Unless you specifically give away the book with the stipulation that you're looking for honest reviews (such as a giveaway on here, or you sent it to book bloggers for a review), most readers don't bother to review free books. In fact, most readers don't bother to review books at all. Sure, we all do, but we're not the average readers.
You're much more likely to get a star rating on Goodreads since it only costs the reader a click rather than spending time writing an actual review.
Wow Swolf! I'm really impressed with the number of downloads you've had. Good for you...that is wonderful! And thank you for taking the time to show me the figures. That certainly proves that reviews are few and far between on free downloads...I won't be holding my breath anytime soon.
Reviews are hard to get. I sent out about 50 emails to book bloggers about 2 weeks ago. I got maybe 20 back saying "yes, but we won't get to it for 1-3 months." So, I gave away a bunch of books and hope in 3 months, I'll get more reviews. BUT, with SW, you have to buy the book from them to be able to write a review. This isn't true for Amazon or B&N. So, many people who leave reviews will go to Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, and their own blog.
I guess I should be a little clearer - it's late and I've had a long couple days - when you give someone a SW coupon code and they redeem it, then that counts as a "purchase" even though it's free and they are able to leave a review there. If you send them a PDF or gift a book from Amazon, then they can't leave a review on SW.
I've also encountered a lot of reviewers that don't bother with Amazon and B&N. They just put the review on their blog (maybe Goodreads or LibraryThing).
When I first began publishing at Smashwords, the small number of reviews was surprising to me. Even many of the ebooks in the top 100 downloads of all time didn't have any reviews (and still don't).
In an effort to counteract that, when I published Amulet, I originally published it in five separate parts (Wow, it will be a year ago Sunday). The first part I gave away for free, and charged $0.99 each for parts 2-5. I put a note in Part 1, telling the readers I would send them coupons to get the rest of the parts for free if they would promise to post a review (positive or critical) when they were done with the entire book.
I got some feedback, with about ten people emailing me and asking for the coupons. Of those ten, three or four eventually posted reviews. Less than I'd hoped for, but fairly good relative to other books on Smashwords. One kind soul even bought the four parts.
It ended when Mark Coker contacted me and said they didn't want serialized books on Smashwords, and asked me to combine the five parts into one ebook, which I did, and gave it away for free for the next six months.
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