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Book Reviews: How To Get Lots Of Them As A Self-Published Author

Reviews tell readers whether they should or should not buy a book, and the more positive reviews a book gets, the stronger the appeal it has for readers. Reviews give credibility to an author’s craft, and funny as it sounds, the majority of buyers rely on book reviews when making their choice of which book to buy. At times, just the number of reviews posted for a book is enough to make a reader buy that book.

While most publishing houses have developed winning strategies and even built their own list of book reviewers, most indie authors are left with little resources, uncertain about how to garner the reviews they need to sell more books. This article provides a roadmap to creating a buzz about your book with good reviews and how to get them.

Be Prepared with Your Kit

Your book review kit is something you have to think about months before your book even gets published. You don’t just wake up one good morning and start hunting for book reviewers. There are some essential things you should prepare before your book launch:

  • Copies of your book in DPF format. It will be great if they include a cover.
  • Print copies of your book. Some reviewers prefer print copies, so you need to have your mailing supplies ready.
  • A press release about the launch of your book. This is an opportunity to share your story with readers and potential reviewers. Especially for nonfiction writer, a press release is also an opportunity to share your story to potential readers.
  • Prepare your cover letter. This is what you need to introduce yourself to reviewers, and keep it short.
  • Author Bio. Readers want to know who you are and what makes you the right person to write the book, especially if your book is nonfiction.

Social Media Presence

By the time your book is published, you should have connected with the right people. Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are ideal for hunting and connecting with book reviewers. I love LinkedIn because it allows you to easily locate book reviewers using the title, so connect with reviewers and start networking with them. Engage them in simple conversations and get to know more about them. You want to build relationships with these people so you can create an Emotional Bank where you can withdraw in the future. It will be easier to get a reviewer you have had a great conversation with to review your book than someone you’re talking to for the first time. The hours you spend investing in such relationships pay off in the end.

Finding the Right Reviewers

The ideal is to get free reviews for your book and there are thousands of reviewers and bloggers who write well and thoughtfully and who will gladly read and review your book — provided it appeals to them. The best way to start is to check out books that are in your genre and find out who has reviewed those books. On Amazon, you’ll be able to click on the reviewer’s profile to check them out. Luckily, many reviewers leave their contact details — name and email — open to the public. Start building your own list according to your interests.

There are some great online publications and review services that have put together a solid base for book reviewers, so you want to consider some of them. Readers Favorite offers free book reviews and has a dedicated page for the author. Mid-West Book Review accepts review requests from self-published authors. The Book Commentary publishes reviews on their sites and encourages its reviewers to publish on their blogs and other platforms.

Doing It Right

You’ve put together your materials and have built your own list of book reviewers, so now is the time to start reaching out and you want to make sure you do it right. Consider the following guidelines when reaching out to book reviewers.

  • Email the right reviewers.Make sure you’re aware of the kinds of books the reviewer reads before sending out your pitch. Select those who are appropriate and who are interested in your genre.
  • Don’t ignore the requirements. Make sure to check each reviewer’s requirements before contacting them. While some will want you to send out your book right away, others prefer that you pitch them first. Some will only review e-Books while others want hard copies. So, check out what works most for them. It can’t be your way!
  • Offer all versions of your book. In your query, make sure to indicate the available formats of your book — print, audio, and PDF.
  • Keep it short and to the point. Note that most reviewers only do this on their spare time and like most of us, they’re busy people. So, in your query, it will be great to let them know how you found them and why you think they might be interested in your book. Include a blurb of the book and make sure you share some interesting details about yourself.
  • Don’t spam reviewers. It is best to personalize your email as best as you can. Don’t send a mass email to reviewers, especially if you want better results. Give them time to respond and when doing a follow up, be polite and grateful. You’re asking them to spend their time reading and reviewing your book and there is no pay for that. The least you can do is to stay as professional as you can be.
  • Don’t forget the thank you note.Make it a point to get back to those who reviewed your book to say “Thank you.” There is no better way of ensuring that they review your next book than staying connected and grateful.

The above tips will help you not only get great reviews but have people talking about your book and attracting more readers to it.

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Romuald Dzemo is author of You Can’t Be a Failure, a passionate book lover and book reviewer, and an entrepreneur.  

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Should You Hire A Book Publicist For Your Book?

It takes a lot of time and commitment to get a book written. But that is the easiest part of the process. Getting it published and into the hands of avid readers or fans of the genre poses a lot of challenges, especially for authors with minimal marketing experience.

The question is: Should you be okay with the promotion efforts of your publisher or is there something else you can do to get the word out about your book? It is all about understanding the difference between a book that sells and one that sinks. Quite often, the difference isn’t so clear.

But one thing is for sure: allowing the publisher to do the marketing for your book won’t get it far. The hype doesn’t last long as the publisher quickly moves to the next title or reaches the limit of funds allocated for your book marketing.

You have to believe in your work and believe that it is a worthy investment in order to find ways to promote it. Creating a website for your book and blogging about it is a good start. Authors who are keen on marketing start building their email list months before their book gets published and they create an awareness of their work by frequent engagement with potential readers through blog posts and newsletters that showcase their craft and their writing journey. They start networking with book reviewers months before the publication of their book. 

While there is a lot that an author can do to promote their book, investing in the right book publicist can be a good investment for so many reasons, including placements in various media houses, individualized attention of the book, increased reviews, increased placement in brick-n-mortar bookstores, etc.

But how do you make sure you hire the right book publicist?

  1. Get Recommendation from other authors

While there are many ads online from book publicists, it is most advisable to speak with authors who have hired one before and ask for their recommendation. It will be even more suitable if authors recommending publicists write in the same genre. Apart from getting recommendations from other authors, it is important to consider the critical reputation of the publicist. A publicist doesn’t need print ads to get known. No, if they are good, authors will be talking about them.

  1. Get their references

You want to speak to authors who have used the services of the publicist. How successful are they? Were they able to get media coverage, get more sales, and reviews for their books? If possible, what is it the publicist did that is unique and what part of their book brought in more sales? Can they measure what they do and how? You’re looking for a publicist who is enthusiastic about books and who has successfully pitched similar books to reviewers, the media, and bloggers. So, speak to those who have used their service in the past. 

  1. Interview shortlisted publicists

A publicist who falls in love with your book and who develops a great relationship with you will create more success for your book. Your conversation with the publicist gives you insights into their personality and potential, helps you gauge their style of communication, and allows you to make a personal judgement when it comes to their strengths and business mindset. You want to know how they work, determine whether they are up-to-date with social media trends. Ask them about books they are working on or books they have marketed and find out how they are doing. Note that most publicists require contracts of six months to a year and some of them charge by the hour, so you want clarity on these critical areas before moving forward.

  1. Be Upfront with the publicist provided by your publisher

If your publisher provides an in-house publicist and you decide to get one, it is important to be upfront and let your in-house publicist know that you’re hiring a backup. You won’t have to worry about this if you are an indie author. Once you know what your in-house publicist does, you can easily get the outside professional publicist to fill in the gaps.

  1. Do your part.

This is about your book and hiring a professional to market it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to spread the word. While publishers can promote your book, there is a limit to what they can do. They also work on a budget like every one of us. So get to work and blog, tweet, and post on social media about your book. Build your own list of reviewers and reach out to them.

A good publicist can create a buzz about your book and if you are mindful of the points above, you’ll certainly find one.

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6 Easy Ways To Find Your Unique Writing Voice

No matter what you write, what keeps the reader engaged is your voice. The reader wants to think that they are seated across from you, listening to you. They want to hear you clearly and they want to connect with you and it is your voice that makes that connection possible, drawing them into your world and compelling them to pay attention to your topic, to follow your characters, or to stay with your train of thought. 

So, how do you make your voice compelling? It should be natural, an extension of who and what you are. It’s as simple as that. But how do you find your voice in writing? Most aspiring authors tend to imitate their favorite author’s voice and this can make their writing come across as forced, their voice discordant and shallow. Your writing will be more digestible and your thoughts clearer if you find your voice and use it with confidence. But how do you find your unique voice? Below are 6 useful tips. 

You Just Have to Write

Yes, you’ll find your voice by writing more. You become good at anything by constantly doing it.  A guitarist virtuoso becomes what he is by constantly practicing.  So, you have to write constantly and more. The more you write, the more your voice becomes clearer. You won’t get better without practicing, so write more. 

Let others see your work

You can’t be your own judge. Get feedback from others. Allow others to read your work and let you know how it affects them.You want to find out if your voice sounds clear and compelling enough to keep them interested in what you have to say.  It is best to have people who are experts to read your work. You can also get invaluable feedback from writing groups. But having your work seen by an editor with experience in your genre is most preferable. It is common for writers to seek out family members and friends to share their work with, but this category of people won’t give you the hard advice that a professional will give you.  

Good Writers Are Avid Readers

It would be a sheer contraction to want to get people interested in reading your work when you don’t have the interest in reading someone else’s. The best authors are the most avid readers. But why do you want to read a lot? You read because you want to understand why an author’s voice keeps you hooked. You want to know what it is that makes it hard to put a piece of writing down. You get familiar with the different styles of writing and hear echoes of your voice in the authors that mesmerize you with their writing. As you read others you unconsciously or consciously begin to hear your own voice even clearer. Read because you are eager to learn. Read because you want to understand how others do it. And read for the sheer joy of it. 

Explore Different Styles

Whether you’re writing a story or a nonfiction book, there are a thousand ways to go about it. Allow your idea to touch you in different ways. Explore the different perspectives and find that which best suits your voice.  For instance, when writing a story, you want to explore the different narrative forms. Do you feel most comfortable writing in the first person narrative? Does the POV become easier to handle when using the third person narrative for you? By exploring the different styles, you’ll easily find one that reflects your voice and that carries your message with more confidence and authenticity. 

Know Your Audience and Write for Them

They know when you’re honest and they can tell when you get irrelevant.  If you write a novel for teens in a tone that addresses adult readers, it won’t appeal to them. You want to know who your audience  is and what they are looking for. This means that you want to become part of their world, so explore their world, research on how they speak, on the language they use, and what makes them come alive.  You’ll stay relevant if you understand your audience and what interests them. 

Be Yourself

While you may want to write like Hemingway or your most favorite author, you can’t become those writers. Impersonification is the worst thing that could happen to a writer. You lose your voice when you try to imitate another writer’s and readers are intelligent enough to feel the discordant chords.  Write from your world. Write from your perspective. Write from the way inspiration comes to you. When you learn to listen to yourself and to translate your voice in writing, it becomes authentic and powerful. 

Readers are always looking for unique voices to read and yours only stays unique when it reflects your world and your humanity.