Authors never read reviews of their books. No way, Jose. Not in a million years. But if ever they totally by accident stumble upon one, they sure hope the review looks like this one, that appeared today on the Silver Dagger Scriptorium website.
One of the keys to getting your book noticed (hopefully in a good way!) is reviews from independent readers. Publishing crowdfunding site Pubslush has put together this short, yet informative list of what indie authors need to do to get those reviews rolling in.
Seeking out reviews can be very, very time-consuming for a busy writer, with a very low success rate, so every bit of advice helps. One extra tip I received last week from my publicist was to include a note in each of the 25 signed copies of Silent Symmetry I’ll be giving away in my Goodreads giveaway contest, asking each reader to (pretty please) write a review on Goodreads and Amazon. Every little bit helps, and each one of those Goodreads members has a whole bunch of friends who will see their review.
If you’re an author who’s had success requesting reviews, please share any other tips you have.
Also, try saying this post’s title five times quickly and let me know if you did it!
I’m beginning to sort out something that resembles a marketing plan for Silent Symmetry. Like any marketing plan, you have to pick and choose the media according to your budget (in my case, essentially $0) and try to figure out the right timing for each activity. One thing has become very clear to me: reviews matter. Not even getting 5-star reviews (though they are, of course, lovely), but at least 10 solid reviews by real people who are not close relatives. It doesn’t matter how much I blow my own horn, when a stranger visits Silent Symmetry’s Amazon page the chances of them buying a copy are much higher when they see that other readers liked it enough to go to their keyboard and share their opinions.
Currently there are no reviews. I had a free giveaway for one day this week, so I know that almost 300 people are actually reading the book, and hopefully that will translate into a couple of reviews. But it almost seems like a Catch-22 situation: you need reviews to sell books, but you can’t get reviewed if no one buys the book in the first place. Or can you?
Fortunately, there’s a bunch of people out there in Internetland who enjoy reading and reviewing books for free. They either do it out of the goodness of their hearts, because they sell ads on their websites, because they receive a constant stream of free books to read, or all three. And many of them have names like Caitlin, Courtney, Chelsea and Chantale.
How do I know this? Because a wonderful guy called Simon Royle publishes the The Indie Book Review website, where he houses a list of 250+ reviewers. Each one of them is in theory open to review requests, although some refuse specific genres and others are currently so backlogged with requests that they can’t be approached. My job is therefore to send an email to every single one asking politely if they would consider reviewing Silent Symmetry. And it’s taking ages! Even with a form letter already prepared, each different reviewer has their own specific policy about how they like to be asked and what they need to receive. I don’t blame them, either. They must be absolutely swamped with requests, so it’s in their best interests to weed out authors who don’t deserve a review because they are impolite, too insistent or their book isn’t in an appropriate genre.
I have to admit, I’d much rather be writing the Silent Symmetry sequel, Starley’s Rust. But it’s no good self-epublishing a book that no one reads, so marketing efforts like this simply go with the territory of being a professional author. Most indie ebooks like mine take a good year to establish any kind of consistent readership (if they ever do) so patience is the name of the game.
There are other marketing activities that I’m finding out about and will certainly be trying once Silent Symmetry has received some reviews, including a blog book tour and promoting the book to fan sites that are relevant to the categories and genres of Young Adult Fiction, fantasy, mystery and science fiction. And that brings me to the subject of my next post (unless I get sidetracked): what genre is Silent Symmetry anyway?