Writing Our Books, How Much Do Publishers Think About Marketability? Featured Guest Article: Marketing Your Book 101 …

Most all my book marketing clients know when they hire me to market and promote their books that I am a stickler when it comes to research and visiting many writer and book marketing websites. I am always on the hunt for information or guest article that I know will help my authors and writers. I came across an exceptional article on the best place for all thriller, suspense, and mystery writers and readers called Killer Nashville and submit your book for a free review!

The Article is by Erik Deckers and has some solid advice about our books marketability and book promoting 101. I hope you find it informative and I will at the end share with you my thoughts about the new Twitter Promo Mode … CAT 

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Marketing Your Book 101 ~ Erik Deckers

“If you’ve been writing for any lengthy period of time, you’re familiar with the catch twenty-two of publishing: you want to write your book your way, but you also want it to sell. Sometimes, those two desires don’t run parallel.

Sacrifices are made, compromises are drawn, lines in the sand erased. In this month’s “Marketing Your Book 101”, marketing/promotion guru Erik Deckers offers up some advice on how to sell your book without selling your soul.”  ~Killer Nashville

Want to get a writer good and riled up? Do one of two things: 1) Ask where they stand on the Oxford comma; 2) Ask about the marketability of their book.

I can’t help you with the Oxford comma, but I can tell you quite a bit about a book’s marketability.

Marketability is often the last thing many authors want to think about. They want their art to stand on its own, and to write the stories they want to write, not what the masses want.

But marketability is often the first thing many publishers consider. They want to know how many people might want it, and how well you can market it.

In my first book proposal, I had to answer a few questions about whether there were books similar to mine, the size of my social media following, and whether I had an email newsletter list.

(Careful readers will note the Oxford comma in the previous sentence.)

Because the book was about social media and personal branding, my co-author, Kyle, and I both had a decent social media following, he had a sizable email newsletter list, and there were almost no books about personal branding. So we scored high on marketability, which we learned later went a long way in getting that book deal.

Yay, book marketability!

For us, marketability was a combination of whether a lot of people would buy the book, and how well we could promote it.

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The book market for social media, in general, was already being tapped out. Kyle and I had written a book about Twitter marketing the previous year, but this was new territory for us. If we hadn’t come up with a new idea that appealed to a large crowd, we never would have gotten the deal.

But my previous success has not meant automatic deals later on. I’ve proposed other book ideas since then, but the social media book market has just about run its course. If I want to write another book, I need to come up with a brand new idea.

Book marketability sucks.

How Much Do Publishers Think About Marketability?
First, just know that publishers do look at the marketability of your work, almost as much as they look at the quality of your work. And that goes into the decision of whether they’ll publish your book or not.

Don’t get me wrong. You could have 1 million Twitter followers, but if your work isn’t that great, it will never be published. (Still, if you have 1 million loyal Twitter followers, do you really need a publisher? Self-publish that sucker!)

You may have written the greatest story about teenage vampire wizards who fight zombies, but since that one has already been done to death (I hope!), you’re not going to get a lot of love from traditional publishers.

The marketability of a book is not just about the size of your social networks, it includes whether the book will be interesting to the largest number of people. When we wrote Branding Yourself in 2010, it was only the second book of its kind. But in the last several years, there have been a few hundred titles published on social media and its various sub-topics, so our publishers knew they had to strike fast. We were in the right place at the right time.

Having said that, I’ve read some pretty mediocre books published by people with big fat social networks, and it’s easy to see how much consideration the social networks were given. (Hint: way, way too much.)

So Should Marketability Affect Your Content Choices?
Yes and no.

No, it should not, because you should be free to write the book you want, and people should buy it because it’s good, not because it’s what the masses want. On the other hand. . . .

Yes, it should, because your publisher (ideally) knows what the public wants. If you can give it to them, you’ll sell lots of copies, and you’ll go on book tours where your publisher will put you up in the finest discount hotels and eat at the finest fast-casual restaurant chains. On the other hand. . .

No, it shouldn’t, because you have options! You can skip the whole traditional publishing route, and self-publish on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. (Again, note the Oxford comma.) You can market your own book, or sell print-on-demand copies at book fairs and community fairs. On the other hand. . .

Yes, it should, because you can win the greatest number of readers if you pay attention to what the public likes, and try to keep up. On the other hand. . .

No, it shouldn’t, because there’s an audience for nearly everything you can imagine (and even those things you can’t. Don’t go looking for those though. Just don’t.). Just because there’s not a huge audience doesn’t mean there’s not an audience. Even an audience of 1,000 is a good audience. On the other hand. . .

Yes, it should, because your publisher can get you into the bookstores, especially the large chain(s), which means great exposure to a wider audience. On the other hand. . .

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No, it shouldn’t, because you’re going to be doing most, if not all, of the marketing, and yet you’re only going to get a small royalty from your publisher. But if you self-publish, you get a much larger royalty.

Ultimately—I hate these kinds of indecisive answers—it comes down to what you want to do, where you think your book is going to go. If you want to write a commercially successful book that gets you invited to Killer Nashville as a keynote speaker, and your book is sold in the Barnes & Noble room, then consider your content and marketability very strongly.

But if you don’t want to be beholden to others, to let someone else dictate your story choices, or you just plain want more money than publishers offer, then marketability be damned! Your book’s—sorry, your books’—success will depend on you and how hard you’re willing to work. Happy Book Marketing!

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FYI: Killer Nashville is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you purchase a book from the links on this page, Amazon will give Killer Nashville a small percentage of the total sale.

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Lastly, I wanted to share a little and ask what you think about the new “Twitter Promo Mode” service they are offering. Here is what Twitter sent me this week about the new service … What author has $99 per month marketing budget just for Twitter? Please share your thoughts if you use or know about this promo service! TY! CAT

Automatically promote your Tweets to your best audience and grow your followers, without creating or managing campaigns.

Reach more peopleReach more people
Promote Mode enables your personal brand or business to be discovered by thousands of new people.

Amplify your TweetsAmplify your Tweets
Your Tweets and profile are automatically promoted, helping you grow your influence.

Pay a flat monthly feePay a flat monthly fee
Enjoy consistent growth without the extra effort.

 

https://ads.twitter.com/subscriptions/mobile/intro?ref=gl-tw-tw-promote-mode
INFO-LINK: New Twitter Promote Mode  

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My Friend Marsha Is Back of ‘News & Experts’ PR Firm. She Knows Mainstream Media!

How Small Publications Can Play A Big Role In Your Publicity Efforts …

 

I don’t believe I’m going out on a limb (well, at least not too far out) when I say that nearly everyone recognizes the giants of journalism. Such venerated (and at times vilified) publications as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and USA Today are hard to ignore, even if you’re not a regular reader or subscriber.

But as wonderful as they are, these behemoths of the reporting world aren’t the only option for those who long to see their names in traditional and online print.

Small towns throughout the country also are blessed with daily or weekly newspapers that keep their communities informed about who’s engaged, who died, whose child made honor roll and what the city commission and school board are up to these days.

These more obscure practitioners of journalism still serve a significant role in our information age, but admittedly without the luster and renown that those top-tier publications enjoy.

That’s why if you’re seeking to promote your brand, you could be thinking that it’s OK to ignore these lesser lights of the print and online media world in your quest for publicity.

Stop right there!

 

Let me tell you why that would be a mistake. These smaller venues, whether they appear online or in old-fashioned ink on paper, can be more important than you realize as you build your reputation as an authority in your field.

How so?

 

  • People read those local publications. Weekly newspapers and small dailies still attract a loyal readership for one simple reason: They provide readers with articles that have a direct impact on their lives and keep them apprised of what’s happening with people they know. If you want to promote your brand, it never hurts to start with your hometown newspaper. It can be a stepping stone to bigger things, plus as a bonus, you get to hone your interview skills in preparation for that day when the New York Times calls!
  • Smaller publications can have a bigger reach than you think. What happens in lesser-known media venues doesn’t necessarily stay in lesser-known media venues. Story ideas that bubble up on the local level can get noticed at the national level. Many smaller newspapers also are owned by large newspaper chains, and the publications within that chain share articles with each other. That means your interview with a small weekly in Wisconsin could be printed in sister publications far and wide. The fact is that not everything that grabs widespread attention begins life on the front page of the New York Times.
  • The media follow the media. There is little doubt that your friends (and potential clients and customers) are going to be impressed if you’re quoted in the Wall Street Journal or USA Today. How could they not be? But many of the authoritative voices that journalists at large publications seek out didn’t take a direct route from anonymity to the media spotlight. Instead, they built a media presence at smaller publications, establishing a trackable online presence. If you offer yourself as a source to top-tier media, those reporters are almost certain to Google your name. If they that see that other publications – even smaller ones – quoted you, they are more likely to view you as a credible source..

One final point worth noting. A Pew Research Center study in 2017 showed that Americans place greater trust in local news media than they do in national news media. The study showed that 25 percent of those surveyed said they trust their hometown news organizations “a lot” and 60 percent said they trust the local media “some.” That compares to 20 percent who said they trust national news organizations a lot and 52 percent who said they trust national media some.

Perhaps some of that trust in local media can rub off on you! After all, if the local media trust you enough to seek your insight about your area of expertise, potential customers or clients will be more inclined to trust you as well!
Locally yours,

Marsha

P.S. If you’d like professional help getting coverage in the press, and being interviewed on radio and TV, give us a call. We’ve been providing this service to clients for 28 years. We also offer a comprehensive social media marketing program for select clients, where we do it all for you.

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So friends, If you’re interested in Marsha’s help, please call here at 727-443-7115 Ext. 231, She’d love to hear from you! Let her know Catherine Lyon Sent YOU!

Marsha Friedman

How To Kick Off Summertime Reading? Do a Free/Low-cost E-Book Promotion Just Like Cat. It’s Just That Simple!

Happy Summer Reading Friends and Authors!

In just a few short weeks SUMMER will be here! Well, here in Arizona it has already has hit as I have been writing poolside in the mornings to get my dose of vitamin D before it hits 100 or over each day …Lol.

It is, however, a perfect time to generate some new excitement for your E-Books as readers will be hitting the beach, lake, pools as it is vacation time too and they love reading to relax. That makes it the right time to run a lower cost promo for e-books. There are many things you can do just as I am with e-books to help readers find your books on sale that don’t cost a thing.

And there are amazingly low-cost places to run ads for it too! You can even add your books to free sites and they offer a self-serve Author Interview to make you and your books shine with large readerships. Here is how I will set up my e-book promotion for my Memoir, “Addicted To Dimes” …

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First: Make sure you have your e-book cost lowered a day or two before your promo starts. That way YOU know it is at the right price beforehand. You do this through your KDP vendor account. If you have a publisher, send the request to lower your e-book price a few weeks ahead of your promotion.

Second: All my authors know you need to have accounts on Facebook, Goodreads, and have an Amazon Author Page which is free and done through Author Central Amazon and at the bottom of your page, there is an area when you are in your author page to add an EVENT. Add your e-book promotion so readers on Amazon can know all about it. Next, do the same on your Facebook page.

Use the Create an Event setting and add an image, a title, and date of the event, and a description of your event: Summer E-Book Promotion! Invite all your FB friends and FB Group members and do posts and share the FB link to the event too! Now, go to your GoodReads account and sign in and add an Event Page there too.

You will have just set up FREE advertising of your e-book promotion on three different venues and it didn’t cost you a thing! Better changes of more SALES and BOOK REVIEWS! It’s just that simple. Here is my Facebook Event so you can see how it’s done! Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/218235278985328/


NOW, 
it is time for your e-book promo to some Free Book Sites to gain more exposure! My first go to place is Vinny of Awesome Gang – Where Awesome Book Readers Meet Awesome …  Just click on “Submit Your Book” and fill out the form. They do give you a low-cost and free option to share the e-book you are going to have on sale. You can choose what works best. Another very low price option comes with nice Book Teaser/Banners to use when you promote the sale for only $10!!! Here is mine they made and you can get yours here: Author Shout Promo Teasers.

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Now, hen you are done submitting your book on Awesomegang, then click here to submit a free self-serve Author Interview Submit An Author Interview and for even more FREE options click here Free Promotion for more book sites they are connected with and submit your sale and e-book there too AND you are DONE! Now use the links form your FB and GoodReads promos and promote them throughout your Social Media!

Your off and running with a free or low-cost promotion for your E-Book Sale and Like a Pro! … I wish you much success, reviews, and Sales!!

CAT

This Weeks Writing Blog Spotlight Goes To “Writer Unboxed” ~Post: Book Promotion Fatigue.

I happen to come across an interesting blog post over on “Writer UnBoxed” as I feel all authors and writers need to read this post. Since I do book promotions and literary consulting as my every day at home business, I could sure relate to this post! And I know many of you will too. As an author myself, I do know how hard it is to get our books into the hands of readers.

It took my first book a good year to catch fire with hours of listing and promoting it everywhere I could find. As we all know it does NOT happen overnight and we have to be diligent as it is why many writers hire me to promote their books and build a readership and I work on the social media side in building their following as well. There is no real recipe or guarantees. WHY?

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Because there are several factors to consider. How well written is the book? What genre is the book? Is it a hard genre to promote? How popular is the author? Well, there are many ways to tackle these questions. But that will have to be another post for another day. But when you have been promoting your books hard? It is OK to take a breather every now and then as this weeks post and blog spotlight indicates. Here is a little of the Guest Post and I hope you will visit “Writer UnBoxed” as that is the MAIN Purpose for Spotlighting them! Lol. 

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HAPPY BOOK PROMOTING!

**CAT**


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Dealing With Book Promotion Fatigue

Writers get tired.

The process of writing, of editing, of writing some more, of editing some more, of searching for representation, of reworking the book yet again, of waiting so long to see your words in print that you forget you even wrote some of them, of publishing in its maddening and bountiful entirety… well, some days, it can feel like too much.

Every stage has its own ups and downs, but personally, I find the promotion stage both the most exciting and the most challenging. Many parts of the publishing process can feel out of your control. Partly that’s because they are. But promotion is different because, unlike other stages, it has the capacity to go on forever. The joy and terror of publishing in the social media age that once you have a book, you literally could be promoting it every minute of every day.

(Note to writers everywhere: do NOT promote your book every minute of every day.)

Right now, my latest book (published under a pseudonym, as regular readers know) has been out in paperback for a few months. Typically, this is when a publisher’s efforts to promote the book taper off and any further promotion is squarely in my hands.

By   Now Read The Rest of The Story “Writer UnBoxed”

Cat Welcomes Back Diane and Part 3 of “Goodreads Turn Bad” No More Giveaways?

A week or so ago I had a wonderful author and poet as my guest, Diane Lockward. She had written a couple amazing articles on her blog about the changes to GoodReads Giveaways as she was is pretty upset with GoodReads, as I am,  taking away the paperback giveaways and joining with KDP in now using e-books for promos and now charging a pretty penny for the new plans!


“Goodreads Introduces New U.S. Giveaways Program–A More Powerful Book Marketing Tool for Authors and Publishers”

The problem is, they are now charging authors to do so with “pay to giveaway” plans. You can read the details and how it works here on GoodReads New Giveaway Program.    Diane has been testing this new way and wasn’t happy with the results on GoodReads. She was going to test Facebook ads and I said I would SHARE that outcome and she has now tested FB and here is what she found in a new blog post!! I hope it helps all my author friends who may, like me, have trying to figure GoodReads new program out! Lol. ~ Catherine

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“In my last post, I told you about my experience with an Amazon Giveaway. I have now completed my experimental Facebook Giveaway. Here are the details.”

I posted my Giveaway on Facebook on Friday morning, May 25. It ran until 7:00 PM EST on Wednesday, May 30. I posted it around 11:00 AM on my Timeline, the Terrapin page, and my author’s page. I also posted it in four groups I belong to. In addition, there were several Shares from most of these spaces. The ability to post in multiple areas on the site is a definite advantage to a Giveaway at Facebook. At Goodreads, you can post only on your own page, and Amazon posts it wherever they post Giveaways. I never even saw it on Amazon.

I asked people to enter the Giveaway by putting in a comment below the announcement. Most just entered their name or a note like “I’m in!” but quite a few posted lovely compliments! Unexpected bonus compliments!

Here are some of the compliments:
“I have the first book and love it.”
“Diane, your book sounds amazing!!”
“Love & use volume 1 all the time with my classes!”
“These guides are sensible, informed, clearly written, and stimulating. What more could a poet want?!”
“This looks fantastic.”
“I always recommend The Crafty Poet. It’s a great resource. Can’t wait to read Part II!”
“Your workshop books are a must for any practicing poet or teacher of poetry!”

These testimonials do not happen with Goodreads or Amazon. I felt real people out there wanting to win, not a sea of faceless strangers. This kind of response really put a smile on my face …

Here are the statistics:

The total number of entrants: 77 with the bulk of them appearing on my FB timeline, but also some in all the FB groups where I posted. I was happy with this number and suspect that it would have been higher if I hadn’t posted on a holiday weekend.

One winner: Was notified next day, book now in the mail!

Total Cost:
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cost of one book which I had at home, one envelope, $3.19 postage!

The Facebook Giveaway is the least expensive. Much less expensive than Goodreads at $119.00 and less than half the Amazon one as well!

Big boost in sales? No, but that is common to all three Giveaways (and I can hope that some Facebook entrants will later hop on over to Amazon and hit the Buy button–in fact, I did have a few sales shortly after I announced the winner!).

Unexpected perks: 1) One person who saw my post on Facebook asked for a review copy so she could write a review for the paper she works for, 2) Another person asked if she could post my two earlier blog posts on her writing blog = more exposure!

My conclusion is that given the choice between a paid Giveaway at Goodreads, a low-cost one at Amazon, or a free one on Facebook, the best option is Facebook—by far.

Goodreads leads to more people entering, but on Facebook, you have the ability to reach additional people if you have a substantial list of friends. You can extend your reach by sharing to groups and pages on Facebook. You can also set your own time frame—I recommend just a few days as information goes through the feed so fast. Most of my responses came in the first two days.

And the cost is less than at Goodreads (by a lot) or at Amazon (by about $10). And you might get a few compliments!  ~Diane Lockward, Poet, and Author

Can You Become an ‘Instant’ or Overnight Media Success Authors?

I just read a great new article by my dear friend and PR expert Marsha Friedman in my newsletter from her PR firm. So, Marsha is back and shares and explains, time matters when it comes to media success. It doesn’t happen overnight and especially for authors and their books. Marketing your brand as an author and marketing your books takes a lot of work! Here is what Marsha says about this topic … Catherine *Cat*

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The Time And Toil That Lie Behind ‘Instant’ Media Success

Have you ever heard actors, singers, or even authors who became “overnight sensations” explain that their success didn’t happen overnight after all?

Instead, it was the result of lots of toil, along with years in which they languished in obscurity before – after much persistence – they rose to prominence and finally achieved “instant” fame.

Building your personal brand works in somewhat the same way. You can’t expect to bolt out of the starting gate one day and end up the next morning on the front page of a major newspaper or on the set of a national TV show.

So, the bad news is that success in the publicity and personal-brand-building world can take time. The good news is, for those willing to put in that time and effort, success does happen – and often in a big way!

Case in point: One of our clients was just featured in an Inc. magazine article that focused entirely on her and her message, along with a mention of her book! That’s not a common occurrence with this publication.

But this was no overnight achievement. She’s been our client for a year, and in that time we steadily helped her build both a stronger social media presence and print media presence. Would Inc. magazine has devoted so much space exclusively to her if she hadn’t built her authority over the last 12 months? Unlikely.

I share her success story for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, this shows what can be accomplished by those who find a message that resonates with the media and who keep at it, realizing that publicity and brand-building must be ongoing.

The second reason I share her story is this: On occasion, we encounter clients who don’t have a strong media presence and yet expect this sort of media attention instantly. They struggle to understand why we don’t just call up journalists or TV producers and explain how great they are or how wonderful their product or service is. They assume the media will be eager to talk with them.

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It doesn’t quite work that way. Sorry to say, the media may not be that interested in you – not yet anyway.

But you’re in good company. The top-tier media at one time weren’t into plenty of people who later became household names. No one cared about interviewing Mark Zuckerberg until Facebook started becoming a phenomenon that couldn’t be ignored.

That said, though, there are ways even an “unknown” can start to build a media presence and promote a personal brand, such as:

  • Promote your expertise rather than your product or service. As I mentioned earlier, members of the media likely won’t care about you or what you’re selling. What they do care about is your expertise. Do you have valuable information you can share with their readers, viewers or listeners? If you’re a financial professional, what tips would you offer for retirement planning? If you’re a small business owner, what advice would you give others who want to start a business? The media may not perk up their ears at your name, but they could be swayed by the knowledge you bring to the table.
  • Don’t dismiss the small victories. Everyone wants to be quoted in The Wall Street Journal or USA Today. They want the Today Show to interview them or Entrepreneur magazine to come calling. That’s fine! It’s great to dream big and we help many of our clients enjoy such successes. But don’t fall into the trap of ignoring smaller media opportunities. They help establish your online presence, provide opportunities to hone your message and give the top-tier media greater confidence that you’re a credible and authoritative voice in your industry.
  • Never give up. While a quick dash from anonymity to media darling could happen, it’s not the norm. You may send out pitches and get no response. You might be interviewed for an article, then be left out when it appears in print. Don’t despair. Be persistent. Sometimes it’s a matter of hitting the right journalist with the right pitch at just the right time.

If you’re starting to think this sounds more like a journey than a quick trip, you would be right. And, for those who care about personal brand building over the long haul, it’s a journey that has to be ongoing.

Once your efforts die, so will media interest – and they’ll turn to the next “overnight sensation”!

Instantly yours,

Marsha! (We Help Authors Too! http://newsandexperts.wpengine.com/book-promotion-services-for-marketing-a-book/

 

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How To Get Book Reviews As A First Time Published Author ~

Hello Readers, Authors, and Writers. Welcome, New Friends.

As a first time published author, I know how difficult it is getting a reader to place a book review on Amazon, Goodreads, and even on Barnes & Noble when they are done reading your book. Why is that? One reason I know for my book, it is an off-genre type of book. It is a memoir, but some of the sharing is about when I was tangled in a gambling addiction and alcohol, and finally recovery. Some readers don’t care reading about addictions.

So it makes a tougher book to not only promote and build a readership but also to get readers who do read it, to go back and place a book review! So when I came across this exceptional and informative writing blog last summer run by Best Selling  Author, Joanna Penn of The Creative Pen, I wanted to share it with all my author friends here.

So make sure you visit Joanne  and check out all her published works here: All Her Published Books as she has many other helpful posts at “The Creative Penn”

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J. F. Penn
Learn all about J. F. Penn on Amazon Bio.

How To Get Book Reviews As An Unknown Author

 

 “A few months ago, I started a new pen-name and have kept it secret in order to avoid ‘pollution’ of the also-bought. But it has been SO hard because I have basically started from scratch – with no email list, no street team, no reviews, no platform, no social media.”

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The pen-name is slowly gathering steam, but it reminds me how hard it is starting out and getting those first reviews can be one of the hardest things. 

 

As an unknown author, getting Amazon reviews for your book is crucial to unlocking its full potential. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

False Assumptions

You might think that downloads lead to Amazon reviews.

They don’t.

You might not know if Amazon has restrictions on reviews.

They do.

You might think reviews will eventually start rolling in with enough time and word of mouth.

They won’t.

It’s easy to get discouraged. You might think it’s impossible for an unknown author publishing their first book to get any traction with Amazon reviews.

It isn’t.

A Tale of Four Books

During the 2015 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Summer Institute in Atlanta, I met the renown scholar and Christian apologist Os Guinness. He had just released Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion.

Also in attendance was the author and apologist Ravi Zacharias whose book Why Suffering? Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense was released in October the previous year.

And in October of 2014, John MacArthur, one of the most influential preachers of all time, released Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom Revealed Through the Stories Jesus Told.

OOTF reviewsSo how is my first book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview—self-published as an unknown author around the same time–different from the traditionally published works of these three powerhouses in the field of Christian apologetics?

Mine has more Amazon reviews.

I’m not trying to brag. These men are my heroes, and their books are a million times better than mine.

So how is that possible?

Today I want to share with you exactly how I did it.

Isn’t It Simple?

Okay, here’s the answer: assemble a street team with 300 advance readers for your book launch and expect about 100 Amazon reviews during launch week.

See? Wasn’t that simple?

No. It’s terribly difficult for the unknown author without the right knowledge and tools.

After the initial launch of One of the FewI had thousands of downloads but under 30 Amazon reviews.

And I know how important it is to get reviews. They’re one of the most influential factors in whether or not someone is going to decide to download your book. They might mean the difference between getting a BookBub or not. And they’re definitely part of the formula for tripping Amazon’s algorithm—the ultimate arbiter of the Amazon author have and have-nots!

What I Didn’t Know

During the pre-launch phase, I tried to reach out to as many people as I could to provide them with a free copy for review consideration, but I had three problems:

  • I didn’t know whom to look for.
  • I didn’t know where to find them.
  • I didn’t know how to connect with them.

What I Learned

Then three things changed when I joined a mastermind group for authors.

  1. I found out how to identify the perfect reader for my book.
  2. I discovered new tools to help me find them.
  3. I learned how to connect with them effectively.

I decided to re-attack my campaign for seeking Amazon reviews, and in a matter of months, my review count surpassed 150.

The new technique worked so well, I decided I had to write a book and share it with other authors.

Every Author Starts Out Unknown

You might be a rockstar writer with a rock star past writing rockstar books. But the book review scene might have your head banging.

You might have a Ph.D. and teach at a university with peer-reviewed articles. But your Amazon reviews aren’t making the grade.

You might be the former CEO of a million-dollar company. But in terms of book reviews, you’re bankrupt.

Unless you’re no-kidding famous, everyone starts out as an unknown author.

And when you are an unknown author, reviews do not come on their own! At least not in significant numbers. You must be extremely intentional about getting them.

Following Amazon’s Rules

But you also have to follow Amazon’s rules, and they made some significant changes over the years. Here are some highlights:

Amazon “will continue to allow the age-old practice of providing advance review copies of books.”

However, “Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.”

Additionally, you cannot offer a review in exchange for:

  • cash
  • a free or discounted product
  • a gift certificate
  • a discount off a future purchase provided by a third party
  • entry into a contest or sweepstakes or membership in a program

What Can You Do?

You can provide a free copy and ask readers to consider leaving a review, including that fact that you’re willing to accept both positive and negative reviews and that they will be under no obligation.

So in order to get a significant number of reviews, you must identify large groups of people interested in reading your book, connect with all of them, make them want to leave a book review, and do so without requiring a review or attempting to influence the review.

(Phew!)

Sound impossible? It’s not. It’s an art that I’ve been working on for some time, and I want to share what I’ve learned.

Steps You Should Take

I’ve broken it down into a 5-step process. This is what you need to do when planning your book review campaign:

  1. Identify your perfect book reviewer
  2. Find large groups of them online
  3. Find their personal websites
  4. Prepare a spreadsheet
  5. Connect with them personally

Step 1. Identify Your Perfect Book Reviewer

You’ve probably heard about contacting book review bloggers about reading your book for review consideration. But there are some specific things to look for that will increase your chances of having your book received and reviewed.

You want to make sure they enjoy reading books in your genre.

Even better, you should look for reviewers that have other things in common with you. For instance, you’re both from the northwest. Or you both love a good Netflix binge on the weekend. (Keep this information handy. You’re going to use it later.)

Step 2. Find Large Groups of Them Online

With a bit of creativity, you can find large groups of your perfect book reviewer online. A Google search for “book review bloggers” is good, but a search for “search by blogger” is even better. That’s because what will benefit you the most is not to find a book review or blogger website–it’s to find lists of book reviews or blogger websites.

Sometimes instead of a list, you might find links to book review blogger websites on multiple pages. These can be turned into a list of web extraction tools like Import.IO.

[From Joanna: You can also use Author Marketing Club’s automated Book Reviewer Grabber Tool]

Step 3. Find Their Personal Websites

Sometimes a search will lead you to a single website with many book reviews. If that’s the case, find out if the reviews are by a handful of reviewers or many reviewers.

If it’s the latter, search for a link back to the review blogger’s personal blog. You want to visit their website so you can learn about them in order to make a personal connection later on.

Step 4. Prepare a Spreadsheet

Spreadsheet

You’re probably working on a timeline. Maybe you’ve set our book launch date and want to start contacting potential advance readers a few months prior. If that’s the case, you can front load all your review blogger research and then connect with them all at once at the desired time.

You’ll want to keep careful track of your research, and one way is to use a spreadsheet. Make columns for the review bloggers name, email address (or other platform contact details), and date contacted.

I also recommend including a column for you to record a bit of personal information you learned from visiting their website.

A spreadsheet will help you keep track of everyone who has responded and how long it’s been since your last contact with them. It will also help you avoid contacting someone you’ve already contacted before.

Step 5. Connect With Them Personally

Once you have your spreadsheet loaded with your perfect book review bloggers, it’s time to reach out.

There are many ways to do this including connecting on social media, contacting them through their website, or sending an email. Before you email, make sure you know and adhere to your country’s SPAM laws.

If you choose to email, there are tools like GMass that can help you merge your spreadsheet data with your Gmail account making it easy to send individual personalized emails in bulk.

Once bloggers start responding, take note of your most common responses to them and create a few Gmail “canned responses” to save you time responding in the future.

Before you know it, your inbox will start filling with “yes” emails.

You Can Do It

This might all sound like common sense, but it’s easier said than done, especially if you’ve never done it before. But there are tools and techniques out there to help you connect with book reviewers on the scale you need to make a difference. This kind of connecting is done by experienced authors and publishing houses alike. You can do it too.

And as an author with any hopes of getting a meaningful number of Amazon reviews, you must.

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About J.F. Penn

I’m J.F. (Joanna Frances) Penn, an Award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author. 

My books blend my love of traveling and learning new things with psychology and the supernatural in a fast-paced style. I’m also an international professional speaker and award-winning creative entrepreneur.

I love reading and always dreamed of writing my own books, but I spent many years thinking about it before I actually took the plunge. However, I did write a lot of journals during my many years as a corporate business consultant!

I have a Masters degree in Theology from the University of Oxford, Mansfield College and also a Graduate Diploma in Psychology – both interests are entwined into my writing. Her books weave together ancient artifacts, relics of power, international locations and adventure at the edges of faith. Joanna lives in Bath, England and enjoys a nice G&T. Stop by her Official Author Website for her Free Thriller Book Offer!