Thursday, November 15, 2012

Amazon's Magical Disappearing Reviews

scene from Alice in Wonderland movie with mushrooms and cheshire cat

That's the sound authors didn't hear before waking up to a strange new world on Amazon in recent weeks. Did we fall down the rabbit hole? It seems that way for many authors as well as reviewers whose reviews have simply disappeared.

You probably know that the Amazon system of reviews does not actually contain reviews, much. What they are really after is that all-important reader feedback. That is part of why many 5-star reviews have vanished like the grin on the Cheshire Cat.

We're still here, you know. We still have books to market. This latest debacle seems more like a course correction on Amazon's part than anything else. Their system was clogged with schemes and scams, "experts" guiding people to "bestseller status," and other more insidious plans to get books and products to rank on Amazon.

None of that is necessary. We are building our own readership. Scams don't help.

Learn what you do need to know about the review system and how to be less dependent on our distribution helper called Amazon. Let's work together. Manage your reviews and keep moving forward with your author platform.

You guessed it: The e-course is now available on... Amazon. Be informed!


cover for the e-course called Managing Reviews

Monday, November 5, 2012

REVIEWS: Word of mouth turned evil?

REVIEWS: Word of mouth turned evil?

Building your author platform includes one very active and potentially treacherous corner: Your Amazon reviews.

The first thing I talk about in the Beyond Bestseller Author Platform E-Course, "Managing Reviews," is the fact that in the Amazon review system, we are actually working with reader feedback. This system of readers writing in their experiences and rating books is a natural development of the social web. It's full of snake pits, though, and authors are understandably tearing their hair out trying to understand how to participate.

Let's call it what it is: Reader feedback
Start by looking at reviews as reader feedback. Get the idea of "reviews" out of your head. Most authors are stuck in the traditional publishing world, thinking that they need to garner lots of great, intelligent, critical reviews along with their five-star average in order to sell books. Not so.

What we do need is to learn how to ask our readers for feedback. This practice and the rest of the rocky landscape of the review system can now be found in the e-course "Managing Reviews." I researched the experiences of authors like myself, publishing digitally and developing our own readership as is now required for any kind of book. We're all in the same boat.

Manipulation is counterproductive
There are lots of ways to manipulate the Amazon system and lots of people to take you on that ride. We don't have to sell our integrity to raise interest in our books and grow a loyal readership. As a matter of fact, I think it is counterproductive to slap up two dozen reviews to work the system. Readers can tell, and they'll let you know -- right there in the review section.

Understanding the system and working with our readers honestly and transparently is the way to build a firm foundation as an independent publisher. Let me know how it goes.

Suzanna Stinnett

Beyond Bestseller Author Platform E-Course: MANAGING REVIEWS


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Independent Authors Last Longer than BestSellers

How long does it take to make a book a best seller? That fast? Really? Wow!

Oh, of course. You're talking about the old traditional publishing models. Yes. Well. Let's dispense with that right now. We are well past the timelines of traditional publishing. On that planet, it's normal to wait 18 months (a year and a half, people!) to see the book appear in print. After all that waiting, things speed up to express-train levels. The book is out, author! Get out there and make it sell! You've got -- oh, say, a month. Yes, a month. The next book by your publisher is already in the chute, and it has to be given a month of its own, doesn't it? You'll be moving along then, your book didn't self-combust and take the world by the heart in those long, leisurely thirty days it was up front in the book store.

Oh, sorry. We were dispensing with all that.

Here's what you're going to do as an independent author. Yes. You'll have a book launch. Of course! Who wants to miss out on that? The thing is, you need to start something I call the Practice of Being an Author. It's a practice, because it is no longer a race. Your book is going to be available for a very long time, and your launch lasts at least a year.

You're going to create an editorial calendar, for example, which in best cases begins quite a while before your book is finished and available. Wait, now, don't get upset if you, like just about every other writer I know, did not have time to create an author platform while in the process of writing your book. That's right. I'm not a writing and tech superhero and I don't know anyone who is. Not personally, anyway.

So it's really okay if you have so far only managed to write your book, get it edited, make the changes, have a book cover produced, maybe even get a few nice reviews you can include right there in your description area in Kindle, and push the PUBLISH button on Amazon. You actually did well. Back patting encouraged.

Maybe you even signed up with someone who can help you get your book up to Bestseller status on Amazon. Awesome! Pay attention and learn everything you can. Just don't think that you're done after you've cleaned up the champagne corks and sparkly confetti from your launch party. Having a best selling book, a concept of varying meaning, will help. Keep smiling. Continuing your launch for the next twelve months will be one of the most satisfying, friendship building, illuminating things you will ever do.

On the Old Publishing Planet, none of this happens. It's not even possible. The structure is radically different from what we are doing now as independent authors. Our books are here to stay. I hope you've written something you really, really care about. Indie authors can't afford the attention deficit which traditional publishing has trained into authors and their readers. We are all about longevity. We'll be selling our books, pulling in royalties, and making our readership happy for the rest of our lives.

Right? With me?

Let's grow beyond bestseller. It's a big open frontier out there.

Suzanna Stinnett
Follow me on Twitter: Brainmaker
Click the Stinnett Books Tab for the Beyond Bestseller Author Platform E-Courses