Like many people I’ve been reviewing what I did in 2013, and one of those things was give away a lot of books. I mean, a lot. As in, when I count digital downloads, almost 1,000. I’m not talking about when Amazon makes a book free either. I’m talking about giving them away via parties, events, review sites, street team, friends and simple random giveaways like on Facebook or Twitter. The hope is, that some of those giveaways will result in hooking readers, getting reviews, getting readers talking about your work.
We need readers to talk about our work. Even if you don’t like it, talking about it keeps it out there, and we need that. We need it for more than one reason.
Sales. Yes, we need the sales. I know this is something many authors don’t like to talk about because we’re afraid of offending readers or reviewers, or being seen as whiny or ungrateful for those that do buy our books, but it’s a fact of life. Sales = income and income means we can keep doing what we love to do. We love what we do, and we want to keep doing it. Most of us would keep doing it even if we don’t make an income, but how much time we spend on writing is dependant on how much income the writing generates.
Support. For me, the reviews are support. I see them as a thank you letter. Yes, even the bad reviews. LOL You see, if someone took the time to write a review, be it a two line one, a glowing one or a one that says it sucked < i see that as an acknowledgement of my work. Of course I want everyone to love it, but I know that won't happen. I also admit that while I don't mind reviews that say “It wasn’t for me.” or “It was boring.” but reviews that say “It sucked. Don’t waste your money.” hurts.
When I find myself struggling to force myself to stay in the chair, or wanting to procrastinate, I often surf for reviews of my work as a way to motivate myself. I look to see if readers might be anxious for more. I also look to learn what they didn’t like and what I could do better. In fact, I recently approached a reader whose posted reviews of all my Dungeon books on Goodreads over the years to become a beta reader for me because I learned something about my stories from her reviews. Something I want to improve on, so I asked her to read for me in hopes that I can fix that quirk.
This morning, after doing the numbers of all the books I gave away in 2013, and noticing that less than 10% of them have generated a review of any sort that I could find, I made a comment on Facebook. It was very discouraging to me, and I was feeling like I should just give up this writing gig and find a new dream to chase, and I snarked out a bit. Now, I know my numbers aren’t exact, but when I have less than 5 reviews each of several titles on Amazon, B&N and Goodreads I think my numbers can’t be massively far off.
Now, some readers email me instead of posting reviews, and that’s just as special. Even more so. So please do not think it’s all about reviews. Personal connections are even more so, and I keep a file of all my reader emails to re-read on days like today.
Basically, I don’t think readers understand the power they have. Not just in helping authors get sales, but in keeping us (or me anyway) motivated and sticking with it.
PS: Because of my comment, a new event is happening on Facebook that is gonna rock for everyone! Be sure to check out Sasha and Stella’s Sexy Review Party! for a chance to win REGISTRATION TO 2014’s AUTHORS AFTER DARK CHARLOTTE— a 260$ Value!