Self Publishing - The Review

One of the best forms of advertising an author can have comes from a factor that we cannot control. Sure we can update our social media accounts several times a day, blog as many times a week as we can, and, if we’re lucky enough to be independently wealthy, spends countless dollars on internet advertising. However, in this day and age, the greatest tool that can make or break an indie author, is the Review.

Yes, I capitalized it. It’s that important. When you first publish a book, you might ask a few friends to read and write an unbiased and honest review about your book – even if they hate it. Even bad reviews can draw an audience. As you gain a bit of credibility on your social media accounts, you might find a few other indie authors to review swap with. Some may consider this cheating, but why? If you attempt to pay for a GOOD review, then yes, I believe that is cheating. But asking for honest reviews after actually reading your book, is a legitimate form of advertising. At least in my humble opinion.

Let’s first look at why they’re so important. When you see a poster for a new movie about to be released, what do you do to decide if you want to watch it or not? You watch the trailer. If you’re not convinced, what do you do next? Look for some critic reviews. Some people rely on these more than others, but I don’t watch a movie (unless it’s a B grade sci fi or horror movie) unless I read a few reviews about it first. Sometimes I even read the synopsis. . .I know I know. Shame on me for wanting to know the ending before I decide whether or not I waste my time on it.

We are a busy group of mammals. Between work, family, friends, sleep, eating, and whatever other activities we participate in, we have very little personal time to devote to entertainment – be it movies, reading, etc. So generally, we want to know if what we’re about to spend time on is worth it or not. Reviews give potential readers a sense of whether or not your book is worth their time and attention.

I must admit, I have chosen to read or not read books based on both good and bad reviews. If reviews are bad enough, I will decide not to spend my time on it. But if the bad reviews are written in poor grammar and broken English, I typically find myself more drawn to that book. If illiterate people didn’t enjoy it, I probably will.

It makes sense that the more reviews you have, the easier it will be for a person to decide whether or not your book is right for them. It also shows that PEOPLE ARE READING YOUR WORK. Therefore you must be somewhat popular and your name must be slightly well known.

So how do we get these reviews? If you figure that out, let me know. It’s a constant struggle for me. I offer to review swap. I review other people’s work in the hopes that they’ll return the favor. I promote my books as often as I can on my social media sites. Still, they trickle in slowly.

Now, I grimace to admit this, but there are people on Fiverr who will read and review your book for you, for a fee of course. And if they offered to give an honest review, and I had the money, I might do that. But I won’t pay for a good review. I just feel that’s wrong. And even if you pay for some good reviews and you get a few more people to start buying your work, if your work does not live up to those good reviews, people will figure it out. And the bad reviews they leave will reflect that.

If this seems a little muddled, it’s because this is really a scale that has just been tipped. Yes, people have been leaving reviews online for years, but it’s only been in the past two years that I’ve truly come to understand how much I allow them to influence my purchases. It’s generally well known now that in order to sell products, you have to have good user reviews. . .as well as some bad ones and some mediocre ones. Otherwise your product won’t seem legitimate.

So good luck authors! And as always, if you’d like me to review one of your books or short stories, please contact me here. I’m always look for new books to read. I don’t ask for reviews in exchange, but they are always welcome. 

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