I just finished reading the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide in an effort to find more ways to market my books. One of the topics this book discusses is how reviews help improve a book’s discoverability. Additionally, when an author offers at least one of his or her titles for free, it increases the likelihood that readers will 1) discover that book, 2) review that book, thus improving its discoverability, and 3) purchase another book from the same author (if the reader enjoyed the free book). The guide also stresses the point that we, as indie authors, have to help each other out with this.
Anyone who has browsed the free books at Smashwords and other book distributors will know that there are a lot of garbage eBooks out there. However, if you browse long enough, you are bound to strike gold eventually. Most of the time, I know whether or not I want to read a book after reviewing the first page or two. Personally, I wouldn’t mind being the person who discovered the next big author. I definitely wouldn’t mind being discovered in this same way!
Having mulled over this information for the past two days, I have come up with a plan that I think will help both me and other as-of-yet undiscovered authors.
First of all, I am offering one of my own short story eBooks for free on Smashwords. You can download Rain at Three in a variety of formats and read it at your leisure. If you enjoy it, I would appreciate it if you could leave a review of the book at Smashwords.
Secondly, I have made a pledge to myself and my fellow writers to read at least one free eBook on Smashwords every week and leave a review to help out the author. This comes with one caveat: If I DON’T enjoy a particular book, I am not going to leave a review. As the saying goes, I want to be a fountain, not a drain. And I am not going to be a drain on any new authors who may just need to keep practicing and learning the craft.
However, any book I read that I believe deserves at least three stars will get a thoughtful review from me. Additionally, I plan to leave constructive criticism for the author if I see something that I think would help the author improve or sell more books. For instance, if I think a book is amazing but the cover is a turn-off, I’m going to say so. According to the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide, a change in cover design can often turn a previously ignored novel into a “breakout.” I don’t know about you, but I sure would like to be informed that my book cover is turning people off!
Another point the guide makes is that authors will often check out the profiles of other authors who have reviewed them. So there is a chance that when I leave a review, an author might make his or her way back to my profile, read my free book, and leave a review. It’s authors helping authors in the best way possible. An incoming tide raises all ships. (I think I read this in the guide as well, but I’m not certain.)
At any rate, this should be an interesting experiment. I will be watching my numbers to see if this experiment makes a difference in my sales. I will keep you posted on how things work out. And if I happen to stumble upon what I think should be the next breakout novel, I will be sure to share it here with you.
Want to help? Download Rain at Three for FREE at Smashwords. Read it in any format that works for you. Return to Smashwords to leave a review when you’re done. Thanks for your help!