Showing posts with label getting book reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label getting book reviews. Show all posts

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Getting the Forever-Review Nudge Your Book Needs

Your Sales Rankings, Your Reviews

The Magical Review-Getting Nudge

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Excerpted in part from the third book in Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.

You need only a few essentials in your Amazon toolbox to build the traffic crucial for your reviews to be seen—the reviews that will convince readers to buy your book. I believe reviews are the most important tool available—even more important than search engine-friendly keywords across the web. After all, you must have a “convincer” once readers are looking right at your beautiful book cover.


My book—the third in my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers—How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career  helps you get the reviews that influence Amazon’s sales ranking, That ranking influences Amazon’s other logarithms that affect sales across their site!

Amazon sales rankings are dandy little aids for evaluating how your book is selling. Not that you should fixate on that, but having an indicator that your book might need a little sales boost is nice. And—when those ratings are nurtured—they prod Amazon’s algorithms to lead people who read books similar to yours to your Amazon buy page.

The problem is that most authors and publishers know little if anything about how those rankings come about. That isn’t their fault because I doubt if Jeff Bezos, the brains behind the entire Amazon model, knows exactly what his algorithms measure. If they’re anything like the rest of the Amazon site, they change from day to day anyway. You don’t need to know the magic behind them; you do need to know what they are and how to prod them a little:

1. Find your sales ranking (or rankings) on your book’s buy page under “product details.” Often called “metadata,” these details are the specifics for your book like ISBN, publisher, number of pages, etc. Scroll down a bit to find this section on your page.

2. If you have a ranking of 24,800, that means that 24,799 books listed in your category are selling better than your book and that up to millions of books in your book’s category are selling less well.

3. The lower your sales ranking number for your book the better. Sales rankings for your Kindle (your ebook) page will not be the same as the one on your paperback page.

Note: When the pages for your paper book and ebook are digitally connected properly, your reviews and the other sales tools Amazon offers may be the same on both pages. (There should be a link on each page pointing to the other—you may have three, paperback, hardcover, and ebook. But don’t count on it, check!)

4. If you market and promote, your efforts may lower those rankings (lower is good!). If so, celebrate because this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the marketing you are doing does not improve your rating much or at all, though it should contribute to your overall branding effort.

5. Don’t try to translate a better ratings to the number of books sold. Algorithms are a lot more complicated than that.

6. Sales rankings fluctuate (sometimes wildly) during the day, so don’t hurry to celebrate or panic unnecessarily.

Warning: Do not spend a lot of time checking your ratings. They should be used as indicators. It’s best not to obsess, but if you can’t avoid it, Bookbuzzr.com and others provide services available for pinging ratings to you in your email box.

So, now you know the basics about sales rankings and have an inkling about how important reviews are, here’s your nudge! Learn as much as you can about getting reviews ethically (and free!) using my Great Book Reviews book. It’s fat, but MSNBC has a saying, “the more you know.” When considering the health of your book, that would be rewritten “the more you know about reviews, the better your sales, the better your career-building efforts.” 

To get started today, go to your Author Central feature and start poking around. 

·       Install your author page or author profile if you haven’t already.
Use the build-your list -feature. If you have only one book, that’s OK. Add it.

·       If you have first and second editions of a book, contact the Amazon Elves with the contact feature (email or phone) and have them install a widget that points readers from the first edition to the second so they get your best, up-to-date work.

·       Now go to your KDP account and find the place that lets you add reviews yourself. Yes, yourself. Choose your best, most prestigious one of under 4,000 words and post it.

·       While you are there, note that this feature lets you post more than one review yourself.

·       You’ll also see there are other self-post features. You can even add a note from you directly to your prospective reader. You can add a synopsis or pitch from the back cover or flyleaf. You can add endorsements or blurbs (your copy of , How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career will help you do a professional job of getting these by excerpting from everything from your fan email to your reviews.)

And, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically will also help you keep getting reviews for as long as you want to keep your book alive. That goes for all online reviews including the ones your readers post on your Amazon page, use for their blogs and Goodreads and on and on. I call them “forever reviews.” Forever reviews can be your frugal path to making your book a classic.



 

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The series includes The Frugal Book Promoter, now published in its third edition by Modern History Press, and her The Frugal Editor.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.

The author loves to travel. She has visited nearly 100 countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Find her Amazon Author Page mentioned above at http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile.



Sunday, December 4, 2016

Carolyn Howard-Johnson Tells Truth About Why You Need to Get Reviews for Your Book Yourself

I thought I'd share an excerpt from my newly released How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically with you Writers on the Move subscribers and visitors. It's all part of its launch celebration. Learn more about it athttp://howtodoitfrugally.com. 

Why Getting Great Reviews Is Your Job
In spite of a contract or even an advance your publisher may not be a true publisher. True publishing includes the marketing of a book. Think big names like HarperCollins and Knopf. They assign a marketing budget to your book and an actual marketing department complete with actual human-type marketers who are trained in the specialized field of not just marketing, but marketing books. Except for those who write only for pleasure, there is no reason to publish a book that doesn’t get read. 
And here’s more: Big publishers are relying on bloggers for their review process as print journals and newspaper book sections shrink or disappear and as they begin to understand that grassroots publicity—reviews or otherwise—can produce a very green crop. Bloggers, you say? Well, that’s a resource pool you can easily plumb yourself
Some publishers—even traditional publishers—may not respect tradition, be uncooperative or goof. One of my writing critique partners was published with a fine press. When she learned they had not sent advance review copies of her literary novel to the most prestigious review journals before their strict sixteen-week deadline, she was naturally upset. They explained it was a snafu that could not be fixed. That was no comfort at all. It did help her to know that because thousands of galleys sent to the important review publications lie fallow in slush piles, the chances of having a book reviewed by a major journal—even one published traditionally let alone getting a glowing review—is remote. Because she had me to nag her, she moved on to alternative marketing and review-getting strategies found in Chapter Six of this book. Using those methods, she was still able to schedule several major bookstore appearances that tend to favor established names and rely on big-journal reviews in their decision-making process. Nevertheless, it’s not the kind of loss any author wants to face.
These days most small publishers have no marketing department—or marketing plan. In fact, many admit that when it comes to marketing, you are on your own. No offense, publishers. I know many of you do a terrific job considering the profit margin in publishing these days. Let’s face it, you can use help, and you don’t need to deal with disappointed (irate?) authors. And, authors! We are ultimately responsible for our own careers. Sometimes when we wait to take responsibility, it is too late in the publishing game.
Some publishers charge the author an additional or separate fee for marketing. Many who offer marketing packages do not offer a review-getting package. If they do, the review their authors get is a paid-for review, which is definitely not the route you want to go. More on that later in this chapter.
Many publishers do not even have lists of people to contact who might help your marketing with endorsements or reviews. Further, many big publishers are relying on bloggers for their review process more and more as print journals and newspaper book sections shrink or disappear and as they begin to understand that grassroots publicity—reviews or otherwise—can produce a very green crop. And bloggers? Well, that’s a resource pool you can easily plumb yourself. 
My first publisher supplied review copies only upon written request from individual reviewers. They did not honor requests generated by their authors’ initiatives. This meant that I could not count on them to supply books to reviewers I had successfully queried for a review. Unless the reviewer accepted e-copies (and many reviewers don’t!), I had to order copiesdirectly from the publisher and then reship them to my reviewers. This method is slow, cumbersome, unnecessarily expensive, unprofessional, and discourages authors from trying to get reviews on their own. 
Publishers should offer review copies to a list of reviewers—even unestablished grassroots bloggers—who have been responsive to their authors in the past. And they certainly should not charge an author for review copies. Publishers have a profit margin and publicity obtained by their authors (including reviews) affects their bottom line, too. They should send their author a thank you (or a red rose!) along with encouragement to keep up the good work
Publishers should also market their books. That means that even if they are too small or underfunded to have a marketing department, they should have a list of reviewers to query for reviews, a list of influential people to provide blurbs for your cover, access to book cover designers (not just great graphic designers) who know what sells books, and a whole lot more. Ask potential publishers about their marketing process before you sign, but—even if you feel assured after having that conversation—it’s best to assume you may be on your own. 
So, the marketing part of your book that includes finding the right reviewers to read and comment on your book will—in most cases—be up to you and well within your skill set after reading this book. And even when you have the luxury of a marketing department behind you, those authors who know how to get reviews on their own can keep a book alive for an infinite amount of time after their publishers relegate their books to a backlist or their contract expires.
Note: If it is too late to apply this information to the process you use in choosing a publisher, tactfully take hold and guide the publisher you have through the review process. There are lots of ways to do that in this book. I love Nike’s advice to “Just do it!” only I add “yourself” to the motto. Many publishers are in your employ. You may be paying them for services. At the very least, when your book sells, it makes money for the publisher. You don’t have to ask for permission (though it never hurts to listen to their reasoning before you make a decision).
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. Her next book in the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers will be How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 
The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is www.howtodoitfrugally.com

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Peek at Great Book Review Idea from New Release

Off-The-Wall -Alternatives

Making Your Reviews Into Workhorses

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

Excerpted (and adapted) from Carolyn’s new How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career to be released this fall.

Authors rarely get the most of their reviews. Surprised? I think it’s either that they are so excited about the review or that the idea of extending a review’s value doesn’t occur to them. Or it’s because so many reviews these days come from readers. They aren’t professionals, so they have no idea how to distribute content beyond posting their review on Amazon.
One of the ways they can get more mileage from their reviews is to get them reprinted in more venues than the reviewer ever planned. Or you do it for them. And, no, it isn’t stealing or plagiarism if you get permission from the reviewer first. In fact, it can benefit the reviewer. 
When you get further distribute reviews you already have, it’s like getting a little marketing bonus. Here’s how to do that:
  • If your reviewer doesn’t normally write reviews (these reviewers are often called reader reviewers), suggest she send her review or the link to her review to her friends as a recommendation.
  • If your reviewer lives in a town with a small daily or weekly newspaper, she could send her review to them. She may realize the thrill of being published the first time. 
  • Ask your reviewer—even one who writes for a review journal—to post her review on Amazon.com, BN.com, and other online booksellers that have reader-review features. I have never had a reviewer decline my suggestion. It is ethical for a reviewer to do it or give you permission to reuse the review as long as she holds the copyright for the review. (Most reviewers do not sign copyright-limiting agreements with the medium who hires them.) Get more information on Amazon’s often misrepresented review policies in Chapter Eleven, “Managing Your Amazon Reviews.”
  • After you have permission from the reviewer to reprint the review, post it on your blog, on your Web site, and in your newsletter. Use quotations from the reviews to give credibility to selected media releases and queries.
  • Once you have permission to use reviews, send copies of good ones to bookstore buyers and event directors as part of your campaign to do book signings, to speak, or do workshops in their stores. Go to (midwestbookreview.com/links/bookstor.htm) for a starter list of bookstores.
  • Send quotations (blurbs) from the reviews you get to librarians, especially the ones in your home town or cities you plan to visit during book tours. Include order information. Try Midwest for a list of libraries (midwestbookreview.com/links/library.htm). 
  • Use snippets from positive reviews as blurbs in everything from your stationery to your blog. (Use your e-reader’s find function to search for other ideas for using your blurbs in this book.)
  • If your reviewer doesn’t respond to your request to post the review on Amazon, excerpt blurbs from them and post them on your Amazon buy page using Amazon’s Author Connect or Author Central features. They will appear on your Amazon sales page. 
  • Include the crème de la crème of your reviews on the Praise Page of your media kit and inside the front cover of the next edition (perhaps a mass market edition like the pocket paperbacks sold in grocery stores?). See my multi award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter (bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo) for the complete—and I do mean complete—lowdown on media kits. 
Hint: Occasionally authors get reviews on Amazon that, shall we say…don’t thrill them. Reviews like that can be minimized by asking others for reviews. As new reviews are added, the old ones tend to get buried in the lineup of reviews. We can also (pleasantly!) refute a position a reviewer takes using the comment feature—or thank them for bringing something to our attention. We can also dispute their validity with Amazon, though that rarely works.
You can use some of these suggestions as part of your keeping-in-communication-with-reviewers effort after her review has been published.
Coming up in the newest release in my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books, How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career to be released this fall is more on how Amazon can helps authors early in their review-getting process. I mean, as long as it’s nearly impossible to do without Amazon and still have a successful book campaign, we might was well get them to return the loyalty we show them in as many ways as possible. 
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. Her next book in the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers will be How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is www.howtodoitfrugally.com


Monday, January 4, 2016

Fake Reviews: The Pros and Cons of Amazon's Being Arbiter of What's Good and What's Bad


Amazon Attacks Fake Reviews and Reviewers
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According to the LA Times, Amazon is suing more than 1,000 writers for selling recommendations (and reviews!) for books (and other items) they didn’t buy.

If you have read The Frugal Book Promoter, you know that I recommend writing reviews of other authors’ books as a way to network and as a way to give back to the industry that makes books possible. In fact, a free and unbiased review is the nicest thing you can give to an author as a token of appreciation. And one of the best places you can post your review is on Amazon where it has the best chance of being read by thousands of readers. There are, of course, other places to post them including your own blog, Goodreads, and other sites. You can also volunteer to review for sites like BookPleasures, MyShelf and Midwest Book Review that depend on those who love to read to keep their sites going even when profit margins are slim.

It is reported that Amazon sees reviews that are too glowing as a danger sign. That’s fair. Professional reviews can be rave reviews, but no book is perfect. In fact, a review is more trustworthy (and therefore sells more books--proved by studies over the years!) if it does point out places where the book is weak. Such critiques needn’t be snarky. They can be tactful, firm, and helpful to readers and the author alike.

Perhaps it was the offers on Fiverr.com that finally ticked Amazon off enough to do this. Many offered reviews for $5. And some of those promised five-star reviews. And, yes, this is—to put it mildly—unethical. You’ve probably seen me discourage authors and publishers from paying for reviews in the past because they aren’t credible. People like bookstore owners, librarians, and other publishing industry professionals generally know they have been paid for even if they come from Publishers Weekly or Kirkus. In fact, those magazines put those reviews in a separate place or mark them differently so their readers will know! Reviews that aren’t credible are a waste of money and time. And, did I mention unethical? Ahem!

Some of these reviews offer to post reviews using multiple accounts and IP addresses. I say, go after them Amazon. This kind of thing ruins the process for everyone!

Nevertheless, I’ve seen Amazon pull reviews based on flimsy excuses in the past and so I worry.
The trouble with pulling reviews too aggressive is that they may use whether a person has bought something by their own sales logarithms to make their judgement. That seems like a good idea at first, but their site is not the only one that sells an item so if their logarithms are picking up reviews of items not purchased from them, they be wrong, terribly wrong.

Here is why:

  •  It is a publishing tradition that publishers and writers provide books at no cost--often special review copies or galleys-- to those who write reviews of their book (s). These books would not show up as sales anywhere.
  •   Many who write reviews of a book or product may have received the book as a gift for their birthday or a holiday.
  • Many write reviews of books or products that they buy at a bookstore or any other retail outlet.
  •  Some may write reviews of books they borrow from the library or buy from secondhand bookstores.
So are the bulleted review tracks above indications they are fake reviews? I don’t know how Amazon is selecting those people it will sue, (and I know they have plenty of money to waste if their selection is offbase and they lose!), but I think they are once again on very shaky ground.

In the meantime, if you review for Amazon (and you should), be liberal with disclaimers like this:
“Disclaimer: This reviewer received a book in exchange for an unbiased and fair review. No fee was charged either the author or the publisher.”

And do avoid touting your own book in the review. The link used in the review (the one that Amazon provides) takes readers back to your profile page. That, dear author/reviewer should be enough for you. Offering this to authors and reviewers is indeed a gift from Amazon and we should not abuse the hand that feeds us.

Note: For more on this topic see the LA Times’ Technology page in their business section, Thursday, October 2, 2015.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally books for writers as well as a novelist and poet. She is working on the third major book in the HowToDoItFrugally series of books called Getting Great Reviews Frugally and Ethically and she just published a book of poetry perfect for this silly political season. It is Imperfect Echoes, http://bit.ly/ImperfectEchoes. Her Web site is http://howtodoitfrugally.com 

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