As one of my favorite comedians used to say, can we talk? Well today, I want to talk about reviews. Everybody meaning, all the book marketing experts, tell authors to get reviews. The experts say you can figure out approximately how popular an author is by the number of reviews they have. That translates into a large number of reviews equals a large number of readers, which of course equals a large number of books sold. I agree with a bit of reluctance about everything said thus far. When I say reluctance, perhaps I should explain.
I have to admit when I buy food; office furniture; beauty and cleaning products; shoes; clothes; belts; electronics; videos; cars; DVDs; floral arrangements and most other things, I read reviews religiously before I make a purchase. I will research a product to death before I buy it. I go on different site to check out what other users/buyers say about the product. I’m one of those buyers that take months to do research before I’ll spend a dime on a product. I use Google Search to do my research until I’m satisfied I’ve found the best deal for my money.
After all that research on other products, you’d think I do the same for books. Right? Well, you’d be wrong. I don’t normal read reviews on books. I do read product descriptions with an occasional glance at one or two reviews. I say one or two reviews because I usually look for that one long review that clearly explains the movie or the book. Usually, I’ve already decided to buy the book or movie. I use the review to justify spending the money on the item.
Keeping in mind my own actions regarding reviewers, I decided to try to attract reviewers for my three mystery, suspense and comedy novels about African American lesbians. Let me backtrack a bit. I’d been burned before when I tried to get reviewers to read the workplace memoir I wrote over six years ago.
At that time, I bought my books at full price from my publisher then sent them out to reviewers I’d searched out online over several Sundays. I didn’t know and my publisher didn’t tell me I could buy my book at an author discount through Amazon and Kindle. One of the many reasons I decided to self-publish my books this time around was that very factoid but that’s a long, painful tale for another blog. So anyway, I confidently sent out twenty or thirty of my books into the world of the reviewers.
Oh man, was I in for a wakeup call. I was shocked that most of the reviewers never responded that they received my books, let alone agree to review them. Several book clubs that did accept my book set condition such as join their club or reviewing a host of other books before they’d review mine. One reviewer insisted I join a specific reading club. The all the members of that club had to read and rate my book highly before the reviewer would consider reading my book. So anyway, from those twenty to thirty books I sent to reviewers, I thought I’d get… oh maybe ten to twelve glowing, five star reviews.
Reality bites. It bit into my big ass good, taking a nice chunk out of it. I waited and waited for those pesky reviews to arrive. Oops. I forgot to mention. I had problems with the publisher sending the printed books to me on time so I could send them to the reviewers. I kept sending letters the reviewers apologizing for the delay. Then my publishers finally sent the books to me and I finally sent them out to reviewers. That’s when I waited, gnawing my nails down to the quick. I waited and then I waited some more. First one review and then two trickled in and finally a third one found its way to me. Out of twenty to thirty book review requests, I received three reviews. Nowhere near, the ten to twelve glowing reviews that I’d anticipated. The reviews were all four and five stars but there were only three of them.
Later on, I learned three solid reviews from twenty to thirty requests is way above average. According to experts, only 1% of book buyers write reviews. What experts don’t say is how newbie romance writers like me can get that magic number of 1% of book reviews. They do warn never, ever buy reviews for your book. In fact, Amazon has banned authors from their site when they discover such a violation. Experts also say never, ever write your own reviews. They also advise authors not ask relatives with the same last name as the author’s, to write reviews either. Since these same experts aren’t too crazy about friends writing reviews on behalf of writers, so, who does that leave to write reviews for you? That’s a good question.
Ah, but Amazon has the perfect answer, as does another site I discovered in my research for book reviewers.
The Amazon link for top reviewers is here: http://amzn.to/1wFyCdb
The other site is Booktweeting Service. Their link is here: http://www.booktweetingservice.com.
Both sites offer lists of reviewers that will review your books for NO COST! That’s right I said for free, nada, zilch, no dineros, zero dollars. A word of caution here, keep in mind most beta readers also known as reviewers are quite busy reviewing other books so be patient…be very patient. If a reviewer states they only review a specific genre, please respect that. For example, if reviewer Smith says she only reviews Sci-fi and paranormal and adventure books. Do not send her a romantic mystery to review. She won’t review it and you’ll probably annoy her by sending your novel to her in the first place.
Both Amazon and Booktweeting reviewers’ lists include contact information. Some reviewers have emails while others have websites and emails. It makes sense to go to the reviewer’s site to get a feeling for how they review, what they review and who they are. I like being able to send tailor-made requests that include something I gleaned from the reviewer’s site. I hope my uniquely written request separates me from the hundreds of requests that reviewers receive on a regular basis.
Now that I’ve provided you with a little background that I hope was helpful, I can tell you the rest of my story. I forgot to mention another way to get those reviews is by exchanging books with other authors. I found all the authors who were willing to read my book in exchange for reading theirs on twitter. I’m certain you can find willing authors on LinkedIn, Facebook and Goodreads as well. I found several authors willing to read my book in exchange for me reading theirs and therein lies, the problem. While my books are reviewer poor, most of the offers came from authors whose genres I’m not too crazy about reading. What did I do? I went ahead and made the trade. Funny thing, I discovered some interesting e-books by authors I’d never read, out there in cyberspace.
You never know what you’ll find. When you’re looking for one thing, in my case I was looking for book reviewers, you may find something just as astounding, new authors to read and new genre to explore. It makes you want to say what Arsenio Hall used to say, HMM.