Did you find a new author you love? Want to support them? It’s simple: write a review. Better yet, write a few. Or write one and post it in multiple places, at least.
When consumers approach a purchase, they want a quick way to verify it will be worthwhile. Most of us are guilty of scrolling down to check reviews. I hope I’m not alone in always checking both the top positive ones and the top negative ones. It’s a fact that no one can please everyone, so a negative review is not a deal-breaker for me, but I want to see why the consumer was upset. Does it apply to my circumstances? I’m suspicious of anyone with only positive reviews, but sometimes there are so few reviews. We need more voices out there, more opinions!
Now, look at books. It’s easy for famous authors to have vast lists of reviews. But books with small readerships (like emerging authors) struggle to get any reviews. And if no one writes reviews, then buyers will not want to take a chance on it.
Most platforms don’t have many rules for leaving reviews. If you have a profile, you can write a review. Some expect you to have bought the item through them, but most do not. The biggest fish in the pond is Amazon, and that’s where it gets a little complicated.
There were some concerns that Amazon would not allow everyone to write reviews. They do have different standards that are worth knowing. Breaking the rules will see the review removed at the least, but can get the author or the reviewer suspended as well.
1. Authors cannot pay for CUSTOMER reviews, but can for EDITORIAL (professional) reviews.
2. Authors can give out free or discounted copies and request a review, but they cannot demand a review in exchange.
3. Authors cannot limit reviews. Some authors put “I encourage reviews, whether positive or negative” to assure Amazon that they are not soliciting for only good reviews.
4. Friends and family of authors CAN put up reviews, but “individuals who share a household with the author or close friends” cannot. I’m not exactly clear how close is ‘close friend,’ but I’m assuming this means my husband is out since I live with him.
5. Someone must have spent $50 on Amazon within the last12 months to write a review.
The last point was surprising. On the one hand, I understand not wanting people to write reviews for things they have never bought/used, but as Amazon has become such an incredible hub, it worries me that people outside the platform cannot be heard.
Where to find or post book reviews:
Check Goodreads, amazon, google, iBooks and pretty much anywhere the ebook is sold. They all have review options.
Writing a review:
Be honest! As much as I wish to support friends and other writers, I never lie in a review. I don’t want to trick someone into buying something they don’t want, and I don’t want to discredit the author. But don’t expect your review to necessarily reach the author, as many authors do not read reviews. If you want to reach out to the author, try the contact page on their website, their Facebook page, twitter account, Instagram etc.
While adding a review to a book that already has five hundred is a drop in an overflowing bucket, a review to a new author is worth gold! So, if you enjoyed a book, any book, take a moment to find it online wherever you shop and leave a review. It is probably the single-most supporting thing you can do for any new writer.
It's a New Year. The gamer in me appreciates that it's going to be a good year because it's 2020. I'm not going to explain the joke, sorry.
Since launching Dragon's Voice in November, I've been compiling a list of things I wish I had known before publishing. These are the little things that some people may have told me and I forgot, or no one said and I didn't know to ask. So, here are "More Things we Learned" It's a continuation of the "Things we learned today" Blog from October 2019. Read that one HERE first, then come back.
Done? Ok, here's the new stuff.
1. Make sure your word document has "keep lines together" UNCLICKED on the paragraph settings. This means the program will NOT bump your paragraph to the next page to keep it together. That way you won't end up with a huge dead space at the end of the page when the paragraph falls across it. It DOES mean you'll have widows and orphans (a single word or sentence on a page followed by a break like a chapter). Now you have to find those and fix them.
If you fail to do this, correcting it later will mean you will suddenly SHORTEN your book and may have to redo your cover (because the spine is now a different thickness).
2. Don't put a subtitle in Amazon for the paperback. The ebook from Draft2Digital doesn't do subtitles, and now your two items don't match by way of description. No, you can't edit the paperback after it's up. You could edit the ebook, but D2D doesn't do subtitles, so you are stuck. Amazon won't help you by matching them.
I ended up removing Amazon from D2D's distribution and loading the doggone thing myself. It worked, but defeats a bit of the purpose! On the plus side, the ebooks count towards the Amazon total now, and since they payout when I hit a threshold, it may help me reach that threshold sooner and actually get paid. So, maybe a good thing?
3. Make a file for your links. Yes, D2D has a new "universal link" feature, but you'll still want the paperback one, and your website, and your event link and whatever else. If you have a single file with it on, it's easy to click and connect the icons to the page you want. But some links are too long… so I learned about Bitly. It shortens links for you.
4. Sell author copies to sell to family and friends, those who would buy MY book but not really likely to buy a fantasy novel. This means you will not confuse the algorithms online. Apparently, Amazon and such are using your sales to categorize your book (so they know who to show it to in the "you may be interested in" parts. If all my friends buy it, but they are not fantasy readers, then it doesn't show it to the right people.
The downside to this is that these sales do not count towards my rankings or online presence. Pros and cons to that one.
5. I sold 25 books easily. I should have brought in more.
6. Reviews. Please, if you remember only one thing from this, let it be; "support your author with reviews." Online reviews drive sales. They let people know the new book by an unknown person is legitimate. If you have thirty seconds, go write a review. Even if it's not for me, write one for another author you love. It doesn't matter as much to the multi-million sales top-seller with thousands already (but they would probably like to hear from you!), but it is a HUGE thing to an author just starting. You can write reviews on websites, Goodreads, Amazon and more.
I didn't do a good job of setting up reviews. I have to play catch-up now. It's hard to have reviews without having readers. I should have requested reviews from early readers (eARC), but that's a work in progress now.
There you go! Hopefully, someone can learn from my oversights and have a smoother publishing run!
Overall, I was floored by how well Dragon's Voice did. I called the book my "Training wheels book" because I knew it would be a bit wobbly, a stepping stone along the path to publications, but it was smoother and better received than I had ever expected.
If I did my job right, the people who enjoyed Dragon's Voice will be excited to know Dragon's Talon (following Sair's descendant through starting a war) is aiming to be released in May 2020. It'll be going to Beta Readers no later than mid-January.
Happy reading and Happy New Year!
D. Lambert, author
Fantasy novels that entice, inspire, and entertain.