Author Tips from a Reviewer

Why Should I Find Reviewers?–That Costs Me Money, Not Makes Me Money!

Believe it or not, this is likely the most common question I answered during my virtual classes on book marketing. I taught on how to use social media and blogs to give your book a nice big shove into the internet realm, and most authors agreed that social media marketing is one of the most important things an author could invest their time in–besides writing those masterpieces of course. But as soon as I mentioned “reviews”, well, very few agreed with me on how important those are.

Sure, most authors know that “successful books” generally have thousands of reviews, but over the years, I’ve learned that, Indie authors especially, believe that reviews should only come after purchases. Many beginning authors are willing to give out 10 or 20 books for promotional reviews, but no more because of the “cost of dispersing”. And they’re usually right, mailing books can get costly!

When I first began reviewing, I received ALL of my books by physical copies. From publishers, agents, editors, and authors, it didn’t matter, I was going to get a paperback (occasionally a hardback) in the mail about twice a week (my house is basically a library now because of this–much to my fiance’s dismay). That’s just how reviewing was done back in 2012 and earlier. Can you imagine the postage that was spent on the books I received alone? Not to mention the cost of printing those books? Yikes, no wonder publishers limited ARCs!

But it is now 2019 and I have one word that has completely changed the game for reviewers and authors alike. EBOOKS. Do you know how much it costs to send an email with your book attachment? *whispers* “Nothing” (Yes…You can get technical with it and factor in the price of internet service or word processor used to write the book, but come on, it’s nowhere near the cost of physical books).

The truth is, reviews do not cost authors hardly anything anymore (if you search for reviewers organically, there are paid programs you can use, but that will be discussed in a later post) so why are you limiting yourself with only 20 possible reviews?

“Because, how can I make money if I’m constantly giving away my product? That is counterproductive!”

I know. I know. I’ve taken business and marketing classes too and it goes against everything that makes logical sense. We want people to BUY our books, not us GIVE THEM AWAY. Some of us have spent YEARS writing that book and we would actually like to get paid for that hard work! But let me ask a question that you might not like to answer:

“Are you making money off of your book with those 20 reviews on Amazon?”

*crickets chirping*

Yes, you might sell a book here and there, run a half-price promotion and sell a few more, but are those purchases coming back and leaving reviews? Likely not, or if they are, it’s a very small percentage. Do you hear back from the purchases on their opinions of your book? Again, likely not. Sometimes, you’re not even sure your book is getting read through all those giveaways and discounts. They might be, but you have no way of knowing that for sure. But don’t get discouraged!

I can *almost* PROMISE , reviewers are at least reading the book and leaving feedback. And you know what? Reviewers will often BUY a physical copy of the ARC ebook they loved (I make a point to do this personally, and I do know of several others who do as well…)! Granted, don’t bet on every reviewer doing that, many won’t, but still, if 1 reviewer out of 50 falls in love with your flawless writing style and beautiful world building talents enough to purchase a physical copy, you likely just made more off of your one physical copy sale than all of your ebook sales for the past two weeks or more.

“I’m still not convinced reviews are worth it.”

Good. I was hoping you’d say that, I still have one more thing to say. But don’t worry this is the last thing I’ll say.

As an online shopper, I go completely off the ratings and reviews of things I am looking at purchasing. As a movie watcher, I go largely off of what Rotten Tomatoes or my friends say about movies I’m interested in watching. As a reader, I go completely off of the average star rating when I purchase books.

I’m likely not going to be as quick to buy something that only has 5 reviews total either. Even if all of those are 5 star reviews, in my head, not enough people have sampled it to give it an accurate rating. However, I am more likely to purchase something that has 50-100 good reviews, and even more if there are 500+. Makes sense right? The same logic applies to your books.

So how should you approach reviewing?

  1. Don’t limit yourself. Especially if it’s your first book (remember, no one has heard of you yet). Use ebooks as your primary ARC source, and just go at it! Yes, reviewers love physical copies and you may love to send physical copies, but most reviewers these days accept ebooks, so take advantage of that! If you still want to send some physical copies, instead of budgeting to mail paperbacks to every reviewer, why don’t you set aside however many physical copies you’d like to give away, and send those (autographed *wink*) to the reviewers who really loved your book? That will save you so much money, but still allow you to connect with and thank reviewers for their time!
  2. Set a goal. This will help you cross a finish line and give you a sense of accomplishment! And don’t set it at something you think is attainable, you want to set the bar high! Now, don’t make it so unrealistic that you spend the rest of your life trying to meet it, but take what you think you can do realistically, and add 10 or 15 more to it. You can do a lot more than you think you can!
  3. Be willing to spend time finding reviewers who will like your book–seriously, you don’t want to set yourself up for a bunch of negative reviews by just sending your book to any reviewer. (In a later post, I will give you the best advice on how to find reviewers!)
  4. Take your query letter to reviewers seriously! Which, conveniently, is next week’s post. So basically, you need to make sure you’re following me to get all the updates *wink*.

Thank you so much for reading and remember that if you have any question that you’d like to ask a reviewer, drop it in the comments and it could be the topic of my one of my posts!

What are your views on reviews? Do you believe that they should be limited? Under certain conditions? I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments, questions, concerns and even disagreements on the topic (but please be nice, vulgar and rude comments will be deleted!)!

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