There is a ratio going around that you’ll get on average one unsolicited review for every thousand books you sell. At this moment of writing, I have 115 reviews on GoodReads and 75+ reviews on Amazon. And I can assure you that I haven’t sold a 1000 books per review, more like 30-50 books. And none of these reviews is bought*.
I did a few giveaways on GoodReads that netted me some reviews, but most of my reviews are from two things:
- I give away ARCs, which are Advance Review Copies. That means that I send reviewers my books before they are published, so they can post a review when the book is published.
- I ‘request’ reviews from my readers by posting this message at the end of each book:
Thank you for reading the Amsterdam Assassin Series.
For an independent author, gaining exposure relies on readers spreading the word, so if you have the time and inclination, please consider leaving a short review wherever you can.
Most readers won’t consider leaving a review, because they are not used to voicing their opinion, or because they don’t see the importance, or just because no one asks them for their opinion. That’s why the message at the end of the book is so powerful – I just remind them gently that I would appreciate if they’d tell others about this book they enjoyed, so others can enjoy the books too. And I’m serious about reminding them gently – don’t push readers into feeling obligated to review your books. And be grateful for every review, whether it’s 20 or 200 words long.
*Customer reviews now outnumber professional reviews, but that has also made for some underhanded practices – just as you can buy Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers, you can also buy reviews, especially through websites like Fiverr.com which trades in fake reviews that are posted through multiple accounts.
Other loathsome review practices are the ‘quid pro quo’ review circles, where authors buy each other’s books and give each other glowing reviews, and authors creating ‘sock puppet’ accounts to write their own reviews and upvote themselves (and/or downvote their competition. Most of these fake reviews are easy to spot, since they are as formulaic as the books they promote, but it’s still profitable since many readers equate having a lot of reviews with ‘a quality book’.
Around nine-thirty, I entered Small Talk, a luncheonette at the corner of Van Baerlestraat and Willemsparkweg, ordered an espresso and went upstairs to the first floor.
Lilith followed me inside and added a cappuccino to my order. She sat down across from me, took a brush from her shoulder bag and brushed back her damp hair. After dabbing her face with a tissue, she unbuttoned her jeans jacket. Her nipples jabbed the damp fabric of her T-shirt. She shivered and gave me a reproachful look which I ignored. It wasn’t my problem if she didn’t know how to dress for this fickle weather.
“So how many did you take?”
I sipped my espresso. “You didn’t count them?”
“You’re guessing,” I said. “I told you to observe indirectly, not to let your attention wander.”
Lilith leaned forward, her damp breast touching my jacket. “Could we drop the hostilities?”
I looked into her pleading eyes. “You think I’m being hostile? You blackmail me into instructing you while you have absolutely no aptitude whatsoever for my profession. I’m wasting time I don’t have on this farce, so—considering the circumstances—I think I’m downright congenial.”
“Listen, I’m sorry if I came on like a bitch, but I wouldn’t do this if I wasn’t desperate. Have you never been desperate?”
“Lucky you.” Lilith slouched in her chair, her gaze on the tabletop. “I never had any luck.”
“Spare me your life story. Save it for someone who actually gives a shit.”
I could see she wanted to punch me, but her desire to stay in my good graces apparently got the better of her. She rested her chin in her hands and studied me. “How about yours?”
“My life story?” I snorted. “Nothing to tell.”
“Nothing?” She looked up, tilted her head. “I find that hard to believe.”
“Why don’t you tell me how you become a pickpocket?”
“How?” I smirked. “I became a pickpocket by sticking my hand in other people’s pockets.”
“You don’t want to tell me?”
I finished my espresso. “See? You can be perceptive, with a little effort.”
“Are you going to be like this all day?”
“What did you expect? That I’d ‘revel’ in teaching you my ‘craft’?”
“I’m sorry if I’m a nuisance.”
“You’re not sorry. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. I’m not an idiot.”
“I mean it.”
“No, you don’t. If you were truly sorry, you’d get up and get out of my life.”
“I can’t. I need this. I need you.”
I shook my head. “I was just the sucker who made a mistake in your vicinity. Now I have to pay for it.”
I got up and she followed me to the counter, where she paid for both our coffees. I didn’t thank her, but led the way to the nearest tram stop. The rain turned into a steady drizzle and I noticed she was still shivering in her thin jacket.
She rubbed her arms. “Where will we go now?”
“Albert Cuyp. You bruise easily?”
She narrowed her eyes. “Why do you ask?”
“Just answer the question.”
“If I’m knocked about I’ll bruise, but I don’t plan on getting caught.”
I shot her a scornful look. “Never heard of ‘collision theft’?”
“You want me to bump into someone and pick his pocket?”
“You bump into the mark. Extracting wallets is my department.”
“Oh. Okay, no problem.”
I scowled. “We’ll see.”
As the author, of course I cannot rate or review my own work. What I can do is give you, the potential reader, some background information about In Pocket.
About twenty years ago, when I was working on what was to become Reprobate: A Katla Novel, I had a half-finished story on a busker who lived in a delivery van and pretended to be blind in order to rake in more money. As such, Wolfgang was the only one who saw a murder by assassin Katla Sieltjes, who promptly started hunting him down to shut him up.
The story didn’t work and I wrote a new story with Katla as the protagonist, who breaks her rule of never leaving a witness alive when blind busker Bram Merleyn enters her crime scene. Readers of the Amsterdam Assassin Series know what happened after that, so I’m not going to rehash that story.
In the meantime, Wolfgang was still living in his van with his pet rat Gabriel, but he changed from busker to pickpocket, and acquired a heroin addiction (being one of my characters can be very taxing).
I often write on several projects at the same time, and I kept adding to the story of Wolfgang the pickpocket until it reached critical mass, all the pieces fell together, and In Pocket almost wrote itself.
In Pocket is a stand-alone novel, but it has some connections with the Amsterdam Assassin Series beyond the same locations – if you read carefully, you will find cameos from characters that also appear in the series.
I make free e-book review copies available to readers who want to review In Pocket on GoodReads and retailer sites. To get your hands on a free review copy, send an email to email@example.com with ‘review copy In Pocket’ in the subject line.
Can You ‘Deal’ With Negative Reviews?
I don’t ‘deal’ with negative reviews, since there’s nothing to deal with. A negative review is the opinion of a reader, intended to express their feelings about your work to other readers (not, I repeat, not to you, the author, because that is what ‘feedback’ is for). By the way, I make a distinction between a negative review (where the reviewer criticizes the book) and a bad review (where the reviewer criticizes the author).
I read all the reviews I can find. Not because I like to flagellate myself, but I’m interested in the opinions of my readers, even if they don’t contact me directly. Sometimes you can glean information that might help you avoid a scathing review in the future. File that nugget and go on your way.
The one thing you should never, ever do, is try to convince the reviewer that they are erroneous in their opinion. That has about 0.001% of actually succeeding.
You write a book, but you publish a product. If the product is good, then the ratio of negative to positive reviews will be low. If it sucks, the majority of your reviews will suck. You control the product, not the opinion. If you cannot live with the negative reviews, pull the product.
Personally, I don’t want to give a negative reviewer extra power by becoming upset. Reviews are like the weather, you don’t know what you’re going to get. It’s more useful to carry an umbrella than to become angry at the sky for the rain.
There is no book that receives 100% positive reviews. And that is good. Because a book that pleases everyone is probably not worth reading.
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Amazon doesn’t allow self-publishers to sell their books for free, as loss-leaders, but I have two free stories on Amazon.
Now, I want to set a third story free on Amazon, and I need your help to do that.
Will you help me? It will only take a minute or so. Here’s what you do:
First, copy this Kobo link: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/fundamental-error
Second, follow this link to the page of Fundamental Error on Amazon.com
If you scroll down the Amazon page, you’ll see this under Product Details:
Where did you see this lower price?
URLPrice ($)Shipping cost ($)
To get the Amsterdam Assassin Serie noticed among the many books already out there, I offer free copies of Reprobate in exchange for reviews on Goodreads, Scribd, Amazon, Kobo and iTunes.
Assassin Katla breaks her own rules when confronted with an unusual witness…
Blessed with an almost non-existent conscience, Katla Sieltjes, expert in disguising homicide, views assassination as an intricate and rewarding occupation. Hidden behind her male alter ego Loki, Katla receives anonymous assignments, negotiates the terms with clients through electronic means, all to protect her identity. Her solitary existence satisfies her until she meets a blind musician whose failure to notice a ‘closed’ sign causes him to wander in on Katla’s crime scene. And Katla breaks one of her most important rules – never leave a living witness.
Reprobate is the first novel in the Amsterdam Assassin Series. With authentic details and fast-paced action, featuring an uncompromising heroine and a supporting cast of unusual characters, Reprobate gives a rare glimpse in the local Dutch culture, information on the famous Dutch capital, the narcotics trade, computer hacking, motorcycle gangs, mehndi bridal tattoos, martial arts, the psychology of social engineering, and the brutal effectiveness of disciplined violence.
This e-book now features a glossary.
So, if you want to support me and help me get noticed, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Reprobate Review copy’ in the subject and tell me what e-reader you use and I’ll send you the Reprobate e-book file attached to the email. You can download the file and upload it to your e-reader. Available files are .mobi, for the Amazon Kindle, and .epub for the Nook, Kobo, Sony, iPad and most smartphones with e-reader compatibility.
Thanks to everyone for your support.
How to Increase the Visibility of Your Book on Amazon, Part 2:
How to find your category on Amazon:
I got some questions on how to find your category, so here are some detailed instructions:
Go to the homepage of Amazon. Do not type anything in the search bar, but tap the ‘All’ and select Kindle Store in the drop down menu. Now you get everything in the Kindle Store with a list on the left that can help you narrow down your search.
Leaving the search bar empty, you go to the second filter option ‘Kindle Store’, where you have a list:
Kindle Devices (34)
Kindle Accessories (466)
Kindle Blogs (4)
Kindle eBooks (2,627,280)
Kindle Magazines (490)
Kindle Newspapers (157)
Kindle Singles (519)
Kindle Worlds (475)
Select Kindle eBooks (2,627,280)
If you scroll down, you’ll find a list in the left bar with:
Arts & Photography (146,000)
Biographies & Memoirs (115,714)
Business & Money (167,153)
Children’s eBooks (136,939)
Comics & Graphic Novels (21,583)
Computers & Technology (46,320)
Cookbooks, Food & Wine (38,428)
Crafts, Hobbies & Home (49,929)
Education & Reference (162,350)
Gay & Lesbian (25,800)
Health, Fitness & Dieting (165,809)
Humor & Entertainment (72,955)
Literature & Fiction (856,128)
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (148,423)
Parenting & Relationships (51,240)
Politics & Social Sciences (183,981)
Professional & Technical (209,018)
Religion & Spirituality (275,450)
Science & Math (156,301)
Science Fiction & Fantasy (161,909)
Sports & Outdoors (45,612)
Teen & Young Adult (55,344)
Foreign Languages (554,299)
If you select one of them, you’ll narrow down further.
Select ‘Mystery, Thriller & Suspense (148,423)’ and you get:
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Crime Fiction (33,009)
Select Mystery (67,450) and you get:
African American (700)
British Detectives (3,561)
Collections & Anthologies (4,130)
Gay & Lesbian (832)
International Mystery & Crime (1,626)
Police Procedurals (6,312)
Private Investigators (3,063)
Women Sleuths (11,826)
This is the last selection you can make in this area. So say your protagonist is a female detective, so you select Women Sleuths (11,826)
Now select the first book at the top.
Now scroll down to Product Details and you’ll find:
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Police Procedurals
#1 in Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > Women Sleuths
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Women Sleuths
Copy the link you like:
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Women Sleuths
And go through the procedure to tell KDP you want your category changed to: Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women’s Fiction > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Women Sleuths
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