How to Turn Spectators Into Collaborators [interview]

How do you build connections with readers so deep that your readers start to spread the word about your writing for you?

In this interview, Amazon bestselling author and publishing veteran Diane Capri and I talk about how to turn your readers from spectators into collaborators.

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About the Interview

Diane Capri’s thriller mysteries have hit the #1 Amazon bestseller list in several categories. International publishing superstar Lee Child calls her novels, “Full of thrills and tension, but smart and human, too.”

As both a traditional and independently published author, Diane brings a clear perspective to the purpose of marketing: It’s all about readers. Always has been. Always will be.

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  • BernardT

    This may be a good place to ask a question that’s been on my mind: Diane talked about “bribing” readers to give reviews (by offering a chance to win a signed copy of another book). This is similar to the StoryCartel offer of a chance to win a gift certificate. This seems to be sailing very close to the edge of what Amazon will tolerate in terms of the interest of a reviewer: anyone with a financial interest, they say, cannot leave a review. Paying someone to leave a good review is, I hope we agree, wrong. So where exactly is the boundary? Where do Amazon stand re the idea of a Cartel of writers reviewing each others books?

    • Joe Bunting

      Great question, Bernard. And this is definitely something I thought about a lot when we first started Story Cartel. In our author registration, I even wrote, “This is not about buying reviews,” in response to this question. The truth is that even paying someone to leave an honest review has been pretty scandalous in the publishing community. This is what John Locke did that got everyone up in arms.

      Amazon says you can review a free book as long as you disclose you got it for free. Honestly, this is pretty silly, since journalists have always gotten free books and they never had to disclose. Still, you could see it as payment, which makes sense. And I agree that the giveaway thing is definitely toeing the line. Who knows, if Amazon or someone else thinks we’re crossing the line, we may have to stop doing that someday. The giveaways incentivize urgency, not good or bad reviews. It gives the procrastinators (like me!) a reason to turn their review in on time. In the end, we hope it’s just a small way to say thank you to the reviewers for their time, rather than a payment. And we also prefer that people giveaway hardcopies of the book, which is even less like paying for reviews, since most reviewing sites give ARCs anyway.

      All that’s to say, I hope we’re not paying for reviews. Instead, I hope we’re helping authors and readers connect in a meaningful and fun way.

      • BernardT

        OK, so leaving aside the payment issue for a moment, what about the issue of authors reviewing each others’ books? As I understand it, Amazon don’t like that either.

      • Joe Bunting

        Well, I think no one in the writing/publishing world besides a few people in amazon agrees with that one, for one. Writers have been reviewing each other for centuries. I also think, from what I’ve read, that they’re really focusing on a few specific instances. None of us are big enough to warrant their attention (yet!). My guess is that they have the policy because some authors were trashing their competitors books and they needed something to defend the integrity of their review system. I could be wrong though.

        In the end, while we talk about reviewing each others books in the course (again this is a time hobored practice) story cartel itself is for anyone, writer or not.

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