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A guest post by Rod Raglin,
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Over that period of time I've had a total of about thirty reviews - that's for all books combined, non-duplicated. They've appeared and can actually be read on Amazon,
Goodreads, and Library Thing.
I've had a few other reviews on personal blogs, and there may even be more out there I'm not aware of.
I confess I actually paid for three on Reader's Favorite Book Reviews, but never again. Despite the assurances from paid for review sites that the fee does not guarantee a positive review I can't reconcile this practice with my own conscience.
So how does an indie author get honest reviews since reviews apparently sell books?
I say apparently because I don't know otherwise. My experience has been a few reviews equal a few sales. Would a whole bunch of reviews translate into a whole bunch of sales? I can't say for sure because...well, you figure it out.
As a journalist I was trained to not to assume anything and take nothing for granted. I strongly urge other indie authors to do the same. As far as unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims, the charlatans in the writing/publishing industry rank right up there with those affiliated with miracle cures and get rich internet scams.
But I digress. How does an indie author get honest reviews?
I've tried book giveways here, on LibraryThing, Goodreads and StoryCartel. I've offered my books as pre-orders, discounted and free. I've uploaded them to sites like WattPad and Inkitt. I've sent hundreds of free e-books attached to personalized e-mails. I keep an up-to-date website, tweet everyday and even blog, as you are no doubt aware.
I have yet to establish any link between WattPad, Inkitt or any social media site to reviews or book sales, unless after reading this you decide to buy one of my books and post a review (let me know if you do).
Media reviews or other established review outlets like Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal seem reluctant to review your book unless it's successful(?) or at least traditionally published.
In desperation I checked out a site called The Indie View. If you're inclined to read and subsequently write reviews of the work of independent authors you're invited to add your name to their list, which is quite substantial.
If you're an author and fishing for reviews the site provides you with the name of the reviewer, their website, their preferences, guidelines, where they post their reviews and the date this information was last refreshed.
However, here are some interesting things I discovered.
A least twenty-five percent of the reviewers listed on this site are closed for reviews due to a backlog. I take that as not a good sign.
Quite a few reviewers state they will not post a review of a work they cannot rate as at least three stars. I imagine they do this out of consideration, however misguided, thinking a bad review can pull down an author's average rating.
Depending on why you write, you may be of the opinion, as I am, there is no such thing as a bad review. First and foremost I want to become a better writer - money and fame, well, I'll accept those too - if you insist. Critical reviews, especially those that are specific, point out where I've let the reader down and allow me to consider how to improve in those areas.
If you're in this game for ego, if you some how think you can fool all the readers all the time than I can understand that a bad review really sucks.
But not for me.
If someone hated my book, well, that's okay. I'm just glad they read it and took the time to review it.
For the most part, they're obviously not doing either.