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Saturday, July 15, 2017

REVIEW RATINGS-- RISK or REWARD?


            Every writer knows that word of mouth and reviews can propel a new book into success. (At least six reviews are recommended for debut day.) So you enlist your best friends, beta readers, critique partners, and family members to review your baby. Pretty safe odds love rolls in for the “newborn!” LOW RISK only to biased honesty.
            No time to bask in the lovelight. You create a media kit, blog, tweet, guest post on social media, organize a street team, host a launch party, do book signings, readings, advertise… everything it takes to announce and promote that book in the frenetic search for READERS. Competition is always huge when supply exceeds demand for books. A supply created, in part, by a flood of eBooks and the rise of Indie authors in the last few years. Does Amazon really have millions of books in their online catalog? Add review magazines and online review sites to the mix, and REVIEWERS are also in demand. It’s a Catch 22 when good books need to be discovered but discovery…and sales…often depend on reviews.
            When the organic reviews are slow coming in, you DO have options to jumpstart. With no strings attached, paid reviewers will insure an honest review, but it’s a marketing expense that can burn a hole in your pocket. Kirkus and Chanticleer charge hundreds of dollars for a review—with no guarantee to even recommend the book. Still, you do have the option to post…or not if the review burns a hole in your heart. HIGH RISK for the expense.
            “Nagging” is another option. A kinder word is “trolling.” If I know someone who has purchased a copy from me, I might ask for a review weeks or months later. Posting on FB, Goodreads, in your newsletters and emails, even on business cards you can gently “nudge” with links directed to your book sites. In the stash of prints I keep on hand to sell, I insert a little card in each book with my site links, along with a friendly review request. Readers who know you will not want to comply if they didn’t like your book, but even readers who loved it may feel unqualified to post a review, or unable to understand the process if they don’t navigate social media. MODERATE RISK to pride/friendship.
            Networking with the brotherhood is another option. You’ve been inspired by other writers, followed their blogs, rubbed shoulders with other Indies or authors published in your Press. You share and commiserate with them. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “the only way to have a friend is to be one.” Can that be twisted into “the sure way to get a review is to write one?” Doesn’t every author swap reviews on occasion, particularly if they value an elevated review count that Amazon is sure to notice! If you swap with a writer in your genre, chances are good you already like their subject. And even if the book does not meet your rating standards, you can always find something nice to say after a short synopsis—minus any spoilers. Only another writer can appreciate the fact that writing a book is an accomplishment in itself. VARIABLE RISK to time consumed…and qualms about trading equal star ratings.
            Whoever said “Reward never comes without risk” had to be a writer...or a cliff diver. Same thing, sometimes. (Diving into my newsletter and books is no risk. Promise!)

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