Monthly Archives: September 2013

How to Solicit Book Reviews

Soliciting Book ReviewsGetting book reviews can be tough, but getting book reviews is essential if you want to promote your book to a wide audience.   Most independent authors who receive reviews, and even authors who have published through one of the “Big Five” publishers—unless, of course, they are J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer—are not getting their reviews organically; they have a strategy, and they are out there working hard to get their reviews.  Soliciting book reviews requires a different strategy set, depending on whether you are soliciting reviews from the media or from consumers.

Soliciting Book Reviews from Consumers

(1)    Start by doing some research on who is reviewing titles similar to yours.  Dig out your book proposal for the competitive works, and look them up on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Cross-reference the usernames with social media platforms.   Then, either reach out to them on social media or try to dig a little further to uncover their email address.

(2)    Reach out to book reviewers through Good Reads.  Work on building your network, so, when the time comes, you already have a list of reviewers to reach out to, rather than scrambling to put the list together after your book has already been published.

(3)    People who have signed up for your newsletter or who follow you on social media—especially those who have mentioned you positively on their networks—already like your book.  Reach out to them and ask them if they would be willing to write a review.  They’re already fans, so do something nice for them, like offering to send them a signed copy.

Soliciting Book Reviews from the Media

(1)    Enlist the help of a book publicist or your publisher to help you craft media releases about your book, whether you are pitching them story ideas or sending them a press release, offering them a review copy.

Please see my article on using media releases to get book reviews: https://selfpublishingmadeeasy.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/how-to-use-press-releases-to-promote-your-book/

(2)    Do some research online, using that same list of competitive works that you used to find Amazon reviewers.  Find out who has reviewed books that are similar to theirs, research their contact information, and send them an email (or a message via social media) asking them if they would like a review copy of your book.

Don’t be discouraged if you invest a great deal of time into finding people to review your book, or you get turned downed or told that your wait for a review will be extremely long.  Book reviewers are overloaded, and their desks are piled high with books that they have been asked to review, whether they do it as a hobby or they work for a traditional publication or blog.

Author Tips for the Day of Your Book Signing or Book Reading

Stack of Books for a Book SigningIt is hard work to set up a book signing .  Once it has paid off, the work doesn’t stop there.  It is still important to make a good impression on your fans, bookstore shoppers who may buy your book (and, potentially, become new fans), and the bookstore, itself.

Make sure that you bring an easel and a large poster of yourself and your book.  If you have a positive newspaper clipping, put it in a frame, and keep it at your signing table; if you do not have one, create a flyer with some blurbs from online reviews and frame it.  Bring some promotional items to give away, like bookmarks.  If the bookstore has not already placed your book (or books) by the registers, it is prime real estate for an impulse purchase, especially when the store is promoting you, so ask them if it is possible for them to do so.

For a Signing:

  • Don’t forget to bring pens!  It is a signing, so it is important that you are able to actually sign copies of your book, without looking unprepared by relying on the bookstore.
  • After the signing, sign any unsold books so the store has autographed copies .

For a Reading:

  • Don’t wing it!  Make sure that you have selected your passages in advance.
  • If you have not read the passages that you have selected to an audience before, rehearse the passage at home a few times.  After you are comfortable with it, try reading it for friends or family members.

When the signing is over, don’t forget to give the people who have graciously accommodated you some recognition.  Thank the manager who helped you schedule your signing, and, if it is appropriate, offer to take pictures with him.  If it is a small bookstore, ask the manager if he or she would like you to write up a blurb for their newsletter or website.

A little preparation can go a long way towards your success with readers, shoppers, and the bookstore.  While it is important to be prepared, don’t get so caught up with the details and making sure the event is perfect that you forget to enjoy the moment that you have worked hard to get to.

How To Set Up Book Signings

Book SigningBook signings can be a great tool to promote your self published book.  A lot of work goes into setting up book signings, so you should be prepared to invest a lot of time and energy into the process.

Larger bookstores will often schedule their book signings months in advance, so make sure that you contact the bookstore well ahead of the time that you are hoping to hold the event.  Start by making a list of stores and phone numbers.  It is easier to start by approaching small, local bookstores who will have an interest in a local author or smaller chains.

Call them, ask to speak to a manager, and, when you get them on the phone, tell them that you are a local author and that your book is in their system.  If they are not already carrying your book, make sure that you schedule your signing after they get your books in. Please note that, with a few exceptions, bookstores will not have your self published book in their system unless it is “returnable” and carried by a major wholesaler such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor.  “Returnable” means that bookstores can return any unsold books for a full refund with no penalty or restocking fee. (Most, but not all, self publishing companies provide a Return Program for an additional fee.)

It is important that you are able to show that there is interest in your book, so be armed with an arsenal of reviews, reader comments, and blurbs about your book.  Bookstores will want to ensure that you will draw a crowd to come into their store, so you should be prepared to pitch the manager or event planner on your book and why they should have you.

If you are unable to secure a bookstore, consider holding a reading in a unique atmosphere, like a coffee shop or restaurant.

Obviously, you want a crowd, not only to increase sales and exposure, but also to ensure that the bookstore will welcome you back in the future, when you release your next book.  Use the resources that are already at your disposal by promoting the event on your personal and fan pages on various social media platforms.  Invite local media to the event or offer to send them review copies to build hype for the event—pitching them will be just as tough as pitching the bookstores, so don’t be blue if you don’t hear back or you receive a polite “Thanks, but no thanks.”  In many cases, your local news outlets allow users to add events to online community calendars, so find as many of them as you can, and submit the details of your event.

When the big day comes, remember to relax, have fun, and enjoy your big moment.

See my follow-up article on Author Tips for the Day of Your Book Signing or Book Reading.

How To Tighten Your Writing

by Guest Blogger, Tiffany Colter 

Writing Tips for Self Published AuthorsIf you are in the midst of writing your book and you wonder how you’ll even push to 65,000+ words then the idea of shortening you book may seem amusing. The fact is I’m finding a large percentage of new writers who are writing books well over 100,000 words over the last year or so. Even if your book is half that length you may need to shorten [or tighten] your book considerably.

Unfortunately, teaching you how to shorten isn’t as easy to talk about in a blog. That is because many times you are just being WAAAYYYY too wordy and you need someone to look at it and cut it down. Here are a couple of things to help you:

1.  Could see/Could hear/Could smell=saw, heard, smelled. This is a huge one. I’m not sure why people think they need to use the word “could” all the time but AHHHHH!!!! Just do a search on this word and you’ll be amazed at how often you find it. The other issue here is you may be TELLING and writing in deep point of view will fix it. Let me show you what I mean:

He could see his young daughter, Sarah, running over the hill toward him, her pony tails were bouncing. She loved him so much and he loved her even more.

Oh, there is so much we can do to tighten this. Do you see it?

He could see his young daughter, Sarah, running ran over the hill toward him, her pony tails were bouncing. She loved him so much and he loved her even more.

The first thing to do is cut most of the beginning. If we are in this person’s POV then we are seeing it through his eyes. All of my clients are screaming, “Amen! Tiff nails  us on this all the time.” When you look at something you don’t say, “I can see…”. You simply see it. We’ve already killed 6 useless words and taken the reader deeper in to the character. That takes us to the next tip…

2.  Show don’t tell. How can you show motion? In the example above Sarah “Ran over the hill toward him”. This is where we’re going to add some words in order to subtract others. How could we SHOW that she was running to him as well as show how she feels? I’m assuming this is a happy scene. We talk about love. How can we convey love while still letting us see what is happening? How about this:

…two little feet racing down the hill, two pony tails bouncing, two arms reaching toward him. His chest ached with love.

Can the reader understand she is on a hill? Can they tell she is coming toward him? How do we know there is affection? We leave things implied which cuts some words and allows us to add only necessary words. To be honest, I’m not thrilled with “His chest ached with love.” I think I’ll cut it more.

BEFORE: He could see his young daughter, Sarah, running over the hill toward him, her pony tails were bouncing. She loved him so much and he loved her even more.

After: Sarah ran over the hill…two little feet racing, two pony tails bouncing, two arms reaching for him. His chest ached.

This went from 29 words to 20. In the second, do you have a better sense of this girls age, her feelings, and the POV character’s feelings for/relationship with her? And we did it while cutting 9 words.

Hopefully, you also see now why it is so hard to give a blanket answer on how to cut. You have to look at one sentence at a time. You need to identify that subtle telling. You need to examine the motivation [in our example, Sarah’s motivation is running to her loving daddy.

I also want to show you the power of tightening like this. You feel a deeper sense of emotion. You feel more a part of this. Do you want proof? Read the sentence again:

Sarah ran over the hill…two little feet racing, two pony tails bouncing, two arms reaching for him. His chest ached.

Now, add this as the next sentence:

The words your mommy is gone catching in his mind. How would he voice them to her?

OUCH! Is your heart breaking? [Mine is. I don’t like writing that sentence.] You built up the emotion with tight writing so we feel we ARE these people.

I cannot stand this pain. I need to rewrite this. Okay, let’s look at our original sentence again:

Sarah ran over the hill…two little feet racing, two pony tails bouncing, two arms reaching for him. His chest ached.

Now, add this as the next sentence:

He was finally here to stay.

Okay, a bit sappy for this Suspense writer, but it makes me much happier. I didn’t want that little girl, Sarah, sad.

I’ll talk about this another time, but try using these few tips I gave you here to tighten your writing and deepen your POV. You’ll get in to word count range for your target publisher AND you’ll have more powerful writing.

If these tips are helpful then I suggest you get, “Wisdom from Writing Career Coach”. In it I have the tips I’ve shared with dozens of clients over the years. You can get it as a digital download for only $2.50 here.

If you’d like a print copy it is $8.95 + $5 priority mail shipping. Use this payment link.  Allow 6 business days for other orders.

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Tiffany Colter is the Writing Career Coach at www.WritingCareerCoach.com and one of the hosts of  The Road LESS Published on Blog Talk Radio.  She can be reached at Tiffany@WritingCareerCoach.com