The Silver and Gold: BooksGoSocial Quality Mark

The Silver and Gold

BooksGoSocial Quality Mark

BGS Quality Mark Banner

For added credibility for my soon to be published medical thriller, Heads Will Roll, I submitted my manuscript to BooksGoSocial (“BGS”) for evaluation.  Their human analysis combined with the automated software program, AutoCrit, promised to improve and tighten my writing. (The quality marks come in Bronze, Silver and Gold and each quality mark is uniquely numbered.)

I received the Silver and Gold. It sounds like I participated in the Olympics. Instead, I received something better: validation that my book is a quality product. Silver Quality Mark and then, with editing and determination, I turned it into a Gold Quality Mark.

For me, it didn’t come easy to get that coveted Gold Quality Mark (the highest mark).  When I received a 15-page report awarding my manuscript the Silver Quality Mark, I was proud, yet a bit deflated.  Then, I felt a surge of determination. I didn’t spend over year researching and writing my book to not give it my all.  I was going to do this!

AutoCrit Test Novel

The AutoCrit’s analysis is “based on studying millions of successful fiction books.”  To be in the Silver category amongst top fiction books is something to be proud of and if an author wanted to stay there, that would still validate their book to be among the best. 

My report score for the Silver Quality Mark was 77.32.  The Gold Quality Mark score begins at 80.  I knew that if I didn’t try to aim higher when I was this close to the next achievement level, I would be kicking myself for years.

It took me approx. nine hours of editing to get my manuscript ready for the next round.  I went tGold Quality Markhrough each point from the report to improve and strengthen my writing.  My readers deserve quality and so do I! 

The next 16-page report was a shining and proud moment for me. I was awarded the Gold Quality Mark!  My score: 80.94.  Yes, I made it!


For authors who haven’t sent in their manuscript yet for a quality mark, I encourage you to do so. If fact, do it today!  It will be the best $29 you’ll ever spend.  I admit, I was nervous awaiting the results but receiving a quality mark comparing your book to thousands out there in Bookland is a humbling experience and one every author needs to go through.

I will now show you comparisons between the Silver report and the Gold report so you can see what to work towards.  Don’t wait until publication day.  Submit months in advance so you have the time to go through your manuscript and correct the issues.  Of course, you may come out on the first try with a Gold Quality Mark and I applaud you if that happens.  (I would love to hear your good news!) If you come out with a Bronze or a Silver report, then you have some work to do.  Don’t feel ashamed–feel empowered! You can do this!

  1. Adverbs. Overuse of adverbs can weaken your work. 

Silver Score: 232                    After improvement:   Gold: 119


Silver Adverb


Gold Adverb

  1. Dialogue Tags. When dialogue tags other than ‘said’ or ‘asked’ are used they can detract from the dialogue as they draw attention to themselves.

            Number of Dialogue tags said other than ‘said’ or ‘asked’:

Silver Score:  350       After improvement:   Gold:  295

  1. Filler Words. Filler words are often described as fluff.

            This is what took most of the editing time.  As you can see, I had a number of filler words.  Wow!  I hadn’t realized this before.  Even with editing, hiring a proofreader, beta readers, etc. This just blew my mind.

            Silver Score: 676        After improvement:   Gold: 162


Silver Filler Word


Gold Filler Word

  1. Generic Words. Generic descriptions and words can make a book seem dull.

            This was my second surprise.  I was using boring words!

            Silver Score:  293       After improvement:   Gold: 92


Silver Generic


Gold Generic

  1. Frequented Words/Phrases. Repeated phrases will be noticed by the reader and may become tiresome. 

            This is the one that took some time to correct.  Once I edited the phrases, I had to reword the sentence.

            Silver Score: 1364      After Improvement:   Gold: 1293


Silver Frequent Phrases


Gold Frequent Words

  1. Show v Tell. Showing uses description and action to allow the reader to experience the story.

            This is my extra credit. It was not included in my Silver report and now I’m excited to get busy.

Gold Show v Tell


I hope you can use this document to your advantage.  And then get busy preparing for your own quality mark.  I wish you success in your writing.  And nevHeads Will Roll 3der give up!

Joanie Chevalier’s thriller, Heads Will Roll, will be published mid-May and will be FREE May 23, 24 and 25, 2017.  Join her launch page and receive an ARC, or connect via twitter or Facebook.  For more information on her current projects and to read some free short stories, visit her website.


5 Things You Must Do Before Submitting Your Manuscript to a Beta Reader

I provide beta-reading (and proofreading/editing) services on Fiveer and I receive manuscripts with the same issues over and over.  There are several things that an author can do to make their manuscript easier to read.  Here are my top five tips.

  1. Double-space your manuscript, or at least space it 1.5.  When I receive a manuscript, I want to be able to read it easily.  Sure, I’m redlining from a Word document and I can easily do it, but the author should remember to do this before sending; it’s common courtesy.  Also, it’s important to place page numbers in the footer. If I print it out, I want to keep the pages in order.
  2. Check for typos. This sounds obvious, but I’m also talking about typos such as their for there, or whether for weather.  This is where search/replace can be used. (Select the F5 key and select Find or Find/Replace.)
  3. Don’t be monotonous.  Nothing makes a manuscript more boring than “he said,” “she said” throughout the entire story.  Do not write this!  Use variation. Highlight your chosen word and click on the shift key and the F7 key at the same time.  The thesaurus will pop up.  There are at least 25 other words you can use instead of “said.”
  4. Make sure you are using the correct word or phrase.  Make it a habit to check out the definition of a word if you are unsure.  An easy way to do this is to highlight the word and click on the shift key and the F7 key at the same time.  Once the Thesaurus pops up, you can use that, or select the drop down arrow to select the dictionary.  I don’t like to waste time trying to figure out what the author wants to say.  A beta reader’s purpose is to read your story right before publication, not to read your first draft.  Don’t use betas as your free proofreader; that is not what they signed up for. (Unless you both agree ahead of time or you hire them to proof also.)
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.  What do you want from a beta reader?  Do you want her to concentrate on the characters? Do you want her to comment on plot flow?  Would you welcome comments or suggestions?  Keep in mind that family members are not true beta readers.  They will read your story and LOVE it. You’ll ask questions, and their only answer will be “GREAT!”  They won’t point out flaws or plot holes, or obvious mistakes.  They don’t want to hurt your feelings. Find an outside beta reader.  Goodreads has a great group of free betas. Or try out Fiveer; the cost is reasonable.

Lastly, don’t forget to thank your beta.  They read for the love of reading. They’ve spent precious time, sometimes hours, reading your story.  Some authors offer a beta reader a free book once it’s published, or a gift certificate. Whatever you do, be sincere.  Happy writing!

See my services here:

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A New Indie Author: Promotions and Giveaways

Why would anyone give a book away?  Aren’t we here to make money?  I don’t know about you, but I haven’t made any money yet on my book – Surprise!  But, like you, I keep plugging along (singin’ my song; sorry, I couldn’t resist.).  The logical reason for giveaways and promotions is obviously to get our name out there.  If we write a book and do nothing…then how will anyone find it?  Promotions should be a goal for any new writer.  It takes time to build an author’s platform, especially if this is our first book.  So don’t give up!  (I keep telling myself this over and over and over and . . .you get the idea.)

Anyway, in my first six months, I participated in a few promotions and giveaways and thought that maybe someone else could benefit from my experience.

Goodreads:  The important thing to know about a Goodreads giveaway is that you have to give away a physical copy.  So if you don’t have a paperback book, skip on over to CreateSpace and create an actual book.  You have to format it a little differently from an ebook but it’s not that difficult.  Then, order a box of books for yourself so you will be ready to mail them out at the conclusion of the promotion.  You don’t want to keep your readers waiting.  Marketing is everything!  Don’t forget that you are marketing YOURSELF and you want to be thought of as an author who is reliable, efficient and organized.  As a reader, would you want to wait weeks for a promised book?  No!

The giveaway is stress free for the author because Goodreads randomly chooses the names of the winners and you receive their names and address promising not to contact them otherwise (which sounds like a good idea to me).

An awesome advantage of a having a giveaway on Goodreads is that anyone who has your book on one of their shelves will be notified of that book’s giveaway.  Just recently I was notified of a giveaway of one of the books I have on my to-read shelf and I was excited!  I don’t know about you, but when I’m surrounded by excited people, it rubs off and keep me going.

I had two giveaways on Goodreads.  The first one was a few weeks after I published, Nov. 27-Dec. 27, 2014.  763 people requested it and I gave away five copies.  I received two reviews from this.

The second giveaway was March 5-April 5, 2015.  799 requests with three copies given away.  I haven’t received anything from it yet (there is one text review that just came in but I don’t know where that came from, and several people simply rated it without commenting).

The funny thing about this experience is that I found a paperback book for sale from somewhere in Arizona listed as “used” on Amazon “signed by the Author.”  Obviously, it was one of the giveaways.  So, hopefully the book was sold and read by yet another person.  Word of mouth!  Ha  (Newly published authors need to have a good sense of humor or we might end up crying.)

Amazon.  When I published Deadly Dating Games, I was adamant about NOT enrolling in the KDP Select program.  My feeling was that I wasn’t going to give in to such an enormous monster, telling us what to do or when to do it (I’m stubborn that way, ask my boyfriend).  You know what?  Soon after my resolve (after having zero sales through the Smashwords vendors) I gave up and admitted that Amazon must be doing something right.

One of the reasons to stay at Amazon is the KDP Select program where you have the option of giving your book away free for up to five days per each 90 day enrollment (or do a Countdown Deal).  We can listen to the arguments of giving/not giving your book away free, but for the new author, what choice do we have?  We need name recognition.

The trick to the Amazon giveaway is to be organized and plan ahead.  Since there were only five days to give my book away for free, I had to prepare ahead of time.  Once I preset the dates of the free promotion, I had work to do.  In retrospect, when or if I decide to have another free period, I will break it up, three days and then two days some time later.  I noticed that the downloads were significantly lower in the fourth and fifth days.  More on this below.

To maximize exposure of the free giveaway, I contacted sites that promoted free books.  Some required several weeks notice, so I had to plan my freebie days well in advance.  I think I calendared mine three weeks in advance.

To help me with suggestions as to where I should promote, I went to one of my favorite sites for newbies (and/or any indie author for that matter), eNovelAuthors.  They have links to helpful sites where you can promote a free book.

I also found an awesome site with a list of links that promote free and discounted books.  It also included a sample template email message.  Here is the site: TrainingAuthors.

Here is a sample of my email:

Subject Line:  FREE Kindle Promotion 3/18-3/22/15
I wanted to let you know that I have a special promotion on Amazon coming up where my book, Deadly Dating Games, will be available for FREE.

Available free on Wednesday, 3/18/15 through Sunday, 3/22/15.
Deadly Dating Games (ASIN:  B00PJAT2LY)
Four reviews with an average of 4.8 star rating

Here is where you can find me online:

Goodreads Author Page:
Twitter:  @JoanieChevalier

Thank you for letting your readers know about this free book promotion!

Best regards,
Joanie Chevalier

I sent this email to: and  (Steve)

I also contacted about a dozen websites online.  I was promoted on some of them: /included tweets $4.98 / Free Listing / $7.57 U.K. & 8.00 U.S.
Book Goodies / $20 I never knew if my book was promoted
The Reading Sofa (I was on their page and promised a review but I haven’t received one yet).
Kindle Book Review / $20
Digital Book Today / $15 / website/FB $10 website very professional looking
Kindle Book Promos / $20 for 5 days / $15
Book Boost  website/FB/twitter $5.99
Bargain eBook Hunter / tweets
Free / tweets

Click here if you’d like to see several screenshots on the outcome of my promotions and the importance of always marketing.  Ranking Charts  As you will see, I went from being #1,043,240 on March 17  bestseller rank to #528 on 3/18 (first free day); #443 on 3/19, #473 on 3/20; #591 on 3/21; 929 on 3/22; and 1,591 on 3/23 (that’s why I mentioned above that when I do this again, I will only do a 2 day free stint at a time).

My book did go from an unknown to #32 in Top 100 Free Books during this period.  On the down side, I didn’t even think about printing out the page.  <sad face>  Since I forgot to print it out and frame it [did I say that out loud?], I have a goal of doing it again (but this time I want to be #32 on the Top 100 Paid Best Sellers)!

Total downloads for the five day Amazon promotion: 1,410

If you research and read about giving away free books on Amazon and the letdown afterwards of returning to flatline…yes, it is a letdown.  (That is another reason to have only two or three free days: you have more of a chance to ride the wave of people interested in looking at your book and perhaps purchasing it since they missed the free days.)  But that letdown should be the little voice  in our heads shouting, “Keep Going, Keep Going!”

Don’t be like me:  for four or five days after the freebie promotion I would return the the KDP page and look at my reports (don’t blush, we newbies do it at least oh, a <hundred times a day> I say this whispering). Ahem, anyway, I forgot to uncheck the Free box and every time I looked at my report all I would see was the green [flat] line.  Finally, I don’t know why or how I figured it out, but a light bulb went off in my head and my brain told my index finger to uncheck the free box, and Eureka! there were sales lines there, hidden behind the green [flat] line. Free Promotion Chart  Thank Goodness!  I can stop crying now knowing the world doesn’t hate me.

Good luck in your promotions and giveaways!


A New Indie Author: Social Media

First of all, reread the title of this post.  I have been a (marketing) published author for almost six months now, so in no way am I an expert on any topic.  Sharing is caring so they say and I care, hence this post.  Why not help each other succeed (whatever success means to you).  To be honest, I have found only sharing and kindness in this business since I began.  From authors sharing helpful tips to others freely blogging about their knowledge, I am in awe of how giving they are.  Authors are quick to retweet, give sincere congrats on a book promotion, and are overall such nice people. I am proud to be involved with this community and I hope to someday reciprocate with my own well-earned knowledge.

Here is a caveat when I say that I’ve been a published author for only six months.  I did publish a nonfiction book in 2013 (Online Dating: 5-Step Guide – Find Love and Romance on the Internet) but I did zero marketing because 1) I didn’t know any better, and 2) I was already writing my second book.  That’s right, I didn’t have an author page, a facebook page, a blog, a twitter account . . . nothing.  I did have a Smashwords bio but since then I enrolled the book in KDP.  I think I had two people look at my bio on Smashwords-and I have a suspicion that one of those was mom since she’s my number one fan.  I didn’t expect any sales but that was okay; I just wanted to get something out for practice. Therefore, I consider myself a real published author only after my next book came out in November 2014.

I wanted a different experience with my next book, Deadly Dating Games.  This time I DID want recognition and sales.  But, wow, what a lot of work! Needless to say, I was unprepared.

I work a full-time job, as most writers do, and I felt overwhelmed with marketing.  It seemed that if I lagged and did nothing with marketing, then sales did nothing.  And I am not talking about marketing, as in the traditional sense such as advertising and “pounding the pavement,” here but marketing YOURSELF.  What I mean when I say this is that when you market yourself by being available, i.e., by posting/blogging/tweeting, emailing and being genuinely friendly and helpful to others, that, in turn, with fuel your book sales.  That is the marketing I am talking about.

I found, rather quickly and abruptly, that once I got myself into the marketing mode, I was bound and chained by its death grip.  Instead of writing, which is what  we as authors should be doing, I was spending my day trying to make up for lost time (well, supposedly working at my full-time job, too, but that’s just an interruption in my writing career).  Marketing is an angry best friend of social media, it pulls you into itself with gnarled limbs and then spits you out, exhausted, with limp hair, mascara smears and bags under your eyes.  It’s like the little monster hidden in your basement, constantly demanding food and attention.  If you have a plan, this little monster won’t get so out of hand.  Oh, it’ll still be there, watching your every move through the cracks of the staircase with watchful eyes, but if you can control it, you have the say as to when it gets fed.

Let’s feed that monster.  We can begin taming its demands by preparing early, and by being ahead of the game.  We can train it to stay in the background when we have more important things to do with our day, like write!  

Let’s talk some more about the social media aspect of marketing and getting our name out there-also known as building a platform.  One of my favorite bloggers, Nat Russo, talks about an author’s platform here – author platform.

If you haven’t published your fantastic novel yet, here is a helpful tip: Get a head start on social media before publishing!  Yes, I wish I would have known this; it would have saved me from wasting valuable time and a big headache trying to do everything at once. Get a profile up on Goodreads. Review books.  Find some favorite bloggers and leave comments.  Make your presence known.  Tweet and retweet.  And most importantly, be friendly and helpful.  This is your social presence and you are your own bridge to your novel.   Don’t allow that bridge to become unstable, but keep it firm and attractive so that others will want to follow you over to the other side-to your book!

The following are just a few things that I did to create a presence on social media.  The links to my pages are by no means the best out there but I wanted to include them to show you that you can do this yourself.  It takes patience and work though, so be prepared.  Do a little at a time and don’t let it overwhelm you.  By all means, always be in a learning frame of mind.  Study the profiles of people who you admire.  We can learn something everyday, I know I do.

  1. Create a Twitter Account. I didn’t even have a twitter account when I published in November 2014.   Tweets . . . uh?  I couldn’t understand the concept at all.   It took me a while, but I soon got the hang of it.  I still don’t know all the ins and outs, but the best thing to do is to jump right in and “fake it until you make it.”  Don’t automatically follow everyone who follows you.  Your time is valuable: preview their profile and what they tweet before following.  Retweet often of others’ accomplishments and the tweets of helpful bloggers and articles.  TIP:  I made a rule for myself.  For every tweet I posted about myself and my book, I retweet at least three or four other tweets.  Kathy Logan is one of my favorites, tweeting helpful articles on writing.  @JoanieChevalier
  2. Create an Author Goodreads Profile. I recently read an indie author’s book and posted a review on Amazon and Goodreads. I then clicked on her Goodreads author profile to learn more about her.  She had a page, but she didn’t have a photo, she didn’t have any friends; no interactions whatsoever.  It was a disappointing experience for me as a reader.  Don’t be that author!  Create a profile and interact with your readers.  They took the time to read your book; take the time to appreciate them by at least being present.  My Goodreads Author Page
  3. Create an author facebook page.  Having an author page gave me the opportunity to interact with my readers and fellow authors.  I was  taken a little taken aback the first time someone wanted to be my “friend” on my facebook profile, and I didn’t even know them.  Duh, of course, Joanie, you’re a published author now!  I am a fairly private person and I didn’t necessarily want “strangers” to be my “friend” on facebook and see my family pictures and personal information.  The alternative was to create a page that I could manage to let people know what I’m up to and to communicate with them.  Of course, even though this is my author page, it’s not all about me, that would get annoying and tiresome (and boring!).  I post other author’s pages and books as well as helpful links.  My Author FB Page
  4. Start a blog. I know what you’re saying: “What would I write about?”  Exactly my thoughts when someone suggested that to me!  To start, find something that you are interested in to make it easy.  My first blog was a short story and the second blog was a poem!  Then I wrote a longer blog about the California drought.  I didn’t have to think about that subject too hard and it formulated in my mind when we were camping at our favorite lakeside campsite and the lake was lower than usual.  I talked to a park employee and it was so interesting that I did a little research and bingo, I created a blog about it the next day, with pictures and everything!  I was so proud.  Drought Blog.  Another thing you can do is find a few favorite bloggers and stick with them.  Make comments and forward their blogs; if they are helpful to you, they’ll be helpful to others.  Maybe someday you can return the favor.  Many bloggers have an email signup and these articles can be very helpful to a new author.
  5. Create a webpage.  Another great way to get your name out there.  Creating a website nowadays is fairly easy, with templates and “connect-the-dots” instructions.  My website is here.  The templates were there but it still took a while to figure out how to make pages, link everything correctly, insert media “html,” etc. but I persevered and expanded and improved it slowly over time.  I’m sure there is much more to do but at least it’s a start and a way for people to find me.

Why do all of the above, you ask? Because of these next three explosive words:  Your next book!  By the time you publish your next book, you will already be established on the various social sites.  These followers will be your next customers.  And if you do it right – by being present, helpful. informative and kind – your followers will be kind in return-by buying and reviewing your book.  Now, this is something to be excited about!

I hope, no scratch that, I know that a few experienced authors will leave us newbies a comment on something I missed.  We love to learn!  

I wish you the best success!