Cake.

Now I’ve got your attention, I’ll explain, but first, what’s your favourite? Do you tell your friends when you tasted cake that, oh my god, was so good?  Did they ask why you liked it?  How about holidays, food, and restaurants?  Do you share your experiences? If it was great, or truly awful, you’d want to shout it to the world, wouldn’t you?

Why is Cake Like A Book?

Substitute the word book for cake. When was the last time you read a book you really enjoyed, a book that surprised you, that was above expectation?  Did you leave a review? I often think my books have something in common with cake. Why? Because if I find a tasty one, I like to share the good news so others can enjoy it too, and authors, like bakers, need brisk business to survive and innovate.

We used to buy physical books in hallowed spaces called bookstores; we borrowed them from physical libraries. We still do. From the time-honoured towers of book publishing, agents sent ARCs (more about those below) to reviewers and hoped they’d get favourable column inches. Food reviews worked in a similar way. Reviewers would eat their way through samples, and write about them. Those reviews are like free advertising; no wonder everybody wants them, but the digital world is different.

The Digital World is Different

Self-publishing has claimed a space alongside traditional publishing and now readers are happy to download from relatively new platforms like Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, etc., the role of the online review has grown in importance. Libraries are digital too, like Libby. Reader reviews posted on an Amazon book page (for that title), provide social proof.

You might not have given a thought to reviewing, because for paper copies you never had to, and it wasn’t always obvious where you would leave it. You probably told your friends about it, and word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool in book sales. But in the digital age – whether you buy an eBook, audiobook or paperback – we authors need your online reviews. They help sales and they also help authors to know what you like to read.

Authors Need Reviews

Back in the day, positive reviews from well-known reviewers together with top-slot positioning in bookstores and store windows gave the reader confidence to buy. This was the old style of social proof, but online publishing requires online social proof and authors face an uphill struggle without it. These take the form of the online star ratings and reviews.

Your review gives the author valuable feedback. We want to write books you want to read, and your feedback helps us do that. A buyer is more likely to have confidence in buying a book with hundreds of reviews than a book that has only tens, even if some comments are less than enthusiastic. What’s more, your review helps us tweak our genre, which is a fancy word for marketplace.

If readers don’t like a book, authors can do something about it. They can try to increase chances of giving readers a more positive experience next time round. They can check formatting, experiment with cover design and tweak positioning in the market, or to put it another way, pitch it as another genre/sub genre because maybe they positioned it wrong the first time. This especially happens with cross-genre or experimental work.

Imagine our joy when we authors find the right readers, though. We can write more of what you like. We can turn a single book into a series and take the characters you love on more adventures. Leaving a review is free and it costs you 5 minutes, maybe, not even that, but it helps us grow a following and build our careers. Your support means a lot.

How Do I Leave a Review?

I can only speak for Amazon Kindle and paperback because I only publish on Kindle Direct Publishing.

  • Purchase your Kindle eBook through your Amazon account.
  • On your eReader, Amazon provides a link at the end of the book and asks you if you want to review it. That’s the fast track to the right place.
  • Another way to do it is in your Amazon account. Go to your Orders history, select the book you want to review and follow the prompts.

This makes the process super easy, and you don’t even have to leave your tablet, eReader or phone to do it. In a couple of days your review will go up, and it’s tagged “Verified Purchase”. This gives your review more weight. Did you know that Amazon ranks reviewers? Check out their Top Reviewers and how to get there.

Advance Review Copy

Also known as ARC in the business. The traditional publisher or author sends ARCs out to reviewers before the official publication date. In the pre-digital world, physical books were sent by snail mail and reviews appeared in trade and consumer press.

Do you want to be one of my advance reviewers? Tell me in the contact form and I will put you on the list for a digital copy. Please note, I am not sending out paperbacks by snail mail because of the pandemic but I hope to be able to do it next year.

Impartial Reviews Are The Gold Standard

This traditional route of advertising new titles continues today, but in the digital world of self-publishing, authors also need to gather online reviews from their audience. For authors, it’s a lot of work to find reviewers or even beta readers. They are like fans or followers of your work (in that genre) that you have to build up over time. Additionally, there are review sites and book bloggers who will give a book an impartial review.

They’re the gold standard because Amazon has strict review policies and authors don’t want to fall foul of them because fake or paid reviews are taken down and damage the author’s reputation. A few years ago some writers and also scammers stole manuscripts and republished them with different covers. They tried to game the system by either getting friends and family to write fake reviews or garnering paid reviews. It’s a whole side-hustle, the dark side of the online publishing industry. It is bad for readers because it skews the marketplace and ultimately, it’s bad for authors because a disappointed reader doesn’t come back.

Please Buy More Books And Review Them

I used to work in Sales amongst other jobs, and the golden rule we learned during training, was to Ask For The Order. So, I’m asking! Please buy and review my books! Already bought? Well, would you please rate it and leave a review? Amazon only asks for 20 words or just leave a rating if you don’t want to write anything. Feel free to say if you didn’t like it, what you didn’t like, and thank you for an honest review because it helps me become a better writer. You’ll find my books here.

Reviews and Cake

Patisserie as only the French can do

What do we want?  Reviews!  When do we want them?  As soon as you like! Thank you very much. Reviews are stepping stones on a writer’s journey to best-seller. Hopefully one day, we’ll celebrate with more cake.

Here’s my portfolio. Click on the image to go to the book page, and again to to go Amazon.

Header image by the stupendous Picjumbo.com

French patisserie by me. In 2016, my sister bought a castle in Uzerche, France. We went to a local restaurant to celebrate. This is the quality of life in France.

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