Review Gathering: Tomoson
As an Indie author I'm forever looking for ethical ways to speed up the review gathering process for my books. There are various sites that offer to put your book in front of reviewers for a fee. Since paying for reviews is against Amazon's policies, you want to avoid any site that has a direct payment for the review or gives any incentive to the reviewer to review other than the product/book they are going to be reviewing.
Tomoson is paid service that allows you to contact "influencers" and offer them a product in return for their honest review and social media posts.
- Even if they worked extremely well, I think their price point is simply too high for them to be a viable resource for most indie authors. If you are making enough to write off a $100 a month towards review gathering, that's great, but I am not currently at that point in my career and most of the indies I know either don't have budgets like that or have them but already have allocated them to more proven methods (Bookbub Promotions, for instance, are higher than $100 but they have a proven record of return on that investment.).
- The Site really isn't set up for ebooks. It was designed with physical products in mind, and if you want to get an ebook to someone you have to message them and get their email because it isn't provided. They do provide a physical address, so if you want to spring for paperbacks, this works.
- While people can put "books" as one of the things they are interested in reviewing, they don't specify genre, and you may send out a ton of requests to influencers only to have them not be interested in your book because it is fantasy/romance/mystery etc. This makes the process of finding active reviewers a little harder.
- I did not find the system particularly easy to use. The Dashboard was simple enough when someone did apply for my promotion, but if you just wait for the influencers to find you, you won't get many offers. You need to compose a "pitch" and message the influencers within the system. To do this you click on the sort of influencers you're interested in (in my case ones who put "books" under their interests) and then you have to message them in groups of like 10 (there isn't a way I found to get it above ten), so I would go down the list and select ten influencers at a time, message them, select another ten ... it was time consuming, and felt spammy, and I'd say maybe one in fifty got back to me. I also didn't see a way of telling whether I'd already messaged an influencer, and I hate being spammy messaging the same person repeatedly.
- They call you a few times checking up on you, and trying to sell you their paid service. Not a huge con, if you aren't anti-phone-conversation like me, and so far they haven't tried to contact me since I let my subscription lapse.
- They offer you a month free and don't even ask for your credit card information, so there is no chance of them charging you if you misread the small print or forgot to click a box.
- Since the influncers aren't paid to be on site and are only receiving the product you gift, this does not violate Amazon's TOS. Some larger influencers do have fees involved with blog posts and are free to charge them; however, you should be able to set your account to avoid these (I actually didn't figure this out, but I just declined any influencer applications where the influencer wanted a fee).
- All the reviewers who I got through this site (I think 20 applied, but only six completed the task before my free trial ran out), wrote sufficiently thorough reviews. There weren't any "I liked this book. It was good," cop outs. I'm odd in that, I wouldn't have minded seeing a negative review come out of this. It would've given the site more credibility in my mind, but all the reviews seemed to reference things that actually happen in the book.
- I also got some social media posts out of it. Tweets, a youtube video, and Facebook/Blog mentions. These add some value.
- They have phone centers where people seem to pick up pretty quickly if you have questions. I probably could've made more use of this, but with young children, phone conversations are both a luxury and a torment.
This is a useful tool. It actually made me kind of want to sign up as an influencer to get some free stuff. However, it's too expensive (and a little time consuming, just figuring things out and composing messages and dealing with details) for me to really recommend the site. I know that reviews are writer gold, but they do come in, albeit slowly (1 out of 100 sales usually equals a review, negative or positive. I broke 1000 sales on Dragon's Curse in July, and that's not counting the easily 10x that I've given away during various free promotions ... it currently has 62 reviews.). I know we freak out about this, and I think giving away books to bloggers and readers in return for a free review is an excellent strategy. However, don't freak out about it. Don't drop massive sums of money. Just chill out a little.
If they are offering the month free, save it for a month when you have some time on your hands (maybe between writing projects) and be prepared to put about an hour a day into it.