How to Help an Independent Author

Hoffman's Army cover

The independent authors of this world are struggling to get their work read, but beyond that, they are dying for want of reviews of their books. Why are reviews, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and other places so important?

Research shows that it takes 20 or more reviews of a book before it rises through the mass of offerings at places like Amazon. “It’s not sales you’re after, it’s the metric that leads to sales: Reviews” says writer Nicola Jane in The Writer Life.

Another blog claims, “Over 85% of all Amazon Kindle readers rely heavily on book reviews before making an online order to have the copy of the book.”

When an independent author publishes a book, she is not only the writer, and sometimes her own publisher, but also responsible for marketing, and public relations. I can tell you from my own experience that I was not prepared for those parts of the business. it isn’t easy. As Bookmasters says, It requires “serious elbow grease to get noticed.”

Even though I’d worked in publishing books and magazines nearly all my life, in the editorial, art, and photography departments, I had no real experience in marketing or public relations. And can not afford to hire experts, since I’m already working for pennies and hour in return from the sales of my work. That is not so unusual.

Amazon publishes a list of top reviewers, based on the ratings the reviewers receive for their reviews. Some sources claim it is worthwhile to go through the lists and find reviewers who specialize in reviewing the type of books an author writes, and then contacting that reviewer to offer a free copy of the book in return for an honest review. It takes lots of work to do that. But it took years of work to write your book, so why not add to the process and go the distance you need to get those important reviews?

David W. Wooddell author
David W. Wooddell author photo

The majority of authors today, whether self-published, or backed by a small press, or even a mainstream publisher receive very little compensation for the time spent creating the work. But readers can do their part in helping authors. If you enjoyed someone’s work, please take the time to write a brief and honest review of the book, and post it on the relevant Amazon page. Give it a rating. You don’t have to lie, or only make nice. Be honest. It takes only a few moments, but the author will thank you, and it may well help that author reach the magic number of 20 reviews in order for the book to be seen, and maybe even purchased.

Is that too much to ask? Many of us do offer a free copy to someone willing to read and write such a review. That comes under the marketing and public relations portion of what we do. –  David W. Wooddell