So dramatic. I do admit to being beaten and broken (nearly) when it comes to getting reviews. I haven’t given up entirely, but the tradition routes have offered little in the way of fruit. My request for reviews have, in a sense, been almost completely fruitless!
FAIR WARNING: This blog post gets a bit analytical…you’ve been warned…in triplicate!
Try as I might, the simple request for reviews from family, friends, old co-workers, fellow writers and even the mailman have come up practically empty. I did manage to get one friend, who I haven’t ever met in person, to write a review for Mishaps after he downloaded a copy of it and read it during the free Amazon giveaway period. He rated it a 4, which I value highly as a well reasoned review accompanying the rating.
Is Mishaps and Mayhem any good? I’ve actually gotten raves about it in person – one enthusiastic reader laughed out loud while reading it during a convention as I chatted with someone else. They liked it so much, they bought Adventures as well! This was a fellow author. If I can make a fellow author laugh, it must be at least passably decent writing. Of the other comments I’ve had about that book, they’ve loved it. To be fair, I actually wrote the prequel AFTER writing book one and two, so I had a really good handle on my characters, writing style and insight from the editing process on Adventures – it was, in short, the third book I’d written, so it should be pretty good, right?
Onto Adventures of Reztap! Is it any good? My editor, publisher and another friend (who read the first edition) thought it was a great laugh and good fun! I’ll have to find out if my author friend liked it as much, hopefully at the upcoming Comicpalooza here in Houston. I will be attending the convention and displaying and selling my wares at a booth rented by Triscelle Publishing – they were so impressed with the books they offered to give me shelf space to sell Mishaps and Mayhem and Adventures alongside their own books. I feel incredibly honored that they have shared that space and their time and effort to help me get a leg up. I wasn’t able to get a booth at Comicpalooza this year, so that’s my only way of getting exposure. Very nice people at Triscelle Publishing! (They offered after several hours of interaction and upon a reading of one of my books – I did NOT ask. This was a gracious gift, not a negotiation after I requested anything – so please don’t pester them, but do buy their books!)
But, what does that have to do with reviews? The author who loves my book hasn’t written a review, and I know she loves it! What’s a writer to do? I’ve met the system halfway. Amazon does allow for free copies to be given away in exchange for an honest review (provided the reviewer include the following disclaimer “I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review” in their review.) Easy as pie, right?
Consider Mishaps and Mayhem was free for five days, downloaded countless times (I really don’t know how many times – only my publisher does and they haven’t told me yet – but it was in the top 7,000 free Kindle downloads by the end), and I personally requested a group of friends to download it (for FREE) and please review it – and I got ONE review! So, no, not easy at all. Luckily (I hope), I found a service that will post my free offer to prospective reviewers with the implied agreement they will post an honest review in exchange for the free eBook. Enter Choosy Bookworm! Don’t applaud just yet, the service to post my book offer isn’t free, but I’m at a desperate point for some reviews. You can’t pay for reviews (according to Amazon’s term of service), which this does not do. I’m paying an advertising fee to get my “book offer” in front of “mostly” reliable reviewers. The reviewers themselves get no money – they only get a free eBook.
So, I still haven’t gone down the “disreputable road” of paying for reviews. Are other authors paying to get reviews? I checked out the top twenty or so best selling Amazon science fiction eBooks. The range of reviews rank from 2 to literally over 10,000! None have “zero” reviews. The ones with few reviews appear to have a built-in audience – these are writers who have already gathered a large number of fans/readers, so the reviews may not mean that much in relation to sales. The only correlation I saw for sales was no one had “no” reviews. Did anyone pay for them, though? Not that I could tell. I’m also not an expert at culling through reams of data looking for patterns. I’d give you a detailed analysis of my research methods, but that would be painfully boring. Suffice it to say, I see some value in having a few reviews. I don’t necessarily need 10,000!
With no built-in fan base, I’m starting from scratch. I didn’t see any debut authors in the top twenty list. That may be something to hope for a few books down the line or maybe even with another series after I’ve built up a solid foundation of readers and fans. I’m SOOOO jumping the gun that I’ll actually build a foundation of fans, but I’m trying to be optimistic here! I’m hoping I see good sales after another book or two comes out. I have to prime the pump beforehand with advance copies to get reviews on Amazon as SOON as book two comes out.
I think that’s about all the analytics you’re going to get from me tonight. Happy reviewing!