Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Buying Five Star Book Reviews – is it a smart marketing strategy?

As I discussed in yesterday’s blog post, some companies have discovered that when it comes to online reviews, buying fake positives is not such a terrific idea. For trade publishers, paying for reviews is nothing new. Of course, they will probably insist they only buy honest reviews. 

The only time I have come close to buying a review was in a Goodreads group, where I gave away eBooks in exchange for an honest review. It was all very public - a Goodreads group designed for this specific purpose. My goal was not to rack up hundreds of reviews – just ten so I could advertise on a few sites that require a minimum number of book reviews before they will consider taking my ad.

I personally don’t believe buying hundreds of positive reviews will help book sales. I know of several authors who do very well, yet have relatively few reviews.  It doesn’t take an Internet wizard to look at an author’s ranking on Amazon to get an idea of what he or she does. 

Personally, the reviews I most covet are unsolicited ones from strangers – people I have never met before. I especially liked a recent three star review I received on Goodreads for While Snowbound. The reviewer said some very positive things about the book, and the only negative she wrote was “However, some things in the story tend to be a bit predictable.”

I was totally okay with that comment, for one thing, she was right. While Snowbound is from my Sensual Romance Series and I tell my readers books from that series are love stories with sexual tension and happy ending.  So, in that respect they are predictable.

I also received a one star review over at Amazon, on After Sundown, which didn’t bother me. The reviewer wrote: “The writing style could not make up for such an unlikeable character.” I rather took it as a backhanded compliment. She slammed my character, not my writing.

She was also right, the male protagonist was a bit heavy handed and jerky in the beginning of the story, and had she stuck around (she didn’t finish the book) she would have witnessed his transformation. But I totally get not finishing a book if you find one of the main characters unlikable; I have done that myself.

The only reviews I dislike are fake ones – good or bad. I received an odd five star, where I wondered if the reviewer was just making up stuff to build up his number of reviews. In that case, I am just relieved he didn’t choose mine as a one star.

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