Monday, 17 June 2013

Reviews Are The New “Gold” in Publishing Currency

- Guest Post by AFN Clarke

You’re an Indie author, you just finished a new book and you know the only way to sell it is to promote it.  But you’re also told by successful authors that without 10 – 15 reviews promotion is a waste of time and money, as most readers won’t buy a book with few reviews. But how can you get 15 reviews, without promotion and sales?  It’s a circular and exasperating predicament.

Here are a few tips to building those prized reviews quickly (what I suggest for Amazon can be replicated on most other ebook retail sites):

1.         Give your book away for free to boost readership and reviews.

Offer a free pre-publication edition of your book to family and friends in return for a review. Make the offer 1-2 months before publication – the moment it appears, your readers can post reviews.

Alternatively, whatever your book’s final price, launch it at something like 99 cents.  Offer to gift your book for 1 week to those in your social networks in return for a review (Email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ etc). The Gift A Copy button is under the Click To Buy button on Amazon. Yes, you pay for each book you gift, but that sale registers in Amazon’s algorithms, increasing your book’s ranking and visibility. The resultant reviews aren’t Verified Purchase Reviews, but better than nothing. Never demand a review, request one politely AND ask for an honest review – the whole purpose is to increase the number of genuine reviews for your book.

Giveaways are another way to get your book out there to readers quickly for free in the hope they will post a review. Ask any reputable author/reader website to work with you on a giveaway or contact sites like Freebooksy, BookGoodies, Free Book Dude, The Frugal eReader.

2.         Request reviews through the author community.

Established author/reader websites are great places to request a review including: Author Marketing Club; World Literary Café; Book Tweeting Service; BookGoodies; GoodReads; Zwoodle Books; The Kindle Book Review; Facebook; Kindleboards.

3.         Create a virtual blog tour.

Well-known bloggers reach thousands of readers that you could never reach alone. Reputable websites like Orangeberry Book Tours (OB) offer an amazing selection of virtual book tours through their extensive blogger network. The cost is very reasonable and the service excellent. For me, OB is a busy author’s dream-come-true.  Just the 7-day tour for my politically provocative thriller An Unquiet American yielded great results.  I’m now in the middle of a longer tour for my latest book The Orange Moon Affair – the first in a new thriller series – and while it’s already doing well with 4.9 Stars on Amazon, my guess is that once the 30 day blog tour is over I will have at least 25 more reviews and thousands more readers who will have heard of my book, and many who’ve hopefully bought it.

The key is to keep working with people/service providers who can help you go viral – to leverage what you do, expand your promotion efforts exponentially and get you out to tens of thousands of readers.

4.         Ready to promote?

Once you have a decent number of reviews I recommend you read the Author Resources section of The Kindle Book Review and follow Jeff Bennington’s tips for effective marketing.  Also read Jim F. Kukral’s The Ultimate Digital Promotion Handbook at the Author Marketing Club. Start promoting using their recommendations and slowly build your own expertise.

5.         Track your results

Before you do any of the above, enroll your book(s) in Kindle Nation Daily’s eBookTracker and track your Amazon pricing data and sales ranking.  Note when your sales ranking rises -  in response to reviews? Advertising? Specific promotions?  Price changes? It’s a great way to determine what works and what doesn’t.

May you win the “gold” and have the greatest of success!

AFN CLARKE is the son of a British MI6 operative, pilot, sailor, screenwriter, father of four who’s lived all over the world, served in the British Army and recovered from the physical/emotional traumas of war.  His bestselling memoir CONTACT was serialized in a British newspaper and made into an award winning BBCTV film.  He’s insatiably curious, loves heated discussions and has a rascally sense of humor. He now writes fiction of various genres – thrillers (The Orange Moon Affair and An Unquiet American); human drama (Dry Tortugas), humor/satire (Dreams from the Death Age; Armageddon), horror (Collisions) with more coming soon.  For more information visit, connect on Facebook or Twitter (@AFN Clarke).

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