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

Monday, September 5, 2022

How to "Advertise" with Reviews and Excerpts

 


 September 5, 2022, #3


How to Use Your Reviews and Excerpts Series

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

A continuation of Carolyn’s guest post series from July, 2022, with excerpts from her 
How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: 
The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing caree
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Feel free to retrieve the first and second for this series from July 5 and August 5, 2022
here on Writers on the Move.




“Very simply put, reviews are the gift that keeps giving.” ~ CHJ


This is my third guest post on getting and using reviews and how to make them into forever reviews to launch a book or to jumpstart the sales of a book that has been around for a while. It is always my pleasure to share excerpts from my multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers when I can reach (and help!) more authors with that information. Find more on the magic of reviews and the endorsements you excerpt from them in my How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career. Do go back to the first and second in this series of posts for more vital information on the topic on the fifth of each month beginning on July 5, 2022. Or read the entire book to get a more complete story on the magic of reviews and blurbs—all 300 pages of it.

The Does and Don’ts of Using Excerpts in Your “Advertising”

If you plan to advertise your book, think twice. Most authors report advertising—meaning paid-for stuff in the media—is a bust. It generally doesn’t result in enough sales to pay for itself. If you insist on taking your chances, use proven blurbs and excerpts from your reviews to give your ads the edge they need. Here are some does and don’ts for that:

    Don’t advertise unless you can dedicate a good chunk of your budget to a frequent and focused advertising campaign. If you put your toe in the water and withdraw it too quickly out of disappointment, you are sure to fail. Advertising—done right—takes money and commitment.
    Find the perfect media for your ads. That might be social media because their algorithms can focus on the audience best for your book.
    Recognize that it may take some time and trial-and-error to find the perfect demographics of your audience and what these “tests” will cost you during your learning curve.

Tip: Though an experienced publicist may have media contacts in your demographic, you are probably better able to judge your audience than anyone else. Let your publicist work in areas she is more likely to have success with like big-name media she keeps in her frequent contacts list.

Your blurbs and review excerpts are a proven tool that convinces readers of the benefits of your book. Don’t attempt paying for an ad until you have a great one aimed specifically at your book’s most likely audience.

Tip: One of your most effective mottoes may be something like “As Seen in Entertainment Today.” “As Seen” may refer to an ad or a review in a medium with clout and it is a great alternative if the review doesn’t include a knock-out soundbite that can be quoted. This works when you are quoted in major periodicals, too.

Google’s AdSense is one of the online programs I tried. I used a freebie coupon I received in the mail and, though personal support Google offered was excellent, I wasn’t thrilled with the results for my how-to books which—it is said—advertising works best for.

Some authors report they like Facebook’s amazingly targeted ads. But beware: They are not frugal unless they turn out to be a sizzling success. Part of that success may be attributed to Facebook’s use of images which Mark Zuckerberg lauded as the most successful result-producing tool ever. I dare take issue with him. Review excerpts (blurbs) are, but the effectiveness of two of them used in conjunction can’t be denied. Even then, every part of the ad must be planned perfectly to avoid disappointment. To do that:

      You must choose the perfect demographics (basically keywords) in terms of interests, economic level, education level, and other keywords of your targeted audience.
      You must carefully manage the price-per-click and the limits on your budget for each ad.
      You must have a review excerpt (blurb) that is perfectly attuned to the demographics you are targeting your ad to, and it should be one that is memorable because of the person or media being quoted, because of the impact of the blurb itself, or both.
      Your image must also arrest the interest of your targeted audience. Your most powerful image will probably be your book cover because it is the ultimate brander. It’s visual. It gets repeated in many places from bookstores to Amazon even by the most casual marketer.

Note: Great cover design is essential, but it will be more effective if you use a three dimensional image. Gene Cartwright of @AmazonLinks fame offers my readers a special price (https://ifogo.com/3dchj/) to create one.

Circle October 5, 2022, on your calendar to learn how to use reviews in your media kit and the blurbs you extract from them in those books you have planned for the future. Feel free to go back on the fifth of each month on this-- Karen Cioffi’s #WritersontheMove blog-- to July 5 and August 5, 2022, where you can catch up on earlier posts on the topic of making reviews into marketing magic that pretty much lasts forever!


More on Guest Blogger and Regular WritersOnTheMove Contributor 


Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and founder and owner of a retail chain to the advice she gives in her multi award-winning 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. All her books for writers are multi award winners including both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter, now in its third edition from Modern History Press, and her multi award-winning 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. The third full book in the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers is 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 ninety one countries before her travels were so rudely interrupted by Covid 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, February 4, 2021

Carolyn Howard-Johnson Tells Authors How to Pretty Up Their Review Copies Before Sending Them

 



 

 So a Reviewer Said Yes. Now What!


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning

HowToDoItFrugally series of books for authors


Sighhh. I so hate to see an author or publisher send out bare-bones review copies to a reviewer who has committed to reviewing a book.


Here are a few ideas from my newest book from my HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically, to dress that copy up a bit. The idea is to help your reviewer without violating ethics standards.


•   Affix a review label to the inside front cover of the review copy you are sending. It should have all your book’s key data: contact information including name, phone, fax, email, and website. This can be done on a 3.5 x 5 inch label. Print enough for your projected needs.


•   Enclose a media kit or a help sheet (sometimes called a sell sheet) about your title. It should include your media release. It might explain the benefits of your book or why someone would be interested in reading it and a bio of the author. Include the same information on this as the review label mention above. By doing this, you assure that your reviewer has the information he or she needs and that your name is spelled right. Further, if you include a nice synopsis, you may even be able to influence the reviewer to highlight what you find most valuable about your book.


•   Enclose a cover letter stating that this review copy is being sent in direct response to their request and how to reach you if they need any additional information. This information can also go on the outside of the envelope you are using to send your ARC. Do not say that say it is “requested material”, though, unless it is the truth.


•   Send the reviewer a brief e-mail and remind him/her of the request and that the copy is on its way. Double-check the address you have at that time.


•   Some reviewers, bloggers, and other media outlets use the information you send verbatim. In the third edition of the The Frugal Book Promoter now published by Modern History Press, I advise that your media kit include a review with permission for them to cut and paste exactly as it is. Be sure to give them guidelines for its use from both you and the original reviewer (Midwest Book Review, as an example, always extends permission for unlimited use as long as they are credited.)


•   Let your contact know—as part of the letter and the release and even the review slip—that interior art, cover art, and/or author photos are available electronically or as black and white glossies. Make the cover of your book and an author photo available on your website so they can be downloaded in either color or black and white, in either high or low resolution.


•   Don’t try to talk the reviewer into an e-copy if he or she request real paper.


Oh, yeah. Don’t forget to send a thank you for the review. Even if you weren’t that charmed with it. It’s a reviewer’s right to say what they want, although I always advise reviewers to tactfully send a book back if they feel compelled to slaughter it.

More About the Author

 



 

Learn more about how to make your book into a classic with forever reviews in the, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career. It’s fat, but it has a great index so you can find specific aspects of the review process from managing Amazon reviews to writing reviews of books you love.


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. All her books for writers are multi award winners including The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor including awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. The newest in the series, How to Get Great Reviews Frugally and Ethically, was launched as part of a promotional program to more than 20,000 new readers. All are available in print or as e-book. Learn more at https://howtodoitfrugally.com .


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Authors Can Get Reviews Without Paying for Them!




Are you going to plunk down your $ for something tainted?  Carolyn Berates the Skunk-Like Odor Emanating from Paid-For Reviews

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of The Frugal Book Promoter, now in its third edition
from Modern History Press

There is an old saying: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I’m revising the adage to: “An old dog can go terribly awry when it tries a new trick.”

Furthermore, by the time a dog is old, he should know better than to take on something that smacks of the word ‘trick’ and he should sure as heck know when to turn up his nose at something that smells like skunk!

No, I’m not losing my mind. And, you may have guessed, I’m not talking about dogs here. I’m talking about the venerable Kirkus Reviews that has been respected by authors and librarians everywhere since 1933 and dozens or others with respectable names among publishers and authors. It is published in print 24 times a year, and has an online branch as well. It critiques some 5,000 titles--books of all kinds--in that period of time. It wields enormous power. A Kirkus review (or lack of one) can make or break a book by influencing the major book buyers in the country--both bookstores and libraries.

Back when I started writing, I wrote to their editors taking them to task for not attaching the names of the reviewer to each of their reviews. Kirkus’ own site says “The reviews are reliable and authoritative, written by specialists selected for their knowledge and expertise in a particular field.” It doesn’t say that these reviews are often (always?) unsigned. It seems to me that anyone with the kind of influence these critics wield over the welfare of a book should be willing--nay, required-- to attach her name to whatever praise or vitriol she dishes out and I told them so. It was my journalism ethics class that made me do it.

That was nearly two decades ago and and it wasn’t long before they upped their game. They violated my sense of ethics by taking paid-for reviews.

Here is what has ticked me off: Kirkus still offers a service to self-publishers and POD authors (and, it has come to light more recently) big publishers who feel their books were passed over unjustly. This isn’t a new ploy.  Fly-by-night reviewers have been preying on desperate authors in this way for some time but Kirkus should know better.

Such Pay-for-Review works against authors two ways. First an entity like Kirkus knows that books it chooses not to review will be their most likely paying customers; this is not a situation that encourages a just, even-handed selection process. Not that the method has ever been something that assured all worthy authors of consideration, but at least there was no reason for this journal--or any other-- not to attempt to choose the crème de la crème of submitted books, or at least the books that best fit their editorial needs.

Second: There is no way that a reviewer who is being paid by the author or publisher of the same work under consideration can offer a fair review to her readers. After all, if the journal bashed 9 of 10 of these books, pretty soon no one would be paying them for a reviewing service! Further, no matter how fair the critique, it cannot be trusted any more than one trusts the press secretaries and spin doctors who work for this or any other president’s administration; when one is in the employ of another, one’s attitude is forever changed, for better or worse.

One of our industry’s promotion gurus recently informed his newsletter subscribers of this new “perk” offered by Kirkus. It would naturally appeal to his readers, many of whom are independent or small publishers or emerging authors. He said, “Do I think this is a good deal? No, probably not.” He feels that because of Kirkus’ fine reputation, it might be worth the fee (several hundred dollars!) for the value of being able to quote something positive from Kirkus.

He isn’t exactly wrong. He’s looking at this like the great promoter he is--something I, with a book out like The Frugal Book Promoter am in total sympathy with. But he isn’t exactly right either. The “assets”  that a publisher or author might reap from plunking down their hard-earned cash is going to be tainted--if not right now then later when people figure out that something here, truly stinks.

I’m dating myself with this story, but in the old days, journalism schools had ethics classes and they still do. We were told not to take out-and-out bribes or to accept gifts and to be very careful to write careful, clean, unbiased copy. TV reared its inexperienced head and producers hadn’t any training in journalism--or, obviously, ethics. The payola scandals emerged from the lush, rich land of TVland and everyone got squeaky clean because now (gasp!) the public had their number.

Well, I’m here to tell you that this is akin to the payola scandals. We have here another cycle. This kind of thing undermines the public trust and that public includes book buyers and the wholesale level and book readers at the retail level.  Thanks to a higher power who loves books we still have Library Journal and a few good newspapers but I worry. So far, Kirkus leads, makes a lot of money and others follow. And if so, our only hope will be to quit using their d--- products so they’ll die a well-deserved death! Let’s hear it from the public.  “Do not foul our free press! Leave our opinion pages and criticism unpolluted.”

If you think I am over-reacting, consider: Our Democratic system is based on free speech and our free press is its watchdog. Speaking of dogs again, they tend to have good noses. Mine is lots less astute and even I can smell something rotten in the publishing world.




More About Today’s Guest:

Carolyn, author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers, has given up trying to convince periodicals who suffer from a very thin profit margin from backtracking and has instead turned to a book telling authors and publishers hoe to avoid the pay-for review scam and do it effectively. Find her  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career at https://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews.

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Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Marketing Story to Inspire Authors to Renewed Efforts

A Marketing Story to Inspire You to Renewed Efforts

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

I don’t think any author—or anyone with a profession or career or business—needs to be reminded that marketing is important. I sense, though, that they need a little inspiration now and then to convince them to keep at it or to utilize its magic to make whatever they are passionate about work better. Maybe to make it more fun. So here is a little story that recently took my breath away, convinced me anew that the net works. That Twitter works. That reviews work. And that even when we don’t see their charms on a daily basis, they (and their marketing sisters) are out there doing what they are supposed to do and doing it without asking us to recognize them, praise them, or pat them on their backs!

You see, I recently found a review floating around the Twitter platform at least a decade after it had been written,  a review I never knew existed. It was written by Author Anthony James Barnett (twitter moniker @ajbarnett) who is a fellow tweeter. Years ago he found me there, read my multi award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter (then it its first edition!) and reviewed it on his blog (http://bit.ly/irpv3) --all unbeknownst to me. I found it more than a decade later and it has haunted me because it illustrates so concisely most everything I have been trying to help authors do with my consulting, coaching, teaching, and my series of books. It proves the value of reviews (and, coincidentally the need for the third book in my HowToDoItFrugally Series, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career  which—I suspect—Author Barnett may not even know exists in this new decade!)

Every author needs to plumb reviews to launch books and to give their older books a new life—maybe make them into classics! I love that Author Barnett is still out there helping me help authors do that! I relished it. Tweeted about it and then, gasp! …. ! I realized that my marketing and blogging benefactor may no longer be alive.

I left Barnett a comment on his blog and it is awaiting acceptance—with no luck.  I’ve surfed the web for his name and the title of his book a bit. Now it seems I need help finding him. That’s my first choice. But if that can’t be done, I can use the web and marketing tools to keep the beautiful little secret gift he gave me years ago alive. And maybe to inspire other authors!

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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 which 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. How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically launched to rave reviews from Jim Cox, Editor-in-Chief of Midwest Book Reviews and others:

“How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically [and other books in the series] could well serve as a textbook for a college Writing/Publishing curriculum.”




Thursday, September 5, 2019

Fine Art of Asking for Reviews



The Fine Art of Asking for Reviews, Blurbs and Anything Else

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Excerpted and Adapted from the third in the multi award-winning How To Do It Frugally 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

To find even more support for your book or your career, we often need to get more comfortable with asking. You can put your reporter’s hat on and ask—tactfully—questions that will help your career or for favors that will help you expand your base (including reviews, blurbs, advice, etc.). Make the point that your contact’s answer or help is a gift to you, and that you would be pleased to reciprocate when the need arises. Try some of these possibilities:
  • Ask fellow attendees at writers’ or other conferences.
  • Ask directors of conferences if they offer a review exchange or provide an area where you can distribute fliers or sell your books. If the answer, is no, ask if they have other suggestions or know of other resources that might help you.
  • Ask instructors and presenters if they have a list of pertinent resources or know where you can find one.
  • When you’re on the Web, look at the resource pages of the Websites owned by bloggers and other online entities to glean ideas and help. Use the contact feature to ask questions or send queries.
  • Think about classes you have taken. The instructors may have a policy against reviewing students’ work but may be a resource for other needs; , ditto for your fellow students. (I hope you would try to do the same for them!)
  • Ask members of your critique groups or business/professional organizations.
  • When you read, make a note of books and their authors, columnists, experts in your field. Almost all magazines, newspapers and journals list publishers, editors, columnists, etc. and you might be surprised at how many might say “yes” to a request for a blurb or a mention of your service or book as a resource. 
 MORE ABOUT TODAY’S CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR:

This little how-to article was extracted and adapted from my giant (415 pages) 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 third in the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers by Carolyn Howard-Johnson.                                                        There is just so much to know about putting reviews to work for your book and endorsements (for your book or business!) Learn more about my books for writers and visit my free Writers’ Resources pages at: https://howtodoitfrugally.com/.                                                                    It’s also easy to use my review blog. Just follow the submission guidelines in the left column at http://TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com.  I am also proud to celebrating the launch of the third edition of my The Frugal Book Promoter which—in its first edition—was the flagship book of my #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.  My publisher, Modern History Press, is helping me with the launch with a discount  on his website at https://www.modernhistorypress.com/frugal.



Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Fine art of Asking for Reviews

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson


Excerpted from the newest in Carolyn's multi award-winning 
HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers.

To find even more reviewers, you can put your reporter’s hat on and ask—tactfully—for what you need. Make the point that a review is a gift to you, a gift that authors treasure above all others—whether it comes from a reviewer or a reader. Try some of these possibilities:
  • Ask fellow attendees at writers’ conferences.
  • Ask directors of writers’ conferences if they offer a review exchange or have other suggestions for you.
  • Ask writing instructors if they have a list of reviewers or know where you can find one.
  • When you’re on the Web, look at the resource pages of the Web sites owned by how-to authors of books for writers and of online book review sites.
  • Think about classes you have taken. The instructors may have a policy against reviewing students’ work, but your fellow students may review yours. (I hope you would try to do the same for them!)
  • Ask members of your critique group.
  • Ask members of the organizations you belong to. Writing organizations come to mind, but members of other organizations may be even more open to your suggestion. It may be something they’ve never done, may never have thought about doing, and they may find it is lots of fun.
  • When you read, make a note of reviews and the names of those who wrote them that you find in some issues of magazines like Time and newspapers around the world.
  • Learn to write great query letters that won't tick off agents (or reviewers!) from my The Frugal Editor (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditor).  I interviews dozens of agents to learn about their pet peeves and most of them didn't mention typos! You'll want to know what they did mention! 

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This little how-to article was extracted from my giant (415 pages) 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 (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews) third in the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. It was released a few months ago. There is just so much to know about putting reviews to work for your book!  I am still celebrating its release because authors are still benefitting from it. Learn more about my books for writers and visit my free Writers’ Resources pages at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. It’s also easy to use my review blog. Just follow the submission guidelines in the left column at http://TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com

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