1. aClem
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    aClem Active Member

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    I don't know how they do it... but...

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by aClem, Jul 25, 2014.

    I've gotten myself on a few email lists that do ebook promotions, notifications of free books, and such.

    I've downloaded perhaps ten of these freebies, and tried to read them. So far most have been less than awful, but not as good as what I am used to reading.

    I have my own self published book that has been able (unfortunately) to fly totally under the radar of practically everybody.

    But these books, somehow or other, get over a hundred reviews and I assume the reviewers can't ALL be friends or family. How the eff do they do it? I gave my book away on Kindle and even then only 100 or so people downloaded it. I doubt half of them read any of it, and I don't see any reviews if any of them did.

    I must be missing something, but I have no clue what. I didn't expect to sell millions, but I thought dozens was reasonable.

    (The genre was humorous SciFi. Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams did quite well. I admit I'm not in their class, but there IS an audience for the genre, if not for my stuff particularly)

    I guess I don't expect an answer, I'm just venting. Carry on.
     
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  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Unfortunately, there are fake reviews out there (i.e., paying someone to write a good review). I'm not saying the reviews you're talking about are definitely fakes, but it's certainly something to consider.

    As far as marketing goes, how active are you on social media? Using Facebook and Twitter is a good way to attract readers.
     
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  3. aClem
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    aClem Active Member

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    Facebook, very active. Twitter, can't really figure out how to get noticed. I'm going to keep plugging along until I keel over. If I discover anything I'll share here.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Getting reviews is a very difficult thing. It takes a lot of sales to garner 100 legitimate reviews. In my experience, about 1 in 30 to 1 in 100 have left reviews on my novels.

    The best thing you can do is to write another book. Yes, market where you can but two books and then three books will benefit sales, and hopefully positive reviews, more than most other efforts.
     
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  5. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    Reviews are one of those "Be careful for what you wish for" things. :)

    On Facebook there are pages for review swaps. You find someone in your genre, or close enough you don't buying their book and giving an honest review. They will do the same. The trick is, downloading the sample or using the "Look inside" feature and deciding honestly if this is something you're willing to leave a 4-5 star for before committing. If after reviewing the sample, you don't think so, tell them honestly up front. I'm in the thriller genre and it takes me 300-500 downloads to get a review. This is in the shady gray area of Amazon TOS, not exactly verboten, but not encouraged or publicized either. But in trad. pub. authors review each other's books all the time as well as promote them.

    Also, at the end of your book, so they see it only if they finished the book and hopefully liked it, ASK for a review and leave a link to do so.

    This is the way I've gotten my initial reviews, (Your free days on KDP will fall flat without reviews) then was able to keep the momentum going and make the most of KDP free days.

    And, of course, write another book. Rinse and repeat.

    I hope this helps.
     
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  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Self-publishing is hard. It's really difficult to get noticed.

    I know that doesn't help, but at least you know you're not alone? (not by a long shot).

    ETA: Oops, sorry, necro-thread!

    Well, self-pubbing is STILL hard, so there!
     
  7. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    What is the theory behind "free days"? It doesn't sound very profitable.
     
  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think they work really well for the first book in a series, or for authors with a good-sized back list - they're essentially a free sample designed to entice readers into buying other works.

    But for people with only one book? I really don't know.
     
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  9. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    It's not profitable. It's usually a dead loss. BUT, it can get you reviews as well as expose your work to more people who otherwise wouldn't have seen it and they may buy more books of yours that aren't free. There is an entire eco-system of readers who only download free books. Many will also leave reviews. Some of the freebie seekers are nasty though. Consider your free days a "loss leader" in supermarket terms.

    Also, your rank in free used to translate into your paid rank. This isn't true so much any more, but it does still have an (Unknown) effect. If you can get on page one for whatever keyword you're trying to rank for, or even better, in top half of page one, that will translate into sales once it comes off free.

    The "Holy Grail" of free, is that it translates into enough sales coming off of free, that it maintains your rank on the first page and Amazon, in effect, markets your book for you. This used to happen more frequently in the "days or yore" (one or two years ago). I wasn't able to reproduce it with my last book though. In other words, competition is getting fiercer.

    I hope this helps
     
  10. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't get depressed about the number of reviews you see others get. Unless the author has already made a name for themselves, most of the multiple reviews come from purchasing them or from other self-publishers wanting to support "their side". The other problem is that even legit reviewers are starting to steer clear of self-publishers because of not very nice reactions to honest reviews.
     
  11. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    If at first you don't succeed try, try again. What you want to do is keep writing and self publishing stories. The more stories you have out there the more likely people will find it and start reading it. Also think about it if someone reads one of your stories and likes they will go tell their friends/family about it and maybe even look for another book by to read. All you need to do is keep writing which is why people who love to write stories constantly are the ones who make it big. What I've learned though is that as long as you're making one person happy with your stories it's all worth. Sure one person isn't a lot, but it still can make a huge difference.
     
  12. John Rebell
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    John Rebell Member

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    Yes, it is, Bay. Very difficult. There is a lot to know just in creating worthwhile fiction. (Many people have said you need a 1 million published words to truly understand the craft of writing fiction) There are entire depts at trad. pub. devoted to formatting. Entire depts. for graphic design. There are complete agencies who do nothing but marketing. Self-pub, you do it all. You're doing the job of dozens of people. Literally. Writing the book is the easy part. Publishing isn't too difficult. But marketing is a bear. It takes years, and many books, to figure it all out, and what works for you. I don't say this to discourage you, but to encourage you. Going into battle with a plan is half the battle. Going into battle against someone with a plan (Competitor) if you don't have a better plan, is a good way to get bloody. In the beginning all you'll get is beat and bruised. Hang in there, keep writing, keep publishing. It will get better. This is how the cream rises to the top.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe I'm cynical, but I don't find it all that hard to believe that most or all of the 100 reviews are friends, family, the author under multiple pseudonyms, or people paid to write reviews. If the book is average or below average quality, it's really hard to imagine 100 natural, spontaneous reviews being written.
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I did once come across a book that claimed to be a bestseller with numerous 5 star reviews - and after reading the Amazon sample, which was enough to tell me the book was utter shite, I suspected it was self-published. I mean, I've come across terrible traditionally published books too, but this one was taking the mick. It was clearly written by a complete amateur. So I checked the publisher - lo and behold, it was self-published. Which got me doubting the bestseller status. How often do you come across a self-pubbed book that's a bestseller, after all? Esp with that sorta quality? So I checked the reviews - they were all one liners that said, "This is great!" After that, I became convinced the reviews were fake and probably written by the author himself under different names.

    One way of checking if the reviews are real - see if they give any detail, tell you anything about the books, or if they're all just generic "This is fantastic!" reviews. Fakers don't - and can't, anyway - spend that much time writing 20 detailed reviews. At best there'll be a couple of detailed ones and then the rest will be one-liners. Another way to test for fake reviews is see if there's any critique in the reviews - even 5 star reviews would sometimes mention one or two niggles the reader had with the book. Fake reviews wouldn't have those.

    For myself, so far my reviews are from friends - they were all beta readers, so they have all read the book cover to cover. So the reviews are genuine. My only condition was, if you're gonna give me less than 3 stars, just don't write anything :D So far, everyone's given me 4-5 stars, so I'm pleased.

    However, it's true that if a friend didn't like the book, they will probably just not leave a review. I once read a short story by my friend, whose book was on Amazon, and I quite literally hated it. If I hadn't known her, I'd have given it a 1 star review. But since I do know her, I simply didn't leave any reviews.
     
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  15. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    That annoys me too, that "bestseller" line.

    With amazon, you can pick (I think) three categories for your book to be listed under, but these all have sub-categories like ...
    Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #62,441 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

    So as soon as a book hits #1 in Kindles Store/Books/Nonfiction/Parenting&Families>Adoption, I can call myself an Amazon Bestselling Author.

    So, if I get to #1 would I call myself a bestselling author? I don't know. I'll tell you when I get there! :-D
     
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  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, you totally should!! :rofl:
     
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  17. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    :rofl::rofl:

    Since I was awarded my little quill for poetry comp 255, I've called myself Award Winning!:oops::oops: hey, that means you are a Double Award Winner!

    YAY US!!!! (and yes, I am being totally serious here, I consider it quite an honour to win anything!)
     
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  18. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Where's the high five emoticon!?

    *HIGH FIVE!* Yes! Go US! :crazy::friend:

    I keep reading "US" as the USA... o_O hahaha
     
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  19. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Certainly, I thought that you wanted the whole of a nation to go bananas!
     
  20. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    :agreed::agreed::friend:YAY us!!!!

    :geek::-D

    We NEED a hi-five smilie! I can't find one on here :-(
     
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  21. DaveOlden
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    DaveOlden Member

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    Closest I've been able to make, is a typed one: o/*\o
     
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  22. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    I might make stories free until my voice is worth a dime. I have no qualms about letting out hard spent work for free when it’s work designed to develop my skills and techniques.

    It seems like the trick to becoming noticed is simply receiving enough recognition for your work. So if you establish a solid presence in social media that relates to your target audience then your work can receive that recognition quickly. Of course establishing that presence is much easier said than done.

    I think people look at it now and think that each book is a small hope towards increasing that presence to an acceptable prospect. But what you really need is enough of the right people to look into it and the acceptable prospect comes naturally. You don’t need to release books, one after the other, to get this done. There are a few ways to accomplish this that I’ve thought of, and I’m sure there is plenty more you could do.

    'A Fault in My Stars' was created by a member of Scishow. it is a YouTube channel starring two brothers who go over well researched and widely accepted information of interest. They talk about any subject matter in science or history, then present that information in an interesting and somewhat comedic way. This channel is extremely popular and of course attracts a younger audience.(And people like me who love to learn) One of these brothers is the author of 'Fault in My Stars.’

    I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a book turned into a movie so quickly. This means it gained enough traction on launch to consider it for movie production. They don’t particularly talk about author’s or writing, but they did pick up a young and intellectual audience to sell the book to. This gave it enough momentum to reach the ears of anyone else who might be interested in the book, beyond the scishow channel.(And boy did they advertise the crap out of that book from the channel.)

    Have you heard the 'hundredth monkey effect?' It's been discredited, but it gives insight to something that is much more applicable to our current communication system. You get enough people to pay attention and the rest follow suit. It doesn't have to be YouTube channel or blog. Somewhere where their is a large enough sample to gather the audience you need to sell your book. This goes back to knowing who you are writing for. Think of someplace or somewhere you can provide content to attract the attention you want. Like a place you can critique and review sci-fi that will generate interest. Even something as simple as pointing out scientific flaws in popular science fiction, which other might not have noticed, for your hard sci-fi book. Do this in the form of a video and you can put it on YouTube or put it on some sci-fi forums or blogs. There are tons of places you can collect an audience to establish your name without your work. Or you can create a lot of short stories and give them away to establish your name quicker with writing. Short stories require less commitment to read but still implant an idea about your self or writing into them. If you make a novel's worth of short stories you can give a lot of people chances to run into your work, spreading it over the net, establishing a name quickly, and then sell your novels on that reputation. You think you are interesting? Then find somewhere where your interesting factors shine and attract. Get people to notice someplace that matters. This isn't easy but it possible with some creativity and commitment.

    Great Example:
     
  23. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I cannot support my suspicions with proof, but the self published books seem to have far more reviews than the established authors. For instance, I am reading Dudley Pope's "Buccaneer" and on Amazon it has around a dozen, but many of the self published ones have close to a hundred. This simply seems unlikely unless the reviews or ratings are from family, friends, and on line supporters.

    Honestly, I'm not sure how much they help. It has come to the state where I automatically become suspicious when I see hundreds of review or ratings, unless the book has been around for a long time, like Dune.
     
  24. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    @DaveOlden @Mckk

    o/*\o o/*\o

    :-D
     
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  25. Graham Penman
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    Graham Penman Member

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    Twitter is probably your best way to get noticed. Follow a few users that will plug your book to all their followers etc etc.
     

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