Book Crossing and the Dangers of Great Reviews

Sometimes the worst thing that can happen to an Indie author is getting a great review. Yes, a superb, 5-star, absolute-must-read review can be a major problem. Why? Because it gives the author a false sense of security. Especially if it’s not written by Mom or a close friend or someone who gushes over everything. Even if it’s written by a perfect stranger, a fantastic review often sets the author up to stop marketing. Let me share an example.

book crossingBook Crossing is an outfit that shares paper books in an unusual way. Readers and authors are encouraged to leave books in places where others will find them. Inside the cover, a message is written or a sticker set in place explaining that it’s a Book Crossing book with a proper ID. It’s a free gift, hopefully one that will be found, read and enjoyed. Afterwards, the reader can write a review on the website and then share the book with others as the process repeats itself in theory.

My novel, The Little Universe, was a Book Crossing book registered under its original title of The Big Bang: Notes from Looking Within back on Oct 14th 2005. At the same time, a few copies were left randomly in places like coffee shops across the town of Truckee, California.

Within one week, on Oct 20th, this review was left on the Book Crossing website:

10 out of 10 stars. Wow – only had to read two pages to be totally hooked. What an awesome book! Being an avid fan of Edgar Cayce as well as Einstein – this is a book I am reading again with my 13 year old son. What a great concept of life, what a fun twist in the middle of the book… It is the quintessential question – who is “creating” with us and what is really important in life? The thread of consciousness that runs through everyone and everything is so unifying. I want everyone in my life to read this and then I will set it free to be found and enjoyed again…

For me, the author, it was already the ultimate Book Crossing experience and review from a total stranger. It also made me think this would be a common response by readers, thus the book should make the bestsellers list within a year.

Wrong! Things really stalled out after that largely because marketing the book wasn’t my strength back in 2005, and writing the sequel became my main focus instead of regular marketing.

Selling ebooks and paperbacks is a marathon, not a sprint. My advice to every Indie author is to do everything possible to build an online presence/platform and to continue marketing their books at every opportunity without sounding like spam. A broken record perhaps, but spam, no. Use free resources, even quirky ideas like Book Crossing, and try a bit of everything to find out what works.

And in the event that you get some fantastic, 5-star, must-read reviews; don’t ever think you’ve got it made. That’s the time to keep marketing. Like this: find out why perfect strangers love the novel by checking out The Little Universe today, available as an ebook at paperback at all major retailers.

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2 Responses to “Book Crossing and the Dangers of Great Reviews”

  1. Kristen James Says:

    Getting a 5 star review or any other positive mention is the perfect time to promote your book! It gives you a reason to send out emails or make posts – I just recommend that you do so with an attitude of thankfulness and include your supporters. I’ve always shared good news with my readers on Facebook, Twitter and other networks. I do think you reach a point where you want to interact with people and be a fun person instead of promoting too much. That seems to attract people and readers even more than “promoting.”

    • Jason Matthews Says:

      I agree 100%, Kristen. There’s often a fine line between interacting and promoting. Ultimately this is a people business, and we do what we can to build community which helps our sales in the long run.
      Thanks for your comment.


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