Okay, so you have just released a brand new e-book, and you have decided to give Kindle a try.
So you enter it into the Kindle system and wait for it to go live – only while you are waiting – in fact EVEN before you actually get to entering it into Kindle you REALLY ought to get yourself a few good reviews.
So how does one go about soliciting reviews?
I love that word, solicit. It brings this writing gig right down to where it truly ought to be. In the gutter. I am soliciting clients. Hey baby – how’d you like to get lucky? Show you a good time. Hook you up with a novel – giggedy-gig.
So how does a writer go about propositioning a reviewer?
Reviewers get pummeled with review requests and/or review copies. Waiting for a reviewer to “stumble” across your work and ask you for a review copy might make for an AWFULLY long wait.
Your best bet is to start checking out the review market. Depending on your chosen genre you might find yourself with an awfully large group of reviewers to choose from. That’s good. That will work in your favour. Somebody like myself, working in horror, has a lot fewer reviewers to find. Folks in romance, YA or paranormal romance have an abundance of reviewers to choose from.
Once you begin finding reviewers you need to start researching them. Have they written a lot of reviews. Does their blog site look professional. Do their reviews read like good professional reviews or do you see a lot of “Ya, I thought this book was kuul.”?
If the review site mentions anything about a cash payment up front – run away. Don’t even stop to think about it. Writers should not pay for reviews. We give a free book, that’s what a reviewer is owed and nothing more. I wrote reviews professionally for Cemetery Dance, Fearzone, Hellnotes and several other markets – and I usually recieved a small payment – maybe ten or fifteen dollars – from the publisher of the magazine/market that I was writing for – but nothing from the writer but a free book.
What else could I ask for?
Certain sites maybe worth making an exception for. Sites like Kindle Daily Nation http://kindlenationdaily.com/ has a sponsorship plan for $139 and up that will advertise your book. I haven’t tried any of that sort of thing – nor do I intend to – but it is out there. What I would mostly warn about is sites that offer you reviews at five or ten dollars a pop. You have to ask yourself what kind of a review are you going to get when you shell out ten dollars. That is a lot different than how I operated, getting ten dollars from the owner of the review column/site that I wrote for. He was just paying me the same way you would pay anybody who provided your column/site/magazine with a certain amount of words for your readers to read.
Prepare a proper review request. Take a half an hour or so and put one together. You’ll want a short letter-sized document that tells the potential reviewer what the book is about, who you are, how many books you’ve written, whether you are new to this business.
Here’s a review request that I wrote for my vampire/hockey novella, SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME.
Hello REVIEWER’S NAME
I have an e-book available through Amazon.com and Kobo that I would love to see reviewed in REVIEW SITE’S NAME.
The book is a novelette. Now I know that most folks think that “novelette” is just a fancy way of saying “I got tired of writing”, but I prefer to think of a novelette as being something more along the lines of a one-night stand kind of read. That’s right – a novelette is in and out before you know it – with nothing but a slight hangover and a bad case of squirrel breath for your trouble.
And sometimes that is just exactly what the witch doctor asked for.
The novelette is called SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME and it deals with the story of over-the-hill bush league hockey team from Labrador who go toe-to-tooth with a tour bus full of vampires. And we are NOT talking sparkly vampires. Think SLAPSHOT meets 30 DAYS OF NIGHT and you are somewhere close to the mark. That may sound corny at first – on account that it is – but I believe you will be truly surprised at just how pure and real the characters are in this work.
The bonus story is a time travelling hockey tale that I call “Time Out”.
The good news is you don’t necessarily have to be a hockey fan to read this.
Here’s what Gord Rollo, Canadian horror author, has to say about it.
“With Sudden Death Overtime, Vernon perfectly captures the dark heart of a Canadian Winter and the lifetime passion surrounding the game of hockey. He takes a group of old friends who never backed down from a fight on the ice when they were younger and still refuse to do so even when they’re old enough to know better. Toss on the rink some memorable characters, truly great dialogue, a bus load of nasty vampires, and a shocking surprise ending that you won’t see coming and you’ve got yourself a story that’s sure to be a winner.” – Gord Rollo
Famous Monsters of Filmland likewise reviewed the e-book – “Steve Vernon gets it right. “Sudden Death Overtime” hit all the right notes with me. A wonderful cast of characters, great dialogue between the characters and an evil bus full of vicious vampires.”
Melissa from Tennessee had this to say in her Amazon.com review – “Steve Vernon did a wonderful job of crafting an original vampire story. His ability to weave a story with a flow that is virtually flawless is a testament to how good a storyteller he is. I loved the characters and their personable dialogue and was able to plant myself easily in Labrador.”
C’mon, if I can make a Tennessee girl yearn for the cold and windblown shores of Labrador I must be doing something right!
Would you be interested in receiving a digital copy for review?
I’d love to hear from you.
Yours in storytelling,
(and then I usually add a serious dignified author’s photo to add a little credibility to my review request – like maybe this one)
So – WHY are reviews important for your Kindle sales?
I can tell you FOUR good reasons right off the bat.
1 – A good review is a natural encouragement. Say somebody stumbles onto your book over at Amazon and is thinking about buying it. Having a few SOLID reviews on there help encourage that “stumbling reader” to actually reach for that “BUY NOW” button.
2 – I am also told that a certain number of good reviews can help with your author ranking – depending on the vagaries of the Amazon buzz-machine.
3 – Certain promotional websites – such as Pixels of Ink – DEMAND a certain amount of reviews before they will consider publicizing your e-book on their website.
4 – A good review on an independent blog/website/magazine is – basically – an unpaid for advertisement. I’ve bought quite a few books in the past just because I read a good review in my favorite magazine. Every good review published anywhere else other than Amazon represents another chance for your book to be discovered by a hungry reader.
Word-of-mouth is one of the single greatest factors towards creating more sales.
The best way to think about it is that every single review is basically one more person – other than yourself – standing up in the middle of the internet telling the world to go and buy your book!
Lastly, I wanted to tell you folks about a brand new e-book that I have just released.
It is a novella and it is entitled NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY.
So what is it about?
Tommy has come home from the city to visit his Dad for one last time. He is determined to get to the bottom of all of the secrets that his Dad has kept for hidden behind a smokescreen of storytelling and charm.
It turns out that some secrets are best left untold.
NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY is a quiet little story about coming home and ghosts that you can never escape and a love that never dies. It is a story that will take you to the very heart of storytelling itself.
“If Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson and Robert Bloch had a three-way sex romp in a hot tub and then a team of scientists came in and filtered out the water and mixed the leftover DNA into a test tube, the resulting genetic experiment would most likely grow up into Steve Vernon.” – BOOKGASM
“Steve Vernon was born to write. He’s the real deal and we are lucky to have him.” – Richard Chizmar, CEMETERY DANCE
“This genre needs new blood and Steve Vernon is quite a transfusion.” – Edward Lee, author of THE GOON and HEADER
Now, the book is being released at $2.99 – but let me tell you a little secret. From September 1 to September 3 NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY will be available on Kindle for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
That’s right. I am planning a freebie launch on the first three days of September and I really would appreciate your help getting the word out. On September 1st I would appreciate if you folks could tweet/facebook/Google+ and anything else you can think of about the freebie. I want as many people as possible to hear about this release on that day and I would LOVE you to download it absolutely free – on September 1st to September 3rd!
If you DON’T want to have to wait until September to grab your free copy and IF you can promise to write a Kindle review of NOT JUST ANY OLD GHOST STORY before September hits, I would be more than happy to personally send you a review copy of my novella for you to read on your Kindle. Just let me know – either by commenting here or sending me an e-mail or sending me a Tweet.
HELP ME LET THE WORLD KNOW THAT I HAVE GOT A BRAND NEW FREE BOOK.
yours in storytelling,