GenreCrave/OTOH Books: Indie Author Review - A Powerful Marketing Company With Some Downsides

This service has been around for awhile, though under several different names. First, it was HungryAuthor, then GenreCrave, and now OTOH books. 

One of the first downsides I want to mention is that they are often more ambitious than the results would indicate, which means that for every amazing service that they offer, they end up offering two that don't perform very well at all.

They also aren't cheap. In fact, their largest services can run upwards of two-thousand dollars which is a hefty price tag for any author, let alone someone just starting out who will never see a return for those investments. Even some of their midrange services seem to underperform, and some of their cheapest services have almost no return at all.

Give this company a miss if you're planning to launch your book. (3) (1).jpg

They are all overpriced services, and much like Online Book Club, they tend to be difficult expenses to justify. Unlike Online Book Club, however, this company seems to be on a major decline in recent months that make it impossible for me to recommend to anyone.

The Mega Book Blast (since discontinued and refactored into yet another new service) is one of their services, and they offer many different levels of it. This is one I can talk about very recently to discuss the value of it because I used it in multiple fashions in October of 2017. I used the service twice to promote two completely different books. Both of them were horror/urban fantasy books, one was new and one had been out for about a year.

Both had over 70 reviews and good ratings (4.4 and 4.7), and the older book had over 250 reviews when the service went live. For that older book, in fact, the service I paid for was an even bigger double book boost that was discontinued only a few weeks after I got mine.

One book was wide on multiple sites for sale, the other exclusive to Kindle Unlimited and Amazon. The results? Barely any sales or downloads on KU between both titles. I would guess that I made back about 6% of the actual cost of running both promotions in actual sales revenue.

Now, an argument could easily be made that my books weren't perfect. However, for both books at around the same time that I ran these promotions I ran other promotions as well. To use ENT as an example (which I used for both aforementioned books): same price, same time period, and I sold twice as many copies of each book on ENT as I did through OTOH. The difference? ENT cost me about 1/25th of what the OTOH books promotion cost, and I ended up selling twice as many copies.

The argument that it was the book's fault can be made, but it doesn't really stand up when other services around the same time sell considerably more copies while costing me a lot less. If the OTOH promotion had been 90% discounted it still would have barely been worthwhile.

As I said earlier, they offer various levels of promotion. Each is progressively more expensive and with, we would be led to believe, progressively better results. I've used their mega service three times in the past, and each time I have had strongly diminishing results and sold far fewer copies. 

Of course, there could be other reasons my promotion fell flat at OTOH while working at other sites. My book doesn't fall into their ideal genre, which seems to be paranormal romance. Since my book wasn't focused on romance and didn't have a young woman with a gun on the front cover, it wasn't quite right for their service. Still, if it was reaching the number of readers they promise and was proving to be sellable through other promotion companies, why did no one buy a copy through this service?

Another thing of note: they have a very strong base of authors who use and recommend their promotions regularly, and this base has survived all of their rebrandings. These diehard fans will support them no matter what happens and were with them from the beginning. 

They spend a lot of time marketing to new authors, using tactics designed to encourage people to 'buy now' on their services. They make the services sound incredible and as though they are critical to an indie author's success. If they were half as good at marketing books to readers as they are at marketing services to authors they would probably move a lot more books.

I don't blame them for the weak results in my latest promotions, but in general the transition of their services from one brand to another, the constant adding and removing of underperforming services, and the diminishing of their results over time lead me to conclude that they aren't a top tier promotional service anymore. I can't even recommend them as a middle of the road promotional service because their results have been so utterly lackluster. 

Using the site: OTOH is not a difficult site to navigate. It only takes a couple of minutes to submit a book to one of their services, and they often approve it very quickly. They take payment up front, which isn't a great way to do business. I would rather they take the time to actually select and approve books before billing (to at least give the impression that they have editors selecting content), but their method isn't out of the ordinary...it is similar to many subpar promotional networks.

They allow you to list books by genre just like every other Newsletter site, and they do have pretty good coverage of genres, though not as much as other sites. As I mentioned earlier, though, the genres that aren't similar to PNR will not perform well at all, and even ones that are tangentially related don't get strong results. 

With the new branding as OTOH they might become a contender as a top promotional site in the future. As it is, though, their results are wildly unpredictable and they tend to try to do too much all at once. Considering how much they are charging for their services, they should really get better results. 

It's difficult to run a business like that, though, and they certainly do try. If you fit the genre and want to run the risk of paying a lot of money for lackluster results, then give them a try. Give this company a miss if you're planning to launch a new book.

My Rating: This one falls low with a 2-star rating but with some caveats. They are expensive, though they do put in a lot of effort. However, the constant rebranding and diminishing results make it feel like a waste of money. They are off my regular list of go-to promotional companies.

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Lincoln Cole

Lincoln Cole is a Columbus-based author who enjoys traveling and has visited many different parts of the world, including Australia and Cambodia, but always returns home to his pugamonster and wife. His love for writing was kindled at an early age through the works of Isaac Asimov and Stephen King and he enjoys telling stories to anyone who will listen.

He has won multiple literary awards for his novels. He has also been a bestseller in multiple different categories.