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Shiloh Walker

Why Amazon & BN reviews matter

I had a reader ask me why the Amazon & BN reviews matter… 

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I’ve noticed you’ve been pushing for more reviews…the book club thing and periodic requests for reviews, etc on twitter, FB.  I don’t ever pay attention to them.  I ask friends or go to blogs.  Store reviews just don’t matter to me.  What’s the big deal?

Well, bottom line… they are a very big deal.

I can’t claim a lot of hard knowledge on this but these are some of the things I’ve discovered with selfpublishing.  The number of reviews I received on Blade Song helped get me some of the ‘promo’ deals, like the daily deals, which actually benefits readers, too.

But again, this is just stuff that’s either been my experience or things I’ve learned in workshops, etc.  None of this has come straight from the horse’s (Amazon/BN’s) mouth.

Reviews at Amazon and BN add up to two key things:

  • ‘discoverability’
  • ‘promo’ offerings from online retailers offer (sales, etc)


So what’s with the ‘promo’ thing and what does that matter?

The promo thing translates to sales…and who doesn’t like sales, right?

X number of reviews can lead to things like

  • ‘daily deals’
  • ‘gold box’
  • other stuff

 Reviews alone aren’t going to get the daily deals, gold box deals, etc.  The majority of the reviews need to be positive.  Your pub has to push for the deal, there’s wrangling and hassling, etc.  I didn’t do any of it to get the daily deal… Inscribe did it all for.

But it’s not just the promo thing.  Increased reviews leads to increased discoverability.  You show up in search results more…people who looked at this also looked at…etc, I think.

If people aren’t seeing your book, they can’t buy your book.

Once you hit X amount of reviews on Amazon (and I think BN), you move into a different ‘algorithm’ which means your books show up more on book searches.  When your books pop up, more people see them.  If your books aren’t popping up a lot, then people can’t see them to buy them.  Decreased book sales will eventually lead to your publisher deciding not to renew your contracts…and that leads to canceled series.  Which has happened to me twice.

Yes, the readers looking for you will find you, but the casual buyer?  Not so much.  The browsing days in a bookstore are fading so the discoverability factor for online shoppers is becoming crucial.

The market is getting tough and yes, reviews are important, more now than ever.  You don’t have to be a professional reviewer… just say…hey, I liked this book and here is why.  Or even…this book didn’t appeal as much…and this is why.  I don’t want to be that author who is constantly begging for reviews, but if you enjoy a book of mine, if you feel inclined to leave a review, posting it to Amazon or BN is a huge help and I very much appreciate it.  🙂


Do you have Qs?

I think I need to update my FAQ page…


I’m getting a bunch of the same ones…


Are you writing a series about Zach’s brothers?

What happened to Puck?  

Are you seriously making us waiting until 2014 for Broken Blade?

Is/Why can’t the Kit books be audio?  

Why don’t you have more books in audio? Is Stolen part of a series?

These are the normal ones.

Do you have more? Leave them in comments.  If there’s a theme, I’ll send about updating or adding a second FAQ page.


Randoms Qs… answered

Just a post of random Qs I’ve been getting alot…


Highly unlikely.  I just finished it.  It now has to go to the editor 1. Come back to me. Go back to her.  Come back to me. Go to copyeditor.  I’d like to find another copyeditor. I might ask for a couple of select beta readers who are very good at finding typos.  It needs cover art.  It needs a blurb.  It needs to get uploaded to the distribution platforms and reviews.  All of this takes time.  All of this is important, on my end, because in order for me to be able to continue these books, they have to do well, and this is the process that has worked so far, so I can’t skip these steps.  I’m sorry.

Will the Kit books come to audio/be in print?

They will be released in print.  Book 1 is already in print.  The second book is in progress, will hopefully be ready in mid-March, April at the latest.

Audio?  Not very likely. From what I’ve been told, most audio pubs don’t tend to take on indie titles and I’ve self pubbed these books. I’d love to see it happen, but I’m not going to bet on it.  I’m sorry.  I can’t do it myself…I’ve looked into it and it’s financially just not feasible (I’d have to mortgage a kidney if I wanted to do it right).

Will WRECKED be in audio?

I’d love for that to happen!  So far…it hasn’t.

Will there be more FBI psychics?

Yes…two this year, actually…there’s a novella coming from Samhain, called THE UNWANTED (more on that later) and THE PROTECTED.

Will you be at …. (Romantic Times, RWA, Lori Foster’s, Authors After Dark, RomCon etc, etc, etc)?

I will be at RT…you can find me in the bar, at this panel, at the indie expo and at the book fair.  Tweet me! I’m @shilohwalker.

I will be at Lori Foster’s… always!

I don’t know about Nationals…I’m still trying to decide.

I won’t be at Authors After Dark… I’ve tried to get on the author list, but they limit author registration and I haven’t ever been invited.

RomCon doesn’t ever work out timing wise.

will be at this cool new event in Sandusky…Speed Reader Weekend… coasters and racing, fun, huh?

I’ll be at a local event in Madison, Indiana on March 16, signing from 11-2.  It’s at THAT BOOK PLACE, and you can read about it here.

Two other things that will involve booksignings…I’m attending the Washington Area Romance Writers Retreat and there’s a pre-retreat booksigning at Turn the Page. That’s in April.  There’s one other thing coming up but I don’t have much info on it yet.


I am not telling you.  You will have to read the book.  But I’m told it’s worth it.  You might want chocolate, kleenex and wine, though. I’m told it helps.



About the Hunters

The series was canceled by the publisher early this year, as previously mentioned on the blog. I’m still getting a lot of emails asking about continuing the series, why I’m not pursuing self-publishing, why I’m not trying to continue with it…etc…

Sooooo…there are a number of reasons.  Time, money, the drop in sales, etc.

The drop in sales…While writing is definitely what you can call a labor of love, just laboring on something isn’t going to help me meet my obligations as a person…as a mom with kids, as a wife, a partner in a marriage, etc.  We’ve got bills.  Loving to write and putting out words doesn’t meet those obligations. Spending time on a series that isn’t paying out very well is taking away time from the books that are helping me to meet my obligations.  I realize boiling it down to the numbers isn’t anything readers want to hear, but it is something I have to consider. Something that really sucks is how many thousands of pirated copies of the Hunters books I’ve had to fight to get off the net…maybe if even 10% more of those who had pirated had just bought the damn books instead, I might consider investing the time in trying to pursue it, but I’ve seen the numbers on my end and I just don’t know it’s the wisest biz decision.
Money… Yes, that word again, but not for the same reasons.  Self-publishing is expensive. Contrary to what some people make it out to be, you don’t just slap a book together and throw it up on Kindle/Nook.  I invested close to $1000 upfront for formatting, editing, covers, distribution and promo on Blade Song and the sequel cost more, because the editorial work on Blade Song (typos, etc) wasn’t as good as it could have been, so I invested in a better line editor for book 2.  This series is going very well, though, and it’s worth it, on my end, because I’ve seen that investment pay off.  I will be honest…if I hadn’t seen a return on that investment, and a profit, I wouldn’t have gone forward with book two.  I can’t spend money and time on something that isn’t going to work out, business wise.  And it all comes back to that, in the end. I love writing.  I want to do this for the rest of my life.  Which means, I have to make wise business decisions…if I’m spending time and money on things that aren’t working out for me, (that means…making a profit)…then I can’t keep writing, I have to go back to nursing and there are no more books. Considering the drop in sales with the Hunter series, I question whether it would be a wise decision to pursue self-publishing it, especially with the upfront cost.  Plus…I can’t afford it at this point.
Time… This is a doozy.  There are 24 hours in a day and nothing we do or say will change that fact.  I can only write for so many hours in a day and a certain amount of that time has to be focused on contracted projects. Those projects come with deadlines and I have to keep my deadlines.  I love my editors and I want them to be happy with me and I also have readers who kind of want those other projects done, too.  Basically, I do have other commitments and I can only do so much.  At some point, something has to give. I can’t chase after every option that might be out there to try and keep that series alive, especially when it’s been in a slump.  It just never caught the interest it needed to stay alive for the long haul.

At some point, everything has to end.  Hunter’s Rise was a solid book and Toronto was one character I definitely wanted to get to.  I had that chance.

Does this mean I’ll absolutely never write another Hunter book? I don’t believe in saying never.  But it would take a pretty impressive thing to get me to consider it, and I’d have to have more time on the table first. Who knows…maybe paranormal will swing back around again and the sales will spike.  If there’s enough reader interest in it, I can look at it later down the road, but at this point?  I just can’t.

Just a few more days…

A mini snippet from STOLEN…

Tears burned her eyes but she blinked them away. Filing the email, she put the phone down and covered her face with her hands.

Can you tell us what happened…?


She sat there and shuddered. Do you remember…

No. She didn’t. But a part of her was trying to, and she really dreaded the day those memories finally crept into the open.


Have you checked out the blog tour?  Lots of prizes!


Some Qs:

Will this be in audio?

I have no idea.  I just now had my first audio deal and I suspect future audio deals depend on a book’s popularity.  I’m very far from the point that audio is a given.  I won’t know until/if an offer is made.

Will this be available digitally in the UK?

Yes! This time, I knew, in advance, there were going to be odd things with the UK digital distribution so I prepared.  You can preorder it now via

Amazon Kindle UK

think it’s available for preorder on the iBookstore, but I can’t check that.

Is this connected to another series?

No.  I know it kind of looks like it might be, but it’s not at all related to the Ash books.

So those are the Qs I’ve gotten asked a lot.

Just a word of warning…this book is pretty dark.  The heroine went through hell and she’s probably even more screwed up than Devon from FRAGILE.  If you want a nice, safe read…this isn’t it.

More on the Hunters series….


First… pardon the website insanity.  I’m fiddling.

Okay…more on the Hunter books.


Again, Hunter’s Rise is the last one.

I had several people ask me if there wasn’t any other way to keep it going.  And more than a few…ah, outright tell me that I just had to do more.

So…here’s the deal.

The sales are dropping.  That’s why the publisher ended it.  I’m going to go ahead and address the questions I’ve been asked on twitter, in email, and several times at RT.

Could I self publish it?

In theory… yes.  But people need to understand that writing is my job.

It’s my paying job… it’s how my bills are paid.  It’s how we buy food.  How I pay for medical bills. How we pay the utilities, etc.  In short…it’s my job… I quit my nursing job to write and if money isn’t coming in steadily from writing, I go back to nursing.

It’s how I provide for my kids.  Generally, my longer length books go to New York and they pay me an advance.  That advance is money that covers bills, food, etc while I’m writing a book.  If I self-publish…that money isn’t there.

Self-publishing the right way is expensive and don’t let anybody tell you different.  I’ve spent hundreds of dollars getting just one story edited.  That’s just one phase of editing.  Books go through several phases.  That was also a shorter story.  Longer stories will cost more and I will never ever publish a book without getting it edited.

Costs included would be:

  • editing for the plot/content, etc
  • copyedting for typos/misspellings/consistency
  • cover art
  • formatting (I’m done doing it myself.  It’s too much)
  • all promo…usually the publisher does some to get in front of the eyes of booksellers and that doesn’t happen with self publishing.  It’s all me.

This can add up to hundreds of dollars and if you want to do it well?  It’s probably going to be a lot more, into the thousands.  If I’m serious about selfpublishing, I had to do it the right way.

All of this with no promise of a return.  One of my selfpublished (and I’m not talking a backlist book or a short story…I’m talking an original book) earned under $500 in one year.

I can’t make that kind of gamble.

All of this expense must be paid before the writer will ever see a red cent. And…all of this is done when I should be working on the stories that I can sell, guaranteed to publishers who have proven to me that they will help me bring in the money that I need to meet my responsibilities.

I’m not trying to sound mercenary.  But just like you, I’m a person…I’m a mom, I’m a wife.  My husband and I each carry out fair share in this house and it’s too big a gamble to take months of time on several books that haven’t been selling all that well anyway.

Writing is a craft and it’s an art…but it’s also a business.


Could I take it back to my epubs?

Again, in theory… yes.  But I’m already writing a series for them that’s fairly profitable.  I can only logically work in so much.  I’m thinking about a light RS series that would be novella length with them.  I can’t do three different series for them.  It’s too much.

I also have issues with the fact these are longer books.  I can’t 4 months out of my writing schedule to spend writing on books that just aren’t doing well.

People often think that writing is all about the book, all about the art of creating a story.  That is very much a part of it.

But we also have to look at the business aspect.  The writer who doesn’t do that is often the writer who doesn’t keep writing.  I don’t plan on being on those writers.

All series have to end at some point.  Hunter’s Rise was probably one of the best Hunter books I’ve written in a while, if not the best one.  It had two unique characters.

I also had two stories I really wanted to tell… Nessa’s, and Toronto’s.  If it had to end, maybe this was a good time to let it end.

I wish it didn’t have to come to this point, but with sales slumping off, people and business have to make hard decisions.  The publisher had to make theirs… I’m making mine.

I hope you understand.