Writers at every level know, reviews are hard to come by…Even Amazon understands this issue. In fact, the problem gave birth to FREE DAYS! The idea behind the event was to gain author exposure and when a reader enjoyed the free book they would feel compelled to leave at least a rating and a twenty word review. Well it hasn't really worked very well for most authors. Instead readers have come to expect the free days in lieu of purchasing, and for the most part they are not leaving reviews. Most authors like myself love to give away books, but most would likely prefer to give them at their own discretion, nevertheless, the authors have embraced the situation and on any given free day they give away hundreds to thousands of their books. I am guessing the ratio of return is less than 1% that produces reviews. Yet, humble authors love and appreciate beyond words that minute return on their investment. Yes, I say investment even though it is rarely financial for writers. However, it is about their future and staying power.
In all fairness, there is another side to the story that has worked very well. Despite, how the author views their work, books are business, and for a book to advance it has to show promise. Much of this promise is based on reviews. Another piece of the puzzle rests in the all-important Nielson Map. You might say…What? Yes, it is a map that shows where your books are selling and how many are sold in each little defined territory on the map. FREE DAY giveaways count as sales and help fill this all-important map.
Are there good reasons not to leave a review? Of course, perhaps a reader doesn't like a particular book or maybe it covers a subject that the reader does not feel comfortable making a public statement about. These are excellent reasons. A prime example of this can be understood by looking at erotica. Erotica is one of the best-selling categories, but in sales comparison, it is one of the least reviewed.
I often write about controversial subjects as in The Dominguez Adventures, this series is rattled with Jewish lore, anti-Semitic issues, racism, and politics. I totally understand the fall-out of making even a loose public statement about these issues. In light of this many readers have emailed me, and believe me I cherish their opinions and thoughts. These emails have kept the series alive and well. My new series, beginning with DARKENING DANGER is a short prequel read and not so controversial so, I am anxious to see how this plays out in reviews.
I am aware of the fact that primarily other authors are the ones reading this post. There is a certain kinship within this group. Daily, I find myself awe struck by the supportive role authors play for one another from within this realistically competitive arena. It is amazing as all are struggling for a small nibble of the economically depleted market. Even Stephen King recently made a statement about the impact of the market on books sales and author royalties. The fact is: Authors aren't in it for the money.
I personally have never asked for reviews and I don’t intend to start, but in a crazy quirk, (which I use loosely) the reviews on my books have begun disappearing much faster than they appear. Why? I don’t know. Yes, as a professional courtesy I give a few coupon-ed books out, but never have I asked for a review in exchange and for the most part, I don’t get one from these gifts.
As a reader and reviewer, I typically purchase the books I review even if the author provided me with a complimentary copy. I do this to avoid problems with the reviews as much as anything, but I must say I love reading and am more than happy to pay for the great hours of entertainment. And most of all I LOVE AUTHORS to me THEY ARE IN A CATEGORY WITH BELOVED ROCK STARS!