Here we go again!
As you all know (zzzzz), I have a new book out; Episode was released on 30 September 2019, and one of the first things I worried about (apart from will anyone buy it?) was: will I get reviews?
It’s been four years since I last published, thanks to various family issues. My previous book, Goalden Sky, sold pretty well, but I struggled to get reviews for it, especially on Amazon. And before we all start berating the ethics of dear old Amazon.com/UK et al and how they don’t pay their taxes etc, let’s all, as indie authors, be brutally honest with ourselves and hold our hands up to the fact that it’s on Amazon where we want readers to leave reviews.
I got two reviews for Goalden Sky on Amazon.UK, one review on Amazon.ca, and I was really disappointed. My other books (even Abbie’s Rival, which didn’t sell as well) got more reviews. I couldn’t understand why.
I read somewhere that readers won’t leave reviews if they don’t like a book. OK. So maybe Goalden Sky was pants, then? Not according to the various reviews I got elsewhere – some of which, I have to admit I paid for, but they weren’t negative by any means and I was warned that good reviews were by no means guaranteed. Not that I mind negative reviews. I got one negative review for Big Brother (I think the reader thought they were buying another title, and I was pleased by the fact they thought it too violent – the intention!) The point is he took the time to write the review.
Then I wondered if traditional publishers do their marketing and review begging much better than indie authors. Probably, but they have the financial means to dole out for massive publicity. Indies don’t. We work on a budget. With Episode I’ve pushed the boat out a bit more and I’m nervous at the outcome. One thing I have noticed is that the number of free book publicity sites have dwindled a great deal. Some of the sites I used in the past have either gone completely or now charge an extortionate amount for advertising or reviews. Well, in these days of austerity, you can’t blame them, but as per usual, most of the sites are in the US. There are few review sites, paid or not, in the UK. Why? God knows.
While researching answers to some of my questions above, I found this fantastic article where the author conducted a survey. Read it and weep!
Seriously! Read the comments about not leaving reviews if they think the book is bad. Doesn’t give you much confidence, does it? You can accept that not everyone will like your book – one man’s meat as I always say – but how can you improve if people can’t bring themselves to be at least critical and constructive? A book review is not the monopoly of the elite critic. I’ve written a few book reviews myself and I wouldn’t say they were professionally written. Sometimes they’ve been rushed and not entirely well-constructed (shocking admission), but at least I’ve made the effort.
Read the article how Amazon’s review policies can be an obstacle, too. Yeah, trust Amazon!
It seems most people don’t know what to say in a review. Well, come on, mate, does it have to be a flippin’ essay? Does it have to be the first draft of War and Peace? No. Here’s a reminder of the review for Goalden Sky on Amazon.ca. One word. That’ll do! Had he thought it was crap, he’d’ve had to tone down his words somewhat, but still. I have a one-time reviewer, Shalini, who I know from our mutual love of Liverpool FC. We’ve never met, but she makes wonderful jewellery I’ve bought on many occasions. She’s reads all my books and if she doesn’t like what she reads, she’ll say! She was so confused by Big Brother she gave me a measly 3/5! I was like ‘Yer what?’, but I respected her review and was grateful for her time.
So readers, if you took the time to read it, and you liked it, say! If you didn’t like it, say! Yeah, a negative review* is uncomfortable for the author, but it’s valid and maybe just maybe, another reader might think, ‘Hmm…OK, but I’ll make my own judgement, ta very much.’
Only keep the language clean when you’re slagging the book off, eh?
*Trolls who post things like, ‘This is crap because I didn’t get the book in time’ will be shot.