Continuing with my blog series on marketing, whether you’re traditionally published or self published, we move on to Reviews and Awards.
Some websites will not advertize your book unless you have twenty or more reviews on Amazon, or else pay them to advertize.
One author friend called reviews “golden.” My response to her is that if reviews caused gold to come in, they would be golden. But what she meant was that readers tend to put stock in reviews, and skip over books with little or few of them. Even bad reviews are all right (as long as there are hardly any), and sometimes a banned book can work to one’s sales rank. One friend from a very large family and married into a large family, had all her relatives give reviews. Therefore, in my opinion, reviews can be biased and not very helpful. What I personally like best are reviews from strangers, for I know they are honest reviews.
There are also reviews on Goodreads and through blogs, but in the count of things, they don’t. I mean, the reviews in these locations are wonderful, but don’t count in the tally of Amazon reviews. I’ve even had people write reviews on my FaceBook page, as reviews. I love getting the review numbers, but don’t really fret about any negative comments. There are plenty of positive ones. Besides I’m already working on my next book to worry way back there.
Sometimes authors will trade reviews: “You review my book and I’ll review yours.” The trouble I find with this is what if I don’t like their book, their characters, their plot, their language, their themes? I will be honest, but there’s no need to point out only the warts. I’ve not come across a really, really, really badly written book, anyway, only ones I won’t recommend.
There are also numerous paid reviews on-line and in print. So you dish out money to get a review which may be praising of your baby, or may stick out their tongues at it. It’s always a risk, but it’s yet another review. Of course, the most respected is that Kirkus review, and I’d love to have one from them on any of my books. Today, Kirkus accepts $400-500 for a book review, depending if you want a fast track or not. Every time this starving artist states those figures I start gasping for breath. Sure, I’d love their review, but I like food better.
I know many legitimate award-winning authors. I even know some award-winning authors whose companies who gave out awards are defunct or were given by their micro-publishing house. I’ve won writing awards, a few of them. But they are from local or small places (Less than 1,000 entries) that I can’t in all honesty write: “Award-winning Author” on my books or fliers or website. Most every contest these days requires a fee to enter, which is often over a hundred dollars. (Starving artist — Food. Need food!)
I entered a contest about 17 years ago where one judge gave me a 97% and another 37%. Because of the large discrepancy, they brought in a third judge for a number, which was also in the 90’s. However, my friend who won, only received her two numbers in the lower 80 percentile, while my three judges balanced out in the 70 percentile. I realized how subjective judging was, and was so discouraged I’ve only entered one contest since, and I’ve never even took up that dystopia tween book again.
P.S. Upon rereading this post, I realized how negative my views of reviews and awards are. My apologies. Since these two areas involve what others think, part of me isn’t sensitive to that. I write what I write. I suppose that I hope some people like my stories, but likes are so subjective and sway with the times.
In general, awards and reviews are good — for readers, for organizations who invite you to speak, and if legitimate and large, they are also good for the author. But if you seek after awards, be prepared to budget funds to cover your entrance fees.