Find Prospective Reviewers
Reviews help authors so much. A strategy I read recently suggested that authors go to retailers such as Amazon and find books similar to their own. Look for same category classifications. Next, make sure the book and its reviews are recent. Then comb through the reviews. If the book has 50 or 100 five star reviews, click on the reviewer name. Some of those reviewers may have a web site, or list an email address, or some way to contact them. Now Ask
Then, ask. Naturally, you want to pass whatever vetting they desire. So, to build trust, you can add all the ways you can be located online in your email signature. Say what you like about the review that person wrote. Say why your book is similar to the one they reviewed so elegantly. Then ask if they would review your book. Offer to give them a coupon code or other means to download your book at no cost to them. Follow the Rules, Color Between the Lines
Here is a big caveat. The reviewer may be contactable via Goodreads. Goodreads cautions authors not to hound Goodreads member/contributors about asks for a book review. They say you could get flagged. I’m a writer. I feel flogged already. I certainly don’t want to get flagged.
Does this process work? I will let you know. So far, all I know is that it takes hours and hours.
Friends and family first
One suggestion made to self-publishing authors is to contact friends and family and let them know you have launched or will be launching a book.
I approach such suggestions with caution. Why? Because my friends and family are so treasured. They have my back when life gets gnarly. And I do the same for them. I ask myself if announcing a new book is like inviting them to one too many kitchen ware parties. Is an expectation of them buying something from me just plain tacky? Discounted or free giveaway
A solution appears. I discovered that on Smashwords, authors can establish a coupon. The book can be discounted or given away for a designated period of time. Amazon offers a similar but not identical opportunity, provided the book is listed with Kindle Direct Publishing Select (KDP Select). For friends and family members, offering a book for free or at a discount feels much better to me. And, it gives me an opportunity to ask folks to review the book if they take advantage of the coupon.
My self-publishing journey begins with a few assumptions. First, I’m a fiction writer and I can’t stop. When I have tried to abandon writing, I have found I cannot. I turn into my evil twin who nobody loves.
Next, with the advent of self-publishing distribution avenues such as Amazon and Smashwords, a window of opportunity opened for me along with countless other authors. Thanks to these platforms, I can write what matters to me.
Thirdly, when people who browse books find my work and become readers, I’m thrilled. When a reader expresses angst for or anger at one of my characters, or recognition of a geographic landscape in one of my novels, I experience pure delight. The joys outweigh the frustrations.
So what’s the problem?
A number of authors in the traditional publishing fold enjoy marketing support. As an example, a former writers’ group compadre of mine releases new books regularly through her publisher. Whenever I see her ‘shelf-talker’ cards (those little announcements in the bookstore that hang on the shelf under newly released books) that call attention to her books, I let her know her team is working for her. I don’t have a team working for me. I have me.
Common wisdom has it that to be successful, an author–whether traditionally published or self-published–needs to invest as much time marketing books as writing books. For me and others I know, that has as much appeal as oral surgery. So how to do it?
I’m learning. And as I learn, I will share what I discover with you.
“There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection.”
– Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States
“If we are to have broad-thinking men and women of high mentality, of good physique and with a true perspective on life, we must allow our populace a communion with nature in areas of more or less wilderness condition.”
– Arthur Carhart, Former official, U.S. Forest Service
If you need a break from the clatter and noise, you are not alone. Here is a thought from a former U.S. president…
“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
“We must not only protect the country side and save it from destruction, we must restore what has been destroyed and salvage the beauty and charm of our cities … Once our natural splendor is destroyed, it can never be recaptured. And once man can no longer walk with beauty or wonder at nature, his spirit will wither and his sustenance be wasted.”
– Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States