WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Reviews are essential

fascination

I had just been rejected by Ereader News Today for the second time in two months. Something in me snapped.

There aren’t very many effective ways to promote indie books, and without promotion the whole self-publishing wheel stops turning. And not just promotion but low prices too — generally 99 cents or even free. I’ve complained before …

But when ENT declined to promote Fascination again last week, I decided I had to find out why. So I appealed the decision.

I described my history with ENT — three novels in three years, all with successful campaigns via ENT — as well as my earlier publication history. Parts Unknown. William Morrow/HarperCollins. I’m not a shoe salesman who decided to “write up” this great idea for a novel I’ve always had.

Bridget from ENT wrote me back within a few hours and explained that Fascination had been declined — get ready — for “lack of reviews.”

On their website they state: “While we do not have a minimum number of reviews that are required, we do look at the reviews to get an idea of how well the book has been received by those that have read it.

But clearly this is meant in a general sense and they have begun to filter their submissions this way, probably because they’re swamped with submissions. ENT is one of the few effective and affordable promotional outlets around.   

I can only put it like this: indie writers need reviews. If you haven’t reviewed Fascination yet, please do. It doesn’t have to be detailed, and it doesn’t have to be a five-star. We’re looking for raw numbers here. And if you haven’t bought Fascination yet, please do. Or tell someone else about it. Or give it as a gift via Amazon (easy to do).

This goes for any indie book you read. It’s just a fact now: the author can’t promote the book without some reviews in the can. And she can’t get a lot of reviews in the can without promoting.

A vicious cycle? You bet. It’s become a vicious business all around.

Fortunately, this time, Bridget came through for me and plopped Fascination into an opening that had come up for Tuesday. Her willingness to hear my case and overturn her decision is going to keep her in my esteem for a long time to come. I also appreciate that she got back to me quickly on a Friday afternoon and made the schedule change pronto.

That’s customer service, indie-style.

All of this is to alert you to two things. One, if you’re an indie author, you can’t put too much emphasis on reader reviews. They act as bona fides for new readers and for promotional outlets. If you’re a reader, give the gift of Amazon reviews. They will keep on giving.

And two, Fascination will appear on ENT’s Literary Fiction list tomorrow. Buy through their link to help them make a little money on the sale. If you can’t wait, go ahead and buy Fascination today for 99 cents. The discount runs through Wednesday.

Fascination 3D

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41 comments on “Reviews are essential

  1. islandeditions
    January 9, 2017

    This has always been, and always will be, a chicken/egg conundrum … You can’t get promotion without existing reviews/ you can’t get reviews without the promotion. You’re fortunate to have dealt with someone who will bed the rules in your favour.

    I have already shared this post on FB, but will now do same on Twitter and reblog on my own blog to promote this special. Hoping that will help.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 9, 2017

      Pretty clear that the promo business is changing. I had no trouble with my first two indie novels, both with few reviews when ENT ran them, but now it’s more competitive.

  2. islandeditions
    January 9, 2017

    Reblogged this on Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing and commented:
    From author, Kevin Brennan, a conundrum … and a special on his latest novel, Fascination!

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 9, 2017

      ‘Preciate it, Susan! Important to be aware of these unstated criteria that can make or break a book.

  3. kingmidget
    January 9, 2017

    Glad to hear you’re getting Fascination on ENT. It was the only promo opportunity that actually worked back when I published Bridgeport.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 9, 2017

      I don’t know why, but I’ve had no luck with several other services, some costing $50 and delivering zilch. Fingers crossed for this one!

  4. pinklightsabre
    January 9, 2017

    That’s an interesting story but glad it had a somewhat happy ending, that’s good.

  5. S.K. Nicholls
    January 9, 2017

    Great news! They decline my last request for RC&R because they had already done promos for that book four times and said they had to give other authors a chance. I shrugged and moved on. They declined my first request for NA d/t lack of reviews when I had ten, but accepted it when I had seventeen. So there must me a cutoff somewhere in that area. Glad you got it up there.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 9, 2017

      I think it’d be a courtesy for them to revise their written policy, though. My whole strategy might have changed if I’d known I needed 10 to 15 reviews before submitting.

      • S.K. Nicholls
        January 9, 2017

        They told me that about RC&R the first time I submitted to them. At that time they actually stated 12 “Verified Purchase” reviews were necessary. I sell more paperbacks in person than I do online. So it really bites, but at least most of those who in person write reviews, because I plead with them and grovel.

      • Kevin Brennan
        January 9, 2017

        Seems unfair to require Verified Purchase reviews. There are lots of ways someone might have read a book, including via libraries, not to mention personal paperback sales. Groveling seems necessary these days!

      • 1WriteWay
        January 10, 2017

        What Susan says about “Verified Purchase” is frustrating. At least a couple of times when I’ve posted reviews to Amazon about books I had purchased through Amazon, the Great Monolith didn’t slap the “Verified Purchase” label on my review. Don’t know why, and I don’t have time to deal with their form of bureaucracy. Just saying ENT shouldn’t put any weight on that label.
        Glad you were able to resolve the issue with ENT. Good luck and goddess bless.

      • Kevin Brennan
        January 10, 2017

        Anything that’s run by algorithms is gonna flub up sometimes. On one hand, I see the value of the Verified Purchase label, but I don’t see why other buying avenues aren’t legit. How ’bout a Verified Read label?

        “Goddess bless” … Cheeky!

      • 1WriteWay
        January 11, 2017

        heh heh

  6. John W. Howell
    January 9, 2017

    Congrats. ENT is the best promo source. I must say I did all I could.

  7. 1WriteWay
    January 10, 2017

    Reblogged this on 1WriteWay and commented:
    What he said: “And two, Fascination will appear on ENT’s Literary Fiction list tomorrow. Buy through their link to help them make a little money on the sale. If you can’t wait, go ahead and buy Fascination today for 99 cents. The discount runs through Wednesday.”
    Hey, I read the novel and loved it so, yeah, what he said …

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 10, 2017

      Thanks, Marie! I’ve noticed you’re on a “what he said” kick lately … 😉

      • 1WriteWay
        January 11, 2017

        Yes, I like to use that “intro” to share on Facebook. It might be lazy, but why should I try to improve on the perfect words of someone else?

  8. Anthony Mays
    January 10, 2017

    There is no one answer, but I believe the average reader may think their opinion doesn’t matter. OH BUT IT DOES! Especially to new authors such as myself. Stephen King doesn’t need 5,000 reviews, but I would enjoy having 50. First, reviews help the author to know how the book was received, and as a tool to improve their writing based on those things a reader may not have liked. Second, the author’s exposure and ranking is tied to the number of reviews they receive. Third, it’s not that hard to do. A simple star rating and a statement whether you liked the book or not will suffice. No need to feel you have to write a review as wordy as some. But if you want to, here is a link to Writing-World.Com that provides a guideline: http://www.writing-world.com/freelance/asenjo.shtml
     
    I very much appreciate those that take the effort to write my reviews.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 10, 2017

      Thanks for your comment, Anthony. I agree completely.

      Great link too. Writing reviews can be easy, and in fact the short but sweets ones are often more important than the longer ones.

    • Connie Flanagan
      January 11, 2017

      Thanks for the link, Anthony. Some really good points on what to comment on in a good review.

  9. Let's CUT the Crap!
    January 11, 2017

    Sorry about your conundrum. It something like way back in the day you couldn’t get a job without experience and you couldn’t get experience without a job. Glad you’re fixed up now. 🙂
    I like short and sweet reviews because detailed ones practically give the reader the story. Why bother reading the book. Review are to entice readers, not be their Saturday night entertainment. That’s how I see it anyway. 😛

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 11, 2017

      I wish more readers would be willing to contribute short but sweeties! Most potential buyers, I think, are looking for some kind of consensus, so they’re more tuned into the star rating and a sentence or two on the yay or nay. Easy, no?

  10. Graeme Cumming
    January 14, 2017

    Reblogged this on graemecummingdotnet and commented:
    All authors, indie or otherwise, know that it’s important to get our books reviewed. This post by Kevin Brennan tells a particular tale that reinforces the point. If you’re an author, you’ll relate to it and probably feel more motivated to get reviews. If you’re a reader, I hope it’ll spur you on to give up a little bit more of your time to express an opinion on any book you’ve read. Even a few words can make a huge difference

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 14, 2017

      Thanks for the reblog, Graeme! I don’t think I quite appreciated how crucial it is from the promotional angle to have as many reviews in the tank as possible. But I do hope that readers come to understand it’s easy to cast a vote for a book that can really help propel it into the marketplace.

      • Graeme Cumming
        January 15, 2017

        Your post has certainly prompted me to make more of an effort as I go into this year with big plans for my own writing. So thanks for putting this out there, Kevin

      • Kevin Brennan
        January 15, 2017

        My pleasure, Graeme. And best of luck with your writing!

      • Graeme Cumming
        January 15, 2017

        I see you’re following me now, so maybe you’ll see how it goes for yourself. Thanks for your good wishes

  11. jjspina
    January 15, 2017

    I know what you mean, Kevin. We Indy authors are all have the same predicament. I tell my readers on my blog – ‘to give an author a review is like giving them a Christmas present every day.’ I am a big reviewer top 10% on Amazon. I have reviewed over 100 books every year. I know how important it is to review. I wish more did too. Best wishes with your book. 😃

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 15, 2017

      Thanks, Janice. And thanks for all those reviews you’re doing!

      • jjspina
        January 16, 2017

        Am now following you. Best wishes with your writing. 😄

  12. Marje @ Kyrosmagica
    January 20, 2017

    I am a great believer in sharing my love of books and what better way than to write a review. It’s a shame that ENT. (unfortunately their initials remind me of the ear, nose and throat clinic in hospital! ) have this verified purchase and other such tough criteria. I do hope you are successful in gaining more reviews.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 20, 2017

      Thanks much, Marje. It’s shame that things are being made MORE difficult for indie authors, but I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

      And yes, I think ENT should change its name!

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica
        January 20, 2017

        I agree Kevin.I hope to join the ranks of indie authors this year. In the meantime I am doing what I can to support folks by doing new features – an author spotlight, author interviews, as well as my ancient reviews.

  13. wyattandwaltsawday
    February 9, 2017

    We feel your pain. Great post!

  14. Aditya Andiappan
    February 13, 2017

    very great post!!! please do check my blog too

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