Friday, October 28, 2011

Show the love

There are three reviews on Amazon for my first book, Adventure at Brimstone Hill.

I am painfully aware of this because I just released the third edition and spent some quality time with Amazon getting the reviews moved from the old to the new edition and also linked to the Kindle edition. The folks at Amazon were probably wondering why I even bothered!

Having come face-to-face with the paucity of the reviews on my books, I have begun a major campaign to get more reviewers to make their comments online.

Why is this so important? Liane Spicer has discussed this before and a friend of mine who is an author claims that reviews are how readers show their love for authors.

There are millions of books available on Amazon. Readers need some way to make that decision to take a chance on an unknown author. One thing that persuades me to try a new book, apart from recommendations from a friend and a price that is low enough to seem risk free is a thoughtful review with an honest ring. Even negative reviews are useful as what someone else finds unappealing (for example, a strong Christian message), I may think is just the right thing. If I come across a book with no reviews, I am likely to move on without buying it.

So, how am I (clearly unsuccessfully) working to get more reviews?

Well, there is the obvious, Whenever someone makes a positive comment on my books by email or verbally, I try to get them to put it in writing on Amazon. Clearly this is not working!

I tried a giveaway, a free copy of my Adventure At Brimstone Hill Activity Guide to anyone posting a comment. This has yielded me one comment, which is actually not so bad in the scheme of things.

I have also been working on getting "professional" reviewers to comment on the book. At first I would look on Amazon for reviewers who clearly gave thoughtful reviews of similar children's books, look at their other reviews as an indication of whether they wrote frequent reviews and if so, to try to find a way to contact them. This was a time-consuming process as you can imagine, but thankfully I also found an interesting (I am not yet able to comment on the effectiveness) blog which lists reviewers along with some information on their preferred genre and other details. The list is long and many reviewers do not accept electronic copies of the books so I will have to mail a physical copy, however, it is certainly more effective than my first approach!

How do reviews sway your buying decisions? Have you found a successful method to increase the number of reviews on your book?


Charles Gramlich said...

I used to pay more attention to reviews than I do now, I think. When I do look at reviews I try to consider a mix of all the different levels of reviews.

Liane Spicer said...

Some books are auto-buys for me, such as those by authors I love. The other major persuader for me? Reviews. Amazon reviews, newspaper and magazine reviews - I can't count the number of books that have ended up on my wish list and my bedside table this way.

I know some authors do review exchanges with other authors, but I haven't tried this yet. As for mailing books to professional reviewers: it's a crapshoot. They receive far more than they can ever review and I suspect most end up on ebay. As a matter of fact, I've read that some of these reviewers make a decent living this way.