Thursday, February 19, 2015

Writers Helping Writers—What to Do and What NOT to Do

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

As many of you know, I’ve frequently cautioned you that your first loyalty needs to be to your audience. Beyond that, I’ve taught that for most writers, that audience is composed of readers, not writers. That focus is tough because most of our friends are writers, and it’s only natural to want to help by promoting their books. So is there anything we can do to help our writer friends?

You better believe it!

There are several ways we can help, including following our author friends on social media and signing up for their blogs.

But the biggest bang for the buck for an author is a book review. Today I’ll teach you how to write book reviews that help.

First, let’s talk about why book reviews are helpful.
  • Book reviews, particularly on Amazon can make or break a book’s success. Buyers are making book buying decisions based on those reviews.
  • Book stores are also paying attention to reviews before stocking their physical shelves.
  • Reviews also give a book and the author credibility.
  • Although Amazon doesn’t state it explicitly, the more reviews a book receives the higher it’s ranked when a reader searches.
  • With Amazon, being popular makes you popular. And one of the main ways readers gage popularity is through reviews. 

Writing the Review
The place to begin is with Amazon. Right now, Amazon is ground zero for consumer information about books. Not sure I’m right? Current statistics show that Amazon has 55% of the e-book reading market. 'Nough said.

Go easy on the length of the review. Truthfully, really long reviews don’t get read. Beyond that, Amazon only requires a review to be twenty-five words long.

Leave the professional reviews at home. Consumers are mistrustful of reviews that sound too professional. People are looking for opinions by regular readers, not professional reviewers.

State what you liked about the book and why. Share a bit about why you like to read book(s) by that particular author. Give it a four or five star rating.

NOTE about rating books: 
I’m not telling you to lie about the rating. BUT I am suggesting that anything but a four or five star rating won’t help the author. I’ve talked to quite a few authors who think giving a book a two or three star review gives them credibility as a reviewer. There’s a lot wrong with that thinking.
  • Most readers on Amazon just don’t believe that a reviewer who gives two and three star reviews is more believable than one who awards four and five star reviews.
  • The reason for posting these types of reviews is not to increase your credibility, it’s to help your fellow authors.
  • Some people also believe that a smattering of poor ratings within the reviews of a book makes it more credible. Not so. If a book has more than about thirty reviews, it’s credible. Truthfully, very few people have that many friends and/or family willing to post a book review

Personally, if I can’t give an honest four or five star review of a book, I just don’t review it.

Although Amazon is the best place to post a review, it's not the only place out there.

Other places to post reviews (in order of importance):
  • Goodreads
  • Barnes & Noble

There are other places to post reviews, but these are the ones that will help the author the most.

Things We Should NOT Do to Help our Author Friends
1. We shouldn't compromise the trust of the audience we've built. For example, let's say I'm an author that has built an audience (on my blog and on social media) of readers who like sweet romances. Now, I have an author friend who writes science fiction and that friend asks me to share her books with my audience. What's going to happen when I start advertising her books? 
  • The best thing that could happen is that my audience (remember they love sweet romance) is going to be confused.
  • Or they're going to get irritated and stop following me.
  • Or they may even take note of the title of my friend's book and tell other friends not to buy it because they're so aggravated.
And yes, I've seen all three things mentioned above happen. 

2. We shouldn't suddenly become one long commercial on our blog or especially in social media. Don't laugh, that's easy to have happen. The longer we're in the writing community, the more author friends we'll acquire. Pretty soon, it's easy to have ten to twenty book launches in two or three weeks. Advertising all those for your friends makes you come off like a salesperson.

Think long and hard about the audience who follows you. They deserve your respect and your loyalty. Beyond that, you aren't doing any author any good by advertising her book with an audience that isn't interested.

I'd love to know your thoughts on this subject! Be sure to join the conversation in the comments section below.

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine and the Senior Editor for Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for such an informative post, Edie. I am sharing it on Twitter and FB.
    Elva Cobb Martin