Author Topic: How do new authors get reviews?  (Read 2838 times)  

Offline Bite the Dusty

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Re: How do new authors get reviews?
« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2021, 03:23:06 pm »
I must say that reviews are more likely to be much more important for "guide" type books, scientific books, or DIY books (non-fiction books).

For fiction, consumers are probably more encouraged to buy a fiction book that does not have reviews.

At least that's how it works for me

I don't know if that's true. Like you, I don't pick based on reviews. For me it comes down to cover > blurb > look inside. But if I look past my reader habits, it seems undeniable fiction requires as much social proof as anything else.

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    Offline markpauloleksiw

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #26 on: January 12, 2021, 08:10:07 am »
    Anyone saying reviews are unimportant are just kidding themselves.

    Since Amazon recently allowed ratings without reviews, you are seeing more "star" ratings without anything else.

    As a consumer of fiction, if I see a book that has no reviews/rating whatsoever, I am going to need a lot more to make me click the buy button. 

    A novel with 3 stars versus a novel that averages out over 4 stars will not get the same "looks". 

    For recently published authors, getting reviews is a volumes game (meaning getting your book into hands of readers) and requires patience. It took me almost 3 years to build up 70 ratings/reviews. The first 20 were the hardest and took the longest.

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    Offline alcyone

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #27 on: January 12, 2021, 09:09:22 am »
    I commented upstream. The reason I look for at least a couple of reviews is it's an easy way to sort out scam books, especially when surfing Kindle Unlimited. If a book isn't brand new and it has no reviews, that is a red flag. Doesn't necessarily mean the book is a scam, but the likelihood (in my limited experience) is exponentially higher.

    Otherwise, the content of reviews is what matters, not the number of stars. I've bought books based off 2- and 3- star reviews.

    Offline Corvid

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #28 on: January 12, 2021, 04:35:10 pm »
    Reviews/ratings are one of the most manipulated, and disingenuous, aspects of self-publishing.

    Check the Kindle bestsellers lists or peruse Goodreads and behold the plethora of new releases with 150+ almost universally glowing reviews. Does anyone with an insight into self-publishing ever see this and actually believe it's real?

    It's clear what's happening with those titles.

    The large number of reviews on something completely brand new isn't coincidental, the Goodreads rating of 4.30+ along with the glowing praise isn't by random chance or accident. There's no way most/all of those reviews on a book that's JUST hit the market came into being organically.

    So, yeah, manipulation, gaming. And, obviously, there has to be a reason, otherwise they wouldn't do it.

    However these "reviews" and ratings are being achieved, I can only the assume the reason the manipulation occurs, i.e. why so many indies game reviews in this way, is because there's more money in having that 'social proof' rather than the opposite.

    So, we can say ratings/reviews don't matter or impact sales - and it'd be great if this was true - but if it were true, then why do the aforementioned manipulations and gaming occur?

    Money is the reason. It shows that ratings and reviews do impact sales, otherwise the disingenuous parties engaged in the practice simply wouldn't bother.


    Offline Doglover

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #29 on: January 12, 2021, 09:43:47 pm »
    I have one particular book with the lowest star rating of all my books which is one of my best selling titles.
    My six book series had no reviews at all until I advertised it; after that it shot up and sold plenty. I couldn't agree more and this is a newbie misconception that you must have reviews to sell books. Some even think it has something to do with rank and some believe reviews make Amazon advertise for you. This is all BS.

    Before I began publishing, I never even noticed reviews on anything, but it didn't stop me buying books. What you do need is more books and a following. You won't get the latter without the former and once you have those, you will get reviews.


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    Offline DmGuay

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #30 on: January 13, 2021, 04:49:03 am »
    Reviews/ratings are one of the most manipulated, and disingenuous, aspects of self-publishing.

    Check the Kindle bestsellers lists or peruse Goodreads and behold the plethora of new releases with 150+ almost universally glowing reviews. Does anyone with an insight into self-publishing ever see this and actually believe it's real?

    It's clear what's happening with those titles.

    The large number of reviews on something completely brand new isn't coincidental, the Goodreads rating of 4.30+ along with the glowing praise isn't by random chance or accident. There's no way most/all of those reviews on a book that's JUST hit the market came into being organically.

    So, yeah, manipulation, gaming. And, obviously, there has to be a reason, otherwise they wouldn't do it.

    However these "reviews" and ratings are being achieved, I can only the assume the reason the manipulation occurs, i.e. why so many indies game reviews in this way, is because there's more money in having that 'social proof' rather than the opposite.

    So, we can say ratings/reviews don't matter or impact sales - and it'd be great if this was true - but if it were true, then why do the aforementioned manipulations and gaming occur?

    Money is the reason. It shows that ratings and reviews do impact sales, otherwise the disingenuous parties engaged in the practice simply wouldn't bother.

    No one is saying reviews don't matter. They do. We're saying stop worrying about getting reviews. Worry about boosting sales and selling books, because ultimately, book sales are the best way to get reviews.

    Now, these books launching with 150 reviews aren't necessarily gaming the system or scammers. These are established authors who have a large ARC team, made primarily of fans who genuinely love that book and that author, and who get advanced copies to read so that they can review them when the book goes live. There's no scam there. They're just in a different space in their author career and have decided to do the work of growing and maintaining an ARC team. Very common in romance and UF.
    « Last Edit: January 13, 2021, 04:50:41 am by DmGuay »
     
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    Offline Corvid

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #31 on: January 13, 2021, 03:29:27 pm »
    Now, these books launching with 150 reviews aren't necessarily gaming the system or scammers. These are established authors who have a large ARC team, made primarily of fans who genuinely love that book and that author, and who get advanced copies to read so that they can review them when the book goes live. There's no scam there. They're just in a different space in their author career and have decided to do the work of growing and maintaining an ARC team. Very common in romance and UF.

    It may not be a 'scam' in the most technical definition of the word, but what you've described above doesn't sound genuine either. I mean, as an outsider looking in - a non-author, non-self-publisher, if I were to see that many reviews and a high rating on a brand new title, I would assume - just as any random reader would - that these glowing reviews and high ratings came about because the product is just THAT good. As an outsider to this biz, it would make the thing more enticing from a buying perspective.

    But, as someone who is in this business - I know - we all know about ARCs. And, if this is all coming from people pre-disposed to liking a thing, and have been curated as such. Well, okay, maybe that's not technically a scam, but it definitely smells. I mean, it undercuts what ratings and reviews are supposed to be in the first place, does it not? How is that not 'gaming' the system?

    And, I get that it takes an author a while, and a lot of work to build up these lists, but obviously it's all being done for a purpose, and that is to dupe the general reading public into believing a certain product is of a certain quality when that might not necessarily be the case. And, it's being done to get some not-in-the-know person to spend money on their product. That comes across as skeevy to me.

    Let something stand on its own and earn ratings and reviews based on actual product quality. If you're curating readers who've already liked something you've done in the past, and who - let's face it - will largely positively review whatever ARC you're providing them just out of politeness if nothing else... well, you're (general 'you', not YOU you) not playing above board in this instance.

    The authors that do this are saying "this book is so good that it ALREADY has 150+ reviews, the overwhelming majority of which are very positive, 4-stars or higher" -

    - when in reality that entire reaction/reception is manufactured to appear as such.

    And, it's all being done in the name of having that social proof because obviously it dupes readers, obviously it works, and gets them to more readily click 'BUY'.

    How can anyone be okay with this? Because it works? Because it makes indies money? Okay, great, but that's clearly greasy as it smacks of dishonesty.

    This isn't directed at you personally, DmGuay. I appreciate any successful indie providing insight. I'm more railing against the practice generally. At the same time, however, I realize I'm tilting at windmills. It seems few care about the honesty part of the whole thing so long as it makes authors money.

    I'm in the wrong business, I suppose, because it almost seems as if you want to be successful you have to engage in this kind of a thing. I'm hoping that isn't true, but I'm nothing if not cynical these days.


    Offline Bite the Dusty

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #32 on: January 13, 2021, 05:38:39 pm »
    I don't know if having fans is dishonest, though.

    Everyone writes for their audience (or tries to), and what that audience is after. If an author is established and has a fan base, how could I blame them for not throwing it up on netgalley for anyone looking to grab a freebie? Looking at goodreads, that's how you end up with extra dings and DNFs from people who don't read your genre/sub-genre and wouldn't pay to read your book in the first place.

    And those reviews aren't even helpful if you ask me.

    Plus, if an author really is manufacturing disingenuous hype, wouldn't that eventually end in backlash and decline when readers beyond the ARC team are disappointed in the book(s)?

    Maybe I'm naive and this is more nefarious than I comprehend, but this just seems like one of those hypothetical problems that isn't worth our energy.

    Offline Corvid

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #33 on: January 13, 2021, 07:31:34 pm »
    I don't know if having fans is dishonest, though.

    Everyone writes for their audience (or tries to), and what that audience is after. If an author is established and has a fan base, how could I blame them for not throwing it up on netgalley for anyone looking to grab a freebie? Looking at goodreads, that's how you end up with extra dings and DNFs from people who don't read your genre/sub-genre and wouldn't pay to read your book in the first place.

    And those reviews aren't even helpful if you ask me.

    Plus, if an author really is manufacturing disingenuous hype, wouldn't that eventually end in backlash and decline when readers beyond the ARC team are disappointed in the book(s)?

    Maybe I'm naive and this is more nefarious than I comprehend, but this just seems like one of those hypothetical problems that isn't worth our energy.

    I take your point, but if this was something that maybe I just didn't understand before, now I'm downright confused. More questions than ever. Starting with: isn't the 'hype' the entire point of building these lists and giving out these ARCs?

    And, if the hype is coming from something that isn't real - as in, it isn't coming about organically, then isn't it manufactured?

    And, since this manufacturing has been going on for years, and it's as popular a practice as ever, doesn't that show there hasn't been much in the way of backlashes occurring out there?

    If the hype is based around a curated list which exists explicitly for this purpose, then isn't the entire thing disingenuous both in theory and in practice right from the word 'Go'?

    And, if backlashes of any kind were a legitimate concern, wouldn't this stop most/all of these indies from doing this in the first place?

    I agree with you that all of this fake effusive praise isn't helpful for us in making a book-buying decision, but again, that's only because those of us who know the business, and know where these reviews are coming from understand that these glowing reviews are about as authentic as a three-dollar bill. They aren't helpful to us, because we know they're coming from a curated list of people that the author counts on to heap her/his book with praise for the purposes of fooling those not on their list(s).

    For readers who don't understand the ins-and-outs of indie publishing, or have never heard of ARC teams, they're not looking at all of those high ratings and large numbers of enthusiastic reviews on a brand new release while knowing the hype was manufactured. They're looking at a product with a ton of positive reviews and ratings, and it's probable that it makes them more likely to buy the thing.

    In other words, they're being duped. They're believing something that's been constructed for them to believe, when it isn't organic at all. Don't you find that greasy/sleezy, or whatever you want to call it?

    I get that it takes a lot of time, money, and effort to put together these lists of fans and to build up and cultivate their numbers - but just because something takes a lot of sweat to build, does not mean it's ethical in its construction in the first place.

    Someone doing something immoral or unethical doesn't get a pass just because whatever nefarious thing they were doing also happened to give them a heck of a workout.

    And, yet... and, yet... the practice is so popular. Seems every successful indie and their dog is doing it. Is this entire thing not seen as disingenuous and dishonest by all of these authors? What am I missing here?


    Offline jb1111

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #34 on: January 13, 2021, 08:14:34 pm »
    Being skeptical by nature, whenever I see a new or very recent book (or any other product, for that matter) with a massive slew of gushing reviews, I instantly don't believe them. But that's just me.

    It's like the comment sections of some popular authors' blogs -- you know, where people are tripping over each other to outdo all other ingratiating comments? You realize you're viewing the reactions of fans, and although fans are consumers, not all consumers are fans.

    Some things you just have to take in context.

    To the OP: don't sweat reviews (or lack of them) all that much. Concentrate on the other things -- content, cover, blurb, LookInside, and marketing -- and reviews will come. Sales hopefully will come before the reviews, and sales are a more important barometer of success than reviews are, anyway.

    Offline Bite the Dusty

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #35 on: January 13, 2021, 08:38:08 pm »
    I take your point, but if this was something that maybe I just didn't understand before, now I'm downright confused. More questions than ever. Starting with: isn't the 'hype' the entire point of building these lists and giving out these ARCs?

    And, if the hype is coming from something that isn't real - as in, it isn't coming about organically, then isn't it manufactured?

    And, since this manufacturing has been going on for years, and it's as popular a practice as ever, doesn't that show there hasn't been much in the way of backlashes occurring out there?

    If the hype is based around a curated list which exists explicitly for this purpose, then isn't the entire thing disingenuous both in theory and in practice right from the word 'Go'?

    And, if backlashes of any kind were a legitimate concern, wouldn't this stop most/all of these indies from doing this in the first place?

    I agree with you that all of this fake effusive praise isn't helpful for us in making a book-buying decision, but again, that's only because those of us who know the business, and know where these reviews are coming from understand that these glowing reviews are about as authentic as a three-dollar bill. They aren't helpful to us, because we know they're coming from a curated list of people that the author counts on to heap her/his book with praise for the purposes of fooling those not on their list(s).

    For readers who don't understand the ins-and-outs of indie publishing, or have never heard of ARC teams, they're not looking at all of those high ratings and large numbers of enthusiastic reviews on a brand new release while knowing the hype was manufactured. They're looking at a product with a ton of positive reviews and ratings, and it's probable that it makes them more likely to buy the thing.

    In other words, they're being duped. They're believing something that's been constructed for them to believe, when it isn't organic at all. Don't you find that greasy/sleezy, or whatever you want to call it?

    I get that it takes a lot of time, money, and effort to put together these lists of fans and to build up and cultivate their numbers - but just because something takes a lot of sweat to build, does not mean it's ethical in its construction in the first place.

    Someone doing something immoral or unethical doesn't get a pass just because whatever nefarious thing they were doing also happened to give them a heck of a workout.

    And, yet... and, yet... the practice is so popular. Seems every successful indie and their dog is doing it. Is this entire thing not seen as disingenuous and dishonest by all of these authors? What am I missing here?

    Emphasis on disingenuous. I think a lot of successful authors deliver what readers want, over and over. I don't think their fans hyping their upcoming book are disingenuous by default. And regardless, bad word of mouth kills, so no fake hype is going to survive it.

    And when I said "And those reviews aren't even helpful if you ask me," I meant the DNFs and dings from readers who don't appreciate the genre, but just picked up the book because it was free through netgalley. I've seen a ton of those reviews on goodreads. But, I think your example is also true, and fake reviews if they are indeed that, are also not helpful. That's why I think critical reviews oftentimes get up-voted to the top whether the author deserves said criticism or not. We humans like to focus on the negative and we're mistrusting of consensus lol.

    You might be right about all this, but aren't indies just trying to compete with trad? Trad does ARCs, and they carefully select who gets them from what I can tell. Isn't that just being competitive? Best foot forward? I feel like every tactic discussed here (especially those I feel resistant to doing) boil down to cultivating a following, a core fan base who help lift you up where everyone else can see you and also ads ads ads.

    Mind you, as an author I don't want to do any of this. It's exhausting just thinking about it, and I couldn't imagine being those ARC readers either, writing the long-winded fan reviews I see on goodreads even if I loved something. And I can't imagine telling people how to review my work, so that might be why my POV is what it is, and why I extend more benefit of the doubt.

    I just don't see how this business practice is immoral or unethical on it's face as long as the reviews and ratings aren't coerced. I'm sure there's individuals pushing it past the shady line. Where there's a shady will there's a way. But in this case all I can come up with is requiring a certain rating or they drop you from the ARC team? And I do think if readers get mistreated, it eventually backfires.

    I only vaguely remember author drama over the years, but that seems to be the common theme: p*ssed off readers with screenshots.

    Anyway, I don't think you're missing anything. You just see it how you see it.

    Offline Corvid

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #36 on: January 15, 2021, 03:29:12 am »
    Emphasis on disingenuous. I think a lot of successful authors deliver what readers want, over and over. I don't think their fans hyping their upcoming book are disingenuous by default. And regardless, bad word of mouth kills, so no fake hype is going to survive it.

    And when I said "And those reviews aren't even helpful if you ask me," I meant the DNFs and dings from readers who don't appreciate the genre, but just picked up the book because it was free through netgalley. I've seen a ton of those reviews on goodreads. But, I think your example is also true, and fake reviews if they are indeed that, are also not helpful. That's why I think critical reviews oftentimes get up-voted to the top whether the author deserves said criticism or not. We humans like to focus on the negative and we're mistrusting of consensus lol.

    You might be right about all this, but aren't indies just trying to compete with trad? Trad does ARCs, and they carefully select who gets them from what I can tell. Isn't that just being competitive? Best foot forward? I feel like every tactic discussed here (especially those I feel resistant to doing) boil down to cultivating a following, a core fan base who help lift you up where everyone else can see you and also ads ads ads.

    Mind you, as an author I don't want to do any of this. It's exhausting just thinking about it, and I couldn't imagine being those ARC readers either, writing the long-winded fan reviews I see on goodreads even if I loved something. And I can't imagine telling people how to review my work, so that might be why my POV is what it is, and why I extend more benefit of the doubt.

    I just don't see how this business practice is immoral or unethical on it's face as long as the reviews and ratings aren't coerced. I'm sure there's individuals pushing it past the shady line. Where there's a shady will there's a way. But in this case all I can come up with is requiring a certain rating or they drop you from the ARC team? And I do think if readers get mistreated, it eventually backfires.

    I only vaguely remember author drama over the years, but that seems to be the common theme: p*ssed off readers with screenshots.

    Anyway, I don't think you're missing anything. You just see it how you see it.

    I appreciate this thoughtful response. Maybe I'm too cynical. My preference is 100% organic reviews, but I admit it's an unrealistic expectation. I don't even know what Amazon bestsellers lists and Goodreads would look like if all reviews were required to be organic, or were in some way forced to be. Maybe it'd be better for the consumer, or maybe not. The more I think about it, the more my head hurts.

    The more I learn about business, self-publishing included, the less I like how the sausage gets made.


    Offline Bite the Dusty

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #37 on: January 15, 2021, 10:26:04 am »
    I appreciate this thoughtful response. Maybe I'm too cynical. My preference is 100% organic reviews, but I admit it's an unrealistic expectation. I don't even know what Amazon bestsellers lists and Goodreads would look like if all reviews were required to be organic, or were in some way forced to be. Maybe it'd be better for the consumer, or maybe not. The more I think about it, the more my head hurts.

    The more I learn about business, self-publishing included, the less I like how the sausage gets made.

    When I'm overthinking something, it usually takes someone else saying something for me to snap out of it. I'm not saying you're wrong, or have to like/adopt the tactics of others, but there's just no way to control stuff like this. And if something is out of your control, you might as well skip the headaches and just focus on doing you the way you want.

    Looking at Booksprout, it seems like authors who've been at it for years and already have ARC readers are the ones doing the best there, at least in the genres I've looked at. So, I think most of use have to start out organic, even if we impatiently try to fight it.

    Offline Corvid

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #38 on: January 15, 2021, 09:17:35 pm »
    When I'm overthinking something, it usually takes someone else saying something for me to snap out of it. I'm not saying you're wrong, or have to like/adopt the tactics of others, but there's just no way to control stuff like this. And if something is out of your control, you might as well skip the headaches and just focus on doing you the way you want.

    Looking at Booksprout, it seems like authors who've been at it for years and already have ARC readers are the ones doing the best there, at least in the genres I've looked at. So, I think most of use have to start out organic, even if we impatiently try to fight it.

    Yeah, I guess this falls under the category of: "serenity to accept the things I cannot change". Frank Costanza was right all along.


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