‘You need some reviews to give your book credibility,’ they told me, but it’s not as easy as you think. The lethargy of readers is staggering. Even friends who have read my books have to be pestered before they will post a review and acquaintances, well, forget it. So what’s the answer? It’s a question I have been toying with for some time. I’ve tried giving my books away on Amazon but it’s a waste of time. People download them and despite getting my work for free, don’t bother to give a review. In truth the idea of giving away my books is anathema. Why should I? I worked hard to produce my books.
Another solution is to swap reviews with other authors. ‘Exchange is no robbery,’ goes the saying but Amazon don’t agree. Their policy is to remove ‘quid pro quo’ reviews when they find them. Hardly fair when the best judge of the quality of a book is another writer. There again, they have a point. I’m told there have been groups of authors who got together to make all their books free on one day then downloaded them and swapped reviews in bulk. I wish I’d thought of that before Amazon got wise to it. So what’s left? There’s Goodreads of course but I’m more interested in Amazon, so I came up with a plan and here it is. Recently, I joined several Facebook groups interested in Welsh history. It was part of my plan to expand my social marketing and sell more books. At the same time I invested in Mass Planner to manage my posts. If you aren’t using Mass Planner I recommend that you have a look, the link is on my useful links and resources page. Look particularly at the video tutorials. It’s a super tool which has made my life so much simpler. Getting back to my master plan, the groups I joined have over 150,000 members. Then, I wrote a draft post offering a free copy of The Iron Masters in return for a review. Remember, this is going to people with an interest in the subject, many of whom have never previously downloaded a free eBook. They, I reasoned, would leave reviews.
I set Mass Planner to post simultaneously to all the groups at 6.30am the following morning, having set up a free book offer on Amazon and went to bed. The next day when I checked on Amazon the download graph was like a giant hockey stick. The sort of projection that all nonsense business plans contain but there was more. All the groups I had posted to were buzzing with comments, likes, shares, offers to guest blog and a message from Helen Hollick, Managing Editor of the Historical Novel Society, inviting me to send her a paperback copy of The Iron Masters for review by the society. Plus she featured me in her personal blogspot. Encouragingly, many of the Facebook comments were along the lines of, ‘Graham, I’ve downloaded and will post a review. Good luck with the book.’ By evening six hundred copies had been downloaded and after three days nearly nine hundred. So far so good but would I get the reviews I wanted? The wait would be agonising.
How did it go? Two weeks later and a handful of reviews to show for the exercise; not a good response rate in terms of numbers but it was still a worthwhile exercise. Why? It’s not often I get a great ‘verified purchase’ book review by Steven King and because other doors opened. I’ve made some valuable contacts and have been invited to host an event to promote my book The Iron Masters at Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr on Good Friday. Cyfarthfa was the home of Richard Crawshay, a real Iron Master and one of the inspirations for my novel. Today, the castle is a museum and it should be be packed with visitors over the Easter Bank Holiday. As for reviews, I’m not going to chase for them anymore. It’s not worth the bother. If they come, they come. Thanks Steven, I’d return the favour but Amazon’s rules don’t allow authors to swap book reviews.