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Pourboire

February 28, 2020

 

I'm studying the French language. I started in high school but stopped in college. With internet and apps, I've been using Duolingo to acquire conversational fluency for if ever I get a chance to return to Paris. A word/phrase I hadn't learned while visiting the city for my birthday last May was "tip." I wanted to tip the young waiter after his amazing service. He apologized for not speaking much English. I apologized for not speaking much French. Toward the end of my time, I learned that the French word for tip is "pourboire." When I returned home, I devoured every French language television and film I could find. My favorite new show is "Dix Pour Cent" (aka Call My Agent) on Netflix, which stands for the "ten percent" an actor/model's agent gets. A server and an agent get a percentage for their service--one is optional and the other is not. 

 

But what does an author who delivers a great story or book get?  

 

Early on in my writing career, I struggled to get reviews. I would find every method imaginable to find readers who would take a chance on reading my gifted book in exchange for an honest review. I had direct messaged readers on Goodreads (GRs) after carefully selecting them based on their consistent review practices. It was a major gamble. But I wanted honest reactions. And I often received wonderful reviews. I don't mind getting bad reviews because they legitimize my work. Even the best of authors have terrible reviews. But I had to stop my practice of acquiring GR's readers because GRs considers direct message request as spam. I need every single social media outlet to engage with readers, I would never cross the terms of service just to get a handful of reviews.

 

Luckily, many services (such as Book Sprout, Book Funnel, Prolific Works, Hidden Gems, Booksirens, and Choosy Bookworm--among others) provides services within their site or newsletter to acquire readers or distribute books to potential reviewers. I'd paid book galley sites (Edelweiss and NetGalley) for spots to provide advanced reader copies for reviews. Unfortunately, for me, those have been ineffective at receiving reviews on release day or soon after. In fact, I only received a couple of reviews from those sites.

 

The worst part, even after a year of publication, I can't get those readers who acquired my free book to leave a review. I'd be okay with a DNF--did not finish.

 

Just recently, Shepherds and Lambs, a Romantic Suspense novel, had a FREE download day on Amazon, which resulted in thousands of downloads. [Shepherds and Lambs is going to be FREE on it's publishing anniversary date of April 2 in 2020] How many reviews did I get from those readers, including Kindle Unlimited subscribers? 

 

Two.

 

I had seven reviews and it climbed to nine. 

 

Why? 

 

I had a reader once tell me that after she bought an author's book, she had no further obligation to the author. While shocking, it's not so shocking. A reader wants to read a book without any other requirements. They want to move onto the next fantasy, romance, urban adventure. They don't want to craft a lengthy analysis of the book they'd just read. Some readers want to sit with the story a few days. Or they want to never think about it ever again. It is their choice. 

 

 

 

But if a reader considered that writing a review on the purchase site or Goodreads were a "tip," the kind extended to service providers after a great meal or a cup of coffee or a phenomenal massage, then maybe readers would leave more starred reviews. 

 

And those reviews don't have to be lengthy. If you love it, say so. If you marginally liked it, say so. If you feel another reader needs a warning, say so. 

 

Why is even "saying so" important?

 

I wanted to purchase an ad in Reading Stacks, a newsletter that helps reach Kindle Unlimited subscriber readers. The newsletter requires twenty (20) reviews to approve the advertisement--even if I'm paying for it. Doesn't twenty reviews seem awfully low? Almost negligible. It does, doesn't it, but it isn't.

 

Every single review counts.

 

It counts for marketing, for algorithms, and author visibility. Many advertisement sites require a higher average starred rating, which I have 4.8 stars out of 5. Those nine reviewers gave me a great pourboire after reading Shepherds and Lambs. But I need more tips because it will help me advertise my series. Any profits earned from my sales helps me reinvest in the next book, then the final book in the series. And if I make enough money on the series, I can reinvest in novellas, featuring beloved characters. Ultimately, I can continue writing. It's just that simple. I can't write if I'm not making money at writing. If you expect well-crafted stories that are detailed, authors need a gratuity--and your opinion can be the greatest tip of all.