11/2/2021

After a month of work, Jake Hunsbusher and I (mostly him) finished recording the audiobook. What an experience! You would think it’s as simple as reading the words and recording, but for an emotional project with different characters of varying ages, accents, and sexes it felt like a little movie with me as the director.  I would have him rerecord a few sections with the inflections and emotions that I imagined while writing. The audio read by a true voice actor adds a layer to the story for the reader/listener, just like an artist for a comic book adds dimension the writer could never have imagined.  

That’s the good news. The negative news is that I had some difficulty with a promotional aspect of modern-day publishing. Many indie writers swear by a service called Pubby which promises to get your book reviewed for a monthly fee. The monthly fee (a year’s worth all at once is not a monthly fee, btw) is charged at the end of the ten-day trial. I put a note in my calendar to assess and cancel if needed, and off I went!

The way Pubby works (in a nutshell) is you get stars for reading and reviewing books. You can use those stars, as well as your introductory stars and stars you purchase, to get your book reviewed. As you look for ways to get stars you are offered a limited selection of books to read. I chose a few that might be of interest and went to work. I had a hard time because the books were not interesting enough to complete so I stopped until I could find books that I could read and like. Here’s comes the problem. A day or two into my trial, I had one review for each of my books I had made available. They were positive in a generic sort of way that indicated the person may or may not have read the book all the way through. They read like, “If you like science fiction with lots of action, this is the book for you.”

That’s just it. The people on this service are writers looking for reviews. They want to get their stars and move on. If you don’t read the book, at least you can should a positive review like you hope other readers will do. I went at it all wrong; I wanted to READ the books!

It reminded me of Meow Meow Beans on the show Community. If you haven’t seen it, one episode features a social media ap that allows you to rate your fellow students for arbitrary reasons and the people with the highest rankings are worth the most Beans and thus rise to become the ones with the highest social values. 

I don’t want to get reviewed that way. I want people to love or hate my work on its own merits, but I at least want them to read it. Just like I don’t like when someone gives a bad review based on the first two chapters, I don’t want a positive review if all they read was the blurb on the back of the book.

So, I cancelled. Here comes issue 2. They gave me a partial refund. I asked and they said that was all the charges they saw. I checked with my bank and they said I had been charged the whole year. I went back and forth with Pubby and they couldn’t find my charge because I had spelled my email wrong the first time I signed up. The customer service person was super snarky, saying things like, “Again, did you sign up under a different email address?” And “Does this email ring a bell…? I had spelled my email wrong on the initial signup but I was still getting correspondence and further charges, so they could have easily looked it up another way. After a frustrating experience and terrible customer service, I give Pubby ZERO Meow Meow Beans.

Side Note: While talking with my credit card company representative, I felt the need to explain that Pubby is not a porn site. She laughed and told me she doesn’t judge. Which makes me think that she thought it was indeed a porn site, Pubby. Yeah. 

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