Should you pay for book reviews

If you’re about to publish your first book, you may not have thought about paying for reviews. I paid for my first review on Reedsy Discovery which went rather well, but I had no intention of regularly paying for reviews.

Over the course of 2020 I was contacted by reviewers that were eager to review my book, but they wanted to be paid (fee + book price). I tried a couple, which led to more reviewers contacting me. I was swayed and agreed to pay for about a handful. You might think it sounds like a scam (which it most of the time is) but I fell into the trap of laziness. It’s easy to pay for someone to review your book. It’s easy to just throw money out and then think this will somehow lead to sales. They all promise you lots of sales and having no prior experience, I gave it a try.

But I noticed that some reviews contained significant misrepresentation of the plot line, mistakes you would not make if you had read the book. I also noticed that some reviewers only posted their reviews on one platform, but not on others even though we had agreed on it. Some promised a review by a certain date, and a month later it was still not done.

*So to all new authors, self-published authors or soon-to-be self-published authors; be very very careful when someone asks you to pay them to review your book. Be very selective and if you do still choose to pay, find a reviewer you trust, or do it through a reputable middle-man (like Reedsy for example).*

Some paid reviewers I’ve worked with are really great, but those have almost exclusively been contacted by myself, not the other way around. I have decided to no longer pay for book reviews. Even if it costs me more time to find reviewers because I have to actively seek them out rather than waiting to be contacted by them, I prefer providing a free copy to someone who really likes to review books and will do so honestly.

Important side note on ratings: Handing out free copies does not guarantee or entitle you to a positive review. You need reviews for your book to sell it, and the reviewer needs to be impartial if he/she wants to continue reviewing books. You can build great relationships with reviewers (and therefore your audience), especially if you intend on publishing more than one book. Long-lasting co-operation is not built on threats or demands (from either side). And feedback on your work, even negative feedback, can always be constructive.

What is your experience with paid reviews?

The number 1 lesson learned from my first book launch

Perseverance.

There is no overnight success, it takes a lot of time, a lot of energy and money. The money to me is not so material than the time and energy aspect. The fact that promoting a book takes money is obvious to me, but I had underestimated the amount of time and energy it would take.

Naively, I thought that by telling all my friends and family, colleagues and anyone I vaguely knew about the book, everyone would buy the book, leave glowing reviews, and it would somehow take care of itself and sales would just multiply exponentially with Amazon’s trending features etc. I’m not saying you can’t have a bit of luck and you publish the book that everyone has been secretly dying for, it’s read by masses of people around the globe who all rave about it and suddenly you’re on Oprah. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. And I’m not saying this to discourage anyone. I’m saying this to prepare you for the marathon ahead of you.

Your network will read and promote it, but your network is not enough, unless you already have a large robust network of readers. And creating a network takes time and effort.

Firstly; no one knows you. Why would you buy a book from someone you’ve never heard of? The cost of a book is low compared to other activities, yes. A paperback is basically the price of a glass of wine at a restaurant and an ebook can be priced as low as 0,99GBP. But when is the last time you bought a book from someone you had never heard of? That’s the first hurdle.

Secondly, and heavily linked to the first point; your book has no or very few reviews. When is the last time you bought something that had no or a very low number of reviews? How much would you pay for something that you basically can’t return because the book is not like an iPhone cover you can return if you don’t like it?

And thirdly, linked to the second point; if you buy a book, you’re committing to reading it. And that means you’re asking a reader to not only pay for your book, but also spend time reading it. And if you’ve ever had the experience of reading a bad book, you know how selective you become especially towards unknown independent authors.

These are the three main hurdles as I see it. So you can’t rely on your network to do all the work for you. You’re the one who wants to make this book a success, so you have to promote and advertize it.

And simply throwing money at it doesn’t work either. If you want to advertize and promote your book, you need to understand the options you have, and dedicate time and energy to figure out target audience, ad words and search terms, create promotional text and pictures, analyze sales and adjust your campaigns.

However, all this is not said to discourage anyone. It’s to let you know publishing a book is just the first step. It will be a long grind and this is just the beginning. But it is worth it. Every time I read a positive review it makes my day. Because even if I know it’s a good book, it’s nice to share this with other readers and be confirmed that it’s not just you that holds this belief. Especially if you’ve faced criticism before, or been told that no self-published author can ever “make it”.

All you can do is keep at it. Making a book a success is a lot harder than it looks, but also very much worth every sweat and tear.

*NOW CLOSED* Free ebook!* Download Now!

Ready, set, GO!

My ebook When Colour Became Grey is available for free NOW in all Amazon stores! Download it anytime between Thursday 26th November 8am UK time // 9am CET and Saturday 28th November 7.59am UK time // 8.59am CET. Click on the country-specific links below, or head over to Amazon and add it to your cart!

*Note; the paperback is still at the standard price, but the ebook is available for free. Just click on the format type on Amazon to get the free Kindle version*

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon India

Amazon France

Amazon Germany

Happy reading! 🙂 And yes, there will be a sequel!

[If you liked the book, please leave a review online. 🙂 ]

Using your emotions to write

*ebook promotion reminder!* My ebook When Colour Became Grey will be available FOR FREE to download from Thursday 26th November 8am UK time // 9am CET until Saturday 28th November 7.59am UK time // 8.59am CET. Get ready to download in just a few days! 🙂

Whatever you’re feeling, you can use your emotions to write and let yourself be inspired by them. Depending on what genre you write, there will be emotions communicated in your writing. If your book is a horror story, the emotions may be mostly sinister, but there are still a multitude of emotions you can explore within that dark setting.

Sometimes writing is used to escape your current life situation. But what if your feelings are just too present? What if you cannot dissociate from them? As they say, if you cannot beat them, join them. In that sense, if you are having trouble connecting to your book and characters, then focus on parts of the book that are similar emotionally to your current state of mind.

Right now, I’m in lockdown, it’s cold and dark outside. I’m feeling depressed, lonely, annoyed, restless, angry. So when I write I will focus on parts of the book that are centered around betrayal, heartbreak, loneliness and despair. It will be harder for me to describe a summer wedding right now, unless I can completely disconnect from my current surrounding. And while I often can disconnect, sometimes the things in my personal life are just too present. But this doesn’t mean you cannot utilize what you feel. That way you’re not limited to writing only when you’re in a particular state of mind that fits the plot line.

What are you currently feeling? How is your writing going this winter season?

[Disclaimer: I’m working on the sequel of When Colour Became Grey, but any scenes described in this blog are always just examples. There are no spoilers in my description above. 😉 ]

Lockdown Repeat – let’s get creative

*ebook promotion announcement!* My ebook When Colour Became Grey will be available FOR FREE to download from Thursday 26th November 8am UK time // 9am CET until Saturday 28th November 7.59am UK time // 8.59am CET. Tell your friends, mark your calendars and get ready to download! 🙂

We’re now in a second lockdown, and I’m remembering my blog post about the first lockdown and my creative goals. This lockdown isn’t as strict as the first one, and not as long (for now) as the first one, but this time it’s a different season. It’s cold and often rainy outside, so the desire to go outside is certainly not as strong as during the first lockdown. So I would like to try to be more creative this time around. After all, might as well use this time to do something productive (if I can…).

As you can see from the first paragraph, I’m planning an ebook promotion. This will take up a fair bit of time planning and organizing over the next few weeks. I hope to still be able to work on the sequel to When Colour Became Grey in between work and the ebook promotion. In any case, we’re approaching Christmas and this time of the year I feel more creative. You’re indoors, with a cup of tea or coco, curled up on the sofa, a candle or two shimmering on the table. Add to that a bit of calm background music and you’re golden. It doesn’t get much cozier than that! And winter is just beginning, the darkness and long rainy days will continue until March usually so I hope to advance in the sequel even after the second lockdown is lifted.

There is also something about it being cold and wet outside, that creates this atmosphere of mystery and wonder. You can look outside and imagine the darkness weighing on your character as he/she hurries out of danger and into the safety of a tavern. Maybe there’s a sword fight in the rain, or a magic ritual performed that goes wrong…

What are you planning during this lockdown? Do you also have a creative goal?