Friday, October 31, 2014

Review Requests: results and tips

Happy Halloween!

It's been almost a full two weeks since I started sending out review requests and while I still have a few trickling in, I don't think the numbers are going to change dramatically. So, here's a breakdown of how it turned out.

Total reviews requested: 148
Total reviews accepted: 51
Positive response rate: 34%

Books have been sent to all 51 reviewers, which is exciting and also makes me want to hurl. I'm sure it will surprise no one that I have all the bloggers listed in a color coded spreadsheet that has become my blog tour talisman. If anything happened to it, I'd be in serious trouble. I have everyone I emailed, all their responses (color coded by the type of post they will put up for the tour along with the dates of our interactions), a calendar listing who is posting on each day (with corresponding color coding), and a sheet for all the tour bloggers who are also taking part in the cover reveal.

Yes, it is a giant, monstrous, beautiful beast and probably serious overkill. It's also what I know I need to keep my sanity in what is about to be the most stressful month of my life so far. Some authors would be fine with a word doc that lists all the bloggers and their dates, or even just an email record of everything. And if that's you, that's great.

Honestly, I wish that was enough for me. But my brain is just not wired that way. I don't know how your brain is wired. So I can tell you how I do things and remind you that I'm slightly OCD when it comes to logistics. You should find a system that works for you and then use it, whatever it is. Cool beans? Cool beans.

Now about those numbers. I knew I would need to send out way more requests than I would need/want. From my experience, authors should expect around a 10% acceptance rate. Needless to say, I was blown away with my results. I think I got such a high response rate due to the extra work I put into my list.

No bloggers were contacted that were closed to requests, not accepting my genre, not taking on self-pub, didn't review YA, wouldn't accept eBooks, etc. I also made it a point to connect with each blogger. The payoff on that extra work was made evident by the really lovely response emails I got. So many reviewers responded with thanks for the extra touch. And one response was so joyfully sweet it made me tear up. Seriously, I made my husband read it.

So was it a lot of work, yes, but totally worth it.

Here are a few tips for connecting with reviewers in your request.

1. Use a real name. This seems obvious, but is often skipped. Some reviewers don't have an about me page or make it obvious what their name is. That said, out of all the reviewers I checked out (over 300 of them), there were only two where I absolutely couldn't find a name and both of them purposefully go by an alias. If the name isn't in the bio, check out post signatures, comment replies, and links to other social media sites such as Goodreads.

2. Read the bio. Yes, the bio that talks about the reviewer, their love of books and how/why they started the blog. Not only is this just courteous, but you never know what you'll find out. Maybe you share a favorite book, or had similar childhood aspirations. Find some common ground there and then mention it in your request.

3. Recent reviews. Afterall, how will you know if you will be a good match for their taste and style if you don't read their reviews. This gives you another place to find commonality. Did you love or hate the same book? Are you anxiously awaiting the same hot release? Do you share a book boyfriend? These are all little tidbits that show you care and deepen your reasoning that this review will enjoy your book.

4. Take a minute to appreciate their blog. Let me tell you that there are some reviewers out there with absolutely gorgeous blogs. Seriously some of these would put a lot of author websites to shame. Feel free to show a blogger some love when it comes to their site. Do they have an amazing theme? A stellar header? A catchy title? Like anyone else in this world, reviewers would love a compliment, but only if it's sincere.

5. Personal connection. The writing world may seem huge when you first dip a toe into the waters, but it's actually pretty small. I was surprised when I sat down to make my list of bloggers how many I had a connection to in one way or another. Look for commonalities such as belonging to the same groups, or see if you participated in any of the same blog tours. I got to cheat as an agent and draw commonalities with reviewers who had reviewed my clients' work. Find those connections, because now is the time to use them.

With that I'm signing off for the weekend, but I will be back on Monday with the cover reveal, yeah! Rest assured I will be working like a fiend on more marketing efforts, so stay tuned. And for those of you participating in NaNoWrimo this year, may the words be ever on your paper! :)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Author Endorsements

I'd like to make a public admission: I hate asking other people for anything.

I know, I've talked about this on here before. Where it's okay to reach out to others, and the worst that can happen is they say no, and yada yada.

But here's the thing. I have super tough skin. In fact, I'm almost looking forward to my first 1-star review so I can wear it like a membership badge. I'm not at all concerned about feeling the pain of rejection if authors turn me down.

My reluctance comes from not wanting to be a pain in the arse. I realize just how busy authors are. There are no free minutes. At least not for any of the authors I know.

But I also know these truths:
1. Authors are generally nice people.
2. If someone asked me for a blurb, I'd be honored, and would accept if it worked in my schedule.
3. Authors are still readers. Not just because they like it, but because they need to stay up to date with the market, too.

Armed with these truths, I have set forth to solicit author blurbs. The good news is this has been a friendly blog for authors for quite a while. I did a quick scan of my archives and came up with a pretty nice list of authors I have featured right here.

Not all of them are a good match, and I think this is important for authors to recognize. Yes, there is something to be said for having a line from someone who has "author of X" after their name. It gives you instant credibility thanks to their status as an author. However, if none of the authors you quote are writing for your audience, these are not going to be the most helpful to you.

So, I'm not asking for blurbs from anyone I don't feel has an overlapping market with mine. We might not write in the exact same space, but I'm only asking for blurbs from authors whose audience is similar to my own.

But, there's no need to waste a good connection. For the authors who don't match my audience, I'm checking out their platforms to see if there is a way we can continue working together.

I'm also going to reach out to a handful of authors who I have not featured here, but that I know better than a casual hi on the internet (gulp). This makes me nervous, as some of these folks are big names. If they can't do it, I won't be hurt or offended, but if they can...Let's just say you will absolutely hear about it. :)

Now, a word on blurbs. For this first book, there won't be any mention of these blurbs on the actual book. Maybe if I adjust the ebook backmatter at some point I will add them in, but for now they won't be there. So what am I going to do with them? For now, these will go on my Amazon listing.

Did you know there is a place on Amazon for editorial reviews. This is where people add the nice things said by place like Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly. But I don't have those, because they cost money if you self-publish and I don't feel like that's a good use of my limited funds. But you can put anything you want there. So that's where I'll put author blurbs.

Like reviews, this is just one more piece of social validation that hopefully convinces readers that my book is worth their hard earned cash and time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I don't like cover reveals, but I'm doing one anyway

I understand why authors do a cover reveal. Honestly, even though I hated being in charge of my own cover, I'm so excited with the finished product. And the feedback I've gotten from bloggers has been great.

But as a reader, cover reveals are a bit anti-climactic. We get to see the cover, and they are often beautiful and enticing and make me want to read the book, but then...nothing. Because that's all I get, just the cover. When what I really want is words.

So, I'm going to do something a little different because that's how I roll. I'm going to do a cover reveal (mostly because not doing one feels like a slap in the face to my amazing cover designer), but at the same time, I'll be releasing the first chapter. That's right, the whole first chapter.*

I'm hoping readers will see the pretty cover, get sucked in by the words and then pre-order the book. In that order. Or not, who knows right now.

But what this means is that I am going to do an awesome Cover/First Chapter reveal on November 3rd. That would be Monday. Yeah! I already have some generous bloggers signed up and ready to go, but I'm happy to have anyone participate that is interested. If you'd like to get in on the cover reveal action (and get to see all the pretty before anyone else), just fill out this quick form or shoot me an email.

Now sit back and count the days until you can feast your eyes on the beauty that is my cover. Or, you know, just stay tuned for tomorrow's post.

*Of course, if you are a newsletter subscriber you already got to read the first chapter. Because subscribers are awesome and awesome people get everything early. Don't you want to subscribe so you don't miss out on the next fun treat I send to awesome subscribers? Sure you do!
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