If you’re an author and you’ve done any reading up to learn how to best sell your books, you’ve no doubt come across one piece of advice time and time again…in fact, this advice is so important, that you’ll find millions of places giving you millions of different form of advice on how to follow through with it. That piece of advice: Get More Reviews!
In fact, one of my first interactions with an indie authors was him telling me about how many 5-star reviews he had on his book…all of which he admitted were gained through less-than-ethical means.
I’ve talked about it on here before as well…reviews are definitely an important piece of the book-selling process. 600,000 books were published in 2014 (or something like that, so I’ve been told by countless other sites…). I’m not going to even look for a source for you right now. You don’t have to look too hard to see that there are way too many books being published today. Needless to say, most of those books will just never see any form of real reader response. Many of them shouldn’t…if you just take a quick look at the most recently published books on the front page of smashwords at any given moment.
The ease in which you can publish a book today has caused so many new authors to hit the market. I’m not going to say that they aren’t trying very hard to write good material…but…well…let’s just say that there’s a reason that so many good books fall through the cracks.
Reviews, therefore, are an important piece of the puzzle. Readers, when looking for something new to read, either go to their friends for their recommendations, or seek out books within their favorite genres to try and find a diamond in the rough. Reviews, therefore, give them something to go on, an idea of what might be worthwhile.
Alright…I’m getting off track here. We already know reviews are important. We all use them with almost every purchase we make. The real question is: How do you get them?
There are so many methods in which to get reviews up for your books. You can find reader/reviewers through any number of means…although getting them to actually read your books can be trying. You can give away books and hope that they will review after they read. You can beg and plead with your family and friends. You can even make up a whole host of fake accounts to place hundreds of your own reviews and prop yourself up (this used to be a fairly big practice with authors on Amazon, which Amazon found out and made it a lot more difficult to succeed in).
The other item, the one that actually takes the largest amount of work (assuming you’re working ethically here) is the review swap.
This is where you seek out other authors to have them read/review your books under the agreement that they will do the same for you.
I’m going to stop for a minute here to note that there is a possible dilemma of ethics here…and me, being one of those ethical authors will urge to you recognize the dangers inherent in this system. It’s quite easy to put out reviews for books, make them glowing reviews for books you haven’t read a single word. There are many authors who do just that, expecting a glowing review in return. Recognize that if you are an ethical author/review, you may have a situation where the author you are swapping with won’t like that you gave them less than a 5-star rating and can lash out at you negatively…
In fact, the review swap is quite filled with questionable practices that I would suggest taking good care with whom you choose to swap with before actually doing the swap at all. That is, if you intend to review honestly.
But the review swap is easily one of the best ways to get your review numbers up. By simply reading books, you should be getting more reviews on your own books. And authors are so craved for reviews right now that you can be assured that many, if not most, will keep up their end of the bargain.
And the cool thing is, you don’t even have to look too far to find authors who are willing to engage in such activities (although, again, finding ones who are willing to give and receive honest reviews can be a bit more difficult). Do a quick search for a goodreads group and you’ll find hundreds of such options available. Facebook also has many such groups…and I can’t imagine it would be too hard doing a google search to find such places as well.
There is even a secondary piece to this wonderful puzzle. In getting involved in such practices, you’re actually reaching out and networking, increasing your social profile, and ensuring that more people actually know and care about who you are. Indie authors can be an incredibly supportive bunch, and finding more indie authors to work with can be amazing and wonderful for your own art, even if it simply serves to give you the daily affirmation of knowing that others are going through the same difficulties you are.
Review swaps, in my opinion, are really the only true method to follow, if you want to ensure the best return on your investment.
Of course…Amazon is also not entirely cool with them either, as there is the possibility of being seen as authors working to game the system together…and therefore getting your review rejected simply because it’s not being seen as honest.
I’ve reviews hundreds of books now and have never had a review of mine rejected…but it happens.
Which, once again, is why I stress the importance of acting ethically here (and, of course, in all actions). There’s not much better of a way to lose your audience than for them to figure out that you’re trying to trick them.
And they will figure that out…A person who has 100 5-star reviews and no bad ones is likely not legitimate. Give me a book with a healthy dose of 4s, 3s, and 2s, with a smattering of 1s and 5s, and I’ll believe that their stuff is worth reading.
Alright, I’m out. Have fun out there!