In a previous post I wrote about a review I requested from Charlie Courtland for A Promise Is A Promise from my Nurse Hal series. Charlie is the author of Dandelions In The Garden and has a book review website: http://www.bitsybling.wordpress.com. I appreciated her good review and the fact that she put it on Amazon and www.goodreads.com, where it could be seen by [many] people.
According to Steve Weber in his book Plug Your Book, Amazon has some regular customers who offer reviews on every book they read. One negative review can hurt sales. He says keep asking for reviews. The more often your book is reviewed, the less likely a minority opinion can dominate. Numerous authentic reviews lessen the chance that a single review can overtake and monopolize the Spotlight position.
Think about it. Reviewers have likes and dislikes when they pick a book to read. That may play a factor in their reviews. Plus, their intention is to review the book, so they’re naturally watching as they read for what they want to say. What would be great is to see more positive customer reviews on Amazon, but how do we go about getting buyers to respond? I want to know what people who buy my books think of them. Most book readers aren’t reading a book to find mistakes, but to be entertained. Those are the buyers most likely to leave a good review. Anyone who has bought an item from Amazon knows if you don’t leave a review in a certain amount of time, you get an emailed reminder. That means the book buyers don’t just forget. It’s always possible they didn’t like some of the books well enough to write a positive review so they decided not to write one at all.
As far as my books are concerned, I’ve gotten good reviews from ebay buyers and private sales. These are the buyers I was referring to who read my books for the entertainment value. I always make a point to ask buyers for a review so I’ll know how they liked my books. Most of them are glad to comply and all the reviews have been good. I know they aren’t just saying that. They like my books well enough that they want to buy another one.
I thought about how well my ebay buyers respond, and I had to wonder what was the difference between ebay and Amazon buyers. Maybe it has something to do with the reviews left by the experienced reviewers. Most book buyers couldn’t measure up to those detailed critique reviews with one of their own. Maybe buyers don’t know how to write a review they think would be all right. I can tell you from firsthand experience, I’m not good at giving a constructive review. When I was active on http://www.authonony.com I submitted Christmas Traditions and A Promise Is A Promise to get the opinion of other authors. Their reviews and thoughts were very complimentary and detailed, but I found it hard to review their books as well as they did mine. What I know for sure is I either like the books or don’t, and that’s based on the genre and the story in the books I like to read.
I write books I hope are stories people will like to read. These books make you laugh out loud sometimes, describe characters that remind you of someone, and you miss them when the story ends. Those are not my words, but words my customers have used to describe my books. So why is it so much easier to get ebay and private customers to give me positive reviews than it is to get them on Amazon?
Perhaps, there is another simple answer besides knowing how to write a review. On Amazon, customers don’t have contact with the author of the books. Sales are impersonal business transactions. On ebay and private sales I can reach out to customers to add the personal touches to my sales so they get to know me. I sign my books for buyers. I have their email addresses so I can let them know the book had been sent so they can watch for it, and I tell them I appreciate their business. I ask for a review, if they have time to contact me, after they read the books. I think they respond back, because I reached out to them. Many of these buyers have become my email pen pals. They email me to find out how soon another book will be published. I have email addresses on a mailing list so I can notify buyers when a book is for sale. I’ve never been a fan of mass emails. That to me is very impersonal. I know the process takes time, but I email each buyer one at a time. Besides, that way I can visit with many of them. Some of these buyers email me once in awhile to just to say hi. Makes me feel blessed to get to know so many wonderful people in the United States.
With this all in mind, I started two new discussions under Christmas Traditions in the Kindle bookstore on Amazon. The first one explains that I have decided to put my books on Kindle and that I hope the buyers like this book. There’s a short explanation about the use of Old English pronouns, because my book is a historical fiction. The second discussion is Reviews Needed For Christmas Traditions. Since I have sold many of these books on Amazon, I asked if the buyers could give my book a review. I explained I didn’t want or need a detailed review like the experienced reviewers give. It would be great if they could click one to five on the stars and just say they liked the book. That would be enough to encourage other buyers to give my books a try. Now I’m hoping that the customers find the discussion and read it.
I added three sample reviews for Christmas Traditions-An Amish Love Story from other buyers to give them an idea what I’m hoping for:
I had a hard time putting the story down. It has some interesting twists and turns as we follow the customs and false pride of the characters.
You are so descriptive. I felt the little thread of hope Margaret felt, but she didn’t see.
I enjoyed this book very much. You sure made the characters come to life and what a sweet love story you have told. I wondered if you may be thinking about writing a sequel to this book.
What more could any author ask for when the book is already published and in the bookstores? By then it’s too late for a detailed, constructive review if it’s not positive. Reviews as simple as the reviews above show other buyers the books are worth reading for the entertainment value of each one. So book customers on Amazon or other sites: speak up and let your favorite authors know how you feel about their work. Your opinion not only counts with other consumers, but it matters to the author.