3.3 After You Publish
a. Social Media Ads
One of the best ways to put your book under the spotlight on all major social media channels and increase reach, is to set up paid ads on these channels. All social channels have a way of setting up promoted posts and you can even customize what audiences these posts should reach.
Social media channels from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram, are constantly changing their algorithms and that affects everyone’s feed. In order to ensure that your book is delivered to the appropriate audience and is considered by readers, when it shows up on their feed, ads are becoming more and more effective in generating book sales.
However, social media ads over a steady period of time can become expensive, especially for indie publishers who are trying to remain within a modest budget. Hence, it is imperative that a good plan/strategy is in place before investing in social media promoted ads.
3 steps to take before posting Social Media paid ads:
Step 1. Plan and budget. Social media ads, like I said before, can get expensive and very quickly at that. Before you start setting your ads, have a budget in mind and decide on how long you want to run each campaign for. Also have your promotional graphics, banners, book cover 3D mockups and such, in hand before you start.
Step 2. Decide on your sales funnel. What is your sales funnel? Once your ad goes live, what do you want it to do? Where do you want the ad to lead anyone who clicks on it? Do you want to lead them to your website? Or do you want the link/image to lead straight to the book’s Amazon page? Or do you want to lead them to your newsletter? Have a clear “sales path” in mind.
One of my clients put her poetry collection on Amazon and then put up Facebook and Twitter ads. However, her sales funnel for both the channels were different.
On Facebook. She was much more active on Facebook than Twitter, and her followers actually enjoyed reading her poetry on her Facebook page. For Facebook she set ads that would help her find more followers for her FB page. Then she posted a blog post about her book on her FB page and pinned it to the top of the page. So anyone who saw and clicked on the Facebook ad would immediately be brought to her page. They would then discover her writings, her photos, read about her book, Like or Follow, as they want. She spent $40 USD on the ad, gained about 1200 followers in 14 days and sold 30 books.
On Twitter. Her Twitter ad leads to her Mailchimp newsletter. She had set up the welcome email to include the download of the first few poems for free and her Twitter ad reflected that. She gained about 300 followers on Twitter over a period of two weeks, had 165 newsletter sign-ups, 100% free first chapter download and sold about 25 books.
Note: the paid ads were run individually one after the other, just to measure ROI. While running the ads, she had made no announcements on her newsletter, FB wall or blog.
Just putting up a great image of your book cover and linking it directly to its Amazon page will yield poor results for the money you spent. Instead think of posting useful content and promoting that. Make a paid ad out of your most-viewed blog post and ensure the post leads to the book’s Amazon page. If you have an Author Event coming up, make an Event Page for it and boost that, as an ad. If you’ve appeared on a Youtube interview, then post the video and boost it as a paid ad, because videos perform better as content. Choose carousel ads to show two or three iterations of your book (book cover in one, characters and scenes in another, your author photo on the third and so on) so it appeals to more people.
Step 3. Decide on your audience. At this point, you’ve been spending quite a bit of time building and engaging with your target audience and beta readers. Once a social channel prompts you to set your audience before publishing the ad, you will have to set the right parameters to define your audience. We’d like to think that everyone will want to read our books, but that is never the case. So setting an audience that is too broad or large is a mistake. Your ads will be distributed based on your budget and with a moderate budget, your ads will be spread thinly and chances are that not enough people will end up actually noticing it. On the other hand, try and not narrow down the audience too much. Keep it moderately focused and ensure the set is relative to your genre.
Resources on how to set social media ads:
- Facebook Ads for Authors
- The 4 Best Types of Facebook Ads for Authors
b. Book Signings & Readings
Provided that you’ve built a faithful following of readers who are interested in buying your book, selling signed copies, meeting your readers face to face, doing readings from your book are great ways to boost your sales and make your book (and author persona) more popular. Public appearances are essential for authors, because there will always be readers who would want to know more about who you are and keep tabs on your work.
Book signings help drive word-of-mouth exposure and reviews. But there has been a lot of debate on it, regarding how it works for some writers and how it doesn’t for others. The secret of their success lie in the all the work you put in before the actual day of the event.
10 things to keep in mind when it comes to book signings:
- Plan. Book signings need to be planned a few months before your book actually releases. In fact, I’d initially thought of putting this section after the section about ARCs, because that is the right stage to start planning your book signings. Most bookstores, big or small take weeks to go through and analyse your book (if they do, at all) and then they’ll take a few more weeks to get back to you. They’ll need even more time, preferably a couple of months prior to the day, to announce it to their patrons. Bookstores will have their in-store events calendars prepped few months in advance. So plan accordingly.
- Start local. Do a quick online search and locate the local bookstores in your city. They could belong to a large corporate brand or they could be Indie. Go down the list and contact them one by one, with a great pitch and other details. Tell them briefly about when your book is releasing, what it is about and why you think their store would be great for a book signing. You can also provide a few lines on yourself. The best thing to do would be to physically go and visit the store managers or the community/brand manager for the companies. Have an ARC of your book with you, along with a printed out extract from your media kit that includes your bio, background and the detail of the book. Many stores have multiple outlets, so you may have to negotiate holding a booking signing in each of them, if that’s there setup. If the store agrees to extend this to their outlets in other locations around the country, don’t hesitate to say yes!
- Remember to mention your audience when approaching the venues. How many social media followers you have, how many of them are located in your city and how many of them have shown willingness to attend the book signings. Every store will want to know how mutually beneficial a book signing will be, so list all the points you can think of that will drive more traffic to their outlets, and they will be more inclined to support you.
- Decide whether you want your book signing to just be a signing, or do you want to include more. You can include reading of a chapter or excerpt, a Q & A session and so on. If you want to do a reading, choose a few passages beforehand and practice reading them out to friends and family. Molly Wizenberg of Orangette, spoke about the time a local band had written songs inspired by her first book A Homemade Life. She had hosted a book signing and reading and also had the band play the songs at the event. The more you add to your signing, provided that the venue agrees, the more readers feel like they’ve been treated well.
- When you receive positive responses from the stores, work out the details with them. While you can’t expect the store to do a full-on promo for you, always ask whether they’ll be able to help out with the small things, like providing bags with the store logo for the buyers to carry their books in, tables and chairs, promotional materials they might want to include with your books etc. Also give them a clear list of things you will be giving out along with your books --- bookmarks, flyers or business cards, will you be offering refreshments, would you want to hand out merchandise related to your book, will you be requiring power outlets to plug in a screen for your book trailer, and so on.
- Don’t give away your books for free. Make sure to clarify this with the bookstore/literary organisation before you plan out the dates. You can, of course, offer them at a discount. You can also offer the first few for free based on the first-come-first-serve rule. But keep the rest priced reasonably.
- Be clear on payment and profit sharing terms. Many book stores will want to a percentage of your sales when you hold a signing in their stores, so agree on a profit sharing percentage and chart up a brief selling contract, before the actual day. If not, then carry your own checkout tools like Square - https://squareup.com/reader or Clover Go - https://www.clover.com/get-paid/go,that will help you process credit/debit card transactions, or popular payment apps like PayPal, Swipe, Stripe. Carry an empty receipt book to hand out receipts for every purchase.
- And the extras. Don’t forget to bring your own pens. People forget pens all the time! Ask if you can bring refreshments in for your readers. When someone buys a book or merchandise from you will the bookstore be giving carry bags for those, or will you have to arrange your own? How about tables and chairs? Don’t miss the small details! Would the bookstore be open to a Q & A session that your readers may be interested in. If you can find someone to host the session, then settle on the details and clarify them with the bookstore.
- Announcements. Once you have a confirmed list of bookstores you’d be appearing in, announce it on your website and blog and most definitely on all your social media platforms. You could make these announcements repeatedly at regular intervals. You could also “Pin” them to the top of your pages. Just make sure that your readers are able to easily find the list, with the dates, locations and the timings. Definitely send out a newsletter announcing the signings and readings as and when they’re planned. And mention them as reminders when you’re close to the date. Don’t expect the bookstores to do all the marketing for your appearances, but don’t hesitate to ask them if and what they’re planning on doing. Try and coordinate your announcements with theirs. Also make sure that the bookstores know how you will be promoting their stores on your social media. Send them promotional material to approve (Facebook ads, Twitter banners etc.) with their name and location showing prominently. If they see how much you’re doing to help them, they’ll do more!
- Go beyond local. You started local and have now got a bit of traction behind your book. Great. Now it’s time to take the show on the road. Ask your followers, especially those residing in other cities, if they’d be interested in attending a book signing. Save up and spend a bit of money on visiting 5 or 6 cities. Ask book chains if they’d be interested in letting you conduct a signing in any of their stores (multiple, preferably) in other cities.
Author Kristen Martin, from her experience, says:
“For local/indie bookstores, go to their website/go to the store and see if they offer a consignment program. Most do, and this is an easy way to get your books in a physical bookstore. For the larger box stores, like Barnes & Noble, they require a media press kit and copies of the book be sent to their Small Press Department. Requirements will vary, so it’s important to do your research before submitting anything.”
The attitude towards book signings.
As new writers, it may excite you or terrify you to think of actually interacting with your readers and asking them to buy your book. Even if you put in a ton of hard work into practicing all the marketing strategies you come across, it may happen that at the day of your signing, very few people turn up. That can get disappointing. It is important to be prepared for underwhelming book signings. Also be prepared for anyone who may just come up to you and straight out declare that they don’t like your book cover or the blurb!
Getting to know the Business Developer or the Community Manager or whoever is in charge.
Store managers and the person/team responsible for deciding what book signings they will allow in their stores: are you best friends when it comes to promoting your books in their brick and mortar shops. For eg, in Barnes & Nobles, this is usually the Community Business Development Manager. If they’re located in your city, it would best to schedule a meeting with them. In other cases, email will do. Building relationships with book sellers is the best thing you can do to ensure book sales.
Local news coverage.
Contact the local paper or local book bloggers and journalists who usually cover culture and literary events around the city, and inform them about your book signing. Send them your media kit or a link to your media kit and don’t be shy to ask for coverage.
Don’t just stick to bookstores. You can also partner with local organisations that are connected to your book. For eg, if you’re writing a middle grade book, then enquire with schools and their cultural directors. If you’ve written a book on travel, ask to do a reading at a travel summit/conference. Try and get a stall at a travel trade show. If you’ve written a sci-fi book, check if you can host a signing at a popular comic book store or a collectors’ gift shop.
Then Book Clubs.
Google local book clubs and literary chapters. You could even log on to www.meetup.com and look for local literary meet-ups. Make a list starting with the most busiest and active ones. Then send a pitch about yourself and the book, and even offer a free copy to the host/head of the club. Then, once you have a conversation going, try and ask about their policies regarding an excerpt reading, or if it’d be OK to offer promotion codes exclusively to the club members. Tap your reader base to find someone who’s part of a book club, either in your city or somewhere close (or far, if you have that in your agenda) and ask them to organize a reading.
Virtual is great.
Book signings and readings do not always have to be held at bookstores or literary cafes. They can also be virtual. Plan a live webinar, where you talk about your book and your journey and even take questions from the audience watching. Announce the date and link on your website, social media and newsletter. At the end of the webinar collect the details of those who want to order signed copies of your book.
Podcasts and Radio.
Start local. Search for local podcasters and get in touch with your local radio channels that cover local news and have conducted literary interviews before.
More tips on holding great book signing and readings:
- 35 Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an Event
- How Indie Author Rainne Mendoza Landed a Book Signing with Barnes & Noble
- The Indie Author’s Guide to Organizing Author Events
- What to do When No One Shows Up at Your Reading
c. Talks, Lectures & Conferences
Now that you’re a published author, whether indie or traditional, you’re definitely qualified to give a talk or lecture on the subject of getting published, your genre, and experiences that you’ve been through.
Why even try public speaking?
It can be daunting for some to stand up in front of a whole bunch of people and talk about something that you’ve only been through recently. Moreover, there’s the pressure of being likeable and not forgetting your lines. But public speaking, if one can conquer their fear, can work wonders for your reputation, for your book sales, and will help people trust your work.
The easiness of booking a lecture gig vastly varies from genre to genre. If you’re a nonfiction writer, I would 100% expect you to include talks and lectures in your marketing plan. Nonfiction writers have a larger pool of subjects to choose from --- you could have authored a book on management, or publishing, or child psychology, or paranormal research, or startups. Hence, your audience will be people who are specifically interested in these subjects. You will be expected to be more of an “expert” in your subject than anyone else.
It can be a little more difficult for fiction writer, but not totally impossible. As a fiction writer you can talk about the writing and publishing process. Or based on your genre, you can talk about your inspirations and experiences. If you’ve written a romance book, talk about first dates and give funny relationship advice. As an author of a fantasy series, talk about world-building and inventing new creatures. Find your niche and go with it.
Steps to bag public speaking gigs:
Step 1: Ask. Seriously, the best thing you can do is ask. Is a literary festival coming to your town anytime soon? Check out their theme, send them a pitch and follow-up. Written a book on bringing up children? Find out all the Parent and Teachers’ associations and local playgroups, and ask to speak at their next event. Sci-fi conference happening soon? Send them a pitch. Or even a video pitch! A friend of mine wrote a book on personnel management, a couple of years back. She had used a case study on a large Indian company, to highlight a few points. As soon as the book was released, she contacted the company’s PR team and asked to speak at their annual company retreat. Not only did she sell a ton of books that weekend, she even got paid for her talk.
Step 2: Network. If you’re at an event that’s teeming with industry experts, or at a book signing of some author who writes in your genre, one of the best things you can do is hang around. Hang around till the crowds thin out. Go talk to the authors after their events are over. Shake their hands. Introduce yourself to fellow authors and talk to them over coffee. You never know where your next speaking gig will come from.
Step 3: Show your worth. If you do get a chance to give a talk, make it worth it. Give honest, accurate, useful information and engage with your audience. Make sure your audience learns something new about your topic. The secret to getting called back is to ensuring that your talk is memorable.
5 things to remember about a talk or lecture:
- Plan. Even if you’re an expert at public speaking, good planning will always be necessary. Outline your talk --- what is the core message of your lecture? Why are you the best person to talk about this? What real-life examples can you give to highlight the message? What other examples can you give? How is your audience going to benefit from this talk? Where can they go to learn more about the subject? Are you going to mention your book (you should, but don’t make it an all-promotional talk)? Will you be reading an excerpt from your book? Your talk needs to address the points above.
- Practice makes perfect. Time yourself when you practice giving the speech. Make sure you stay within your allotted time. There’s nothing more unprofessional than when you exceed your allotted time, no matter how famous you are. Practice in front of the mirror, and in front of family and friends. Enunciate your words and throw you voice while you talk. Try and memorize certain bits of the speech, so you can look ahead at the audience while you give the speech.
- It’s perfectly OK to be human. If you mess up a line or skip and entire section, or if your voice cracks unnaturally due to nervousness, don’t worry. It happens to everyone. Just crack a joke about it and move on. Come back later and mention the forgotten points. Take a moment to read through your notes and make sure you’ve not skipped anything. Don’t apologize for being nervous. You’re allowed to be.
- Be funny. Easier said than done. But it’s not impossible. Think of a funny opening line. Add funny, and relative, quotes to your speech and don’t forget to mention funny anecdotes wherever relative.
- A Q&A session. What I mean by this is “engagement”. Engage your audience. Encourage them to ask you questions after your lecture has ended and answer them to the best of your abilities. If someone criticizes something, graciously accept it and put your counterpoints forward. This is not the time to get into a full-fledged argument. If you can’t answer a question, tell them that you’ll get back to them and do follow up on it. Mention where they can find more information and where they can buy your book and where they can find more information on you.
More tips on talks & lectures:
- Get a friend to record your talks and lectures. It’ll not only help you improve, but you can also show it to a potential PR professional or event manager.
- Carry books to sell to whoever wants it, if the host allows it.
- Business cards are essential at these events. Get an eye-catching design. Carry enough with you and hand them out to whoever you network with.
- Mention all your public speaking gigs on your website and ensure that people have a way of contacting you if they want to hire you to speak at their next event.
- Get testimonials and reviews from hosts and audience members that you can then put up on your website or Facebook page.
My favourite public speakers who are pretty inspiring:
Conferences are another great way to put your name out there as a new author. Not only do you get to attend lectures and workshops on writing, new releases, trending topics and the publishing industry, by writers of note, many conferences even have pitching contests, one-on-one with literary agents and editors and you’ll get plenty of networking opportunities with publishers, established authors, readers and even writers who are new like you.
Author Kristen Martin has had loads of experience with book conferences. Her advice:
“I’ve been to quite a few writing events/conferences and, by far, the most effective and worthy of my time is BookCon in New York City. As far as checklists go, I make sure I have enough books in inventory, a banner/sign, business cards, postcards (with book and social media information), promo items like bookmarks and pens, as well as the sales tax license (the requirements vary by state, depending on where you want to sell), and my Square reader so I can accept credit card payments. I also bring $1s and $5s for change for larger bill payments.”
For an exhuaustive list of book conferences and literary meets around the world that are scheduled for 2018, check out this list --- http://bit.ly/2GQUKwN.
d. Virtual Book Tours & Getting Reviewed
A very strategic way of getting your book to reach a wide audience is to conduct blog tour and Youtube tours. A blog tour is similar to a book tour, except that the platform is virtual. It’s a set amount of time during which your book is mentioned or written about on various blogs. These blog posts can be anything --- your author interview, the review of the book, an excerpt of the book etc. And these blog posts could potentially be put up by any blogger (author, reader, publisher) who has read your book.
Going on a virtual book tour is an extremely effective yet very under-used way of getting your book in the hands of readers.
Keep in mind that virtual book tours are not just for self-publishing authors. If you’re being published by any indie publisher, chances are that they don’t really have a great budget to send you to cities around the countries on “book tour”. Hence, it makes a lot of sense for you to arrange a virtual one by yourself.
How does it work?
There are 4 very simple steps:
Step 1. You talk to multiple bloggers about your book, a month or two months before your book launches. These bloggers could be writers, readers, published authors, speakers, industry experts (in case you’re a nonfiction writer who is releasing a book about a specific industry) and so on. You also approach online publications and professional blogs who usually cover news on book releases like yours, or those that let authors guest post for them.
Step 2. You ask to send them free copies of your book (e-reader versions or paperback review copies), and discuss the possibility of them reading it and most importantly, reviewing it on their blog. Some may decline, some may agree to do a review post, some may want to interview you, and others may agree to let you do a guest post for them.
Step 3. You send out your review copies, prep your guest posts and reply to all your interview answers. Most importantly, you try and schedule the publications dates of these posts one after the other, coordinating them with the date of your book release.
Step 4. Publish your book. And share all the posts about you and your book that keep appearing over the internet!
Author Jackie Morse Kessler, after the release of her YA novel Loss, conducted a 22-stops blog tour. She says:
“I researched YA review blogs and made my list of tier 1 and tier 2 candidates. Some of them didn’t do tours but did do reviews; others didn’t do reviews but hosted tours. When I emailed people I didn’t know, the pitch went like this: My name is Jackie Morse Kessler, and I am a young adult author published by Harcourt/Graphia. Would you be interested in being part of the Loss blog tour in March 2012? The book — third in the Riders of the Apocalypse series, but it can be read as a standalone novel — is about a bullied teenage boy who is tricked into becoming the new Pestilence, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.) Loss hits the shelves on March 20, 2012.”
Lesson learnt: Keep your pitches direct, compact and polite.
8 things to keep in mind while planning a blog tour:
- Plan ahead. Start planning at least a couple of months before the release date of your book. Many bloggers and Youtubers you approach will have already set their editorial calendars and recorded their videos and scheduled their posts. So, approach them at least a couple of months before you want them to write about your book.
- Be organised with your research. Research bloggers who write about books in your genre. And when you start shortlisting them, divide them up into groups Tier 1 and Tier 2. Tier 1 bloggers will be those with the most traffic, most followers, putting out quality content that reach the most number of readers. Tier 2, will be those who are starting to gain followers but are putting out useful content no doubt. Approach them in batches, starting with Tier 1.
- Be flexible with the content and the medium. You could approach bloggers and Youtubers, but don’t just stop there. Try and contact Instagrammers, Pinterest hosts and podcasters, as well. Also remember that a blog post doesn’t have to be a review of your book or a guest post that you write for the blog. It could even be a Q&A that the blogger on Youtube wants you to participate in. It could be a Twitter Google Hangout Q&A. You could even run a giveaway on a host’s Instagram or Pinterest account. Your tour could include a podcast interview and a short reading of your book.
- Provide sufficient information. Remember the section on Media Kits? Here is one of those instances where you’ll need a great Media Kit. Along with the book (paperback, ARC, e-copy) that you are going to send to the bloggers, send you Media Kit as well. It should include all the information a blogger might need to craft a great post on you. If you’re writing a guest post, ensure it’s in a format your host prefers and include all the relevant links. Giveaways can be tricky. Don’t expect your host to spend a single penny. Instead send a parcel of all the goodies you’re planning on giving away directly to the host. Or send them staged photos of the giveaway items that they can promote on their social media. They can then give you the details of the winner so you can mail the parcel to the winner.
- Prepare for disasters. Well, the word “disasters” might be a little strong, but there will be instances when a scheduled blog post may not go up on the date you agreed on, with the blogger. Or a review might not be as favourable as you expected it to be. In the first case, if a post doesn’t go up on time, send the writer a gentle reminder and confirm if they’ll be putting it up later. If not, then approach another blogger on your list for a review, or guest post. In case of a bad review, just send back a polite and professional email expressing your regret that the blogger didn’t like it, and thank them for the opportunity.
- Time the tour. Decide when you want the tour to take place. For nonfiction books, blog tours work best when they start from the day of the book’s release. For fiction books however, a blog tour during the pre-order phase right through to release day and post-release, works well. Depending on the number of bloggers awaiting their copies of your book, give them the timeline and get them to agree to a specific date on when the scheduled post or video or giveaway, will be published.
- Don’t get hung up on analytics. While it’ll be easy for you to track the number of visitors to your site during the time your blog tour takes place --- provided that you have a great analytics tool attached to your website --- it might be difficult to track the number of sales that you make because of the tour. So don’t get too obsessed by the numbers. What you need to aim for are increased sales during this time because of all the exposure and as many good reviews as you can possible get on Amazon and Goodreads. Kessler says: “I consider the Loss blog tour a resounding success, based on the comments on the participating blogs. Many mentioned that they hadn’t heard of the series before but now were interested; quite a few commenters responded to the specific guest blog I posted, talking about how they agreed, or that it was helpful, or that they were looking forward to reading Loss. A few mentioned that they loved my books, which gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling all day. Because the tour took place immediately before and during launch week, it’s hard to say whether the tour helped generate sales. But in terms of raising awareness? Yes, the tour worked.”
- Promote. This should go without saying, really. Once a post or video is released, share the link on your social media channels, multiple times over a period of time. Comment on the blog/video. Write about it on your own blog and add the link to your newsletter. Include the links to good reviews on your Amazon and Goodreads author pages. Include the link to the latest post at the end of your email signature. Make sure to send thank you notes to all the blog tour participants.
Services that can organise a blog tour for you:
- Bewitching Book Tours - paranormal and urban fantasy genres.
- Enchanted Book Promotions - sci-fi, romance and fantasy
- Fire and Ice Book Tours - most genres
- Pump Up Your Book! Book Tours - all genres
- Xpresso Book Tours - YA & NA
- I Am A Reader Blog Tours - all genres
- Read Between The Lines - sci-fi, fantasy and romance
- Goddess Fish Promotions - all genres
- RABT Book Tours & PR - all genres
- TLC Book Tours - all genres
- YA Bound Book Tours - sci-fi, fantasy, romance, YA, NA
- Sage’s Blog Tours - most genres
- Rock Star Book Tours - most genres
- Author Media Book Tours - all genres
Further reading on running a successful blog tour:
- Reaching Readers : Lessons Learned From Blog Tours
- What Authors Need to Know About Virtual Book Tours
- Virtual Book tours : A Powerful Promotion Tool for Authors
One thing that is valued more than sales sometimes is a review. Or multiple reviews. More accurately, good reviews. That is one of the things you should be chasing during your blog tour. Even after your tour is over, asking for reviews is never a bad idea. Reviews can make or break a book. Reviews can affect your Amazon ranking. Reviews can affect whether a bookshop decides to let you host a book signing, whether they’d agree to sell physical copies of your book in their stores. Reviews will have an impact on whether readers --- the ultimate end users --- buy your book.
4 Thing to remember about getting reviews after your book is published:
- Just ask. Most authors I work with have this complex where they think they’re not popular enough to be hosted by a blogger. I’m not going to lie, that may just be true. But the fact remains that many unknown and even obscure writers have been boosted, and are constantly boosted, by bloggers, based on their work. So get over this complex and just ask for a review or to submit a guest post, and you may just be surprised.
- Thank your reviewers. Reviews are your lifeblood, or rather, your book’s lifeblood. So when someone posts something positive, thank them.
- Don’t engage with negative reviews. Not all your reviews are going to be positive and that’s OK. As a writer you are putting your creative work out there and once you do that, it will be open for criticism, whether you like it or not. The best of authors have been rejected or criticised and you will also be facing similar situations. When you receive negative critique on Amazon or Goodreads or anywhere else, it might hurt your feelings, it might be completely on a tangent or even irrelevant/illogical, whatever it is, do not engage. Engaging with negative reviews is never a win-win situation. It could possibly lead to an online altercation or a debate that many potential readers will see in negative light. So avoid replying to those reviews.
- Capture and post the reviews. Capture all your reviews and cross-post them. Copy all your reviews on your Facebook page (if you receive any), and add them to your Amazon and Goodreads author pages. Link back to the profile of the reviewers. Make sure to select the best Amazon reviews and add them as testimonials under your book, on your website. Reviews need exposure and promotion too.
A word on Amazon Reviews and Reviewers
Now that you’re book is available through Amazon, I’m assuming that you have already created your Amazon Author Page. There are two kinds of Amazon reviews, for books: Editorial and Customer.
Editorial reviews are the ones that you get from reputable sources, like a journal or newspaper, or another author or a well-known critic. Remember to follow Amazon’s instructions on how to add these reviews to your Author page. Editorial reviews add to your reputation as an author and contributes to building your platform.
Customer reviews are the ones you get directly from buyers. These are the ones that are left by readers who’ve received ARC copies or bought your book from Amazon, and it’s a way for them to share their opinions. These reviews, if genuine, are marks of how well-received your book is by the readers. These reviews affect your ranking as an author and have a direct impact on your book sales. Amazon is, however, extremely strict about garnering reviews and their guidelines do not support paid reviews of any kind.
Getting Amazon Top Reviewers to review your book
You can ask, and have been asking, your existing readership, social media followers, Facebook group friends, family and friends, bloggers, newsletter subscribers and so on, to buy your book and leave reviews accordingly. One more channel of readers to approach are Amazon Top Reviewers.
The top reviewers for Amazon have earned that title, not because of the number of reviews they’ve written, but because how well they’ve reviewed the products and how many people have found their reviews to be useful. It is easy to assume that all vendors and sellers and authors are continuously hounding these reviewers with a version of their products. But it is still a good strategy to approach Amazon Top Reviewers, as long as you have realistic expectations in place.
- If you want 10 reviewers to show interest, approach 50 of them. 40 will most likely not respond. The best way to increase your chances is to approach those reviewers who have already reviewed similar books in your genre. Mention these books in your pitch, so they are aware that you have actually spent time in getting to know their posts. Do you research well. A shortlist of names will take time, but be thorough.
- Make sure to craft a succinct, personalised and efficient pitch offering a free ARC, which will interest them.
- Maintain a record of who you have approached and who has agreed to review your book.
- Don’t forget to follow-up or ask for a timeline, so you’ll know when to expect a review.
Head over to https://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers for a complete list of Amazon Top Reviewers. Most of them have updated profiles with contact information for your reference.