Friday, May 23, 2014

The First Review

As an Indie author you can find a lot of a lot of advice out there on the Interwebutaries on how to deal with the business side of writing.  There's blogs on formatting; there's blogs on publishing.  But what you'll find the most of, I think, are blogs about how to cultivate a solid set of reviews.  Heck, you'll even find blogs about blogs about how to cultivate a solid set of reviews. 

Why such attention to the topic, you ask?

Because it's the hardest part of this whole business, I think.

Reviews on books serve the same role as customer testimonials do for any service company's marketing plan.  Specifically, they're central, crucial to the whole process.  Hocking a book with no reviews is like asking people if they'd like to gamble, and while it's true that $2.99 (the cost of most of my novels) ain't exactly a Vegas-high-rollin' bet, it's still, to the reader, a crapshoot for the cost of a couple of sodas.  I know this first-hand--I am a reader, and I generally pay for the books I read, and I like to know what I'm getting first. 

Ferinstance, if I buy a Mountain Dew, I know what it's going to taste like.  That's why I buy it.  I remember the first time I bought a Cheerwine; that wasn't a risk, either, because it was highly recommended by the person I was with.  See what I mean?

Getting people to review your book, though, is tough.  For one thing, there's a lot of baggage that goes along with that.  Specifically, when I started with Cataclysm way back in the dark ages of Indie publishing, most reviewers wouldn't touch an Indie book.  Nowadays a lot more will, but they seem to be inundated with review requests.  And then there's the friends and family, whose reviews are actually worth a little less anyway in terms of credibility (no matter how well-done they are), and who face the question of how honest they should be to balance integrity with continued friendship. 

And then there's the rest of the marketing plan that's at stake.  Many promotional sites will just take your Paypal/Visa/MC payment and slot your book cover in with all the rest, but some, and some of the better ones, take reviews into consideration.  That means you can't even promote a book through those channels until you obtain a certain number (and a certain average rating) of reviews. 

(to be clear--I didn't mean to imply that you cannot promote your book at all without reviews, just that your options are a little bit limited)

So generally here's what happens: if you're an experienced Indie author, you already have a list of reviewers who work in your genre (and if you don't look at what genre they review, shame on you).  Once the book is at the point of being reviewable (read, publishable) you reach out to all of them.  It needs to be a bunch, too, because 50-70% of them ignore you due to being overworked, and 50-70% of the ones who don't ignore you, tell you politely to stuff it. 

Others, though, accept your book for review and put it on their stacks.  Months, I should add, worth of stacks. 

So then you wait.

And then you wait some more.

If you get a great reviewer, as I did, after a wait you'll get an e-mail blip to tell you she's reading it.  Oh, the excitement that brings you!  And then, days later, she sends you the review draft.  That's even better!  And then, you receive a note from her that it's live.  Wheeeeeeee! 

No, I'm serious.  It's that exciting.

Anyway, my first review is up and on "Just Reviews" blog, done by Gabina.  Here's the link below, and please, go read it if for no other reason than to give her the traffic such an effort is due.  Enjoy, and if you decide Prophecy sounds like a good read, you can click the cover on this page.



No comments:

Post a Comment