My debut novel1 is currently riding high at 5 stars on Amazon UK, 4.4 on Amazon USA, and 3.71 on GoodReads. Here are a few of my favourite quotes.
“A really interesting supernatural survival horror novel, I was invested in what was going on in the story. I was so enthralled in the story I finished this right away.”Kathryn ★★★★★, BookSirens
“This book was OMG good!!! This is a real humdinger of a thriller! This is so good if you like horror thrillers then you definitely need to read this book. It is like twists that fold and multiply at the same time but not so many twists it ruins it, it only makes it better this is such a great book!”Janalyn ★★★★★, BookSirens
“Check this book out, enjoy the story’s unique storytelling and find out for yourself why Blood River is a nightmare vacation!”Jeremy Fowler ★★★, NetGalley
I’m not sure why the final two are three-star reviews — but they’re high praise so I’m not complaining. Read them in full on GoodReads and tell me in the comments if you can work it out.
The importance of ARC reviews
Reader reviews are an essential part of publishing, whether you’re published traditionally or a self-published self-starter.
Professional reviewers see only a fraction of the traditionally published novels which come out. Reader reviewers are bookaholics who devour hundreds of novels a year. They’re unacknowledged experts in their fields, who do it for the love of reading.
ARC review services like BookSirens and NetGalley give these bookworms free ebooks ahead of publication. You hope that they will leave an honest review across retail and review sites. Reviewers are not paid, or obliged to leave a review, which would break Amazon’s terms and conditions.
Writers pay, of course. BookSirens is remarkably affordable, but NetGalley was created for the book trade, so it’s expensive. Fortunately, I was able to join the Victory Editing co-operative, where writers share the cost of access.
Both services have members who read without even leaving a rating, and there are reviewers unafraid to tell you what they didn’t like. Overall, though, they enable debut authors to compete with established writers, who can rely on fans for both pre-orders and good reviews to boost their status in the booksellers’ algorithms.
Another slice, you say?
They say writers shouldn’t read reviews, but I found the process as uplifting as it was scary. No-one likes bad reviews, of course, but constructive reviews for a debut novel can be as useful as any other feedback. No-one should think their first work is perfect!
It was the good reviews that surprised me. When a reviewer — a stranger — says they’re looking forward to a second slice of the cake I’ve been baking for so long, it’s an incredible encouragement to work harder on my next novel.
I’ve journeyed up Blood River…where should I go next? Blood Mountain…Blood Road…Blood Beach…the Nightmare Vacations can go anywhere.
- It’s a common misconception that debut novels are an author’s first attempt. Traditionally, a debut is the first published novel to escape a heap of unfinished and rejected attempts. Unfortunately, self-publishing means that a lot of writers launch their work before either they or the story are ready to meet the world. ↩︎