Official Website for Contemporary Romance Author Alicia Renee Kline

Looking for Reviewers

It’s that time again.  With slightly less than two months left before the release of Silenced,   I’m gathering up a list of people who are willing to read and review.

It’s always been a bit difficult to find people who will commit to jumping into the current book of a series when it’s already well on its way to completion.  Though the last two books that were released were technically able to be read as stand alones, it’s always been my opinion that the best experience comes from reading the series in order, from start to finish.  With this release, I’m requiring that those that receive an ARC do just that.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that the first book was released with a whimper.  No build up, no marketing whatsoever until it had already gone live.  And the promotion that I got once it was already for sale was minimal at best, though I did pay for advertising.  Books two through four were handled by another promotional company, and the results were slightly better.  But after a harrowing roll out for Changed  which cost me hundreds of dollars and left me in tears, seriously considering deleting a manuscript that most of my readers ended up loving, I knew I could do better.

My answer?  Like it is with most everything on this crazy self-publishing journey, I’m doing it all my own damn self.  I’m not paying a tour company this time.  I have done some advertising, shelling out a minimal amount to promote the special preorder price for Silenced  during a group Facebook event.  I’ve done my own giveaway.  I’ve guest hosted a few takeover slots.  And yes, I have directly contacted bloggers – some old standbys who it was really a formality to ask them – as well as some new faces that I’m excited about teaming up with.  Once I have the paperback version ready, I’ll also do a Goodreads giveaway too.

The fact of the matter is that by driving my own train, I’m in total control.  And as such, I’ve seen marked improvement over the results that I got when I let someone else take the wheel.  Right now, I’m sitting on over twice as many Amazon preorders of Silenced (with nearly two months to go before release) than I had of Changed  total.  And the numbers at the other retailers are just as strong.

No, I’m nowhere near the point of ever reaching a bestseller list, but it’s convincing enough data to wonder why I didn’t decide to do this my own way ages ago.

Which leads to this.  I want you – yes, you – to read and review Silenced.  Haven’t started the series yet?  No problem.  There’s plenty of time to catch up and read the new book before February.  I’ll even send them direct to your Kindle email address one at a time.  All you have to do is promise to read the first four books in order from beginning to end, answer one trivia question per novel to confirm that you did, and you’re golden.  All ready to get your ARC and post an honest review to Amazon and Goodreads.

Ready to sign up?  Click the link below for more details and to get started.

Happy reading!


Help Wanted

I need your help.

As some of you already know, the fourth installment in my series is releasing on April 7, 2015.  I’ve got that familiar nervous excitement that’s building in my stomach, tempered by the knowledge that I’ve been here, done this before.

This time around, Amazon has their preorder option available.  Obviously, I’ve done the whole preorder thing at B&N, iBooks and Kobo, but since there’s a vast majority of readers who are still loyal to Amazon, there’s a whole new world of opportunity there for me to explore.

The bottom line is that I want buzz on my book during the preorder period.  And on release day at Amazon, I’d like to have a minimum of 25 reviews.

In order to make this happen, I’ve already enlisted the help of my favorite promotional company to coordinate my release day event.  I’m also planning to do a preorder event of some sort with them, the details of which are being worked out as we speak.  I’ll no doubt be contacting  my blogger/reviewer friends personally and letting them in on the action.  But I know that’s not enough.

That’s where you come in.

See, I’m going to be giving away up to 75 ARCs of Changed to readers like you who agree to the following rules.  Trust me, I’m not going to make you jump through hoops.

1.  You must be on Goodreads.

2.  You must add Changed to your bookshelf.  Here’s the link:

Goodreads link for Changed

3.  You have to track me down (here, on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter or Tsu and let me know you’ve done this.  I will check, so please make sure that I can see your shelf!  Also, when you contact me, let me know what format you want this in:  mobi, epub, PDF and where to send it.

4.  It goes without saying that the ARC is for your eyes only.  No sharing of the ARC, but you can certainly share this post if you know someone else who would be interested.

5.  Please post your honest review to Goodreads as soon as you finish the book.  I’m talking 1-5 stars here people; no need to worry about feeding my ego.  And I want reviews to go up during the preorder period, so don’t be concerned about posting too soon.  I will ask that you copy and paste to Amazon once it goes live there.

6.  If you love the book – or hate it, but think it’s a great fit for someone else – please don’t hesitate to talk about it.

7.  I will email all who participate periodically.  What I’m thinking is a total of four times:  the initial sending of the ARC, a reminder email halfway through the time period between the ARC being sent and release day, a reminder email a day or two before release day to copy and paste to Amazon, and a wrap up email after release. I promise not to be too annoying or pushy.

Yes, I know that this is a Book 4 and that scares people a little bit.  However, out of all of the books in the series, this is the one that I would consider being most standalone in nature.  The main characters in this one have been secondary characters in the others, so there’s not a lot of backstory that you need to know to get into their lives.  In fact, the hero is little more than a bit character in books 2 and 3.  The heroine has sort of a cult following from the other books, but that’s because of her tendency to have the best one-liners in all of them.

That being said, I want a wide variety of readers’ opinions.  From those who are die-hard fans of the series (and there are a few) to those who have never heard of me before.

I will not send ARCs to anyone until my book has been uploaded to Smashwords, at a minimum.  Likely not until preorder links start to roll in, which will be approximately the first week of February.  This is simply a security precaution on my part.  I seriously doubt anyone will leak my book, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.  Realistically, you’ll have about 8 weeks to read and post a review.

Enticed, but not sure what you’re in for?  No problem; here’s the first chapter:

Changed Chapter One

Sound good?  Have any questions?  Give me a shout and let’s make this happen!




Assigning Value

Over the course of the past six months or so, I’ve made a conscious decision to review every fiction book that I read.  This change of heart came from me realizing what a struggle it is for most indie authors to have their works read, let alone have someone write a review for it.  During this time, I’ve not only read self-pubbed works, but also the traditionally pubbed stuff too.  So I’m an equal opportunity reviewer.

I’m kind of quirky about where I post.  Since the bulk of my reading material has been coming from my Scribd account lately, I have only been posting those reviews to Goodreads.  I have purchased the occasional read from Amazon, and those reviews get published on both sites, since my Kindle posts to both concurrently.  I know that common practice is to ask people to post to both places, but I’ve been reading some pretty popular fare lately.  It absolves me of some guilt about not copying and pasting to add my two cents to the hundreds of Amazon reviews already available.  Besides, even my lowly self has more total reviews on Goodreads than anywhere else.  I completely understand why.  If you didn’t buy it on Amazon and you didn’t personally promise to post the review everywhere you can think of, then it’s okay in my book to leave one review in one place and move on.

Recently, I gave my first two star review.  This was to a traditionally published book by a big time, well known author.  Not out of spite, but because I really didn’t care for the storyline of the book.   And I knew I wouldn’t be hurting this particular author’s sales or ego because I chimed in about not feeling connected to her antiquated characters.  It didn’t feel right to bump up my star rating to a three because the technical aspects of the thing were spot on.  So I figured that in this circumstance, it was okay to be honest and leave the lowest star review ever in my short reviewing career.

When I come to the end of a book, I often know exactly what I’m going to say in the body of my review, but I struggle with the star rating.  Why?  Because it’s difficult for me to assign a numeric value to my opinions.  I know if I liked something or not, but I take it a step further and try to compare it with other books that I’ve already read and reviewed.  For example, did I like it as much as this other book that I gave a four star?  More?  Less?  And then I go from there.

As I’ve progressed in the number of posted reviews, I’ve found myself more than once wanting to go back and assign a different star rating to something I’ve already done.  This happens most often in that space between the three and four star review.  So many times, I’m stuck between the two and have to decide whether or not I should round up or down.  Sometimes, I don’t get it right.  I usually figure this out when I am a bit removed from the book and realize I’m about to give the next novel the same exact star rating, but I either liked the current one more or less than the previous one.

That’s really maddening to someone as anal retentive as me.  Maybe I’d be better off with a scale of one to ten, since there would be many more options from which I could select,  But probably not.

My whole point of this rant is that I think that too many people get too hung up on numbers.  A star rating is a very subjective thing that varies widely between reviewers, and even widely with the same reviewer depending on timing.  But we see time and again where some advertisers only want books with so many reviews and an average star rating of whatever that it’s hard not to focus on that quick and dirty number.

What’s more important is what is said in the reviews.  I’ve had five star reviews of my work that were more critical than three star reviews.  If people only looked at the star ranking, they’d miss that.  Our trained response is to assume that the lower a star rating assigned, the lower that reviewer’s enjoyment of the book.  In fact, one of my readers gave me a three star review that said my book was “a great story”.  I suppose this bodes well for me if a potential reader who qualifies all five star reviews as bogus (mine are not) and only reads the four stars and lower is considering a contemporary romance book and stumbles upon my page.

Many people are calling for a change in the way that book reviews written by the general public are handled.  Many people insist that the bulk of Amazon reviews are fake and that the system is way too easily manipulated.  Still others complain that the star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads should mean the same thing – they are owned by the same people now – which does make sense to me.  And even more think that star ratings should be given the boot altogether.

I’m trying to imagine a world in which we don’t have a handy metric to rate a book’s overall impression with people.  We like numbers and percentages and these make sense to us.  If all we had to go by was the written word, would reviews of something even make a difference?  Would people actually take the time to read them?  Or post them in the first place?

In essence, my takeaway from this is that we shouldn’t let another person’s viewpoint sway ours entirely.  We shouldn’t be ashamed to like something that the majority of people don’t, just as we shouldn’t feel obligated to read the “it” book that everyone is raving about.  Reviews and ratings should be just one tool in our arsenal.  While they may help to drive sales and buzz, they are by definition someone’s opinion.

And everyone has one of those.