Flatline or Sky High?

All authors love Am8zon reviews. And not because of vanity or approval, but because in many ways these reviews have become the modern measure of authory success, the virtual currency of the trade, the key to certain otherwise closed circles, and the gold stars of literary approval. They are needed if one is to succeed. Period.

And so I see people asking, even begging, for reviews, and have been known to stoop so low myself. It is so frustrating and most readers don’t understand the power that they hold in that 1-second click on the star chart, and 30 seconds of writing to send off a review.

So the internet is filled with ways to achieve another review. You are not allowed to pay for reviews, you are not allowed to swap them, and nor can family or friends give them. And so one has to find other ways, which can not only be nigh on impossible but quite deflating and soul destroying. You can send out emails to reviewers, you can join groups who create round robins and so on, but still, the effort involved is huge, and often so is the cost.

The return rate on emails, Facebook posts, groups joined and so on, is less than half a percent. And those numbers drop even further to even a fraction of that pathetic number if you don’t individualize your requests, make them genuine, and put homework into every single one. Then what do we do when we eventually get one? We have no choice but to move on to the next 100 emails, the next round of social media begging, and to trawl through Google to find another fifteen groups to join, introduce oneself, buy more books we don’t like, review 14 other people’s books and put ourselves through the ringer again! And all the while we could have been writing our next book!

This feels to me a little like flatlining. With the odd blip on the chart when you manage to score a review. Honestly, unless you’ve done this yourself, you cannot imagine how soul destroying it is! It’s heartbreaking and most authors aren’t skilled in these social areas. Quite frankly, it leaves me feeling just a little bit ill.

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The chart above shows the green line down in the grass. The gold stars are 4 successful reviews, and you can see that each time one is achieved, they then have to go back to square one and work on finding the next one. They grow in numbers slowly, but each review is what I call “touch and go”. Success but move on to trying to find the next one. To me, this is lonely and awful.

But what if you wanted more than a flat line that continues year after year, book after book, each one with the hope that it will be the kind of review that kickstarts a trajectory to “real” success? What if each review, instead of being a solo exercise, was a way to “level up”? What if each review came with something more than just a few words from a complete stranger and nothing more? What if the same 4 reviews helped you to reach for the sky just a little bit?

Our greatest recommendations don’t come from reviews believe it or not, but from recommendations by people we trust. People we know personally, or personalities that we believe we trust. These are what we need to build trust in our writing and ultimately sales and more reviews.

Rightly or wrongly, as humans, we trust tribes and communities more than we trust individuals on their own. We all believe a bunch of rubbish if the whole village is behind it before we believe the truth from a leper on his own in the wilderness! So we need to create villages around our books and our authorship. Villages that are appealing to the outside, villages that make outsiders feel welcoming. Villages that leave readers feeling drawn to, and outsiders and lepers busting to get in.

Reviews don’t build villages, brand ambassadors do, and next time I will be writing a whole post on what a BRAND AMBASSADOR is and does. How you can be one, and how you can help your friends, families and communities to as well. ou cannot expect others to be your ambassadors unless you can be one yourself. And it’s not just about “paying it forward” or “do unto others” either. It’s about the laws of nature and human beings. We were created to be in communities and we need to behave as if we belong to communities if we want to draw others in. If we behave like lone strangers then we will be treated as such.

But you cannot expect others to be your ambassadors unless you can be one yourself. For your own brand, and some of their brands as well. And it’s not just about “paying it forward” or “do unto others” either. It’s about the laws of nature and human beings. We were created to be in communities and we need to behave as if we belong to communities if we want to draw others in. If we behave like lone strangers then we will be treated as such.

Over the past year, I have read some fabulous books and written some great reviews. I get that for the big writers with thousands of reviews I am merely a drop in ocean, however, many of these books have had only a few reviews. The authors are relatively new and would still be thrilled to receive my added reviews. I have become a brand ambassador for them, taken screenshots of their books, posted them and tagged them across all social media, and without being a crazy stalker, I gave them what I would give my eye teeth to have someone else do for me! It’s good for them and it’s good for me.

At the “best” end of the scale, some have said thank you. But that’s it! At the “worst” end of the scale, they have completely ignored me!

To me, they were handed an opportunity on a silver platter. They accepted my “follow” on Twitter and followed me back, they “liked” my post etc. But every single one, bar none, has proceeded to do NOTHING more with that. And all but 3 have unfollowed me a month later. As authors, they had the chance to level up… but they didn’t. They were so busy chasing the next review, that they ignored me.

A recommendation by another person is always a thousand times better than us blowing our own trumpet! We should share that other person’s recommendation and share it lots! We need to interact, build a level of personal interaction, and you both may soar just a little bit! Soar with half a dozen people and it can take you to the next level. Outsiders watching flocks and tribes soar together want to a part of the action. They look on longingly.

Soar with half a dozen people and it can take you to the next level. Outsiders watching flocks and tribes soar together want to a part of the action. They look on longingly. We become inviting in numbers!

There are two sides to this coin. We need to build villages rather than be alone, but we also need to remember how to treat those who come into our spheres. How to leverage their recommendations!

So for anyone who still doesn’t understand why I believe so passionately in tribes and communities, I hope this goes some way to explain that!

If anyone wants to build a village around their authorship, get on board! It’s free, you will be welcomed with open arms, and we can soar together!!!

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