The Value of Book Reviews

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Book reviews are currency for the indie author, especially when reader feedback appears on Amazon and Goodreads. That makes sense, considering the weight of word of mouth marketing. I read an article on Impact recently that stated consumers are 4x more likely to buy goods and services when referred by a friend, and 63% of visitors are more likely to make purchases from websites with reviews/ratings.

Why then, does word of mouth seem to fail so many fantastic indie writers? Because the number of Amazon book purchasers who go back to leave a review, or even a star rating, are few and far between. Derek Haines at Just Publishing Advice says listing your Kindle book as free for a promotional period can help stimulate readers to leave a review; however, reviews of free books are even lower than for actual sales. This rings true for me. I ran a week long promotion last year after releasing Magpie in August in paperback. I moved a few hundred free copies of my novel for Kindle, and I have earned fourteen greatly appreciated reviews.

An article published on Written Word Media in 2017 states that book reviews play an integral role within the Amazon algorithm. Research showed that the number of reviews is more valuable to the ranking system than the overall average rating, as long as the average rating is over 3.5 stars. I’ve read many articles pertaining to this magical algorithm that goes by the name A9. If I see the word ‘algorithm’ one more time, fuuhhh…


At the heart of it all, I write because there is a visceral need and roiling passion in the pit of me that commands me to create. That said, writing is how I make a living, and book reviews are pertinent to my success, as they are a part of my marketing plan. I am not alone in this—I have the pleasure of knowing and working with some of the most talented indie writers on the scene. Writers who deserve to make it.

In 2016, Amazon reported that only forty self-published authors sold a million or more Kindle copies within a five year space. Forty out of hundreds of thousands.

I have immeasurable respect for my readers, fellow indie authors, and for small presses; it’s an honor to support the writing community and publishing industry. I want to see small publishing houses and self-publishers thrive. I want to be a part of the revolution that’s birthing dynamic, divergent, emotionally eviscerating, punk rock works.

Please join me. Give your favorite authors gold stars, and hearts in the form of honest reviews.

Peace and good vibes,

Kindra M. Austin

Indie Blu(e) Welcomes Nicholas Gagnier

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Nicholas is an indie writer from Ottawa, Canada, and former author of the Free Verse Revolution blog, which spawned three full books of poetry, GROUND ZERO (2013); SWEAR TO ME (2017) and the FVR COLLECTION (2018), as well as smaller chapbooks THE KILLING WAGE (2014), LITTLE CITY (2015) and GENERATION WHY (2016).

An advocate of mental health and LGBT+ issues, Nicholas is currently working on his novel FOUNDING FATHERS after a seven year sabbatical from writing books and a followup to SWEAR TO ME, an ambitious anthology which brought together several writers in the name of mental health.

Published Works

(Available on Amazon.)

 

Free Verse RevolutionFREE VERSE REVOLUTION: THE COLLECTION (2010-2017) is a compendium of works from Nicholas Gagnier’s Free Verse Revolution blog, which ran six years under various banners until its closure in 2018. It includes the exclusive chapbook “Dear Skylar”, featuring contributions from Kindra. M Austin and Kristiana Reed. Comprised of over 180 poems, this is the book that caps off a truly transformative experience.

Buy on Amazon

©Nicholas Gagnier

 

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Featuring Nicole Lyons, Willie Watt, Phil Benton, Kristiana Reed, Dom, Nathan McCool, Rachel Finch, Rana Kelly, Kindra M. Austin, Sarah Doughty, Eric Syrdal, Ward Clever, Marcia Weber, Laurie Wise, Aakriti Kuntal, Lois E. Linkens, Dennis Earley, Paul F. Lenzi, A. Marie Kaluza, Natasha Kleb Alexander and Christine E. Ray.

From Nicholas Gagnier and Free Verse Revolution, this follow-up to 2013’s Ground Zero once again uses poetry to examine the pitfalls of mental illness and depression. Whereas we were once trying to write our way to a better world, these days we write just to survive the one we inhabit. Featuring 22 writers from all different walks of life, Swear to Me is a story about letting go and giving up ideals any grander than necessary, just to quell the anxiety of living with our ghosts another day.

Buy on Amazon

©Nicholas Gagnier

Book Review: Nicholas Gagnier’s Free Verse Revolution: The Collection (2010-2017) by Mariah Voutilainen

Nicholas Gagnier’s Free Verse Revolution: The Collection (2010-2017) is a farewell describing a difficult but fruitful journey

By Mariah Voutilainen

If this is your first introduction to Nicholas Gagnier’s work, as it was mine, you will find within the pages of Free Verse Revolution:  The Collection (2010-2017) a testament to the power of writing in the face of a life lived with personal traumas and challenges that have led to successes.  In the preface, he writes that “poetry did more than any therapist or medication could,” and this is evident in the poems collected within this eight-part anthology.  It would have been interesting to know where each poem stood in the chronology of his work to get a sense of how his style developed over time in the context of his personal experiences.  Still, in reading, we are made privy to Gagnier’s struggles as a very young writer growing up in a fractured family, the trauma of a close friend’s suicide, his own battle with mental illness, the love and healing that has taken place in the years over which these poems were written.

There is no doubt in my mind that Gagnier’s rhythmic free verse is written to be read aloud.  I found myself wanting to go back after one silent read to belt out the lyrical staccato of poems like “Sagittarius Dream” and “Men ‘Til Breakdown” in the quiet of midmorning.  “Drunk on You” made me wish I had a melody.  More pensive and angry pieces gave me pause; I spoke them softly to hear the form hidden within the flow and found phrases that exorcised the pain of growing up (“Unpumped Blood”), frustration with politics (“The American People” and “How the Fuck”), or the love for a child whose life experience is so happily different from his own (“I Wasn’t Ready (To Love You)” and “Sorry”).

Gagnier makes strong comparisons in his poetry, taking emotional themes and pairing them with seemingly unrelated objects and ideas.  Wrinkled suits herald the demise of a relationship in “I Don’t Love You Anymore”; locational signifiers such as zip and area codes pair with writing poetry about life experiences in “Hashtag Poetry.”   References to mathematics, from algebra to geometry, abound.  I found mentions of electrical sockets (“Pocket Lint Paraphernalia” and “Currents”) amusing but also unsettling.  “Cancer Kindness” was apt; I was taken with the link forged between a decimating disease and human interaction, especially because of its positive end-feel:

they’ll forgive you

how you fall,

and you’ll always be a

medicine the world can

call on.

Just as kindness can be a virulent growth, so can life’s complications yield palliative poetry.  And Gagnier’s poetry has a healing quality, even in its most acerbic moments.

Overall, the poems collected within FVR are accessible and relatable while maintaining a level of complexity that encourages readers to delve deeper to figure out Gagnier’s meaning.  I hoped to find personal connections to his poetry and was not disappointed; I was especially moved by the pieces relating to his daughter and mother.  Truthfully, there were times I felt I was swimming in and around words on the page, only to approach the poem again and discover its truth.  But this slight disorientation was pleasant, much like the spin you take while dancing with a partner—you come back with a heightened awareness of their presence.  My only disappointment is the fact that the publication of this anthology marks the end of Gagnier’s dance with poetry for now.

Free Verse Revolution:  The Collection (2010-2017) is available for purchase on Amazon.com


mariahv is an aspiring American writer who waxes mostly poetic in Southern Finland.  A former teacher and current stay-at-home-parent, she enjoys reading sci-fi/fantasy, flash fiction, and poetry of the medium-dark and romantic varieties.  Daily ruminations on all manner of things can be found on her blog, (re)imagining the mundane.  This is her first book review

Indie Blu(e) Welcomes Kindra M. Austin

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Kindra M. Austin is an indie author from Chesaning, Michigan, USA. Her debut novel, “Magpie in August” was published in April, 2017, and her book of poems of prose, “Constant Muses” followed in December. Other publications include several poems featured on SpillWords, and an essay advocating for LGBTQ rights, printed in the Mansfield Pride magazine. She is currently working on a novella, and a second collection of poetry and prose.

Austin has been writing for over twenty years. In 2008, she began blogging under different pseudonyms while briefly moonlighting as a writer/editor/internet radio personality. She’s the founder of Poems & Paragraphs, a founding member of Indie Blu(e), and a writer/managing editor at the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, including Blood Into Ink, and Whisper and the Roar.


Published Works

(Available on Amazon.)

 

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Magpie in August, set in the thumb region of Michigan, is the narrative of Magpie Carey, an acerbic young woman on a soul searching journey with her alcoholic mother in tow. The driving force of my novel is grief, and the healing of emotional wounds through the act of forgiveness; it’s about the fragile relationship between a mother and daughter, death, and learning how to live after experiencing such great heartbreak.

Magpie and her little sister, Renny (Wren), share a birthday in August. This August marks the eighth anniversary of Renny’s drowning in Lake Huron, at the age of ten. Since the tragedy, Magpie spends every one of her birthdays in Tawas with her mother, Lynette. Magpie despises the killer lake; she only goes for Lynette’s sake.

This trip in particular is the most difficult Magpie has yet to face, as she must culminate her strength in order to fulfill a promise sorely made, and at last confront those who haunt her—both living, and dead.

©Kindra M. Austin/Cover Art by Allane Sinclair


 

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Constant Muses is a collection of poems and prose dedicated to Austin’s inspirations, most notably, her late mother.

“We served enormous club sammiches made on freshly baked French bread yesterday at your memorial luncheon. The deli at your favorite grocery store had prepared the tasty beauties, and I know you would have been impressed. I cut the sammiches with great precision, like you would have done, providing equally sized portions. Seriously, Mom. I was hyper-focused. Because putting all of my attention into minute details that no one else would have given one good goddamn about, was far easier than watching our family and friends walk through the doors with cards, and pathetically arranged faces.”

©Kindra M. Austin/Cover Art by Allane Sinclair

 

Help Wanted: Book Reviewers for Indie Blu(e)

Six good reasons to write book reviews for Indie Blu(e):

  • Free copies of books by great indie writers
  • Advanced access to new releases
  • Further development of your writing and reviewing skills
  • Increased exposure for your writing
  • Opportunity to network with indie writers & indie publishers
  • Opportunity to support & promote indie writers

 

Intrigued? Contact us at indieblucollective@gmail.com

Image courtesy of Jimmi Campkin