November 13, 2015 at 7:53 pm #1872
A common challenge for new reviewers who have completed the One-Month Challenge and moved into the audience building and marketing phase is how to handle requests from authors who don’t have a book listed on a reading list (“unlisted”).
There are no rules in place that prevent you from reviewing any book that you like, regardless of where the book appears. As long as you follow the rules outlined in the Terms of Service, you should be fine.
However, there are two important questions you need to ask yourself. The answers have a direct impact on your business, the businesses of your fellow reviewers, and highlight potentially fraudulent behavior on your part.
1) What does your Review Policy state?
Your Review Policy is an important tool that allows you to streamline your workload and treat all authors equitably. If you are actively promoting your site, you will be approached on a regular basis by hundreds of authors asking for reviews. If you tell some authors that you exclusively select titles from the reading lists, and you tell others that it doesn’t matter, you are basically committing fraud. The Review Policy is there to help you avoid this while creating a viable conflict-free business model. Having a Review Policy helps streamline your efforts because you can send people to the policy instead of having to type up individual full-length responses each time.
If you want to routinely accept unlisted books, you need to change your Review Policy.
2) What effect will this have on your marketing efforts, and those of your colleagues?
Your time is worth money, don’t forget that! You’ve invested a lot of time in building a review site that can provide valuable exposure. Authors are requesting reviews so they can make money from your hard work. We want you to make money too, but to do so in a way that doesn’t create conflicts of interest. Therefore, it’s important to understand how your actions could undermine your own efforts to build a business. After you’ve sent out several marketing pitches, it logically follows that most of the authors you connect with will visit your website. If they see that you aren’t actively reading books from the resources you are promoting, your marketing pitch has just gone from value-adding advice to disingenuous used car sales promotion. The author no longer trusts you or sees value in adding his/her book.
Keep in mind that the value of our community is that we create a captive audience for the reading lists. When you select titles from the reading lists, you aren’t just helping yourself promote the reading lists, you are helping your fellow reviewers and vice versa. We are all in this together. Each time a reviewer selects a listed title, s/he is demonstrating the value. This is displayed on your blogs (i.e. Partner Review Widget), on Novel Blogs, and on social media. When you don’t select listed titles, the reality is that have now made it more difficult for others to operate their businesses. And, since we are a global community, the amount come people earn is equivalent to a full-time salary in their countries, which you will have helped them generate.
For the most part, I review exclusively from the reading lists, with the exception of brand new books that haven’t been released yet. You can obtain these books by approaching literary agents, publishers, etc. Exclusively reviewing from the reading lists gives me the following benefits:
• Keeps my workflow streamlined – I am not inundated with requests. And each time I defer an author, I also get another opportunity to share my affiliate link (that’s why your links are in your review policy).
• My blog is strong evidence for my endorsement of the readings lists. When authors visit my blog they can see for themselves how much they get out of the service when they see my reviews, interviews, appearances on TV etc. This is strongest piece of evidence I can provide that if they add their book, they also have the potential to this kind of valuable exposure.
• I can continue to earn an income. Because I read exclusively from the lists, and I continue the circle of endorsing and offering proof that the services work, I continue to make sales. When I review books that aren’t on the reading list, I am getting nothing in return aside from exposure.
These are just a few things to consider before you respond back to an author who isn’t on any of the reading lists.
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