In the past week, there’s been a sudden tremendous uproar about authors getting fake reviews of their books posted to Amazon and other review sites. Some writers have been caught using pseudonyms to post glowing reviews of their own work, and even worse, using them to post negative reviews of books by their rivals. Other writers haven’t wanted to put in all the time and effort required to defraud people themselves, and have just paid people to write reviews.
(If your first reaction to that news is to smack your forehead and proclaim, “Why didn’t I think of that?” — then please just quietly close your browser window and walk away, because we’re not friends anymore, okay? Okay.)
I hear even John Locke, millionaire poster-boy for the self-publishing movement, has bought a ton of reviews, which, you know, kinda destroys any credibility he ever had, really.
Putting aside for a second how lousy and fraudulent this kind of behavior is, all I want to know is — why would you even do that when getting actual, legitimate reviews for your book is not exactly rocket science?
Speaking as someone who’s starting to get a decent number of really fantastic reviews for my books, let me lay out for you how it’s done:
Write a damn good book. Okay, yeah, that’s the hard part. But here’s the truth — if you’re not already confident that your book can stand on its own and garner good reviews without making them up or paying someone to say nice things, then you have no business publishing the damn book. You’re asking readers to spend their money and time on it, then it better be worth some good reviews on its own merits. If you don’t think it’s ready to be sent around the block without training wheels, then rewrite it until it is. Or throw it away and write a new one.
Send it out to book bloggers. Believe me, there are a ton of them out there, and yes, there are some that specialize in your genre, and yes, a large percentage of them will accept self-published work. If you don’t know how to find them, here, let me point you in the right direction. Once you find them, you ask them very nicely if they would please review your book. See, what you do is, you look for their posted submission guidelines, and then you follow them. Again, not really that challenging a concept.
Get ready to give away a ton of books. If you can afford to give away a few print editions, then you can do a giveaway on Goodreads. (And there’s no reason not to contact the entrants who didn’t win and offer them a free e-book instead.) Do an e-book giveaway on LibraryThing. Post a giveaway on your blog, and spread the word by joining a multi-author “blog hop” like the annual Coffin Hop Horror Web Tour. Let people know that you have a standing offer to send anyone a free e-book to review, any time, and all they have to do is ask. (Hint, hint.) Just get the word out there, get your book out there, and the reviews will start coming in.
That’s it. It’s easy. Yeah, this is all going to take time and effort, but this is a long game. There are no shortcuts — hell, if you’re a self-publisher, you’re already taking the biggest shortcut this industry’s ever seen. Slow down a little there, Tex.
Remember that aside from trying to move a few books off the shelves, you’re also trying to build a reputation, one that will follow you the rest of your career. Take some time and care with it; take the slower path, the one that doesn’t involve breaking Amazon’s terms of service, FTC Endorsement Guide rules, or, you know, your reader’s trust.previous post: Typing With One Hand (No, Not Like That) | next post: Wednesday Writing Links for September 5th, 2012