5 Ideas to generate book reviews

canstockphoto15925493Sometimes I feel more excited about the reviews on my books than the checks from Amazon. To an extent, I’m sure every author feels the same way. However, it can be tough getting readers to write one. Personally, it looks like my numbers for ‘Prey of Desire’ are one review in twenty sales.

So if you’re like me and looking for a way to increase reviews, here are a few tips I’ve found that work:

  1. Trade Reviews with fellow writers

You probably personally know quite a few writers from local critique groups, writing conferences, book fairs and social media. See who would be willing to trade reviews. It’s a time investment, but will be a good way to start building some numbers. However — and I can’t stress this enough – don’t trade 5 stars for 5 stars. You must still provide honest, thoughtful reviews.

  1. Join Review Groups in GoodReads

GoodReads has several review groups. You’ll find readers looking for a free copy in trade for an honest review. You’ll also find round robin groups that will provide four people to read and review your book while you read and review four other books. There’s also a great benefit in networking with other authors.

  1. Jump on the Blog Tour circuit

Blog tours are great way to get reviews, especially from bloggers that are specific to your genre. Through this tour, a set number of book review bloggers will read and post reviews on their website (and generally Amazon & Good Reads). There are blog tour services that will organize everything for you, but they generally cost between $100 to $500, depending on the company. However, you can contact book review blogs on your own and submit your book to them at no cost.

  1. Participate in Facebook Groups

Run a search on Facebook for “book groups” and you’ll find an entire author/reader network out there. Like GoodReads, there are groups that exchange reads & reviews. There are also book clubs and book marketing clubs. You’ll even come across the occasional post from someone saying, “Hey… I just finished the book I was reading. Anyone got any suggestions?”

  1. Ask for help from email and/or blog followers

If you’re serious about your writing career, you should have a website and blog that’s collecting followers and email addresses. Send the word out that you’re trying to get to X number of reviews and need their help. Offer to provide your book for free for an honest review. You’ll get some takers.

Confounded Critic: Should I write a bad review?

Confounded CriticHi JC,

Have you ever written a bad review for someone’s book? I only write reviews on books I like and say nothing if I don’t like it. However I think I just finished the worst book ever written.

I started to put it down several times but couldn’t. It was like passing an accident on the highway and you just have to look at it. It was that badly written. The story itself was kind of interesting, but the author knew nothing on the subject. In one scene, the main character had to wait for the family physician who was running late because he was busy performing a heart transplant. Another scene has a Taliban Leader talking to his followers, and his monolog goes on for three pages. The main character doesn’t show up until Chapter Four, after three chapters of various terrorists preparing an attack on American soil. The point of view shifts were so bad that, in one line, the POV shifted mid-sentence. And all the dialog followed one of my big pet peeves, which is putting the period after the end quotes. (ex. “I’m so glad to see you”.)

This book is a case study in how NOT to write a novel. The author in me says, “It’s not my place to say something bad about another author’s work.” The reader in me says, “Warn people not to spend $2.99 on this mess.”

 So what should I do?

 Sincerely,

A Confounded Critic

*  *  *  *

Dear Confounded Critic,

Bad reviews are part of putting your work out there. We all get them. So you know what they say — If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.  In this case, you’re not sure if you really want to be the person to do it?

The simplest solution would be to contact the author in a private message (possibly through GoodReads) and not post a public review. However, if that’s not an option for some reason, then maybe the number of reviews the book currently has could help you decide. If there are ten or more reviews, go ahead and write a critical assessment. It will balance out the others. If there are under ten reviews, then leave it alone. Chances are it’s only his family and friends finding and reading it anyway.

If you do decide to write a bad review, don’t “flame” him. Reviews that give no details and just read “don’t waste your time” help no one.  It sounds like this book has the sort of quality issues that give Indie authors a bad rep. Ultimately, reviews are to help your fellow readers decide if a book is going to be an enjoyable read for the price. As a reader it is entirely within your right to voice your opinion and provide an honest review. There’s nothing to feel guilty about.

Good luck!

JC

Turmoiling in Obscurity: “When is enough enough?”

canstockphoto18799595Dear JC,

Just curious, but do you ever think you’re really not that good and should probably just quit? I spend a year of my life writing a book, rewriting it, getting it edited, then publishing. Just so nothing happens. I feel like I’m just plugging away in a vacuum and watching a sale pop up every few weeks. And don’t even get me started on the rentals and returns. Urrrgggghhhhh!

But I keep on believing in myself and all that other BS. Just wondering when enough is enough?

Sincerely,
Turmoiling in Obscurity

Dear Turmoil,

I’m not sending any platitudes your way. I promise. Besides, it sounds like you’ve heard them all. But you’ve got to ask yourself: Why are you writing?

If it’s to make millions of dollars, well, there’s easier ways to do it. Is it for recognition? We all want that. We all want to write the novel that enters the all-time top-selling books list with a total worldwide sale of 100 million copies. That’s not going to happen overnight. Plus, it sounds like you’ve written one book. If so, the odds are stacked against that becoming a runaway best seller. I hear most people start finding traction for their sales with their fourth or fifth book.

But since you’re down in the dumps, I’m going to list a few things you can do to lift your spirits.

Become a student and improve. You mention returns and a self doubt that “you’re really not that good.” That makes me wonder if there’s opportunity to improve your writing skills. Read books about writing in your genre, story structure and building characters. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? So learn. One litmus test for improvement is to pull out an old manuscript from a year (or more) ago. Re-read it. If you don’t see flaws and areas that need rewriting, you aren’t improving. And, that may be affecting your sales.

Also become a student of marketing. Amazon has over 2,500 books available about marketing books. Get some and follow the tips. If one book doesn’t work, get another. That will keep you motivated.

If you’re wanting immediate feedback that will increase your Amazon and GoodReads reviews, then look into some blog tours. Over the course of a few weeks, you’ll get some reviews, conduct some interviews and spur a few sales. It’s not bringing in the big bucks, but it is nurturing, motivational soup to sip while you write your next book.

The point is, enough is never enough. Once you’ve published your first book, you’ve got to focus on writing the next one. When that’s done, start the next one. Something will happen. I don’t necessarily know what. But something will happen. Like the old adage says, Write. Publish. Repeat.

Good luck and keep writing,
JC

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Got a question for me? Hit the contact button at the top and send me an email. Or do you disagree with my advice? Let me know in the comments. How would you respond to Turmoiling in Obscurity’s problem?

Knowledge is Power: GoodReads for Authors

Goodreads-For-Authors-How-To-Use-Goodreads-To-Promote-Your-BooksWith the job of marketing falling square on the author’s shoulders nowadays, it seems like most of us are spending more time peddling our books and less time writing new ones. That’s why Good Reads is such an important tool.

Michelle Campbell Scott’s Goodreads For Authors: How To Use Goodreads To Promote Your Books is a comprehensive guide to the social networking site. The book is clear, concise and easy to read. It’s got a logical order that’s invaluable to beginners, giving a soup to nuts crash course to get you up and running. Intermediate users will find a wealth of details that will raise your understanding to the next level. And, the end of chapter summaries will allow the no-time-to-read browser a quick study and immediate answers.

I’d been poking around on Goodreads for about  year, and was somewhat familiar with the website. Yet I didn’t yet understand how best to use groups or giveaways to promote my books. There were a lot of features that I was completely unaware even existed. The book walks you through everything from signup to reviews to widgets in meticulous detail. I spent a couple of weeks studying this book—not because of any problem with the content, but because I kept jumping over to Goodreads to implement the book’s suggestions. To cap it all off, there’s an outline on how to accomplish and prioritize these tasks, which can seem overwhelming if viewed all at once.

This is a must have for any author serious about taking his or her career to the next level.