Author Topic: Reviews and KU  (Read 1574 times)

alhawke

Reviews and KU
« on: December 13, 2022, 06:58:12 AM »
So... I've struggled to get reviews as an Indie writer (sound familiar?). I'm sure many of you have. I do okay, garnering around ten to twenty honest reviews by release using my own ARC reviewers and review services like Booksprout. But here's the thing: recently, I'm seeing a trend for books garnering hundreds of reviews. They are all on KU (as far as I can see). So I'm beginning to wonder if I made a mistake not being more exclusive on KU with some of my books. One book, as an example, was released last month. It has 700 review. Mine has 25.

Now another question is: does it matter? Do you really need hundreds of reviews to sell books? I think it certainly looks better to have hundreds versus under a hundred, but does that always make the sale? Probably not.

I'm interested in your thoughts as to what's going on out there. I've never seen this many reviews popping up in so many titles. Back in the day, like a few years ago, Indie writers were comfortable with ten to twenty. I'm jealous and a bit curious as to how these guys are garnering hundreds. TikTok? Am I missing something? It seems like KU and ratings,  :shrug, but I'm wide??
 

Post-Crisis D

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2022, 07:37:19 AM »
I don't think KU would have anything to do with it unless they are using some angle to encourage KU readers (and not non-KU readers?) to leave reviews.  I have had books in and out and it's made no difference in reviews (or sales) as to whether they are in or out.  Only difference is whether or not I have any page reads showing for the term they are in.  Usually not, but sometimes someone will read a half dozen pages before quitting and I get like a few cents or something that I'll probably never see unless by some miracle I hit the payout level.

I don't know if reviews help sell books or not.  I typically look at the negative reviews (for books or anything) and try to figure out if the reviews are negative because the product is not good or if it's because the reviewer is either trying to quash the competition for their own product or if the reviewer is simply a few screws short of a cylindrical inclined plane.
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LilyBLily

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2022, 07:47:35 AM »
1. No idea how they're getting so many. Are you sure they are reviews rather than ratings? My speculation: If ratings, they're probably real and the result of discounting and/or a newsletter plea to rate the book. If reviews, likely the authors made back room deals with readers to review, paying them off with gift cards or merch.   

2. As a reader, I'm leery about even putting a book by an author unknown to me into my Kindle if it has fewer than 100 reviews--mostly because a low review count usually means there are no 1- or 2-star reviews to give me a good sense of the book's flaws and strengths. Are other readers as picky? I don't know.

3. Whenever I've done big discount runs, I've gotten many more ratings, but not reviews. The first handful, mostly from ARC readers or places like Hidden Gems or NetGalley, remain the majority of the reviews. IMO, dedicated ARC readers do the best reviews, then NetGalley, and Hidden Gems a distant third.   

 
 
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Hopscotch

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2022, 10:18:19 AM »
I'm not convinced that reviews or ratings produce sales, certainly not very often.  What I do think increases the chance of a sale is the Read Inside where a reader can judge for him/herself the appeal of the read.  That's the place to concentrate effort. 
. .
 
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alhawke

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2022, 11:26:53 AM »
To clarify, I'm mainly talking ratings on Amazon, not reviews. The quantity is something new I'm observing over the past yr. I haven't seen numbers like this w Indie books before. I'm talking hundreds of review/ratings. That used to just be trad numbers. I honestly would love it if someone shared how this is happening, so I can join the club grint. I don't think it's promos. A free promo BB could do that (with 25k sales), but how many of these authors are getting those, particularly KU ones?

Again, one thing I've noticed is it's KU books (KU reads??). So... reviews and rankings w KU has made me consider trying out KU again.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2022, 12:29:48 PM »
I doubt is has anything to do with KU.

I'm also in the reviews make no difference to sales camp. (Inc ratings.)

My own seem to average around the 200 mark, staggering in over the first month.

Can you point out a book where this has just happened? I'd be wanting to look at it's rank against how long it's been out.
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alhawke

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2022, 02:55:20 PM »
I doubt is has anything to do with KU.
I'm also in the reviews make no difference to sales camp. (Inc ratings.)
My own seem to average around the 200 mark, staggering in over the first month.
Can you point out a book where this has just happened? I'd be wanting to look at it's rank against how long it's been out.
It just seems to be a bunch of KU books. Maybe they're writers doing tons of review swapping?? But, again, hundreds?!?
Your average of 200 is kinda the point. How are writers putting out new books and within one month landing as many reviews as you?

You asked for examples, and I know it'd help the discussion, but I don't want to signal any particular writer out. I feel like that's blaming. If they're doing it legit, I want in on their secrets. I want to know their game--so I can do it too.

And maybe... it doesn't matter. But I do suspect that a book with 1k reviews looks better than one with one hundred. I just think that's human nature.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2022, 03:49:05 PM »
Your average of 200 is kinda the point. How are writers putting out new books and within one month landing as many reviews as you?

That's ratings more than reviews. The average spiked when Amazon put rating in without needing to comment.

There's nothing odd about it either.

It's simply a rating to sales and full reads ratio.

As long as the book evokes the need to rate or review, there's a direct correlation between sales and full reads and ratings/reviews.

Some books simply don't evoke any need to rate them. Readers come to the end without any emotional reaction.

On the other hand, some books generate such positive or negative reactions in people, that rating or reviewing is almost guaranteed.

And some authors are very good at this. Hence their books get a better ratio.

The ratio changes according to rank and time out, which is why I wanted to check rank on an example. PM me a link, and I'll comment generally if I see anything worth commenting on, without identifying the book or author.

But for arguments sake, a month old book which still has a rank in the top 20,000 could be be expected to have 300+ ratings. If it's in the top 10,000 still, then 500+ upwards is very likely. The rank shows tangible sales, and from tangible sales comes ratings. (inc. KU downloads).

By a month, mine are usually 50,000+ in rank, after starting somewhere around 2,000 on day 1. My ratings tank out as the rank drops, although I often get batches of them come in, often after a rank drop, which makes no sense.
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alhawke

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2022, 06:40:55 AM »
That's ratings more than reviews. The average spiked when Amazon put rating in without needing to comment.
Yeah, it could be the new use of ratings. It could be that they've accumulated enough over the past year now for me to notice the big difference.  :shrug
Thousands (ratings) are becoming far more common this year.
 

TimothyEllis

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Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2022, 10:53:01 AM »
That's ratings more than reviews. The average spiked when Amazon put rating in without needing to comment.
Yeah, it could be the new use of ratings. It could be that they've accumulated enough over the past year now for me to notice the big difference.  :shrug
Thousands (ratings) are becoming far more common this year.

Any book getting a Bookbub these days would get several thousand ratings off it.
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2022, 12:46:31 AM »
I've definitely seen an increase on my own books since ratings became a thing, though nowhere near a thousand. Let's face it--it's easier to rate something than to write a review.

Unfortunately, as a buyer, ratings do me no good on creative products. If I can't tell why someone likes or dislikes a book, that's just extra noise to me. But Amazon does seem to like quantity over quality, so why would I be surprised?

I don't remember where I read about this study or how it was done, but some years back, there was a study indicating that customers were three times more likely to click "buy" on a book with fifty reviews than they were on a book with zero reviews.

Intuitively, it seems to me that ratings and reviews would make some difference. On non-creative products, I am drawn to products with more reviews, on the assumption that more buyers means more chance to expose potential issues with the product. On creative products, I'm much more interested in the nature of the reviews than I am in raw numbers.

Since Amazon allows customers to filter by rating, I think that could also have some impact--but on poorly reviewed books, not books with only a few reviews.


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Writer

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2022, 06:02:33 AM »
The only trick needed for gaining hundreds of ratings/reviews on a new release is the trick of selling a lot of books fast, through advertising or a pre-existing fan base. After that, the sales and reviews feed off one another. Here's all I do:

* I send out a few dozens ARCs so my book launches with about 20 reviews.

* I heavily and consistently advertise the book for 30 days, before slightly tapering down the ads.

* 30 days after release, the sales and borrows from those ads have generated a couple hundred reviews.

* After the book is 6-12 months old, I run discounted promos, bringing a fresh wave of reviews. By the second or third time I've discounted (by then the book's a couple years old), it's usually around 1,000 reviews, if it's an early book in a series.

Want more reviews faster? Increase your ad budget in launch week to increase your incoming reviews. If you want, you can add a special appeal in back of book or to your newsletter subscribers, but it's not really necessary. This, of course, assumes your ad spend is high enough to move the needle and your ads are getting good conversion.

Naturally, some authors make special arrangements, have pre-existing fan bases, or get their author connections to share with their own fans. And even when someone looks like a debut author, it's often an experienced author leveraging a fan base from one of their older pen names. So there can be preparations going on behind the scenes to set up the launch for success. But honestly, plenty of reviews will come on their own from the sales, which come from the ads. It's desirable to launch with a few reviews already in place to maximize the earliest ad results, but that's all that's needed to start the ball rolling.
 

alhawke

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2022, 06:08:50 AM »
The only trick needed for gaining hundreds of ratings/reviews on a new release is the trick of selling a lot of books fast, through advertising or a pre-existing fan base. After that, the sales and reviews feed off one another.
Are you in KU? And, if you're willing, how many $ zeros do you add to advertising (if you don't respond, I get it). I've heard some report upwards of thousands, which I can't do.

The problem is I'm prolific. Most of my $ goes to promos, which I do well with, but I generally don't see a huge tail afterwards and it's getting pricey.

I can match the 20 reviews too. It's the hundreds that I don't get. There are authors out there who launch with 100-200 ratings. Many are in romance, we spoke of this impacting it in another thread. But I can match your 20. Perhaps I'm not spending enough on advertisin? But it gets a bit nail biting when I keep shelling out the dough. :icon_eek:
 

Writer

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2022, 11:30:49 AM »
Are you in KU? And, if you're willing, how many $ zeros do you add to advertising (if you don't respond, I get it).

Yes, I'm in KU. I spend several thousand dollars per month on advertising, but that's spread across a big catalog. Most of my series have at least 6 books in them, some series are linked, and all are rapid released. 

I can match the 20 reviews too. It's the hundreds that I don't get. There are authors out there who launch with 100-200 ratings. Many are in romance, we spoke of this impacting it in another thread.

I feel like romance readers (or at least those following the hottest trends) are a demographic that engages more with online content, including writing reviews, following authors, and responding to authors' review prompts. Also, romance authors tend to do cross-promoting and sharing of ARC readers, and careful launch preparation in general.

Perhaps I'm not spending enough on advertisin? But it gets a bit nail biting when I keep shelling out the dough. :icon_eek:

I can understand that, and it's definitely an area to be careful. I've had books before that just didn't respond well to ads, for whatever reason. So I spread all my budget across the books that do perform well and let them do the heavy lifting for the rest of the catalog. My older or less popular stuff benefits from the trickle down.
 

alhawke

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2022, 01:39:08 PM »
Yes, I'm in KU. I spend several thousand dollars per month on advertising, but that's spread across a big catalog. Most of my series have at least 6 books in them, some series are linked, and all are rapid released. 
Thanks for responding! If willing, please consider answering me this: do you start low at only $10 or so and work up or do you enter in large $amounts at the get-go? I'm curious regarding ads. I have a BookBub ad that works, but it's minimal dollars daily (thought it sells daily). Also, I assume you're talking AMS?
 

Crystal

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2022, 05:23:55 AM »
Amazon changed the reviews to include ratings without reviews. If you look at a book that came out in the last six months, it will have way more reviews than a book that came out six years ago, for the same # of sales.
 

Writer

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2022, 05:30:23 AM »
Thanks for responding! If willing, please consider answering me this: do you start low at only $10 or so and work up or do you enter in large $amounts at the get-go? I'm curious regarding ads. I have a BookBub ad that works, but it's minimal dollars daily (thought it sells daily). Also, I assume you're talking AMS?

I run a bunch of different $5 per day ads. After they've been running long enough to gather data, I shut off the worst performers and transfer their budgets to the best. But I've always got dozens of low daily budget ads going. It's not necessarily the most efficient way, it just works for me.

I put about half my ad budget into AMS and divide the other half between Facebook and Bookbub ads. The Bookbub ads are something I do on new releases and then taper down as the book ages. By then I've got something newer out, so I start reducing ads for the aging books and moving more of my budget toward newer releases. My newest serieses always get the bulk of my ad money with the older ones getting smaller amounts. I find that as a book reaches a certain age, it becomes harder to keep pushing that boulder uphill, so it makes sense to taper down the ads when the profit starts to shrink and move that money to something newer.
 
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alhawke

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2022, 05:39:08 AM »
I run a bunch of different $5 per day ads. After they've been running long enough to gather data, I shut off the worst performers and transfer their budgets to the best. But I've always got dozens of low daily budget ads going. It's not necessarily the most efficient way, it just works for me.
Then you're doing what I'm doing, just at a higher budget. I'll keep it in mind. Thanks so much for sharing!
 
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LilyBLily

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2022, 07:55:22 AM »
Thanks for responding! If willing, please consider answering me this: do you start low at only $10 or so and work up or do you enter in large $amounts at the get-go? I'm curious regarding ads. I have a BookBub ad that works, but it's minimal dollars daily (thought it sells daily). Also, I assume you're talking AMS?

I run a bunch of different $5 per day ads. After they've been running long enough to gather data, I shut off the worst performers and transfer their budgets to the best. But I've always got dozens of low daily budget ads going. It's not necessarily the most efficient way, it just works for me.

I put about half my ad budget into AMS and divide the other half between Facebook and Bookbub ads. The Bookbub ads are something I do on new releases and then taper down as the book ages. By then I've got something newer out, so I start reducing ads for the aging books and moving more of my budget toward newer releases. My newest serieses always get the bulk of my ad money with the older ones getting smaller amounts. I find that as a book reaches a certain age, it becomes harder to keep pushing that boulder uphill, so it makes sense to taper down the ads when the profit starts to shrink and move that money to something newer.

Are you discounting all the books you're advertising? As I understand it, BookBub ads don't work well unless one discounts, whereas Amazon and Facebook ads can work at full price.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2022, 02:18:14 AM by LilyBLily »
 

PaulineMRoss

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2022, 10:07:20 AM »
That's ratings more than reviews. The average spiked when Amazon put rating in without needing to comment.
Yeah, it could be the new use of ratings. It could be that they've accumulated enough over the past year now for me to notice the big difference.  :shrug
Thousands (ratings) are becoming far more common this year.

I'm sure this is something that's cropped up here before. Yes, there are bigger numbers now because Amazon allows readers to click a rating and not need to write a review. You get to the end of the book, and up pops a screen with a one-click-to-rate option. It's been going for quite a while now (at least a year).

It has nothing at all to do with KU or not, it's purely about the number of books read and how many readers actually get to the end of the book. I write in a popular genre (Regency romance) and so I get lots of ratings. The book that came out on 13th (3 days ago) already has 100 ratings. Maybe a quarter or so are my ARCers' reviews. The September release has over 1,000 ratings. No special promos, just a steady level of Amazon ads and a popular genre. Nothing sinister about it.

Writing epic fantasy as Pauline M Ross; writing Regency romance as Mary Kingswood
Bookbub score: 16 for 93
 
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Writer

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2022, 10:47:41 AM »
Are you discounting all the books you're advertising? As I understand it, BookBub ads don't work well unless one discounts, whereas Amazon and Facebook ads can't work at full price.

All my PPC ads are for full priced books. The only time I discount is for Bookbub free features.
 
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alhawke

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2022, 11:06:56 AM »
It has nothing at all to do with KU or not, it's purely about the number of books read and how many readers actually get to the end of the book. I write in a popular genre (Regency romance) and so I get lots of ratings. The book that came out on 13th (3 days ago) already has 100 ratings. Maybe a quarter or so are my ARCers' reviews. The September release has over 1,000 ratings. No special promos, just a steady level of Amazon ads and a popular genre. Nothing sinister about it.
As far as nothing being sinister, I agree. My hope is that this post is interpreted as how can I get more ratings?, not why does so and so have more than me? Because it could be interpreted as blame, I feel like this is a thin line. That's why I don't want to point out a single author. It's also why I'm explaining this more here.

In your case, genre clearly is of issue. Your Regency romances are in the thousands of ratings versus your other books (which I see lots&lots, just not at the 1K mark). As far as genre, I can say that epic fantasy is really hard to garner reviews in. So I see that in my books too. But what I've noticed lately is writers in my genre are pulling upwards of 1k ratings a year. I'm talking urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I sell daily too. I'm not getting hundreds to a thousand ratings. That's why I'm scratching my head. Could it be they're not finishing my book? Possibly. But there could be something else in the marketing that I'm missing.

It sounds like you have a street team for ARCs garnering around 20 or so reviews. I do too.

I'd love to know what else you guys do at launch for ratings/reviews. So please offer any insight if you have anything more to add.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2022, 11:18:29 AM by alhawke »
 

alhawke

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2022, 11:10:31 AM »
All my PPC ads are for full priced books. The only time I discount is for Bookbub free features.
My BB PPC successful ads are full priced too. I've launched plenty of unsuccessful ads where the ROI was poor and so were removed though.
The only time I discount is for Bookbub free features.
Are you saying you supplement your Bookbub promotions with ads? I don't generally do that.
 

writeway

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2022, 01:21:21 PM »
Nope, you definitely don't have to have 100 or so reviews to sell books. If your book is selling reviews will come and even if the reviews don't come, just focus on sales. That's what's important but all of my books with 100+ books were my biggest sellers so the reviews grew as they sold. Authors who have those hundreds of reviews before publication work their butts off to get them. Many have huge ARC teams and street teams. Any author can get that many reviews if you build a dedicated team but for me, not that important. Some of my books have 100s of reviews and some have probably less than 20. I put a little effort in getting some reviews before publication but not breaking my back to do it. I had a review team for years but dumped them a few years ago. Again, focus on sales and reads or whatever.  Everything else is just gravy. My first book that got a Bookbub a few years ago did great and when Bookbub picked it, it had 9 reviews. That was probably about 6 or 7 years ago and that same book now has just about 65. Yet that book has done very well and even had a BB. Many readers never review which is why Amazon started the rating system like the other retailers been doing. The thing to remember is KU is heavily favored on Amazon so KU books get more visibility and are seen more as well so yes they do have the opportunity to sell better but there are wide books that sell with tons of reviews too. You might not see them that much because KU books get more attention on the charts or whatever. wide books tend to get a lot of reviews after Bookbubs. Another thing, that author with 700 reviews, how popular are they? If they are a popular author in a popular genre, that's not surprising and really low compared to what some have. I know indies in romance and fantasy with as many as 3,000 or more reviews. Wide and in KU. How are you doing wide? That's the thing to be concerned with when you wonder if you should be in KU or not. If you are doing well wide, then nothing else matters.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2022, 01:23:30 PM by writeway »
 
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PaulineMRoss

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #24 on: December 17, 2022, 09:55:07 PM »
It has nothing at all to do with KU or not, it's purely about the number of books read and how many readers actually get to the end of the book. I write in a popular genre (Regency romance) and so I get lots of ratings. The book that came out on 13th (3 days ago) already has 100 ratings. Maybe a quarter or so are my ARCers' reviews. The September release has over 1,000 ratings. No special promos, just a steady level of Amazon ads and a popular genre. Nothing sinister about it.
As far as nothing being sinister, I agree. My hope is that this post is interpreted as how can I get more ratings?, not why does so and so have more than me? Because it could be interpreted as blame, I feel like this is a thin line. That's why I don't want to point out a single author. It's also why I'm explaining this more here.

Sorry! That was poorly worded. No, you didn't suggest anything sinister. I just wanted to clarify, for the avoidance of doubt, that it can be done without anything hinky going on.

Quote
In your case, genre clearly is of issue. Your Regency romances are in the thousands of ratings versus your other books (which I see lots&lots, just not at the 1K mark). As far as genre, I can say that epic fantasy is really hard to garner reviews in. So I see that in my books too. But what I've noticed lately is writers in my genre are pulling upwards of 1k ratings a year. I'm talking urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I sell daily too. I'm not getting hundreds to a thousand ratings. That's why I'm scratching my head. Could it be they're not finishing my book? Possibly. But there could be something else in the marketing that I'm missing.

I think it's just the number of books sold/borrowed and the number of readers who actually get to the end and see that little pop-up screen asking for a rating. In my case, the Regencies way outsell the fantasies by several orders of magnitude, and have done for some time.

Quote
It sounds like you have a street team for ARCs garnering around 20 or so reviews. I do too.

I'd love to know what else you guys do at launch for ratings/reviews. So please offer any insight if you have anything more to add.

I don't have a fixed street team. For each series, I ask my mailing list for volunteers to join an ARC pool. Then for each book, I ask the pool for ARC readers and randomly select 50+ to receive the book, so I get a different 'set' of ARC readers every time. That gets me 10-15 reviews in the first day or two, and maybe 30-40 over time. I don't check who reviews, or cull anyone from the pool. I only do it as protection from the occasional 1* review. If that's the first one that comes in, it can kill a book stone dead (as I know from experience). This latest book had a 1* on the first day (which said, paraphrasing: 'Love the author, hate that Amazon makes it so difficult to find the book'. Gee, thanks.) It screwed my overall rating, but the 4* and 5* reviews swamped it in the list, and happily it's disappeared now. Maybe the poster thought better of it!

I don't do anything else at launch, apart from email my mailing list. Bookbub sends out a new release alert, too, but I don't have that many followers there. Amazon may send alerts to followers but I wouldn't know about that. Otherwise, it's just routine Amazon ads, mainly aimed at the first in series. For me, the mailing list is the big launch strategy. I have about 9K signed up, almost all organic, and still growing. That gets me good pre-orders (about 2K for this latest book), and notifies the KU readers after launch. Regency (and romance generally) is a great genre to be in!

Writing epic fantasy as Pauline M Ross; writing Regency romance as Mary Kingswood
Bookbub score: 16 for 93
 
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alhawke

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2022, 01:42:32 AM »
I don't have a fixed street team. For each series, I ask my mailing list for volunteers to join an ARC pool. Then for each book, I ask the pool for ARC readers and randomly select 50+ to receive the book, so I get a different 'set' of ARC readers every time. That gets me 10-15 reviews in the first day or two, and maybe 30-40 over time. I don't check who reviews, or cull anyone from the pool. I only do it as protection from the occasional 1* review. If that's the first one that comes in, it can kill a book stone dead (as I know from experience). This latest book had a 1* on the first day (which said, paraphrasing: 'Love the author, hate that Amazon makes it so difficult to find the book'. Gee, thanks.) It screwed my overall rating, but the 4* and 5* reviews swamped it in the list, and happily it's disappeared now. Maybe the poster thought better of it!

I don't do anything else at launch, apart from email my mailing list. Bookbub sends out a new release alert, too, but I don't have that many followers there. Amazon may send alerts to followers but I wouldn't know about that. Otherwise, it's just routine Amazon ads, mainly aimed at the first in series. For me, the mailing list is the big launch strategy. I have about 9K signed up, almost all organic, and still growing. That gets me good pre-orders (about 2K for this latest book), and notifies the KU readers after launch. Regency (and romance generally) is a great genre to be in!
Thanks for sharing your methods! I don't see anything different from what I'm doing, only scale; and your success in your genre. A 9k mailing list, organic, is gold. Mine is 2.5k, it's not organic, and I sift through it regularly cutting nonparticipants and adding new ones. Well, seems there's not much more I can do then. I carry on.

I hear you about low reviews at release. Same exact thing happened to me with one international review hurting international sales across the board. When reviews are sparse, a low ranking at launch is a killer.
 

She-la-te-da

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #26 on: December 25, 2022, 12:01:35 AM »
Quote
But I do suspect that a book with 1k reviews looks better than one with one hundred.

Not to me. As an author, I know all too well that most of these are probably gotten by unethical means. And a relatively new book with loads of reviews already? Yeah. Fake-o-rama. I don't care about street teams, ARCs or whatever someone uses to explain it. I still feel they aren't legit.

It's the same with huge amounts of five star reviews. I don't read five stars, I look at the one and two stars. And the Look Inside. Even with KU myself, I don't bother with crap if I can help it. Especially present tense writing. OMG, I hate that.

But, who knows? Amazon does make it easy for me to rate a book at the end, with that pop up page. I just don't use it, because as an author I don't rate other authors.
I write various flavors of speculative fiction. This is my main pen name.

 
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LilyBLily

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #27 on: December 25, 2022, 02:35:25 AM »
I rate and review books in genres I don't write. What's hard is knowing the author really really wants me to give the book a 4 or 5 when my reading experience says it's a 3.5 or even less. I have no qualms about giving stinkers 1 or 2 stars but I try to avoid stinkers. Even free, who has time for bad writing?
 

cecilia_writer

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #28 on: December 25, 2022, 07:24:12 AM »
I rate and review books in genres I don't write. What's hard is knowing the author really really wants me to give the book a 4 or 5 when my reading experience says it's a 3.5 or even less. I have no qualms about giving stinkers 1 or 2 stars but I try to avoid stinkers. Even free, who has time for bad writing?

I had a really awkward experience a while ago when the husband of an old friend emailed me the pdf of his first novel and asked me to review it. After reading a few pages, I knew I couldn't do it, because it was just so terrible that I couldn't encourage anyone else to read it! I had to make some excuse about authors not being allowed to review, although he was writing in a different genre from me so it might have been theoretically ok.
It was even worse when I received the annual Christmas letter from the couple and found out that he had given up writing.
Cecilia Peartree - Woman of Mystery
 

LilyBLily

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #29 on: December 26, 2022, 04:13:27 AM »
I rate and review books in genres I don't write. What's hard is knowing the author really really wants me to give the book a 4 or 5 when my reading experience says it's a 3.5 or even less. I have no qualms about giving stinkers 1 or 2 stars but I try to avoid stinkers. Even free, who has time for bad writing?

Can you explain your review process?

It's pretty simple and unscientific, nothing magical about it. In fact, you'll probably consider it silly.

Assume I have already read the Look Inside and a bunch of reviews and am intrigued enough by the characters and plot to read the whole book. But soon I'm finding persistent malapropisms and misspellings. Forms of address blatantly incorrect in Regency romances (it's not "Lady Last Name" unless she's married, and never "Sir Last Name," but you'd be surprised at how many authors don't get this). Then TSTL heroines and unlikely behavior given the social and moral rules of the era. That's a huge one. Please do not get me started on virginal girls who decide to have unprotected sex "for the experience" despite the enormous negatives involved in an unmarried pregnancy up until very recent times. Modern idioms and words constantly coming from characters supposedly of an historical era ("be there for you," "libido"). After that, does the action of the story actually make sense? Is the result satisfying? Was there any depth to the characters? Many novels simply skim the surface and move people around. If there are large loose threads, villains left unpunished, and so on, that again leads me to end up dissatisfied. 

A strongly written story can conquer most of these issues, but not all, especially if they are present in a big way. From time to time even favorite authors infuriate me because they've clearly not received a decent editorial pass to remove the blatant errors. How hard is it to come up with a word other than "libido"? How hard to learn the difference between "compliment" and "complement"? The author is lazy, and the copy editor is incompetent, and the proofreader doesn't know their a** from their elbow. As these pile up, I get riled up. If there's enough wrong with the story, too, I'm going to seriously consider giving it only 3 stars--or no rating at all. But I don't generally give a 3-star rating without a review to explain it. I'm more likely to place that author on my Do Not Read list (yes, I have one) and move on. Right now there's a huge wave of Regency romance writing happening, so it's not surprising that much of it is dreck. I depend on reviews and ratings and on my own experience to save me the trouble of wanting to throw a bad book against the wall.

     
 
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The Bass Bagwhan

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #30 on: December 27, 2022, 06:16:51 PM »
Once a book gets a large of reviews and by that I'd say 50 they lose relevance and credibility for me, and you have to trawl through them to find some kind of considered, well written critique. Hundreds of reviews perhaps suggests a popular book, and therefore it must be popular for a good reason, but I'd dismiss most of them as not legit, useless fan gushing and even fake.
Does the Amazon algorithm take them into consideration? Who knows?
 

LilyBLily

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2022, 12:37:01 AM »
Just to prove how bizarre Amazon's treatment of reviews is, I've just read an excellent 3-star review of Past This Point, and there is no "Helpful" button for this lengthy reaction to the story, apparently because it's from the UK. Yet there is a "Helpful" button for a much shorter 3-star review from the U.S.
 

Hopscotch

Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #32 on: December 28, 2022, 04:34:14 AM »
I found that 3-star review.  It helped me want to read a book in a genre I don't normally read.  I agree - Amazon's management of review presentation isn't helpful to buyers.
. .
 

Bill Hiatt

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Re: Reviews and KU
« Reply #33 on: December 28, 2022, 06:33:50 AM »
I found that 3-star review.  It helped me want to read a book in a genre I don't normally read.  I agree - Amazon's management of review presentation isn't helpful to buyers.
It absolutely isn't helpful, but there's no way to create a helpful system of that kind run by bots. It would require actual human eyes on the reviews, which isn't going to happen.


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