As part of my new marketing initiatives, I’ve decided to establish an active reviewers mailing list.
Reviews are a weird ethical area for a lot of authors and there’s much controversy about what’s okay and what’s not. Some authors have paid for reviews. That can mean hiring people on fiverr to post reviews on Amazon–a violation of Amazon’s terms of service and not okay, IMO–or spending hundreds of dollars for coverage in publications like Publisher’s Weekly or Kirkus Indies. I don’t think that there’s anything unethical (or at least no different than publishing business as usual) in the latter, but it’s basically buying an ad that you don’t control. I’m not excited about spending my money that way.
But publishers have always given away books for free to people that they thought were potential reviewers. When I worked in publishing, our marketing department had lists of people who got books for free when they released. As my own marketing department, I need to create that list–my own list of active reviewers.
The hard way would be to flog my books to every book reviewer I can find: send messages to active reviewers on Amazon, send emails to book bloggers, search for reader-reviewers on Goodreads and Library Thing and Shelfari, etc. That would be a lot of work. I’d basically be trying to sort through a huge pool of potential reviewers to find the ones who might be interested in me so that they can get a free copy of my book for promotional purposes.
I’m too lazy for that.
Instead, I’m going for opt-in reviewing. When I updated the book covers, I added this note to the back of all the books:
If you’re an active reviewer and want a free review copy of either the next book in the series or the next book I release, please send an email to email@example.com with a link to a review you’ve written about one of my books, and let me know which title you’d like to receive and in what format (epub, mobi, or pdf). The review can be on any site, including a retailer, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari, your personal blog or a group blog, and it definitely doesn’t have to be nice. Be as critical as you like, but please write at least a few sentences—two-word reviews don’t count!
I’ll be trying to grow that list as large as is feasible–since these are ebooks, I’d be perfectly happy to have it reach 1000 subscribers, maybe more–but I’d like to make sure that it includes the people who have already reviewed my books and will therefore never see that note. If, dear reader, that includes you, feel free to shoot the email my way. 🙂
Judy, Judy, Judy said:
I’m of 2 minds here. I love your books and I am happy to review. However, I’ve been seriously neglecting noveltruths lately mostly because the energy there feels stale. I have made up for that as best I can by putting reviews of books I really feel like reviewing on every cyber haunt I participate in – noveltruths, facebook, tumblr and shelfari. I am really neglectful of amazon reviews but sometimes I try. And sometimes I go on there and there are already 100 reviews of a book and I think – what’s the point.
The other thing is – I prefer to pay for books because I want to support good writers. Voting with my dollar, so to speak.
That said – whatever you need – always.
Reviews constitute social proof, usually. It’s not that when you write a review on Amazon, your review is necessarily the one that changes someone’s mind (or even gets read) but a book with 1000 reviews and a 4-star rating is likely to actually be a 4-star book. Plus, the sites like BookBub that sell ads and promote books are selective about the books they choose to include, and the more reviews, the better an author’s chance of getting included. That said, if you’re happy to buy, that’s definitely good, too! For perspective, I’ve sold 158 copies of Time on Amazon US since it released in December. My 18 months of work has earned me about $500. So every little bit actually does help.
Dr.Penny Coleman said:
I have read all of your available books and will look forward to reading any future bools you write. I am so excited about finding your writings and have given each book a five star rating. You are a wonderful writer and I look forward to many years together. Thank you
Thank you so much! I’m very glad you’ve enjoyed them. Have you gotten A Lonely Magic yet? I sent my mailing list a link to download pre-release copies, so many people have but it hasn’t been for sale yet. But I’d be happy to send you a review copy if you haven’t gotten it yet. You can email me at sarah at sarahwynde.com.