When a customer is looking for a book to buy, they stick with what they know. Authors they’ve read before or maybe one recommended to them. When the internet came along and shoppers were able to browse more books then ever before, this changed.
Customers still look for books by authors they are familiar with but there is now many seek out new authors. There are readers out there who search for new material, new writers, new stories. For most of us who write these stories, these are the people we want to get our books in front of. They are our customers and potential fans.
So how do you get customers to consider your book? I read somewhere that if you put every book published in a day in a row, you would have to travel at 90 mph to keep up with them! This means there are more books published in one minute than you will possibly read in a year. So getting your book noticed would seem a daunting task. Thankfully, there is a system that does just that.
I have discussed the two main ways to attract customers: The book’s cover and the book’s description. But potential buyers also want to know they are not wasting their money on books that might turn out to be trash. No one likes the experience of buying a book that is badly written.
Before buying a book, we want to know that it’s worth reading. This, of course, is sort of a “catch-22” situation. You can’t really know if a book is worth buying without reading it and you can’t read it without first buying it! So, what to do?
One sure fire way to tell if a book is worth reading or isn’t, is to find out what other readers are saying about the book. If you find that other people had a good experience with the book you are more likely to purchase it for yourself.
So if you are about to publish, how do you get anyone to post a review? This is what I’m going to discuss in this writing. How to get reviews before your book is for sale. This is important because many of the advertising offers that an independent author can use require that there be reader reviews before they will allow you to give them your money. Seems odd I know, but they are just being kind to their patrons. They don’t want a bunch of spam operators filling up their ad slots with books trying to hype something rather than giving actual value to their subscribers. So here’s what you do:
1. First a word about soliciting reviews for Amazon. You have to be careful of a couple things. In order to review a book on Amazon, a person must have an Amazon account and have purchased at least $50 worth of stuff with the account in the last year. I’ve hit this snag a couple times and it’s best to be up front about it. Also, never try to encourage, coerce, bribe or otherwise twist an arm to get someone to give you a ‘good’ review! Amazon is very clear about this and if they catch someone handing out more than a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review, they will take down the reviews and possibly suspend selling for that author. They take this very seriously so I suggest you don’t try to circumvent the process.
2. Go to all your family and friends and ask if they wouldn’t mind reviewing your book and submitting a reader review. Typically, about 1 in 4 people who say they will, actually do leave a reader review. My goal for a new book is to get ten reader reviews and five editorial reviews (more on those later). So you want to shoot for at least 40 people who agree to leave a review in exchange for a free Advance Reader Copy of your book.
3. Work your social media account. Post a message on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Linkdin, or whatever other media account you use. On Facebook you can actually create a page for the book and invite people on your friend’s list to like it. On the page, you ask for reviewers. You can word it as you are looking for people to be a part of your ‘street team’ who will give you feedback on the various steps of your marketing launch (cover, sales copy, ads, and authors to target for instance). You can let them know you will give them a ‘back stage’ pass to your launch by keeping them up to date on the latest in your process.
4. You can pay someone to review your book. There are various services out there and it seems sometimes a new one pops up every day. Do a web search for book reviewers and you’ll get a lot of hits. I haven’t found one yet that I would recommend even though they work. They tend to be rather expensive in my opinion. But if you have the money and don’t have the time they can be a legitimate and valuable service. Just be sure to check them out a bit. (You can write to me if you wish and tell me the service you are thinking about using, I’ll be glad to share what I know about them if anything. email@example.com)
5. There are services you can use to give you people who have reviewed books already. The advantage is these people have reviewed similar books AND they have put contact info on their Amazon account. Generally, this means they want people to contact them. To use the service, you find books that your readers would purchase and review. Try to find newer books with at least 100 reviews to them. The more reviews, the better as very few reviewers will have entered contact info on their account.
You pay either a subscription or a per person fee for contact info of people who have read books you specify. I’ve used two of these services which I’m going to review for you here.
Book Review TargeterOwner: Debbie Drum
Cost: Basic membership is $19.95 per month. A pro subscription allows you to download more reviewer names for $37.95 per month and also includes a web crawler that will try to find the subscriber’s email address.
Book Review Targeter or BRT, will search reviews for any book you enter into the website’s application. It returns any Amazon account it finds that left a review for the book along with any contact info it finds. I’ve used BRT many times for clients and it works. The trick is to find books that you believe your readers would buy and that have more than 100 reviews. Fewer than that, and you risk the software not finding enough reviewers to contact. Of course, I have often had to run the app multiple times with different books in order to get a sizeable list. I generally shoot for over 100 names. BRT gives you the account name, website, and social media info. It all depends on what the reviewer has entered. Amazon, unfortunately, no longer allows account holders to enter an email address.
Positives: You get all the information you need to make a personal request to the reviewer to read your book. The book that is reviewed, a link to the reviewer’s Amazon account page, a link to the book, how many stars, and a copy of the review itself. You can download the info into a csv file which can be opened by Excel or other spreadsheet program.
Negatives: This process is very time consuming. Many of the reviews are going to be dated and often so will the contact info. This is why I say try to choose newer books that have been published in the last year or so. I’ve signed up for the ‘Pro’ service on BRT and while it gives me a lot more reviewers, it’s claim to use a webcrawler to find email addresses has not proven to be very useful. I normally spend 8 to 10 hours generating a verified list of 50 people to contact. Overall I give it 3 stars
AMZ DiscoverOwner:AMZ Discover Team
Cost: varies, one reviewer with contact info costs about 10 ‘coins’. Coins can be purchased initially in the amount of 900 for $9. So it costs 10 cents per interviewer, but you can purchase bulk amounts at a discount.
AMZ Discover is an easy to use website application. You paste in an Amazon URL (note: this isn’t just for books, it can be used to find reviewers of any product sold on Amazon), and the software generates a list of reviewers for that product and tells you which ones have contact information. You can purchase the reviewers information for 10 coins (note: the software automatically prevents you from spending their ‘coins’ on reviewers who have no information).
Pros: AMZ returns good information and almost always attaches an email address to the reviewer. By entering multiple books that I think my client’s readers would purchase, I can quickly generate a list of possible reviewers for any book. In less than 15 minutes I can have 50 to 100 possible reviewers to contact. I’ve used it on books I entered into BRT and it has come back with more names that were more usable (had email addresses).
Cons: The download mechanism seems to automatically download everything you’ve searched for. This means that if I’ve got three different books in three different genres loaded up in AMZ, I’m going to get all of that info in a csv file and then have to sort out the ones I am currently looking for. AMZ also only gives you the ASIN of the book, no title or author, I had to add those in. It also doesn’t give you a copy of the actual review, if you want to see what that person wrote you have to go search it out. The cost is higher than with BRT because you pay by the name.
Overall though, I give AMZ 4 stars.
Cost: varies but the main plan is $10 per ARC, and $2 for each download of your book.
I have only recently discovered this site. BookSirens offers to you the chance to get your book in front of a lot of readers. The way it works is you submit your book, if it is accepted you pay them $10 to offer your book as an ARC to their readers. Anytime one of their readers downloads your book, you are charged $2. (Note: If the same person downloads it more than once you are not charged more.) You tell them where you want the review posted (Goodreads or Amazon). You also control how many downloads you authorize. They also will convert your kdp file to a MOBI if you gift them your book.
They claim that about 75% of their readers who download a book actually review it. It seems expensive but it might be worth the cost to get reviews. Plus if the 75 percent number is true, it will save you a lot of time in contacting 4 people to get 1 review. If their claim is correct, you would need 13 to 14 people to download your book in order to get 10 reviews at a cost of $38. ($10 for the book submitted and $2 per download). They also offer packages to authors for multiple books.
At this time, I don’t have enough information to give a star rating to this service. When I’ve had more time to use them I will update this blog.
Online Book Club
Owner: Online book club LLC
Cost: There are different levels but the lowest priced review will run you $95.
I include this service only because I have used them to get editorial reviews. They currently do not offer any service to get reader reviews. The way it works is you submit your book and pay the fee. The service finds one of their reviewers to read and give a review. The review is posted on their site where you can copy and paste it as an editorial review or post a link to the review on their site.
My opinion is they charge way too much for what you get. I submitted a children’s book I wrote and I got a review from someone. A member of onlinebookclub.org. She wasn’t an authority or a celebrity and I’m still confused as to why I was charged so much money for such a basic review.
I give them 1 star
Contacting people to review your book is problematic, especially when the only link you have is that they reviewed a similar book. But, if you word it correctly, you will get some people willing to give your book a read. Try to be personable in your email or form contact. Let them know you saw that they reviewed such and such a book and you have written one that you think they would enjoy reading. Offer them a free Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest Amazon review. If they respond, add them to your email list.
On Social Media, you can find people who read your genre or type of book. Doing a search will yield up different groups which you can check out and follow. Simply pasting a link or request isn’t going to get much attention however. You will find that you’ll need to spend time getting to know the group if you want anyone to review your work. Still, it is a great way to develop a following and get to know the audience you are writing for.
Editorial reviews are important and you have much more control over these. Of course, the more famous your reviewer, the better it will be but don’t underestimate the power of a great review because the person isn’t well known. Look for people who read and write in your particular niche/genre on Goodreads, Amazon, or even a Google search. When you approach them make it personal. Get to know something about the person you want to review your book and make your appeal authentic.
I hope I’ve been of some help here. If you want more information please sign up for my mailing list Sign Up or drop me a line. I’m always looking to help authors with their marketing!
CONNECTING WITH YOUR READERS
There are a host of ever evolving offers, websites, organizations, blogs, widgets, gadgets, and magic wands an author can use to communicate with readers.
Okay, well maybe not magic wands. Not yet. But the concept of a way to engage readers, contact readers, get feedback from readers can be overwhelming. I’m not going to try and list every available way an author can interact with them. I am going to cover the basics and try to give you a few pointers.
What is an author platform?
An author platform can be as simple as your Amazon Central Author Profile. It could involve a website for you and your books. Social media could play a part. You might put your profile on a number of websites dedicated to books like BookBub, Goodreads, Online Book Club and more. It might be a landing page on an email provider like MailChimp, ConvertKit, or MailerLite. An author platform is any online tool used for the author to gather information from and give information to potential readers and current readers.
Why do I need an author platform?
What should I create for an author platform?
This depends on your budget and your goals. If you have limited funds to spend, I would suggest creating an author profile on Amazon, BookBub, and Goodreads. This doesn’t cost you and is a good start on getting your name out to the world. Also, set up an email provider which can give you a landing page to get your readers to sign up for your mailing list.
If you have the ability to design a website, set one up. There are a number of platforms that offer free web page services.
Of course, before you set up any of these, you want to write your bio and choose a picture of yourself to use. I would suggest choosing a few authors in your genre on Amazon, BookBub, or Goodreads and read their bios to get an idea of what authors are saying about themselves. Generally, most will write about their writing, how they came to write. They might also talk about where they are from, families, etc.
If you have an interesting bit, like one of your best friends is a famous person or you grew up in Alaska you might consider putting that in there.
Share what you are comfortable sharing. Readers just like to know a little about the person behind the story.
In order to attract readers you can offer them something of value such as
An entry into a raffle for a signed copy of your book
An invitation to a virtual meeting with the author
A chance to be a part of the author’s ‘street team’ (people who give you feedback and agree to reader review your book).
A workbook that goes with your book.
An entry into a raffle for an Amazon gift card
A map of the world if your book is set in a fantasy or alternate realm
Here’s a link to other ideas you can try optinmonster https://optinmonster.com/9-lead-magnets-to-increase-subscribers/
Getting the word out is a job. The more you do, the more there is to do. I suggest managing your time by setting aside an hour a week and dedicate it to finding places to get the word out about your writing. Here are a few places I’ve found that you can use mostly for free when doing public relations.
Radio Guest list https://www.radioguestlist.com/get-radio-interview-emails.html
You can sign up for a free email alert giving you one possible show (radio or podcast) looking for guests. I haven’t tried the paid service, but it will give you more possibilities. Worth checking out as it’s free!
These sites will promote your book to their lists for free. The reason they do this is they get an affiliate percentage on anything their followers purchase on Amazon. It costs you nothing, might increase your sales, and they get paid if someone buys your book. Win Win!
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