The problem with reviews


I was having a Twitter chat yesterday with a good blogging friend about the recent controversy surrounding the author Kathleen Hale. Before you switch off, this post isn’t about the controversy itself (although if you want to know more, you can find a link to the original article here and an excellent response here) but a comment made during the discussion. We were talking about reviews in general and my friend said:

“As a reader and an observer of the self-publishing phenomenon: I don’t trust ratings of self-published authors.”

Unsurprisingly, the comment annoyed me, but as she explained her reasons it made me realise there is a problem with the review system, at least for new or first time authors (especially if they are self-published) of which we should all be aware.

Red Herrings

The issue is around the trustworthiness of reviews but not in the way you may think. I’ve read a lot of articles on self-publishing and many talk about authors trying to “game” the system; generating unwarranted reviews wither through the use of reciprocal reviews, paying for good reviews or even creating multiple accounts to award bogus reviews. I don’t doubt this happens (although I don’t believe this behaviour is restricted to self-published authors). However, the vast majority of authors I’ve befriended since I published my novels have been honest professionals working hard to build their careers as writers. I was approached once, many months ago, to do a reciprocal review (which I declined). To date this has been the only time it’s happened.

This doesn’t mean authors don’t, or shouldn’t promote other author’s work. I certainly do (via my Recommended Reads). I know some of these authors have read and liked my work in return. A cynic may view this as a reciprocal agreement, either by intention or through social convention, but I stand by every recommendation I’ve made. It’s not unusual to find a group of friends having a similar outlook, shared values and shared interests, especially if they me through a social media platform. I’ve once had a person – who had given  my book a great rating – upset with me because I didn’t like their book, but that could have been more to do with the clumsy way I approached the situation than with me not giving a review.

I don’t believe the majority of self-published authors, or even a significant minority, are trying to “game” the review system. I do, however, believe the majority of us are doing things, quite innocently, that are skewing the review system to the point where readers don’t trust it any more.


The issue has nothing to do with false reviews but whether the number of high-rated reviews truly reflect a book’s quality in the eyes of a regular reader. Let’s me use my book, Second Chance, as an example.

On Amazon UK, Second Chance has 30 reviews with a 4.8-star average. This is something of which I’m very proud. As with most first-time authors, the early reviews came from people I know personally.  Because of this, you might infer this personal relationship led to my book receiving higher ratings than it would otherwise have received. Knowing my friends, I would say this is highly unlikely. However, there is one level distortion I’m sure has happened. More of my friends bought my book than reviewed it. The reasons for this may vary (not read the book, not had time, forgotten) but for some it’s because they read it, didn’t like it but are too polite to say.

This isn’t just true of your friends. People in general dislike giving one-star reviews. I do. I know how much work goes into writing a book so if I don’t like it, I won’t leave a review (this is also why I call my reviews ‘Recommendations’ as opposed to reviews). It’s also becoming common for book bloggers to behave the same way, whether for the same reasons I don’t leave one-star reviews, or more worryingly because of fear of retribution. In my opinion this would be a bad thing, because if the review system loses some form of proportionality, us indie writers lose our greatest path to visibility.

The problem is this causes the review system to be skewed towards good ratings, especially so for newly released books and particularly so for newly released books by self-published authors. For many of us this is a nice little springboard to gain neutral readers and true reviews. What this also leads to is very poor books being rated highly, causing readers (like my blogging friend) to feel conned.

What’s the solution?

The simple answer is I don’t have one, at least not something that will fix the system, completely. I know Amazon are doing a great job in stamping down hard on those trying to “game” the system. At the same time, there are things we can do to help mitigate this effect. When you ask people to leave a review, always ask for an honest review. It doesn’t mean your friends are likely to pan your book, but it shows you are serious about understanding how good it is, or not. Send your book to bloggers for review. Don’t just send it to those you know, send it to complete strangers. For myself, it was only once I’d received my first independent review from somebody with whom I’d had no previous contact (thanks, Dave, I will always be in your debt), that I truly believed people might like my book as opposed to them just being kind. Also, be nice to book reviewers, even if they don’t like your book. Not liking something is just as natural response as liking something. It is not personal.

So what do you think? Do you trust the review system? Do you choose books based on reviews and if so, what is the deciding factor? I’d love to hear from you.


60 thoughts on “The problem with reviews

  1. My primary source of trusted reviews is personal recommendation.

    However, as most online retailers include reviews in the criteria that select what they show you in the recommended section of your account, I am not sure I can avoid choosing based on strangers’ reviews – at least as far as the initial cover/title > description part of book discovery.

    Once I am on a book page, I base much of my trust for reviews on two things: volume and explanation.

    The more reviews a book has, the less likelihood there is they are all friends/family/bought (with money or favours), so a high volume of reviews on Amazon makes the rating more likely to be reliable. Similarly, if a person has posted many reviews that give works I have read approximately the same feedback I would give, then I put more weight on their response to works I haven’t.

    I also put more weight on reviews that explain why they liked or didn’t like a book. Both because it lets me judge whether I like/dislike the same points, and because it is much harder to write several paragraphs of puff without being obvious it is slanted than to write a quick sentence.

    • I agree with you on personal recommendation. It’s the way most of us get to hear about good books. It’s interesting that you look to see what other books a reviewer has reviewed. I don’t think I’ve ever gone into that much detail. I wonder if others do the same, because if so it adds weight to the “don’t pressure all your friends to review” argument.

    • I agree with you about the number of reviews adding credence to the book. As hard as reviews are to get , I’m betting the more there are that are good, the better the book. Hard to believe anyone has that many friends that would say that many nice things about them. lol.

      • From experience, the vast majority of people’s friends won’t leave a review. That’s not to say some reviews aren’t artificially inflated, but the number of reviews plus the quality of the reviews will give a good indication as to the book’s quality or not.

    • I usually do the same: look up how many reviews a book has and read other reviews by the same reviewer, especially if I like the review. If a book has few reviews and all by 5 stars, I seldom bother to read those. I also think you can usually see whether a review is genuine or if it’s ‘from a friend’. Genuine reviews are much more in details and have an argument both for liking a book or not liking it.

      But I’m sorry to say that my experience is indeed that self-published authors have normally few reviews and all by 5 stars. Though I’m talking on the side of Readers, because I’m a completely unpublished author.

  2. Many good points in your article. Faux reviews do make it more difficult for self-published authors who want honest feedback. I always want honest feedback, good, bad or indifferent and never post 1 star reviews even if the book deserves it. Will be looking into your book Second Chance (no reciprocation needed). Thank you.

    • Thank you, both for your kind words and for your interest in Second Chance. I’d love to know why you don’t leave 1-star reviews if you value honest feedback. As mentioned in my post, I don’t because I appreciate the effort even if the end product may not be to my taste. Is it the same for you or do you have other reasons?

  3. It’s an interesting blog, Dylan, and I don’t have an answer either. The system is definitely skewed in favour of self-published authors as they often don’t sell many books outside their circle of friends and acquaintances. Personally I like to see at least 30 reviews before I start to believe them, so well done on your 30, and having read Second Chance, I have to say that they’re well-deserved! I’ve never asked for reviews, but so far I have nine five star reviews, all from either friends or people with whom I’ve interacted online. But like you, I’ve noticed that not all my friends who bought it have left reviews and I suspect they didn’t enjoy it but didn’t want to leave bad reviews. I’m still waiting for my first independent review. Sending the book to bloggers is a good idea.

    • Thirty reviews is asking a lot of a first time author. I typically pick up a sample, and if I like it, I’ll buy the book. If a book doesn’t have a sample, I don’t usually give it a thought–Indie OR Trad-pub.

      • The samples certainly help, but I’ve read so many poor books with promising reviews, it’s made me cynical. As other have said, the quality of the review helps, too. I’m more likely to believe a review that has some intelligent comments than one that says, ‘It was brilliant.’

    • It’s really worthwhile asking book bloggers to review your book. I would advise to do a little research first to make sure they are interested in the genre of book you’ve produced, but I can assure you there are plenty of bloggers out there interested in a good quality YA dystopian novel 🙂

  4. I was thinking about this yesterday; I don’t trust star ratings, though I do trust reviews. I often find myself reading between the lines of them to see whether it might actually be something I like, instead of giving weight to the star rating. The reason is that art is so subjective. What one person loves, another person will snort at contemptuously. I will never completely pan any artist, because I figure that if I don’t like it, it’s just not for me. After all, there are plenty of best-sellers (and popular bands and other artists) that I think are complete and utter garbage. And there are plenty of things I love that others simply do not “get”.

    People who take the time to write a review often have some sort of other agenda, even if it’s just an emotional one – something in a book really touched a nerve, be it in a good or bad way, and so they leave a review that is based on an overblown emotional reaction to one certain part of the book (or even something to do with the author, and not the book), an emotional reaction which colors their response to the work as a whole. I do this – I’ve absolutely hated books that were otherwise perfectly good, just because they’d screwed up their portrayal of one aspect of a character’s life, in my opinion.

    Art, and critique, are complicated things, and I don’t know what the “answer” is either. As always, the difference between success and failure as an artist can be very dependent on others’ reviews, but those reviews are never going to be directly related to the artist’s talent, because there is no hard definition of talent.

    • I think the star-rating system is as good a start point as any but I don’t necessarily trust the averages until they have reached a certain volume (although what that is changes depending on my mood). You’re absolutely right that art & critique are so subjective, not only on a person’s taste but also on their mood or frame of mind at that time. I have a love/hate relationship with reviews, ideally we shouldn’t need them but without them very few people would be aware of my work.

  5. I tend to buy my books based on personal recommendations but if I do read the reviews then I always consider that people writing the reviews will have done so only if they have loved the book or if they hated the book with probably very few people in between bothering to take the time. I don’t write reviews myself so maybe my take on human nature is skewed however!

    • You’re right about three-star reviews. I actually cut a paragraph from the post talking about the “it’s alright” or “meh” factor as it didn’t add anything to the debate, but very few people bother to review something if it left them unmoved, either in a negative or positive way.

  6. I think the best idea is to scrap the stars or numerical rating system. Numbers don’t tell us anything about a book. At all. I review books on my blog–indie and otherwise–and I don’t use numbers at all. I used to be pass/fail, but I realized that this doesn’t work well either.
    Now I describe a bit of the book and write the things I like and things I dislike about it. This, i feel, gives people a better idea of whether they’ll want to read it.
    I try to include legitimate literary devices in my review as well.
    But really, who better to critique books than writers? They get dentists to recommend toothpaste.

    • I sympathise with your views on the rating system but at the same time if it didn’t exist I wouldn’t have had anywhere near the visibility my book has enjoyed. Adding structure to a review – what you liked, what you didn’t – would help potential readers but may put off even more people from reviewing, and I am a big fan of the democratisation of the reviewing process (whether via Amazon, Goodreads, Blogging etc).

      • Just because it works for your book doesn’t mean it’s a good system. Writing a good book is a good way to get stars, but it’s not the only way and people don’t always review based on a work’s quality. I know of some who review a book negatively because it deals with controversial subject matter.
        The critique might be a review deterrent, but wouldn’t readers prefer quality over quantity anyway?
        Maybe a thumbs up/ thumbs down thing like on youtube would work better than stars?

        A similar dilemma is happening with the videogame industry–I used to buy lots of games because they were well reviewed. Then I realized I didn’t like most of those games at all. Now I don’t even read game reviews and I evaluate samples or rent for myself before I buy.

      • Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say it was a good system, just that I couldn’t think of a better one that met the needs of being able to provide information to a prospective buyer in a format that was both easily digestible but also informative. Least worst, perhaps?
        On a positive note, the party that has the most invested in getting this right is the seller as they need to be seen as a trusted retailer. You can be sure they are monitoring the effectiveness of each part of their promotional options and will make changes where necessary.

      • True, true. I guess it is the leas worst, I just fear it’s not changed because it’s familiar.
        I hope the sellers end up doing something to improve the system.
        Too bad the star system is so widespread. It works great for things like appliances and such, but books are art.
        Can you imagine a star rating hanging beneath paintings in a gallery?

  7. I can understand why the general population has lost faith in the review process when it comes to self-published works. I’m not saying it is right or wrong, but I am saying I understand it. Many self-published authors work hard to develop what they refer to as “street teams”. That’s a concept that smacks of “gang” to me. I know they mean well. They are trying to keep their fan base interested, but sometimes the “street teams” go too far and the author has no control over them. I won’t mention any names, but one popular author published a book. All of the positive reviews had tons of comments praising the review, and all of the negative reviews had tons of comments disrespecting the reviewer. That’s just pretty nasty. The general public who witnesses things like this can’t help but develop an attitude toward the self-published author. The “street team”, or fan base, doesn’t have a clue that they are causing a problem. But they turn the review process into a popularity contest rather than an accurate appraisal of the work. Most people I have asked tell me that they don’t judge a book by the reviews, but by the cover, blurb and Look Inside. Many tell me, also, that they won’t leave reviews for the very reason that they don’t care to have their opinion judged. Maybe it is not our “fault”, but it’s turned into a mess.

    • You make an interesting point about these “street teams”. I’m all for generating a fan base (hell, I’m thrilled whenever anyone tells me they like my book) but having people actively suppress a dissenting opinion is just plain wrong. What I’m not sure is how much of this has an impact on the general public, and how much remains within the smaller (though important) literary sphere. I don’t necessarily agree the whole system is a mess, but it could certainly be improved.

  8. I’ve tried reciprocal reviews and those are always odd. I had one person claim she liked my book, then changed her opinion quickly after I told her that her book didn’t work for me. I think part of the problem is that so much importance hinges on reviews, and it can be difficult to get reviews in the first place. I mean, a one star review (whether given because the book deserves it or because it’s not up to the reader’s taste) can seriously tank an independent author’s chances, so it gives an unbalanced importance to the early reviews.

    One of the best methods I liked was on a group in Goodreads, where you were allocated to a group of authors and each other sent their book to the next in line, which was a good way to avoid the pitfalls that come with review swaps.

    I’ve always given honest reviews though, and I think a good way to go about it is tell the author if you didn’t like the book, and ask them if they mind you writing up the poor review. Having said all this, I am mostly approaching this with an author’s perspective, because I know how much effort it takes to put together a book and desperately hope for people to like it, so I want to give people every chance to succeed. That being said, from a reader’s perspective I don’t want to read a load of reviews that simply say, “Great book!” I want to know why people liked or disliked it. And in fact, when some people list things that they dislike about a book they turn out to be things I like, so a negative review can draw readers in too.

    I think the best thing is just to give honest, comprehensive reviews. Brief reviews, whether they’re 5 stars or 1 star, don’t really tell a prospective reader anything.

    • Thanks for your comments. I have no issue with reciprocal reviews where authors swap books and give an honest opinion – this is no different from asking a book blogger to review your book. The reciprocal reviews I mentioned are where authors offer good reviews (before even reading the book) in return for a good review of their own.
      The Goodreads group sounds like an interesting concept although I’m still a little wary that it could be abused. You make a good point about brief reviews. It’s great from an author’s point of view that the reviewer made the time to leave a comment but not so helpful from a reader’s.

      • It’s interesting because I’ve also been wary of theatre reviews from the official suspects after having been disappointed so often. As an actress myself, it’s what prompted me to start a theatre site, which I’m now transferring to a blog that sits alongside FND. I wanted a source which was trustworthy and with no hidden agendas. I heard a story that Sheridan Morley didn’t really enjoy that revival of The Sound of Music but when he submitted his review (I think it was the Express), he was told to rewrite it in a more favourable light. I do also read book reviews in the papers and note down any that sound as if I might like them but I usually wait to buy until someone I know and trust tells me they enjoyed it. It’s a toughie, there’s no doubt about it.

      • You’ve touched on a theme that has come through strongly from other commenters as well, which is the value of word-of-mouth recommendations. I think we all agree this is the strongest and best way to promote anything, whether products, plays or books.

  9. Although getting reviews from people we know, either online or off, is wonderful, it’s the reviews from complete strangers that help us get a better feel of our book’s appeal. That’s not to say the reviews from those we know are biased–some will be, some won’t–but as an author, we’re going to always be asking ourselves, “Did they just like it because they know me?” One of the best ways to collect reviews from strangers is after a book promotion or a Goodreads giveaway. After my BookBub promotion and a couple Goodreads giveaways, the reviews from strangers started trickling in. I was scared to death, especially on Goodreads because they can be tough over there. But although I received my first negative review (or two…) this way, I also received many positive ones. As you know, this is reassuring to us. Even the negative reviews are helpful, and over time, we find them less objectionable and more interesting in the sense that it’s helpful to discover what a reader didn’t like about the book.

    • I can’t help but wonder if giveaways aren’t part of the problem, though. Your book winds up in the hands of a person who might otherwise not have bought it, and their review (if they leave one) might reflect their lack of interest.

      • I think it can go either way with giveaways. Yes, you can gain negative reviews purely from people who aren’t interested in the genre, however the majority of this type of reader just give up after a handful of pages and move on to the next free book in their queue without leaving a comment. On the other hand, I’ve received a number of reviews from people that start with “I don’t normally read this type of book but…” and go on to say how much they enjoyed it.

      • Again, I’m not sure if this is true or not. From a purely financial perspective, you’ll get no arguments from me, but you have to remember that the biggest challenge for indie authors is visibility. A well placed promo, whether a freebie or at a reduced price, doesn’t just spread the word via the percentage of downloaders who actually read the book, but also gives valuable ranking points to boost the novel’s “popularity”. These are usually associated with genre/sub-genre which makes the book visible to its exact target audience.

      • I understand the reasons why self-published authors use freebies as a marketing tool, but I wonder if many self-published authors understand the unintended consequences of that decision. Like it or not, consumers attach a perceived value to an item based on its price.

        And I also wonder how Amazon’s new “Free” and “Paid” lists will impact self-published authors. If the goal is to ultimate sell more books, not sure if that’s going to be achieved by giveaways.

        Of course, a writer’s goal may not be sales. It may be visibility.

      • This is true, and any author placing their one and only book as permanently free is bonkers. If, however, it is to be used as a loss leader to attract readers to your overall product funnel (sorry, this is where my marketing background takes over) then it’s a sensible choice – at least for the moment. Yes, there will always be freeloaders but as the US ebook market has matured, the average selling price has risen (aided by Amazon incentivising hitting certain price points), and the same has started to happen in the UK.

  10. I’m a reader (and a wannabe writer) and I can’t remember the last time I bought a book without reading reviews. It’s just the way things are done here in the 21st century.

    Reviews are important for all authors, self-published or not (check out the story on Kathleen Hunt if you think traditionally published authors don’t get worked up into knots over them as well), and bad reviews kill sales. When you have this sort of circle jerk of self-published authors reviewing one another’s books, you wind up with–I won’t call them dishonest, exactly, let’s call them unreliable reviews. It makes readers like me dismissive of self-published work.

    • I know from comments you’ve made previously on other pieces that you’ve been let down by the quality of some self-published books in the past, so I can understand where you are coming from with this. At the same time, as I said in my post, while I’m aware there are some authors gaming the system (something not restricted to self-published authors), the vast majority of indie authors I’ve come into contact with have been genuine, hard working professionals looking to build a career the right way. This is not to say there aren’t poor books out there, but as the growing market share of self-published works proves, there are an awful lot of quality works out there too (yes, I know popular doesn’t always equate to quality but you don’t gain a 40%* market share without offering some form of value to your readership).
      *source author

  11. Something that is taught in university research methods and statistics courses, is that rating scales should never be based on an odd number. Why real-world marketing ignores this principle is puzzling, when an odd-numbered rating system skews data collection so badly as to make results worthless. Perhaps it’s because many people dislike math, and the ones who go into marketing pay more attention to the glitzy, fun parts of the field for which they’re training.

    • You could be right, or it could be that they were already aware of the distortion but it distorted the ratings in a way they were happy with (i.e. giving more positive ratings).

  12. I’ve had eight terrific reviews for my book, The Astral Projection Conspiracy and two rather poor ones. I am confident that my positive reviews were balanced, because these reviewers thoroughly explored the plot line of the book and the character development within. Some of the 4/5 reviews mentioned various positive aspects about the book, but these particular reviewers also took special care to point out one or two literary obstacles they encountered while reading The Astral Projection Conspiracy. None of my positive reviews were dishonest attempts to unfairly hype my literary project for general consumption.

    Now about the two negative reviews – I trust my 2.5 review because this reviewer offered some very solid criticism. Fair enough, since my book contains some subject matter which might disturb some readers. However my one star review was poorly written and failed to be objective, but I am certain that every writer must face a one star review at some point.

    Anyways, I digress. Thanks again for sharing your great blog with me.

    • Congratulations on your positive reviews. Yes, as many have already commented, the best reviews are those that give a rating and then back that up within the detail of the review, whether positive or negative.

      • You’re welcome. This is a really live issue – especially as book reviews are the main way in which self published authors can spread the word… It’s a real shame that due to some people’s shoddy behaviour, so many readers have come to regard them with such sceptism.

  13. I read books based on reviews from book bloggers I trust and whose tastes align with mine. I see the Amazon and goodreads highly starred books but I am rarely influenced by them. It’s far better to read the reviews instead of just going by the stars.

    • Hi Nish, are you a writer as well as a reader, or just a reader? The reason I ask is I’ve noticed my behaviour towards book ratings and reviews has changed since concentrating on my writing. Before, when assessing a new author, the volume of ratings would be a factor. Now, because I’m more aware of book blogging and book reviewers, I’ll use these as a primary source of new books.

      • strictly a reader, but also a book reviewer who reads a lot of debut authors, so I always tend to sway towards the lenient side.

      • Thanks for coming back so quickly. You say you’re lenient to debut authors, in your reviews do you still point out areas you think could be improved, even if you then mitigate them against the author’s inexperience?

  14. I use the review system in the way it is intended. As you know, I’ve been reviewing Indie work for 18 months or so and in that time I’ve been approached to read something like 50 indie published books. After reading one that was actually quite poor (yet I attempted to put a positive spin on it), the author sent me a snotty email. He wasn’t abusive, he merely whined childishly that he couldn’t understand why I didn’t like it when it has a 5-star review at GR (which, by the way, he himself rated the book). After that I stopped reading it and then vowed not to read books that simply do not grab me. Now, if I think a book is heading for a 1-star or 2-star review, I stop reading it. It’s not worth the whining, any potential abuse and even in the case of Hale, the potential stalking.

    On a final note, I want people to post honest reviews about my work. How else am I ever going to improve as a writer? That’s my philosophy anyway.

    • Thanks for giving us your thoughts from a book reviewing perspective. I think it’s a shame you’ve felt the need to stop reviewing books based on this experience as we need book reviewers who are prepared to give honest reviews. I’m completely with you on your last point. I too only want to receive honest reviews for exactly the same reason. This is why I make it clear to authors of books I’ve recommended that I don’t expect a review in return and even if they do purchase my book, not to be afraid to give their honest feedback.

  15. I don’t tend to review books published through what now seems to be called ‘traditional’ publishers, because (a) I don’t have time and (b) I don’t believe my reviews would either help or hinder the success of a traditionally published book in any meaningful way. But indie/self-publishing is different. For a start, like you, having laboured over my (soon to be self-published) novel for quite some time, I know how hard it is to write a novel, and I have a huge admiration for anyone – anyone at all – who achieves this. That said, I would only review a self-published novel if I felt I could give it a good, if not excellent review. Like many others, I don’t want to trash a book which I didn’t like, but which others might enjoy. I have begun to read a few self-published novels and whilst I’ve read a couple of excellent ones (ahem…), one or two more have been, IMHO pretty dreadful. I’ve learned (in a ‘what not to do’ way) from these, but I wouldn’t dream of leaving a review which accurately reflected what I thought of them. Because, whatever I think, a huge amount of work, commitment and passion has gone in to creating them and I do not have it in me to bring such an author down. Rather than lying, I will simply not review – and from your post and comments, I guess that’s not an uncommon approach. Does it skew the ratings? I guess it does. But until the playing field between traditional and indie publishing levels, it feels like the right thing – for me at least – to encourage good indie authors with honest positive reviews wherever possible.

    Whatever I think, when the time comes for me to publish, I’ll be standing by my box of Kleenex , fully expecting I won’t have pleased ‘all the people’. And I won’t be picking a fight with any 1-star reviewers either!

    • Thank you for your insightful comment. I can understand the viewpoint of other commenters, looking suspiciously at all the positive reviews when they have been burned in the past, but I don’t believe – in the majority of cases – the driver behind them is to con people, just a combination of supportive friends and a natural(for all the reasons already mentioned), positive review bias.

  16. As I think you know, I had my book published by a small American publisher and I publicised the fact to my chickens and my one or two readers. As you correctly say, I got some quick reviews from loyal followers, and then more from people I knew and then didn’t know. I’ve got reviews on and but the interesting thing is, as far as I can find out through my publisher, they have not impacted on my sales. The only thing which did was the Blog following. I love reviews, of course, but the relationship between reviews and sales figures is another, and very interesting question to me. Sorry this answer is so long. I can drift towards the boring on the subject

    • I think your comment summarises the feelings of many authors, whether self-published or through a small press. It would be wonderful to know what activity has a positive impact on sales but unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a single answer. As for boring, never! You should see my friends’ eyes glaze over after asking how my writing’s going 🙂

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