Author Achilles Heel ~ Reviews…Again…
Oh, Mercy me…I don’t know where my brain was when I considered it was just indie authors hungering for reviews. Nope. Contracted authors, especially those under contract with small publishers or online publishers are searching for reviews, too. I’m hearing from them. So called experts and PR folks who want in your wallet to play and prey on the needy author are convincing the authors that reviews sell books.
Here’s a fact: My books have 2000 organic reviews by readers and the only time those reviews are visible to the reading and book buying public is when I promote the books and drive a reader to the book page. Otherwise my books are just sitting on a virtual book shelf on Amazon, invisible to the naked eye. Anybody, author or expert, who tells you reviews sell books is a liar. Plus they don’t, and cannot produce data to back up that hypothesis.
Over the past few weeks my mail box has filled with a sudden flurry of author requests to trade reviews, or asking me to review their books and/or to promote their books/blogs. I don’t know these people. I don’t know the books. I’m wondering: Why me? Why such a sudden influx?
However, this week two requests arrived saying: “I follow you on Twitter…” or “You retweeted my book.” Next comes the plea for a review and please share their books to my fans etc. Huh? Is some ‘expert’ out there telling authors to use Twitter to reach out to authors who might review their books? Or is this a word-of-mouth scheme? One newbie thinking how clever the scheme and passing the message along to another in a forum?
Here’s the long and short of it. I don’t review books. I don’t trade reviews. One author told me about a ‘brilliant review scheme’ that just happens to be against Amazon’s TOS. I’m saying straight up: I ain’t associating with an author who knowingly skirts Amazon’s TOS. I’m not getting in that snake pit. In case you haven’t heard: Amazon is on the warpath about author traded and hinky reviews. Hear this if you don’t hear anything else: AUTHORS ARE NOT YOUR AUDIENCE.
Here’s a short stick. Just because you follow any author on social media or s/he follow you, does not give you the inalienable right to approach the author and ask the author to promote your work in a more personal way. No. What are you offering in return? What are you offering in exchange? Nothing. Successful authors spend years building a book life gathering fans and subscribers…and learning how to market books. We are not handing that over to an author we don’t know. And few of us will get behind a book that hasn’t been proofed or edited. Get real. Or at the very least, use some common sense.
HERE’S AN UPDATE: A colleague emailed and told me I was being a tad harsh in this blog. So. Let’s do it this way: If a friend or neighbor knocks on my door and asks: “Can I bake my roast in your oven?” I’m gonna say, “Sure, come on in.” If a stranger knocks on my door and asks: “Can I bake my roast in your oven?” I’m prolly gonna shoot the fool with my snake gun. Here’s why: The second instance is boundary invasion.
Now, if the author hungry for reviews emailed me and asked could I put him/her in the path of reviewers… Yes, I can. Happy to do so. Right here: Visit The Indie Book Review for a list of above 300 active reviewers put together by the premier indie book reviewer, Big Al’s Books and Pals.
The other ballgame is to network. I reach out to authors often, asking if one or another would be interested in co-promoting. I have something of value to offer and I keep my commitments. I have an organization and a website that snags 50K visitors a month. I have a newsletter with a healthy subscriber list that moves books. But I damned sure don’t go empty-handed. Values offered may sometimes be uneven. That’s fine because the effort is the same. I often co-promote with an author who has a subscriber list of 400. But! That author puts out of very nice newsletter. I’m going for it.
Am I being crusty and ornery? Yep. Not making any bones about it either. Authorship is work. I work at it fourteen hours a day. I network with like-minded authors. I pay-it-forward every day. When I’m asked to lend a hand by a colleague, I do. There’s this: I don’t think myself entitled to another author’s reputation, cachet or inner circle. I consider that an earned privilege. I may never earn it. I respect those boundaries.
Here is the best way to gather reviews. Put this golden gem right after THE END in your book, then promote it. If your book resonates with readers, reviews will arrive as verified organic reviews posted on your book page. NOTE: The gem needs to be on the same page that your story text ends–otherwise Amazon shunts the reader to it’s own review plea and a page of advertised books.
Thank you for taking the time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated. Thank you, again. [author name].
If you want to master indie authorship start here: Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran. I did. The book will give you a leg up.
@2017 by Jackie Weger, Founder of eNovel Authors at Work. Comments Welcome. Add to the discussion. Be nice. If you can’t be nice, be articulate. Have a question, ask right here. Better yet. First Ask Google. Ask Amazon.
And so you don’t go away empty handed…Here is a fun page to network and meet authors and chat with readers from around our good earth. Do NOT ask for reviews or that you would love to hear what a fan thinks. Do not post a book before saying hello. You may post FREE and discounted books. You are welcome to make a new fan by offering a flash giveaway: ebook or print edition. Tick the share buttons on posts you find fun or interesting. That’s paying-it-forward. No erotica. No politics. No religion. No post and run. It is not that kind of page.