Wednesday, 20 November 2013

You get a good review, and it's like crack. You need another hit.

“You get a good review, and it’s like crack. You need another hit. And another. And another. I know authors are like Tinkerbell and generally need applause to survive, but it’s a slippery slope.” - Alexandra Bracken

Well I hope you enjoyed my blog tour for The Bittersweet Vine, and that you are now following some of the other blogs mentioned! Most of the blogs mentioned belong to other writers with some great talent so if you haven’t checked them out do so now. You can scroll down to see the tour from some older posts on The Coffee Stained Manuscript!

As you may know I have entered The Bittersweet Vine as part of a Good Reads book giveaway for the month of November. If you have recently written a book this is a great way to get your work noticed and to get some real reviews. I believe it was the Good Reads book giveaway that really launched Goa Traffic. That’s a big declaration but I really think it got the name of my first book (and of me as an author) out there. With over 1000 people requesting Goa Traffic and getting a good review from the winner I definitely think that a Good Reads book give away is the best way to start your marketing campaign. A free book giveaway will raise awareness if nothing else! If you want to enter for your chance to win a copy of The Bittersweet Vine all you need is a Good Reads account (which is free) Just click on the link to the right!

Anyway… so the real reason for this post - reviews! I don’t know if the following is helpful or just a rant (most likely the latter) but I hope it makes you think. Whether you are a reader or a writer you’ll probably be interested in the following:

Now when The Bittersweet Vine was released, like any other author, I asked friends and family to read the book and review it! Did they? - Not really – asking for a review is like taking blood from a stone! But my sister tried - only to be rejected by Amazon. After doing some on-line research I figured that as my sister and I have often used the same computer Amazon twigged and thought this family member can’t write a review – perhaps in their opinion they felt it was sock puppeteering (creating fictitious accounts to create false reviews). Alternatively, perhaps Amazon felt that a family member reviews should not count – Amazon could be right. Family are always biased and false reviews create a fictitious market - Little do they know my sister is my strongest critic! I understand Amazon’s requirement to cut down on ‘false’ reviews but, for a new author with limited finances for marketing how do you go about getting that ball rolling? 

Recently on TV there was a programme on ‘fake’ facebook likers- most of which originate in Dakar! It will only be time before they catch on to the Amazon review (although now in America you have to have purchased the item from Amazon to review it and no doubt the UK will follow the same principle) but we authors are quirky penniless things. 1) we have no money to pay for reviews and 2) most of us want genuine reviews. We spend hours writing and this is not to just make money, but because we love what we do and for all our labours we want genuine reviews for our books- we deserve that at least- don’t we? We of course like good reviews rather than the bad ones, but over time our skin thickens and we get used to the bad ones as well. So if we don’t want to pay for reviews how can you encourage a review?

Use book review bloggers! I hear you say and yes of course you are right- send your book off to book reviewers. But they get hundreds and are they going to read yours? Well if you don’t send any out you wont know! I must add this 'to do' to my marketing plan.

Or another cheaper way to get reviews is to do what the majority of us do - wait for purchases to be made and readers out there will review. But how often do you buy a book without a review? And here is my point. You need at least one or two reviews from people you know (who have read the book) to get the ball rolling!

And how often do you write a review? Recently I have started reviewing everything on Amazon. Do unto others… and all that. Reviews make a huge difference!

Goa Traffic has now been available for (coming up to) three years. I have finally reached my target of 30 reviews! Thank you to the 30th Reviewer- and it was 5* too! But that is not many reviews for 3 years- or is it? I think it is a sufficient amount of views to be settled in the book market place, but I look at some of those big names out there with their 536 reviews and my heat sinks (a little). Taking GT as an example I have to say I know at least 15 people who have taken the trouble to tell me that they have enjoyed reading the book. None of these people have written a review- perhaps they were lying to my face and didn’t want to put their lies on paper or perhaps (and this is quite likely) they couldn’t be bothered to write a review. There is nothing wrong with this. I, myself, hate writing reviews as I don’t feel I have the time! Now I force myself to do it. And Amazon are making it easy to review in allowing you to do it straight after you have read the book on your kindle.  My mother is an even worse culprit. She reads more than anyone I know. She is the mother of an author now - doe she write reviews? Never!!! There is no telling some people!

Amazon are doing the right thing by trying to reduce ‘fake’ reviews but they are stifling the small author and  the self-pubbed author- although given that they have given small author such an big platform to get our work out there I can't be too critical. I would say that if they just allowed a star rating without words they would encourage more reviews but that is their choice (That is the format for Good Reads and I have more reviews on Amazon for Goa Traffic - than Good reads).

Anyway this post is to get you thinking about reviews- any ideas for getting reviews- please send them my way! To all the reviewers out there (good reviews and bad ones) A big thank you. And a nudge of encouragement to those that have yet to write a review!!! Come on! Help us out!

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