Reviews are key to getting sales for your book, and a valuable resource is book blogs. On my sidebar is an extensive list, from the super busy who may not have time for you, to the ones just starting out who will be happy to get your request.
My Top Ten Tips on Getting Book Blog Reviews:
1. Start early researching reviewers. Don't wait until your launch. Look for reviewers in your genre. They will have an About Us page as well as Guidelines for Requesting Reviews page. Read it carefully to see if they'll be a good fit for you and your book.
2. Develop a relationship with the ones you pick. Follow their blogs and show up regularly. Comment on their posts. Thank them for their reviews. You yourself will need a blog to effectively implement this important step.
3. Pay attention to how they review a book. Some will copy and paste a Goodreads summary, and then give just a word or two about the book. Sorry, but this is not a review. You are looking for valid book reviewers, not just those willing to make an announcement about your new release. Watch for those who are intelligent, fair, and thorough in their reviews.
Helpful reviews will give highlights of the story, discuss themes, plot and characters, share how the story made them feel, talk about what they liked about it as well as what bothered them. "I don't like the cover," is not a review and is not helpful. You don't want a reviewer who gushes over everything, or one who is too critical-- you're looking for a nice balance 4. Check out the title of their blog. It should be something that will display well with a quote or blurb on your website or your book page on Amazon. Again, check out my sidebar and see how cool some of these blog names are. They legitimize the review, add interest to the blurb.
5. After you have chosen your favorite reviewers and visited their blog so they know who you are and it's finally time to email your review request to them, be sure to explain why you picked them. Copy and paste requests are too easily ignored and refused. Make it personal.
6. Be patient but clear. Reviewers get a lot of requests and the good ones are busy. The good ones also read the book all the way through and take their time in writing a thoughtful response. Tell them your release date, give them a deadline if they ask, but let them know you'd still value their review regardless of when they get to it.
7. Don't get upset if it's not the 5 star review you had hoped for. Positive blurbs can be gleaned from just about any response. I once asked one of my English professors for a blurb. Her response after reading my ms of Uncut Diamonds, was critical and in the end said she couldn't recommend it. But she did say that she really loved the dialogue. Cool. We went with that because "I really love the dialogue..." makes a fine blurb.
8. Thank them privately, even if the review was less than you had hoped for. No need to add a thank you comment on your Amazon or Goodreads site. You want to be invisible and not seem like you're checking out all your reviews and commenting on them. That inhibits potential reviewers. But a private email showing appreciation is appropriate and should be sufficient.
9. Don't pay for anything. There was a time when paid review sites were popping up everywhere. After the negative press that led to Amazon removing reviews, I wouldn't think paying for reviews is even considered anymore. I never have done it or recommended it. Why should we pay? There are thousands upon thousands book review blogs out there, with more popping up every day. They are book-lovers happy to get an ARC in exchange for a review. Do NOT pay for reviews. It's completely unnecessary and even frowned on in the current climate.
10. Don't stop now. After the excitement of your launch and those first initial reviews you may think, okay time to write the next book. Which it is, of course. But still continue following book reviewers, add to your repertoire, keep building those valuable relationships. New blurbs and reviews will add to the saleability of your book, even if it's been out for awhile.
Lately there's been a lot of huffing and puffing around the writer blogs about Amazon, and its KDP Select program, and how Amazon is no longer supporting the little guys like they used to. There's been a general complaint about the exclusivity clause in KDP Select membership.
If you do any kind of research into marketing your book at all, you're going to run across this discussion. Amazon, Pro or Con? KDP Select, Pro or Con? Free books or cheap books, Pro or Con?
Well, how about this one-- stolen books, Pro or Con?
I never thought for a second that any of my work would be stolen, didn't figure I had the popularity factor to appeal to pirates. But when posting about my recent lower sales, a Twitter friend suggested that might be the case. It had happened to her and she'd seen lower sales as a result.
I checked it out and was shocked at the results. Do a search here of your books. Torrentz is the pirating site. It'll tell you how many times your work has been stolen. Lighting Candles in the Snow is my most popular novel. It's been stolen 4000 times.
Makes all that discussion about Amazon seem kind of silly, doesn't it? They do sell our books and pay us, after all.
Scrolling through my Blogger dashboard I just realized it is Insecure Writer Wednesday! And I definitely have a post to whip out, better late than never, since there's a topic I've been (sort of) thinking about recently.
Book sales-- eeek!
It's been on my mind because for some strange reason all four of my books have plunged in their Amazon rankings to an abysmal level. Like 300,000 or some such. Normally my rankings are in the five figures, maybe the occasional dip over 100,000 but then they'll drop back down to a 5-figure ranking. This pleases me. It's something I can live with.
There are times the rankings have been very good-- like after a Kindle giveaway. I never really expect those to last, of course-- it's just a fun thing to watch when it happens, however briefly. But to see them this bad for this long is a shocker.
I'm not anxious or worried or concerned, just puzzled. After two years of fairly decent and steady sales, why would they plummet all of a sudden? And on all four of my books? At first I thought it might be post-election. Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds, my two Mormon family sagas, did fairly well this year, maybe due to Mitt Romney in the running for president. And it was after the election that sales really began to drop off. Coincidence?
But Farm Girl and Lighting Candles in the Snow aren't part of the Mormon family saga series, so why did they also drop to the bottom of the well? Hmmm, it's a real puzzle. Like I said, I'm not upset or anxious about it, because this is the kind of business we're in. What goes up must come down. Or something.
Meanwhile, I'm headed out to see what up with the rest of you today! And remember, the insecure writer of today is the confident writer of tomorrow. (And vice versa haha.)
Recently, Shauna over at the CeleryTree blog posted about writing to your audience. This post really impacted me as it's something I've been analyzing recently with my blog and website.
Shauna (a former TV news producer) writes:
"Write for the audience who will buy your books. Seems simple, right? In media, it's called targeting your key
demographic. Find out who your audience is, and then write in a way
that those people will find compelling. A few questions to get you
thinking about your audience:
"Do you know who is reading your blog? And perusing your Facebook page?
And following you on Twitter? Are you writing for your readers, or
just writing for other authors?" As authors who blog, we know who our book's audience is, and guess what? It's the same people we should be thinking about as write our posts! Go here to read the full post on knowing your audience.