Well-written detective mystery with noir tones and a metaphysical twist…
This is a well-written well-balanced story that follows Private Detective Rudy Parsons who takes on the case of a missing person after vivid vision. Gradually a strangeness unfolds that seems to be following Rudy as he tries to decipher what is happening whilst also tracking down this missing person in downtown San Francisco.
Just what is real and what isn’t? That vision seems to contain some truth as the events begin to unfold along with the intrigue. There’s heaps of mystery and atmosphere here and that is without mentioning the personality of Rudy who is a likeable narrator and even has a fitting catchphrase.
“My friends call me Rudy. My enemies call me Parsons…”
Having read this in just one sitting it left me wanting more and shorter reads can sometimes be lacking in any substance but not for this one as it appears to just be the tip of an iceberg very much worth exploring further. Very enjoyable.
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.
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…