So How Do I Get Reviews?

One of the biggest questions I hear from other indie authors is how to get reviews on their novels. Amazon and Goodread reviews can be a huge selling point on their platform, as long as the ranking is high enough, but the vast majority of people who get books never leave a review. Because of that, some authors with have a book out for weeks, or even months, without ever seeing a review come in.

But I’ve figured out to get them. I’ve figured out to get them and I am going to share my secret.

You fear them.

Yup, fear. That’s the ticket right there. Ever since I got my first bad review, I stopped looking at the reviews on my book entirely. It seemed like the best way to go about it. No matter how tempted I was to go take a look, I didn’t. I didn’t because of the unabiding fear that my book would have 30 one star reviews calling me a hack and demanding their money back. I expected to go to my Amazon pages and see a large group of villagers with pitchforks and torches.

I live in such deep terror of reviews that I never go on my Amazon page and I actually have two Goodreads pages. One for my author name and one for my real name, so I never have to accidentally read a review. Well, this morning, I fucked up and signed into my author account on Goodreads. I was forced to confront my reviews head on.

To my surprise, they weren’t as bad as I expected. Most people who read my book loved it and most of them wrote some pretty good reviews. There was one on that made me laugh out loud. The reviewer really hated my male lead, Cole, to the point where she stated she wished Sal had lit him on fire and tossed him into a swamp in the Everglades.

I decided that review had two positives. One, I apparently made Cole real enough to inspire that much hatred, and two, she gave me an idea for the sequel. Truth be told, sometimes I hated Cole too.

With my curiosity fully inspired, I decided to go over to my Amazon page, expecting a corresponding number of reviews. Maybe two or three…

Fucking 19!

Murphy’s law right there. Because I was afraid of reviews, I got a ton of reviews. Meanwhile, people who want nothing more than a review or two find their pages empty month after month. To my surprise, nobody wants me dead. The bad review that originally made me go into hiding was still there, but there were a ton of good ones on top of it that actually made me feel good about what I wrote and told me I was on the right track.

Turns out, you can write a book about someone who takes advice from a Gary Busey hallucination and still get people to take you seriously as an author.

While I’m very glad I looked, because it was a definite confidence boost as I try to finish my sequel and a novella at the same time, I think I’m going to stand by my original decision to avoid my reviews and concentrate on my writing instead. As far as I’m concerned, reviews are for readers and there is no reason to torture myself by looking at them.

Plus, I don’t think my heart can take the stress. I’m kind of a wuss. So readers, review away.

I’ll be in my room, hiding under my bed if you need me.


No, Seriously, Fuck You

Recently, I wrote a Q & A about BDSM with one of my favorite bloggers, Alejandro De La Garza. To my delight, a sexy little site called “Slave for My Master” picked it up and reblogged. Anyone who wants to check it out, it’s pretty hot, I’ve linked the address to the name. It’s pretty much the diary of a submissive, and even if you aren’t a submissive, it’s a hell of a learning experience.

Anyway, when I noticed the reblog, I decided to head over to the site. I saw there was an active comment and decided to pop it open to see what it said. I, of course, couldn’t resist commenting, so you’ll see my response above. Cowards who post as ‘anonymous’ don’t get reply buttons.

Apparently, the poster, who I will now permanently refer to as Anonymous Idiot, is under some impression that a child seeing this picture would somehow be scarred for life. Viewing of this picture, according to Anonymous Idiot, will inevitably lead to a life of burying prostitutes in shallow graves.

Well, Anonymous Idiot, let me show you how exactly wrong you are. How? Well, I guess I’ll just have to use myself as a case study.

 

Little Essa was born in a small NH town. She was raised by parents who didn’t really do the whole censorship thing. Little Essa’s dad had a “Playmate of the Year” calendar in his garage. He swore regularly in French and English and chain smoked like a chimney. Sometimes, Little Essa and her dad would stay up until the dawn, watching a TV show on USA called “UP All Night” with Gilbert Gottfried. One of little Essa’s absolute favorites was called “Vice Academy.” It was actually a porno where all the pornographic bits had been cut out, but little Essa didn’t know this.

Little Essa’s mom loved George Carlin and Richard Prior. Her mother would play their comedy tapes for hours. Little Essa loved George Carlin and Richard Prior too because they were funny and they said the things she was thinking anyway. Some people said George Carlin and Richard Prior were bad, because of the dirty words they used. Little Essa didn’t think so. Instead, Little Essa thought they were brave to continue saying what they said, even when no one agreed with them.

Here’s a part that’s going to be hard to stomach. Little Essa’s uncle Timmy was addicted to pornography. It played on the television at his house constantly. Little Essa leaned about Ginger Lynn and Ron Jeremy. Little Essa thought they were slightly ridiculous and super funny. She also thought the script writing could use work. Uncle Timmy was not a child molester. He was just a weirdo who couldn’t be bothered to change the channel when family came over.

Little Essa never wore a helmet when she rode her bike. She didn’t wash her hands 16 times a day and she didn’t cry to her mommy every time someone said something mean to her. Little Essa was a latchkey kid who enjoyed the time alone she got at home. It gave her time to think, time to dream…time to write.

So what happened?

Well, Little Essa eventually just became Essa. She grew up and experimented. She smoked a little weed, had a little fun and did a few things wrong. She joined the Army and did a few things right.

She had a baby, but she didn’t really love the baby’s father. Instead of staying and becoming a punching bag for his failures, she went out on her own; confident she could make a better life for her baby.

Then, she did.

She got a Masters Degree and never had a job where she made less than 30k a year and she was never on welfare. She didn’t date, because she knew, deep down, that when a single mother dates, her boyfriends are always competing with her kids. As far as Essa was concerned, there was no competition. Her son would always win.

Because Essa’s evil, censorship free family taught her a valuable lesson; Family comes first.

Essa is height weight appropriate. She doesn’t abuse drugs and she’s never been to rehab. She’s written a successful novel and believes she has more than one or two left in her. She has a large circle of friends. She does not back down from a fight and is not afraid to take a risk or go all in. Her risks always pan out, because Essa has faith in herself and knows she doesn’t need to depend on anyone to get things done.

Essa has no body issues. She is comfortable with what she sees in the mirror…even naked. She has never starved herself or made herself throw up, because she does not believe in a ‘perfect’ weight. She knows that the perfect weight is the one she is comfortable with and thinks she is beautiful at any size.

 

So, Anonymous Idiot, let me tell you what my censorship free upbringing taught me. It taught me that the female body, in all its forms, is beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of. It taught me that the ability to laugh is power. Like how I’m laughing at you now. It taught me to develop my own opinions, come up with my own ideas and to be an independent being whose every thought has not been planned. I make my own decisions. I adjust and adapt. And I do it all because my parents taught me the right way to live.

Truth be told, you want to know the most dangerous thing you can do to your kids? You can be a judgmental asshole. You can make them feel like they’ll never be good enough or do anything right. You can make them feel that their thoughts or feelings are shameful. You can make them doubt themselves and take away their ability to think for themselves. That creates the problem, not your kid viewing a nude picture on a site they shouldn’t have been on anyway.

So anonymous idiot, I challenge you. I challenge you to come to my site and give me a reason why your view of the world is somehow better than my own. If you don’t want to take the challenge, that’s fine. Feel free to come back to my site 20 years from now when my kid is an astrophysicist and yours is a neurotic basket case living in your basement.

I’ll reserve the “I told you so” until then.


How to Shop in The Grocery Store Without Being a Complete Prick

So today, after we finally had so little food left that my son got the delightful experience of eating chocolate pie for breakfast, I finally broke down and went grocery shopping.

I generally hate grocery shopping. As a mater of rule, I am an incredibly disorganized person. Because of this, I never make a list. I simply zip through the isles in no particular order, tossing things into my cart at random. Honestly, it’s always been a pretty decent system. I’ve discovered all kinds of new and interesting products, like jalapeño flavored Pringles and Depends (way better than tampons, once you get used to the bulkiness).

Anyway, today I ran into some issues while grocery shopping that could easily be fixed if people just adhered to a few simple rules.

  1. If your kid is an asshole, leave him in the car. Listen, I understand. Your little brat isn’t hyperactive because of anything you did wrong. He just has ADD, or ADHD or ADHD with a shot of PCP. Regardless of his medical disability, if he’s racing around the store, breaking shit and treating it like it’s his god damn playground, he is not yet fit to be around normal people. May I suggest electroshock therapy instead of Ritalin?
  2.  Grocery shopping is not a social experience. If you want to stop and chat with your friends, do it somewhere else. Not in the middle of the damn isle. Yeah, it’s super awesome that your 8 best friend showed up at Publix at the same time as you. Now move on to somewhere else to discuss this amazing fucking coincidence, and get out of the way of the Hamburger Helper.
  3. Unless you are a surgeon coaching someone through open heart surgery, get off your god damn cell phone. If you really need to conference in four of your friends to tell you if you should buy pinto beans or kidney beans, your not ready from grocery shopping yet. Come back when you’ve gotten your borderline personality disorder under control, and can make your own damn decisions.
  4. Lets make this clear right now. No, you may not cut in front of me. Seriously, who even asks this? WTF is wrong with people? I don’t care if you have one item or 47. I got here first and I have popsicles melting.
  5. Men twice my age, half my age, triple my weight or more than 4% alcohol by volume; I don’t care what the magazine tells you. The grocery store is NOT a great place to pick up chicks. We’re stressed out, trying to remember what we need and worrying that we left the stove on at home. We don’t need your lame ass attempts at flirtation to distract us further. This isn’t a night club. It’s a fucking war zone and the rule here is every man for himself. That means I will not hesitate to punch you in the throat if you get in the way of the peanut butter again.

If everyone would take note, I’d really appreciate it. Now, if your excuse me, I have to go unpack my mango, banana canned chicken livers…I’m almost positive we needed those for some reason.


A Very Sexy Halloween

I have been invited to a costume party. I will tell all of you straight off, costume parties just aren’t my thing. The last costume party I went to was a dismal failure. It was a theme party. The theme? Dress as your favorite historical figure. My friend Karen went as Mary Antoinette. My ex went as Earnest Hemingway.

I went as a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Most didn’t get the joke.

Anyway, as I am apparently the only girl on the planet who doesn’t use Halloween as an excuse to dress like a prostitute, I find costume shopping incredibly frustrating. Every women’s costume is required by law to have the word ‘sexy’ before it. Sexy angel, sexy devil, sexy witch, sexy … zombie? Are you fucking kidding me?

When I was a kid, my costume was always comprised of one thing. A cardboard box. See, we didn’t have a lot of money, but both my brother and my mother are pretty artistically gifted. So, whatever they could make a box into, that’s what I was. I was a dice, an alien, a television and one year when they got particularly creative, a box of popcorn. None of those costumes required the use of garters or fishnet panty hose.

But now that I am an adult, apparently, the cardboard box costumes of the past are no longer an option. So I headed over to one of the ‘Spirit of Halloween’s’ that pop up every year this time of year. The following is an actual transcript of what happened there.

Me: Hmmmm, (rustling through a rack of costumes). Sexy pumpkin? Sexy librarian? Sexy cop? Sexy chicken? Oh, look! This one comes with its own tube of anal bleach. (eye roll)

Helpful Sales Clerk: Can I help you with something?

Me: Yeah, where do you keep the regular costumes?

Helpful Sales Clerk: (clearly perplexed) Regular costumes?

Me: Well, yes. Apparently, I wandered into the section reserved for call girls whose clients have very erotic tastes, as all these outfits either display my breasts and/or vagina. Do you have anything that doesn’t prominently feature my clit?

Helpful Sales Clerk: (still clearly confused) Hmmm? Well, you could go as a pizza delivery girl. (she holds up an outfit the approximate size of a napkin).

Me: That’s just a bikini and a hat that says “Domino’s” on it.

Helpful Sales Clerk: It’s actually more of a sports bra with some lycra boy shorts. (she excitedly holds up a tube) It also includes anal bleach!

Me: I hate you.

Seriously, dudes get some pretty cool costumes. They get Batman, Spider man, Michael Myers. Hell, they can even be a keg of beer with the tap strategically placed over their penis! Hilarious! Me? I get a god damn lycra thong and nipple tassels. I picture the designers of these costumes as a large group of teenage boys with too much time on their hands.

Anyway, looks like just like in the good old days, I’m going to have to make my costume. So I am off to find a cardboard box and trying to come up with a good idea.

I’m thinking I’ll go as a sexy cardboard box. Thank god I have the anal bleach for it!


Yes, Sometimes You Need Profanity

So lately, instead of working like I’m supposed to, I’ve spent a lot of times in the fiction and Goodreads forums. One thing I’ve noticed a lot of people complaining about it the use of profanity in novels.

Now, sometimes I get it. If the writer is just trying to be shocking, and just loading the page up with unnecessary swears, then it gets annoying and at the same time, takes you out of the story. However, the same can be said for lack of profanity.

This past weekend, one of my favorite movies of all time came on. The Last Boyscout.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for movies where Bruce Willis beats the shit out of everyone while dropping deadpan one-liners.

Unfortunately, this particularly awesome movie was played on a network channel. You know what that means. Tons of censorship. You know what sucks about censorship? Besides everything? It frequently ruins jokes.

For example, when bad ass Joe Hallenbeck wakes up after passing out in his car, he finds a dead squirrel laying on his chest. Following this, he has this exchange with his former partner.

Mike Matthews: What’d you do last night?
Joe Hallenbeck: I think I fucked a squirrel to death, and don’t remember.

That is the original quote as I know it. Unfortunately, this is what the network did to it.

Mike Matthews: What’d you do last night?
Joe Hallenbeck: I don’t remember.

The joke is completely gone! WTF!

They seriously ruined so many Hallenbeck classic moments, like

“You couldn’t nail a two dollar whore.”
“I forgot to tell you. “Bom” means “fuck you” in Polish”
“Eat shit you fucking redneck!” (Extra funny, because it was shrieked by a kid)

Sometimes, swearing is necessary. Why? Because it’s realistic! If you punch someone in the face, they’re not going to be like “oh, darn! You punched me in the face you jerk!” It’s far more likely to come out like this. “Ow, fuck! Fuck you motherfucker!”

So, to those out there who are profanity adverse, I completely understand. Now stop ruining my movies.

Also, I would like to announce an extra special milestone today. This is my ‘100th f-bomb dropped post’.


Establishing a Brand Guest Posting

This week, for my guest post on the Film Annex, I wrote an article about establishing a brand in social media. I mainly did this because I’ve been thinking about creating an internet presence since my internet troll experience mentioned in my earlier post today. Made me wonder if this guy is trying to establish a brand as a famous internet troll, like that guy on Reddit who got busted out on Gawker.

Props out to Gawker by the way. Yup, I believe in free speech but if you’re going to demand it, you need to have the guts to stand behind your words and show your face to the world, not hide behind the anonymity of the internet.

Anyway, this weeks film annex post includes a video from the site founder who gives ideas on creating an internet presence (a non annoying one), with a blog written by your truly with some ideas of her own.

http://www.filmannex.com/posts/blog_show_post/establishing-a-brand-in-social-media/57137

All of my Web TV videos can be seen here.

http://www.filmannex.com/webtv/EssaAlroc


Forum Wars; An Exercise in Idiocy

Good morning/early afternoon everyone. Essa is up with laryngitis from chain smoking and a deep feeling of shame over what I did last night.

Nope, there isn’t a hot dude passed out in my bed. If that were the case, I think we all know I would just take a picture and post it online, no shame involved.

Nope, what I did was so much worse than sex with a random stranger. I got involved in a forum war. It was in the kindle direct forum, where a lot of self published authors go to get advice, share sales numbers, ect. I went to get some advice on increasing British market sales for my book, which are almost non existent. I got a lot of great tips and a couple of people in the forum even bought my book.

As I was wandering out the forum door, glowing from the unexpectedly pleasant experience, I saw a thread that was clearly designed to be, for lack of a better word, ‘flame bait’. The only purpose of this thread was to start an argument. I clicked on it with only the intention of reading the post and enjoying the drama.

But suddenly, 4 beers in, responding seemed like a great idea. For anyone who has ever been in a flame war, you know that, like the Mafia, once your in, its very difficult to get out. Long story short, I was up until 3 am trading drunken barbs with a stranger. Really bad drunken barbs. I might have called his mother a prostitute several times. He might have accused me of giving myself an abortion with a coat hanger (or suggested I do…but that wouldn’t really make sense because I’m not pregnant) From there, the conversation deteriorated pretty quickly.

Here’s the thing. They guy I was arguing with is known for his flame wars. He generally has 2 or 3 going on at the same time and he always does it with the intention of starting a fight. Which makes we wonder why? Is he just attention seeking? Or is there a method to his madness?

To explain, let me bring up the case study of one “Honey Boo Boo”. As many might know, Honey Boo Boo is currently famous for being famous. She’s a pageant baby with an overweight mom, pregnant teen sister and some serious redneck routes. Right now, she has one of the most popular shows on (snort) the Learning Channel. Why? It’s not because people like her and her family and want them to succeed. It’s because people like making fun of them.

But who’s really laughing? Everyone who wants to point and laugh at the yokels? Or the yokels themselves who are easily making 6 figures just to be the subject of some ridicule?

Is any publicity good publicity? I will tell you, when I was participating in the flame war shenanigans, I did see a moderate bump in my book sales. Was is a coincidence or was my bad behavior being rewarded by increased name recognition? Despite the fact that this ‘flame king’ is an indie author whose book is priced on par with those of trade publications, he still manages to stay in the top 100k. It might not sound like an impressive number, but he’s selling at least one or two books every other day. That ain’t bad for a high priced book.

But is it really worth it? Is he getting sales because he’s a great writer, or is he getting sales because he’s infamous? In the time I spent sucked into this guy’s vortex of crazy, I could have been working on my sequel. If I keep going at this rate, I’ll have no choice but the spam the boards with my own flame bait posts and hope that psychotic sells.

But psychotic is generally short lived. Honey Boo Boo isn’t going to be around in 10 years. She probably won’t even be around in 2. People will be tired of her shenanigans because she’s not building something that will last. She’s a joke and eventually, any joke, no matter how funny, won’t be funny anymore.

So I’ve decided not to go the trashy route. I’m not going to lurk in forums and participate in flame wars and I’m a bit annoyed at myself for getting sucked in at all. I have little enough free time as it is and I don’t need to spend it insulting someone I don’t even know, playing along and bumping his numbers for his own crazy ends. Instead, I’m going back to working on my book and reminding myself that just because I’m an indie author doesn’t mean I shouldn’t still be a professional.

Also, I would like everyone to note that I managed to get the word ‘shenanigans’ into this post three times. It’s going to be a good day.


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