The Big Smoke soundtrack, IWSG, early reader reactions and a competition idea…

The Big Smoke soundtrack

In the seventh stop of my blog tour, I’m guest posting over at Charity’s Writing Journey about the soundtrack to The Big Smoke. Here’s a sneak peak…

Like many authors, I often use music to help get me into the right mood when I’m writing. I used this technique frequently when writing my debut novel, The Big Smoke, which is told from the perspectives of the two main characters, Seb and Ceara. Interestingly, I could only ever listen to music where the lead singer was the same gender as the character. (Strange, I know!). Read more…

The Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) and some early reader reactions to The Big Smoke 

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

You might remember that as part of IWSG a few months ago, I posted about a fear I had. It went something like this:

“Now that I’ve decided to indie publish my first novel The Big Smoke, I’m faced with the fact that people everywhere around the world will be able to purchase my writing and then tell everybody else what they think about it. That’s AWESOME but it’s also FREAKING TERRIFYING.

I fear that, soon after The Big Smoke is released, my Amazon page will be swamped with bad reviews by people who absolutely hated my book.”

Well, I’m pleased to say that hasn’t happened yet. I do have a slight fear that they’re still coming, but some lovely reviews from early readers have helped to set my mind at ease. I thought I might share some snippets of these reviews with you. (Note: each of these reviewers received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.)

The Big Smoke by Cally Jackson“I’m going to be honest here and say that originally I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this. I wasn’t sure it was going to be “my thing” by the blurb. For that reason, it means a lot more when I say I REALLY enjoyed this… Cally did a wonderful job digging into some deep emotional topics in a realistic and believable way.” Charity Bradford (read the rest of Charity’s review)

“I received an Advanced Reader Edition of Cally Jackson’s debut novel, and I read it in just a few days. It was THAT good… The Big Smoke is a complex look into the lives of college freshman that tackles issues of body image disorder… abandonment, sex, relationships, and loss. This is a great book, and you would do good to read it for yourself.” Michael Offutt (read the rest of Michael’s review)

“Relationships, romance, drama, humour, heartbreak, coming of age–this book has a lot packed into it! It’s a long book. Not long in a this-story-is-dragging-on-forever-I-wish-it-would-end kinda way. No, no, no. Long in a I-scored-two-awesome-books-in-one kinda way!!” Rachel Morgan (read the rest of Rachel’s review)

“This book sneaks up on you, grabs you by the throat, and doesn’t let you go until the last page… The Big Smoke boldly sets itself against the current trend of shallow character development and over reliance on plot. What the reader finds instead is an organic development of connections, entanglements and emotional high stakes, which provide much food for imaginative reflection.” Mari Webb (read the rest of Mari’s review)

“I don’t normally review books, and if I was going to review a book it would have to be one I was crazy in love with. THE BIG SMOKE definitely didn’t disappoint… What I loved most about this book was how distinct Seb’s and Ceara’s voices were. Sometimes with books written from a multiple POV it’s very hard to differentiate bewteen the charcaters, but in Cally’s novel the voices were not only very different but very authentic.”  Tracey Joseph (read the rest of Tracey’s review)

How awesome is that?! I’m so unbelievably happy that The Big Smoke is connecting with readers – which leads nicely into the next topic I wanted to cover…

A competition idea – 50 Amazon reviews for a $50 book voucher 

So many people say that reviews  are one of the driving factors behind a book’s success. And while I’ve been overjoyed to receive the reviews I have, so many other people have dropped me a line on Facebook, Twitter or email to say how much they enjoyed The Big Smoke, but they don’t get around to actually reviewing it (which I totally understand – writing a review take time and mental energy).  However, I thought maybe I offered up a little incentive, they’d decide it was worth their while!

It’s still just an idea at this stage, and I’m keen to hear your thoughts about it. Here’s a bit more info about what I’m thinking:

  • Reviews do NOT have to be positive. Anyone who takes the time to write a considered review of 100 words or more can enter.
  • People do not have to have a blog to enter. Reviews are to be posted on Amazon (as well as anywhere else people would like to post them) so ANYONE can enter.
  • The winner can choose which book seller they would like to receive their $50 gift voucher from (as long as I can buy it from Australia).
  • I will set a time limit of six months on the competition. If I don’t receive 50 reviews in six months, the competition will be cancelled.
  • People who have already posted reviews on Amazon will be automatically entered into the competition so they’re not ruled out for being my early supporters.

I’m quite excited by the idea because I LOVE hearing the reactions that The Big Smoke has prompted from people, even if they’re not so glowing! There are a few risks though. These are the ones that immediately spring to mind:

  • Am I just asking for negative reviews by putting this out there?
  • Although I will be very clear that all reviews (as long as they don’t contravene Amazon’s guidelines) are eligible to win, perhaps it could come across like I’m trying to solicit positive reviews.

So… what do you think? Good idea? Terrible idea? Considerations or other angles I haven’t thought of? I’m really keen to hear your thoughts.

And don’t forget to check out The Big Smoke soundtrack over at Charity Bradford Writes!



Filed under blog tour, Competitions, Insecure Writers Support Group, The Big Smoke, Writing

10 responses to “The Big Smoke soundtrack, IWSG, early reader reactions and a competition idea…

  1. Arlee Bird

    Is this “competition” kind of like bribery? I’m not totally sure what to think, especially after the recent news that Amazon has been removing certain five star reviews. Good luck.

    • It depends on how you look at it, I guess. It uses the same concept as companies who ask you to fill in a feedback survey and, as an added incentive/sweetener, you go in the draw to win a prize. If you consider that to be bribery, then this would be too.

      Personally, I don’t see it like that. If I said I would pay money to every person who posted a review, that would be closer to bribery (or a transaction, at least). That’s my thoughts anyway. 🙂

  2. “…people everywhere around the world will be able to purchase my writing and then tell everybody else what they think about it. That’s AWESOME but it’s also FREAKING TERRIFYING.”

    So true! This is the part that I dread.
    Glad it’s going well for you. 🙂

  3. Great reviews, Cally! You must be glowing 🙂 I love your review idea – really! – but my only possible concern would be the last one you mentioned – about seeming to be soliciting positive reviews. You’re not, and it’s not like you’re “paying” people to write good reviews because only one random person will win, and it might not even be someone who wrote a good review, so it should be totally fine. But that would be my only concern. If you do it, let me know how it works out… in case I EVER have another book!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Susanna. I’m in two minds about whether to go ahead with the competition for that reason. Soliciting positive reviews is clearly not what I’m doing, but it has the potential to be construed that way. I’ll keep you in the loop if I decide to proceed with it. 🙂

  4. I will be curious to see if your idea works. Loved “The Big Smoke” but if you do get a bad review, just remember, not all people like the same things. And then there are just a very rare few that seem to hate everything equally. I have no idea what’s wrong with those people.

    • Thanks, Michael. I appreciate your thoughts. I think I’ve mentally prepared myself for some bad reviews. I’m sure it will hurt but I know they’re par for the course. Always hard to know how you will react until it happens but I’ve read so many bad reviews of work I loved to know not to take it personally. 🙂

  5. Those are some great reviews! (And why wouldn’t I think that? Mine was one of them, hehe 😉 )
    That’s an interesting competition idea. I suppose the negative I would think of as an author is that I don’t want it to appear like I’m “paying” for reviews or, as Arlee suggested, “bribing”! Interested to see where you go with the idea 🙂

  6. Congratulations! Not to scare you, but bad reviews will come. Just remember – all that meant is your book was not meant for that person. It will be all right.

  7. Pingback: IWSG: Where to from here for marketing The Big Smoke? | Cally Jackson Writes

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