Monday Musings: Author’s Comments

I recently ran a promo with Itsy Bitsy Book Bits which gave their pool of reviewers free access to my poetry book. I unfortunately did not see any sales, but the reviews that I received put my BookBub total to 21, Goodreads to 37, and Amazon to 14. This made me ponder the appropriateness of author’s commenting on reviews.

There was a post about this a few months ago. I posted two questions in some Goodreads groups, but have had little feedback.

Authors: Do you comment on the reviews that you receive?

Readers: Do you like when authors respond to your review?

I have replied to many of my reviews in the past. My thinking that it is a personal touch that connects the two parties. In some reviews there have been questions or comments that I thought deserved a follow up. I have “liked” some reviews in the past, but maybe that’s bordering on arrogant?  

I don’t think that it is appropriate if an author retaliates for a poor review. It has probably happened, though I have never seen it. If a reader pans an author’s book, they are not expecting a scathing retort, they are voicing their opinion—which is the purpose of reviews.

The other dilemma is if you comment on one and not the other, does that hurt a reader’s feelings? If you are an author, you probably re-read your reviews, but as a reader, do you post and forget or do you look at other’s reviews after the fact?

Just some thoughts to mull over. What do you think?

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Tuesday Tidbits: On the right track!

It’s been a while since I wrote about reviews. It’s also been a while since I received any. Coincidence? Probably.

I decided to run a promotion with Itsy Bitsy Book Bits (IBBB) for my poetry book after reading some Goodreads forums on marketing sites. They do rely heavily on social media presence, along with their pool of reader/reviewers. I’m not that active on social media, so I’m probably not taking total advantage of the package, but so far, while it hasn’t translated into any sales, I have received more reviews.

The underlying theme of many of the reviews mirrored one of the reasons for publishing my poems as the forward in my book stated:

I hope that my writing and drawing makes you smile, think, wonder, reflect, laugh, and cry (in a good way-we all need to cry sometimes. It’s not as good as laughing but it serves a purpose). If you can relate to something that I have said, and it makes sense to you, or at least you are entertained, then I have accomplished the second thing that I set out to do.

That was my intent and reason, and these are some of the comments:

“Being a beginner with poetry, this was a great book to start with…The personal points of view which are portrayed are easily relatable and resonates with me on a personal level.

“It is certainly on book that will make you stop and think… also injecting humour making me laugh. If you are up for something a little different then Leon’s book is just the thing.”

“I have read books of poems before but Lines by Leon touches on topics that really make you think.” 

“This is an easy to understand… I know you will find something in one of these poems or short stories you will connect with.”

“These speak to me at this time in my life… You will be amazed as I was at how these short works will grab your heart.”

“… there is something that will connect with everyone.”

As you can see, that goal of my decision to publish has been met, and it warms my heart to get such wonderful feedback. Now the next goal is to reach more readers.

  • If you live in Canada or the US, you can get a signed paperback copy of my book, Lines by Leon – Poems, Prose and Pictures directly from me: https://linesbyleon.com/books-and-merch/
  • You can purchase a copy from most major online retailers: Universal Book Link
  • You can tell someone about the book on your social media

Here is a link to the IBBB promo page: https://itsybitsybookbits.com/2021/07/lines-by-leon-poems-prose-and-pictures-by-leon-stevens/

All of your support is appreciated!

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Free Book Friday: June 25 – Finally free. Now on to categories.

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.

Free. Finally. But for how long?

After what felt like weeks, Amazon finally reset the price of my sample book to $0.00. Yay!

Now, how long will it stay like that…

Categories: Want to be #1?

When you publish on KDP you get to choose two categories for your book. What they don’t tell you is that you can list your book in up to ten categories. The benefit is that some categories are very (and I mean very) specific. Here are a few examples:

Fiction:

  • Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Religious & Inspirational Fiction > Christian Fiction > Romance > Western & Frontier
  • Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children’s eBooks > Science Fiction, Fantasy & Scary Stories > Fantasy & Magic > Mystery & Detective

Non-Fiction

  • Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science & Math > Medicine > Alternative & Holistic > Mind-Body Medicine (Psychoneuroimmunology)
  • Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Teaching > Teacher Resources > Education Theory > Contemporary Methods > Language Experience Approach

How do you get your book listed in less competitive categories? Email them and they will get right on that – just like how well they did with the pricing issue….Stay tuned for updates.

Free Reads from Story Origin

Not technically free, but kinda

Current promos are here: Discover New Authors and Free Books

That’s it for this week!

Leon

Do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Free Book Friday: June 18

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.

Testing…testing.

If you read my Tuesday post, you will know that I am having difficulty keeping my sample book free on Amazon. I was told it would be fixed in 24 hours. That was 72 hours ago.

I checked the regions that it should be free and guess what? It’s not. Surprise, surprise. If you have a moment, please visit the link and let me know if it is in your region.

Writer’s Platforms

There are quite a few platforms for writers to post their works. WordPress is an obvious one, but there are some specifically designed to ‘publish’ works as a book online.

The first one I tried was Wattpad. I haven’t used it as a reader. It had a pretty decent forum, but it was difficult to promote your work without getting flagged for self-promotion. The forum closed for other reasons, so I left it for a while. I decided to give it another go for my NaPoWriMo poem collection:

https://www.wattpad.com/story/270379568-30-poems-30-days

My next one was Booksie: https://www.booksie.com/, then Commaful : https://commaful.com/ . Both were just to much work to post on with very little traffic. It relies on social media to let you get new readers.

There are two sites that pay writers for articles, Vocal: https://vocal.media/, and Medium: https://linesbyleon.medium.com/. Both of these need a lot of self promotion on social media in order to drive readers to your page, and I’m not that active on my platforms. I do repost some of my blog on Medium from time to time.

Free Reads from Story Origin

I didn’t have any new selections but current promos are here: Discover New Authors and Free Books

That’s it for this week!

Leon

Do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Free Book Friday: June 11

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.

Free Short Story

I posted this yesterday, so if you missed it, you can read it here:

Thursday Thoughts: Poem to Story – Feel free to comment!

Dropping Like a Rock

If you don’t have a book listed on Amazon, this may look a bit odd. This is my sales rank for my free sample book: Excerpts from the book Lines By Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures . As you can see, it doesn’t take long to shoot to the top (it got as high as #2 in one of the categories), and just as quickly it can plummet out of sight. It depends on how many sales the competitors in the category have against yours. So, if you want the free Kindle version, click the above link or feel free to pass it on!

Just for comparison, here is my sci-fi book:

Every time there is a sale, you can see the jump, followed by a decline until the next. I think the highest it got was #250.

Not Free But Noteworthy

Echoes of Gravity now available for pre-sale.

All previous promos are here: Discover New Authors and Free Books

-Leon

Do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Thursday Thoughts: Poem to Story

I came across writing prompts on the site Reedsy which were all about windows. I remembered that I had written a poem about a window during National Poetry Month. I looked it over and thought that it would make a good short story, so I began to transform poem to story.

When I finished, I revisited the prompts (there were five different ones), but they were not quite fitting, so I didn’t think that I could submit it for the contest. I hope you enjoy it.

Looking Back

“I wish that I could smile, but then I look back at each receding mile.” –from I’m Sorry by Leon Stevens

I remember seeing my childhood home disappear behind the climbing tree. As my sister and I got older—and braver—we would climb higher through the prickly, sappy branches until reaching the point where you could feel it sway. We had built forts in it, each one a bit better than the last, but each with its own problems. The branches were so thick and long that they could be slid down like a slide until Father trimmed the lower ones. My father built the house with just the essential tools, the labor of friends, and his love of creation.

When I finally left for college, the last vision of the town where I grew up was the paper mill belching out its white smoke— which was mostly water vapor—but it sure smelled bad, especially on hot days. The river at the bottom of the hill I had just crested foamed with effluent from the plant. I wonder when they will clean that up, I thought. In the end, it didn’t really matter because I had no plans of returning.

My first college dorm fades into the brownstone facades, and I reach over to turn on the radio to hear for the final time the station that was all the rage in town. My sister, who had driven the twenty hours to get me, fills me in on the news of the family, and we begin to reminisce. Later, the static takes over from the music, and I close my eyes to get some sleep before it is my turn to drive.

My apartment with the narrow stairs is slowly hidden by the trees in the neighbor’s yard. My grandmother refused to visit me, as she called it a deathtrap. The landlord never shoveled the walk or the stairs, and I was too stubborn to take it upon myself to do it. It was small—and cheap, perfect for me. Maybe I was secretly hoping that I would slip and fall.

She had her plans, and I had mine. Neither of us was willing to sacrifice what we each believed to be the correct path. There were long nights spent in heated debates, with tears being shed by both parties. I didn’t know what love was at the time, or maybe it was right there in front of me.  Did she turn and walk away, or did she look for my brake lights? I’ll never know.

Passports? We don’t need no passports. At least then we didn’t. That was before, well...before. Was I surprised we were waved into the garage? No, but we had nothing to hide. We were just two cocky 20somethings deciding it would be cheaper on gas to go home this way. It didn’t help that we couldn’t stop making jokes. Four hours later and we cross the border again, this time with a more serious demeanor. We pulled away from the border guard, wondering why we didn’t buy cheap booze and smokes—what a bunch of dummies.

I don’t know why it took so long to get a roommate, but when I did, I didn’t skimp. I moved in with eight other people, some that I knew, some that I didn’t, others I would get to know too well, therefore making things awkward, and one that nobody got along with, but we were all fine with taking the one-hundred and seventy-five each month. When the sink filled up with dishes, we just microwaved everything or ordered in. I’m not the last to leave. The waving line dwindles as I drive away.

I must have missed the point when the mountains yielded to the flat golden prairie. All my life, I had wanted to see the towering peaks, to hike along the switchbacks up to the glacier-fed lake. By the time I got to the end of the trail, it was time to head back to the boat that bought myself—and way too many others—to this side of the river across from the town. I never saw the mountains again. I guess I forgot to look back in time.

Ascending the road that leads away from the ocean, I think about watching the sunset from the hotel balcony, a glass of wine in hand. The paths along the water skirted the wharf with all the fancy boats, meandered by the multitude of condominium towers, and separated the sand from the street before ending at the seafood restaurant next to the giant redwood. I reach the top of the hill, and I am on my way once again.

It’s fast. Real fast. Six lanes of asphalt and even the far-right lane is insane. I need to take advantage of this moment, so I press my foot down and start moving left. I close the gap on the car in front of me. There are still cars whizzing by. I check my mirror and prepare to pass but am thwarted by yet another.
Finally, I am at a speed that I have never been before, and I make the decision to stay in the second to last lane for the duration of the trip. Time passes as rapidly as my velocity. My passenger taps me on the shoulder and points to the off-ramp sign. Three minutes later, I’m back where I belong —in the right-hand lane. My signal announces that this thrill ride is now over, and I leave the autobahn behind. 

Driving is like moving forward in time. You can see the future ahead of you, and it keeps getting closer, yet each time you see it and prepare for it, there is another on the horizon taking its place. The moments pass by the window so quickly, there seems to be no time to savor the present because once you do, it is already gone. Often, we are so concerned with the future that we forget that the past holds the lessons and memories that have led to this point, and I am sometimes filled with envy that the rear window has seen the last of all my firsts.

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Second Chance Sunday: The 100 Mile (160 km) Staycation

This is not an old post, but it does fit in in with the theme of second chances.

When you walk down your local street, do you see anything interesting? Take that same street, put it in a town you have never been to, and everything is suddenly exciting, isn’t it?

Last year for sure and this year possibly, will be the year of the staycation. With travel options limited, and a lot of people just more wary of travel, now is the perfect time to find some hidden gems in your own community (and the outliers).  Think about when you research travel/vacation spots. You look at travel blogs (this one is not), travel guides and more common now, websites such as TripAdvisor.

You look for funky spots to eat/drink, historic sites, unique shopping options, sports venues, and the like. Every city has them, and guess what? So does yours. Really? Why wouldn’t it? Dallas has them, Paris has them, yes, even Medicine Hat*.

Sure, some places may not have the same allure as others, but if you have ever stumbled upon that small coffee/bakery overlooking the stream, found that butcher shop who makes the best hot pepperoni sticks, or that perfect park bench under the willow tree, then you know that there are some places worth visiting.

So, in these times of re-openings, let’s get out and support our local businesses.  Go explore a street you have never gone down, visit a local shop you have never been in, head to a neighborhood that you have never visited, stop at the small town you always pass, and pretend you are away from home—which you are when you think about it. Support your local businesses as you would if you were a tourist because the tourists are not coming in droves for awhile.

*50.0292° N, 110.7034° W (It has a really big tepee)

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Free Book Friday: June 4

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.

New this week: Kindle Unlimited Titles

Not Free But Noteworthy

Authors often purchase copies of books from their distributor/printer to sell on their own, which allows for better profit margins.

I have been talking to a few authors to do some promotion of signed paperback copies purchased directly from the author. Nothing makes me happier than to sign my book and send it off to the reader. I think it creates a unique bond between author and readers.

The biggest expense is shipping, which can often be more than the book itself. It is for that reason that I am only able to mail my books to readers in Canada and the US. So for all of you in the UK, here is your chance to support a local author:

Click to go to Zarina’s book page.

Here are all previously showcased promos still running:

Discover New Authors and Free Books

-Leon

Do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!

Second Chance Sunday: Blog ‘Bout Book Blogs

I was looking through my posts, and I had thought that I had posted this here before, but I couldn’t find it (yes, I used the search feature). So, here is a post from my old blog, circa 2019.

Say that five times fast. That’s OK. Take your time. Try again. I’ll wait…

We’ll just have to add that to “Peter Piper” and “She Sells Seashells,” won’t we?

I decided to reach out to some more book bloggers this week. I googled book blogs and came up with sites with lists of book bloggers. As I suspected, there were a lot of them. Why book bloggers? Somebody has to read your book and like (or dislike) it enough to tell others. There are countless blogs out there, and many companies/individuals that set up blog tours, cover reveals, and book blasts. I checked out a few of them, and I wasn’t convinced that it was worth the cost (advertising is always a gamble even if it is a necessity). Sure, you get a fancy banner, and they send out your info to the participating blogs, but I visited a few, and some blogs had tour stop after tour stop that looked pretty much the same. I don’t think you get to choose your site either.

The last point was the most important to me. Now, I’m sure that these bloggers get many emails from authors, so how do I stand out? I wanted to make a personal connection, so this is what I did:

  • Looked at the review policy. Don’t review poetry? No point in staying…but wait—
  • I searched their site for my genre. Hey look, they did review a poetry book, and they said they should do more. There’s my in.
  • Guest posts. If they take them, I read through some to see if my writing fits. I send my request, and let them know that I read their blog.
  • I also looked to see if their reviews generated comments/discussions. More discussions = more readers

I did discover some interesting things during this exploration:

  • Bloggers are clever! There are great names out there. Here are some of my favorites: Brooke-reports, Bookedonafeeling, Spinesinaline, Literaryweaponry, Fortheloveofdewey
  • Book bloggers are 99% female. Why is this? I suspect that what I was told in school is correct, “Girls is smarter than boys” (and thought I was SMRT)…and they have the ability to dedicate themselves to a task and finish it.

I came across several blogs that had been inactive for a long time. I was compelled to peruse through the blog to see if there were any clues to why the site had been abandoned. Not one had closure, no last post saying thanks, or link to follow. Nothing. A ghost in the digital miasma (I learned that word while doing a crossword puzzle…). So, as a writer, I wrote:

Blogbandonment

I stumbled upon your blog today
The place you built to have your say
A clever name
Graphics much the same
Stars twinkled between pages
Of poetic thoughts, dreams, and rages
Shared part of your life right here
For friends and followers to hear
But where do you go?
The last post was two years ago
Why walk away?
Was there nothing left for you to say
Do you still look the same?
Do you have the same name?
I hope you left for good reasons
Like the changing of the seasons
There’s nothing I can do
Except hope for you
So, I’ll go on pretending
That you wrote a happy ending
I closed your blog when I was done
The visitor count read 3,471

Till next time, keep reading!

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!

Free Book Friday: May 28 – Review Copies

The story behind Free Book Friday:

I’ve met many authors and readers during my time marketing, cross-promoting, and blogging. I think writers have a responsibility to inform readers about all the indie authors out there in the very crowded world of book publishing. You can’t do it alone, and why would you when you have a supportive group available?

Readers don’t just read one author – they stick with their favorite genres. There lies the power in cross-promotion. If one of my readers buys a book from an author I promote, then chances are there will be a reciprocal effect, or so is the hope. Do I want to boost sales? Of course I do. Do I want to boost other’s sales? Why not. It’s called karma.

Hey, Leon! Any new promos this week?
“Nope.”
“Why not?”
“Just the way things work out, I guess.”
“Oh, OK. So next week then?”
“Let me check…”
[elapsed time: 2 minutes]
“Yeah, I have a few Kindle Unlimited starting in June.”
So, next week then?”
“Yes, next week.”
Alright, see ya.”
“Wait! There is still stuff to read today.”
“OK.”


I’ve done quite a few posts about reviews, the importance of them, the difficulty of getting them, what it means to an author to give away their hard work – often with no return.

Some of you have taken me up on my offer to send out review copies, and every one has submitted a review. So, I will put out the offer again. Do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).

Want to try your hand at editing?

Do you have an eye for details? I compiled all my NapoWriMo poems into one volume, but it needs a once over to check for errors. Send me a message below. I’ll send a word doc. for editing.

Use contact form below

Discover New Authors and Free Books

Do you want to review either of my books? Drop me a message telling me why (and the format).


Not ready to purchase yet?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free eBook of your choice.

Oh, pick me!
C’mon, space stuff!