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Getting Reviews

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A writing friend of mine–Matthew Quinn–has recently thrown himself into the Kindle Pool of self-publishing. His work is called, “Melon Heads,” and if you’re into slasher, b-movie style horror stories it may be up your alley.

While it is exciting to put your work up on Amazon and see what will happen, one of the biggest frustrations is seeing your downloads and sales numbers go up without getting a single review. Which as much as we–meaning authors–loves sales, getting reviews can be just as important. Having enough reviews can mean driving sales.

So it can be disheartening to see that section of the page stagnate.

Now your question is, “Jeffrey, how do we get reviews?” That’s a great question. Let me know when you find the answer. Because I haven’t found a sure fire way of getting them.

I do know of two, sure fire ways of not getting them–or at least not getting real ones. If you have to ask for it, you won’t get it. Hitting up Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other social media and asking for people to come review your work will send people running. I’m not exactly sure why this is. I imagine it is because we come off as insecure as an author. Or perhaps people don’t like being told what to do.

The best you can hope for is to put the work out there and let it stand on its own. Of course, if anyone has been able to generate a sizable amount of honest reviews through asking, let me know. I’d love to hear how you did it.

The second way of not getting reviews is by offering it for free. You may get a few, but expect for every 100 downloads a single review. If that. There is another strange psychological effect going on here. The best I have figured–and read from others who believe the same–that if there is no value attached to the work, then people don’t care about it. Should they spend money on something, then they become more vocal.

I do have speculations however on how to generate some honest, unsolicited reviews. These are based purely on loose observation.

A starter–and the most important, I think–is having volume. The same principle behind growing sales with more volume can be applied to getting more reviews. The more a reader can get from you, the more likely they are going to spend their time reviewing the work. They’re invested–they may even enjoy your work–so they will want others to enjoy it too. It’s all about word of mouth, and the more work you have the more you can be spread around.

Next, advertise. Get the information that it is out there. This can be a tricky thing. It’s not like asking for reviews. You’re simply letting people know that the work exists. This is a hard road. You’ll spend a lot of time finding markets to let people know that it’s there. You also need to be sure not to over-saturate any of your social media. That can also turn people off. I’ve dropped a few people from my twitter feed who would tweet the same thing within minutes of each other.

When it comes to reviews, we have to be patient. Put the work out there, advertise, and then move on to the next story. There isn’t a quick track to reviews for a fairly new author. Just keep writing and eventually the audience will find you.

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6 Comments

  1. There is so much human psychology involved with marketing. I wish anyone had ever told I might eventually need that kind of thing, but my strictly engineering background in college didn’t make allowances for that sort of thing in amongst all the computer language courses and such useful stuff as Differential Equations (which I have never used and hope never to use).

    There was always the sumption that we are The Tech People, and there were Business Majors who would handle ask that for us while we thought abstract thoughts about bits and bytes and algorithms.

    Wish I could go back and take a marketing class our two.

  2. James says:

    I know you’re talking about unsolicited reviews, but I do want to state that much like a street vendor always starts business with a few of his own bucks in his hat the same probably applies to online reviews. Have a few of your friends kickstart it and people will notice that someone has said something about it. And as in the case of most anything have something to say about it, maybe not the book as expected, for there be trolls about….but you will get something.

    • That’s a really good point. With “Slip Drive” I did solicit a few close friends to review it. What I stressed to them–and I think this is important–was to give it an honest review. Having a ton of five-star reviews right off the bat can look suspicious.

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