Yeah! Reviews on Amazon

Well, three book reviews anyway. That’s a start.

Two years ago in June, I published 16 books on CreateSpace Publishing, [which is] owned by Amazon. I started out to publish one book and found the process so easy I decided to publish all my books. My thought was that if I was going to promote one book I might as well promote all 16 at the same time. The books are different genre so I had a better chance of finding buyers. They are sold on Amazon which doesn’t mean much for an unknown author unless I’m willing to work at getting some attention [for] my books.

Correct key search words help book buyers to come across a list of books to choose from with best [sellers] at the top and mine at the bottom. However, I’ve noticed my Amish books are creeping up in the list Amish, because they sell. Buyers haven’t left reviews, but I had the feeling they liked my books because the number of sales kept increasing for all three Amish books. So I asked people I knew who bought my books and buyers from ebay to give me reviews. I can’t review my own books where buyers are allowed, but at the bottom of each of my Amazon book pages is a list of community discussions. I started a new discussion so I could talk about each of my books and submitted all the reviews I had.

This month, to my surprise, a buyer bought one of my Amish books (A Promise Is A Promise) and left a review. She liked the book but thought I was too descriptive. She advised I should watch the use of adjectives. First time I’ve had a semi negative review from anyone. I could have let that go, but I wanted this reviewer to have a good opinion of me as a writer. Besides that, I was thrilled by the fact someone had finally taken the time to leave a review so I responded back to her in the community discussion that I was glad to finally see someone review one of my books and thanked her. She softened her next response by saying the amount of adjectives I used wasn’t going to stop her from buying another one of my books. She liked my Amish stories.

Her second response made me feel better but I was wishing I had another review that could top that first one. I lucked out. Recently, I joined Book Marketing Network. I searched through the groups to seek information that would help me with marketing and found Charlie Courtland’s post about doing free reviews. Charlie is author of Dandelions In The Garden. She hosts the site BitsyBling, where she gives her review of each book she reads and rates them up to five stars. If you want an opinion on the books she reads, check out her site.

I emailed Charlie about doing a review of A Promise Is A Promise, the first book in my Nurse Hal series. She replied she’d be glad to and I could send the book PDF, ebook or in print. I emailed back that I’d like to send her a book. She wondered about the cost, but I wanted her to see the book in the form I sold it, complete with cover. Writing isn’t everything. It helps to have an attractive package (cover).

Charlie told me she was a content, thematic, style and overall impression reviewer. She focuses on the positive and intended to include a few "flaws" because she wants each reader to decide if these are important or will dampen their reading experience. That statement, uncertain author that I am, made me somewhat nervous. I was trying to balance out a flawed review on Amazon and hoped for a new one that was more positive.

I asked for Charlie’s review because she puts them on Amazon (which is what I needed) and Goodreads, [a reader community] which I joined some time back. Charlie must be a fast reader. She goes through many books and gives a review on Goodreads and her website. Here is Charlie’s review for A Promise Is A Promise-Nurse Hal Among The Amish (ISBN 0982459505), which came back in a few days.

Gems: Growing up in the Mid West I loved the style and tone of the story and scenery. No purple prose or overly nostalgic descriptions, but rather a simple and honest portrayal of daily life. Each character is original and thoughtfully developed. I whole-heartedly enjoyed this Amish tale and believed the contrast between the Plain and English, but also how it is possible to live together with understand, honesty and acceptance. The story is not overtly religious but rather focuses on the complexities of relationships and because of this drew me into the Lapp family.

FLAWS: This is not truly a flaw because I loved how the author wrote the story, but if a reader is looking for more action or twist based on a typical ‘mystery’ experience, you may be slightly disappointed. The family secret isn’t so surprising, nor is it terribly shocking, but from the point of view of the Amish it is understandably shameful. I see this as a story about living up to a person’s word and good old fashion romance and values.

Bitsy’s Rating: 4 out of five stars.

I responded with thanks for such a great review. Charlie’s response was –

I really enjoyed the book. I missed the characters after I stopped reading. It was refreshing to read a different type of novel and I could relate since I grew up in farm county in Michigan. I realize I write with a Midwestern accent. I love the ‘voice’. I like the authentic language because it gives depth and thematic power to the story and characters.

Charlie is a personable lady that is easy to correspond with. I’ve enjoyed our emails and a positive look at my work from someone that doesn’t know me. My family and friends were complimentary from the start when they read my books. At first that was enough to keep me writing though not enough to keep me from worrying I might not be as good a writer as I was being told. When my books started selling on ebay, I needed to know if I was giving the buyers their money’s worth. I had personal email contact with each customer so I asked for reviews. The positive reviews came back as well as buyers buying more of my books because they like my stories. Since I put my contact information in each book package, I’ve sold books through my email to these same customers. That makes me more profit when I don’t have ebay’s deduction tacked on. Now I get emails from buyers (dare I say fans) wanting me to hurry up and finish the next book. That’s given me confidence that I’m doing all right as an author.

I started a new thread, Two New Amish Books on Kindle, to advertise. The discussion was picked up and carried on from there. Once people participate and the amount of discussions multiply a book advertising is lost several pages back quickly so has to be repeated to get attention from others. I didn’t go back to advertise again. It looks like buyers have found me now. I checked the email box so when a new message is left in the discussion group the email is sent to me and I can keep track of what is going on. That tells me many Amazon buyers got my advertising mailed to them, too. Problem is getting inundated by Amazon emails, because the discussion groups are popular. I was just about to delete myself from the four discussions I’ve been following when someone wrote about a couple of web sites that list many mystery writers and their books. I’m going to check them out and let you know about that next week.

On I wrote in my blog about wanting reviews. A helpful comment was join for a member giveaway of my books. I do belong to that website, but I wasn’t familiar with the review process. I can give away a certain number of books to other members. People request to get them. The website determines which members get the books. Then the people who read the books have to give reviews.

I haven’t tried LibraryThing for reviews yet, but with the next Amish book I publish, hopefully by the end of the year, I’ll be ready for another round of reviews and this site will be my next option.


This is a reprint from Fay Risner’s BooksByFay blog.