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February 25, 2013

Getting Legit Amazon Reviews (my experience)

Posted in: Advertising, Promotion, Marketing Strategies, Self-Publishing

Another writer on a forum commented to me that I seemed to have a lot of good reviews and where had I gotten them. After I replied, I realized this info would make a good blog post, so here it is:

For The Day I Met Dr. Seuss, I went ahead and asked friends and family to download on a free day and consider writing a review. I even contacted everyone who had ever been in a writing critique group with me. This approach got me about 6 or 7 reviews? out of maybe 40+ people I contacted.

I then offered to trade reviews with a few people. The only problem with that was there were a couple of folks whose books I didn’t think were particularly well written. I ended up with one person giving his one book a 3-star review and one book a 4-star review. After that, I stopped offering review exchanges unless I had read their book already and really liked it. At that point I was up to perhaps 13 or 14 reviews, as some had just come in from unknown sources (or perhaps friends who were a little slower in writing a review).

Then I had a guest post on AbsoluteWrite.com in early December, which I think (I can’t know for sure) is what gave me another 3 or so reviews that just appeared without me begging or cajoling anyone.

Finally, my next free day, I posted on Page One Profits Facebook page. Page One Profits is a product designed to help you get your book higher in Amazon’s search results. So I used it to try and rank that book well for “Dr Seuss”. So as part of the product, you become a member of a Facebook group which allows members to promote their free days and encourage reviews, downloads or tags — it’s a voluntary, community-minded writing promotional support group. It’s funny because that free day where I posted on Page One Profits Facebook page, I had very low downloads — about 100, but…. I got more reviews.

The lesson I’ve learned from this is that success often is built gradually. The way The Day I Met Dr. Seuss sold in October and November was pretty discouraging. Some weeks I was only selling a copy or two. I do have other titles — my chapter-book length books (Smelly Ellie: Second Place Sister and Poster Girl that are not selling at all on Amazon — in some cases 0 copies for a whole month. I’m thinking that the age where children start to pick out their own books, is perhaps a tougher Kindle market? I’m really not sure.

Mattie Monster is NOT Tired did very well off the bat. I have since met a friend who was a teacher and she said she tweeted about that book to her teacher friends on my free day. I also again posted about the book on Page One Profits. But I was pleasantly surprised by it’s success. Dogs, dogs, Dogs did even better. But in both cases, after 2 or 3 weeks the sales of these books dropped a huge amount where they began selling maybe a third or a quarter of the sales they had earlier. I have to figure out out to sustain the sales more or even why the sales drop off so much. Also, now that I am FINALLY profitable publishing on Kindle, can I return to printing SOME books on paper and still have them be profitable. But…. that is a topic for another post.

Writing things that are short makes it much easier to ask for reviews and hope people will really read the book and write one. But, that doesn’t mean you should give up if you write longer novels or books. Those books have great potential, but they are harder to get the reviews going, I think.

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