Wanna buy a book? I mean through all of my marketing efforts, tactics and out of the box thinking if that actually works to make a sale then I will be both astounded and not surprised, after all the writing game is poetically ironic at the best of times…
It’s been one hell of a weird journey in getting this book onto the shelves, since 2018 when I first drafted it to now, we’ve all come a long way and then this year happened…
To be able to push through all of the adversity of this shit storm that is covid fest 2020 and have a book to hold in my hands for the 6th time is pretty fuckin special in my eyes. Although this story represents so much it stands as a statement that words, ideas and books cannot be beaten no matter what situation is unfolding outside our windows. Of course I am fortunate enough to be able to carry on and even more fortunate to have so many wonderful, truly wonderful people to support me.
The journey in getting this story out there was a redemption kind of deal way before 2020 and now it’s happened, I am truly happy with it. While I’m eating celebratory halloumi and writing this post, I can honestly say this whole writing malarkey was worthwhile
This year has hit so many people hard and the best thing I can do to get through to anyone is to create content for them and these days people are actually reading it. In my eyes the loyalty of readers coming back time and time again to this site is worth more than any book sale but that’s a slight digression from what is supposed to be a book selling post…
The book sale bit…
Tumbleweeds at the ready because whenever an author tries to sell their own stuff or even think about it everyone suddenly vanishes but you’re getting a sales pitch anyway…
Darke Awakening is the 4th book in my occult, monster, witch, vampire series called the Order of the Following. It see’s two separate story lines collide as they are set in the same universe. The first three books in the series are currently discounted to 99 cents and so now there are 4 books to get yourself into right in time for Halloween/spooky season. Just look at them below, awesome right?
Darke Awakening is an ambitious crossover which throws many different heroes, villains and those in between together in a tale full of twists, turns, revelations and darkness. Anyway it’s officially released today and so because some awesome heroes pre ordered it buying the book now would be very beneficial for chart positioning on Amazon. I am literally 5 sales away from my target. If this target is reached then this whole deal is a success, that can only be achieved through you, potential loyal reader.
Marketing the 4th book in a series that only a limited number of readers have bought has been one hell of a challenge but I think we pulled it off!
Either way September 2020 stands as my most successful month ever for paid books sales, this is before the release of this book. Just look at those numbers as of yesterday…
And because I will always be closing, you can expect a guide book to how I did all these things hopefully next year. I guess that’s this post done, the links for Darke Awakening are below.
Peace out, stay safe, let me know if you grabbed a copy and thanks for reading. Rock and roll man!
It’s been 4 months since I joined book review platform Reedsy Discovery and my experience so far has been mostly good. Not only have I read some pretty cool books but I’ve also connected with some awesome authors. Let’s take a look at what I’ve read recently…
American Blasphemer by John Gillen is a potential read of the year for me and what a way to arrive on a new book reviewing platform. This contemporary/literary fiction story reads like an autobiography and its a dysfunctional one at that. If you’re okay with profanity, swearing and sexual stuff that’s turned all the way up to the extreme you’ll probably enjoy this one although it’s about way more than that trust me. It’s a series of encounters that make up an anti bible of sorts told through the eyes of someone trying to make their way through life in modern America. Like my review said it’s “a masterful labour of modern honesty, told through the lens of a lonesome soul trying to figure out this world and life… “
Rites of Passageby Chad Lehrmannis “a twisting unpredictable creature feature set in a small town with a big secret…“ and it’s my second Reedsy Discovery Review. Although I am a sucker for small town horror this one did have quite a few tropes usually seen in the genre along with it being the typical ‘chosen one’ story. Saying that this book did enough to hold my attention, it’s well paced and the pages fly by. Full review here.
Senescenceby Denver Scott is another potential read of the year and was also my first 5 star Reedsy Review because it’s an incredible deep dive into our potential future. Science fiction and non fiction merge in what is a plethora of all things cosmos and wider science that looks at the many aspects of humankind. Just what will our future look like? Find out with this highly readable and accessible book that boldly goes where not a lot of books have been before – seriously check it out. My full review is here….
The Dreamophile’s Diary by Shazrina is both unique and surreal which is exactly what dreams can be like – the very essence of that weirdness is captured quite well in this series of short stories all based on, you guessed it, dreams. “Life is strange indeed, sometimes what you most desire becomes futile for you the very next moment…” You can read my full review here….
Noxious by Bruce Knapp is a book for those who love their horror with variety. From witchcraft to possessions and everything else that could possibly be enveloped by the shadows of the macabre this one is a page turner. Of course Bruce Knapp is no stranger to the Hall of Information as last year we reviewed the short stories that make up his Night Audit series and now he’s back with another series all based around the town of Blackwater. Watch this shadowy and dark space! Full review here….
And so that wraps up Issue 1 of what I hope will be a quarterly exploration of Reedsy Discovery Reads. If you’re on the platform come and say hi. Until next time, peace out!
A tale that walks the fine line between survival and madness through solitude…
Young author J.P. Biddlecome tells a story through the eyes of sole character and teen ‘Mark Poe’ in what reads like a diary style account of exploration. It pulls you in quickly and then comes the realisation that he’s lost. ‘Mark’ has been turned around in the Oregon forest and so survival along with trying to keep things together becomes the priority.
The setting is wonderfully described and literally feels as if its closing in. This is written by someone who knows the setting well and so combining that with the urgency to survive comes the real story. From the need to build a fire to quickly diminishing food rations, staying warm and even Coyotes, our narrator faces many different challenges that all centre around survival and in the end he see’s it as a sort of game.
This solitary feeling coupled with a slow burn madness ‘Mark’ experiences makes for a readable and mostly enjoyable read. There are some moments where the narration style comes across as repetitive; ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that’ and similar phrases do appear often and this is something that could have been executed with a little more variety. Being able to show a reader as opposed to telling them is limited in this setting because of the solitary feeling but still it kept my attention throughout and made for an interesting read. For those who enjoy a shorter reads about survival in a wonderfully described setting will find this book well worth a look.
It’s a polarising subject amongst many writer folks over on the Tweet machine but are the various lifts and self promo posts worth it? Are you going to jump on board the follow train or are you a soloist? That’s what this entry looks to explore so let’s get into it….
What exactly is a writers lift?
Well, in simple terms, a writer/creator will put up a post on Twitter asking other writers and those in the community to share their links or profiles to accumulate more followers with a view to generally boost their presenceon the platform. Using the right hashtags might get a huge number of engagements and I suppose this is what the whole deal is about – getting more follows or engagement or even both. Some follow trains can grow semi out of control with a deluge of fellow wordsmiths looking for follows and numbers as opposed to actual engagement so is the concept of a lift just an empty attempt to gain?
And most importantly (for some) does it work?
Many writers and twitter users straight up refuse to take part in lifts and self promo tweets as they believe it just results in empty follows and temporary engagement. To them it appears to be a waste of time and lets face it, procrastination is the demon that comes in many forms. They also tend to clog up feeds and some folks just get sick and tired of seeing them time after time. Me; I’ve put that hashtag on mute a few times just to see more variety in my feed.
The big questions…
What’s the point in just having only writers in my following?
How am I going to sell to people outside that circle if there is nobody other than writers following me?
They are both great and logical questions but my response is simply those who refute lifts and self promo tweets just haven’t used them in the right way to get the right engagement. The ‘right engagement’ is what makes the whole social media success thing tick. Good engagement is also a wholesome nice feeling. Good and right engagement will eventually drive book sales – why? Because the that type of engagement has resulted in plenty of other authors getting those sales including me. Let’s break that down with a worked example.
Worked example – the centrifugal author force carousel analogy!
An author on Twitter who regularly does the self promo Saturday post has a book coming out soon. Their following has increased because of regular lifts but not everyday – this author uses moderation and knows their following/audience. This person always return follows and so therefore have retained most of them.
They decide to put that new book on pre order, it’s stand alone and the genre has a broad appeal.
Because this author does regular promo posts and also engages with fellow authors, they become well known in the community as a supporter of fellow authors. Their renown is what will sell above anything. People choose to invest in a person long before their book.
Some authors agree to help that author or pay them back by pre ordering the new release.
The centrifuge begins to turn – that being authors hopping on the carousel of support for one another , this carousel begins to spin faster accumulating more authors who jump on also and pre order the book. Everyone at this point who is engaging right will be getting more followers. The whole deal starts to gather speed and follows.
By the time the book is released, the pre order numbers help it climb the amazon charts where it could hit ‘best seller’ status where a host of non writer people see it and eventually buy it, hence jumping on the carousel also. This centrifugal force started with lifts and promos from an author, then got fuelled by authors with the final resultant being non authors buying a book.
Of course this analogy uses the concept of centrifugal force which is something that is designed to separate things, so eventually the authors who pre ordered separate from the non writer buyers who may possibly come back to buy another title. Fellow writers have played their part and helped another in need. The concept kind of relies on all of us helping one another for it to work… those who refute lifts are just looking at it from just their own benefit…
The big picture is here that if authors work together at the initial stage of a book release that work will eventually break a book past the stratosphere and out into the depths of space where many a meteorite lurk (regular readers). All of this big picture beginning with lifts.
My own case study…
You can probably gauge that I’m in favour of lifts and promo post on twitter but let’s back that up with some actual truth. Back in 2018 I really didn’t have much of a clue about engagement until I stumbled into putting a post up on twitter asking the wider community for book recommendations – this was just when I had started to review indie books on here and I needed books to read. The response was in the thousands… That night I re installed the twitter app on my phone and got to work adding books to my list. In 2019 I reviewed 40 books from that tweet I put out. The numbers for my blog alone rocketed which you can see below… those results came from a lift post! There are authors from that post whom I still connect with today and regularly engage with. They make my social media experience just about bearable sometimes…
The sceptics or yet to do it properly types…
Those who are sceptical and straight up dismissive of lifts and promo tweets probably haven’t used them in the right way. They most probably see this through the eyes of ‘how can this help me’. It can help you but only if you first help others, give it a go and remember the big picture. The only way to find any success as an author on social media is to engage and not be an island. This isn’t just all about the individual getting sales, I mean I didn’t think many of us were in this for the money or sales but instead we’re in this to get better and connect. The word social in social media is there for a reason, go be social and share your links, engage in lifts, follow back, retweet others’ pinned tweets and even do your own lifts. Lean into it and you will be rewarded. Authors together are one hell of a force. Since early August I have gained nearly 600 followers on twitter by doing self promo Saturdays.
The whole lifts and promo tweet thing is just one slice of the cake. Following through will lead to the right engagement. Take someone’s book that appeals to you from a lift and buy it. Write a review and blog about it. Not only have you read a book, but you have material to blog with and an opportunity to connect further with an author who will appreciate your genuine engagement. You might even make a friend and then repeat the process. That’s what I’ve done over the years to moderate success. As mostly small time authors we are in the business of trying to get anything over zero and lifts might just lead to those book sales even if it is one or two.
It’s an opportunty to vent…
Constantly sharing the link to your books on your own feed doesn’t work. It might take you a while to realise that but as a rule these days I don’t generally share the link to my books on social media on my own feed. Writers lifts and promo posts are a great way to do that instead, so let that urge to share build up and vent it on those lifts!
More recently the twitter beginner who may not even be an author or blogger has realised these lifts are a great way of getting engagement. They will normally and emptily tweet ‘any book recommendations’ knowing desperate authors will share their link hoping it drives sales – it normally doesn’t and these intruders are trying to take advantage of that to boost followers. Not only does this put genuine folks into disrepute but it cheapens the whole deal. Luckily you can see them from a mile off and my advice, don’t engage, save the lifts for the real writers.
I used to be a writers lifts sceptic until I tried it and now most Saturdays I will run one. The detail is key in any post, I normally include a promise to follow folks back and RT pinned tweets. Offering an engagement incentive is a great way to get some results along with the right hashtags. Here’s my most recent one as an example.
And here are the results after 24 hours…
Final final thoughts…
Lifts and promo posts are worth it, but moderation is key along follow up engagement. At the end of the day it’s all about what your intentions are? Genuine engagement will win the day! This may have appeared to be an investigation post on the surface but it sides with doing lifts because they can be very beneficial.
Okay so things are actually looking really good right now which is both weird and oddly satisfying. With everything I have thrown at this year in authoring and blogging just short of the kitchen sink, it might have worked. Seeing plans come to fruition albeit successfully is a somewhat liberating feeling both personally and for the wider world. Its also rather new territory. We’re not there yet, but just days from this year’s epic conclusion for me…
Authors and creators have a place in this world, even if said world does appear to be falling to shit, rising back to better and then down to shit again. Riding that wave has presented those who want it with an opportunity and a learning curve. That opportunity is something I fell ass first into and since dusting myself off and trying to get back up, several hands of several truly wonderful supportive people were there to pull me towards somewhere I’d never imagine; satisfaction in this constant battle to get your work read as an independently published author.
People have actually taken on my work, they have responded to those efforts, there are even those, although just a handful that have pre ordered a book that represents all of my story telling efforts up to this moment. This is such a far cry from efforts previous feeling like they fell on deaf ears. People are out there and they have my back, this is both heart warming and emotionally gratifying. From the dramatic ride of high’s, lows, reversions to zeros and everything in between this next book resonates that journey and reflects everything I’ve ever been through. The characters who are a diverse range of souls are going to have to band together in order to find some kind of resolve, like me finding you, loyal reader, a supporter and ally in this deal whom I am nothing without. It’s complicated, fun, surprising and now satisfying – all words that I use to describe this wider journey, the latter only really appearing recently.
Of course I’m not done yet, and perhaps I never will be, maybe that’s the secret. Marathon runners are always looking to better their PB and maybe that’s what I will always look to do, except I’m chasing the words, trying to get better, trying to get home. Either way recent times as an author in 2020 are worth smiling about, there isn’t much to be happy about these days, perhaps I’m lucky and the satisfaction will wear off, until then wish me luck, although that’s only a portion of the path to success. Consistent, creative content is what has really driven it, along with my work being accepted into open arms of those who have supported me. Thank you and bring on next week, the most important book release of my life.
‘I know every mile will be worth my while. When I go the distance, I’ll be right where I belong… ‘
Ah promoting the books, I’ve done this a lot recently and we’re back again to share methods, results and all things about the promotion of books. This is also a sequel to another post I put out at the start of the month and this time it’s literal…let’s dive in!
The aim of this post/who is this for…
The main aim of this post is to share results of a recent book promo run by informing other authors how I did it. This is with a hope they can use this info to sell some books. Much of this stuff can be applied to books that are stand alone, series, fiction or non and for all authors of every level – the self help guide book is coming next year… For those not interested in the full detail or a recap from last time just skip down to the actual start of this post…
To set the scene, at the beginning of this month I promoted the e version of my thriller/horror ‘Cemetery House’ by making it available for free via Amazon. My main aim consisted of two objectives in this promo run:
1. To get as many free downloads for the book as possible + some discounted sales after.
2. To promote the wider ‘Order of the Following Series‘ it is a part of. The next book in this series (Darke Awakening) drops at the end of this month.
The results of this promo run were unexpected and again quite good. While I have shared the results in the previous post the numbers have gotten a little better since.
A good promo run will give books long term visibility after and drive sales, sometimes these sales come days or weeks later.
Updated numbers from part 1…
Free downloads of ‘Cemetery House’ during this run
Sales of ‘Cemetery House’ after the run @ 99 cents:
Sales of other books in the series during and after the run
Sales of other books in my backlist
Part 2 actually starts here…
Okay so part 2 and book promo run 2 of September 2020 would see the overall aim widen slightly, and with all book promotion runs it’s important to set out a clear aim from the start. Lessons from promo 1 meant that we know when advertising a book that is part of a series, the other books in that series will probably sell also. This time around, the newest book in the series set for release at the month’s end was also available for pre order.
Aims of this promo
The aims of this promo were as follows:
1. To get as many free downloads for ‘Darke Blood’ a vampire occult thriller which is part of the wider Order of the Following series.
2. To get as many sales for other books in the series which are discounted @ 99 cents or equivalent in major Amazon markets.
3. To drive attention towards the next book in the series ‘Darke Awakening’ which is also a direct sequel to the book being promoted for free and will be available to pre order at the time of promo and the hope is to actually get some pre orders.
Strategy – how was I going to do it?
Like the previous promo this book would also be available for free through two days but this time on a Friday and Saturday (18th and 19th of September). My choice to use Saturday was to coincide the promo with Twitter’s #Shamelessselfpromosaturday which in recent times has driven a lot more traffic and attention to my posts. The writing community of twitter is something you should plug into, especially for promotion and engaging with other like minded writers. My following is above 4k and so this works as a good free boost. You can see the results and what that tweet looks like below.
Of course one method of social media is not enough to amplify my voice to tell the world this book is out there and free so I would also put out a post on my Facebook page to 500 likers and a blog post to nearly 500 followers on the 2nd day.
My main point of attack in this promo would be as usual to use a range of paid and free book promotion websites that advertise a book using extensive mailing lists and their own sites to reach readers.
Lets look at how it went, then I can share which promo sites I used and what factors of success were…
Darke Blood reached #3 in the Amazon UK Occult chart.
Darke Blood reached #1 in the Amazon US Folk tales/ Myth collections chart.
6 of the ‘Darke Blood’ sales on this day were free downloads that overlapped while 6 were sales at 99 cents.
The best moment of Day 3 was a single pre-order came through for ‘Darke Awakening’ which means that all three aims were now ticked.
Analysis/Factors of success
This was a decent promotional run with exceptional sales of other books in the series most of which were from the US. There was a time when I had only sold 13 or so books in the US and now that figure has been blown wide open. To get a pre order for a brand new release is also huge, although it’s only 1, it’s better than zero!
A huge factor in getting all of these sales and the pre order is listing the books in a series together via Amazon. This boosts visibility big time, especially when one of them is free!
Sub Factor of Factor 1
Just before the promo I did a little sneaky and amended the blurb of ‘Darke Blood’ on Amazon…. This is what I put before the blurb…
Coming September 30th – the next book in the Order of the Following Series – ‘Darke Awakening’ Pre Order Available Now!
At the time of the promotion the 3 books in the series had reviews/ratings in the two major Amazon territories (UK and US). Established books with some reviews always do well when given away for free and those that weren’t free had a good amount of reviews also which helped. Reviews and ratings are useful for selling books as they tell a reader how good/bad a book can be. Getting reviews takes time and so do numbers like this…
Price is a huge factor in this whole deal and I’m not just referring to everyone liking a freebie. The two other books are both priced at 99 cents or equivalent and this helped, perhaps if they were priced higher they would have been downloaded less.
The promo of ‘Cemetery House’ which was covered in part 1 resulted in 4 new ratings on Amazon soon after which directly effected the decent sales of it during this run. This is proof that one promo run can help another.
For this promo I used a few sites that are UK based and this directly drove more sales in that territory.
Great looking professional book covers, investing money and a social media following are all factors that help books get sold. These days I also use book banners which I made myself but for a little money you can probably get some made professionally and they are a nice little touch.
As you can see the two free promos side by side. The first one was indeed more successful and the top factor for that was labour day weekend in the US – people were looking to probably enjoy their weekend with a book or two.
The graphic below with free sales removed looks all the more impressive. Not only does it show paid sales after and during the promo but to date this is the best month of sales I have ever had in nearly 5 years of being published. Context: Upon release of Book 1 ‘Open Evening’ it sold 41 copies in the first month…
Book Promo sites
This whole deal sits on the shoulders of paid advertising and book promotion sites who help amplify that voice so folks can hear you shouting about your work. These are the ones I used:
Bookbongo – Cost $5
Ebook Booster – Cost $20
Bookrunes Cost – $25
Freebooksy (Thriller promo) – Cost $40
Bookzio – FREE
Book Hippo – FREE
Book angel – FREE
As you can see I invested less money for this promo which may have effected it’s overall success but I’m only willing to spend so much..
Traction takes time when it comes to books. Over the years I’ve learned a bunch and partially mastered all of the factors that go into selling them. I still firmly believe the best way to market and sell a book is to write another and another until you have a backlist, so keep going writers! Whether or not a book is part of a wider series doesn’t seem to matter.
Getting that one pre order made the whole thing a little sweeter, selling a brand new title is hard especially when it’s the 4th book in a series but the launch is hopefully bolstered by that handful of pre orders. The purpose of this promo was to help establish more readers for that series, did we accomplish that? Time will only tell…
Thanks for taking the time to read, I hope you got something out of this post that will help your writing and book promotion journey. Peace out!
A concise, insightful and reassuring read that’ll help you cope with the irrational fear of flying…
Peter Brandt has compiled an easy to read book that aims to reassure anyone with fear related reservations about flying with knowledge and facts. Many of us fear the unknown or what we don’t understand and even things that we cannot control – all of which fall under the fear of flying umbrella and as someone who personally doesn’t particularly enjoy flying this book has helped quell those feelings.
The bigger picture is mentioned at the start, that being this world is worth exploring and seeing, a fear of flying shouldn’t stand in the way. What follows are concise and to the point chapters that explain everything that is to explain about flying from the basic science and anatomy of aircraft to the subjects that might cause some unease to the nervous passenger. There are tips and small details throughout that make the whole narration feel calm and reassuring whether it be about turbulence, tips on where to sit in order to avoid noise or to get a smoother ride, what those noises could be, the engines and how they work, loss of power and the wider power systems, cabin crew and their responsibility, pressurisation of the cabin, air traffic control and even the anatomy of that window you’ll sit next to.
All of the subjects are delivered like a text book that anyone could pick up and read. This is the type of read that’ll serve as a resource time and time again for anyone who faces any anxiety. There were even some facts that I didn’t know about modern aircraft which adds to the concept of fighting fear through knowledge. Throughout Peter Brandt draws his knowledge from extensive experience in the aviation industry while also delivering many of the explanations through images and easy to follow diagrams along with quoting fellow professionals experienced in flying. I particularly appreciated and enjoyed the tips section nearer the end that focuses on a breadth of flying subject matter all of which looks to help anyone fight their fear of flying.
‘Be a pioneer. See the world and leave your worries behind’
An enjoyable yet sinister tale of the macabre that’ll keep you turning pages…
There is so much going on in this book and I found myself quickly turning the pages as the events build, unfold and eventually intertwine in what is a clever fusing of several stories that centre around the strange dark small town known as Blackwater. Bruce Knapp has delivered a tale that is dark, sometimes gruesome and wholly satisfying and the setting is delivered well and through the multiple characters. Throughout, the story evolves along with those characters as everything plays out.
“Grim shadows loomed over Blackwater, trying to conceal the hatred, but the evil continued to grow like a fungus, a black poisonous mould…“
We see those who are looking for faith, some with lust on their mind, religious types, businessmen, lawmen and even those on the fringes of the occult and witchcraft. Hell, there is even something monstrous lurking in the local ‘Suwanee’ river, this tale really is one of variety that even feels like an anthology piece that is all wrapped up in less than a 200 pages and with short but sharp chapters which keeps those pages turning and the flow consistent.
Main character ‘Robert Thompson’ seems to have a dark cloud following him and his choices soon lead to a shocking and gruesome turn of events. It was at this moment I really became invested in the story. Robert is a changed man from this point and his journey is filled with sometimes graphic brutality to himself and others. Of course that cloud hanging over him has a name (‘Nyx’) and plays an influencing role in the form of possession.
Eventually we see the ‘Noxious’ part of the story which kicks in later on but has been cleverly built from the early stages. Of course Robert’s journey culminates during this satisfying finish for a book with so much variety in the horror genre. The town and setting of Blackwater feels like a character in its own right, it’s always there, hanging over everything with a certain darkness. This makes for a great atmospheric feel to the reading experience.
Those who like multiple character led stories with elements of the occult, witchcraft, paranormal that’s a little graphic in places will enjoy ‘Noxious’. Everyone else may just end up in the ‘Otherworld’ on Leap Day.
4 Stars – this review first premiered via Reedsy Discovery. Reviews left on both Amazon and Goodreads.
An entertaining gem of a read celebrating the glory days of pro wrestling with a modern voice…
Marc Cavella has flawlessly captured the glory days of American pro wrestling by way of a story that’s both fun and unpredictable. From anyone that’s ever followed the industry casually to the die hard fans or even those who are entirely new to it will appreciate the journey in this book.
We are introduced to the closed doors world of an industry that’s seen less as entertainment and more as a reality where ‘Ricky Risotto’ plays an integral role in keeping pretty much all aspects of the ‘Ozark Championship Wrestling’ promotion together along with the struggle of having an aging ‘gimmick’ or act. Known as ‘Waylon’ behind the curtain he’s part producer, coach, negotiator, matchmaker and booker, that is while trying to maintain a presence in front of the curtain among the fans where he aspires to be. The conflicts he faces are both personal and professional, from dealing with his sexuality in a not so progressive era to getting the current champion and friend to drop the belt at the upcoming event; we are presented with this story of a man who’s probably too good for the industry he’s in.
Wrestling in the by gone age conveyed in this story was big business and governed by the political players both inside and out of the ring, you see plenty of that along with some larger than life characters who may or may not be inspired by reality. The big rival promotion is simply named ‘New York’ and most of us can work out that cool reference and overall this is a cool story with a great twisting end. With money, pride and everything else at stake, the Ballad of Ricky Risotto makes for a great read with a modern voice!
5 Stars – A great read about one of my favourite subjects. Thanks to the author for reaching out and providing a copy of the book in exchange for a review.
This post is designed to inform and help those in the online world of authoring and reading. It is an investigative exploration more than anything. While the subject matter might be subjective, this isn’t the place to be throwing differing opinions around, it is here to be spotlighted.
For the purpose of this investigation, no parties other than myself will be directly named. Let us explore the concept of being paid to leave 5 stars review on Amazon…
The world of Amazon reviews is huge business these days. For authors; probably the greatest struggle to get in all of publishing. Nobody has ever complained of having too many reviews and every author I know has faced this at some point as their greatest lament in writing. Don’t get me started on the lower star reviews either…
Authors are always looking for more ways to get those reviews – many seem to think this is the only way to sell books and there are several high end book promo sites that only showcase books with a higher amount of reviews. Authors sometimes shout to the high hills about how important reviews are, especially indie authors and most of the time it goes unheard so there’s a general feel of frustration around the subject. It’s a huge never going away need that can unfortunately be exploited. Exploiting the desperation of a person isn’t a new tactic, it’s basically what sales can be defined by.
‘Here we have a product, and our marketing team are going to tell you how you need it. You will then feel you can’t live without it and then you’ll buy it…’ – Businesses everywhere, all the time.
Getting book reviews is a constant itch that can only be temporarily scratched. There are several thousands of folks out there who see this as an opportunity to make a fast buck. There are even those who will use readers to carry out the hard work and siphon huge amounts of money in the process all the while working around Amazon who take this very seriously. This is probably why I have written this post, not to controversy grab for reads, not to name and shame but to inform and hopefully get the message across that authors are being exploited for reviews (which aren’t the be all and end all), but what exactly am I trying to inform you about?
Being approached to write 5 star reviews…
I’d never been approached as a reader to leave 5 star reviews on Amazon until the other day an ‘account’ slid straight into my DM’s . For the sake of this post let us call this account ‘Reputable Readers’ and what exactly did ‘RR‘ say in said DM?
(Paraphrased and wording changed)
‘Hey, wanna review books for (undisclosed amount of money)?’
(Three/four paragraphs of waffle about what services they provide for authors and books)
‘There’s a certain expectation that you should leave a 5 star review. We’ll pay you (undisclosed amount of money) per 5 star review’
‘We’ll also pay to buy the books you review just so they are verified purchases via a well known online payment thing. You stay classy!‘
‘Representative from Reputable Readers’
What’s the big deal about this?
From the paraphrased message and trust me, this is everything relevant they said, you can see they wanted me to just leave 5 star reviews for books they recommend. It’s what they haven’t mentioned that serves as red flag numero uno. There is no mention of leaving an honest review or even reading the work that I would have to buy. They are pretty up front about it but in a clever way and clever is probably what this whole deal seems on the surface.
This whole ‘service’ looks to be instigated via Twitter messages and under the radar. ‘RR’ will approach an author desperate for reviews > author likes the concept and agrees, then pays undisclosed amount of money (probably a lot) > ‘RR’ approaches a willing reviewer offering part of that undisclosed amount of money > Reviewer does all the work, leaves review, verified purchase.
‘RR’ have no real interaction on Amazon and they basically serve as an expensive middle man that rakes in the cash and gives a little to the reviewer who has left the review on their own account. All which operates undetected. A cash incentive will always persuade someone to say yes while they also persuade the author with 5 stars. This whole deed is seemingly invisible to Amazon who are huge on fake reviews but through this process it’s very difficult to prove.
If I were to try and report ‘RR’ I couldn’t due to lack of real proof, they are just a middle man and that probably only leaves me with one choice, to report the author who really isn’t the bad guy here. They just want their work to be liked and in this ever growing world of the internet it’s tempting to google ‘buy 5 star reviews’ because there are so many who are offering this service.
This whole concept is clever and perhaps an immorally genius attempt at making money and that’s why I wrote this post to serve as a warning to authors and readers. I’m not a fan of anyone being exploited and on this world wide web, it’s everywhere and authors are being exploited here. They could also get themselves in trouble if Amazon found out.
Authors paying for 5 star reviews is wrong, being paid to give 5 stars without reading a book is wrong and more importantly Amazon don’t like it, they will shut your shit down if they find out, trust me!
There are several different types of review services that pop up online all the time many of which provide readers with books and authors with honest reviews – it’s all about execution.
I’m a reviewer for Reedsy Discovery who are a growing social platform for readers and writers and I have even been tipped by an author after leaving an honest review for their work . I suppose that’s what this whole deal is about. Paying for 5 star reviews puts other readers who spent time reading into disrepute, it also preys on the desperation of some authors who just want reviews: this is especially prone in beginner authors who no doubt ‘RR’ will target. It’s also lying and misleading potential future readers. You could argue, this is just business, and I want folks to read my stuff, they don’t need to know what goes on in the kitchen. You could argue that, but not here, shove that opinion.
Methods of honesty
Straight up, reviews don’t actually matter that much. And yeah that’s coming from an author who checks to see if he has any new ones multiple times a day. They literally serve as a gate keeping method for some promo sites and not much else. Of course they mean a bunch more to the small time creator but eventually that small time creator won’t need just reviews to sell books because readers would have invested in them as the person first. If I were you, I wouldn’t focus on trying to get reviews but to get people reading your stuff through promotion. Check out the resources section for that…
The best we can do about subjects like this post is to talk about them and spread awareness, especially to those who are vulnerable to a scam – let’s face it, we all are. Writers and bloggers as a collective are stronger together.
I’ve kept the ‘service provider’ nameless in this post to firstly avoid any retaliation – trust me this happens a lot with these posts and because ‘RR’ will be here today and probably gone tomorrow for another one to pop up. How they change tactics is up to us to find out and report to the community which I care for.
Thanks for reading and of course your thoughts are welcome in the comments – keep the opinions light…