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How Story Cartel Gave Me 50-Plus Honest Reviews

How Story Cartel Gave Me 50-Plus Honest Reviews

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Published by KM Weiland
In a nutshell, Story Cartel offers readers free e-books in exchange for honest reviews.
In a nutshell, Story Cartel offers readers free e-books in exchange for honest reviews.

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Published by: KM Weiland on Jul 21, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/25/2013

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How can authors encourage readers to review their books online? That’s aquestion all published authors face sooner or later. The answers are myriad,some positive (such as, just asking—something I’ve done with success with ashort note in the back of my books), some negative (such as the not-so-distantbrouhaha about well-known authors purchasing scads of positive reviews).A relatively recent approach is that offered by the site Story Cartel. Since manyof you have asked me about my recent experience with using it to garnerreviews for my fantasy
Dreamlander 
, I thought I’d use today’s post to share mythoughts.
What Is Story Cartel?
In a nutshell, Story Cartel offers readers free e-books in exchange for honestreviews. Readers are given thirty days to read the book. If, by the end of thattime, they’re able to send a link to their posted review back to Story Cartel, theywill be entered in a drawing for either five print copies of the book, three $10Amazon gift cards, or a Kindle (as supplied by the book’s author).
How Does Story Cartel Work?
The set-up is easy as pie.
1.
Sign-up for an account on the site.
2.
Enter your book’s info.
3.
Upload mobi, epub, and pdf files (all three are required).After that, the book will appear on the site itself. I believe all books arementioned on Story Cartel’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and, if you’d like addedexposure, you can purchase an ad in their e-letter.Story Cartel will email readers at intervals to remind them to the review thebook. The free book may attract readers to the download, but it’s the drawing(for which they will be eligible only if they submit their reviews) that encouragesthem to actually post their thoughts.
How Story Cartel Gave Me 50+ Honest Reviews
http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.comhttp://www/kmweiland.com
 
Story Cartel keeps track of the number of downloads and gives authors access toa spreadsheet of the downloaders’ names and email addresses
How Did Story Cartel Work for Me?
In the course of the month in which
Dreamlander 
was available for downloadingfrom Story Cartel, the book received 50+ reviews, almost all of which weredemonstrably from people who had downloaded the book off Story Cartel.The vast majority were positive, but I did receive about nine three-star reviews.I’ve seen other authors who received a much larger share of negative reviews.So just because you may be getting a load of new reviews doesn’t necessarilyguarantee they will be positive—which is kinda the point of the whole honestreview thing.I promoted the book’s run via my mailing list, blog, and social sites. The bookwas also given advertising space in Story Cartel’s e-letter. By the end of themonth, the book had been downloaded just under 600 times. This isn’t a hugenumber compared to, say, a KDP Select run. But as Story Cartel gainsmomentum and a larger following, I expect these numbers will only grow.
What I Liked About Story Cartel
* Hard not to like 50+ new reviews in less than a month, especiallysince most of them were positive. The fact that this bumped
Dreamlander 
to over 100 reviews total was even more icing.* The site was easy to use and navigate.* Support, via Joe Bunting (one of the site’s founders), was incrediblyfast and super helpful.* I liked that I could offer the book for free without having to joinAmazon’s KDP Select exclusivity clause (in which, I would have toremove the book from every site
but 
Amazon). Obviously, StoryCartel didn’t help me move up Amazon’s rankings, as would a KDPSelect run, but the benefits in guaranteed reviews were just aspowerful.* It was super cheap. I opted to give away three $10 Amazon giftcards, so the whole thing cost me a bare $30. I’ve looked into otherreview services, all of which cost way more with far fewerdemonstrable results. (By the way: I chose the gift cards option,since it was the most inexpensive. Because
Dreamlander 
is a largebook, it would have cost more than $30 for me to purchase and mailfive paperbacks. But if I use the service again with a smaller book, Iwill probably opt to give away the books, instead of the gift cards,
 
since this option easily offers more benefits to me, namely the factthat my book on someone’s shelf=free advertising.)* The site is gorgeous, so I have no professional qualms in sendingpotential readers there.
What I Didn’t Like About Story Cartel
Honestly, this list is very short.* I had a bit of trouble uploading all my e-book files in thebeginning, due to server space restrictions on Story Cartel’s end.Support helped with a workaround, but this was a bit of a headache.I think they’ll be getting this fixed soon.* My biggest concern with the service’s long-term effectiveness inpromoting my book is the fact that the vast majority of the reviewsreference the fact that the reviewer had been given a free book.Story Cartel stresses the importance of reviewers including thisclause in their review (as per federal regulations), and I don’t blamethem at all. But I worry that future potential customers, in browsingthe reviews, may be led to question the validity of the book, since somany of its reviews weren’t based on purchases.
Would I Do Use Story Cartel Again?
Short answer: yes. Despite the fact that I
don’t 
like so many of reviewsreferencing a free download, the overwhelming number of reviews grants thebook a ton of extra credibility.From a purely personal perspective, I found it enlightening to have so manyreviews come pouring it at once. Too often, I have a tendency to take the mostrecent review as gospel on my book (particularly if it’s negative). But with somany disparate opinions appearing at once, I was able to gain perspective onhow subjective the reading experience really is (something I preach all the time,but have a bit more trouble practicing).Once my schedule calms down a bit after
Structuring Your Novel 
launches inSeptember, I plan to use Story Cartel again, probably for one of my digital shortstories—and then probably for all of my books, in turn, after that.To sum up, my experience with Story Cartel was excellent. The site is a brilliantidea that has been well executed and continues to be well run. If you have apublished book, need reviews, and are willing to stand up under a barrage of honesty, then I highly recommend it.

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