The 50 Review Project

Convention of Marion's Blog Readers

As those of you (both of you) who follow this blog know, I write books, and despite some good customer, zine, and blog reviews, nobody buys my books.

There are now officially a GAZILLION “books” out there. The odds of randomly coming across one of mine are 100,000,000,000,000 to 1 – and that’s science! Also I write stuff that is “genre-fluid” and would be more appealing to readers who mostly shop in bookstores (which don’t stock my books) and/or readers that read reviews in print magazines  or other places that won’t review them. Plus, some readers would still rather be caught dead with soiled and torn underpants than with a “micro-published” or self-published book. Or possibly my books suck only appeal to a very particular audience.

But there’s hope! Somewhere on the web I saw an article that my “luck” would change and Amazon would magically make my books more visible so more people would see and buy them if they had 50 customer reviews. Unfortunately,this was not cumulative 50 reviews, but 50 reviews for one book, and it might as well be 50 million because I’ve already tried a ton of the ethically correct legal things you are supposed to do to get reviews,  and there’s not much more I can do other than buying them for $5 a piece which would be wrong and people ARE watching, and it’s very bad idea that this website does not endorse. It’s harder than it ever was to get Amazon customer book reviews because so many people want them, and that means that many people who used to regularly write them are overwhelmed and have stopped. Some have stopped because they were sick of getting asked to do them all the time. Others because of the antics of a small handful of authors like this one and that one.

I’m Asking Anyway

I’m not one of those people with a “vision board” and I don’t believe there is a magical secret to success which consists of putting out positive vibrations. I think it’s rotten to make it seem that those whose life dreams never came true no matter how hard they worked were guilty of putting out negative energy. Luck is an enormous part of success, and life really isn’t fair — no matter what Oprah Winfrey says. Despite this, I am now putting out into the universe my request for 50 reviews of at least one of my books. Maybe I should pick which one, but if I’m going to be delusional I’m not going to limit myself. If any of my books crosses this magic threshold, then all of them would get more notice, and that would be a good thing (for me and for people who like my books.)  So here’s “the ask”: I would like you, yes YOU dear reader to write an honest unpaid review for one or more of my books and to post it on Amazon.

Who can do this?

According to Amazon’s guidelines anyone can do this who is not a “close” friend or a “family member.” If I showed up on your doorstep and said, “Hi, my mom and your step-dad are cousins. May I stay on your couch for a few weeks as I’ve just moved to town?” And your response is, “Huh?” then you can probably review my book. Family members” are not “distant relatives” you aren’t actually sure you are related to. As for close friends, sorry but if we once had a nice chat on an internet forum, we are not close friends. Even if we are Facebook friends, who “met” through other Facebook friends, and you once liked something I said. Try this: Was I invited to your wedding? If the answer is no, then you can review my book.

Also you do NOT have to have purchased the book on Amazon. But you do have to be an Amazon customer, meaning that once upon a time you have to have purchased something on Amazon and you have to be “signed in” to write your review. But guess what? You can leave a screen name so your boss and or spouse won’t know what kind of books you are reading. Can other writers review my books? Sure. Writers tend to be fairly prolific customer reviewers on Amazon. The Amazon guidelines say that writers should NOT write reviews for  books “that are of similar content or subject” to their own. So if you’ve written a Marie-Duplessis-vampire-in-Brooklyn novel you should NOT review Blood Diva, or if you’ve written a novel inspired by the notorious murder of an aspiring dancer in the 1980’s East Village, then please don’t review Loisaida. Also  don’t expect me to review your book because you reviewed mine. Your review may bring your work to my attention, but that doesn’t mean I’ll read it or review it. It doesn’t mean I won’t if it happens to be the kind of book I like, but don’t hold your breath, or expect “extra points” for giving me a review.

Why would you do this thing? What’s in it for you?

Unlike people using Kickstarter to ask for money for their projects, I can’t offer you stuff or any kind of barter in exchange for a book review, not even a lousy twitter endorsement. That’s against the rules. You pretty much have to do this because you wanna.

Some people who are purists about customer reviews may think my asking you to do me this favor is bad. If my asking you on my website to please do this thing makes me a horrible person – then I am obviously the worst person on the internet. People ask people to do a lot of things on their websites. I am not going to your website and asking you to do this, am I? Some websites have donation buttons. Do you see a donation button here? No, you do not. So if you’ve found useful stuff on this blog, and you want to support it, you could by buying one of my books for less than the cost of a Starbuck’s drink, and if you really wanted to go a step beyond that, then you could review the book (after reading it) which would be like going to a restaurant and having a great meal with good service then giving the server a tip, AND then writing “thank you for your service” on the bill, and then giving the restaurant a nice write up on Yelp because you don’t want it to close down for lack of business.

Of course, it’s entirely possible you will read the book and think “This is terrible. This kind of trash should not be inflicted on any reader.” I think I may be quoting from someone here.  I wish you wouldn’t publish that on Amazon, but there’s nothing I can do to stop you, and I promise not to show up at your house and knock on your door like some people (previously referenced) or write my own review of my book on Amazon in which I call you “stupid” which some author did one time. I promise I will just shut up and move on.

I cannot give you anything but my eternal gratitude for writing a review because anything else would be illegal. Wait a second, I can give you one tangible thing. I can give you a FREE copy of the book as long as you disclose on the review that you got a free copy in exchange for writing an honest review. So if you really want to read my book, but you’d rather buy a mocha latte, then by agreeing to write a review, you’d be able to afford to do both!

How can you get your FREE review copy?

You can write and request one. I have no problem sending you an e-copy as long as I’m pretty sure you aren’t an e-pirate or plagiarizer.  I totally get that if you are a blogger or a frequent reviewer, you could go broke buying books. It helps if you’ve read a sample of the book you are requesting, so that I will know you are serious and interested in actually reading it. I’ll consider all requests, but it would be awesome if you already have a track record and have written at least a couple of customer reviews on Amazon. (Hint: if you are planning on requesting your free copy, write a couple of customer reviews on Amazon before you ask for it.)

But what if you don’t read “ebooks”?

Both the novels are available in paperback at Amazon and can be ordered from other places. If you need a free reviewer copy in paperback, I’ll consider it, but because of the expense involved (to me) the bar will be set higher. You might need a great reviewer ranking on Amazon or to be writing for a blog that people actually read.

Also the novellas aren’t very long, so reading either of them online shouldn’t be too painful even if you don’t normally read ebooks.

Which book(s) should you review?

All of them, Katey!

Choose whichever one most appeals to you. There’s information and links to all of them on this website or you can go to my Amazon page and see reviews and samples for each of them.

But if you want to know my preferences here they are:

1. Blood Diva. Why #1? Because it’s a full length novel so I will make more money if people buy it, and also because it features sexy vampires, so there’s a potentially a wide audience, but if sexy vampires aren’t your thing, never mind. (Some people who aren’t big vampire fans really liked it. Check out the reviews.)

2. Loisaida. It’s also a full-length novel. While it doesn’t have a lot of reviews, it has a (very small) cult following, and most people who read it seem to like it except those who don’t like reading about sex, drugs and gentrification.

3. Schrodinger’s Telephone. It’s a novella and it only costs 99 cents, so no way will I make enough money to feed my cats for a month unless millions buy it, but most people who read it seem to like it a lot, and it’s probably the least “controversial thing I’ve written.

4. The Death Trip. Also a cheap, easy read novella. My only reservation is that some readers really like the ending and others really hate the ending, and I don’t know where you’ll stand.

So in conclusion, please ask me for a book or buy one and review it on Amazon. BTW, did you know that even negative reviews can help sell books? So while I’m not asking for a negative review, if you felt compelled to publish one, it would not be the worst.

If you’ve already reviewed one or more of my books and feel you have therefore “done your part” could you reread your review? If you really liked the book, please consider tweeting about it, and or telling a friend or giving a friend a copy, and reminding them to write a short review when they are done.

Thank you! Feel free to hate on me in the comments if you think my asking for reviews like this warps the system and is as bad as eating kitties. Please do not ask me in the comments to read your book because my  Kindle is on the fritz and my TBR list is very long, and I know, I know.

Karma and gratitude are the only things I can promise you in return.


(Update: 4/23 — I knew there’d be some blowback about this! Check out what this nutberger who will guest blog here NO more forever had to say.