One of the biggest obstacles an independent author must overcome is obtaining quality reviews. While obtaining solid reviews for eBooks can be a struggle, there are several places you can turn. One of my favorite places to gain early reviews is through NetGalley, where readers get free access to books before they’re released.
Last month, thanks to an Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) email, I saw that NetGalley had begun an audiobook program. I signed up for a 2-month audiobook listing and a category spotlight. ($239 for both through the IBPA.)
My audiobook Untold Mayhem: An Assortment of Violence appeared on NetGalley on July 21st, and in the last five weeks it has already accumulated over 50 reviews, many of which are also being uploaded to Goodreads, personal blogs, and YouTube (Click here to check out my favorite so far at BOOKS Yada, Yada.)
At first, I was worried that I’d made a horrible mistake. A two-star review called my writing “rather mediocre.” Another two-star review said, “Reads like middle-schoolers sitting around a campfire telling ghost stories.”
A lot of reviews came in at 3 stars with the listeners stating they really enjoyed a number of the stories but not all. I considered that fair as I feel the same. Then several 4 and 5-star reviews started popping up, with reviewers enjoying most of the stories and saying they were going to look up more of my writing.
One of the best aspects of the reviews was being able to see not only who enjoyed the writing, but which stories they loved and which ones they hated. It also helped me pinpoint the type of reader/listener I should be marketing to. Another useful feature that NetGalley provides is letting reviewers like or dislike the cover (42 likes and 8 dislikes.)
Although reviews of my writing ability were varied, one thing that was nearly unanimous was the quality of the narration. This was my first multicast audiobook, and I agree with reviewers that it made for a much better experience than simply reading the stories myself or having one narrator. Reviewers said it helped them transition between stories and set apart each of the first-person point of view stories.
I’m grateful to Jayme Mattler for putting together this audiobook, especially during such a trying time. Around February, she had nearly twenty narrators selected, but COVID shut down or limited access to recording studios. The nine narrators that remained did a fantastic job bringing these stories to life and making each of their stories sound distinctive. I owe huge thanks to Stacy Gonzalez, Michael David Axtell, Amadeo Fusca, Angelo Di Loreto, Jennifer O'Donnell, Chris Andrew Ciulla, Vivienne Leheny, Landon Woodson, Jay Ben Markson.
From now on, I will only put up short story collections with a multicast, and I’ll put them on NetGalley through the IBPA. I just put up Try Not to Die: In Brightside, a first-person novella, and will add Beyond Brightside as soon as it is finished recording in a few months. This is too good of a program not to utilize it.
As I’m sure most independent authors would agree, getting 50 reviews in a month is great. Not only have I learned more about the type of person I should market to, but I’ve already made some fantastic connections; one of my favorite parts about writing.
Yesterday I had Deana Eager from BOOKS Yada, Yada on my podcast. She had reviewed both Untold Mayhem and Twisted Reunion on her YouTube channel and I thought it’d be a great opportunity to see what some of her favorite dark fiction was so I could market to fans of those authors.
To hear Deana’s list, while watching me comfort my second-grader because I’m that cool of a dad and that shitty of a podcast host, you can check it out here. If you just want to listen and leave all that cute stuff for the sissy non-horror fans then find the link to download the podcast from your favorite provider through my Follow Me link.
If you are an independent author, I would highly recommend IBPA. They offer education services and tools, and every year I save more through their discounts for products like NetGalley and Lightning Source than I spend on membership. They have been incredibly helpful and are a great resource, especially for independent authors looking to build their readership.
And if you're looking to go multicast for your next audiobook, I suggest contacting Jayme Mattler who was a real pleasure to work with.