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Permlink Replies: 3 - Pages: 1 - Last Post: Jun 5, 2013 12:34 AM Last Post By: eelkat
number1silvey

Posts: 15
Registered: 08/14/12
Give aways for reviews?
Posted: Jun 4, 2013 3:31 PM
 
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So I was reading reviews for other books which I sometimes do because I have almost no reviews on my own books. On one review it said, I don't know why this book has all these 5-star reviews, maybe it was because they were giving away a kindle as a drawing for reviews. I thought amazon disallowed reviews for pay. Do they allow reviews for drawings? Or am I just confused here?

What does amazon allow as far as reviews go? Can I give someone a book in return for a review? Give away a kindle in a drawing for reviews? I'd just like to have some reviews.

I've had two weekend give-aways where 944 books were downloaded, and not a peep from any of the readers.

Basically, this is whining from a "temporarily" discouraged author. - Melissa Silvey
Rebecca

Posts: 529
Registered: 10/17/12
Re: Give aways for reviews?
Posted: Jun 4, 2013 3:35 PM   in response to: number1silvey in response to: number1silvey
 
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He might have just been joking, I guess. I'm not sure what Amazon would think about something like that. But you can give free review copies of your book to people, like bloggers.
Notjohn

Posts: 5,614
Registered: 02/27/13
Re: Give aways for reviews?
Posted: Jun 4, 2013 4:16 PM   in response to: number1silvey in response to: number1silvey
 
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Having given away 944 copies of your book, you shouldn't be surprised that it hasn't bumped your sales. Even if someone missed the giveaway and wanted it, he might well figure, well, maybe it will be free again next week! (Obviously the author didn't think it's worth real money!)

As for reviews, two things:

1) People collect freebies. It doesn't mean they're going to read them any time soon. Maybe never!

2) People in my experience are less likely to review e-books than print editions, and least likely of all to review books they got as freebies.

I just don't understand why anyone would simply throw their life's work away! People generally take you at your own evaluation. If you think your books is worth $5.99, well, they might agree. If you think it's worth nothing, they're sure to accept that valuation.

The book: Notjohn's Guide to Kindle Publishing: Ten Steps to Selling Your E-book on Amazon (Or Anywhere Else)

The blog: Notjohn's KDP Guide
eelkat

Posts: 47
Registered: 11/21/11
Re: Give aways for reviews?
Posted: Jun 5, 2013 12:33 AM   in response to: number1silvey in response to: number1silvey
 
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number1silvey wrote:
So I was reading reviews for other books which I sometimes do because I have almost no reviews on my own books. On one review it said, I don't know why this book has all these 5-star reviews, maybe it was because they were giving away a kindle as a drawing for reviews. I thought amazon disallowed reviews for pay. Do they allow reviews for drawings? Or am I just confused here?

What does amazon allow as far as reviews go? Can I give someone a book in return for a review? Give away a kindle in a drawing for reviews? I'd just like to have some reviews.

I've had two weekend give-aways where 944 books were downloaded, and not a peep from any of the readers.


Are you familiar with a site called LibraryThing? It's an old site, from way, way, way back before GoodReads (GoodReads was in fact inspired by LibraryThing). In the old days, LibraryThing was just for use by Libraries. It was a place where they could catalog their books in a massive online database. While LibraryThing is not affiliated with Amazon directly, their site is setup so that it's main database catalog is pulled directly from Amazon. Librarians could go on LibraryThing search for books by title, LibraryThing would pull all the book's info off of Amazon's listing, then print up a card catalog card, while automatically alphabetizing the library's complete collection. LibraryThing was started here in Portland Maine and several local Maine libraries were chosen to test it, both public, school, and private libraries beta tested it, including the private library I own.

This may be sounding off topic, but hang in a second, it'll start making sense to you in just a bit.

Okay, so before long LibraryThing went out of Beta and went live to the world, but only Library's and their librarians had access to it, for the first 4 or 5 years. Than one day the owners of LibraryThing came up with an idea, which was basically "Let's create a way for local libraries to promote local authors, by allowing authors to join LibraryThing!" The idea was, for authors to promote their books to librarians, in a bartering system that got local author's books on the shelves of local libraries, in exchange for online reviews. So several "big name celebrity" self publishers were contacted and asked to beta test LibraryThing's latest creation called "Early Reviewers". I was among the beat test authors who were asked to help get the program up and running.

Here is what LibraryThing asked us authors to do:

Authors were asked to make a "Early Review Book Listing". In other words, the author agreed to print up copies of their books (print - ebooks were not yet invented), go the LibraryThing, create a listing which stated that AUTHOR NAME was about to release a new book titled BOOK NAME. And in exchange for a fair and honest review the author would provide a signed copy of the book. The author could chose to give away any amount of books they wanted. Some gave 1 copy, others gave as many as 500 copies. Most authors seem to give away either 10 or 15 copies.

In order to answer the listing, librarians, signed up under the book title, and agreed that if their library was chosen to receive a free book, they would read the book and write a review of what they thought of it. The review would be posted on LibraryThing. A notation underneath then said, it was not required, but would be a nice gesture if the librarian could also post said review on Amazon too. (Since the creation of GoodReads, the note asks that you post it there as well). Only the review posted to LibraryThing is required. LT does say on their site that an author can not request Amazon reviews as doing so is against Amazon's ToS, and to consider it a nice bonus should the reviewer put their review on Amazon as well.

LibraryThing chose who got what book, and then sent their mailing addresses to the author who mailed the books out and waited for reviews.

With in the next couple of years LibraryThing became the best way for authors to get new releases into library catalogs, and soon traditionally published authors began requesting to join. Before long big house traditional publishers jumped on the bandwagon and soon big name authors like Stephen King could be found shipping out Early Review copies of books. But still this was an "elite club" where readers and the overall general public was not allowed in.

In around 2007 LibraryThing made a dramatic move to open it's (previously invite only) site to the public, allowing libraries, authors, publishers, and now readers to interact. Readers, began to track books they owned, borrowed, bought, and/or read, and now readers had a chance to sign up for Early review books as well.

Today, LibraryThing has become a massive website, which sadly has been hit hard by spamy trolling over zealous self promoting authors who seen as a nuance, because they rush around the forums with "review my book I'll send you a copy" - which is against LTs ToS, as you can only give away books through their official listings, not on their groups and forums. In any case, each month more than a 100 authors create listings giving away about 1,000 books each month to reviewers who agree to post reviews on LT in exchange for the book, and many of them repost said reviews onto Amazon as well.

This has been going on since the beginning, long before the invention of ebooks or Kindle. Today authors give away ebooks on LT as well, but these do not attract the amount of requests that print editions do.

Authors are required by LT to report back when the reviewer posts the review. If they don't post the review after receiving the book, they are blocked from signing up for more free books, until they do post a review. Authors then go to an "authors only" forum where they chat about the types of reviews they get and which books get the best responses. LT later posted the results of books given away verses reviews received and reported that while about 75% of the print editions received reviews, fewer than 10% of the ebooks editions received reviews.

In any case, it is not uncommon to find reviews here on Amazon, which state "received free copy of book from author through LibraryThing in exchange for this review". Amazon allows reviews in exchange for having received a hard copy of the book, a thing they allowed all the way back in 1994 when I was one of the beta testers for Amazon, before the site went live. This has never changed, and they still allow it. As far as I know, this is the only sort of "pay" Amazon allows for reviews. (Even though you can buy for $500 through Amazon's CreateSpace "professional reviews" for your book.)

From what you are describing in your post, it appears that the author in question (possibly on their personal website?) offered a drawing, stating that if you reviewed their book between a certain time, they would pick their favorite review and give that person a free Kindle. I'm just guessing, but that seems to be what you are suggesting, correct? And, yes, I believe that is against Amazon's ToS, because the chances are pretty high that those reviews were fake, written in hopes of getting a free Kindle. The author would probably get in trouble if Amazon found out about that sort of thing happening.

Notjohn wrote:
Having given away 944 copies of your book, you shouldn't be surprised that it hasn't bumped your sales. Even if someone missed the giveaway and wanted it, he might well figure, well, maybe it will be free again next week! (Obviously the author didn't think it's worth real money!)

As for reviews, two things:

1) People collect freebies. It doesn't mean they're going to read them any time soon. Maybe never!

2) People in my experience are less likely to review e-books than print editions, and least likely of all to review books they got as freebies.

I just don't understand why anyone would simply throw their life's work away! People generally take you at your own evaluation. If you think your books is worth $5.99, well, they might agree. If you think it's worth nothing, they're sure to accept that valuation.


And I agree with what Notjohn says

First off, yes, I agree that while it's great to be able to say you gave away 944 books, that's also a lot of money you didn't earn. If you are selling your book even at only .99c you lost $280.37 income. If you are selling for $2.99 that means you lost a whopping $1,975.79. This massive loss of income is why I only give away free print copies of my books, only through LibraryThing, and never more than 100 copies. I never put any of my ebooks as free, not even for a single weekend, because I can not control how many copies are given away free. I also only discount my book selectively, in other words, if I'm selling the book for $2.99 I'll discount it to .99c, but only for what I term "a holiday special", in other words the book goes on sale for Black Friday or Christmas Eve, but I won't give it away for free, and the sale only lasts for a single day: a day when most everything else in America is also deeply discounted. This then becomes, not me saying my book isn't worth much, but rather, me taking advantage of the fact that on one day of the year, people are actively hunting for anything and everything that is discounted and will buy any .99c item they see no matter what it is, because they don't want to spend 10 hours in line to get a discount when they can get it online. (I will also point out here, that I sell short stories (under 10,000) for .99c, novellas (to 50,000 words) at $2.99, and novels/collections (over 50,000 words) at $4.99 (print $8.99). (Note, I price my stuff by word count, and most of my stuff is under 75,000 words, but if I were to publish anything in the 100,000+ range I'd price those at $6.99, and $8.99 for anything over 200,000 words) .

I simply do not believe in giving ebooks away for free, and only believe in giving away print books away through LT's Early Review program and only 100 copies at most. I know some authors feel it helps to boost sales, but I personally have never seen this to be true, nor have I seen free days result in reviews. A .99c discount/sale gets better results than a fee day/weekend as far as I can see, but even these must be used sparingly, otherwise you'll look desperate to move a book that no one wants, which defeats your goal. You want to have a low price, but still feel like the price says this item is worth buying, which is why I price my work the way I do. I feel that folks who really want to read it are going to pay the money and folks not willing to pay the money are the same folks who would have left poor reviews, so by weeding them out with the use of pricing, I did myself a favor anyways.

What Notjohn says about freebie collectors is true. I know because EVERY TIME I see a free book, I download it without ever once looking to see what it is. I have more than 5,000 free Kindle downloads, and I will review them when I get around to reading them, however, I started downloading free Kindle books in about 2008 and I've yet to read a single Kindle book, or any other ebook, for the simple fact that, I just don't like reading books unless I can take them to bed with me and fall asleep reading, and well, try going to bed with a breakable glass screened device and not rolling over on it and breaking it in your sleep! Yeah. Chances of me ever reading ANY ebook EVER are not looking too good at this point, but I keep downloading them, thinking 'someday...'

Once in awhile I'll go through my ebook list/library to see if I want to read anything and I'll ask myself "Why the heck did I download THIS?" Than I'll remember, "Oh yeah, it was free." Sad fact is, though I'd hate to admit it, I do have to admit that I put of reading free ebook downloads for the simple fact that it was free and I have a hard time seeing it as worth my time to read something I didn't even bother to pay for to begin with. I know it's silly for me to think that, but I can't help it, my mind just automatically reacts that way to free ebooks (not free print editions however!)

Again as Notjohn suggests, when I look at my own reviewing habits, I find that every book I have ever reviewed was a book I had bought as a print edition (often bought used from a local bookstore, so rarely does it say I'm a verified buyer.) I own more than 10,000 books, not including an additional 7,000 comic books, and 400 cookbooks, nor does this include the previously mentioned 5,000 ebooks downloaded for free. (I did mention I own a private library, right?) Just so you can wrap your mind around that - the average town library had 12,000 books, the average college library has 7,000 books, and the average school library has 2,000 books; me, I have 17,500 and since January 2013 I have already bought (off Amazon) 800+ paperbacks and the year isn't even half over. (And people ask why I was chosen by Amazon as one of their beta testers back in 1994 - yeah - I'm well known in bookstore communities worldwide for the extremes I go to to hunt down the rarest books in the world. Amazon knew if they wanted to get their radical new site up an running and selling books they'd have to contact the world's top book collectors to be their first buyers - I'm account #20 - I was the 20th person to buy a book off Amazon, before Amazon was open to the public.)

Sure, I buy lots of books. Every week I'm walking into the post office with a pick up notice, to which the postal guy says "More books eh?" me, "Aye, more books." But while I'm buying books at a rate of about 30lbs a week, I'm only reading 1 or 2 books a week, and than only reviewing the ones I like best. If I can't give it a 4 or 5 star review, I don't bother to review it at all. I don't like giving 1, 2, or 3 star reviews because as an author myself, I know how disheartening low reviews are and how they effect sales and that just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean someone else won't. I won't review a book I don't fall absolutely in love with. Writing a review that says "eh, it's okay, but not for me, 3 stars" seems unfair to the author, because just because the book was only 3 stars to me, doesn't mean I have to punish the author for it, so I don't bother with a review at all. So how many reviews do I write? Maybe only 20 a year, and every one of them was for a print book, seeing how I've yet to bring myself to read an ebook ad I won't review a book I haven't read.

So, yeah, like Notjohn says - people who collect freebies rarely review them, I know because I'm one of them, sad to say. People are more likely to review a book they spent money on, than one they got for free, again, I know this is true because I do it myself. Likewise, as people are more likely to read a print book than an ebook, print books get more reviews written about them - once again, I know because I do this too. And finally, I too, find myself not bothering to review freebies, simply because my mind looks at it as "well, if the author don't think it's worth anything, than why should I even bother". So, yeah I agree with all of Notjohn's points here.
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