Did 100(ish) Reviews Pre Book Launch Increase My Sales?
By Riley Amos Westbrook
A couple of years ago, when I was preparing to release Everyone Dies At The End, I set myself a goal. That goal was to hit 100 reviews on the ARC of it. I spent many months searching for reviewers, I even have a blog about it on Big World Network. This was my way to test a theory that I have heard parroted, that a book with a lot of reviews will sell better. I've heard this quote from hundreds of authors, but only those who complained about struggling sales.
Now a couple of years have passed; the slacker life is difficult, and I realized that I didn't do a follow-up post. I thought today would be a perfect day to share my thoughts. *All views expressed are anecdotal and subjective. Results may vary*
First opinion - Reviews do not increase sales
I published Breath of the Titans almost an entire year before I published Everyone Dies At The End. It had zero reviews, and no marketing behind it whatsoever. Like most newbie authors I had jumped feet first into a pool that proved much deeper than expected. I didn't sell a lot of books that first year, but I sold enough to make me believe there are people who want to read my stories.
I worked for over a year to earn my reviews for Everyone Dies At The End, and though I fell short of a hundred, I had well over 75 before I published.
I didn't see that work translate into sales, though. It did about as well, maybe even a bit worse, than my first book. To keep the experiment as objective as possible, I did zero marketing beyond a few simple posts, same as I did with Breath of the Titans.
There are a few factors that could be affecting the numbers. I switched genres, and I wrote a much darker tale than my original work. Both could be contributing factors in my lackluster sales.
While I am glad I worked hard to get the reviews, it didn't improve my sales.
Second opinion - But they did help find more reviews
When I first started seeking reviews for the book, it was an uphill battle. Even with all the authors and reviewers I've had the pleasure of getting to know, there's so many good, new books out there that it can be a struggle to find eyeballs for your words.
That changed once I received my first ten reviews. After that tenth review, including a one star that ripped my writing choices, bloggers and reviewers were much more open to reading my work.
It wasn't until I hit my 70th review that they started to slow down. Now my book has 88 reviews on Goodreads, and a few new ones on the Amazon page that I didn't even solicit.
Third - Reviews provide marketing materials
While my reviews didn't translate to sales, it wasn't a useless endeavor. Now when I go to market my works, I have a steady supply of one liners for marketing. I have a ton of marketing materials, after a bit of work to create compelling advertisements. A quote from one of the reviews, paired with a powerful image related to the story can go a long way to help with spreading the word.
In conclusion, while I don't believe my reviews translated into direct sales, using them liberally as marketing material has paid off. The reviews themselves didn't help, but pulling quotes from them with my marketing has helped increase visibility.
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