Free Ebooks by Randolph Lalonde

Free Ebooks by Randolph Lalonde
Free Ebooks by Randolph Lalonde

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Asking For Reviews: Yea Or Nay?

Recently another author (who shall remain nameless), and I had a discussion about reviews. Within days of release on his books have over thirty reviews and he couldn't help but notice that my titles generally have three or less.

After really getting into the IM conversation, we determined that we sell around the same number of books in the Science Fiction category, most of our covers are roughly the same quality and we both make ourselves available to our readers through Facebook and Email. I get a lot more Email than he does, while his Facebook page has about three times as many people subscribed.

The real difference with regards to reviews is that he asks people to review his work. He doesn't warn against spoilers, he just watches for them and has Amazon remove them when they pop up.

My position in our little discussion was that it's not the author's right to ask that his / her readers review their work. For some reason I was under the impression that a writer requesting something from his readers after they had purchased his book was a little vulgar. My contemporary thought that notion was ridiculous, that there was nothing wrong with asking for his reader's attention, then he dared me to ask for reviews.

That brings me to this point, where I ask you, dear reader to review my work on I have to add the proviso that, if you are generous with your time in writing a short review, try to stay away from spoilers and be honest about your experience with your favourite book in the series.

So, there it is. I've made good on the dare, and I ask that you be gentle, be honest and I think you for volunteering your time. Here's a link to the list of books on Link


[What do you think about a writer asking for his readers to review his work? Vulgar or just part of the new, necessary, self publicity culture - as my contemporary put it.]

[The image in this post is by Liviu, check out his work - there's some interesting stuff there!]


Allan B. said...

Absolutely ask for reviews!
It's not vulgar at all. Maybe that's the overly polite and considerate Canadian part of you ;)
But it's perfectly alright to ask your readers to review your work online. Chances are, if you're selling as many books as you are, you'll have readers that want to review the work.
Marketing yourself is not evil, it's business.

Shawn Gray said...

I've copied over the reviews that I've previously written on facebook's visual bookshelf application. They should help a little.

Additionally, although it may seem bad to specifically ask for reviews, that doesn't mean you can't suggest people take a moment to review. How else are you going to discover that the fans are having trouble with a certain aspect of the series. Either way though, I say go for it. You know as well as anyone, the world today is very different from the age of dusty tomes.

Martin Krischik said...

Well, I did not buy on Amazon so I did not review there. But if you would ask me then I would copy my Smashword reviews over to Amazon. Just beware: one of them is critical. Apart form that I fully understand the wish for feedback and have nothing against a little nudge.

Bob said...

Ask for forgiveness, never permission...

leanne said...

To be blunt, who cares??? Do you write these books to sell them? Or, do you write these books to get the most reviews?

I would think it true that reviews further publicize your books, but if you're selling roughly the same number of books, then the number of reviews doesn't seem relevant. Now, if your contemporary was selling more books than you, then you might want to reconsider.

I got The First Light Chronicles: Omnibus edition on iTunes' iBook store because it was free and had an interesting description. No reviews figured into my initial selection. I was hooked and have bought each Broadcast thereafter.

Prior to each actual purchase, though, I did check the reviews. I wanted to see if people enjoyed the new book as much as I had enjoyed each previous one before I would spend my money on the new one - so reviews ARE important to a book's sales. (And, just FYI, I did put out a review after each book so others would see that yet another person enjoyed it!)

However, I bought Fragments on Kindle just to get it as quickly as possible rather than waiting for it to come up on iTunes, and I didn't read any reviews beforehand. So, as you have seen by sales numbers, reviews aren't all THAT important.

So, don't go against your values if you don't want to - reviews are good, but you don't have to have some huge number of them to successfully sell your books - if your books are good in the first place, and yours are.

Either way, just get Broadcast 7 out there so we can continue the story!!!

Randolph said...

Thank you for commenting guys, and thank you very much for the reviews.

Just to answer a couple questions that have come up from a few readers and other authors who follow the blog:

Broadcast 7 will take a couple more months, especially with the improved editing steps I'm taking, which will take a few extra weeks after the writing is done.

You're not the only one who brought up the issue of reviews resulting in higher or lower sales, a few authors approached me elsewhere. To be honest, the spoiler reviews have had devastating effects on sales on, especially when doesn't want to remove them. In that case, sales recover a little when other reviewers leave a few spoiler free remarks. Surprisingly, single star or thickly negative reviews seem to be largely ignored, having little effect on sales. Most people seem to treat single star reviews as the leavings of trolls.

And now I'm going to answer a barrage of questions I received concerning the Apple iBookstore: Nope, I can't see iBookstore reviews that come from any area but Canada, so I have absolutely no idea how the books are doing there. I did have a few very kind iPad owners help me test the latest book's formatting and you can thank them for the existing version being readable. Sorry to say, it's taking forever for Smashwords to distribute Broadcast 6 to Apple. I may have to distribute to the Apple iBookstore directly in the future. I'm not discriminating against Apple/iPad/iPhone users! Really! I own Macbook and an iPhone myself.

Thanks again for your comments and the resulting emails and Twitter DM's that resulted from this blog post.

MarcusAquinas said...

I'm not so keen on reader-generated reviews. Aside from "I loved/hated this book because...", readers do not come from the same perspective as professional reviewers and I generally do not find their comments to be exceptionally informative. There are exceptions to that, but they are few and far between. I've never purchased a book based upon a reader review, but I have avoided a few because of them.

On the other hand, I've neither bought nor avoided a book based upon a professional review. By this point in my life, I generally know what I like and a quick read of a few pages is enough to convince or deter me.

As Dylan observed, "the times, they are a-changin'." Reader review might count for more in today's market than I give them credit for. At the end of the day and regardless of the author's motivations, writing is a business and one must treat it as such. If it works, go for it.