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Category: Book Review

I’m in The Austin Chronicle!

Oh hey, you came to find me but I’m not here because I’m over at the AUSTIN FUCKING CHRONICLE! I’m floored, over the moon, verklempt – all the emotions! – at this incredible review they did for Community Klepto; it’s almost as funny as the book itself.

Check it out here and see how awesome it is for yourself!

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Why I’m reviewing books on TikTok from now on

As I’ve been ramping up publicity and marketing for Community Klepto in advance of its release into the world in less than three months (eep!), every industry expert has been saying that I need to be on TikTok. There is a whole #BookTok subculture there that someone like me who is (barely) under 40 can tap into, especially since the protagonist in my book is 25.

I’ve resisted TikTok the same way I resisted Instagram because I felt like I was too old for it and I didn’t get it, plus I didn’t need yet another time-waster that keeps me from writing new stuff, reading other books, or building my audience… it’s also why I’m the last person on the planet to do Wordle. But I begrudgingly signed up and started seeing what was out there on BookTok and where I might fit in.

The answer for me is a new way for me to review books. I used to always write book reviews on Goodreads and Amazon after every book I finished, and after a while it became tedious and unenjoyable for me, so I stopped, only taking time to review those books that would truly benefit from the review. I feel like static text reviews, while important for a book’s visibility and growth, don’t vary much from person to person. You’ll have a few people that really liked it, a few that really hated it, and a bunch of people in the middle. And over time, every book normalizes to an average rating of 3 and change no matter how many reviews it has.

Being a good literary citizen means sharing love for books I read, especially ones by authors who don’t have a large following. But as I always say – books are, and should be – subjective. Even a super glowing review of a book rarely factors into a purchase decision for me. I know what I like, and if something appeals to me, a review is probably going to do much to sway me. Similarly, if someone I know really cares about my individual opinion about a book, they’ll ask me, and I’d much rather talk about it in person anyway. So, enter TikTok.

In our house, we have a large record collection that my husband spent the first part of the year logging and inventorying, so I’m taking advantage of that and pairing every book I read with a record in my vinyl collection, and then pairing (or is it tripling?) that with a booze drink that represents the book. So for each book I review on TikTok, it will have a companion album and a companion drink. (Did I mention I like booze?) I’m still new at it, so I’ve got a lot to learn about TikTok and building a following there, but I get to do something different and really play up the comedic timing in video that doesn’t play the same in text. And I probably spend more time sitting in front of my keyboard trying to think about what to write up in a review anyway. Might as well fix my hair and show off my rainbow bookshelf in the process.

I’ve just posted my first TikTok as @kellyhitchcockpairings, and I’ll keep doing it as long as I keep enjoying it, and I can find pockets of uninterrupted time in my own house.

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According to Amazon, I should dump all my friends

Something odd happened to me earlier this month. One of the developers I work with is creating a video game and wanted to know if I would be a good fit to help him with his game’s character dialogue. To assess this, I sent him a sample excerpt of my latest work in progress. He enjoyed it, and took it upon himself to buy a copy of Portrait of Woman in Ink, completely unsolicited. After finishing the book, he expressed his undying love (okay, moderate enjoyment) for it and asked me to sign on for his video game project. In return for this (apart from monetary compensation ‘n sitch) I asked if he’d be so kind as to post a review of my book that reflected his honest opinion of it.

Sometime after submitting his review, he got a form rejection email from Amazon saying that his review could not be posted. He appealed to the Amazon gods, asking why they chose to keep his review from the public, to which Amazon said, and I quote:

“We cannot post your Customer Review for “Portrait of Woman in Ink – A Tattoo Storybook” to the Amazon website because your account activity indicates that you know the author.

Customer Reviews are meant to give customers unbiased product feedback from fellow shoppers. Because our goal is to provide Customer Reviews that help customers make informed purchase decisions, any reviews that could be viewed as advertising, promotional, or misleading will not be posted.”

My book has a whole seven reviews from its nearly two years in the Amazon marketplace (I know, I know, I need to market more/better), and MOST of them are from people I know. In fact, most of them are from people I know far far better than a guy I’ve worked with for the past 6 months. This rejection leads me to form the following questions:

1) How does Amazon know who I know in personal life based on Amazon account activity? I never did any business with said person over Amazon, and like I said, I’ve only exchanged reciprocal me@mine.com emails with this person a small handful of times.

2) Does this mean that Amazon can infer that anyone I email from my personal email account is someone whose book review cannot be trusted? I email a lot of strangers, especially in my volunteer work with Velma Magazine. If they”re not snooping on my email, does this mean that any time I gift a book blogger a copy of my book in exchange for a feature on his or her blog as a Kindle gift (which is the preferred method nowadays), Amazon is going to reject that review based on the fact that “account activity indicates that you know the author”?

3) If someone who happens to know me in real life legitimately purchases my book and reads it, what difference does it make? Whether they enjoy it or hate it, the fact that they know me should have little to no bearing on their honest review of my work.

4) Why would a review by a individual with a personal connection to me in real life automatically be branded as “advertising, promotional, or misleading”? I have a hard time believing this person’s review contained any content that could be construed as such.

5) Why you gotta spy on me, Amazon? I publish on your platform and order lots of your retail goods and not-so-goods so as to take advantage of the two-day shipping I pay you for with my Amazon Prime membership. People have badmouthed you and I have always defended your awesomeness. WTF Amazon?

So for those of you know me as a close friend, Twitter follower, or anyone I’ve emailed ever, I regret to inform you that if you want to read my next book and give an honest review of it, I will have to sever all personal ties with you and go back to communicating through a middleman like the resistance did on New Caprica, since Amazon is going all Cylon ruler on me.

Anyone else want to weigh in on this? Am I overreacting or is Amazon being all big for its britches?

P.S. The Cylon above is an image from Amazon. So take that.

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Portrait of Woman in Ink on All That’s Written

Oh, hi! You came by to visit me but I’m over on All That’s Written where the lovely author and book blogger Lucy Pireel has done a great review of an advance copy of Portrait of Woman in Ink. Don’t worry, I’ll come back soon.

Check it out HERE, and check out Lucy’s works while you’re at it!

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New book blogger review of Portrait of Woman in Ink

I owe a pimple-circa-freshman-year-of-high-school-sized thank you to the the wonderful ladies over at A Reader’s Review for agreeing to feature Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook on their book review blog. This review particularly means a lot to me because this isn’t the kind of book they typically review on their site, but they found a spot in their literary hearts for a dose of different flavor.

View their beautiful review over HERE and share it with a friend or twelve.

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Portrait of Woman in Ink featured on The Reader’s and Author’s Nook

My newest book Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook got some review love from fellow author and book blogger Andrea Blackstone over at The Reader’s and Author’s Nook. While you’re over there checking out the wonderful review, take a look at all the great content they have over there and find the next book to add to your TBR list!

A huge thanks to book bloggers like these ladies who spread the word about lesser known books like mine. Check out the review here:

http://thereadersandauthorsnook.blogspot.com/2013/10/im-still-here-kelly-hitchcocks-portrait_20.html

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Geektastic KDP Giveaway Stats

Last week, I did another one of those silly book giveaways with the KDP Select program to prepare for the impending release of Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook. In total, I gave away 1048 copies of The Redheaded Stepchild around the globe.

Because I am a word nerd who totally geeks out over statistics, here are my geektastic findings from the latest giveaway:

-As you may have drawn from the sharp line on the graph (picture me with one of those presentation wands pointing to the chart HERE), giveaways are most successful on the first day. Why? Because people don’t like spending money, so they will grab up all the free books they can get their hands on, which in the Kindle universe, changes daily.

 – In the free book rankings, The Redheaded Stepchild topped out at #14 in the Coming of Age category, and #18 in the Literary category.

– To my surprise, Friday was a good day to give away a book. Saturday was surprising, too. I figured people would be increasingly ignoring their computers the first 3 days of the giveaway (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) and I would see a spike on Monday, but if you’ll refer to the chart HERE (picture me with magic wand again), my hypothesis proved to be wildly incorrect.

– I got a predictable 1-star review out of the giveaway. Am I surprised? Not really. Literary fiction’s not for everyone. The person who negatively reviewed my book would probably do the same to Jane Austen or Charles Dickens for lack of action. Not that I would dare compare myself to Austen or Dickens. I’m far younger and better looking.

Now, I just need to get ready for my next big promotional craziness – the release of PORTRAIT OF WOMAN IN INK!

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