells thousands of ebooks and he has very definite ideas about keeping you price low.

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  20. I have found several books that I really enjoyed for .99, but I don't ever look at the top selling lists. I also am primarily a fantasy reader so that narrows down the scope of things a bit. I have started to make notes on my kindle when I find horrible typos or grammatical mistakes and use the number I found to evaluate the book when I am done. Although I really read for joy, not to try to pick apart someone else's work. If you like fantasy I would suggest trying Demon Gates by Robert Day for .99 and WolfSong by JH Sked also .99 WolfSong had a few problems with it but I contacted the author and she has uploaded a new version.

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  21. I’m still reading the old-fashioned books. I don’t think my husband has ordered any .99 books for his Kindle, but I’ll be sure to mention the list to him. Hopefully a reader can find .99 of enjoyment even in a bad book.

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  22. Interesting, Karen. I've been wondering about the huge rush of SP and what the 'bestsellers' read like. Thanks for this.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  23. What a great idea for a blog series. I'm still hovering on the edge of buying a Kindle, but I'm about to Kindlize my backlist so I'd better.

    What do you think makes more sense? .99 or 2.99, which gets a higher royalty, I think.

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  24. I've had a kindle about six months and only downloaded a couple books over $8, and they were by favorite authors (I D/Led an ARC for $15, but the formatting was awful, so I actually wish I'd waited).

    As an indie, I've stuck with the $2.99 price tag for my novels. I may try $0.99 for a novella, but I can't see selling a 100k novel for 35 cents in royalties. That said, I write high fantasy, nothing popular. If I wrote in a hot genre, I might take a stab at $0.99, since the sheer number of readers out there probably gives you more potential to take off. I'm sure Amanda rakes in the money with her 99-center, heh.

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  25. Lindsay, Excellent point on the price analysis. Fast-paced YA vampire series where you might be able to sell tens of thousands? Sure, why not take the lower royalty rate. What scares me is when Amazon decides to cut royalties. I am holding my breath, expecting to see it veer down this year.

    Anne, That's why I bought one. How can I crack the code without an e-reader? It's like trying to be a writer without ever going into a bookstore to see what's selling.

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  26. I'm stuck in the virtual dark ages and don't yet own an ereader. I find it interesting that many of the books need editing. What's up with that? Self publishing?

    I'm frugal too, and I don't blame you for not wanting to spend $15 for an ebook.

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  27. Honestly, I've seen all ends of the argument these days. I agree that a online copy of a book shouldn't be more than its paper counterpart because that's just ridiculous. Paper is obviously worth more than data--not to mention the Kindle and other e-readers are very expensive. Could've bought a good number of used or on-sale paperbacks for that amount. Least that's how I see it.

    As a beginning indie publisher, I'm interested in where ebooks fall. As a reader, I'm not so sure it'll live up to the hype, as I'm broke and can't really afford an e-reader. Still, I'm reading some free ebooks. One's so-so and the other is at least captivating so far.

    We'll see.

    Good post, interesting perspective--one very similar to my own, too.

    Elisa Michelle

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  28. Hi Karen .. interesting comments from your post - you're all experimenting and testing .. good for those of us without readers, or who are as yet unpublished authors ..

    Thanks - Hilary

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  29. Oooh your magnificent giraffe has moved!!!!

    Anyway - I was going to say Nicole MacDonald's The Arrival is still selling for 99c but she's gonna be putting the price up soon! I hear it's very good - I've not read it cos I don't have a kindle and it's not out on print - but I follow her blog and people seem to like her book!

    Take care
    x

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  30. I don't have a kindle yet. I really need one. But I have read a few books on my lappy. I'd rather have a kindle. =)

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  31. I haven't graduated to the world of electronic reading and am not anxious to do so. Like others have stated, I wouldn't want to pay nearly the amount of a hard copy book for an e-book--the book for the shelf is the added value. $2.99 or less sounds reasonable and would make me more apt to take a risk on a book. Still I would hope a book is good since time spent reading is a bigger investment than the money spent.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  32. I refuse to buy any eBook for over $9.99, and that's pushing it. I think $4.99 should be the limit. That's what my ebook is listed at. Many ebooks are free from classic authors line Jules Verne and Mark Twain.

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  33. Some of the best books on Kindle are free: the classics! I love looking through the books but I suggest always trying the 'try before you buy'.

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  34. I agree and want the real thing if I have to spend the dough. I have downloaded some of the classics though.

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  35. Yup, for 14.99 I'll turn the pages myself. I'm not a Kindle owner yet, although it's inevitable.

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  36. Still a last hold out for e-readers (although I might get one for my birthday... we'll see). I loved reading everyone else's finds in the comments, though!

    I find that so interesting that the prices for e-books still aren't dropping. It probably opens up a great niche for authors when there are cheap... er...FRUGAL people like you and me (and probably most voracious readers too). :o)

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  37. Oh Karen, I've just watched your Farmgirl on utube. Just beautiful with the photos and song. Had tears all the way through it. So lovely.

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  38. Hi Karen, haven't gotten a Kindle yet :( I think I'm so behind today's technology. It's included in my wish list though. :)

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  39. Even though I've always loved the printed book, I find it easier on my aging eyes to read from my Nook. I feel a bit "bound" I guess you'd say by not being able to flip quickly back and forth like you can in a print book, but I'm so happy that I can read/afford to read more books this way. Nothing over $10, and I look first for the $5 and under. As for the self-published ones, I download a sample first. If there's no sample and the book is only $1.99 or $.99, I take a chance. I'm trying to be less nick picky about "errors" and sometimes bad formatting, but if there are more than say half a dozen typos or grammatical problems, I get squirmy. But I try to overlook them if it's a great story. I'm reading such a one right now. It's called Cinders by Michelle Davidson Argyle. It's a highly original romance based on the Cinderella story. I haven't finished it yet, but I think the writing is beautiful/poetic, and I've caught only one tiny "error" so far in five chapters. I got it for $2.99 on Smashwords.

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  40. I don't have a Kindle yet but... I've been reading a lot more indie and self-published authors lately (mainly through blogs or for review). And, well, yea. It's hard to read stuff that needs a pack of red pens to slash through it. But the good stuff is there!
    Check out Kait Nolan and Susan Bischoff for some fun YA and paranormal romance.

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  41. Still haven't jumped on the Kindle wagon yet, but it does sound pretty neat! :)

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  42. I've downloaded a few 99c ebooks and I've been disappointed every time. They were all self-pubbed though and they all needed so much editing. I was kinda glad they only cost me 99c.

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  43. Amanda Hocking's story is amazing! Half a million sales in the last six months is nothing to sneeze at and this is after she was repeatedly turned down by traditional publishers. It goes to show you that it can be done.

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  44. Marguerite, Yep she's laughing all the way to the bank. I'll bet her rejections all said that the vampire craze was over, too.

    Lynda, I wasn't disappointed in Blood Flavor but the other ones I read so far? meh. Yet they're selling very well, so what do I know.

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  45. The reason I haven't bought an e-reader yet is that I looked at all the books I would want to buy and they're hardly any cheaper than the "real book" version!

    I haven't yet read any self-published e-books (I really should, seeing as how I want to try doing that myself!). I'm curious now to read one and see how many errors I pick up...

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  46. Do you think the 5 star reviews were most likely friends and family while the 2 star ones were everyone else? Or was that just a reflection of different people's taste? It's a tricky area all this. I do like the democratic notion that anyone can comment/review but it is open to abuse (as you've commented on before). I wonder whether well-known and reliable reviewers will start to emerge amongst Amazon readers that people take more notice of. Perhaps they already have and I just haven't noticed ...

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  47. well, hate to say it, but don'tcha think the raves are their friends/family? Maybe not...

    I haven't really gone by the Top 100 yet. I'm still downloading/reading the stuff *I* want. Like Uncut Diamonds *a'hem*, Cassastar, Hating Game... ;p

    But it's funny that you said that. My dad goes, "So once you buy that, all the books are free?" Me, "Uh... I wish."

    I agree, though. No trees are being killed, and to my sadness, no artists are being employed to make those beautiful covers. Ebooks should be cheaper~ <3

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