Sandra here to talk about online reviews of books. Helen may have already made a pot of coffee, but I'm adding an urn of my favorite--chocolate velvet coffee. There's also a variety of teas and a kettle of hot water. And I have a buffet of Sees Candy. So grab a cup and a sweet treat and lets talk reviews.
How many of you read the reviews before you buy a book online?
Do you read reviews to find out what type of book is featured?
Do reviews influence what you purchase?
Do you know how reviews influence sales?
There have been a lot of discussions lately about reviews. And since I am now an Amazon author, I have been doing a lot of research on sales in the world of Amazon.com.
By the way, maybe you haven't heard that I'm an Amazon author now. PRICE OF VICTORY was published by Avalon Books.
This summer, Avalon Books were purchased by Amazon Publishing. Therefore, my new release, CURRENT OF LOVE will be released in December by Amazon Publishing.
This is very exciting news because CURRENT OF LOVE and PRICE OF VICTORY will be an affordable paperback and an ebook. However this involves a tremendous amount of change for me as an author.
Avalon Books specialized in hard cover books prepared for libraries. Libraries loved Avalon Books because they were guaranteed "clean" reads which means no violence or explicit sex. And they were pretty much marketed by the publisher. I didn't have to do much marketing which was a blessing when I was so involved in elder care.
But with Amazon, we're talking a new ball game.
Marketing is a MUST.
And it doesn't look like Amazon is going to feature our books in an imprint of "clean reads" so I as an author of "clean reads" will need to brand myself so that a buyer will know that is what kind of read they are getting.
This brings me in a roundabout way back to REVIEWS.
Amazon.com is changing the world of publishing. This is a known fact.
How is it changing and how do we capitalize on the change?
Amazon sells books online. Buyers pretty much have to know what they are looking for before they go into Amazon.com. It isn't like stepping into a bookstore and browsing down the aisles. Amazon knows this so they have developed a system for e-browsing.
When you purchase a book on Amazon a banner pops up stating that others who have purchased this book also purchased........ Images of five or six books pop up.
If you click on any of these books, they provide sample pages and/or chapters to read.
They provide a blurb about the books
And there are REVIEWS.
Did you know that reviews generate the pop-ups in the banner? The more reviews a book has, the more likely it is to pop up in the banner.
This is why it is extremely important to write reviews for the authors you like. This will help get the word out that this author is worth reading and supporting.
Another method Amazon uses is the Amazon Prime. Amazon picks a book to download on Kindle free for a month. If your book is selected you may pick up thousands of readers. Amazon Prime books are selected by the amount of great reviews the book receives.
BTW publishers are starting to use this technique as well. Remember when Pam Hillman's ebook STEALING JAKE came out? Tyndale offered it free to attract a readership for their books and for Pam. When I pulled it up on Amazon to get the URL for this post, it was listed as an Amazon Prime book. And if you'll notice, Pam has over 80 reviews. Good going girlfriend.
Another Seeker who knows the importance of reviews is Julie. Julie asks her readers to post reviews. In her newsletter, she offers incentives to post a review. The person who posts the most reviews gets their name used as the main character in her next novel. How fun is that? The winner of one of her contests posted 319 reviews. Check out Julie's website to get signed up for her newsletter.
Julie's latest release is A LOVE SURRENDERED. Please note that all of Julie's reviewers are people who actually read her books and are wanting to tell the world what great books they are.
This isn't always the case.
Reviews are so important that some authors pay for reviews. This is causing quite a stir in the publishing world as well as the Amazon world. Check out the articles Tina posted in the September 1 Weekend Edition.
How to Read Amazon Review Graphs.
New York Times article The Best Reviews Money Can Buy In this article, read the comments. They are as interesting and eye opening as the article.
One of the commenters said that paid reviews weren't any different than paid advertising. This is true in a sense, however the consumer knows they are viewing a paid advertisement and don't know they are reading a paid review or an authentic one.
In another article Mark Billingham and Stuart MacBride – who were targeted by Ellory – said that with the advent of the internet, honest comment had never been more important.
“These days more and more books are bought, sold, and recommended online, and the health of this exciting new ecosystem depends entirely on free and honest conversation among readers,” they wrote.
“But some writers are misusing these new channels in ways that are fraudulent and damaging to publishing at large.
“Few in publishing believe they are unique. It is likely that other authors are pursuing these underhand tactics as well.”
“But the only lasting solution is for readers to take possession of the process. The internet belongs to us all.
“Your honest and heartfelt reviews, good or bad, enthusiastic or disapproving, can drown out the phoney voices, and the underhanded tactics will be marginalised to the point of irrelevance.”
This is becoming such a controversy that Amazon is taking steps to counter the use of false or paid reviews. Amazon also has a new feature. When you buy a book on Amazon, they give you a week or two depending upon the type of book you purchased and then they send you an email asking you to review the book you purchased. This way they know that you as the reader/purchaser of that book are an authentic reviewer.
So let's discuss reviews. How much do they influence you as a reader?
How much do you care about your favorite authors?
Do you want their publisher to produce more of their books?
Will YOU write a review?
Some of you might not write a review because you think it is difficult to write a review. Those of you who have written reviews please step up and tell us how easy peasy it is. I write reviews all of the time.
I do it to support the authors I really like.
I do it to support my friends.
I do it to support the business I am in which is published romance novels.
HOW TO WRITE A REVIEW
First you need to read the book. Duh
Look up the book on Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com or Christianbook.com These are the three places I write reviews. There are other sites. Hopefully some of you can mention them in the comments. Harlequin has a way to like their books on Facebook. When I write reviews, I copy what I wrote on the first review and then paste the same comment in all of the other sites. This saves time.
When you find the book you want on Amazon.com, and most of the other sites, you will see a link that says write a review. Click on the link and follow the directions. Some sites won't let you review unless you have purchased books from them.
You do not need to write out a book report of the whole story. A paragraph telling what you liked about the story or the book is all you need. You can say you liked the historical aspects, the setting, the characters, etc.
PLEASE DO NOT GIVE AWAY ANY OF THE PLOT TWISTS OR SURPRISES.
This is common etiquette. You don't want to ruin the story for others.
Then click on submit and you have written a review.
So have I convinced you of the need to write reviews?
Many of you have won books from Seekers and our guests. Perhaps you can return the favor and write a review. This will help show your support of the authors you enjoy reading. This will insure their publisher will continue to publish their books and provide you with those great reads.
In the comments please indicate if you have ever written a review and be eligible to win a hard bound copy of PRICE OF VICTORY. This hard bound copy will be the last of its kind as all of Avalon books will be published in paperback in the future. If you already have a copy I can autograph it to a friend for a lovely gift. There will be five books given away so check the Weekend Edition for lucky winners.
If you go to my webpage, you can have another chance to win a copy of PRICE OF VICTORY. Click on the September contest showing on the homepage of my website.
Keep on the lookout for Sandra's newsletter which will debut later this fall.
Okay, so I updated my photo. I'm nine years older than the last one and was scolded by my friends. LOL But I just do as my mom always did and take my glasses off when I look in the mirror. Can't see the wrinkles that way. See me smiling?