Launch Day is supposed to be a joyous event for an author.
Authors spend months writing and editing a single book. We spend weeks crafting Launch Day campaigns to spread the word, harnessing a complicated network of advertisements and announcements from friends. We spend days counting down to the actual launch. We spend hours refreshing our computer screens, trying to gauge our launch’s success.
One essential part of the launch process is getting reviews—”social proof” to reassure prospective readers that a book is worth their time and money. Many advertising services won’t let authors purchase ads unless a book has a certain number of reviews. Reviews are so important that authors give away copies of their book—Advance Readers Copies (“ARCs”)—in exchange for honest reviews.
But the entire book launch process is derailed when Amazon—the single largest seller of ebooks in the world—refuses to allow readers to post reviews. That’s what happened to me when I launched my contemporary romantic comedy, The B Word. By July 17, 2022, Amazon was blocking reviews of the paperback edition. On July 19, 2022 (release day for the ebook), that block was extended to the electronic edition. Reviewers who tried to post were usually told that the book was not eligible for reviews. Some reviewers were told that their individual reviews could not be posted. In addition, potential buyers couldn’t find my book if they searched for “b word mindy klasky” (although, oddly, they could find it if they didn’t include my first name.) Amazon also failed to provide a “Look Inside” sample for potential purchasers who checked out the ebook.
So—prospective buyers couldn’t find my book unless they had a direct link to its page on Amazon. They couldn’t preview the book to see if it was their cup of tea. And they couldn’t read reviews to help them make a purchasing decision.
I spent the better part of the past week trying to fix these problems with Amazon. I was passed from one customer service division to another. I was told I had to submit a “Plan of Action.” (It took me days to find another author who knew what a “Plan of Action” was—no one at Amazon could or would tell me. Ultimately, I learned that it’s a document that only applies when a merchant’s account has been terminated which—minor silver lining—was not my case.)
By the end of launch week, The B Word had seven ratings. (Amazon’s search engine was finally updated, and Look Inside was finally added.) Approximately five percent of my dedicated ARC-team members persisted through multiple rejections to get their reviews posted. The others are still unable to post, as of this writing. Without enough reviews, I can’t buy most advertising to support my book. Even if I spent money on ads, I’d be asking people to take a risk on a book with negligible social proof.
My book launch has failed.
Or has it?
Survey after survey, readers report that the number one factor influencing their buying a book is a recommendation from a friend or family member.** That means The B Word has a chance.
If you’ve read The B Word, can you tell one person that you liked the book?
And because The B Word certainly isn’t the only book cut down before its chance to shine, why don’t you make this a habit? Spread the word about books you love. Tell one friend. Because if you tell one person, and they tell one person, and so on and so on and so on, authors can see a real difference.
So do it today. If you love a book, tell one friend.
** These results have been reported by the Pew Research Center, PenguinPutnam Publishing, and Forbes, to name only a few sources.