Marketing Tip: How to Get Reviews Before Publication

The following guest blog post comes from Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy, a creative hub connecting writers with a team of editors, designers, and other key support resources available to help turn a manuscript into a published book. The information arrived in my personal email inbox, the first of Ricardo’s weekly marketing newsletters. If you’d like to receive these newsletters, you can sign up here.

For authors, reviews are often seen as a chicken-and-egg problem: you need sales to get reviews, but you also need reviews to convince people to buy your book. So how do you get reviews before publication? The answer is pretty simple: you need a street team.

A street team is a group of dedicated readers — ultra fans of your writing — with whom you have a special agreement: you send them a free advanced copy of your book and, in exchange, they will commit to writing you a review at launch.

Often, street team members might also be your beta readers, meaning they offer feedback on your writing and help you catch the typos and errors your editors didn’t catch.

5 Simple Rules of Managing Your Street Team

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you build your street team:

  1. Your street team is separate from your main mailing list. So if you use MailChimp, for example, you’ll want to have at least two different lists.
  2. You should interact with your street team in-between launches (especially if you’re not a fast writer). Offer them sneak peeks at what you’re working on, tell them about your life, do cover reveals, run exclusive giveaways, etc.
  3. Don’t hesitate to send them a few emails around your launch. Always remind them to leave a review. Drop another email a week after launch to tell them how your book’s doing (and remind them to post a review if they haven’t already).
  4. Make sure your street team mention in their reviews that they received an ARC from the author. Otherwise, Amazon might delete the review.
  5. Use either BookFunnel or InstaFreebie to deliver the Advance Review Copies in the right formats. These tools will make your life a lot easier.

Now that you’re fluent in street team etiquette, let’s get to the question on everyone’s lips…

Where do I find people for my street team?

  • Have any of your friends read and enjoyed your books? Start there, then make other friends in your genre!
  • Reach out to other authors you like and ask if they’re looking for more beta readers. If you join their street team and regularly interact with them, chances are they’ll return the favor.
  • Writer conferences are also a great place to meet and make friends with fellow writers. Face-to-face interaction is all the more valuable in a digital world.
  • Use social media to find beta readers and street teamers. We have a Reedsy Facebook group dedicated to just that: just post a few lines about your book and ask if anyone would like to become a beta reader.

Growing your street team

Once you have a solid street team of, say, 40 or 50 dedicated readers, you can easily keep growing it by regularly inviting your main list subscribers to join it.

For example, if you have an automation workflow for new mailing list subscribers, you could set up an email after a week or two that only goes to the most engaged subscribers (readers who previously opened/clicked your emails) and tells them about your street team.

Make your expectations clear: if they join, they commit to reading your ARCs before launch and leave a review at launch. You basically want to build a bridge between your two mailing lists, but make sure only true fans cross over.

That’s it for this first installment of my weekly marketing newsletter! I hope you enjoyed it. You can also read this excellent post on our blog which goes even more in depth.

Ricardo gave his permission to share this guest blog post. Thanks, Ricardo.

Tap into Your Local Resources

The following message arrived from Kristin Elliott of Hometown Reads, an organization that supports authors in an area to connect with local readers. San Diego has a Hometown Reads page on their site. Several Guild members have joined the San Diego Hometown Reads. The message below includes examples of what Hometown Reads authors around the country have reported as successes to connect with readers locally.

Last week I discussed the value of tapping into your local area to uncover your book as a hidden treasure. Many of you responded with success you’ve seen connecting with readers by using local organizations/events/etc to do so.

Here are those responses.

  • Helen Pashley has discovered great networking opportunities by connecting with a local publisher’s association and writer’s league.
  • Keith Willis believes you must go to your audience directly and engage with them. As a fantasy/romance author, he attends local Renaissance festivals to meet readers.
  • Diane Rogers has learned that being visible and accessible is key. Diane attends local craft shows, county fairs, etc to showcase her books.
  • As a children’s author, Raven Howell has connected with a local children’s writer organization to attend workshops & events.
  • Barbara Josselsohn and writers in her community have been able to gain support from their local library. In addition to marketing focus groups, this library held a local book fair to attract readers.

If you have a local organization that might be interested in supporting local authors, don’t forget to use our free flier and invite them to join our Read Local Champions program (also free.) We’d would like to help equip them to better support local authors.

Of course, we consider joining the Guild, a local organization offering networking opportunities, an excellent step for all local authors.

Check out the San Diego page on the Hometown Reads site, and consider joining it as another way to reach out to potential readers in the area.

Guest Post from SDWEG Member Rick Lakin

How I Became a Best-selling Author using Amazon Marketing Services

As author-publishers, our biggest challenge is getting our product in front of people we do not have a connection with. Amazon Marketing Services is a simple and cost-effective solution to that problem.

On Friday, May 4, I published my first novel called Brilliant about a girl with an IQ of 206 who was searching for her father. She got an internship at the Hollywood studio that makes the StarCruiser Brilliant movies. She finds out the Brilliant flies into space.

On March 25, I put the book on pre-sale and due to the support of friends and family sold seventeen copies by April 21. On that day, I created a campaign on Amazon Marketing Services at
ams.amazon.com (AMS).

Go to the AMS website under your Amazon login for identification as well as billing. If you are signed out, you will find helpful information and videos.

After signing in, you are offered the opportunity to start a New Campaign. You then receive two options. I have not had any luck with Product Display Ads so select Sponsored Products.

Select the book that you would like to market.

For the budget, I enter $5 per day. I have seen successful campaigns that are $30 per day. Run the campaign continuously. You can always set an end date or terminate it.

Select Manual Targeting. You are going to enter the keywords.

Select the words on this list that are appropriate. Some are redundant and useless. Next, enter a short blurb to finish your ad.

Finally, submit your campaign for review. That will take anywhere from 3 minutes to 6 days. Amazon is not consistent on this. But, you aren’t done.

Here is my display after twenty days. An impression is when the ad appears on the point-of-sale for a book. You only pay for the actual Clicks. The Actual Cost Per Click is always lower than your bid. The Total Sales indicated does not reflect foreign sales or Kindle Unlimited Page Reads. My actual sales are about fifteen times the number shown. Your results may vary.

Add Keywords. I hate to bury the lead, but this is the most important part. You may select up to 1000 keywords. 400 is recommended. The most lucrative are title names, series names and author names from the most recent best sellers in your genre. Go to the best seller lists, new releases and author lists to gather keywords. AMS doesn’t like certain characters

best!@# – your keyword contains some illegal characters,
such as <>()#@^!*

and it doesn’t like duplicates. I recommend that you bounce between a Word document and the entry window to edit your list.

The result is that my book spent the first five days after release in the top 100 in Children’s Science Fiction. Amazon calls it a Bestseller List so who am I to argue.

Rick plans additional posts about entering keywords and how to use KDP Rocket. We’ll share those when he shares them with us.

Rick LakinRick Lakin is the Best-Selling Children’s Science Fiction Author of Brilliant, and the publisher at iCrewDigitalPublishing.com, Bringing New Authors to a Digital World. iCrew has published 35 books by 11 authors.

Rick has been an Optimist for almost two years and is the district webmaster at calso41.us and was a Toastmaster.

He is the founder of iCrew Digital Productions, A Community of Young Media Professionals and a member of the 1000 Club of the National Association of Sports Public Address Announcers. Rick is an Advanced Communicator Silver in Toastmasters International and is a member of American Mensa.   Rick works as a Sports Statistician for broadcast television and is a retired math teacher.

He lives in Southern California, but his roots are in Columbus, Ohio, home of The Ohio State University Buckeyes.

Thanks, Rick, for sharing your experience at a Marketing Support Group as well as for documenting it for our entire membership.

Useful Websites For Writers

Today, there are so many websites offering writing and marketing advice that it’s hard to make sense of it all. To help, here are snippets from The Write Life’s article (by Marisol Dahl) titled “The 100 Best Websites for Writers.”

Creativity:

how-to-write-a-book-now.com features tools, tips and secrets to help you write a book and fulfill your dream of authorship.

Freelancing:

fundsforwriters.com lists the best competitions, grants and other well-paying markets.

penandprosper.blogspot.com features an array of topics, tips and tricks to help you experience financial success with your writing.

writersweekly.com — around since 1997, this site is a tried and true resource for freelancers, offering regular updates on paying markets.

Marketing:

marketingprofs.com offers articles, podcasts, training events and more about marketing.

Publishing:

mystorydoctor.com offers tips and workshops on how to write your story and get it published.

well-storied.com is a blog and resource hub to help you more easily craft a brilliant novel.

Domenico Loia

Amazon modifies royalties

After more than 10 years of making nonfiction writers choose between either 70% or 35% royalties, Amazon has introduced a new level — 50%. It’s only for nonfiction books.

Two other key points need to be noted:

(1) This option is only available to authors who use KDP. Those who use Draft2Digital, IngramSpark, or another aggregator to list are out of luck.

(2) It requires an optimal reading experience for readers. The last thing Amazon wants is for Apple or other formats to display more attractive books.

What’s at stake?

Educational and instructional materials, detailed guides, travel books, art books — any book that has lots of images. What’s significant is that writers can now price nonfiction books above $9.99 ($4.99 to $19.99) and there are no download delivery fees.

There are several requirements, and some marketing benefits, but overall it seems like a good option for image-heavy books. As you might imagine, there are many special conditions that apply (i.e., an awful lot of fine print), so it is advisable to get a more detailed description of this new Amazon offer. For more information, go to: https://www.davidwogahn.com/kindle-royalties/

Olga DeLawrence

SDWEG authors will be featured at La Jolla Library on May 12

On Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 17 authors — all of them members of SDWEG — will be showcasing their published works at display tables at the La Jolla Library (7555 Draper St., La Jolla). Visitors will have a chance to greet these gifted writers, find out how they became authors and what they specialize in, and (hopefully) purchase signed copies of their work. The list of authors and their story subjects includes:

SDWEG members are asked to drop by the event to show their support for the organization and their fellow writers.

For details, go to: sdwritersguild.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/LA-JOLLA-LIBRARY-SHOWCASE-Flyer.pdf. Or you can contact the La Jolla Library at (858) 552-1657

 

La Jolla Library Showcase featuring the SDWEG–Interview with Bob Boze

Local author and SDWEG member, Bob Boze, will be a participant at the La Jolla Library Showcase featuring the San Diego Writers  Guild’s Meet Your Local Author event, on May 12th from 10 AM to 2 PM

To get to know a little about Bob, he’s provided an excerpt from his recent interview with Rebecca Howie, author, writer, and blogger from Scotland.

Hi, Bob.

Hi Rebecca. Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you.

Q: Had you always planned on becoming a published author?

A: No. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I loved my English and writing classes throughout college but never thought much about writing or publishing anything. Much of my life has been spent traveling, and in the late ’80s I started writing a yearly Christmas letter to let our friends know what part of the world we were in and what we had done over the year. My letters were full of stories and humorous events, and, after being pressured by friends to write a book, I finally started one in 2013.

That book became my humorous autobiography, Love is a Pretty Girl with a Cape to Share Your Dreams With, and was the second book I published. The first was book one of my romance trilogy, Horses of Tir Na Nog.

Q: What inspired you to write the Horses of Tir Na Nog trilogy?

A: A visit to a friend’s horse rescue ranch. The Horses of Tir Na Nog is a real ranch, in the east county of San Diego. When our friend finally moved all of her rescued horses onto one ranch, we went out to visit the new location. Walking around the ranch, my heart broke as I looked at the most abused and malnourished horses I had ever seen. When one of the horses (Deveny), hesitantly let my wife and me approach her, I knew I had to tell her story; actually, all of their stories.

The problem was, it was going to be heart wrenching and I needed a way to temper that. Oh, and did I mention I knew nothing about horses?

Five years later, I published book one of Horses of Tir Na Nog, A New Door Opens.

Q: What made you choose romance as a genre?

A: I’ve always been a sucker for a good romance story, especially the ones that have a happy ever after ending. Given the subject (abused and abandoned horses and young women rescued from the sex trade), along with my need to temper their heart wrenching stories, the YA/Adult Romance genres seemed like a perfect fit.

Q: What is the series about?

A: The series centers around CJ, a 25-year-old girl, who was rescued from the sex trade at 20 and became the manager of a horse rescue ranch. With the support and trust of the owner and two girls at the ranch, she rebuilds her life, then meets and falls in love with a fireman.

The first book, A New Door Opens, centers around the love, support, and encouragement she receives from the sisterhood, formed by the three women, and Shawn, the fireman, who adores her. It also builds a bond between the fire station crew, ranch staff, and those they meet, that eventually becomes a support family for all of them.

The second book, The Sisterhood, finds the sisterhood expanding as CJ (with Shawn) and Shannon (with Bert, another fireman), two of the original sisters, run all over Europe on their joint honeymoon collecting new friends along the way. (Spoiler alert!) While the third sister (Christine) keeps up her end by rescuing more women from the sex trade and falling in love with a Secret Service Agent.

The third and final book, Dreams, brings story closure and everyone together for a reunion in San Diego where new generations carry the sisterhood, and their support family, into the future.

Q: Do you find it easier to write with a schedule or with no time restrictions?

A: In general, I don’t set a schedule for my writing. I will set a target completion date for finishing, but even that I keep loose. In the case of book one of HTNN, as the ideas kept flowing I kept adjusting the finish date, then gave up and brought it to a close as I realized I had at least another book’s worth of ideas. That, of course, turned into book two and my trilogy was born.

Q: Can you choose a favorite character from your books?

A: I have to admit, I love all of my characters. As a sisterhood and support family, they fit perfectly together. But, I do have two favorites. CJ, who the book centers around, because, like Shawn, the more I got to know her the more I fell in love with her. The second character would be Jessie. She’s smart, spunky and just a bundle of love and energy.

Q: Was there ever a point while you were writing the series when you wanted to give up?

A: No. Quite the opposite. I originally envisioned one book, but the more I wrote the more I needed to say. My trilogy started with one message: to make people aware of the abandoned and abused young women in the sex trade and the horses abandoned as a result of the economy crashing. However, the more I learned, the more messages I felt I needed to get out there.

Q: What is the worst part of the writing process for you?

A: Finding time to write. My volunteering at the San Diego Zoo often takes on a life of its own, and there are times when I feel like I live there. So I’m fortunate in that interruptions don’t hinder my train of thought, and I can fall back into write mode after an hour, day, or even a week of no writing.

Q: How much of your stories do you plan, or do you make them up as you go along?

A: I start with a very rough outline and lots of notes. But, it really only covers the beginning and, if I’m lucky, the end. The rest kind of fills itself in as I write.

Q: Do you have a favorite piece of writing advice?

A: Have others read your work as you write! As many and as often as they are willing and don’t get hurt feelings from their comments. Incorporate the obvious and sit on the rest, if you have to, until you understand what they are saying. They are your eyes and ears to what the reader sees. Use them well and appreciate them.

Q: Where can people learn more about your books?

A: The best place would be my website: https://bobboze.com which lists all of my books and has expanded descriptions and readers’ review comments. There are also links to my books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads, as well as my social media sites.

Q: What have you learned since you started writing?

A: Wow. Where do I start? How about with subjects I knew nothing about, like horses, firemen, fire trucks, the sex trade, and a ton of other things mentioned in my books? But, most of all, I would have to say, I’ve learned how to write. No, make that, I’m still learning how to write. My writing style and descriptions (for everything) look nothing like they did when I started.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: What started as a beta read swap over a year ago, resulted in my now having a wonderful writing partner, Casey Fae Hewson, who lives on the other side of the world from me in New Zealand. With her help, I’m now about halfway through my next romance novel, The Beach Pool, and, hopefully, I’ve equally helped her with her next two romance novels, Misty Springs and Pacific Vines

In addition, we’re co-authoring another romance novel, Light My Way, which is all about apples and apple orchards in the US and New Zealand: Gee, something else to learn about! Finally, she’s agreed to add her expertise and encouragement and co-author a business book I started, then shelved many years ago, How Not to Fail in Business Without Really Trying.

Want to know more about Bob and his books? Come to the La Jolla Library on May 12 for its Showcase Featuring San Diego Writers Guild’s local authors.

Orange County Children’s Book Festival Coming Up in September

SDWEG member Diana Diehl shares the following information for other children’s book authors.

The Orange County Children’s Book Festival is the largest one-day festival for children’s books in the country. Approximately 20,000 people attend. There are many ways to participate. The info below is based on Diana’s goal to promote her children’s book in the exhibitor’s area. She collected this from the website and from email with festival organizers. More specifics are on the site; links are below.

  • The 2018 festival is Sunday, September 30, at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA.
  • Exhibitor spaces are still available as of 4/27, but the organizers predict they will all be claimed by June at the latest; they are on a first come-first served basis.
  • Authors may choose booths and tables to exhibit. A standard booth (10×10) is $495; larger booths are more. Choice is a matter of budget.
  • The most economical option is a table in the Authors Corner. This costs $150 for the whole day (half-days are available, too).
  • Authors Corner booths are arranged by genre close to a stage with the same interests; each Author’s corner booth contains several authors.
  • Each author in Authors Corner has their own 6-ft. table with a banner and 2 chairs alongside other tables in a 10×30 tent.
  • The festival might be able to cluster one writers’ group’s tables together (e.g., SDWEG), but organizers recommended that authors instead choose placement of your table in the Authors Corner with your specific genre (versus close to friends or other first-time authors). They also recommend getting your own table, rather than sharing a table with the goal of fostering networking and outreach with illustrators, publishers, and other authors.
  • Last year’s festival was blazing hot; prepare accordingly.

Words of wisdom to first-time authors from one of the co-founders:

ENGAGEMENT! Promoting your book and wanting to make sales at any book festival requires attractive, exciting, colorful, engagement with the kids and their parents. It doesn’t matter where your table is placed or how many other authors are around you.

Sitting behind a table, waiting for people to come up to you, is not the way anyone will sell books. The authors who demonstrate excitement and colorful, attractive displays sell the most books.

Helpful links:

Robyn Budlender

SDWEG Member Corey Lynn Fayman Signs Books April 15

A book signing event at Mysterious Galaxy independent bookstore features SDWEG member Corey Lynn Fayman along with Elena Hartwell, a San Diego native now living in the Northwest, and Christina Hoag, a native of New Zealand who now lives in Los Angeles.

April 15 (Sunday, 2:00 pm)Elena Hartwell, Christina Hoag, and Corey Lynn Fayman sign their books:

Three Strikes, You’re Dead (Eddie Shoes Mystery #3) (Paperback) by Elena Hartwell.

Two Heads Are Deader Than One (Eddie Shoes Mystery #2) (Paperback) by Elena Hartwell.

One Dead, Two to Go (Eddie Shoes Mystery #1) (Paperback) by Elena Hartwell.

Skin of Tattoos (Paperback) by Christina Hoag.

Desert City Diva: A noir P.I. Mystery Set in California (Rolly Waters Mystery #3) (Hardcover) by Corey Lynn Fayman.

Additional information: HartwellHoagFayman041518

Mysterious Galaxy, 5943 Balboa Ave, Suite 100, San Diego: Call (858) 268-4747 or http://www.mystgalaxy.com/.

Book Reviews for Publicizing Your Book

A note from Ruth Leyse-Wallace

“Nothing sells books as well as word of mouth, and you can get people talking about your book if you can bring it to their notice. Book reviews will do that for you,” writes Joel Friedlander on Writers Digest. “There are literally thousands of book bloggers online, and most of them review books even though they aren’t paid. There are also reviewers offering paid reviews.” When seeking reviews, Friedlander recommends having the following on hand: (a) a complete PDF of your book and its cover; (b) print copies of your book to mail; (c) a press release; and (d) your bio.

Finding a Reviewer

1. Websites for finding those who review books: LibraryThing; Goodreads; www.bookdaily.com/authorresource/blog.

2. Search Google for the name of your genre (e.g. YA, poetry, American history) followed by one of these phrases: book blog, book blogger, book reviews, book review blog, book review blogger.

3. Look for services connecting authors and reviewers, such as The Bookbag or Author Marketing Club.

4. Try looking at The Book Blogger List, which offers a list of book reviewers, organized by genre; or Book Reviewer Yellow Pages from David Wogahn at www.authorimprints.com.