How to get reviews for your indie published book….

Hello, everyone.  I did a blog post a few months ago with the results of my Kindle Countdown Deal and it got a lot of traffic.  So I figured I would do another post to try and help my fellow struggling authors out in Indie-land.

As every author knows, reviews are very important.  Readers like to know what other readers thought of your book.  One bad review can turn off a reader and several great reviews can be the deciding factor in the purchase of your book.  But the elusive review is very hard to come by.  Some estimates say that one in a hundred readers will leave a review.  I think it’s actually worse than that.  How to get reviews then?  I’m about to tell you what worked for me.  If you think there’s some magic trick or easy way to accomplish this, you can stop reading right now.  There isn’t.  It takes a LOT of hard work and a massive amount of time invested.  If you’re still with me and you’re willing to put in the leg work….keep reading!

I launched my first book on January 19 of 2016 and my second book on May 15 of 2016.  My first book has 44 reviews after five months and my second book already has 20 reviews after only one month.  Is this good?  Maybe, maybe not.  It depends on who you are.  But it’s a vast improvement for me.  It shows I’m learning how to navigate the world of independent publishing.  Both my books are contemporary romantic comedies.  How then, did my second book get so many reviews in such a short time?  I had to go out and find the reviewers.  I had to join countless Facebook groups and spend hours upon hours contacting bloggers and reviewers.  It was a giant pain in the neck.  Here is what I learned so far:

–You can’t just sit back and let the readers find your book and hope they love it and leave awesome reviews.  I’m sorry, but that’s probably not going to happen.

–You have to google and search and find out where the readers are for your genre and then don’t be afraid to contact the reviewers and bloggers.  There are wonderful bloggers for every genre:  Romance, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Horror, etc.  Send a nice email requesting a review, offer to provide a copy of your book to be sent to their kindle, and give them links to your book on Amazon and a brief synopsis of who you are.  Be short and polite and ALWAYS SAY PLEASE AND THANK YOU.

I tried to launch my second book and get as many reviews as possible.  I offered FREE copies to readers in groups on Facebook, Reddit, and Goodreads.  I got dramatically different results.

After a week, no one on Reddit showed any interest at all.  After two weeks on Goodreads, I had only three people volunteer to read the book and review it.  I was amazed.  I was offering a free book, yet I had only three takers?  I actually promoted the book in several “readers and reviewers” groups and I thought I was targeting my audience.  Of the three who offered to read it, one never gave me a kindle address to send it to, one never replied to my email when I asked for her kindle address, and the third wanted a copy EMAILED to her.  This set off alarm bells right away.  I was offering to send a mobi copy to her kindle, but she said I should just email the mobi copy to her email instead.  That makes no sense.  With piracy rampant, there was no way I was going to do that.  (There are a few safe ways to send review copies to readers.  You can either buy them Amazon gift codes to cash in and get your book or you can send a copy directly to their kindle.  With my first book, I made the painful mistake of buying far too many gift codes for reviewers.  Only half of the reviewers left reviews and several of them never even cashed in the codes.  It was a very expensive mistake and my book ended up pirated anyway.  Expensive lesson learned.)  So Goodreads yielded me nothing.  That left me with Facebook.  Ahh.  Facebook.  What started as a tempestuous relationship has turned into my addiction.  I was skeptical of Facebook, but it has turned out to be an invaluable tool for me.  I’ve made several author friends, joined some amazing groups, and found a treasure trove of book review Facebook pages.

Facebook is absolutely essential for every author.  I did my first “Author Takeover” event last month and I offered my books as a giveaway prize.  I got a few reviews that way and met some lovely people.  I messaged over 100 Facebook pages and found most of them responsive and willing to review my book.  As of this very moment, I sent out over 60 copies of my book and I have 20 reviews.  I think this is a respectable percentage.

On a side note…of the reviewers who said they would read my first book and got gift codes but never reviewed…I did contact them after two months with a short follow up message inquiring if they got a chance to take a look at my book.  I got a few replies of, “haven’t had time yet” or “The book was great, I’ve been meaning to review” but not one single person that I followed up with has left a review.  This taught me that it was a waste of time to follow-up with a reviewer who hasn’t left a review.  I’ll take that time and use it to contact new reviewers instead.

There are websites like Net galley where you can join for an exorbitant amount of money and have access to unlimited reviewers who will give you tons of reviews as soon as your book goes live.  I don’t have that kind of money to spend and that’s not something I feel comfortable with.  I’m too paranoid to give out an ARC of a book that hasn’t been published and I think it looks sketchy when a book launches and has 80 reviews on Amazon in the first day.  But that’s just my opinion.  I’m not running with the big dogs, so I don’t have to worry about that stuff.  I’m just plugging along at my own pace.

In conclusion….don’t sit around and hope the reviews come to you.  Go out and get them!  Engage with your readers in Facebook Groups.  Offer giveaways.  Join groups that cater to your genre and offer to give free copies of your book in exchange for reviews.  It works!  Just look at my statistics!

If you have anything at all to add….any proven method that works for you…please leave a comment and let us know what’s been a good strategy.

As always, thanks for reading and have a great day!

 

 

My Garden Problems…with PHOTOS!

Hello everyone!  The blog post today is about my experience as a new gardener and how I’m managing to mess things up!

My husband planted a super fancy raised garden and we’re trying to grow Cucumbers, Zucchini, Carrots, Lettuce, Cantaloupe, and Giant Pumpkins.  He can’t do anything like your average person, he had to make the garden all spectacular with cement patio blocks raised up three feet high.  I told him that the neighbors are going to think it’s a mausoleum for the dog, but he didn’t care.  “Go big or go home,” was his reply.  He can do anything he puts his mind to, which is somewhat annoying because I usually mess up the things he makes.

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Example?  The cucumbers.  A few nights ago we were out looking at the garden and I moved a cucumber vine in order to get it to grow in a different direction.  Wrong move.  I heard a CRACK noise and I immediately froze.  My husband looked at me and said, “Did you just break the plant?  I heard a crack.”  Damn it.  Busted.  Sure enough, the plant cracked at the base.  I hung my head in shame.

So yesterday I googled “how to fix your cucumber plant when you’re a dumbass and break it.”  Amazingly enough, google had an answer for this.  No surprise there, google has an answer for everything.  I love google.  Google told me to use electrical tape to fix the cucumber plant.  I went outside and did that.

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As I was taping the plant, I noticed ANOTHER problem in the garden.  However this one was entirely NOT my fault.  It appears that a bird or some other creature (Unicorn?  Hippogriff?  Not entirely sure) decided that it wanted to EAT my baby pumpkin plants.  A bite was taken off one of the leaves.

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What do you do when the birds are eating your plants?  Well, I’ve seen “The Wizard of Oz” numerous times, so I had an answer.  You get a SCARECROW.  I can’t just pull a scarecrow out of thin air, so I used the next best thing.  A scarePIG.

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The only problem?  My dog was not impressed.  I believe her exact thought process was “Oh no you DIDN’T!”  She promptly jumped up and took her pig back.  Damn dog can’t share.  Back to the drawing board.

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So I went out and had to purchase the spinner whirly twirly things.  They’re shiny, patriotic, and look very pretty in the garden.  Hopefully those will keep the birds away and my plants will grow beautifully.

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The kicker in all this, is that I prefer foods from the chocolate food group, the cheese food group, the peanut butter food group, and the cereal food group.  I’ll probably give most of the vegetables away!

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

Mice and Bats! Oh My!

I have no exciting news to report for the blog post this week. So I’ll just tell you a funny (ABSOLUTELY 100% TRUE) story…

Once upon a time (or a few years ago) I rented a cabin in the wilderness on a lake. My husband likes to fish and I thought he would enjoy a week away from it all.  I went online to a trusted website that had cabins for rent.  I found a lovely place with GREAT REVIEWS right on the lake with a boat dock.  It was a beautiful log cabin with a loft bedroom.  The most important part?  They were willing to accept pets.  I have a black Labrador retriever that I refuse to leave at home.  She was a nine month old pup at the time and I figured she would enjoy a vacation at a lake and she could swim for the first time. We packed up all our stuff (pretty much the whole house since I tend to follow the Boy Scout motto of “always be prepared”) and we were on our way.

In typical fashion for me, it was a comedy of errors.

The first night we slept in the downstairs living area because the loft bedroom upstairs was 90 degrees and had no air conditioning. Heat rises.  I figured the best place to sleep would be downstairs where it was cooler.  Ok, that’s not the entire truth.  The loft bedroom had scary steep stairs, I’m deathly afraid of heights, and I was paranoid about the dog falling down the stairs and dying.  At some point in the middle of the night, I heard tap-tap-tap.  I nudged my husband and said, “Oh, it’s raining outside.  The pitter patter sounds nice.  It’s lulling me to sleep.”  My husband, who is infinitely more world-wise than I, kindly corrected me.  “No, that’s not rain.  It’s a mouse running around the kitchen.  The pitter-patter is the sound of his feet scurrying around.”  WTF?  Are you kidding me?  That 90 degree loft was starting to look better and better!

The next day we drove to town for some mouse traps. My husband pointed out the mouse droppings ALL over the kitchen shelves and that was where he laid the traps.  Absolutely disgusting.  In an attempt to enjoy this vacation, I decided it was time to let the dog go swimming.  My water dog.  My Labrador Retriever.  The breed that retrieves things FROM THE WATER.  Ha ha.  Nope.  I got a stick and threw it into the forest.  The dog loves sticks and retrieving.  She was ALL OVER this game.  Next, I threw the stick in the water.  She took two hesitant steps in, got the stick, and gave it back to me.  Fun game.  Then, I threw the stick in the water far away.  She waded in slowly until she couldn’t touch the bottom, looked at me, and came back out.  I was 100% certain of her thought process.  “Um…yeah….I can’t actually TOUCH THE BOTTOM, so there’s no way in Hell I’m going after that stick.”  I told her (out loud of course) “Go get the stick!  You won’t drown.  It’s going to float away!”  She looked at me, looked at the stick, and looked back at me.  I’m pretty sure that meant, “You do realize the forest is full of trees and sticks, right?  Go throw another one.”  So I have a water dog that won’t go in over her head.  However, she has no hesitation about squatting and taking a dump IN THE LAKE.  The world is her toilet, evidently.

The second night came and I was smart enough to sleep in the hot loft where it was safe from mice. Easy choice, right?  Nope.  Sometime in the middle of the night, the dog jumped off the bed she was sharing with me, and crawled UNDER the bed.  I asked my husband, “What’s wrong with the dog?  Why is she on the floor?”  His brilliant answer?  “She’s probably hiding from the bat that’s flying around up here.”  What?  Are you KIDDING ME?  Mice on the first floor, bats on the second?  Come on!  So I high-tailed it BACK to the downstairs area.  I’ll take my chance with a tiny mouse over a rabid bat any day of the week.  The bat decided that he would follow us, because that’s obviously where the party was happening!  So the bat is doing fly-overs and I’m covering myself and the dog with a heavy quilt so we don’t get bitten and get rabies.  I’m sweating my ass off because it’s summer and I’m UNDER a quilt.  I’m screaming at my husband to kill the bat and screaming at the dog that I won’t let her die.  I’m pretty sure she thought this was the best vacation EVER.  My husband found a weapon (a badminton racquet) and he managed to subdue the rabid bat.  I liked to say that he played “bat-minton” pun intended.

In case you’re wondering how I survived the third night….I didn’t. We went home the next day.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!