If you read my last post, you’ll notice that I encouraged you to support independent bookstores and then told you I’d give you tickets for writing Amazon reviews. You might be wondering what I’m up to.

First, let me remind you of this week’s challenge.

  1. Purchase something from an independent bookstore, and I’ll give you one ticket for this week’s drawing.
  2. Purchase something from a Black-owned bookstore, and I’ll give you three tickets for this week’s drawing. 
  3. Write a review on Amazon AND Goodreads for a book you recently read, and I’ll give you one ticket for this week’s drawing. You can earn two tickets if the book was published in 2020, and three tickets if your review is for an author of color

 
Tickets are for this week’s drawing of a 45-minute coaching session with me.  During this session, we can talk about anything from how to begin a writing project to book proposals and query letters. 

You’ll also be entered into my grand-prize drawing of a one-hour coaching session (includes 10-page manuscript review) PLUS a spot in Jane Friedman’s self-study course How to Write a Book Proposal

For complete details, click here

To report your purchase or review, send an email to lisa.cooper.ellison@gmail.com.

So, let me explain why this challenge isn’t hypocritical. 

NOw that you have the 411 on how supporting independent bookstores is an investment in your writing career, I know where you’ll be spending your book-buying dollars. 

But I also know how the publishing industry works. While independent bookstores help writers connect with the hearts of readers, Amazon is the biggest retailer in this industry. 

For authors to get noticed, Amazon and Goodreads reviews are essential for three very important reasons: 

  • Reviews early in a book’s publication cycle create buzz and help build momentum during a launch that can catch the attention of Amazon’s mysterious algorithm. Please the algorithm, and Amazon will refer the book to readers. It can also help authors qualify for price drops and promotions that can boost sales. Most authors hope to have at least ten reader reviews on the first day of their book launch. Now that you know this, you can make this a future writing goal.
  • Reviews at any time boost a book’s credibility. While you’re a savvy writer/reader who learns about books in many different ways, there’s a trove of readers out there who rely on the “books you might like” section of every Amazon page. When they click on those selections, the choice to purchase—or not—comes down to the number and quality of reader reviews. Your support can increase the author’s sales. 
  • And, in case you don’t already know this, there are a number of trolls, “so-called literary critics,” and bots who write negative reviews either to seem smart or gain attention.  Not every negative review belongs in this category, but reviews by trolls and disgruntled family members are not uncommon. These negative reviews can affect an author’s overall rating. Help the authors you love combat this problem by writing positive, supportive reviews.

 

Here’s why this benefits you (Hint: it’s a karma thing.)

You know that saying—what goes around comes around? 

One day, you might be preparing for a book launch. And, while creating reviews for an author should never be a quid pro quo, authors are more likely to review your book if you’ve supported theirs. 

Even if those you’ve reviewed don’t return the favor, regularly writing reviews for the books you love will give you the confidence to ask for reviews when the time comes

Writing reviews can help you even if you never plan to write a book. 

You’ll feel good about your standing as a good literary citizen. 

The act can also broaden your writing community. 

And, writing thoughtfully about another writer’s work will help you understand how books are organized, what works, and how you can improve your own writing

Like I said, it’s a karma thing.  

While lengthy reviews can be a gift to the author, this challenge doesn’t need to take a ton of your time. 

If you’ve never written an Amazon or Goodreads review, here’s an easy formula you can use. It follows what I call my three Ss—simple, short, and supportive. 
 

  1. Write 1 – 3 sentences that tell the reader what the book is about. 
  2. Write 3 or 4 sentences about why you enjoyed reading the book. 
  3. Upload your reviews to Goodreads and Amazon.

 
So, now that you understand how this benefits authors and your karma, get writing, and then send me an email with the name of the book you reviewed and one thing you liked about the book. 

And, if you missed it, last week’s challenge brought in a whopping $20,279 for organizations that support families in need. Independent bookstore purchases and reviews are beginning to come in. Let’s see what good karma we can generate in week two.

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