Reviews! Author Achilles Heel

Written By: Jackie Weger - Jun• 10•17

Author Achilles Heel ~ Reviews…Again…

eNovel Authors at Work...a group of indie authors sharing our experiences and ehow.

eNovel Authors at Work…a group of indie authors sharing our experiences and ehow.

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.

Count The Roses Final MEDIUM

Released May 26, 2016. 55 Organic Reviews after a small promotion November, 2016. Patience counts.

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?

625+ Organic Reviews

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.  Do get your book in front of readers.

Here’s a short stick. Just because one follows an author on social media or s/he follow you, does not give one 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? Successful authors spend years building a book life gathering fans and subscribers…and learning how to market books. Those authors are not giving away their hard earned platform to a Twitter follower. Common sense and courtesy count.

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.

If a struggling author emails me and ask where to promote a book, I’m gonna send them to a couple of sites that have fabulous lists of promoters. Here are two: Effrosyni Writes and Indies Unlimited.

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 pages 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].

Yep, it’s a bit of work to add that gem. But here’s a guy who will do it for for $25. Caleb Clayton: Caleb’s Book Formatting.  He knows exactly where to put it and also to add: “Turn the page for more”…if you have other back of book matter to engage your reader.  Back of book is valuable Real Estate. If you don’t hang on to it, Amazon will grab it.

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.

JackieWeger-BioHeadShot (1)

Follow Jackie on Amazon

@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. Would love it if you click those ready made tweets at the bottom of the page.

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.



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  1. EM Kaplan says:

    Ha! “Crusty and ornery.” Love it. Sometimes I wonder if people even look at the TOS.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, Emily. Thanks for your input. Too many authors don’t read Amazon’s or any other terms of service. Moreover, neither do many promoters, so a new author can get steered into a wrong direction. I just left a forum in which a contracted author told a dozen indie authors–Amazon does not require a Table of Contents. [TOC]. Misinformation can eat you alive and cause havoc in one’s book life. Scary.

  2. Once again, you tell it as it is.

  3. Barbara says:

    It was an interesting discussion. I am new to all this.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hi, Barbara. So nice to meet you. Indie authorship is a lot to learn. If you think for yourself and do you own research when you have questions, you will be successful. The hard part is not knowing the questions to ask. That’s why I suggest Gaughran’s book. He spells it out. You won’t understand everything at once. I didn’t, but you will be familiar with the terms and a world of ehow. Good luck on your journey. You can always ask eNovel if you have a question.

  4. Oh, I hadn’t heard of Effronsyni. Thanks for the tip! (And yes, I’m familiar with strangers wanting to “bake roasts” in my oven. lol)

  5. These strangers would take one look at my oven and run a mile for sure. ?Great post as always Jackie. You say it as it is.

  6. Mary D. Brooks says:

    Excellent article.

  7. Love that you offer a way to pay it forward as well. As ever, not harsh, just honest. And wise. 🙂

  8. I love the oven and roast analogy. How true. Gun shot with flurry of Greek swearwords in my case. You should hear how the Corfiots swear. I wouldn’t be able to help it, LOL Thank you for the mention. I’m always willing to help fellow authors, and I love to pay it forward, but it’s the sense of entitlement implied that gets me when someone asks to ‘bake in my oven’ without offering as much as an oven mitt, if you catch my drift, for the sake of common courtesy 😉

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Thank you, Frossie…I started eNovel because networking is key to our success as authors. We learn the ropes from one another. It’s a faster track and helps avoid pitfalls. You used the right word: Entitlement. It boggles my mind that so many have a sense of entitlement and not just in areas of reviews. I saw a comment in a forum yesterday in which the indie author was complaining that Amazon did not help him sell or market his books. Amazon is our virtual book shelf. It does provide authors an avenue to promotion. Author choice to use it or not.

      I left Linkedin because indie authors were up in arms because readers did not post reviews. Man. I was creamed when I commented we are not entitled to reviews. Or sales for that matter. One even complaining that when she approached a reviewer, the reviewer asked for a published copy of the book or pdf she could side load on her Kindle. The author refused. Told her she’d send the reviewer a ms she could read on her computer. The reviewer declined. Not going to tie her computer up for hours on end. Wow.

      We somehow have to reach these uninformed indie authors that there is a protocol to be followed. But! Bless me, they don’t listen.

  9. Robin Yunker says:

    Jackie thanks for letting me sit on the back porch at your FB site. Always something new in your posts.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Welcome to eNovel, Robin! We hope what we share on this blog is helpful to all authors. Lurking is good. It is so easy to get caught up in all of the rhetoric about reviews: What works, what might work or what one clever author did, blogged it…and others think: “Oh, I’ll try that.” But often there are boundaries crossed. Bloggers and promoters who are trying to sell authors a package to ‘build a platform’ or ‘branding’ never refer to boundary invasion. Thank you for commenting. Don’t be a stranger.

  10. dalefurse says:

    Great stuff as always. Good info with just the right mix of personality.

  11. Nupur Tustin says:

    Thanks for this post! There are still people who think getting that magic number of reviews on Amazon means Amazon will promote you. I buy a lot of books from Amazon, and the only ones that get promoted to me are the ones that Amazon thinks I’ll buy based on what I’m looking at. Some have lots of reviews. Some none.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      February 02, 2017
      Thank you for commenting, Nupur. Smart you for figuring out how reviews work. Reviews are for the next book buyer to help the reader decide if a book if right for them or not. Amazon does not promote books with the most reviews.

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