The Grueling Task of Book Promotion

It seems to me that the art of writing is much easier than the grueling task of book promotion! I have run a small business for eight years, experimented with advertising until I got the right formula for my small company. . .and yet, promoting my book, which I think is very good by the way, is so HARD!

If you talk to a dozen different Indie authors, you will get twelve different systems that they all swear will work! Heck, a lot of them have stopped writing fiction and now focus on self-help for the self-publisher. . .and so now they are onto something and their e-books are selling like hotcakes.

So what is the hopeless fiction author to do? How do we market our books without emptying our kids college funds, or draining our retirement accounts? More importantly, how do we make our marketing dollar count in the most productive way possible?

Of course, the industry is changing every single day and let’s face it, your book, no matter how well written, is competing with sub quality works. That’s right, I said it. The market is FLOODED with junk, poorly written, UN-edited trash that is not worth the $.99 price. Which brings me to the next challenge we Indie authors are facing. Trends show that readers are becoming more discriminatory,  after all, they don’t want to waste their money on a book that they will just not be able to finish, and who can blame them? Unless your book grabs them at “hello”, they will browse right past you.

Reviews used to be “where it’s at”. Good reviews would guarantee you sales, but now, authors have the ability to obtain those coveted five star reviews for the right price. The “junk” may have stellar ratings, sporting reviews written by bloggers hungry for content. These can usually be spotted a mile away, they read like book reports, usually contain numerous typos and misspellings and are poorly written altogether. Reviews written in the book report format indicate one thing, that the reviewer/blogger did NOT read the book. . .they scanned it and picked out a few story points and wrote a review. I have received reviews such as these myself, and my heart sinks every time.

Verified reviews are much harder to get because the reviewer must purchase the book in order to post a “verified review”. Well, marketers have found a way around this too, taking most of the clout out of the ‘verified review”.

I am finding that the best reviews, that is reviews that actually mean something, are reviews written by other authors or published by respected periodicals. Not just any author, but successful authors. I recently read “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, (I will be posting a review here soon). Inside the copy I have in my possession, there are about a dozen or so reviews. The first is written by Stephen King! Several others are written by journalists for magazines such as Elle, Entertainment Weekly and Booklist. Now as Indie authors, I realize that we probably will not be able to obtain such prestigious reviews, at least not in the beginning, but we can focus our review requests on other authors.

If you’re a writer, than you’re probably a reader. Peruse Indie titles in your genre, the genre of your book. When you find something you like, buy it and read it. If you are impressed with the author’s style and quality of his/her work, write a review for it, then I recommend finding them online. Send an email request for a review. Point out how much you enjoy their work and just ask if they would be willing to read and review your book.

When you find a willing author, then send them a gift code to purchase your book. When they claim it, it then becomes a verified purchase. . .when they review it, you now have a verified review. That authors readers, the folks who are following him/her around on the web, will see that review. Remember, this author writes in your genre, so his/her fans could be your fans before long.

Equally important to your success, is that you use social media to it’s fullest. Find those Indie authors you love, like their pages, follow them and mention them in your posts. One good turn deserves another, and if your work is good, your relationship with other authors may give you some much needed exposure, and put clout back in your verified review.

C. Evenfall is the author of the paranormal/suspense novel, “The Wraith of Carter’s Mill.”

Reviews, Friendly Fire or Not!

As an author, I realize the importance of reviews. In today’s world, more than ever, it’s how we shop. Most of us, authors I mean, cringe when we see a new one as we are ever looking for those coveted 5 star reviews and dread anything less than a 3 star.

The fact is, literary tastes are as unique as DNA, and everyone is not going to like our books. By the same token, reviewers will like different things about our work and dislike different things, and this is valuable information to authors.

While book reviews are written for readers, as authors, we just would not be smart to overlook them … especially the poor ones. That’s right, I said the 1’s and 2’s are equally as important as the glowing, sought after 5 star review. Now notice I said reviews and not ratings!

Ratings alone without any comments can be misleading to other readers and disappointing to the author whether it’s a high rating or a low rating. When I am book shopping, I always rely on reviews to help me make my decision about purchasing a book. Any book with say, 50 reviews, and they are all 5 stars sends up a red flag. I will scan through them but when it becomes obvious that they are just book reports with a rating, I lose interest.

When I look at a book and it has for example ; 45 (5) star reviews, 23 (4) star reviews, 15 (3) star reviews and 6 or 8 (1’s and 2’s) I get interested, and guess what? I read the 1’s and 2’s FIRST. If this handful of readers felt it necessary to leave a poor rating without a comment, I assume they are just being mean and I disregard it, BUT if they actually left a review, I’m all in. I want to know why you didn’t like it.

Think about it, everybody likes ice cream! But if everyone liked the same flavor, how boring would that be?

Same thing applies to the glorious 5 star! If the reviewer only saw fit to rate the title and not leave a comment, I am very disappointed. I want to know WHY you liked it so much or WHY you hated it ! SHOUT it out, tell readers what you think because in truth, that’s who you are reaching with your rating and review. Reviewers, you are writers … and people are reading your work.

C. Evenfall is the author of The Wraith of Carter’s Mill, available now on Amazon in e-book and paperback formats.