Independent Authors: Surveys and Reviews

What Kind of Writer are You?

Writers come in all sorts of categories. And categories have a broad range also; There are Genres  Fiction and Non-Fiction, those who wordsmith in Poetry or Prose, Screenwriters and Novelists, Journalists and Fabricators, and there are a plethora of other ways to identify a writer. They all have one thing in common, they write. How is that for stating the obvious? My interest in this article breaks writers into three groups; those who have gone the traditional route of getting published, independently published authors, and everyone else.

Everyone else as a group is either not interested in getting published or they have found another route to getting their work noticed. Writers in this group may eventually join one of the other two groups or not. They simply haven't made the move because they do not know how they want to go. Independently published authors may eventually enter the traditional route, but once they're there is no going back. I don't mean they can't choose to independently publish their work, but they have become a part of a brotherhood that has obtained connections that are unavailable to the independently published author. More on that later.

I am an independently published author. I specifically chose this route because being in my late sixties, I don't have the additional time, along with everything else I am doing, to wait for someone to validate that I am a good writer. I knew there would be roadblocks, but I also knew that as a new writer, (I am not really, but I am to this world of writing) I would have to do a lot of getting myself in front of readers on my own because I do not have a name the public is familiar with. I am not really bitter about it although sometimes I am envious. The few public appearances I have participated in have been successful, but not with the numbers that noted authors get at their book signings.

While I am focusing on independently published authors in this article, traditionally published authors do suffer some of the same issues I am talking about.

Surveys and Polls

I recently read a post about a survey whose subject was paid and non-paid reviews. I'm not crazy about polls and surveys because depending upon the questions and the supplied answers you can drive the results any way you want. Putting together a poll or survey is a sophisticated process and depending upon who is paying for it, you can determine the desired outcome.

This Survey was called Kindle Book Review Article  and is about the acceptance of paid book reviews. In the review 300 independently published authors -- Say what, three hundred authors? Kindle only has three hundred independently published authors? I have two books at amazon, plug here, "The Case of the Running Bag" and "The Case of the Bourbon Street Hustler", and they are in the kindle book format, and no one surveyed me. So the survey question was "How do you feel about paying for reviews?" The article from Kindle is gearing towards the acceptance of using paid reviews.
Let's face it, traditional publishers have been paying for reviews for years. The truth is, a reviewer needs to read the book, evaluate the book and write about it. While Publishers do not have a pay scale based upon favorability, a professional reviewer knows where his bread is buttered.
When you look at the survey analyze the questions and then evaluate the answers. Like all surveys or polls, the answers are set to provide a direction the author of the survey to go. There are a number of things with regards to getting my name and product out there, but having to pay someone to review my work should not have to be one of them.
J A Konrath has written a number of articles on his blog and here is an article with his two cents. My question is "Is Amazon setting up to provide a listing of acceptable and recommended reviewers?"

Why Pay for a Review?

Get Reviewed, Get Discovered! Maybe. If Oprah Winfrey announces your book on tv, you have a best seller. So get Oprah to read your book. If you can get your book in front of a million pairs of eyes, you just might sell a couple of books. Do reviews sell? If enough people see them they do. Book sites can get your book on pages in front of people, but how do you get on the front page of book websites?  It isn't just about reviews it's about getting reviews in front of readers. It is a numbers game.

There are a large number of "pay for review" websites that make a good case for buying a review. But is one enough? I have a couple of single five-star reviews from people I don't even know. It is great, but I wish all those who have promised to give me a review would. Clearly one review is not enough. What I do notice is the number of reviews. Since so few people who read books, do write reviews, if someone has a lot of reviews it goes without saying they have sold a lot of books? And what does it cost? I have seen sites offer reviews for as little $25 a piece and as high as $500. Do you get what you pay for?

I am less interested in the artificial illusion of proprietary of buying reviews and more interested in the integrity of sites that sell reviews. I am more interested in a more level playing for independently published authors so that they have access to contests, reviewers, and readers.

If you have had an experience with a review selling site or any other website that is available to the independently published I would like to hear from you.

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