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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review Gathering: The Good, the Bad, and the Morally Gray.

EDIT: 10/12/2016 Just a quick note to address the recent changes to the Amazon review policy: most of the changes do not actually affect books. Amazon has stated they still consider ARCs fair game. However, they are now stating that you can't REQUIRE a review in return for an ARC, meaning you can request it but the reviewer cannot be under any obligation to review. This might affect third party reviewer sites and review circles, depending on the set up of these individual groups. Some groups might find ways to make the review process completely voluntary and will be fine (NetGalley is very established. I can't see Amazon making a fuss about them, for instance). Others might need to alter their terms of service. Unfortunately, I can't check each site individually, so use your own common sense and caution. 
Also, when handing out ARCs be sure to use language that clarifies that they will not be penalized for failing to leave a review. Also-also, try to get them to call it an "ARC" in their "I received a free book" disclaimer and maybe suggest one that doesn't involve words like "in return for my honest review." More like a simple, "I received this book as a free ARC. All opinions are my own." 

A bit ago I did a very non-scientific poll which I posted and shared as far as my social media reach could reach ... for a grand total of 289 responses (I'm not sure whether that's good or bad as far as my social media reach goes) if interested the poll is still live and you can take it here. Who knows? Results may change after this goes live and I'll have to do an update), but anyway, the subject of the poll was reviews and how they impact buying decisions.
The results in general were very interesting (including the "comments" section) and will eventually merit its own blog post break down, but one thing that struck me as especially interesting was the question, "Does the number of reviews matter to you?" An overwhelming 88% of readers claimed no, it didn't. A book could easily have under 10 reviews and they would still consider the purchase if the book seemed appealing due to other factors.


Considering how hard it can be to rack up those reviews (the majority of readers do not leave reviews. You can sell a hundred books and net one review out of it on average), it's encouraging that, at least in this small sample, only having a handful of customer reviews might not hurt us that much. There are, of course, rumors that Amazon gives "priority" in searches to books with a certain number of reviews, but this is just a rumor. I don't think Amazon has ever put this in an official statement and I notice books pop up in my "recommended list" with only one or two reviews fairly frequently.

That said, one thing that isn't a rumor is that certain promotion sites want to see a certain number and star rating before they will feature you. I've seen this range from 4 reviews to 40, and while there is no official word on review requirements from big hitter Bookbub, clicking on books there for a bit seemed to suggest they prefer a slightly higher number of reviews for the books they feature (and sometimes they run an exception with only a handful of reviews. Bookbub works in mysterious ways).

So don't be desperate!
I know, I know, easier said than done ... a lot of writers have turned to less than ethical means to gather reviews, and because of this, Amazon occasionally does "sweeps," deleting all "suspicious" reviews ... and in the process they often catch legitimate reviews.
And sometimes it is hard for readers to know what Amazon allows and what they don't. Amazon is a big chimera with a dozen heads that sometimes seem to contradict each other. It often doesn't explain what it does and some of its rules are buried deep in legalese ... it's a pain. Still, you should read them at least once. Click here and here for the most relevant sections.

So how do different review gathering methods stack up as far as Amazon's TOS and ethical concerns go? Which will actually get you reviews? Which should you actively avoid?
In the blog post I'll list various methods along with any pros, cons, and my own rating for "ethical" concerns (1 being the devil on your shoulder, 10 being the angel). Now the "ethical" bit could possibly be controversial. I'm not saying if you've engaged in this method that you're a bad person (I find most authors who have are driven more by a naive idea that it's just how things work or because they haven't considered conflict of interest, etc, more than a strategic desire to break rules and rip off readers) and in some cases the rating will be influenced simply by how "squirmy" the method makes me personally.
I will also include some links to helpful sites that I consider legitimate resources.

So with that said, let's start with the elephant in the room:

Flat out Buying Reviews

Yes, these places pop up all over the internet. You'll get messages in your inbox from people making offers. You'll see them advertised on places like fiverr. They will guarantee you a dozen new reviews for a cheap, cheap price ... but they are DEFINITELY against Amazon's Terms of Service. 
A lot of these vendors will allow you to determine the star rating your book receives or even offer to let you write reviews for your own books. Even if they claim you are buying "honest" reviews, these reviewers are probably reviewing dozens of books a day for various authors. There is no way they are reading all the books. Besides, the exchange of funds immediately creates bias (because no one is going to pay a reviewer to repeatedly trash their books.).

Pros: oh, you'll get reviews all right.
Cons: Amazon might delete your account, will probably delete your reviews, most readers feel they can see through "paid" reviews so the authenticity of all your reviews will be called into doubt, and you've generally helped to damage the combined reputation of all indie authors .. you know, little things. 
Ethical rating: 1 (probably 0 but I didn't include that on the scale)

Friends and Family Reviews

While also against Amazon's rules (and the cause of some of their most controversial deletions as the whole "we suspect you might know this author because of something we won't disclose but it may be as little as you emailed them telling them how much you liked their book after you read it or you followed them on Facebook which doesn't necessarily make you a 'friend' so much as a 'fan' but hey, our site, our rules."), this one does swiftly slip into the "gray" area because of a few things.
1. Define friend. Is the person I interacted with at the book fair a friend just because they followed me on Twitter and like my cat pics? What about the neighbor who yeah, I say hello to, but they've never been over for dinner? 
2. It's impossible to stop well-meaning friends and family from doing this sometimes. I know I have reviews from people who I personally think of as "good friends" and I have reviews from people who are at least distantly related to me. I didn't ask for these reviews. They aren't the majority of my reviews by any means, but they pop up (annoyingly my little sister is a harsh critic. Don't believe anything she says in her reviews. She's just a know it all... kidding, I love you.). 

Pros: We do all have that one relative/friend, though, who would tell it like it is even if it hurts, and so I don't think all "friends and family" reviews are biased beyond repair and therefore evil. I wouldn't actively seek out these reviews, but if you get one, don't freak out. It'll probably be okay.
Cons: However, if Amazon puts together the connection (and no one outside of Amazon seems to know for sure HOW they make this connection), the reviews might get deleted anyway. Also an "obvious" family review is a turn off to readers (no one cares if "Grandma Jo" thinks you're the best writer ever and "such a polite young man.").
Ethical rating: 4 ... ish ...

Goodreads Giveaways

Goodreads allows you to give away paperbacks (they are introducing an ebook version, but it has like a $100 buy in, I think, which seems very expensive to me for what it is) through their system. You can choose how many books to give away and how long the giveaway goes and at the end it randomly picks winners from everyone who has entered, you mail them the book, and when they get it they might review.

Pros: I honestly do this feature more for exposure than reviews. The price of a paperback+shipping buys me a bunch of people seeing my book cover, adding it to their "to read" shelves, and having it on their social media feeds. It's not a slam dunk marketing technique, but it is worth it to me.
Cons: If you are doing this purely for reviews, don't expect a high turn around rate. A lot of winners never actually review. Those that do tend to leave the review only on Goodreads, not on Amazon. Goodreads readers also tend to be a little more on the "exacting" side and you may end up with a one or two star for your efforts (which are eventually unavoidable, but at least according to rumor more likely with Goodreads than with other methods).
Ethical rating: 10. I don't think anyone has any bones to pick with this method.

Bloggers

I love book bloggers. Not just for the reviews. They're enthusiastic readers who love to share books. They're often very savvy with social media. They're just generally good contacts to have. 
They also should be free. If a reviewer has a "paid reviews" feature, it might work as an editorial review and you can consider that as you will, but if they post a paid review as a customer review, then you have to file them under the first item on this list ... however, most book reviewers leave honest reviews in return for a free copy of the book. 
How to contact bloggers and what to expect could be an entire post to itself (and I'll make some quick links to some lists of bloggers you can thumb through), but as a general rule, this is a tested and respected method of gathering reviews.

Pros: They are avid readers. They probably review more thoroughly than the "average" reader which can easily pop their reviews into the "most helpful" slots. Some have policies where they won't publicly post low rated reviews and will instead offer a private critique (not that bad reviews are necessarily evil and they are definitely unavoidable, but the safety net is nice). They may even offer to help promote you in other ways and they may have a following.
Cons: Waiting lists. Most book bloggers have them. Most receive dozens of review requests a day. It may take them months to get around to your book because of this (I've often gotten reviews posted that I totally forgot asking for). 
Some people assume book bloggers are biased because they get free books and are just in it for "free stuff." My thought, if they review a book dishonestly in return for a free book, all they've gotten free is a book they don't actually like and a chance to get more books offered by the same writer who wrote the book they didn't like ... so why would this bias them? But because of this vague concern I'm going to give this ...
Ethical rating: 9. As I said, the majority of bloggers are in it because they love books and like to give their honest take on books. There may be a handful with ulterior motives, but this is so slim. I'm only giving them a 9 because I think some people do get suspicious just when they see that "I received a free copy in return for my honest review" note.
Review bloggers list 1.
Review bloggers list 2.

Other Social Media 

I'm going to just count this along with bloggers because the pros/cons/ethical concerns are about identical, but there are some social media users who are active reviewers but might not necessarily be blogger. You can find them on most social media. For instance the #bookstagram crowd on Instagram ... or by searching Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads. Basically the same advantages (social media reach, excited about books) and disadvantages (might get a lot of requests.) apply, so I'm just going to kind of lump them in with Bloggers for the purpose of this post. You can find them by searching relevant hashtags, usually. 


Paid Services

Now this is NOT the same as paid reviewers, and you need to be careful to research any company/service you choose to work with to check out their reputation and how they work to make sure that this isn't a "front" for a paid reviewer racket. 
The difference? 
With a paid reviewer, the reviewer directly takes your funds in return for a review.
With a reviewer service, there is a middle man, usually a website or a company, that takes your book and posts it for a fee, then offers it to their volunteer readers. The service isn't being paid for the reviews. It's being paid to promote your book to reviewers who in return (if the service is ethical) will receive nothing more than your free ebook or paperback. Generally the reviewers are just signed up because they like to read books for free. 
Different services have different methods, but most are accepted by Amazon and should not damage your reputation or put your reviews in jeopardy. I'll link some of these services below. 

Pros: It takes the work out of your hands and gets you in front of reviewers who will usually have a deadline on their reviews which makes it efficient and quick. A lot of times they will review with a level of detail similar to book bloggers and some may even be book bloggers (a lot of book bloggers are associated with Netgalley, one of the bigger names in this business). 
Cons: They can be expensive. The listing fees on these sites run from a reasonable $5 to upwards of a couple hundred. Unfortunately, the expensive ones tend to work better and have the larger reach. Results may vary too. Different sites have different systems and set ups. You'll probably need to research various sites.
Ethical rating: 7 ... why so low? Because I can't personally go over every site for you and make absolutely certain they are using ethical methods. Also similarly to book bloggers, though free review copies have been a thing for ages, some people still get suspicious when they see that "received a free copy..." disclaimer that Amazon requires on such reviews. 
Here are some sites of this nature that are generally well-thought-of. 

Review Swaps

I'm going to step on some toes here because I know a lot of well-meaning authors who do this and do this frequently. They'll contact other writers out of the blue and ask, "Hey, you have a book. I have a book. If you read my book, and I read yours, and we both review, everyone wins!"
Most do not see any ethical concerns whatsoever. Of course they wouldn't lie about your book and they wouldn't expect you to lie about theirs. It's all on the up and up, right? 
Well, the easy response is, whether it is ethical or not, it is technically against Amazon's review policy. Take a look at this screenshot taken from this page on their site. The last item on the "not allowed" list.

The gray area? 
"But I'm not agreeing to a positive review. I'm agreeing to an honest review. I won't say I like their book if I really don't. I won't expect them to say they like my book if they really don't."
Sounds good but consider two things.
1. How does Amazon know the difference between an honest five star review and a "I'm just giving them five stars because they gave me five stars?" They really can't, and if past actions from them are any clue, they'd rather delete first and ask questions later. Both reviews will be gone. They may look closer at other reviews on your account. They may discontinue both reviewer accounts.
2. Can you really be honest knowing that the fate of your book rests in that other reviewer's hands? At least on a subconscious level, wouldn't there be some, "I really think this book deserves three stars, but dang, they haven't reviewed my book yet, and what if they see I give them three stars and get mad and give me two stars?" I have even seen authors go back in and change their rating on a book in response to another author leaving a less than favorable review on their own book. Even if you trust this other author to handle criticism well, it's hard to predict how people will respond.

That said, I have left reviews on books by writers who have at one point or another reviewed me. This wasn't because of a swap but because I read their book and honestly enjoyed it (and presumably they also read and enjoyed mine). I just happen to know a lot of authors. Sometimes I've even delayed posting a review because I saw that they posted a review on my book and I wanted to avoid the appearance of a swap, though. No sense in needlessly poking the 'Zon. (Amazon to us cool kids)

Pros: if you find a group of authors who are honest and even tempered and not prone to revenge reviews and if you aren't too terribly picky about what you read, you can sometimes get a lot of reviews through swapping and you even get to read some cool books.
Cons: Even if you are completely honest, it can look dishonest. Amazon could catch on and delete reviews. If you tick off the wrong writer who doesn't accept that her poorly edited baby is a three star read, you could end up with a whole lot of drama on your hands.
Ethical rating: 4 (so basically the same as the family/friends one. Yes, there are circumstances where this can work out and be above board, but there are also so many potential pitfalls). 

Review Circles

These come in a lot of different forms. They are usually conducted over social sites like Goodreads and Facebooks and they sort of combine aspects of review swaps and paid services (though usually they are free, requiring only a certain amount of participation, not money, to join). 
Unlike review swaps, where the person you are reviewing is in return reviewing you, these usually work to spread out the reviews so you are reviewing a different author's book than the author who is in turn reviewing you. In some you may even be allowed to select the titles you review. In others, you may be assigned titles. A lot depends on the group's rules and administrators. 

Pros: This system does get rid of a lot of the ethical concerns of the review swap system. Technically, it isn't against Amazon's TOS (that I can discern), and you can get a lot of reviews if you are yourself an avid reader able to keep up with the commitment.
Cons: It doesn't get rid of all the ethical concerns because some of these groups do not allow you to leave lower than 3 stars (so if you dislike the book, you just have to step out of the circle) and if you dislike too many books in a row, you can end up getting removed from the group, so there is some pressure to rate higher than you might otherwise. The way I handle these situations is to lurk on the edge until I see a book I genuinely can get excited about then pounce on it and not let go. If someone tries to convince me to review a book I am less excited about so they can review the one I am excited about, I hiss and growl at them until they go away. I will review the book I LIKE. I will not review that strange book that may or may not have book cooties. 
Ethical rating: 6 (similarly to paid services, I cannot personally put a stamp of approval on every group that does this sort of thing. There are some really good ones and some that are kind of shady. Just be careful and try to join only with authors you trust). 


ARCs

This one takes a little bit of forethought and you need to have a social media following in place to do it well. 
To start with, what is an ARC ... Well, if you mean "what does it stand for?" I'm not exactly sure. I have seen Advanced Reviewer Copy, Advance Reader Copy, Advance Review Copy ... I'm sure someone somewhere has made the official call, but for now, I'm going with ARC because I like Indiana Jones. 
I mean only Nazis hate Indiana Jones...
Basically, in the months leading up to release day, you put out a call for readers who will read an advance copy of the book and leave a review on release day. Depending on your social media following, you may only get a few bites ... you may get dozens and dozens and be able to set yourself up as the review queen. Who knows?
ARCs are generally late drafts. They are often pre-final-proofing and may include some typos (this is somewhat standard even in traditional publishing. A lot of ARCs are what's called "galley proofs."). They may be in some way marked so that they can't be resold or water marked to help track down pirates ... you can look them up if you are curious. 
But anyway, once all that is out of the way, it is very similar to how it works with a Book Blogger. They get a free book and have the bragging rights of being the first to read it. If they are a blogger with a following, being one of the first to read and offer a review may help increase their readership. Other than that, they shouldn't be recompensed in any way. 

Pros: Honestly, if you are doing this through your social media, most of the people who snatch up copies will be your followers and they are hard wired to like what you're dishing out. Unless you've majorly diverted from your usual theme/style/content whatever, you're probably guaranteed mostly 4 and 5 stars from ARC readers. It also enables you to start out with a strong showing and have a lot of reviews while your book is still technically a "new release" which can look good. 
Cons: When I did my reader survey, at least one reader mentioned that they distrusted it if the majority of reviews mentioned it being an ARC. This might be just that reader's bias ... or it might be that they know about the bias I mentioned in the "pros" section of this entry. They know that the majority of ARC readers will be super fans, not average readers (not all, but just in my own experience, my ARC readers are the readers who are also posting on my Facebook page, tweeting at me, and visiting my blog). 
Ethical rating: 8. There's a debate here about whether getting your fans to leave the first reviews is "stacking the deck" or just common sense business. Personally I think it is the later, but some readers do distrust the power of the ARC, so be warned. 

Street Teams/Fans/Private Review Teams

This is similar to ARC readers except not necessarily in advance. These are also generally people who are social media followers and fans. People on your mailing list. While not required to read and not getting anything in return, they are eager to leap at a chance to be the first to read or one of the first to read your book.
Because of this, I think the same basically applies to them as to ARC readers. 

However, some readers are skeptical of the "rabid fan" and will dismiss these reviews. So basically for pros, cons, ethical rating ... see ARCs. 

Making Fake Accounts

This falls into, do I really have to tell you not to do this? It's the equivalent of those warning signs that make you wince because you know they are there because someone somewhere actually did the thing you are being warned against be it "Don't climb into the tiger cage" or "Murder is BAD." However, I have seen this happen. Writers make fake accounts and then leave a glowing review on their own work and a bunch of one star reviews on their competitors ... or reviews that mention their own book in a flattering way. It is completely against Amazon's TOS. It is completely unethical. People still do it.
Caveat: Goodreads does allow authors to review their own work. You can use this to leave little notes to your fans if you want to or maybe some "making of" information or something. I've seen authors split about whether or not this is a 'good' thing to do, but according to Goodreads it is an allowed thing to do. 
For instance, I left an author "review" on my boxset to tell readers that it wasn't "new" material but simply a repackaging of my first four books. 

Pros: when you get caught the backlash can reach epic and amusing levels, and I get to read the comments and eat popcorn.
Cons: It's just wrong. You can get kicked off Amazon for it.
Ethical rating: 0 (I know I said there wasn't a 0 earlier, but this is my blog post, so NOW there is a 0)

Offering ANYTHING in return for a review

Another thing that I wish were more obvious. It's very similar to paid reviews but often happens in "party" settings or among devoted fans so a lot of writers talk themselves into not recognizing it for what it is. They aren't paying for reviews; they are rewarding loyal readers/fans. 
Examples I've seen of this include: entering people who email you a link to their review into a drawing; agreeing to add people to your Friday Follow feature on Twitter (gaining them massive amounts of Twitter followers) if they tweet a review they left on your book; offering a signed paperback in return for a review ... 
It's especially bad if these things come with a rating restriction (like entries for four and five star reviews only), but considering I don't think most people would be gutsy enough to email you a link to a one star and expect you to still enter them into the drawing, it's kind of implied. Also, it encourages people who haven't read books to review them because they want in the drawing. 
This is the official language from Amazon, just to assure you I'm not making this up, We do not permit reviews or votes on the helpfulness of reviews that are posted in exchange for compensation of any kind, including payment (whether in the form of money or gift certificates), bonus content, entry to a contest or sweepstakes, discounts on future purchases, extra product, or other gifts.

Pros: It does make loyal fans feel like they have had a positive interaction with you, I suppose.
Cons: Again, it's simply against the rules. You may argue that a raffle entry or a Friday Follow shout out isn't the same as being "paid" but as long as the reader is getting something in return for their review, the process is compromised.
Ethical rating: 3, and I'm being generous because I've seen the mental barriers a lot of writers build to try and convince themselves that this is "okay." They usually really, really believe they aren't doing anything wrong. That doesn't change the fact that it is against the TOS.

Public/Private Appeals

There are a lot of ways to do this, from vague, generally targeted "Writers Love Reviews" memes you can share, to leaving a note on the last page of a book that says how much you appreciate reviews, (maybe with a link to the review page in ebook format), to directly asking for reviews (when someone mentions reading a book and loving it, say, 'That's awesome. You should leave a review!') to just being open about it ... 
like if I'm honest, almost everyone of these posts I make about reviews is a tacit appeal to my readers. If you like my book, review it, please. Reviews matter, and this is why.
So most social media active writers do this to some extent. 

Pros: Free, ethical, might bring in reviewers who just didn't realize that reviews matter and suddenly your meme hits like a lightning bolt and they see the light!
Cons: Yeah, memes aren't lightning bolts ... I'm not sure how many hearts those lovingly phrased memes actually melt. 
Ethical rating: 10. Doesn't hurt to ask.

Giving Away Books

Basically reviews are a numbers game. The more readers you get, the more likely you are to get reviews. The quickest way to reach a lot of new reviewers is to give away a bunch of books, usually by putting it free and then doing a paid ad.
Pros: You reach readers you might not reach anyway, and you'll generally see a burst of reviews after a free promotion.
Cons: You don't get paid for the books (duh ... though I have to add, if you have more than one book on the market, doing a free day on one often sells copies of the other). Sometimes you'll draw in readers outside your intended audience who are more likely to review harshly.
Ethical rating: 10. No one is required to review you, so there is no obligation. 

Editorial Reviews:

Different from Customer Reviews and under slightly different ethical guidelines, so I'm only touching on them briefly here. Rather than by a customer, an editorial review is similar to what you see in a paper (ideally). Editorial reviewers are often professional reviewers and are expected to review a little more "academically." 
Some sites (like Kirkus) will charge for a review, assign your book to a reviewer, and send you back a usually pretty balanced and sometimes harsh review you can use in your marketing ... including in the author administrated "editorial review" spot on Amazon. 
What can qualify as an editorial review is pretty broad. It doesn't have to be a paid review. It doesn't have to be a print review. I use mine for bloggers who I thought put a lot of care into their reviews but who didn't want to post as customers, for instance. I'm not really going to touch on pros/cons/ethical issues here because I think they are a completely different beast than customer reviews. 


As with anything to do with ethics, what people are comfortable with is going to vary a good deal. The Amazon TOS, however, while not always enforced, are not up for debate, so if you're an author (or reviewer) it is good to familiarize themselves with them. 

14 comments:

  1. This is excellent. Thank you so much.

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  2. I remember taking that poll and thinking it wasn't really asking the right question, imo. It's not the quantity of reviews, it's the quality of them. A book can have 10 reviews, 9 of them being 5-star and that's going to influence me to try it more than a book with 30 reviews but 15 of them are 3-star or lower.

    I don't mind ARC reviews but if all of the reviews say ARC and every single one of them is 5-star, I'm not going to trust them as much as I would if there was at least one or two 3-stars or lower.

    Also I hate reviews that say "it was the best" or "worse book ever" but don't say anything else to support the generic judgement. Since everyone's tastes are different, what makes a book awesome or awful to one person might be different to another so I look to know *why* the reader thought it was awesome/awful so I can decide for myself if it is something that I would like/dislike.

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    1. True. It's hard to categorize quality in multiple choice questions, so I was just looking for a quick general sample.
      Like I know readers who say they won't buy if the positive reviews have a lot of misspellings (which is in no way the author's fault and does not necessarily reflect the book's content) or that they disregard any reviews with poor grammar.
      The comments section on the poll was honestly the most interesting to me. It'll take a while to wrangle it into a post, though.

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    2. Like Kathy Steinemann, if I love an author, I don't even bother looking at the reviews. But they can be a big factor for those new reads.

      But I have to say I'm astounded that people would judge a review based on the grammar/spelling. The book, sure, but the reviewer?? Do they just assume all the positive reviews must come from youth or uneducated dolts? Wow. (Though I've become drastically more accepting of spelling/grammar since dealing with and learning a lot about my daughter's dyslexia. Though published books don't get that pass - that's what editors and proof-readers are for.)

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    3. I think the assumption is that if a person can't spell they aren't smart enough to know if a book is good or bad. Others said they suspected this meant purchased reviews (because a lot of these come from overseas so the review writers are often non-native English speakers).

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  3. With my first book, my goal was to get a hundred reviews. I queried reviewers like crazy and worked so hard to get my reviews. Then Amazon deleted 40 of them. Then 20 more. And now I don't do ANYTHING to get reviews which is slow going, but I don't have to worry about ethics or queries, or anything besides writing. :) Excellent post.

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    1. My personal goal is to get to 10. It's not a ton, but ten seems to open up most promotional sites. After that, they seem to trickle in slowly but surely ... of course a big promotion giving away a lot of free books can help. Like having Cora and the Nurse Dragon on Bookbub netted me (I think) 30 reviews in less than three weeks. Of course, that's still only like (and I'm bad at math...) .3% (?) of the ten thousand free downloads I had during the ad's run.

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  4. Thanks, Heidi. I must admit I'm one of the vast blue majority. If I like an author, I'll buy their books no matter how many reviews they do or don't have. If it's a new author, and the first 10% via Amazon Kindle's look inside pulls me in, said author has a sale.

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    1. I think most of the fuss is because of that rumor that Amazon somehow gives books with lots of reviews priorities. It would be nice to know if there is any truth to this whatsoever, but it's a pretty prevalent myth among indies either way.

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  5. This is a great post! I love your breakdown of the pros and cons of each review-gathering strategy, and I'm surprised (and a little relieved) to see so many people willing to purchase a book with less than ten reviews.

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    1. thanks! It's not really a scientific poll but it does reflect what people have told me a lot of times. The reviews are only important if they have certain "flags" for most people. They'll scan them for phrases like "lots of errors" or "cliffhanger ending" or "sad ending" or other things they personally don't like but that's about it.

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  6. Very informative & helpful post, Heidi. Thanks so much for sharing.

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