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Book reviews and their importance for marketing

How do you go about giving away free books in exchange for reviews?

Clearly getting good book reviews is essential for good marketing. I have a wide range of reviews from very good (5 star – assuming 1-5 scoring) to less than good (1 star). In some respects I am comfortable with the spread of reviews as we all know that not everyone will like our work. It also shows my reviews are genuine rather than extolling family and friends to write a review.

I have given away free books in exchange for reviews but after one occasion I believe I need to be more savvy and I should at least target fans of the genre. On one distribution, a review came back with one word - "twaddle". A little disappointing giving the cost of sending the book and that I had sample chapters on my website that should have alerted the person that perhaps the book was not for them.

That made me realise that perhaps folks in give want the book because it's free, rather than their preferred genre. That's quite dangerous for us authors and also a little unfair. I personally read several genres but there are definitely some genres that I know I wouldn't like, so wouldn't read and I certainly wouldn’t offer to review these.

The second issue is other self-published authors offering reviews and whether there is an opportunity to point score by being negative. I have a couple of instances where this might have happened. Librarything, Goodreads and other such sites are useful, as they give a clear indication of a person's tastes and that is what has made me a little suspicious.

Reviews are difficult to decipher and perhaps it is not wise to spend time worrying about the negative ones (providing of course you are getting more positive reviews). But reviews are hard to come by and it is always tempting to give books away in exchange for views. I have usually done well when sending books to fantasy blogs/review sites which is good and makes me believe in my works.

When sending out books for reviews, I would advise against wide scale distribution. Choose who to send your books to. I'd be interested in other people's thoughts.


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I'd like to know how you and William succeed in loading each other's books onto your devices. I have a friend who writes for Smashboards but when I went in to try to redeem a coupon she was offering it became so complicated I gave up. Your idea of trading and writing reviews with William sounds great. Let me know how it works. My friend and I might try it too, since I'm on Kindle.

I think Smashwords is very easy and straightforward. What did you find complicated? (Or anyone who wants to answer, since this post is pretty old)

With every new book release I give away free pdf copies of my books, and I've given away many books. People like free stuff. The recipients of my books always promise to write a review but very few do. It gets disappointing, and it leaves me wondering if they liked it or not. It  would be nice to hear from the readers, even it is a negative review. They don't need to publish it, just send me a short email and tell me about their thoughts. It would be interesting to find out why these people don't make the effort to do that. They made the effort to ask for the book or books and I made the effort to send it to them. But that is just one of the things we writers have to live with. Most people don't put a value on stuff they receive for free. After all, they didn't pay for it.


Would anyone be interested in trading reviews on Amazon, (B&N,
My book is:
Core Catharsis Using Personal Memes

A general description is here:

My preference would be to buy each other's books on Amazon (for Amazon Verified Purchase designation)
but I can also send a hard copy or email a pdf.
I'm interested all types of books: fiction, non-fiction, experimental (no romance novels).

Someone suggested that Amazon can get mean about trading reviews. From their policy page, I don't see an issue.

Anyone have any comments/experience with this?


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