Gaining And Dealing With Book Reviews For Self-Published Authors

It’s well-known that self-published authors need reviews in order to be successful. These reviews activate algorithms on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, which in turn helps to get your book noticed. They also inform readers on what to expect, while using word-of-mouth marketing to increase your overall reach. Today, we’re going to look at the dos and donts of reviews for self-published authors.

How To Find Book Reviewers 

If you’re lucky enough to have an email list, this is a great way to ask for reviews. In her new release, How to Market a Book, Joanna Penn recommends a soft pitch to your readers with no pressure. Offer them a free digital copy of your book with a prompt to “please leave a review if you enjoyed the book”. Many of the places you can find reviewers can be found on our article about sending out Advanced Reading Copiesbut below is a bullet-point summary:

  • Email List
  • Social Media Pages
  • Kindle Boards/ Online Forums
  • Book Bloggers
  • Other writers

A Note On a Reviewer’s Obligation

 If people have been kind enough to say they will review a book for you, remember that they are in no way obligated to give you a positive review. Most people, especially if you send your book to a book blogger, are specific when they write a review. If they dont like it they will generally tell you why. This is why it’s so impotant to only publish a book you’re proud of. And you have to make sure you’re looking for honest reviews and not simply to have your ego stroked.

Benefits of a Bad Review

Trolls mouthing-off aside, there are – surprisingly – benefits to receiving a negative review. Some people just wont like your book. You have to accept that. But if more than one person is pointing out bad spelling, or inconsistent plots, then you need to take notice. This kind of dditing is something you can fix relatively easily. If you dont, it could well harm your credibility as a writer and as a publisher. The takeaway is, if you have the power to fix something, fix it.

Etiquette for Reviewers and Authors

If a book blogger or a reviewing company is kind enough to review your book, and you would like to quote that review, make sure you extended them the courtesy of linking it back to their website or social media pages, acknowledging them properly. Also, take the time to thank them in a message or an email. Manners cost nothing, while being polite will mean they will more likely consider reviewing your next book.

What NOT To Do

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 22.14.20

A special warning should be issued to all writers in regards to responding to negative reviews on sites such as Goodreads and Amazon. It would seem that every couple of weeks an author goes into public meltdown over a bad review, engaging in a futile online battle with amateur reviewers.

This kind of behaviour will get you noticed for all of wrong reasons. Responding aggressively to a bad review will do nothing but churn the waters. Remember that the reviewers will never look like the bad guy in this situation no matter how abusive of inflammatory their remarks are. The author will always be made to look like a petulant jerk. If you receive a bad review release any anger or disappointment privately. Bad reviews can really suck, but you are a writer and a publisher, you need grow a thick skin to survive. You will never be able to please everyone.

Making The Most Of Your Book Reviews

Reviews can be a great tool to make you feel good about your novel as well as to help you to find where you could be falling down as a writer. Being polite and professional at all times will ensure that you grow your fan base and gain a reputation for being professional.

 For further reading the below titles come highly recommend:

As a reader do you buy books based their reviews or do you ignore them? Which approaches have you used for gaining honest reviews?

Image Credits: ANGRY-ANN by Josh Jansenn (Flickr)

How To Run a Successful Goodreads Ad Campaign

Goodreads is a revolutionary platform for book-lovers to meet, write reviews, and connect with their favorite authors. On top of this, their Cost-per-Click Advertising system is an excellent, cost-effective way to find your readers and drive sales. This article offers some helpful tips on how to run a successful Goodreads campaign, while getting discovered by people who love your genre.

Before you begin.

Make sure that you’re fully set up as an Author in Goodreads, and that each of your books are available before you even look into Marketing.

Using your Goodreads account, you can login to their advertising site here. 

Goodreads

The above image is what you can expect to see when setting up your campaign. Find your book by searching for its ISBN. This will double check that you’re advertising the right novel.

It’s a pretty straightforward system, but there are few things that will help you make the most of it. First, decide how much you are willing to spend on your overall campaign, and how much you are willing to spend per click, then consider doing the following:

Running a Successful Campaign

1. Schedule Two or More Ads At The Same Time

Unlike its cousin Amazon Marketing, you can use the same budget split across multiple ads in Goodreads. That means you can pay $30 for a campaign which has several ads running considerably. This is a great technique to to target different audiences and track which group performs the best. It also widens your net considerably, giving your ads far wider reach for the same cost. It’s also usefult to know that while Amazon has a $100 minimum campaign fee, but Goodreads does not!. So, it’s a pretty good marketing option for authors that don’t have the biggest budget set aside for marketing.

2. Target Multiple Authors for One Half of Your Ads

Take the time to research the bestsellers in your genre. Using a websites like Amazon can be extremely good for researching what is selling, and to what audience. Make note of the bestsellers’ names and their book titles.

While setting up your Targeting on your Goodreads campaign, take advantage of this bestseller list and make sure to include these authors’ names. Your ad will be targeted at their readers, and will hopefully gain you some readers of your own.

In saying that, however, don’t mislead your readers. If you haven’t written something like the next Go Set A Watchman, don’t advertise that you have. Readers will call you on your dishonesty, and like most online platforms it can turn nasty.

3. Target Multiple Genres for the Second Half of Your Ads

Make sure you know where your genre sits, and use Goodreads to target people who read those genres. If your book is Young Adult Romantic Fantasy, you can add all of that in one ad target, or you can split them up. If, like the Divergent series, your Young Adult book can appeal to adult readers as well, don’t forget to target the Sci Fi Dystopian Fiction audience as well as Young Adult.

The above warning remains however; select only the genres that your book actually falls in. Don’t try and sell something as Historical Romance if it’s Horror.

4. Try Multiple Taglines

Use multiple taglines for each advertisement. Mix it up because some people won’t necessary click on a title if you add that its only 99c, while others will, for example. Using a question such as, “Will Lassie Reach Tommy in time?” can intrigue readers to want to know more.

Taglines are great, and each audience will have something that will attract them specifically. Have fun with it, and see what makes readers click.

5. Promote Give Aways

Ads are a great way to promote your Goodreads Giveaways. This will give you double the exposure you would normally receive from a normal giveaway. If you are a new author, giveaways can help you receive reviews, as well as encourage people to talk about your book. Don’t forget to advertise your those giveaways on your social media pages, too!

6. Use a Call to Action

Use a call-to-action (CTA) on your ad such as “Add to Your Shelf.” When readers add a book to their shelf, for instance,  this action is displayed on their own profile, to all of their followers and sometimes to their Facebook timeline, too. This spreads the ad further than the one platform, and also encourages friends to discuss new books they have found with each other.

7. Clever Linking

You have the option in your ads to link to your book’s Goodreads page or any outside website. The above advice of splitting half your ads to link to its Goodreads page and the other half to your Amazon page can work to achieve two different ends. First, linking to a Goodreads page will help create a viral effect of adding books to shelves and sharing with friends and on Facebook. Second,  if you link to your Amazon page, this is more likely to result in an immediate purchase.

As you can see, Goodreads is a great advertising tool that lacks some of the restrictions of other Cost-Per-Click advertising (especially Amazon). Using the above tips will help readers find your work, while offering you value for your marketing budget, and hopefully driving higher sales.

For a more detailed explanation about setting up and running your Goodreads campaign, this is a useful video to watch:

What’s your favorite thing about Goodreads? What inspires you to click? Have you tried Goodreads advertising yourself?

 

 

The Top 5 To-Dos Of Successful Self-Published Authors

Today we are going to discuss the Top 5 things you need to do in order to work smarter and become a successful self-published author. There is a school of thought out there, an incorrect one, that says choosing the self published road is the ‘easy’ way to get a book out there and claim you are a WRITER. For those who are self publishing, and who are taking it seriously, you know that there is nothing easy about it.

The self publishing success stories you hear about- those in the Joanna Penn, Hugh Howie and Mark Dawson categories- you will find common habits and themes that ensured their success. They wrote amazing books because they also got into a strict routine that worked for them and they stuck to it. These are 5 things that will help you kick self-publishing ass:

200Back It Up

Okay, this one should be a no brainer in any business, and yet every writer has experienced it. My big number is 10,000 words but I know others who have lost 250k+. Writers live on their computers, we pour hours of love and blood into our works. The rule: Have one back up locally, and one back up off base (in case your house burns down).

With all of the Dropboxs, iClouds, USB hard drives and multiple server technology there is no excuse not to save your work in a secure location. If you are sticking to a writing goal everyday (as you should be) than the very last thing you want to have to do is fall to weeping in front of an IT guru when he tells you that your hard drive could not be saved.

Take the time, back it up so that you don’t have to do it all again.

Recommended back up platforms for writers:

Writing Time Is Sacred

Life is busy for everyone. Talk to any wanna-be-writer and the first excuse they will give you is “I would write but I just don’t seem to have the time.” If you want to be a writer you actually have to write. You have to carve out a space in the day that is for writing alone. Even if you sit there for an hour staring blankly at the screen you make that time yours. Know when your commitments are and when your optimal writing time is. Get up an hour earlier in the morning if you know you have stuff to do after work, utilise your lunch breaks, your commute home, the hour you get after you put the kids to bed. No excuses. Life will always be busy, there will always be something else that needs to be done. Find your time, dig your heels in and claim it for your writing everyday.

Block It Out

Once you have selected that time for writing, you have to block life’s distractions out. I use the Pomodoro method- work in 25 minute blocks with 5 minute breaks between. It’s been said that our attention spans can last around 2 hours. So 4 ‘pomodoro’s’ and then a half hour break. Because I have a dire Facebook habit, I use a Chrome plugin called Strict Workflow which blocks websites from me for 25 minutes- but only the ones choose. So if I need to research Wikipedia I won’t put that down.

This may mean turning your wifi off so you don’t check Facebook, getting your partner to take the kids for their daily walk to the park or closing the door to your flatmates and partner. The world has no place in your writing. Be selfish, use ear plugs or noise reducing headphones, whatever it takes for you to block it out and focus at the task at hand. You only have a certain amount of time allocated to writing don’t let yourself be distracted, the new episode of Game of Thrones can wait (ha ha).
tyrion

Read

To quote urban-fantasy writer Lev Grossman,

Read everything. If you haven’t read everything, you’ll never be able to write anything.”

He is hardly the first writer to present this sentiment because it is a universal truth, good readers make great writers. Reading as a writer feeds us, , you start to see the tricks and when you don’t see them immediately you go back and disseminate in order to find it. It is harder to pull a writer into a world without them turning over every rock. It is in the rock turning that we learn about our own writing and where it is lacking. Struggling with world building? Try Tolkien, the master world builder. Writing clever crime? Read Sherlock Holmes. Know what is out there and feed your own creativity, your work will thank you for it.

Check in with your Writer World

Writing is a solitary business. We are natural introverts but occasionally checking in with the real world can help refresh you and pull you out of a writing slump. Some writer’s really thrive in writing groups and for others they are the most destructive force. Writers need other writers. These are your people, your tribe, they understand your struggles, the one’s that won’t get offended when you bring out a notebook and pen at dinner. Writers brain storm you out of writers block, pour wine as you complain about character’s and plot holes and are the best resource when dealing with writer related questions. They give constructive feedback and encouragement when you need it most.

There is no secret formula for success in self-publishing. It is a job that takes a lot of work and commitment. The writer’s that have ‘made it’ are multitasking, writing entrepreneurial machines. What works for them may not work for you, but the things that all writer’s must do, the things that will give you a solid foundation in order to become successful, are the simple things. Tangible, every day things that have exponential returns.

So remember:

  1. Back up your work so you don’t lose it
  2. Carve out a writing time that is yours (and stick to it)
  3. Block out all the world’s distractions
  4. Reading is a writer’s water so drink deeply from multiple wells, and
  5. Make sure you touch base with other writers so that you don’t end up hanging around your gloomy writing cave like a starved, wordsmith Golum.

What are some of your tips to keep you writing focused?  

 

 

 

How Audio Books Work for Self-Published Authors

imagesFor thousands of years man has huddled by campfires, bards have recited in halls and children have clustered around grandmothers for the purpose of listening to a good story. It is comforting to know some rituals are so ingrained into the human psyche that even though story telling may change its media it never loses its appeal. In this blog we are going to talk about the audio book resurgence, how to get your book audio, how much it will cost you and how beneficial it can be.

Audio Revolution

An article in the NY Times last year stated, “In the first eight months of this year, (audio book) sales were up 28 percent over the same period last year, far outstripping the growth of e-books, which rose 6 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers.” Audio books aren’t considered an unprofitable extra to print but a medium now standing in its own right. Audio books are not limited in their audiences. People struggling with reading, or have difficulties such as dyslexia, can now take part in the joy of books. Commuters can catch up on their novels on their way home, grab their Kindle when they arrive and pick up where they left off. Author Max Brooks, stated in an interview with the Wall Street journal, “It’s one of the few times in history that technology has reinvigorated an art form rather than crushing it. Now, because there is such demand and the production value is so inexpensive, it opens the door for more creative storytelling.” So how do self-publishers get onboard?

 Where to get it done?

The strongest audio platform on the market is ACX, a subsidiary of Amazon. ACX is not restricted to Amazon’s Audible store so it can be sold through other avenues such as iTunes.

acxLogoNarrating Yourself

Like other self publishing platforms ACX gives you the option of narrating your own book. Doing the narration yourself provides the opportunity to tell your book in your own voice. You have the added benefit of not having to hire a narrator, or share royalties. ACX provides free Video Lessons and Resources detailing what equipment and software you will need in order to produce an appropriate submission. This equipment, if you don’t already own it, can be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. The risk is you might not end up with something professional sounding at the end of it and its important to remember like ebooks and print books, audio books have a high set of standards.

900

Hire a Producer or a Narrator

  • Create a Profile including a description of your book and the type of narrator you would think best suits it. You will also post a small excerpt of your book so potential narrators can use it as audition script.
  • Post your book profile so narrators and producers can view your work to see if they are interested. Alternatively you can do your own casting call, listen to sample narrations posted by actors and then send them an invite to audition. Audio artist Elizabeth Klett shares some great advice here on what to look for in a good narrator.
  • Decide on a producer and make an Offer. The first way you can make a deal on ACX, is to send a producer a Production Offer Page where you have the option to pay a fee (the minimum you can offer is $300 per finished hour) or you can agree to a Royalty Share deal.

Sell your Rights to a Producer

Producers can buy your rights from you for a royalty share or outright depending on the details of the offer and how you choose to negotiate.

Read the Offer and Acceptance Procedures before you make any offers as it is an official and binding agreement.  

Royalties

  • Depending on distribution deals made, the Rights Holders earn 40% royalties of all books sold through Audible, Amazon and iTunes. ACX also have a Bounty Program so every time some one joins Audible and purchases your book first you will receive an extra $50 on top of royalties.

Pricing

  • You can’t choose your pricing on ACX. Prices are calculated based on the length of your book, please click here for a price per hours breakdown.

Territories

  • Currently ACX is only available to UK and US writers but you can email ACX about the terms and conditions of becoming an International Partner . You can use a service such as Ebookit who will distribute through ACX for you for a fee. The good news is with the Australian Audible Store going live in January this year, ACX is bound to follow to maximise their demand for local authors.

giphy

Other Options

Infinity Publishing– audio book service but will only do books up to 11,000 words.

CD Baby– a subsidiary of Book Baby. You need your own recording to load up however and it is a more music focused site.

As with book publishing it’s vital to know what you want and how much you are willing to spend when creating your audio book. The audio book market is expanding, providing indie authors a chance to deliver their works and reach audiences in creative and engaging ways.

 

Do you listen to Audio Books? Are they here to stay or just another fad?