I work with authors every day. Initially I just started off as a book reviewer. I thought it would be fun, more importantly I could have an almost endless supply of free books, what more could one ask for? It did not take me very long to figure out that my plan had a few flaws in it. Why would an author, publisher, or publicist want to send a free book to some unknown person?
Like getting any job I realized that I needed a resume. I created mine by reviewing books that I already owned. It was easy, I picked the books that I liked best. My next challenge was to find some place where my reviews might reside. Oh there are lots, but, they all tend to share one nasty little trait, they are not looking for a review, they are building databases for search operations. After three pages of selecting the genre, determining the type of plot, selecting the style of characters mentioned, you finally had a one paragraph area where you could enter your 150 word review!
I was frustrated, but I also kept looking, finally I found a site that welcomed reviews, real reviews, I also found authors and publishers that trusted my work. My next move, and I have no idea how it happened was to become involved in author interviews. That started with email interviews, then phone interviews, and finally internet radio.
Somewhere along this odyssey I made a huge discovery. Having reviewed hundreds of books and interviewed hundreds of authors, the light bulb went on.
Most authors are new to the publishing world, they have put their heart and soul into producing the very best book they can. Marketing is the last thing in their mind when they start, but is utmost in their mind when they finally hold that new book. The smell of new paper, the smell of newly dried ink.Â They have given birth to a creation!
Their first marketing efforts involve selling to friends and family, and of course the feedback is wonderful, well who is going to tell uncle Bill or aunt Fay the truth? The answer is no one, this is a family matter. Sales dry up in a matter of a few days. Why oh why are people not buying my book?
That is a simple question to answer, nobody knows it exists. The light bulb goes on, the author realizes that he or she needs to get some buzz generated. If you live in a small town you can likely get your book mentioned in the local weekly newspaper, that will result in a flood of sales that can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Another alternative is to send copies of your book to larger organizations, this is a bad idea, it will kill your marketing budget just in postage, and you will most probably never ever see a review. You likely will not even get an acknowledgement thatÂ the book even has been received.
One potential option is to make a press release and have it sent out to subscribers. This sounds like a great idea. For around $200 you can have your message sent to thousands of people. Sorry folks, you have just wasted $200. Most of the press release services, and I will mention no names, allow anyone to subscribe. You are not hitting a target audience, you are merely headed for another financial mistake. I had a conversation with an author a few months ago, he had decided to use one of these services. He was at first elated when he received almost 200 requests for review copies. However, this number of books (plus postage) were completely out of his price range.
He did not have money, but he did have time on his hands. He decided to contact each and everyone that had requested a copy. He asked for a ‘resume’. The answerers he received were interesting. One lady openly admitted that she did not read books and had no intentions of writing a review. She merely wanted a copy to use as a give away on her coupon clipping site!
Others were more well meaning, but represented a waste of time. A web site with 50 visitors a day is of no use. Those 50 visitors are probably the same 50 people that visit every day. Maybe two of the visitors will buy a copy, but, books are not like selling cups of coffee, people do not return day after day and buy another copy. Those two copies sold are all you are going to get.
There is a solution, but it requires some effort. You the author must be prepared to do your homework. The Internet is a great tool, by spending some time ‘Googling’ it is easy to find reviewers that fit your genre. These are the people that you want to target. Sending 10 well targeted emails will get you much better results than 2000 sent blind.
The author has to also ask him or herself some questions. If your book is about some video game, are you better off getting a review that will be published on a niche web site with 1000 readers a day, or on a general site with 20,000 readers a day? What is the package on offer? Will there be an interview?
More in part two.. coming soon