The common wisdom says that reviews are a lifeblood of the online business.
However, I struggle getting reviews. My sales have been good; they’ve been great during the promotion periods. And yet, very few take the time to leave a review.
This is understandable. I, for one, have pretty much stopped doing it because I’m uncomfortable reviewing the work of my colleagues. I confine myself to reviewing only those authors who are either safely dead like William Golding, or who are way above my league like Stephen King.
With this in mind, I’ve decided to run an experiment.
About a month ago I’ve put my book “How to Build a Writer’s Platform in 90 Days” up for a giveaway at the Library Thing. To motivate folks to read and respond reasonably soon, I told them that on April 1, I’d run a draw for a Kindle Paperwhite.
An important disclaimer: I’ve never asked for a positive review. My posting at the Library Thing asked for a meaningful review (e.g. more than a generic one-liner).
- I’ve given away 50 copies of the book.
- 2 people wrote back saying the book wasn’t for them.
- 10 reviews got posted.
I’m pretty happy.
These are high-quality, thoughtful, detailed reviews I could only dream about last month. I’m super-excited and truly grateful to everyone who responded to my call to action.
Let’s get pedantic for a second. For transparency, I’d like to cover the whole process.
- I sorted the 10 reviews by date.
- The earliest review became #1. The latest one became #10.
- I navigated to www.random.org and entered the numbers 1 and 10 into the generator.
- And voila: the winning number is #3.
Congratulations to Maggie – with my sincere thanks for participating in the giveaway! I’ll connect with you off-line to ship your Kindle to you
- This method works. 10 out of 50 is a great result in my books.
- The line between soliciting reviews, and soliciting positive reviews, is thin. I believe both I and the reviewers have stayed on the clean side of the ethics. In fact, some reviewers emailed me saying that their opinion was in no way swayed by the giveaway process.
- To my complete surprise, Library Thing disclosed full email and postal addresses of the winners to me. The learning here is to treat this information with respect and in compliance with the law. I’m deleting the email addresses from my system: they’re not going into my “mailing list”.
- I’m beating myself up for not sending a gentle reminder half-way through. By March 25, the giveaway generated only 3 reviews. I decided to drop folks a note, and learned that quite a few didn’t even receive my files. Over the next few days, 7 more reviews got posted.
To be honest, I’d rather have Library Thing enable us to communicate through their system, protecting our mutual confidentiality and helping us avoid the spam filter issues. But this just a wish, not a complaint.
In conclusion, I want to thank everyone who took part. I love you guys
What do you think? Have you used this method as part of your strategy, and what are your results?
Would you do it with your books, and why yes / why not?