Reviews provide a look into the reader’s mind
Whenever a superb review gets posted to a distribution site where a book of mine is available, after the cartwheels and shouts of glee, I take a couple of immediate actions. First, I thank the reviewer and post that ‘thank you’ on my author Facebook page. Within my photo archives (thanks to my photographer husband), I search out an appropriate photo to include. Next, I post that review on my own website on the Books page under the corresponding book.
All reviews are desirable, Amazon reviews have special clout
For my purposes, I’ve found that having two distribution points works well (More on that in a coming post). Currently, I use Smashwords and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Here is where things get complicated. When reviewers leave a review on Smashwords, they have an opportunity to rate the book on the Smashwords site with a star-rating system, similar to Amazon. Because Smashwords distributes to a variety of retailers, readers may alternately go directly to the retailer and post there. These can include Barnes & Noble Nook Books, or iTunes or other Apple device outlets, or Kobo, along with Amazon. To complicate matters, reviewers may elect to leave a review at Goodreads.
Amazon posts Amazon reviews only
Highly rated Amazon reviews in volume really help boost an author’s standing. But Amazon only publishes reviews from Amazon customers in good standing. As far as I can discern, the book does not have to be purchased from Amazon. Rather, the review needs to come from someone with an Amazon account who is approved to provide reviews at Amazon. When someone has been kind enough to buy the book, asking them to leave two reviews, one at a different retailer and one at Amazon, seems an imposition. So, I express my gratitude to all who review my books no matter where that review is posted. And if you want to drop in a review at Amazon, that would be doubly appreciated.
Here is a common dilemma for indie authors. Voices all over the independent publishing industry cry out for you to give away a full novel. The rationale is this. When you are an unknown, you need to build reader trust. Readers love to read. They are willing to spend money on high value entertainment. And they are willing to invest their valuable time reading if the read is satisfying.
Smashwords lets indie authors offer a price of $0.00
Enter the indie author, unknown to all. Solution, give away a book. Price it at zero. Let readers decide if you as an author are worth their time and entertainment budget.
I did that with one book. It wrenched my heart to do it. But the book garnered momentum. Thousands of copies of the book were ‘purchased’ for free. Then, I launched a new book with an appropriate ebook price. Suddenly, the free book had a spike in downloads. It was as if prospective readers went to the free ebook first to see if they should buy the new book.
So, would there be a way to do the same on Amazon?
In a great blog for authors, I found a suggestion I’m going to follow.
Indies Unlimited: How to Set Your Book Free on Amazon
The blogger went to his/her Amazon Author Central Page and sent an email to Customer Service. The ask was for Amazon to price-match the ebook that was offered free at other retailers. The author included the URLs for the book at the other sites, so customer service could verify the free pricing on other sites quickly and easily.
Since the price of ‘free’ is in essence a loss leader for an author, it seems wise to at least ask for the price match and appeal to the most readers possible.
In the quest for reviews, a thorough look through Smashwords’ suggestions to authors led me to the following site:
The Indie Reviewers List
Hundreds of reviewers are listed. Many include specific wants and don’t wants about the subjects and genres of books they will review. Some want only blood curdling mysteries. Others want anything but young adult or romance.
No one said, for example, that they would love to review a clean & sober recent historical (1996, a breakthrough year in mass communications) romantic novel categorizable as Latina fiction, with a strong female lead, around Catholic themes involving family and community, set in a small coastal village in Mexico, with conflict centered around misspent youth, t-boned love and a handful of bad-ass tourists.
Delightfully, interest has been generated. I am in contact with potential reviewers who are industry-recognized, and who are experienced at writing book reviews.