My inbox has been filling up over the summer months, so it’s high time for another edition of the BookBaby mailbag.
I really do love hearing from our growing BookBaby writing community – keep those emails coming with your questions, ideas, and comments. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s start this session off with a question about reviews.
Steven – My question is about reviews, specifically, how can I get more? I used BookPromo to get a couple of free book reviews but I’m after more – many more. I don’t want to hound all my friends, readers or other authors to do reviews for me. Any ideas?
Evan H, Cortland, NY
I do have an idea for you about soliciting more book reviews, Evan. There’s a huge community of what I’d call “super reviewers” out in the reading community that you can tap into quite easily. Here’s how:
First, spend some time on Amazon looking for books that most closely match your own genre. Start with some of the most popular book pages in your shared genre and click on the link to the customer reviews.
Now you will see the list of sorted reviews with the Amazon name of each reviewer. Click on each reviewer to get details on the person. Note that this step may require some sleuthing skills. In some cases the reviewer will share their contact information, in other cases they will share their name and business, and in some cases they reveal squat. In writing this response I just tried a test – about half the time there’s either an email address, Twitter handle, or Facebook page where I can make direct contact.
Once you identify potential reviewers, reach out to them explaining you discovered their review on Amazon. Explain that you have a book or product you think may be of interest to them and would like to send it to them. Further explain that you are seeking an honest review of the item you send, but that they don’t have an obligation (this process is about inviting reviews, not forcing reviews). I think you can expect that 50 percent of the people who get your book will post an honest review. Sometimes you might find a reviewer who won’t give you the glowing 4- or 5-star review that you were looking for. But that’s the nature of a fair, objective review process.
Give it a try and let me know how it works!
Bruce A. sent me a note, reminding us to stick with what we know.
Hi Steven – I just read your free book on hybrid publishing. I’ve self-published three memoirs thus far with little sales success. Even so, I learned much by publishing on my own.
I also learned that what I think is a salable book often is proved wrong in reality. My best-selling memoir thus far was my first one. It was about the amazing things I learned from living with house rabbits. The book sold more than 200 copies. This was because I knew many folks who had rabbits living in their homes. This taught me that I need to establish a base of interested friends first.
Thanks for sharing this tip, Bruce. You’re absolutely correct, identifying a core audience for your book is an extremely effective way to jumpstart your early sales. Using these people as your starting point you can ask them to spread the word about your book with a variety of techniques including book giveaways.
A few months ago I asked BookBaby authors to share some of their best marketing tips. Sandi Whipple sent in this high-tech crafty book marketing contribution.
Steven – I think the people of my generation want the feel of the paperback in their hand. But the newer generation are more into eReaders. An idea that I tried was surprisingly not a bad one. I attended a two day Arts & Craft Fair last November. I bought 25 (cheap, $5 average on eBay) novelty flash drives. Some were necklaces, some looked like credit cards, etc. (There are pictures of several on my website.) I put all three of my books in mobi, ePub, and PDF on the flash drive, and sold them for $15. My eBooks sell on Amazon, Kobo, etc for $1.99 each. All three books total $6, of which I get less than $3.
I sold a $5 flash drive with three ebooks for $15 which was a profit of $10 for all three! As luck would have it, I sold 23 of the 25 flash drives. Just an idea. Happy book marketing!
Thanks, Sandy, for the great idea! I wonder if BookBaby should offer to load books on customized USB drives? I’ll look into it.
And finally there’s this note about finding inspiration from Fern.
Hello Steven –
I’m a late to the game as a writer. I’ve always kept diaries made with a little artsy stuff for journals, but nothing serious. Life was serious enough and all of this artsy stuff took up too much important time. The written word always pulled me back and I would write on what ever scrap of paper, back of magazines etc that was in reach. Then one August night in 1993, sitting on our back porch with our three children and a full moon shining down on us, my eldest son asked a question: “What does a squirrel think when he looks at the moon”? I answered, “Maybe he thinks it’s a giant silver nut.” And that stuck with me for days and weeks until I burst out the paper and pen while doing laundry – I didn’t want anyone to see me writing, for heaven’s sake – and I wrote a story about a squirrel who hopped a ride on a space ship to the moon with dreams of silver nuts and berries just to discover the barrenness of the moon.
The kids loved it. I’ve written more on various subjects since then – I can’t seem to stop. I’ve been in critique groups, mostly good. Went to seminars, mostly okay. The publishing process seems daunting.
The same son who asked about the squirrel is now encouraging me to find a way to get my stories out for others to enjoy. And then I found BookBaby. I downloaded The End… and loved it. I called my son and said “I think I’ve finally found a way!” Just wanted to thank you ever so much.
Fern, I’m so glad to hear found inspiration in “The End – Now What? 6 ways to get your manuscript to the marketplace in 6 weeks.” The free download is still available by clicking here.
What’s on your mind? Email me at email@example.com – I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
Image via ShutterStock.com.
Confronting Bad Book Reviews
Overcome Your Inner Critic
BookBaby Mailbag: The Hybrid Author Conversation Continues
BookBaby Mailbag: Clarifying The Notion of Hybrid Publishing
Get Discovered – By The Right Readers
Show Me Your Book Marketing Ideas And I’ll Show You Mine