BTS046, Preparing for My Book Release, Snarky Reviews and Why I No Longer Recommend Etsy to Creative Businesses | November 2021 Author Diary
BTS046, Preparing for My Book Release, Snarky Reviews and Why I No Longer Recommend Etsy to Creative Businesses
I hope you are all well and are staying safe.
As November flips open on my calendar, so does the launch date for my novella. In amongst the busyness of preparing for my book release, I ran into an alarming issue with Etsy that led me to question whether I will continue recommending them to creative businesses. And, it’s not just me that’s having this issue. As you might have guessed, it’s a case of guilty to proven innocent. But back to preparing for my book release, I decided to take the plunge and use BookSirens to find advanced readers after feeling disappointed by another reader service. On top of this, I discuss the highs and lows of reading my reviews.
So stay tuned for all of this and much more.
About the Episode
Just to let you know, this episode was recorded on Thursday the 6th of January, so this show is primarily me looking back at November. If you’re on YouTube, you’ll notice that I’ve gone back to an audio-only version of the podcast. I’ve had to pull the plug on the video podcast episode because I couldn’t do everything, and something had to go.
If you’re new to this podcast, I want to say a huge thank you for stopping by and trying out my show. To those of you who have been faithfully listening, thank you for regularly listening in and supporting me; your support means more to me than you know.
In November, I pulled the plug and signed up for BookSirens after getting next to no, ARC signups on BookSprout. I signed up for the “promote” pricing plan, which costs US$10 plus US$2 per download. For the sake of full disclosure, you are being charged by Book Sirens for finding you a reader and not for reviews.
On the first day, I received three downloads. By the end of the month, eight readers had signed up to read The Candidate. And I received two five-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. One of those reviewers also left a five-star review on BookBub. Over on Amazon and Goodreads, I received one four-star review. Those were my first three reviews, and I was happy that things were going better this time around.
But good things don’t last.
At the close of November, I received my first three and two-star reviews.
Harsh Critics and Snarky Reviews
I’m not sure whether I should discuss this, but I think there is value in having the conversation.
After reading my reviews, which I shouldn’t be doing but did anyway, a couple of readers questioned my choice of title and said I should name the book after James. To be honest, I feel that comments like this are overstepping boundaries. And, I’m not sure what to think about these comments because traditionally, a series is named after the character and the book title is named after the plot, which is what I’ve done. My book is about figuring out who killed the Candidate and why. In order to figure out the “who” of the murder, the why needs to be investigated because the “how” is super obvious.
For the sake of full disclosure, I have not responded and will not respond to reviews.
Also, in the reviews, I have received comments about the plot that isn’t quite correct. Over in the book, I could highlight sections of the book that relate to these comments. It’s not a matter of interpretation. I’m wondering whether this is due to the book being read too quickly or reading multiple books at once then getting confused about the plots in each book. To be honest, this seems to be the biggest issue with using services like this that source advanced readers on your behalf. Along with the fact that I’m inviting criticism by enlisting in these services, some people will criticise everything and be snarky; it’s in their nature.
Perhaps, what you’ve already picked up on is, I’ve fixated on the harshest and snarkier reviews and not the positive. Both are valid and should be taken with equal weight. But, because I’m a pessimist, it’s hard for me to take praise; it’s scary. And, this is why I shouldn’t be reading my reviews.
In future, I’m wondering whether there is any value in using these services instead of waiting for reviews to naturally accumulate as a by-product of sales. This experience also makes me pause and reconsider whether I want to hire a coordinator for a book blogging tour. I’ll keep you posted about my decision about the tour in the next episode.
During the first few days of November, I received an email from Amazon alerting me of the cut off date to upload the final version of the Candidate because it was on preorder. Because I’m a pessimist, I panicked. Much to my relief, on Monday the 8th of November, I received the proofread manuscript back from my editor. After three and a half hours, the proofread for The Candidate was completed.
In Microsoft Word, I accepted the tracked changes and copied the manuscript on a chapter by chapter basis to Scrivener and Vellum. Each time I made changes to the manuscript in Scrivener, I created a snapshot, just in case I made a mistake and needed to revert back to an earlier version. Next, I exported the ebook files from Vellum and uploaded the novella to all the stores. Because the proofread was completed, I copied the edited chapters across to the various sample ebooks that I created earlier and updated them on BookFunnel.
At present, I’ve decided to hold off on paid advertising until I have a few book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. And, I’m going to put off doing the book blogging tour until I can get a better idea of what readers think of my story. Even as I’m saying this out loud, I realise that I’m publishing or writing to the committee, which can be a dangerous game to play with your long-term writing career. It’s a dangerous game because the committee is often divided.
My Newfound Distrust of Etsy
Etsy has screwed me over. But not just me, other small creators as well.
In the second week of November, Etsy placed a reserve on my payment account. A reserve is where Etsy holds onto a large percentage of the payments and eventually releases the funds after several weeks. Some creators have waited longer than five weeks to receive their money.
Now that they’ve changed the rules, Etsy has created a sense of distrust, with me at least. There’s a cynical part of me that wonders whether I’ll receive any funds sitting in the reserve. This payment reserve is something that Etsy is doing to many small businesses on the platform. Not just new businesses either, but also creators who are long-time users.
As a result, I no longer recommend Etsy to anyone.
I did contact customer service, and they were not helpful. Etsy customer service has failed to explain why a reserve was placed on my payment account; they simply directed me to a bunch of articles I could have found myself. Over on Twitter, there are numerous tweets to Etsy where other small creators are talking to Etsy about their issues to no avail. So, I sent Etsy a tweet that has remained unanswered. I’ve had no customer complaints and received my first five-star review, so I’m at a loss as to why the reserve was set. My small business is not a risk to Etsy. Considering the bulk of my customers came from Etsy, I’m a little nervous about what this means for my business.
@Etsy You have placed a payment reserve on my premade book cover store (LeVillainBookCovers). I am concerned that I'm not going to get my funds and I'm now scared to release book covers to my clients. I'm going to lose clients because of this. This is not okay.— Amelia (Author A. D. Hay) (@WriterADHay) November 12, 2021
Above screenshot highlighting other creators experiencing drama with the Etsy payment reserve.
Le Villain Book Covers
Now, for the good news.
At the same time the reserve was set, a client purchased my set of three witch cosy mysteries. However, Etsy struggled to process the payment and cancelled the order. This led the client to come over to my website and purchase from me directly. As a result, I managed to fix the issues I was having connecting PayPal to my website and made a sale.
New Cover Designs
Also in November, I designed two sets of three Premade cosy mystery covers; that’s six ebook covers. One set of three features a travel blogger. The second set is about a magic library. There’s no witch on the front cover, just a black cat, magic dust and a tonne of books. After this, I got a bit of cover design fatigue and couldn’t design another cover, so I had to pivot and focus on something else.
So, that’s all of the tasks I completed in terms of writing, book marketing, and email marketing. By the end of December, I want to have written the first draft of the second story in the Rookie Reporter Mystery Series and have at least fifteen reviews on Goodreads for The Candidate. Also, in December, I will make a decision about the book blogging tour for the Candidate.
If you have any questions or have tips on book marketing that you would love to share with me, please come on over to the blog post share your thoughts in the comments section.
Thank you for listening, and happy reading and writing, everybody.
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I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.