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How to Get Book Reviews on a Small Budget

Book reviews…why the buzz? Do they really help? Joanna Penn of www.thecreativepenn.com gives us her opinion:

“I believe that book reviews are critical for sales. They are up there with writing a great book and using pro editors and cover designers.

If you can get great reviews, you will make sales and they definitely impact the Amazon algorithms. I also believe in writing reviews for books I like – a little review karma comes in handy! In today’s guest post, short story author Ken Brosky shares his tips for places to get reviews. 

There’s no better way to generate buzz for your books than to get some positive reviews. Heck, even negative reviews can generate some buzz! But how do you go about getting those reviews, and what should you pay?

Is it worth paying for reviews?

That all depends on your goals. While there are some major book review services that provide reviews at a fee (Kirkus and Foreword are the most popular), that fee might be out of your price range. Are you willing to spend $400 to get a book review from one of the biggest and most respected book reviewers in the business? Keep in mind it’s not necessarily a good review, either. It’s an honest review of your work, and it’s coming from tough reviewers.

More importantly, there might not be any benefit to this. Book sales probably won’t magically increase after a review by Kirkus or Foreword is published. What you can do is show other people the review to convince them to buy your book, which can be important. “Here,” you can say, “look. Someone thinks the book is good! So buy a copy why don’t you?”

This isn’t a unique sort of thing anymore. Google “15 minute book reviews” or “San Francisco Book Review” or “Pacific Book Review.” You can get reviewed by these organizations … but they can be costly. There are dozens more book review web sites that offer “expedited” reviews—basically, guarantees that they’ll review your book … for $150 or so. This adds up quick.

Reviews for the price of a book

So let’s talk about the cheaper ideas instead. And when I say “cheap,” I mean in most cases “the cost of shipping a book” and nothing more. Because it turns out there are still plenty of places online that still provide reviews for free.

First, let’s start with Midwest Book Review. This is a perfect place to start. It’s respected and run by good people who don’t charge you for reviews of print editions. They also make a point of making their reviews available to libraries and keep the reviews up on their site.

Next up, head on over to Reader Views, which allows you to send a copy of your book for free. They also have express services and other publicity services. They’re willing to review galley submissions.  They have lots of dedicated reviewers, too, which helps your chances.

When you’re done there, take a look around The Book Reporter. While they’re a little backed-up most of the time, it’s still worth sending out a copy. Why? Because they provide comprehensive reviews and they do it without charging a fee, that’s why. Also, the site is easy to navigate and has a strong following from book lovers.

Here are a few more worth trying, all of them willing to accept either print copies or electronic versions without a review fee. Note many of these are particular about getting a Kindle version:
1. Kindle Obsessed
2. The Kindle Book Review
3. Red Adept Reviews

So there’s a good start, if you ask me. What? You didn’t ask me? I’ve just been spouting all of this wonderful information for no reason? Well, as long as I’m talking to myself, I should probably mention that there are hundreds—hundreds—more book-obsessed bloggers who are more than happy to review books for their sites and don’t charge a fee, either. Here’s a giant book blogger directory.

Please be patient

One note of caution: as you peruse these various sites, you’re likely to find more than a few statements such as “Due to overwhelming demand …” and “Please be patient …”

Why is this?

Because there are a lot of authors. A lot. Likewise, there are a lot of books. And there are very few reviewers for all these books, so they have a tendency to gather on reviewers’ desks. Be patient. Give them time. Cherish them. And while you’re waiting, go on Amazon.com and buy a few of your fellow authors’ books. Support each other. Read. It will make you a better writer. And it’ll make us all a little richer.” – Joanna Penn

Keep Writing!!!!! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Indie Author of the Week

TGIF, my loyal readers. Hope you have some awesome weekend plans in the works. If you’re like me, you are planning on getting out and enjoying some sunshine. At least I think the sun is going to shine in Oregon this weekend. Regardless, it’s the weekend so who cares?

Notice how I alternate between Indie Author of the week and Indie Book of the week? Indie “book” simply means that they have at least one book that rocks. Indie “author” means that I personally feel the author has some serious potential to make it big.

So without further adieu, my Indie Author of the Week is Mason McCann Smith. This guy rocks. Trust me when I tell you to purchase one or all of his books because you’ll be glad you did. I had the pleasure of discussing books and writing over a cup of coffee with Mason last week. He’s not only an amazing author, but a very interesting, cool guy. I started reading, “The Stained Glass Virgin” last night and let me say that I’m enjoying it.

I do want to add that he’s had a book published by Random House, so he’s familiar with the process of traditional publishing.

You can buy his books and find out more about him here: www.madscavenger.com. He also offers services for writers, so add him to your list.

Have a great weekend! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Is talent born?

I wanted to continue on with the theme I began yesterday on whether or not we are born with our talents, or whether they are learned.

I found an article by Cherry Woodburn that I’m going to share:

There’s a wonderful PEANUTS cartoon by Charles M.Schulz that features Sally Brown


Sally. Image from Peanuts Wiki

complaining to her teacher about the “C” she received on her coat hanger sculpture.

She asks the teacher several questions about how her work was judged. Here’s one of them.

“…was I judged on my talent? If so, is it right that I be judged on a part of life over which I have no control?”

I love this cartoon. (found in Future Force by Elaine McClanahan and Carolyn Wicks) It’s funny and includes powerful lessons.

For example, when Sally says that she has no control over her talent, she really thinks she’s trumped the teacher. Many of you might have had the same reaction. However, that – what I’m going to call – limited thinking is part of  a fixed mind-set that most of you were raised with and can keep you stuck and not doing what you really want to do.

The fixed mindset says that “talents and personalities are more or less inborn, carved in stone, as compared to a “growth mindset that believes success is a result of effort as much as or more than aptitude.”

For example, if you believe that you weren’t born with the talent for writing and you believe in a fixed mind set, why would you attempt writing a book or articles? You’d believe you were doomed to fail. That’s the same thinking as Sally Brown’s belief that she could do no better on her sculpture because she wasn’t born with a talent in sculpture/art. However, if Sally had a growth mind-set, she would realize she could become a prize-winning coat hanger sculptor if she:

  1. started to practice making sculptures consistently for a period of time every day
  2. took classes to learn techniques and the best coat hangers to use
  3. hired a coat hanger sculpture coach

By the same token you could become a successful writer (or something else you want to do) if you deliberately set aside time every day to practice writing; if you remained consistent in that practice over a lengthy period of time and if it’s something you really want to do.

I’ve read many articles that refer to Tiger Wood’s natural talent and athletic ability. Perhaps those things are true, I don’t really know. But what I do know is that he had been practicing golf virtually every day, for hours, for 15 years before he became the youngest ever winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship.  Woods still practices up to 8 hours daily.  It’s the practice and effort that makes him a success.

As long as you retain a fixed mind-set you’re destined to limit yourself to work that you think you can do naturally, easily. You’ll be less willing to try, try, try again in the field you want to work in or play in. You won’t struggle at something believing that it’s about innate talent rather than practice and effort.

On Saturday, I overheard with sadness a young woman telling a kid “She took Japanese and it was so hard she had to quit in two weeks.” Had to quit because she was struggling with learning a foreign language after only two weeks of effort. <sigh> These kind of statements aren’t just said to children, I hear adults saying it about themselves all the time. “I can’t draw, I just have no talent for it.” “She’s a natural at writing, wish I were.” “I don’t know how to run a business on-line so I’m sticking with what I know.”

Stop limiting your possibilities, just get out there and fail and fail and fail until you learn how to do what you want to do. Practice doesn’t make perfect but it sure makes you better.

Have a good one! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Are we born with our talents?

I’ve often wondered this and have decided to make this my topic of the week (something new I’m going to try!). It almost seems as if some of us have certain talents almost from the day we are born. I remember watching a talk show on which they had a little boy. I can’t remember his exact age, but I don’t think he was over 6. This kid could play the piano like he’d been playing for over 20 years. He was amazing. He’d had piano lessons but shouldn’t have even been close to the level he was playing.

It’s the same with writing or any other talent really. Are they learned or are we simply born with them?

I’ve read that we’d be shocked if we were to see some famous author’s writings pre-editing. That being said, maybe it’s just the good story telling that some of us have, while others have the ability to both write and tell a good story? Am I making sense here?

I’ll use myself as an example here. I’ve written and published articles. I’m also a short story writer. I can whip up a short story like you wouldn’t believe. I always excelled at writing, specifically creative writing as a child in elementary school. My professional background is filled with corporate writing types of jobs like technical writing, instructional design, marketing writing and so forth. I cannot, for the life of me, seem to write a novel. Was I only born with the talent to write short stories and articles?

What is your take and belief on all of this?

Curious minds want to know. (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Indie Author of the Week

It’s Friday! In addition to hearing me shout out a huge, “TGIF!” you get the gift of finding out who my Indie Author of the Week is. It is….*drum roll*….Michelle Proulx!

Taken straight from Amazon, “Michelle Proulx was born on the market moon of Vega Minor where she spent her formative years reading, writing, and gambling at illegal underground jsgarn fighting rings. While en route to Alpha Centauri, Michelle crash-landed her space yacht on the planet Earth. She now lives in Canada and divides her time between observing the local fauna and repairing her star ship.”

Visit her website — http://www.michelleproulx.com — to learn more!

Her début novel, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, is an award-winning Teen / Sci-fi / Romance novel. Check it out today, and get swept away in a galactic adventure of truly cosmic proportions!

Buy her book here: http://www.amazon.com/Imminent-Danger-How-Straight-into/dp/147596546X/ref=la_B00B5G0N9Q_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365171544&sr=1-1

Oh, and TGIF! (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Brick and mortar stores

A recent experience has led me to post on the topic of brick and mortar stores. So I have a good dialogue going back and forth with a potential client. She’s self-published her book already and is looking for marketing services. We’re trading emails and she likes what I’m telling her so far and what I have to offer.

Suddenly she asks me a question and disappears. That question was, “Will you be able to get my book into chain stores?” I was honest. I advised her that although not impossible, the answer was probably going to be, no. I told her that we could most definitely get it into smaller, indie stores and such, but she’s looking for the big named brands. I then informed her that I could get them listed online with some of those larger stores she was referring to, but that wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear. I would assume she’s still unsuccessfully searching for someone that can give her the answer she wants to hear.

Let me say that when I said the answer was probably going to be no, I meant that. Getting your self-published book into the chains isn’t impossible. It’s difficult, but it has been done before. First, you need to have your marketing plan in place and you need to have been marketing that book for a good while. This includes marketing the book before the manuscript is even finished.

I’ve said it before on how it blows my mind that many authors see their books sitting on the shelf in Barnes and Noble as a gauge of their success. I can’t figure out why this is. I would personally gauge my success on how well I was marketing my books and getting them onto my reader’s shelves, and how much those readers were enjoying the book enough to suggest it to their friends. How do those things happen? With good marketing plans of course.

So maybe you do want to get your book into a chain brick and mortar store. Here are some tips I found on Wiki how (http://www.wikihow.com/Get-a-Self-Published-Book-Into-Bookstores):

  • Start promoting your book before contacting bookstores to show that you’re serious, and then continue promoting it and directing potential customers to the stores that are willing to stock your book.
    • Create a website or blog for the book.
    • Create a press kit. Describe the book and provide contact information. Include only the most influential or glowing reviews. Leave out irrelevant information such as your personal resume. You have about 60 seconds to make an impression with it, so make sure your strongest selling points are on the first page.
    • Send press releases to local newspapers and bookstores. It will be much more effective if you send these to individual contact people, so make some phone calls or do some research to find out the specific person who reviews books in each company.
    • Advertise in local publications. Let your bookstore contact person know that you’re marketing the book locally. Offer to put an “available at …” line in future ads if they will accept the book for sale.
    • Contact local TV and radio stations for interviews. Again, having the name of a contact person will make your efforts more productive. If you have mutual friends, ask them to recommend you to media people they know.
    • Offer to hold author readings at libraries and writing conferences to increase your visibility.
    • Create flyers containing information about your book. Include the ISBN and a brief synopsis. Leave the flyers on public bulletin boards to create local interest.
    • Enlist your network. Ask your friends, neighbors, family, and co-workers-to request the book at their local bookstores. Then resist the temptation to sell your book to those people yourself. Ask them to wait to buy it from the store so that there is a history of good sales.

       

  • Ask the store to order your book from their distributors. If your book is available through national distributors such as Ingram or Baker & Taylor, the bookstore can order directly from the distributor and may be willing to do so just from a phone call. Taking books one-at-a-time on consignment from the author, on the other hand, is much more time-consuming (and thus less profitable) for bookstores than going through an established distributor, which automates reordering, returns, and payments.
  • Identify the bookstore contact person. If you are distributing your book yourself, call the bookstore and ask who handles their “consignment” or “local author” books. Start with chain bookstores to get experience with the process; then approach independent bookstores, which are more likely to have a Local Authors section. If you are a local author, the bookstore will be more likely to accept your book as a community service than if you’re some distant author who will not be doing local promotion. Ask if you can make an appointment to come in and show them the book.
  • Be professional and respectful. At your meeting with the bookstore contact, distinguish yourself from pushy self-published authors by being easy to work with.
  • Although you may be a long-time customer of that bookstore, you are now the seller and they are the customer. It’s fine to say that you love the store (if you do), but don’t pressure them to take your book just because you’ve bought a lot of books from them in the past.
  • Be prepared to leave a copy of the book with the manager or buyer for evaluation. Let them know that you would be available for author signings and readings when the time comes (meaning “if the book sells”).
  • Ask the bookstore contact person if they would like a complimentary copy of the book, but don’t ask them to read it; they will read your book if they are interested in it.
  • It is naive to suggest that the store should put your book on their Staff Recommendations shelf, or that they display it at the front counter. Marketing decisions are made by the bookstore, and only amateurs ask to be placed on the store’s top-selling, most visible locations before there is a history of strong sales.
  • Do not presume to tell a bookstore that they will “sell a lot of copies.” That is out of your hands. Let your results speak for themselves.

     

  • Follow up. Check back periodically with the stores that have taken the book and ask if they need more copies. (Every 6-8 weeks is sufficient.)
  • Be as professional at the end as at the beginning. Don’t be grudging when the contract time is up and the store asks you to take back unsold copies. They took a chance, and if the book didn’t sell, it is largely because the author didn’t promote it or send people in to look at it. If you’re cheerful and respectful, the bookstore will be much more likely to accept your future work.
  • Respect staff time. If you’re in a busy bookstore, get in and out as quickly as you can. Once the store accepts the book, you no longer need to “sell” it by talking about yourself or the book. It’s actually counter-productive to monopolize staff time and doesn’t work to get the staff to hand-sell your book. Like every other reader, the bookstore contact person will take a quick look at the book and make their own buying/reading decisions.
  • Continue marketing. Once you’ve gotten your self-published book into bookstores, don’t stop working. Push the book as hard as you did before to encourage people to buy it. Your book will be restocked, especially by larger chain bookstores, only if sales are good.
  • Have a great Tuesday, my friends. (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

     
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    Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

     

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    Persistence

    We’ve all had those days. In fact, I’m having one today. You know…those, “I don’t want to get out of bed days.” Yeah, that would be me today but that’s beside the point. As I pull myself up and out of it, I’m going to pull you along with me. Here’s a good article I found that should gives us the boost we need (taken from Scott H. Young at: http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2008/07/10/building-your-persistence-levels. For the full article, go to his site):

    Building Persistence

    Enough talk about what persistence is, how do you build it?  Part of persistence is just improving your self-discipline.  Increasing the level of what you can resist mentally and emotionally before you collapse.  While self-discipline is important in the short-term, I don’t think it is as critical for goals that last years and decades.

    Instead, I think the way to improve persistence is to enhance the two forces that make it up.  Either by increasing your intrinsic enjoyment of the pursuit, or increasing your resolution that giving up is unbearable.

    Finding Intrinsic Enjoyment

    The first step to this is easy; don’t work on goals you can’t enjoy.  Don’t start a business if you don’t like the customers.  Don’t start a training regimen if you hate the gym.  Don’t enter a faculty if you don’t like the subject.

    The second step is to find ways to enjoy the work, regardless of the feedback.  In many ways, this can be as simple as becoming aware of what you’re doing.  It can be easy to become so obsessed with feedback (i.e. motivated) that you completely lose sight of what you’re doing in the current moment.

    If I had a bad month at the gym, where my strength levels declined, that might start to cloud out the fact that I actually like going to the gym.  The same is true of learning, running this business or my social life.

    The solution is to switch your focus back on the tasks and let the results fade out of your thinking.  Get back to focusing on what you’re actually doing, and enjoying it, instead of obsessing about the numbers.  Focusing on numbers can be important for results, but that’s only when you’re actively making a new plan.  When you’re actually working, it’s usually better to focus on the work and forget the outcomes.

    Avoiding the Alternative

    The alternate way to boost your persistence is to accept that the alternative, to you, is less desirable.  I’ve written previously, that my goal is to run an online-based business full-time.  Only recently have I started to approach that goal.  In the past, there were many months when I completely lacked positive feedback that I was going in the right direction.

    During that motivational crisis, the thing that helped me persist was that I knew struggling at this goal was better than the alternative of giving up.  I knew that I would always be driven towards the goal, so it was better to work towards and fail, than it was to sit back and wonder if I would have succeeded.

    This approach may not sound too inspirational, but it works.  When you’re facing a dry-spell of motivation, it can be hard to summon up the optimism to believe things will get better soon.  But you can always compare the alternatives of giving up entirely with continuing through adversity.

    I started this discussion yesterday, by referencing an article Cal Newport wrote about the danger of starting without commitment.  Since most worthwhile goals will have large gaps without feedback, it’s absolutely essential that your engines are running on more than just enthusiasm.  Persistence is the back-up fuel that can get you through the vacuums.

    Whew. I feel better now. Don’t you? (Evin – http://www.mrgurupublishing.com)

     
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    Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

     

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