Friday, 20 June 2014

Running a Free Promotion on Amazon is Disastrous If

Polar views exists on whether the indie book should be given away on a free promotion on Amazon. There are many pros and cons of freebies. Having self published books for some years now, can see both sides, but the focus of this article is when to think twice before running a free promo of your book on Amazon.

Why Not Run a Book Giveaway for Getting Reviews

Few could argue that running a free promotion of a book will cast spotlight on the novel for a day or so. If the writer is lucky, the free promo may spark a few sales on the tail end of the promo day, but in my experience, is rarely sustained.

A free promo is also good for a series of books. The first part of the series is given away to whet the appetite of potential customers, and if liked, may pay to upload others.

Pitfalls of Promoting Book Giveaways

You Can't Post Reviews on Amazon
from Kindle
Of course, the author has to commit his/her books to Amazon for 90 days on KDP Select in order to run free promos, which means digital versions of your book cannot be available anywhere else. The author can run up to 5 promo days per 90 day period. If the writer is lucky, honest and well-thought out book reviews may appear.

After all, the purpose of a free promo is to get book reviews…isn’t it?

And here lies the crux of this article. Here are a few reasons NOT to run a promotion of your book.

It is Impossible to Post Text Review from Kindle Devices at Present

The situation may change in the future, but posting text reviews are not possible from Kindle devices at present. This is because of technical issues to do with the size of the device. It’s too ‘fiddly’ for a keypad. This can be seen from the images.

Kindle Paperwhite Permits
Star Rating on Goodreads
Reports are that the Paperwhite Kindle permits a star rating only. This star rating will only show up on Goodreads (if the reader has an account there). Many fiction lovers don’t have a Goodreads account and so are unable to leave a review via the Kindle. The reader is loathe to log onto a computer or tablet and post a review after signing into their designated Amazon account. I wouldn’t blame them, it’s too much hassle.

I am unsure about the other Kindles but welcome input here to correct me on certain points. But after contacting Amazon itself, am told that Kindle users cannot post text reviews from Kindle devices onto Amazon at present and star ratings of certain Kindles will show up only on Goodreads.

Kindle Devices do Not Permit Post Text Reviews on Amazon

So, when one considers that free promos are aimed at Kindle books, it seems illogical to hope for reviews from a free promo when the books are uploaded on devices that do not permit the posting of reviews on Amazon. Furthermore, star ratings cannot at present be posted on Amazon without a text review. The purpose of promos is…to garner reviews. Isn’t it?

The reality is that it doesn’t. I have given away thousands of books and have had the grand total of…wait for it…3 genuine, well-thought out customer reviews. Yes, just 3.

But the drawbacks do not end there.

Anyone Can Say What They Like About Your Book under Verified Purchase Badge

Reviews from Free Books shows as Verified Purchase
Your book can be uploaded for free and resultant reviews will show up as ‘Verified Purchase’. I feel this is wrong. A free book should not show as ‘verified purchase’ for it is not the same as paying for something. Consider that anyone can upload your book and say anything they like about it for FREE under the verified purchase badge.

When Verified Purchase Badge Reviews are Worthless

Reviews can be left on your book under ‘verified purchase’ after a free upload. The ‘verified purchase’ would seem to add credence to the review. Your book is open to any review, whether your book is read or not, and the review will show up as ‘verified purchase’. Amazon will not remove the review, despite the book obviously not being read.

Reports abound of such reviews appearing within hours of uploading a free full-length ebook during a free promo. Multiple reviews from single reviewers have also been known to appear within hours of a free upload. Free promos open authors up to abuse from those seeking out free promos to post unfair reviews under the ‘verified purchase guise.’

How Not to Get Book Reviews

My feelings are that when a customer pays for a product, the review is likely to be genuine, as the customer had parted with cash to obtain it. Free uploads are a different matter. Psychologically, ‘free’ is throwaway. For some, the author is sending out a message that this book is being given away as though a worthless item on a market stall.

Someone can upload a freebie book and say anything under verified purchase. Such reviews should not be placed on the same platform as reviews left by paying customers, some of which pay over $5 for an ebook.

Why Not Run a Free Promo of Your Book to Get Reviews

Only recently did I realize that customers are at present unable to post text reviews onto Amazon from their Kindle devices. This makes free promos for the sake of garnering reviews illogical. Authors need also be aware of opening their books to abuse from those uploading freebies to receive scathing reviews under ‘verified purchase’ badge. In some of these cases, it is obvious the reviewer has not read the book, but posted a generally scathing review, claiming the book contains typos and editorial issues when there aren’t any. Several reviews have been known to appear within hours of uploading the freebie.

For these reasons, authors should consider very carefully before running a free promo of their book(s) for the sake of garnering reviews.

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The scourge of planted book reviews

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