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Publishing and Promoting > Riding the Review Roller-Coaster

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message 1: by Simon (new)

Simon Denman | 102 comments There are few topics in the world of book marketing that are as broad and emotive as the whole tricky business of getting reviews: Why do they matter? Is it ever worth paying for them? Is it ethical to have friends or fellow authors post them? What makes people post them in the first place? Should we ever respond to them? And of course the big one - How can we get more of them?

See the full post here: http://www.readersintheknow.com/blog/...


message 2: by Jane (new)

Jane Peranteau | 52 comments Thanks for the education...


message 3: by Grant (new)

Grant Fletcher | 4 comments Does anyone have experience with US Review of Books? It's a paid review place that claims to have legitimacy with a wide readership. Prices are reasonable, but i was uncertain how much buzz it actually generates for an author that is self-published, self-promoted, and self-conscious about budgeting! I have also submitted a review request with Publishers Weekly Select and was wondering about the value/effects of these paid review services. Any tips or comments would be welcome.


message 4: by Simon (new)

Simon Denman | 102 comments Grant wrote: "...was wondering about the value/effects of these paid review services. Any tips or comments would be welcome. "

As I mentioned in the article, if you're hoping the cost to be repaid in direct sales, you likely to be disappointed.


message 5: by Glede (new)

Glede Kabongo | 32 comments I'm trying out Choosy Bookworm and Story Cartel Reader Review program. The system is basically providing them with a free copy of your book, they include in their newsletter and promote it as a book available for review. The leads become yours because you have to email the book to readers who expressed an interest in providing an honest review.


message 6: by Jane (new)

Jane Peranteau | 52 comments ill be interesting to see how that goes.


message 7: by Glede (new)

Glede Kabongo | 32 comments Yes it will be.


message 8: by Chris (new)

Chris Jags | 16 comments I haven't even made it to the review roller coaster, I'm still standing in line. I won't pay for them, though, and I definitely don't want family/friends reviews (I've asked them not to). I intend to earn my reviews honestly even if that means they're a long time in coming and I'm a nervous wreck by the time they hit.


message 9: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) For the record - paid reviews are not allowed on Amazon or Goodreads and are normally discounted by readers since it is considered an unethical practice. Commercial reviews are also not allowed.

There are lots of ways to get unethical reviews, but only one way to get honest reviews - someone you do NOT know has to read the book and do an honest review.


message 10: by Grant (new)

Grant Fletcher | 4 comments Totally understand Christine...I was not looking to have the reviews posted to Goodreads or Amazon. Just trying to get some feedback from folks who have tried US Review of Books. There are so many of these 'pay for review' offerings...just trying to see if any are legit or provide value.

Simon - thanks for the feedback. I believe you when you say one will typically be disappointed in the results...just wanted to see if there are any personal success stories out there.


message 11: by T.H. (last edited Nov 04, 2014 08:44AM) (new)

T.H. Hernandez (thhernandez) | 113 comments Grant - I can't see any circumstances where they would provide ANY value. If you're paying for the review, how truly honest is it going to be? And since they can't post at Goodreads or Amazon, there is no marketing upside. I see them as nothing but a poor use of whatever limited funds we indie authors have for promotion.


message 12: by David (new)

David Watkins | 11 comments Glede wrote: "I'm trying out Choosy Bookworm and Story Cartel Reader Review program. The system is basically providing them with a free copy of your book, they include in their newsletter and promote it as a boo..."

Could you feed back here how this goes? Both those sites look interesting (and affordable). I have 23 reviews on Amazon UK and 8 on Amazon US, so definitely need more.


message 13: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) Grant wrote: "...There are so many of these 'pay for review' offerings...just trying to see if any are legit or provide value. ..."

The best way to promote your book is to promote yourself by getting involved in the discussions that happen here and allowing people to get to know you and appreciate your intelligence, humor, wit, and ability to express yourself (never push your book). Many readers purchase books based on their interaction with the author. They look you up and check out your books. Join the groups/discussions that will have the kind of readers you are looking for.

Reviews are becoming increasingly compromised (paid, author exchange, sock puppets, and author circles) and many readers have very little faith in them.


message 14: by David (new)

David Watkins | 11 comments Christine wrote: "Grant wrote: "...There are so many of these 'pay for review' offerings...just trying to see if any are legit or provide value. ..."

The best way to promote your book is to promote yourself by gett..."


I agree, but I'm not sure about your last sentence. I think the average reader does pay attention to reviews - if you have 100 or so reviews and they are mostly 4 or 5 * then that is attractive to readers. Somebody mentioned earlier about the need for lot of reviews for it to be taken seriously and I think that is correct.


message 15: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Amato (authorcarmenamato) | 73 comments The editorial reviews by established boards like Kirkus Reviews still swing weight in publishing circles because they are seen as both authoritative and neutral. There are also websites which have built a body of neutral reviews for particular genres, like Omnimystery.com. Both have value beyond the Amazon or Goodread reader review, which neither of these two categories of review sources provide. These are the reviews that typically a publisher posts to the main body of the Amazon book page in the "editorial review" section.

So why bother to seek out these editorial reviews?

These reviews, which in some cases an author can pay for, tell the reader that it wasn't done by anyone close to the author. Like having 5000 Twitter followers, it is a form of social proof that an independent board looked at the book and had something to say about it. Second, the review on the reviewer's established typically links to your website and sales pages. The book gets more exposure and there is a little SEO love for the author website. If the review gets a star, it is showcased and even emailed to the reviewer's list. So it can become a great source of advertising on your behalf. Last, love it or not, it makes your books look competitive with traditionally published books. The Amazon page is a good indicator of the professionalism of the the work and the more comprehensive, the more it resembles a book page of a Random House published book, for example, the more likely it will be that folks will take the book seriously and buy it.


message 16: by Mellie (new)

Mellie (mellie42) | 618 comments David wrote: " if you have 100 or so reviews and they are mostly 4 or 5 * then that is attractive to readers"

I would debate that - a book with over 100 reviews that are predominantly 4/5 star would make me highly suspicious and suggest either sock puppets, paid reviews or blitzing by the author's friends & family. Most books with a range of genuine readers will have reviews from 1 to 5 stars.

As a reader, I look at the 1 & 2 star reviews and ignore the one liner 5 stars. I want to know why readers didn't enjoy a story eg: poor editing, cliff hanger, weak heroine, unrealistic plot device. Then I make a decision if that would affect my reading enjoyment.


message 17: by India (new)

India Daram (goodreadscomindia_daram) | 16 comments Agree with A.W. The 1 to 3 stars will point out the issues with the book. I just wish it was easier for readers to provide a review as soon as they finish it. I can do this on some kindle reads which is great as the storyline and characters are fresh in your head to do a quick review. For an author this is fantastic. Whatever the review, at least you are alive and kicking! However, there have been occasions when I have struggled to enter a review. And this causes a lot of frustration as a reader, especially when I have enjoyed reading a book and is a lot opportunity for the author.


message 18: by Jane (new)

Jane Peranteau | 52 comments India wrote: "Agree with A.W. The 1 to 3 stars will point out the issues with the book. I just wish it was easier for readers to provide a review as soon as they finish it. I can do this on some kindle reads ..."

I so agree with that. It requires several extra steps for a person to record a review, along with their worry about going public or their anxiety at writing something 'good enough.'


message 19: by David (new)

David Watkins | 11 comments A.W. wrote: "David wrote: " if you have 100 or so reviews and they are mostly 4 or 5 * then that is attractive to readers"

I would debate that - a book with over 100 reviews that are predominantly 4/5 star wou..."


I think some of you are being overly cynical here. Of course any book that has only 4 or 5* reviews is suspicious and I always look at the one and two star reviews before making a decision. However, if a book has 100+ reviews then I would have thought that at least some of those reviews are from genuine readers and not a 'circle jerk' or paid.


message 20: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 198 comments Quite frankly, I believe reviews are over-rated as a sales mechanism. I don't think Kirkus makes sense for indies, either, but that is a personal decision, and keep in mind that Kirkus reviews can be highly critical. If you want ordinary mortals to review your book, try NetGalley. Reciprocal reviews are just way too fraught with potential pitfalls to be a good idea, if for no other reason than that another author's definition of "honest" may not have much in common with your own.

Of course, any reviewer who has received a free copy should acknowledge this in the review, as per FTC guidelines. I know reviewers, or even bloggers, sometimes forget to do so, but authors have an obligation to mention it when they are handing out free copies for reviews.

As for the 100+ reviews, if none of these people are on my friends list and most of them say pretty much the same thing...


message 21: by Jane (new)

Jane Peranteau | 52 comments D.C. wrote: "Quite frankly, I believe reviews are over-rated as a sales mechanism. I don't think Kirkus makes sense for indies, either, but that is a personal decision, and keep in mind that Kirkus reviews can ..."

What do you think works best, then, as a sales mechanism?


message 22: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 198 comments Jane wrote: "D.C. wrote: "Quite frankly, I believe reviews are over-rated as a sales mechanism. I don't think Kirkus makes sense for indies, either, but that is a personal decision, and keep in mind that Kirkus..."

Word of mouth and discoverability, and I think one of the best ways to generate those are with a significant social media presence, which shouldn't be heavy handed. I find Facebook both much more effective and much more fun than Twitter, but I don't think that's true for everyone. I do spend a lot of time on FB (and here) being my cranky, opinionated self, I have a large friends list, and I belong to a lot of book groups, oriented to both readers and writers. I post new releases and promos in appropriate places, but that's the ONLY marketing I do.

I have a blog, and believe all writers should.

I also, and I think this is one of the best ways to grow a readership, release stories, some of them very short, frequently. A couple of the shorts are permanently free, and others are available for KU or I occasionally promote some of them free. Others are never free, and my price points vary wildly.

No advice is ever "one size fits all", and I am a hybrid, so I think my experience is sometimes a little different from a strictly indie author. I'm also not getting rich, but I make money off my books rather than spending it on them.

Reviews aren't completely beside the point, but I don't think they're as valuable as sometimes billed, and there isn't a lot of point to reviews for the sake of reviews. Even large numbers of reviews don't necessarily have a lot of value. They must look organic to carry much weight with many readers. If I click on a book and it's highly rated and there are a lot of reviews, if none of those reviews are from people I know, and most of them have a similar "sound", I'm not going to give them much weight, and I'm not going to form a positive impression of the author's professionalism. It wouldn't necessarily turn me off from reading the book if I liked the Amazon sample, but it actually makes me more skeptical of the book's quality. There are readers who'd be permanently turned off, regardless of merit.

With my own books, I can tell you that rating/number of reviews has almost no correlation to cash in my pocket. My money maker so far has the second lowest rating of any of my titles (the lowest is free).


message 23: by Jane (new)

Jane Peranteau | 52 comments Thanks for taking the time to send such a good, sane answer. I can't see the point of getting review fever. I have a publisher, but when it comes to marketing, I think the ball is, for the most part, in my court.
I like the idea of releasing stories. Do you do it through your blog or your website or what?
I do enjoy blogging, which helps, and I was on FB anyway. Being on Twitter & Tumblr is not a hardship since all can be connected to the blog.
Thanks again.


message 24: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 198 comments Jane wrote: "Thanks for taking the time to send such a good, sane answer. I can't see the point of getting review fever. I have a publisher, but when it comes to marketing, I think the ball is, for the most par..."

Mostly Amazon, and I have most of the little ones and an upcoming novella in Select. The permanently free ones are through the m/m group here on Goodreads. I should have them downloadable off my website, but that's beyond my capabilities, and I should talk to someone about making that possible. Frankly, my website is very minimal.


message 25: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 198 comments Gail wrote: "I have a question. Several of my novels started out as short stories. A similar content of the short story can be found in the novel. The short stories are complete. Would you advise against or for..."

Are they excerpts or bonus content (prequels, epilogues, behind the scenes)? If they are truly excerpts they belong on your website or blog, but only if they are not giving away the entire story. Bonus content is exactly the kind of thing that makes a good small release. I have a series that's pretty much on that model, and while I don't think it appropriate for me to link it here, if you like I can pm you about it.


message 26: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 198 comments Gail wrote: "Thanks D.C. They were the original short stories, 10,000- 14,000 words. The full length novels are now published kindle ebooks, and I will have to look closely to see if they would ruin the storyli..."

Sort of. My series structure is strange, at least partly because I didn't write it in chronological order.


message 27: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 198 comments D.C. wrote: "Gail wrote: "I have a question. Several of my novels started out as short stories. A similar content of the short story can be found in the novel. The short stories are complete. Would you advise a..."
I'm going to say that if the plot is the same, and the novels are just expanded from that, you probably shouldn't release them, because you'll have confused readers (and annoyed ones if they double purchase accidentally). However if you have any significant content that ended up on the "cutting room floor" you might be able to rework it into a short.


message 28: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 198 comments Thanks! Good luck with the story!


message 29: by Alice (last edited Nov 12, 2014 09:47AM) (new)

Alice (asimpson) | 86 comments Simon wrote: "There are few topics in the world of book marketing that are as broad and emotive as the whole tricky business of getting reviews: Why do they matter?...."

Goodreads flags and warns authors not to respond to the worst of reviews, and that's a good thing. One must know what battles to choose. But I find it very helpful to have a conversation with some readers who write critical reviews, on blogs, Amazon and goodreads --discussing their comments, asking questions in an open-minded way. I am never argumentative. It is an opportunity to learn and connect with my readers.

I believe that these readers, who have taken the time to write reviews and are open to a conversation with me, will become MY spokespersons, having reconsidered their thinking and having had a personal conversation with me. Have any of you responded to reviewers?


message 30: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) Alice wrote: "...Goodreads flags and warns authors not to respond to the worst of reviews, and that's a good thing. One must know what battles to choose. But I find it very helpful to have a conversation with some readers who write critical reviews..."

Reviews are written by READERS for READERS and have nothing to do with the author. Your Beta readers and editors should have given you all the information you could possibly need prior to you publishing.

Contacting a reviewer regardless of the star rating is NEVER acceptable. It is equivalent to stalking and/or harassment. You have no right to contact or questions anyone who reviews your book. You have no right to try to use reviewers to promote your book.

The reviewer has every right to report you and GR has every right to remove and ban you and your book for violation of the Terms of Service. What is it about these warnings you don't understand. If an author contacts me - I do NOT respond and immediately report them. Reviewers are being told to secure their personal information, given the recent stalkings and assault against reviewers by authors.


message 31: by T.H. (new)

T.H. Hernandez (thhernandez) | 113 comments If an author has such thin skin that a bad review sends them into crazy stalkerville, it might be time to evaluate a new career.


message 32: by Alice (new)

Alice (asimpson) | 86 comments Christine wrote: "Alice wrote: "...Goodreads flags and warns authors not to respond to the worst of reviews, and that's a good thing. One must know what battles to choose. But I find it very helpful to have a conver..."

Christine, I am neither a stalker or assaulting anyone in any way. I appreciate your information, and had no idea that I was not permitted to thank them for their reviews.

If Goodreads has flagged a review as one that I should not respond to, I have respected that. I have, though, in other cases written to thank readers for their insights, their understanding of my characters, and appreciation of my writing.

Thank you, again for explaining this clearly to me and be assured that I will not do so in the future.


message 33: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) T.H. wrote: "If an author has such thin skin that a bad review sends them into crazy stalkerville, it might be time to evaluate a new career."

I agree, but unfortunately it's been proven they are out there. There is no clear indication which of the authors are just a little arrogant or naive and which can become psychotic and dangerous. The events over the past few weeks have left many reviewers, readers, and authors shaking their heads in disbelief.


message 34: by Alice (last edited Nov 12, 2014 05:18PM) (new)

Alice (asimpson) | 86 comments T.H. wrote: "If an author has such thin skin that a bad review sends them into crazy stalkerville, it might be time to evaluate a new career."

TH- No need for me to find a new career. I am a kind and relatively gentle person with very old thick skin. All I needed was a polite explanation that I should not thank readers for their reviews, comment on their reviews or contact them. Simple as that.


message 35: by Jane (new)

Jane Peranteau | 52 comments Such an interesting conversation. I think we're put in kind of a weird position. It's normal for most of us to use our manners to say thank you or to want to extend the conversation about our books, but clearly we're out in the world in a broader sense and different rules apply. Good to be made aware of this.


message 36: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 198 comments Alice wrote: "T.H. wrote: "If an author has such thin skin that a bad review sends them into crazy stalkerville, it might be time to evaluate a new career."

TH- No need for me to find a new career. I am a kind ..."

Hitting the like button is usually fine, although I'd be cautious about it with one stars.

Anything else, at best, is open to misinterpretation, because while there are writers who are capable of having a civil conversation with someone who has left a critical review (while they are for readers, not authors, they can be fascinating), they are in the minority and the reviewer has no way of knowing if you are one.

The only time I'd have a conversation with a reviewer about a book of mine they had critically reviewed was if a)this person was on my friends list, b)I knew them fairly well, and c)they had in some way indicated that they would welcome this discussion. Even then, I'd probably keep it in a pm on general principles.


message 37: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) Alice wrote: "...Christine, I am neither a stalker or assaulting anyone in any way. I appreciate your information, and had no idea that I was not permitted to thank them for their reviews...."

I never meant to insinuate you were any of those things. I'm sure you never intended any harm. Again reviews are for other readers - not for authors. It not meant to be critique of your work - that should have been done before you ever published. It is designed to give other readers some insight into the book. Many professional authors don't even read their reviews.

I just wanted to point out that the warnings are important and should not be ignored. It is also important that you realize the current atmosphere makes contacting reviewers even more unacceptable.

FYI: One reviewer has been stalked for several months by an author (Katherine Hale) and another unnamed author admitted to stalking some of his reviewers. A young lady in Scotland was hit in the head with a wine bottle by an author (Richard Brittain) and was hospitalized. there are charges pending in that case. Reviewers are definitely a bit nervous. Given how important they are to the book industry, it seems wise to keep them as comfortable as possible.


message 38: by Alice (new)

Alice (asimpson) | 86 comments Jane wrote: "Such an interesting conversation. I think we're put in kind of a weird position. It's normal for most of us to use our manners to say thank you or to want to extend the conversation about our books..."

Yes, Jane, absolutely. And especially for me. Each chapter of my novel begins with a snippet of Victorian etiquette.


message 39: by Jane (new)

Jane Peranteau | 52 comments Alice wrote: "Jane wrote: "Such an interesting conversation. I think we're put in kind of a weird position. It's normal for most of us to use our manners to say thank you or to want to extend the conversation ab..."
Lol!


message 40: by Alice (last edited Nov 12, 2014 05:41PM) (new)

Alice (asimpson) | 86 comments Christine wrote: "Alice wrote: "...Christine, I am neither a stalker or assaulting anyone in any way. I appreciate your information, and had no idea that I was not permitted to thank them for their reviews...."

I n..."


Had no idea of any of these issues or the things you mentioned in your FYI, and appreciate the clarification. I am not self-published and perhaps that may be why I am unaware of goodreads dos and don'ts. There is an awful lot of information on goodreads to wade through for dinosaurs like me.


message 41: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 198 comments Another thing you can do is indicate in your profile that you welcome reader questions and interaction, which will hopefully make people more comfortable initiating a conversation.


message 42: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) Jane wrote: "Such an interesting conversation. I think we're put in kind of a weird position. It's normal for most of us to use our manners to say thank you or to want to extend the conversation about our books..."

If you think about it - you realize quickly that for years you read books and I'm sure, at no time, did you expect a traditionally published author to ever call you and thank you for reading or reviewing their book. The reason is simple - you never thought about the author - you concentrated on the book.

Self-publishing has created this interpersonal attitude among new authors. Readers are still expecting to get feedback from other readers about the books - not authors. The fact so many authors are checking every review only indicates their lack of knowledge of the industry itself. They are interfering with readers.

As for polite interaction between reader and author. It's not about being polite. The reader didn't buy the author - they bought the book. Would you thank the farmer that grew your produce, or the company that supplied the gas you put in your vehicle. Of course not - they didn't donate these products - you paid for them. Hopefully you can see my point. Readers buy books and they owe nothing to the author and expect nothing more from the author.


message 43: by Jane (new)

Jane Peranteau | 52 comments Christine wrote: "Jane wrote: "Such an interesting conversation. I think we're put in kind of a weird position. It's normal for most of us to use our manners to say thank you or to want to extend the conversation ab..."
I do think you've made your point, Christine. Not sure how that can be proved to your satisfaction.


message 44: by Alice (new)

Alice (asimpson) | 86 comments As for polite interaction between reader and author. It's not about being polite. The reader didn't buy the author - they bought the book..."

Interesting discussion.
When I like a potato chip, I write to the company and tell them so. I tell my butcher that the steak he sold me last week was the best steak I've had this year. My favorite bakery remembers my name because I shout their baker's praises to the sky!

In my experience, as a (creative) business owner for more than fifty years, I had learned to acknowledge all those who helped me along the way, teachers, service providers, associates, and even clients. It was part of my work ethic. When people bought my work, I was definitely part of the package.

As a reader and now an author, I never considered until I read your message, Christine, that I was interfering. It's dinnertime here on the West Coast, and I will spend this evening considering what you've written. You wrote, "Readers buy books and they owe nothing to the author and expect nothing more from the author."

Definitely something to think about—talk about—write about.


message 45: by Jane (new)

Jane Peranteau | 52 comments Best piece I've read on why we do what we do:
http://99u.com/articles/34649/7-piece...


message 46: by Alice (new)

Alice (asimpson) | 86 comments Jane wrote: "Best piece I've read on why we do what we do:
http://99u.com/articles/34649/7-piece..."


Inspiring post, Jane. It's in the process of 'making' that we find the most satisfaction. That said, back to writing....


message 47: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 198 comments Christine wrote: "Jane wrote: "Such an interesting conversation. I think we're put in kind of a weird position. It's normal for most of us to use our manners to say thank you or to want to extend the conversation ab..."

In my other life I sell bridal gowns. Customers thank me all the time, sometimes profusely. I've had them send me boxes of candy and pictures of their events. Of course, occasionally someone isn't happy with me and will tell my boss, our corporate office, or Yelp.

The majority of customers probably never think about me again after they walk out the door, but it isn't universally true.

As a writer, I have fans that enjoy interacting with me (I try to be a fun person to interact with--after all I spend a lot of time with myself). I'm sure there are many people who enjoy my writing who have no interest in having a conversation with me, or don't think about where the books come from at all.

I don't think that's universal.There is a fine line to tread between being accessible and making some readers uncomfortable, but as a reader I am curious about writers, and was long before I was seriously writing myself. I'm also shy. I would have loved it if one of my favorite writers had made an overture.

It does pay to be really, really careful--because there are nutjobs out there making the atmosphere difficult for all of us, writers and reviewers alike--and because you don't want to make someone who took the time to read one of your books uncomfortable.


message 48: by Jane (new)

Jane Peranteau | 52 comments D.C. wrote: "Christine wrote: "Jane wrote: "Such an interesting conversation. I think we're put in kind of a weird position. It's normal for most of us to use our manners to say thank you or to want to extend t..."
Well said.


message 49: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 198 comments Jane wrote: "D.C. wrote: "Christine wrote: "Jane wrote: "Such an interesting conversation. I think we're put in kind of a weird position. It's normal for most of us to use our manners to say thank you or to wan..."

Thank you.


message 50: by David (new)

David Watkins | 11 comments Jane wrote: "Best piece I've read on why we do what we do:
http://99u.com/articles/34649/7-piece..."


Excellent article, thank you for sharing.


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