Reviews? How do I get them?

DSCF0122The launch of The Girl with the Haunting Smile has been and gone and family, friends and other generous folk got me off to a good start. I’ve promised myself I won’t check again on sales data till a month has passed and I’ll stick to that, however loopy it may seem.

In the days after the launch, I got a tad uptight (see my last blog) about my small number of retweets from folk I’ve enthusiastically supported in the last six months with mentions and retweets. This has partially sorted itself out but I remain a teeny-weeny bit upset that some of those with whom I’ve linked most closely have offered no support. Okay, it’s easy to miss a tweet but not all the ones I’ve sent!

My next priority is to get reviews (one so far). This matters because, when you have ten, Amazon slots your book into key lists like “also bought” and the chances of readers finding it are much greater. In addition, many book websites won’t promote a novel until it has 10, 20 or even 25 good reviews on Amazon, so I have a long way to go!

The problem is that many professional book reviewers are in such demand that they’ve closed their lists. Others deal only with genres that don’t apply to The Girl with the Haunting Smile e.g. crime, paranormal. My next step is to identify some available reviewers and send them cajoling letters. Wish me luck. Even better, if you have any ideas on how best to get reviews, please let me know.

In the meantime, I’ve booked my first (modest) ad. It’s for the New Release Alert feature on Digital Book Today and it will appear at some point in January. Let the good times roll.

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About Richard Louden

Maybe it was because languages were my thing but I loved writing at school and I've loved it ever since. Obviously, I hope others will enjoy reading what I write but, now that I am turning my hand to novels, what matters most to me is to write what, as a reader, I would like to read. As a journalist with UK papers, I've written widely on education, business, sport and law. In the creative writing field, I've written the scripts of two TV dramas (BBC and ITV), contributed sketches to TV and radio comedy shows and had short stories published in national anthologies. That doesn’t make me a novelist but I hope it gives me a push in the right direction.

Posted on December 6, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Best of luck, Richard. Don’t give up!

  2. Hey Richard,

    I spent quite a lot of time working on getting reviews for my memoir. The best advice I can give is to hook up with fellow writers and do a read/review swap. I did quite a few of these and still have a few more to complete.

    Other than that, I’ve found that if you reply to the people on Twitter/Facebook who tell you they read and enjoyed your book, and ask them if they wouldn’t mind leaving you a review, most of them will.

    I’ll be certain to leave you a review when I get to reading yours, but i’m already behind on a few promised read/reviews so it may be a few weeks.

    I’ve never heard about the 10+ review thing for Amazon’s “also bought” system, but I understand the importance elsewhere. I had my book posted on E Newsreader yesterday and had a massive increase in sales overnight, and they require a minimum of 10 reviews.

    I read a stat somewhere from a guy who worked out that the average book will get 1 review for every 1000 sales. Sounds a little extreme, but it certainly seems to add up with what i’ve learnt so far.

    All the best with the book,

    David

    • Thanks again for your very helpful comments, David. Congrats on your sales spike with E Newsreader. That’s great news. Do you have any more plans for ads?

      Your idea of hooking up with other writers to swap reviews is an excellent one and I’ll certainly follow it up. These things take time to come to fruition, I imagine, so I’ll just have to be patient and stick with it.

      I can’t remember where I read about the “also bought” system but the same person added that, after several more reviews, Amazon considers the book for “spotlight positions” and its newsletter and this “provides a huge hike in sales”. Sounds a tad over the top but you never know.

      • There isn’t much i haven’t done when it comes to advertising for the memoir, and there wasn’t much that really worked. I paid for Press Releases, Sponsored Tweets, I had two ‘Buzz’ spots on WLC and I had a small book tour.

        After all that, and pitiful sales, I published my second book without doing anything. The intent was to wait for the Free Promo and then start a similar (but cheaper) campaign. As it turned out the second book began to sell more than the first right from the off and now, after the Free Pomo, it’s selling way better than I ever expected.

        It all comes down to what you do within the Amazon system (keywords, categories etc,.) and on the specialist Kindle sites. Which makes sense, as not only are they the ones searching for books they are prepared to buy, but they have the Kindles to read them on.

        Regarding the Amazon reviews, if that’s the case then it certainly is interesting. I’ll have to have a look into that. I have heard of some indie authors being given positions in newsletters and what not, but I thought it was spontaneous and based on sales.

      • I take your point about ads, David. From what I’ve read, most are unlikely to repay the expenditure. I plan to move very cannily on that front. I can’t do the free promo thing (my epublisher isn’t a fan of KDP Select) but I’m delighted to hear it has worked out for you.

        Without wishing to intrude more on your time, I’d be glad to hear more about the Amazon system and Kindle specialist sites. Re keywords, categories etc., can the author select these? My epublisher tells me they are allocated by Amazon after a few weeks. Also, what Kindle specialist sites do you mean? I’m aware of Kindle Nation Daily and Kindle Book Review but that’s as far as it goes. I’d appreciate it if you could point me in the right direction.

  3. The author can select the keywords and as the author can also edit the description, they can implement a lot of those keywords into there as well.

    I read a book about it. Make a Killing on Kindle, I think it was called. The author stresses the use of Amazon itself to promote your books as opposed to the ‘author platforms’ of social media (blogs, Twitter etc.).

    You can select up to 7 keywords when you publish, if you do a bit of research (Google adwords helps, but you can also use the Amazon search engine by typing in ‘starting keywords’ and see which recommendations pop up) you should be able to discover 7 popular keywords that are most likely to bring the correct targeted customers to your book and are not overly popular (otherwise your book will be swamped by bestsellers). You then try to work a few of those in your description as well (and your title if possible) because, as well as sales, Amazon gives priority to the most relevant; I.E those with the most instances of any given keyword.

    You also get the choice of two categories to put your book in. Amazon does automatically categorise your book for you, but only after a sustained period of sales when, I suppose, they know enough to link it to similar titles. You need to find categories in which you can do well, but also ones that will be popular. Although, being 1st-10th in a category that hardly anyone wants, is better than being nowhere in a popular category where no one will see your book….if you follow.

    There are a few good pages on Facebook that will allow you to promote your Kindle book. Check this list out as well, I found a number of useful sites on it: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/12-sites-kindle-owner/

    I don’t know the situation you are in with your epublisher, but if you don’t have access to your KDP info, it could pay to try and get it.

    All the best,

    I’ll DM you my email on Twitter. If you want to know more just give me a shout. I don’t wanna fill your comment section up with this.

    David

    • Thanks again, David. That’s most helpful. As you’ll gather from my blog remarks about lack of support on RTs etc., I’m already sceptical about the return from social media and now see Amazon as key, which is why I want to focus on reviews.

      I’m actually not unhappy with the categories my book is listed under (Romance/Adult and Contemporary) as I can’t find any sub-categories that would usefully narrow it down. In particular, I can’t see one into which Tourette’s would slot.

      I’ll check out keywords, as you suggest. I’ve been working on tags and thought about joining WLC’s Tagging4Authors but that looks to me like a big hassle for (probably) a very limited return.

  4. hey there! I can sympathize with you and forgive me but I am writing from the U.S, but I’m not toting a gun as I type this. In fact, I’m originally from Canada, but I digress. I know what it’s like because I have my own online business and I sell an e-book and a video and it’s such a thrill when I get purchases and emails from different parts of the world expressing gratitude for the inspiration my video or e-book provided. And yes, I also have tweeted to others and checked out their websites. When I say something nice about their book, photography, etc and then ask them to check out my award-winning short film, many so respond but many don;t take the time to return the favor. What I have found that does at least get people to your website is the following. Find something nice, positive and truthful to celebrate about someone else’s work, film trailer, book website, etc. Usually people will retweet when you say something nice ABOUT THEM. just make sure that in the SAME TWEET so for example, write, “CONGRATS on your book! LOVED the first few pages! Excellent writing, check my film at …..” they will retweet and more people will see your link and check it out.
    But most importantly, you need an actual marketing plan. Expecting the quid pro quo from other writers or friends is not a marketing plan. I’ve learned about this from having to promote myself so I’m sharing with you.

    1) Who is your target audience and don;t say…”everyone”. You need to know EXACTLY who is most likely to want to read and PAY for your book and WHY. What about your book is unique and will appeal to your target audience and even what you put on your twitter profile, “ok, it’s a love story but that’s not all it is”… Do you think that makes someone want to read the book? If “that’s not all it is, then TELL US why it’s even more special than a romance. But why discount that it’s a romance, unless you’re trying to get more of a male audience. Once you’ve decided you TARGET MARKET precisely to gender, age range, education level, etc, then you will know what to put in your twitter profile and EVERYWHERE ELSE to reach your target market. Of course you will sell to people outside of your target market but start with that market and then expand. Focus on tweeting to other writers who you think have the target audience who would LOVE your book.

    hope this helps as a start. There’s SO MUCH MORE, like trying to get a celebrity who you think would like the book and might tweet about it to read your book. You need to research and find celebs who like your book genre and fit into your target audience.

    Feel free to check my website at http://www.masteryouraudition.com and my first award-winning short film at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAn5hbTxe2Y

    you can write me directly at masteryouraudition@gmail.com

    all the best and happy holidays

    Benson.

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